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2° Below Winter Ale - New Belgium Brewing

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

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1,157 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,157
Reviews: 569
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 12.64%
Wants: 24
Gots: 80 | 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: 1,157 | Reviews: 569
Photo of udubdawg
2.89/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle
pours acoppery amber color, nice clarity, and the cream colored head left sizeable clumps of lace here and there as it slowly receded.

Nothing in the nose is bad...it just isn't very strong. Lightly toasted malt, vague herbal hop aroma. Aroma (and taste) just don't seem very winter seasonal-ish to me.

Again I'm not sure where the 6.6% is coming from - there just isn't a lot there, and the flavors I AM getting aren't my favorite. Toasted grain, light earthy qualities. I wouldn't call it very sweet, or very bitter, or very complex. It does feel a bit grainy in the mouth, not at all smooth. Prickly carbonation.

I'd have little trouble drinking another, but have no desire to do so. Pretty average.

Photo of kkipple
2.39/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Buddy brought this back from his travels in the arid wastes of Colorado.... I have no idea what "style" this is supposed to be... hm.

2 Below is: very clear, still, sunset-gold in color with a small uneven white head that brings to mind mountain tops and hippie chicks.

Smells QUITE strange: malty, but with a bad cooked cabbage / sulfur note and a very dirty, grainy quality like someone pitched a shovelful of filthy hops into the boil. In addtion, the hops are all earth and dirt with only a faint citrus scent. Hmm....

Yeah, this just tastes weird. Grainy and sweet, metallic and dirty, iron and mild hop bitterness and that hideous cabbage flavor again... is this an ESB? A Winter Warmer? There's some lame spice in there somewhere but I can't be bothered to tease it out. Drain pour.

Bad bottle? Damaged in transit? Who knows. This wasn't good. I'll try it again if possible cause I know New Belgium can do better than this.

Photo of SafeAtFirst
3.61/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright copper with a thick white head that quickly settles into thin film that doesn't leave. Lacing is moderate. Looks pretty good sitting in my snifter.

Aroma is an odd mix of earthy, spicy, perfume-like hops. Also a barely noticeable biscuit odor.

Taste starts out with a lightly sweet, biscuit malt that quickly fades into a pepper, earth-like hop flavor. Smooth mouth feel with a slightly bitter, spicy finish. No aftertaste or alcohol burn.

Overall a nice little dry hopped winter beer. Not my favorite, but I pick up a six-pack every year. Drinkability would be better if it had a little bolder aromas and flavors.

Photo of PaleAlien2
2.66/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Bright orange with a frothy head.
S: Smells kind of weird. Roasted malts, some hops and an off herbal, earthy smell. Maybe some type of spice. Whatever it was, it didn't really smell good.
T: It tastes just like the odd smell. I can't tell if it's a roatiness or if it's in the hopping.
M: Finish is a little filmy, but pretty good.
Overall: I credit them for trying something a little different, but it just came out weird to me. Wouldn't buy again.

Photo of khiasmus
2.88/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A- Clear light amber with a moderate amount of soapy head that retains like foam on a beach.

S- A bit metallic, hops smell brand new and piney, malt in the back.

T- Initially some weak sweet malt, giving way to a bit of hop balance, then a bit of metal, vegetal, and sulfur.

M- Thin, watery, relatively low carbonation and a dry, lingering finish.

D- It's alright, but not one I'll go for again. The flaws seem to outweigh the good parts of this beer, sadly.

Photo of brewmaster411
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is new Belgium's seasonal winter ale. Their advertising features the brewmaster's sister in a snow fairy costume. Very pretty.

The beer pours an orange-red with a lacy beige head The aroma is a very strong spice that dominates through the palate. It is reminiscent of allspice/nutmeg. there is a nice biscuit malt aroma.
The flavor is dominated by the hop spice wit ha slight malt/bread character in the mid-palate.

Overall, this is a nice winter warmer.

Photo of ybnorml
4.33/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A clean yellow/orange colored beer. Has a nice smooth creamy white head and lacing that looks like a milk mustache . The aroma has a strong spicy hop character and an light biscuit malt note with a hint of clove in the background. The start of the taste begins with a light biscuit malt note on the front of your tongue. Followed by that nice spicy hop character on the back edges of your tongue and mouth. That leads to a crisp and refreshing finish.

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

12oz bottle

This beer pours an orange-amber color with a nice-sized off-white head that displays average retention while leaving behind a wash of lacing. The appearance is impressive.

The aroma immediately reminds me of Fat Tire. Hmm. Same yeast strain? Similar malt profile? Whatever the case, that general aroma immediately reminded me of Fat Tire.

The taste is similar. If I were to describe it in 3 words or less, I'd say Fat Tire Light. A nice beer, but I was expecting something a bit more hoppy based on the blurb on the label. I used a bit of this to baste and steam the inside of a roasted chicken, and it provided a perfect complement to the bird. Overall, an enjoyable beer that I won't necessarily look forward to each year. Great option to match with poultry.

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Clear, light bronze appearance with thin white head. Smells like what I remember fat tire tasting like, very distinguishable yeast flavor. Tastes much the same, a bit hoppier perhaps. I don't care much for the flavor, definitely too similar to fat tire, which I am not particularly fond of either. Not a bad beer, but not one I would probably pay money for.

Photo of nicnut45
4.44/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Beer poured a beautifully clear medium copper color with two fingers worth of head that fades into a thick silky head with heavy and light patches of foam on top.

Smell - This is possibly one of my most favorite smelling beers. The hops smell FRESH. Resiny, sticky sweetness. Almost reminds me of steaks and fresh cut grass at the same time. I dont think my limited grammer can do this beer justice to its smell. Its awesome.

Taste - Hops are prevalent at the first taste but I notice as the beer warms up you notice more of the malt. Lemony, spicy hops with a bit of that fresh cut grass taste you get from the smell. Nutty toasted malt taste a lot like fat tire with more hops. I will say this too, I have had the most pleasing almost exotic like belches from this beer. Give it a shot you'll see what I mean.

Mouthfeel - This beer feels a little above average on mouthfeel. Its not really heavy like Tripel and nowhere near a light...falls in between. I would say maybe a bit heavy for the style but not bad at all.

Drinkability - I could drink these all night. I would buy it again. Not really a session beer though. Pretty high alcohol content for an E.S.B. All in all I was not too impressed with fat tire or New Belgium brewing after all the craze, but this beer changed my mind.

Photo of merlin48
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle pours a clear amber body with a tiny offwhite head that quickly drops into some patchy lacing. Aroma is toasty caramel and earthy hops. Light medium body is well carbonated. Tase has lots of earthy hops bitterness with a toasted caramel malt presence underneath. A hint of pear fails to fully emerge. Nicely drinkable but pedestrian.

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.

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2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
82 out of 100 based on 1,157 ratings.