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2° Below Winter Ale - New Belgium Brewing

Not Rated.
2° Below Winter Ale2° Below Winter Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,059 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,059
Reviews: 557
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 12.91%
Wants: 20
Gots: 41 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  6.60% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-23-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,059 | Reviews: 557 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ChrisA
4.22/5  rDev +15.9%

Beautiful pour. Thick two finger head. Golden light copper color, bright and clear. Well balanced malt and hops on the nose. I like this beer a lot. Crisp and refreshing up front with a steady malt presence. Flowery hops kick in nicely on the back end. Perhaps my favorite New Belgium offering. Definitely need to pick up some more.

ChrisA, Dec 05, 2006
Photo of Morris729
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%

Pours a clear golden amber color with a creamy white head. Nose is herbal and grassy hops at first, but as the beer warms, aromas of chocolaty caramel malts become more pronounced. Quite nice, actually. Taste is toasted malt and toffee with a touch of fruitiness followed by a hop bitterness. A decent brew with the aroma being the highlight.

Morris729, Dec 04, 2006
Photo of DogFood11
3.68/5  rDev +1.1%

Poured into a long stemmed pils glass it forms a meaty eggshell white head that leaves coat lacing. Light copper body with medium sized carbonation. Highly filtered, clear body.

some syrupy spiced quality to this but overall it is in the backdrop and not annoying at all. This is probably the best offering from New Belgium in my opinion. Fairly clean malts which is a shocker if I take their other products into consideration. Sweet but once again not overdone. Slightly roasted malt presence is welcomed and then it ends up with a hop twister of the east coast variety.

Notes: I've made no bones about it that I can't get into brews from this brewery. This one stands out as the "best" offering I've had to date from New Belgium. It left behind that musky malt presence I find in its Fat Tire etc....Reccomended

DogFood11, Dec 03, 2006
Photo of BeerSox
3.08/5  rDev -15.4%

12oz bottle into mug.

Clear amber hue with an off white head that quickly fizzles to a thin cap.

Grainy malts, leafy hops, and chocolate? An odd smell, but it seems to be mixed well, although there is a slightly musty aroma to it.

Leafy hops and grainy malt. Thin bodied with medium carbonation, and a slightly bitter finish with grains joining in.

Not bad, but I have had better ESB's. Worth a try.

BeerSox, Dec 03, 2006
Photo of RootedFool
3.95/5  rDev +8.5%

Poured into a standard goblet, the body is translucent deep amber with a slight cherry aura; the head is a sturdy three quarters of an inch tall and deflates quickly leaving a soapy ring of lace. Nose: A thorough prickle of hops upfront, some sweetness slides in quickly -- candied cherries, oranges, orange zest, solid hint of caramel -- while the hops continue to hold center-court. Taste: Starts from the back with a blunt yet subtle grate of crusty hops, and moves forward with a very round sweetness -- melons and most definitely apricot come to mind. The aftertaste is a twang of lemon zest, as the hops ascend even further, even a little peppery, leaving more fully fledged malt sweetness. Mouthfeel: A little lighter than I expected it to be, but passable. An interesting choice of style for a winter seasonal.

RootedFool, Dec 02, 2006
Photo of LarryKemp
3.98/5  rDev +9.3%

The beer poured a clear golden tan with an ample off white head.

WOW the nose of the hops. Great hops with a hint of chocolate sneaking in as the beer warms.

As much as the hops dominated the nose, the malts take charge of the tongue. Nice and sweet but not as special as the aroma.

Full semi creamy mouthfeel.

A very, very nice beer. It is going to be one my favorites.

LarryKemp, Dec 02, 2006
Photo of sinistermadman
3.55/5  rDev -2.5%

Perfectly clear light copper in color with an off white burly head.

Smell is of grass and some other earthy notes. Not much to say...

Toasty malt notes with a buttery undercurrent round out the flavor. The hops peek through at the very end along with some faint fruit notes. Medium body with alcohol warming finish. Alcohol becomes more evident as the brew warms. Finishes relatively balanced and clean. Not my favorite style, but this is respectable.

sinistermadman, Dec 01, 2006
Photo of instrumentality
4.05/5  rDev +11.3%

I, like most people, was introduced to New Belgium through Fat Tire. I started seeing it popping up more and more at chain restaurants and would occasionally select it over my old standby, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I thought it was better than most macrobrews I've tried and had a unique flavor but was nothing too spectacular. Then I tried their 1554, which I found to be pretty tasty but, again, nothing to write home about.

Then one day, I came home late and discovered a pint glass filled almost to the top with Fat Tire. It turned out that a friend of my girlfriend had taken a couple of sips but was apparently so blitzed from whatever they had been consuming prior to that that she couldn't go any further. The beer was at room temperature by then, but I am a firm believer in discouraging "alcohol abuse" (i.e. wasting beer) so, martyr that I am, I took it upon myself to finish the beer.

I took one sip and was amazed. It was flavorful. It had a distinctive nuttiness to it that I had never noticed before. It was remarkably smooth. It was all kinds of things that I had never noticed before in all the times past when it was delivered to me ice cold by well-intentioned but oblivious waiters.

A few days ago, I stopped by a local liquor store and saw half a dozen different kinds of New Belgium beer adorning one of the shelves. I was impressed by the distribution success, but I wanted to try a new brewery, so I passed them over.

Shortly thereafter, I read a post from fellow BA assurbanipaul explaining that as unimpressed as he was with New Belgium overall, their 2 below had rapidly become one of his favorites. I was convinced, and a couple of days later, I stopped by the same store for a sixer.

Into the Stone IRS tulip glass it went. Substantial head at first, but within a minute it was nothing but halo. The liquid beneath was somewhere between amber and gold (ok, so I'd make a lousy interior decorator), and was remarkably clean and entirely transparent save the surface.

The odor had a tangerine sweetness to it mixed with a bit of malt. It smelled refreshing. One taste confirmed to my palate what my nose had already understood; this is a refreshing brew. It was like drinking a Fat Tire, crisp with a nuttiness reminiscent of Humboldt's Hemp Ale, but with added citrus hops and perhaps a hint more alcohol (I haven't actually compared the ABV's to verify).

The mouthfeel going in was, for lack of a better term, calming--mellow carbonation, mellow alcohol, light body. The one beef I had here was that the nuttiness lingered on my tongue a bit too long and started to taste a bit stale and chalky--not too much, but enough to detract from an otherwise comforting experience (throw in a mild cheese and I'm sure the problem would be solved...to be determined).

Drinkability is a no-brainer. I could have downed the whole glass in a matter of minutes, but what a waste that would be. Flavorful, soothing, and refreshing, this brew could just as easily serve as a summer ale as a winter ale. Unfortunately, it's seasonal, which means I should probably go back for more before it runs out.

instrumentality, Nov 30, 2006
Photo of Beerzebub
3.65/5  rDev +0.3%

Light copper, with a bit of off-white head. Very clear. Lace.

Smells of grassy, herbal hops - tettnanger, or something like it. Some light maltiness, like sugar cookies. A bit of butter.

Taste matches the smell. Not strong. A hint of alpine herbs, like Chartreuse. Some mild esters, a little like unripe banana. A little sweetness, but dried out by some astringency. Odd.

Mouthfeel is watery, despite help from the slight astringency.

Highly quaffable - and it might as well be quaffed.

A small, odd beer. Maybe worth trying for the unusual hops, although they're not very strong.

Beerzebub, Nov 29, 2006
Photo of TheLiterati
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%

This is quite an interesting winter ale. Amber in color with a tan, finger-high head, and quite a unique aroma. Is it toffee? Vanilla? Malt? Something woodsier? I like it, but I can’t put my finger on what it reminds me of.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth with a nice bit of carbonation. The taste is more woodsy than sweet, with a nice hoppy bitterness. There’s a subtle floral undertone, along with more vanilla malt and toasted grain.

The taste and aroma of this ale is perplexing, but I find that all in all I like it. Maybe not the best winter offering out there, but it’s drinkable.

TheLiterati, Nov 29, 2006
Photo of Beaver13
2.38/5  rDev -34.6%

12 oz bottle, best before 2/9/07. Pours a clear amber with a large fluffy white head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is toasted toffee malts and minty hops.

The flavor is more of the same - toasted toffee followed by a crisp minty hoppiness. I can't describe the aftertaste, there's something subtle that leaves me not wanting more - the more I drink, the less I like it. More bittering hops and less toffee would be a welcome addition. The mouthfeel is medium with sharp carbonation.

Overall, this was OK - not something I would search out. It tasted like a minty Fat Tire.

Beaver13, Nov 29, 2006
Photo of HardTarget
3.95/5  rDev +8.5%

Bottle Inspection: Serving suggestion of goblet and 37 degrees F (I went with a pint glass, but did drop the temp), 6.6% abv and best by 09MAR07 (sampled 28NOV06).

Aroma: Like sniffing a bag of hops about to be thrown in the kettle. Grassy, noble, bittering. I’m intrigued and worried at the same time. Some malt is noted later as it warmed.

Appearance: Bright amber with hints of red in the glass, sports a tight off white head clinging to the sides already.

Flavor: Wet roasted dark grain, nutty, toasty, biscuity, much like Fat Tire. The hops are noted but not extreme, the balance is strongly toward malt. Some earthy hop notes creep in as it starts to warm.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, slightly grainy texture, firm carbonation skirts fizz.

Overall Impression: If you like Fat Tire, you’ll like this; it’s a close cousin. I found it interesting that the cold serving temp muted then released hop in the taste and malt in the nose as it warmed. The two main flavors (grassy hop, grainy roasted malt) compliment each other nicely. Well done!

HardTarget, Nov 29, 2006
Photo of assurbanipaul
4.1/5  rDev +12.6%

Pours a clear light copper with a frothy white head. Aroma is immediately fresh clean hops, very bright and straight out of the bag.

Taste is medium toasty with a nice hoppy freshness. Bright, slightly lemony hop flavors rides the light malt base very well. Would not be surprised to learn this was dry hopped (which, as the label states, it is). No trace of alcohol flavors or aromas; finish is dry.

Mouthfeel is light and thin but holds up very well. Very clean, sharp, an excellent palette upon which to paint these hop varieties (Sterling and Liberty, as per the label). A welcome hoppy mid-winter seasonal light IPA, although it's clearly too hoppy to be called an ESB.

assurbanipaul, Nov 27, 2006
Photo of Westsidethreat
4.08/5  rDev +12.1%

A: Very clean looking brew, copper color with pumpkin highlights. Attractive streams of bubbles conjure from nothing on the side of the glass. Head is off white with a slightly green tint. Decent ring with a small gathering of foam on top.

S: Toasted malts, floral hop character, dried biscuits and pepper.

T: A malty brew with a pronounced bready personality. A lot like a xmas style bread your aunt might bake. Reminds me a lot of a mulled drink you might be served at the same gathering. Choc full of nutty flavors; sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and almonds. Maybe a smidgeon of chocolate and cream in there as well with. Hops play the back up roll in this show but add much needed balance and depth across the tip of the tongue. Finishes with alderberries and surprising peanut butter.

M: Medium mouthfeel but amazingly creamy.

D: This beer really grew on me. First sip and I prepared myself for some boring malt bomb with no depth. This beer actually has a lot going on. I can confidently say this is my favorite New Belgium beer to date.

Westsidethreat, Nov 26, 2006
Photo of theopholis
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%

This beer pours an amber color with a thick, fluffy, white head. The head has decent staying power, leaving good lacing.

Smell- Grassy-citris hops with a perfect balance of malt.

Taste-The 1st thing you taste is freshly made biscuits, followed by a very nice blend of hops. Drinking it straight from the bottle, you get a more pronounced hop flavor with a hint of roast.

Mouthfell-This beer goes down smooth, with no CO2 bite. Just a tad undercarbonated.

Overall: A nice, easy drinking session beer. Not extraordinary, but worth aq try.

theopholis, Nov 26, 2006
Photo of WetCoaster
3.35/5  rDev -8%

Appearance: Crystal clear golden copper with a dense pure white head. Nice.

Smell: Booming, as promised. Piney, spicy hops over a base of butterscotch malt. Slightly floral yeast.

Taste/Mouthfeel: As with many NB beers, about three-quarters of where it should be. Starts out hop spicy and bitter, but soon waters down miserably. The malt really goes nowhere. A bit fruity and juicy, but finishes dry and bland. The mouthfeel is fine; thin and crisp.

Drinkability: I think what they were going for here was a SS Winter Welcome clone. What they got was a somewhat watery IPA with an odd malt and yeast base. Not offensive, but not particularly interesting, either.

Note: Unless you plan on serving it as a smoothie, don't serve at the recommended 37 degrees.

WetCoaster, Nov 22, 2006
Photo of allengarvin
4.13/5  rDev +13.5%

Brand new in the Dallas area. Pours out a clear copper color with a big inch-worth of frothy foam, followed by excellent lacing. Lighty toasted malt aroma with a distinctly peppery hop nose. The malt flavor on the initial taste is completely identical to their flagship beer, Fat Tire, but it's got a stronger hop underpinning, with more bitterness and a good deal of spicy, peppery hop flavor. The nutty, toasted malt remains a dominant flavor and it finishes malty. Creamy body.

Not a complex beer, and remarkably similar to Fat Tire, but still quite tasty and quite quaffable. Really, this is kind of like the classic English winter beer, which in most breweries was a stronger version of their basic beers. Very nice, and worth buying again.

allengarvin, Nov 22, 2006
Photo of goochpunch
4.25/5  rDev +16.8%

Pours a copper amber body with rather active carbonation and a thick off white head that settles down to some peaks and plateaus along with lacing all over the place. Hops hit me in the nose first off. Lots of grassy, herbal, and floral aromas. Following that is a whiff of butter followed by smells of bread, both fresh and toasted. Flavor is big on herbal hops up front, with an underlying fruity ester quality. Something about the mix of the hops and malt flavors remind me of watermelon bubblegum just for a second. Follows through with some bready malts and toasted notes. Finishes dry, slightly bitter, with a little alcohol kick and slight astringency. Herbal hop flavor sticks through the entire way. Mouthfeel is amazing. Smooth and of moderate body. This is dangerously drinkable, especially at its alcohol level.

goochpunch, Nov 21, 2006
Photo of leedorham
2.1/5  rDev -42.3%

Pours a clear amber with an off-white thick creamy head.

This smells hoppy and has a very grassy-hoppy-oily aroma. Not making me puke but not entirely pleasant.

The taste is the same. Grassey-piney-dandelion green taste. I assume there is malt in this beer since it is a winter ale but I can't taste it because of the dominance of the oily vegetable drawer hop taste. No balance to the taste at all. Although it gets more tolerable towards the end and there are some pleasant spicy notes I can't say I am happy I bought 6 of these. Maybe if your a serious hop head you'll disagree but I am wishing I had tried another brewers winter offering. It looks good. I'll give it that.

leedorham, Nov 20, 2006
Photo of AlesRTasty
3.3/5  rDev -9.3%

A - thick foamy tan head, moderate retention. Amber brown color. spot on for ESBs.
S - good malt aroma followed by a the hop aroma.
T - to me the hops overpowers the malt too much for this style.
M - too carbonated
D - not a good representation of the style BUT mighty tasty so its worth a try. I won't have a problem drinking the rest of the sixer.

AlesRTasty, Nov 20, 2006
Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4.43/5  rDev +21.7%

Served nice and cold, per written instruction. It warmed to 55° area by end of glass.

Nice amber color, clear and crisp. The head is as large, or larger, than the liquid. Nice head retention and lacing. Moderate carbonation.

Smells quite hoppy, floral and grapefruit-like. Malt body, highly overshadowed by hops.

Nice blend of flavors. Light malt base superimposed with mellow hop flavors, floral mainly. Roasted malt undertones. Not overly sweet. The malt doesn’t seem to contribute much to the flavor, but is nonetheless an integral part of the experience. Light touch of alcohol hiding in the back.

Smooth with mild oral foamation and almost no carbo-sting.

Drinking 2° Below is like drinking the nectar of some plant, some wonderful tasty plant. The flavors complement each other almost perfectly. Extremely refreshing. This is a jewel of a beer. I could drink it all day. Well done New Belgium.

MrHungryMonkey, Nov 19, 2006
Photo of whynot44
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%

A nice coppery amber color with a decent off-white head that retains fairly well and leaves some nice lacing.

The aroma is fresh biscuits with just some hints of pine needles.

The taste is also mainly biscuity malts but with a bit of citrus and some definite spicy notes. The finish is slightly dry with a peppery, piney aftertaste. Not bad.

Medium bodied, smooth and easy enough to drink with just a touch of alcohol warmth for the fall/winter season, although this wouldn't be bad year round.

whynot44, Nov 18, 2006
Photo of aaronh
2.63/5  rDev -27.7%

Not sure what expected out of this beer. Copper colored body topped by an off-white head. Aroma of malt and a bit of funk. Flavor was OK, but a bit thin and dry on the finish. Very reminiscent of Fat tire with a bit more malt and peppery hops. Body is fairly solid, but the carbonation was aggressive and the finish was dry. Drinkability is OK, but not very enjoyable, unless you're a big fan of Fat Tire.

aaronh, Nov 17, 2006
Photo of ColoradoBobs
3.65/5  rDev +0.3%

Moderate pour into my New Belgium half-liter chalice (appropriate) yields a large creamy off-white head over a lovely clear amber-red body. This is a very pretty beer! Lovely. Lots of lacing

Smell is fruity hops and an interesting sour note. Odd -- reminds me of aged salami! Nice malt backbone.

Taste is pretty normal for an ESB. Nice malty foundation with decent pine and citrus hops. A bit of peppery spice

Mouthfeel is pretty good and round.

Very drinkable.

Overall, not a winter warmer, but I like it. Nothing spectacular. Almost sessionable in taste, but not in ABV. Worth a try.

ColoradoBobs, Nov 16, 2006
Photo of Imstillthegman
4.2/5  rDev +15.4%

Pours a clear amber with a quickly diminishing white head. Nice rings of lacing remain.

This beer smells like a hop biscuit. Doughy malts envelope the green (pine, grass, and light citrus) hops. Wish the local bakery would offer something like this...just think about it, a hop biscuit...yum.

The taste is a fine blend sweet and spicy. The hops show a spicy side not noted in the aroma while the malts show up as sweet, doughy biscuits. Not exactly what I was thinking of when I saw this was an ESB, but darn tasty.

Medium body with a good level of carbonation. Slick, creamy feel on the tongue. This brew is one "winter warmer" I could drink all year long. New Belgium, when are you coming east?

Imstillthegman, Nov 14, 2006
2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
82 out of 100 based on 1,059 ratings.