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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.
BA SCORE
83
good

1,086 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,086
Reviews: 558
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 12.91%
Wants: 22
Gots: 48 | 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: 1,086 | Reviews: 558 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.05/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Apricot with orange juice edges. Intermittent bubbles zip up to a toasted tan cap and join the tightly packed bubbles already present. I love the roughened, somewhat rocky, sticky nature of the head. Broken sheets of delicate lace look good as well.

The aroma is pretty much as New Belgium describes it. Unfortunately, I'm not a major fan of toasted, earthy malt in combination with herbal, earthy hops. The hop bill consists of Sterling and Liberty, both of which are similar to Hallertau. I love a good English ESB and even a good American ESB. Apparently, a German ESB ain't my thing. Given all that, I'm still able to recognize the nose's quality.

I'm much less accommodating when it comes to the flavor profile since it amplifies the worst aspects of the nose. Thanks to all the Munich malt, or something similar, 2 Below tastes like an Oktoberfest much more than an ESB. Aren't ESBs supposed to be bitter and hop-dominant rather than malt-dominant?

Speaking of hops, either American or English varities, assuming enough were used, might have saved this beer from mediocrity. As is, it tastes like toasted brown bread coated with unsweet caramel, freshly-dug clay and unidentified herbs. How did this recipe pass muster, especially after they tasted a test batch? Not only that, but it's about as far from a winter warmer as it could possibly be.

I'm trying very hard to take personal preference into account, which is the one and only reason I've granted a flavor score of average. The mouthfeel is medium in a general sense, with an odd slickness on the back end and a generous amount of fine-bubbled carbonation. I'm okay with it, but I don't love it.

Even though I have a fairly high opinion of this brewery (why, I'm not exactly sure), the only NB offering that I thought was exceptional was their dubbel, which they call Abbey Belgian Style Ale. 2 Below Winter Ale isn't at all what I expected and has to qualify as a major disappointment. I'd suggest giving it a complete overhaul from stem to stern.

BuckeyeNation, Mar 16, 2007
Photo of July2Nov
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: nice golden hue that resembles apple juice, with a 2 finger froth.
S: Malty with a roasted nutty scent as an undercurrent.
T: Starts off with a sharp metallic taste that quickly delivers with a roasted toffee finish.
M: leaves the palette with a smoky and warm aftertaste.
D: during the winter time, I could see cuddling up to this to get the internal organs warmed up. Hell, even in the summertime I would take this out for a bottle or two.

July2Nov, Mar 10, 2007
Photo of theozag
4.15/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thick white head never really fades away; it just becomes a whisp. Amber pour and body. Crisp, strong, and complex smell includes roasted oats and wheat. I find it to be slightly sweet and simply mouth-watering. Starts deliciously sharp but very smooth. Settles full-bodied with a surgary caramel flavor. Finish is strong but without a lasting aftertaste. It is a bold mix of hop bitters that leaves you wishing for the next sip.

theozag, Mar 08, 2007
Photo of mithrascruor
3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a clear amber-orange color. Very minimal off-white head that quickly become an umpressive lace.

Smell: Barely any aroma at all. Spiced oranges and lemons, maybe.

Taste: Lemon, orange, spices, and hops. All balanced alright, but the taste is just a bit odd... some sweetness and some bitterness, but clashing.

Mouthfeel: Relatively smooth, medium-bodied with some rather tingly carbonation.

Drinkability: It's fine to drink once you accustom yourself to the unusual flavor. Alcohol isn't too strong and isn't noticable.

An ok beer, but the taste is a bit odd. Maybe an ESB meets an IPA with a bit of extra sugar thrown in. I was expecting something that was more of a traditional winter ale. One-time buy for curiosity's sake.

mithrascruor, Mar 06, 2007
Photo of Oxymoron
3.15/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

ESB? Really? Pours a very clear amber color that is very close to appearance to Fat Tire, if that gives you a reference. A frothy white head that remains for some time but does dissipates to the side of the glass.

The nose is New Belgium specific. Most NB beers smell the same. But unique to Springboard, there is a floral hoppy aroma. Some citrus and noticeable grassy blend as well. The malt is also right on top with Fat Tire.

The taste follows in theme with the NB flavors and Fat Tire flavor. The malt comes out more with a nutty and a light biscuity flavor. The hops are more prominent then Fat Tire with a more US feel and some more dominate grassy flavors then citrus.

The body has a light to mid feel. The carbonation is a bit high and sorry to repeat myself but the ever so New Belgium feel to it. Overall this just doesn’t feel like an English beer let a lone ESB. But that’s half the fun with this game. Its nice to see NB finally experiment with some hops.

Oxymoron, Feb 26, 2007
Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

thanks to babydoc for this bottle also

A - transparent dark orange, with a half finger of light tan head with slow scant carbonation

S - the spiciness hits first, a ginger/nutmeg spiciness that compliments the season, the hop/malt profiles are rather strong and are well represented

T - thinner than i expected, but not in a bad way, musty, spicy and hoppy all at once, but a good musty, like an archaic scroll vault musty, not pile of wet cardboard in a garage musty, and a little caramel note on the aftertaste

M&D - thin, light on the tongue, very easy down, and easy palatable, a nice brew, you cold easy make a session beer, even in the summer

sinstaineddemon, Feb 23, 2007
Photo of bditty187
3.33/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear, coppery-orange in hue with a bronze highlight; off-white head, at the apex the foam was one finger tall. Head retention was respectable, a soapy cap lasted the entire consumption. The subsequent lacing was spotty but prevalent. This is an attractive beer.

The nose is a mix of citrus hops, earth, and caramel malts. These three aromas are fairly loud; it does smell like a robust Fat Tire. I like the idea. IMO, there isn’t much complexity beyond this. I do get hints of ale fruitiness; a bit nutty… faintly leafy. Even with all that said, I don’t like the nose. It smells odd to me. There is too much “house character.” Not inviting to me. Frankly, I can’t stand the aromas!

The palate is plenty malty, lots of caramel and toasty grains with hints of nuts and earth. It has moderate bitterness in the middle, citrusy mainly with a tickle of pine. Grainy. The alcohol is noticeable, warming finish. Sometimes when I drink 2° Below it seems muddled to me, especially after a couple. I wonder if I mixed Fat Tire (which I love) with 2° Below what would happen? That actually sounds good to me. Anyway, as much as I dislike the nose the palate really isn’t too bad. To me it tastes like a cross between an ESB and an English IPA. I get good hop burps too. Tasty enough, I’d love to taste a tad more hop flavors.

Medium in body, low but natural carbonation, the mouthfeel fits the flavor profile well.

I didn’t review 2° Below last year as it was tap only. I thought it was decent, a more robust version of Fat Tire. When I heard it was going to be bottled I was happy. I bought a six-pack. Well, it is February now and I have one bottle left. I guess I better review it because I am not sure I’ll bother drinking it next year. I do like certain aspects but I can’t get past the nose. The palate is good. Drinkability is high. Aw hell, I bet I quaff a few more next winter. IMO, it tastes like Winterhook. Purchased in Omaha; best by: 04MAY07.

bditty187, Feb 21, 2007
Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into my DFH shaker pint glass. Appears a very clear golden amber color with a finger of off white head. Minimal lacing sticks to the glass with each sip. Smells of yeasty bread and sweet malt. Tastes of mildly bitter hops, bready grain and a touch of citrus. Medium bodied with medium to moderate carbonation. Finish is dry, but not as bitter as I thought it would be. I would seek this out again next winter.

ClockworkOrange, Feb 21, 2007
Photo of 1whiskey
3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into my Jubelale label pint glass. Nice amber color with a brilliant two finger frothy head. Active carbonation with lots of bubbles dancing around. Great lacing.

Smell is interersting, grainy and sugary, with some sort of hop aroma that I can't quite nail down.

Taste is initially very sweet, more sugary than malty, but a sturdy toasted grain flavor jumps in to save the day. Finishes with some indecipherable hop flaver, clearly noticable but puzzling to try and identify. This is certainly a unique interpretation of an ESB, and definately a curveball for a winter seasonal, but I'm enjoying this. A little bit of alcohol warming presents itself in the second half of my glass, but that's part of the appeal of a winter beer anyway.

Mouthfeel is quite pleasant, with seemingly millions of tiny bubbles sloshing their way around my tongue on their way to their final destination. Body is medium to heavy, even chewy, but this is a pretty easy drinker.

Overall I found this a unique, somewhat perplexing, but generally very enjoyable beer. However, if this is the replacement for my beloved Frambrozen, then this is a signifigant downgrade.

1whiskey, Feb 16, 2007
Photo of Barleywhiner
3.78/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer was poured from a 12oz. bottle, the color was a light copper with a thin head. The aroma is very unique, i don't really have a good word to describe it, so I will just say it is different and I like it. I would describe the taste of this beer as having all treble and no bass (to misuse some musical terms). Plenty of hop flavor, but no real malt flavor, which works out fine for this beer. I must say, when I bought my six-pack of this I wasn't all that fond of the flavor, but now on my last bottle (a couple weeks later) I find that I really like it. Nice beer, and definitely a unique flavor.

Barleywhiner, Feb 16, 2007
Photo of vickersspitfire
3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I really enjoy New Belgium's products, they make some good beer. This was a mediun copper color with a nice head and some decent lacing. It has an awesome aroma to it, very fruity, slighty malty and is really refreshing. It has a mildly crisp taste that really hits your tongue and then spreads out to the rest of your mouth and has a weak alcoholic aftertaste. This is a really good ale over all, but this is not one of their best.

vickersspitfire, Feb 13, 2007
Photo of
3.25/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at Blu Bar in Arlington, TX.

Clear amber liquid. Medium sized, off-white head.

Aroma mainly caramel and wheat bread. Smoke in bar made it a challenge to get more.

Sweet, with a grassy finish. Small bit of roast flavor. Vanilla and some other spices in there. Pepper at the end.

Light to medium in body. Medium carbonation. A bit drying.

Overall, OK. Probably not something I would seek out again. There are better winter beers out there.

, Feb 12, 2007
Photo of Sammy
3.4/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

yellow body with cream, and good lace all the way down. A cross style attempt. Not complex as a winter ale, more of a hoppy ale more than a bitter. Carbonation on the high side. Balance like an English IPA, with some citrus and other fruit. I like English IPAs-the real thing.

Sammy, Feb 12, 2007
Photo of bradybeer
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A=Medium Orange n color pours a good dense light orange head with slight hop aroma

S=as the beer warms a good spice aroma becomes apparent

T=Light bitter flavor with a little alchohol warmness

M=Light, Light not much body and doesn't give much in the way of mouth feel

D=I could drink a fw of these but I couldn't say that I would go out of my way to seek this out.

bradybeer, Feb 08, 2007
Photo of Luchman
3.95/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a mug.

A: A very clear, amber/gold color with a thin off white head that just glosses the surface and clumps the side.

S: Some nice floural, piney, herbal hops lead, with subtle maltness to it. Smells very clean, fresh, and good.

T: Mmmm. Those perfume-like, spicy hops come in, with what even seems like a tad of orange spice on the end. Caramel malts create a good backbone and make more of a presence than the smell suggested. Some light nuttiness can be found as well, making this surprisingly complex. Ends very clean. Not much bitterness to speak of, but that is not totally a bad thing. Pretty tasty.

M: Mouth feel is medium to thin with medium to low carbonation.

D: Not too bad.. Not too bad at all. It is a nice change from all the citrus hop dominated IPA’s I have had recently. Definitely worth a buy.

Luchman, Jan 30, 2007
Photo of cheers2beers
3.28/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: As I pour this beer I notice a soft orange hue with a pillowy white head that stacked up to be about two fingers in height. Lots of laceing is also noted.

Smell: In the aromas a slight skunkiness turns me right off. Then I am hit with grassy hop character and perhaps a little toasted bisquit. I can also sence some lemon citrus.

Taste: The flavors are much better than the nose, but nothing to rave about. Slight grassy and bitter hops. The lemon seems to have made its way to my palate. It has the taste of a grapefruit, but less bitter.

Mouthfeel: Thin bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Lightly bitter with a dry finish or maybe that is the film that is left in my mouth.

Drinkability: I can honestly say that this isn't bad, it just isn't good. Its worth a try if you are like me, feel the need to try every beer at least once.


Cheers2Beers

cheers2beers, Jan 30, 2007
Photo of Doppelmax
3/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I'm not a fan of belgium style beers so with some trepidation I purchased this hoping it would be a decent winter type ale.
Nice head and lace on the glass. Medium amber but hazy. Strong hop smell, kind of piney I thought. The flavor seemed a bit strong on the hops and for my taste could have had a more pronounced malt flavour. Lots of carbonation, average body. It was ok but personally I wouldn't buy it again.
I like my winter ales more malty and darker.

Doppelmax, Jan 26, 2007
Photo of bgraney
4.33/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear honey/amber, lots of bubbles, thin white, creamy head.
Bready/biscuit malt aroma with citrusy hop background.
Excellent flavor combination. The maltiness rests on the front of the tongue and the bitter on the back. Like liquid bread with orange or apricot marmalade.
Medium mouthfeel. The flavors have a nice long rest on the tongue without expanding into the nose.
The flavors are not so overwhelming that you can't keep drinking these. Keep'em comin!
An excellent, very well balanced beer.

bgraney, Jan 24, 2007
Photo of BlindPig
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Just under 1/4" off white head on a clear kind of darker orange body. Nice thick lacing that sucks to side of glass.
S- Big piney raw hops. Hints of citrus hops as well. Hints of grass in there also. Pale malt is in the background under all the hops.
T- Very different taste. Not what I was expecting at all (from the smell). The hops are pretty well balanced out with the malt body but the hops are winning. There is one flavor of hop (that I don't think I have had before) that just pops out above the rest. It's a kind of grass, and piney hop. Has a nice complex hop flavor. Almost tastes like it was dry hopped as well. Has that sort of raw hop taste to it. (Just read the bottle and it is in fact dry hopped). Hint of cherries in the aftertaste taste too. Sort of a stronger malt flavor in there also. Like if you would eat barley you almost can taste that in there as well.
M- Medium to full body with low to medium carbonation.
D- It is a very interesting brew. I don't think it is amazing but it is tasty. I am glad I decided to pick up a 6 pack of this. I don't think I will do another this year though.

BlindPig, Jan 20, 2007
Photo of barondebourgogne
4.08/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Exceptional clarity. Crystal clear and bright. This beer shines! Light, burnt tangerine color, with hints of fall leaves and candy caramel colors.

Smell: This beer tips it's hat from the first whiff. It is all about the hops. Heavy pine with citrus and caramel back drop. New Belgium cakey yeast profile brings up the rear of the aromas.

Taste: A lighter bodied, more heavily hopped Fat Tire style ale. Tell tale New Belgium earthiness is present. Balance is definitely toward bitterness. This beer is all about the hops. Predictable caramel and toffee notes indicative of New Belgium beers leave no surprises here. Start to finish, hops take center stage.

Mouthfeel: Prickly carbonation up front. Smoothes out after several quaffs. Starts prickly on top of tongue, but finishes bitter on the sides. This beer dances back and forth on the tongue rather playfully. Light to medium body. Finishes dry.

Drinkability: Very refreshing and drinkable. Not what I would refer to as a Winter Warmer. Bright and spritzy, this beer feels more like Spring than Winter to me. I can't stop sipping at it, as my palate continually adjusts to the complexity of the hop profile.

I will be heading back to the store for another, for sure. Nice work, New Belgium!

barondebourgogne, Jan 19, 2007
Photo of seedee17
3.35/5  rDev -8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Looks a lot like a Fat Tire when poured into a pint glass. The aroma was great at first, a nice bright fresh hop aroma, bready grainyness. After about 5 minutes the hop aroma dissapated almost completely and leaves just the familiar earthy Fat Tire aroma. The hop bitterness is nice and the piney hop flavor sticks around much longer than the aroma. A little fizzy but not too crazy. 3 word review: Hoppy Fat Tire

seedee17, Jan 18, 2007
Photo of amatuerbeerguy
4.03/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Served up a nice clear copper with a slight orange hue, with a nice head that had moderate length, with some lacing apparent as dissipation occurred. Aroma of hops, with a nice citrus tone, and a biscuit undertone. Flavors of malt, citrus, slight sweetness with a nice hop bitterness in the end. Mouth feel is a nicely carbonated with a low medium body, that lends itself to a nice hop bitterness. Nicely balanced, good flavor and very drinkable. Well done. Every one should try this one.

amatuerbeerguy, Jan 08, 2007
Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tawny copper, thick and well-maintained light brown head with bubble bath sticky patching. Sinus cleansing nose of fruity hops, sweet citrus and freshly picked blueberries. Massive biscuit malts that are present throughout, and upon the first sips open to crisp nutty grains, woody hops and dusty malts. Turns a bit grainy, dry with offerings of day old grapefruit. Sweet floral hops and tender cherries left pasted on the palate. An ESB...hmmm...kick up the IBU's and you're there. Decent winter offering.

GeoffRizzo, Jan 05, 2007
Photo of f355x3
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer is an excellent Winter ale. The color is rich and when you smell the beer it is like someone dropped a Christmas tree into your glass. The taste is smooth, and there is an aftertaste of pine that makes you think the beer is nothing more than liquid pine cones. It must be made from delicious pine cones, though. The only problem I had with the beer is that it seemed to sit a bit heavy, and drinking a whole lot of these was hard to do.

f355x3, Dec 30, 2006
Photo of akorsak
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz bottle from nvsblman.

A: The ale is a vibrant copper color. There is a small white band encircling the glass and a nice stream of carbonation bubbling up from the center.

S: The aroma is grainy malt and a hint of citrusy hops.

T: This strikes me as an interesting take on an ESB. The hops are ramped up a bit, adding a bit of citrusy hops to the strong malt base. The malts are grainy with a slight nutty sweetness. They are, however, a little thin and allow for a herbal flavor to kick up at the end.

M: The floral flavor is unusual, but the initial hoppy citrus taste is pleasant. There is nothing that screams 'undrinkable' here.

D: The ale is a good drink, I'd gladly have another.

akorsak, Dec 29, 2006
2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
83 out of 100 based on 1,086 ratings.