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2° Below Winter Ale - New Belgium Brewing

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

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1,146 Ratings
no score

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Ratings: 1,146
Reviews: 567
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 12.64%
Wants: 24
Gots: 79 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-23-2005

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,146 | Reviews: 567 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of beeritron
3.66/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I served this beer right at the recommended temp of 38 degrees. I think for this medium bodied ale, a warmer temp allows more flavor to come out. After the initial sip I let mine sit for 15 minutes, allowing the spiced flavor to become more complex. 2 Below pours out of the bottle a very clear, amber color with a full, off white head. The head lingers just on the surface as the beer becomes less and leaves a nice lacing on the inside of the glass. The aroma is sweet, reminiscent of homemade pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day. There is also a noticable smell of pears and earthiness that I just can't ignore. No real hop presence in the smell, but the spices noted, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves, are pleasant. The taste is good with a sweetness similar to spiced rum. The hops create a bitterness that balances, but there is not a noticable hop flavor. The 6.6% ABV bites just after the swallow. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, but thicker than you would think for such a clear beer. It floats around the cheeks and dances over the tongue, warming the throat as it is swallowed. I really enjoyed this beer on a chilly desert night, surrounded by good friends.

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pale amber with little head. Aromas of apricot with a bit of funk and a little Christmas spiciness, thought this is quite restrained. Tastes of mandarin oranges, apricots, and a bit of metal. Slightly sweet, but not overly so. Light, crisp mouthfeel makes this somewhat refreshing, but the spice and sweetness less so. Not bad, but I've enjoyed a number of other winter ales more.

Photo of alexgash
3.28/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bright copper apricot body with a thick finger of marshmallowy, light beige head. Terrific lacing up the glass! Vibrantly green hop nose: mint, pine needles, and herbal tea. Doughy biscuit malt background with light fruits. Nutty malt and floral hop flavors up front. Marmalade and honeydew melon follow. Toffee edges. Herbal, minty hop bitterness is a tad underwhelming in the finish. Moderate body with a watery, flat feel. A little off.

Photo of sfoley333
3.21/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into biere du boucanier snifter. Poured a clear copper with a thick white head classic ESB apperance. However the smell was off with a musty malt smell mixed with a slight citrus hp aroma. Taste is really earthy with little hop flavor but with a slight mushroom and chalky flavor. Mouthfeel is medium body with a good level of carbonation. I cant saw for me this beer is a good match. I like ESB and funk but just not funky ESB. Although my friend loves this beer, to each his own.

Photo of jbsteiny
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have to say, this beer made a lot more sense when I saw it classified as an ESB (given NB marketing it as a "Winter Ale"), and drinking another bottle of it with that style in mind, I like it a lot more than last night, when I was disappointed because I was expecting a warmer.

It pours a remarkably clear copper color. The head is pretty nice to begin with, leaving some lacing on the glass, but it doesn't last long. Smell is of bready malts, molasses, faint earthy and piney hops. Somewhat unusual; somewhat appetizing (if sweet). I find this to be a pretty well balanced beer, flavorwise. The label says that it contains "a bright, warming blast of Sterling and Liberty hops along with tawny-roasted malts"; I'm not sure if it's the wintery packaging, but I taste some spices in here. While other reviewers draw comparisons to Fat Tire, this tastes to me more like something from the Anchor catalog. A higher ABV offering from New Belgium that is both sessionable and fairly tasty.

Photo of John_M
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

For those who love Fat Tire, I'm sure they think this beer is the cat's meow. Personally, I can take or leave FT, so this beer really did nothing for me.

Had on tap at the New Belgium "HUB" restaurant at the Denver airport.

The beer pours the typical Fat Tire amber color with fair head retention and lacing. I don't get a lot on the nose, but just some sweet malt and light Belgium spices. On the palate this beer is completely boring. It's sweet and malty, tasting very much like FT, but with a bit more alcohol and some additional spices that, at least to my palate, come across as some skunky bitterness. The beer does not taste entirely fresh, which considering where I got it, is a surprise. The beer has a light to medium bodied mouthfeel, with not very noticeable abv.

One of these was more then enough and I don't plan to ever order it again. I was trying to choose between the trippel (in bottle) and something on draft at the airport, and made the mistake of going with this. Ho hum....

Photo of charlesw
2.38/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

So here it says it's an ESB but you can see form the name/image that NB is marketing this as some kind of winter warmer. Well... I guess ESB is probably pretty close. Other than the too-pale color and the too-bitter mouth. This might make a decent brew for a hot summer day - a lawnmower beer - but it's way not enough anything for a day below 50F for me. Ah, right, other than bitter. But I'd definitely say that the bitterness was all of of proportion - unless, again, this is for the sweaty hot days of summer. Just change the label and marketing and you'll be all set.

Photo of pmcadamis
4.18/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - A big fluffy head rises above a cloudy deep orange and burnished copper brew, and leaves tons of really nice sticky lace that looks like ice on a windowpane. This is really pretty.

S - Mushroom, earth, stewed carrots with caramel on them....I think that's a real dish that I've had before. Weedy hops, and some nice round leafy hop notes too, along with some subdued spices like cinnamon and brown sugar.

T - Again, very heavy on the mushroom and wet earth flavors that I really appreciate. I really like how the winter spices are detectable, but not over the top as they are in some winter brews. Gentle grassy and dank hops overlay a big caramel and biscuit malt flavor. Nicely done.

M - Chalky and full bodied. This one really as some weight in the mouth, and the tingly carbonation and assertive hop flavors balance it out.

D - What a nice winter brew! I've always felt that ESBs are some of the most sessionable, if not the most complex or mind-boggling beers and this one is an above average example of the style, with the added bonus of come really nice mellow spices.

Photo of TurdFurgison
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this at my parent's house over the holidays. The label states this is a winter warmer, and BA lists it as an ESB, but I think it's more of a pale ale. It smells nicely hopped (sterling and liberty apparently) but the malt backbone adds some sweetness to the taste as well. Easily drinkable as an APA in my opinion.

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours crystal clear with an amber color with a ruby touch to it. Decent sized head. Nose is extremely heavy on the hops. Just overpowering almost. Flavor is even and smooth, but I get something odd on there. I just can’t place it (inexperience), but it’s almost like a port like character that peeks out at you. At the start you get an almost thin layer of pine which fades to what I think is an alcohol tone after some time. Feel is a little thinner than I would think would be appropriate, but it is pretty drinkable, though not the greatest example of the style by any means.

Photo of bboven
4.07/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my second review; I'm reviewing this beer as a pale ale instead of its' listing as an ESB because it's not fair to ding a great beer that's listed wrong on this forum.

Light to medium copper color with thinnish head but great sticky lacing. Crystal clear.

The aroma is ridiculously earthy, smoky hops. I didn't want to sip it for a while because I knew I would lose some of this aroma. No malt, but the hops are so rich you don't notice it.

Screaming hops in the flavor, now it's too much. There needs to be a little more malt here. I like the hop flavor, they picked varieties that almost carry the taste as well as the aroma, but...just missed.

Beautiful beer, a must for hop heads. Sneak a little more malt in the taste and you've got an A

Photo of champ103
4.25/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: A clear copper/orange color. One finger white foamy head that thins pretty fast and leaves a good coat of lace.
S: Very aromatic. Typical citrus hops and bready malt smell for an ESB, but there are also some interesting spices thrown in that I can't pin down right now.
T: Very similar to the nose. New Belgium's signature bread/biscuit malt flavor is present, but very well balanced with a nice hop presents that has just the right amount of bitterness to it. Those holiday spices work well with this ESB.
M/D: A bit thin and watery, but not a bad mouth feel. Very smooth and easy to drink though.

I don't think a lot of breweries make a winter seasonal out of an ESB. New Belgium did and I think it worked great. This is a wonderful beer that I would recommend.

Photo of johnyeast
4.32/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber in color with a slight white head. Smells of sweet tarts. A slight hint of hops and flowery notes last. First taste is not as tart as one would seem, but the bite of hops is there. This beer warms the belly. A highly drinkable offering from New Belgium that changes with each taste. As the beer gets warmer and is exposed to more air, the more it develops or becomes more complex. 3rd taste. It's starting to settle down. Not as much of a bite. This year's version is better than last year. Much better. This time of year in FC, this beer is a great choice.

Photo of Kemmerlin
3.51/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear amber red close in resemblance to an Irish Red. One finger width white foamy head that quickly thinned out.
S: A good smell of malt and hops and some holiday spice.
T: Very flavorful malty beer that invoked a true holiday spirit in me. I love winter beers around Christmas.
M: It is great going in and going down. Brings on a little dry after feel.
D: It took me some getting use to before really liking it but it definitely grew on me.

Photo of ajmoody76
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

my sister and bro-in-law brought this down from somewhere in the chicago burbs. bottle to pint glass. pours clear amber. one finger head that thins out. looks good.

hoppy nose. they dry hop this beer and that comes through. seems to be a little hoppy (30 IBU) for an ESB . . . but i like. good earthy hop aroma. no off odors.

can taste both malt and hops with the hops a little out in front. the bitterness of the hops and a little caramel. my wife says she gets a coffee aftertaste? a little out of balance for an ESB. however, i like hops.

lightly carbonated. mid-bodied. leaves a little lace.

i like this beer. could drink a few too many. the 6.6% ABV could creep up on you. maybe a little off for an ESB . . . but i dig it.

Photo of chileman13
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yeah New Belguim Winter Ale!
A- Pours copper, Amber 2 fingers of head that stays well.
S- Hopsy,earthy....Christmasy..
T- Malty with an overtone of good Hops. Reminds me of Amber Ale with a scare by the Hops monster.
M- Perfect carbonation smooth.
D- Oh yes its drinkable in fact I'm going to be a scrooge and not share. HAHAHAHA, I'm not sorry...

Photo of ultralarry2006
3.21/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Leaves a 2 finger tan head that has excellent retention, and it leaves excellent lacing. Body is orange amber with ruby highlights.

Smell - toasty malt biscuits, brewed tea, hint of caramel, and some spicy hops.

Taste - like the smell. There is toasty malt biscuits with spicy hops, giving way to tea ( malt ) with lemon ( hops ) at times. On the finish there is a fairly strong, and somewhat metallic, burnt malt bread taste.

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, with some hop oil slickness, and there is some acridness from the burnt maltbread metallic taste.

Drinkability - this is a decent ale. Unfortunately, the metallic burnt maltbread taste diminishes my enjoyment of this, so I'd want a change of taste after two or so, and even then I'd only be having this once in a while in the first place.

Photo of kmpitz2
3.41/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. The beer pours a solid copper color with a finger of white head that falls to a full coat over top. The clarity on this is fantastic and there are large bubbles forming at the bottom of my glass and cascading up to the top. The aroma is very earthy, with a strong toasted German malt character along with some biscuit-like qualities that I associate with other beers from this brewery. The hop only comes through to me in the earthy character. The flavor accentuates the toasted and biscuity malt character. There is a mild earthy hop in there that comes through on the finish. Aftertaste is slightly bitter and a little herbal character as well from the hop. I find as a I drink this, the malt seems to diminish and the hop seems a bit more upfront. Mouthfeel is moderate with a moderate carbonation of fine bubbles. Overall, this one is not bad. The malt character is and never will be my favorite, but I think it is what the brewer wants, so I can take that as it is. I don't think I would drink more than one in a night, but the 6 I got will be consumed without much worry.

Photo of radshoesbro
3.45/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

the first time i had this i drank it straight out of the bottle, i'm not sure why, but it gives off a much stronger hop flavor when consumed in this manner, so it's worth a try if that's something you'd be interested in.

this is one of the better winter brews i've had, only because it tastes like christmas! it really does have a feeling of having a spruce or pine in your mouth. totally weird, but true! pours a nice caramel with a little bubblely head and fair lace. head dissipates rapidly. smells of light floral hops, nothing impressive here. tastes the way christmas trees smell. odd, but interesting nonetheless.

Photo of Night
3.67/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Pours copper / brilliant orange; flecks of vermilion. Foamy and bubbly blonde-white head, medium in size. Lacing forms two wide, intricately drippy arcs. Frosty looking. Aroma is warm and lightly hoppy with a spicy sweet touch: toast, suds, apples, caramel, sweet grass, liquor. Mouthfeel is not quite juicy with a very light carbonation. Flavor is dominated by a subtle bread malt woodiness with overtones of peach, citrus, flour, and dust. Earthy for sure. Malts and hops are balanced in pretty good stride here. A touch of bitter cinnamon spice comes in at the finish. Aftertaste is light and a touch syrupy, with a gentle bitterness.

Photo of NCSUdo
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle

A: Crystal clear amber under a rather large white head. A lot of lace and really good retention. Damn good looking beer.

S: Toasted malt and some earthy hops, a little bit of plain ole malt character as well.

T: Toasted malt. Some sourness. A moderate amount of bitterness and a peppery hop character. Slight medicinal/herbal character as well. This one is slightly off balance.

M/D: Medium body, carbonation is a little hight but not bad. Drinkability is a little low due to taste being off balance but the beer still maintains a good amount of drinkability.

Photo of CamuMahubah
3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber...fizzy, fuzzy in the mug...

Vanilla biscuity aura almost a flowery burp...what the?..

..this is fruit cake stout...flower cake stout...the hops are here!...hop cake...almost as if the brewer was trying to bake gingerbread without the traditional ingredients...using a secret recipe that was perhaps stumbled onto...maybe Old Man Winter had one of his ice fairies sprinkle pixy dust over the master brewer's dreams!...this one is deep...like a heavy snow drift...yet...

A heavyweight with a light finish?!...almost as if the first sip is big snowfall...later on turning into a drizzle of snowflakes...I can't quite place this beer...last year I thought for sure this beer was spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg...So complex, I am lost...where did that herbal aftertaste come from?...

Slowly I finish my second one of the night and decide to head for a Fat Tire...You know how animals grow a heavy, Winter coat...well this beer is Fat Tire before the Spring molt..Our cows used to get frisky too with the onset of Winter...this beer is a bit wild...

Photo of DavidEddie
2.69/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Best by Feb 15 08

Appearance - Translucent amber with a thick white head.

Smell - Bread dough, biscuits, and light hops.

Taste - Sweet malt, bread, light roasted grain, and very light bitter hops.

Mouth feel - light bodied, kind of thin and watery.

Drinkability - Just okay, easy to drink, reminded me a lot of a slightly hoppy Fat Tire.

Photo of marksto
2.85/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours amber colored and crystal clear - no doubt due to the cold conditioning described on the label. Aroma displays some restrained fruity esters along with a distinct hop aroma and a slight breadiness. Flavor continues with a slight fruitness along with malt and a hop bitterness that overlies through the finish. The bitterness is again distinct and different from any I am familiar with. I'm guessing this is from the sterling hops. I'm not particuarly fond of this character, it exhibits a harshness bordering on metallic that I don't find appealing.

Overall, not the best among New Belgium's many excellent labels. Skip this one and go for one of the others.

Photo of Tolann
3.98/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Pours a copper amber color with a dense creamy white head that settles quickly leaving some lace. Clear with some cascading bubbles

S - Sweet and piny hops. Citrus notes

T - Sweet citrus quickly followed by bitter hops. They balance nicely, but seem to work independently. Maybe lemon and grapefruit.

M - smooth and medium/light body. A slightly dry aftertaste.

D - Nice to drink and has exceeded my expectations (I had set them low this time around, not really knowing too much about the beer). I may be back at the liquor store for this one; this time more than 1 bottle.

2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
82 out of 100 based on 1,146 ratings.