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Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05 - Mendocino Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

47 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 47
Reviews: 47
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 0
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company visit their website
United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Guinness4me on 12-06-2004)
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Ratings: 47 | Reviews: 47 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by kinger:
Photo of kinger


3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled from a pint glass, didn't get a very strong aroma. Deep copper color with generous lacing and a solid head especially for the high abv. Full mouthfeel, nice finish. Flavor is very hoppy and bitter. Not a huge fan of this brewer, their underlying hop profile generally doesn't agree with me but this is one of their better brews.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2008 01:41:44 | More by kinger
More User Reviews:
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

3.25/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

amber with a huge creamy head that quickly faded leaving some nice lace down the sides. Smell was hoppy with sweet caramel undertones and a slight smell of alcohol. The taste was extremely sweet. Almost tasted like candy. Dry hopped finish, but still very sweet.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2011 14:34:43 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of ChainGangGuy


3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a flat, dark brown body with no real head, but it's been three long years, so I can't hold that against it.

Smell: Dark malts with a soothing, earthy scent of dusty baker's chocolate and minor notes of caramel and roast.

Taste: Dark maltiness, a taste of unsweetened chocolate and then caramel. Dash of good, wholesome spring water. Some roastiness and hints of coffee develop near the end.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: It's good! An aged goodness, though, but that's better than no goodness at all, right?

Serving type: bottle

05-06-2008 02:10:47 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of Gueuzedude


4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer is an opaque black color that is topped by an initially one-finger thick, fairly quickly disappearing, dirt brown, dark tan colored head. The aroma has definitely taken on an aged character. It is certainly not overtly oxidized, but has picked up notes of concentrated aged malt and burnt sherry. Condensed notes of dark chocolate and dark roast coffee mix quite well and the combination of the two is perhaps the most noticeable part of the aroma. A touch of dry, burnt, grain husk aromatics adds an almost chalky note and a touch of a burnt acidity to the aroma.

There is a touch of soft creaminess to the feel of this beer. On the whole it is fairly light, but does have a certain richness that helps it to linger on the tongue. The finish has a nice chocolate note to it that is almost soft enough to be described as a dark milk chocolate character. Smooth roasted notes of espresso and burnt malt add a touch of acidity to the finish, but definitely a dark grain derived bitterness as well. There is a note of burnt fruitiness here, noticeable in both the aroma and flavor (perhaps more so in the aroma), that reminds me of burnt figs. A malty sweet middle is here as well, it is not as apparent as it's intensity would suggest as the roast flavors of this beer help to hold it in check quite well.

Really in the end the smooth chocolaty, malty middle is what stands out the most to me here. This beer is very drinkable, actually down right quaffable. The flavors show less age than the aroma might suggest, though I think that the body has likely lightened up a bit over the past couple years.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2006 00:41:57 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of mjc410


4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I bought this by the case from a discount rack in the summer of '05. I never reviewed it then, but it was much more bitter and alcoholic, and also tasted overly roasted. Things have developed a bit... (consumed 30 Jul 2006)

Poured somewhat vigorously into a tall, skinny straight glass. The beer is utterly black, capped by a very slight brown lace. Looking closely, I see small bubbles rise to the surface and spread out. It's fascinating how this liquid seems to absorb light, and yet I can see these bubbles along the edge of the glass. On smelling, I pick up brown sugar, a bit of burnt coffee, cocoa, and hints of caramel. I can't tell if the pungeantness I smell is hops or roast (leaning toward roast for the style and age), but it's very inviting. My first sip tells me immediately that the cellar time was well spent. The beer has taken on a vinous port character, although it is quite integrated into the other flavors, which are rich coffee accompanied by sweetness at first, followed by more coffee and port, which finally recedes to bittersweetness. The mouthfeel is the weakest link - it's very thin, especially considering the other potencies, but nonetheless still fairly well carbonated. I would appreciate more thickness, especially if I were drinking this during Winter. Overall, it aged well, and was very nice with some fresh walnut brownies. I've got four more bottles in the cellar, and I think I'll save them for the snow.

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2006 14:06:22 | More by mjc410
Photo of kmcnair


3.63/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle.

Pours an opaque black color and makes a tanned head that stands about an inch thick. Head retention is not so great, but given the age on this beer, it gets a break.

Aromas of burnt dark grains, liquorice, dark dried fruits.

Very rich flavor featuring dark caramelized sugars meld into a thick, velvety chocolatey, mocha coffee. Strong figs, prunes and a slight hint of diacetyl tell me that it is a bit passed it's prime. More of a robust/imperial porter than a winter warmer IMHO.

Crisp carbonation, medium bodied and a pretty dry finish.

I'm certain this beer was better fresh, but its still drinkable at this point in time.

Thanks Jredner for the bottle!

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2006 06:59:53 | More by kmcnair
Photo of jj21


3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle
Looks like dark coffee with a scarce head that dissipates quickly. Aromas of chocolate malts and smoke. Mellow hop aftertaste follows smooth malty flavor. I tasted this after it was a year old, I think it would have been much better fresh, but still not too bad. Very easy drinker.

Serving type: bottle

04-25-2006 17:54:33 | More by jj21
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tar black with little head. Molasses aroma. Straight porter with mollasses and only a faint woodiness, roast and chocolate. Mouthfeel is probably medium, but feels thin because of all the better porters I have had. Drying finish. An easy drink with dinner.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2006 03:14:40 | More by Sammy
Photo of danielharper


4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased from Strong Bros. Liquor Store, Fayetteville, TN.

A: Pure black body, wispy tan head that dissipated immediately.

S: Malty, toasted chocolate aroma. Slight hoppiness. _Very_ inviting. No spices at all.

T: At first taste, this tastes just like a stout: very malty, slightly drying, roasted and toasty. But in the aftertaste we get a bit of the spiciness that a winter warmer should be known for. Very different for a winter warmer, but a near-perfect stout.

M: Thick, velvety. Slight tang as the beer goes down.

D: I could drink these regularly. I know it's a year old or so, but this beer is really good, thought of as a stout, although less so for a winter warmer. I'll be buying more if I can find it to see if this was just an odd bottle.

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2006 23:38:38 | More by danielharper
Photo of Jredner


3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice sharp hop aroma with ample coffee and bitter chocolate notes. Black with a pinky thick, lasting, mocha head. Coffe and roasted hops. Very bitter finish that made me love it. This is the best I have had from Mendocino. Nice beer that far exceeded my expectations.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2006 17:43:58 | More by Jredner
Photo of pentathlete


4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Unexpected inky black with a small tan head. Looks like a porter to me. Bread dominates the nose with some hints of chocolate and spices. Licorice laces the malt flavors with a pervasive but not overly bitter hop character. Carbonic bite in the middle and finish kept this from having a fuller mouthfeel. Flavors were like a mild Baltic porter. The spices didn't seem strong enough to be a winter warmer (at least an American version). A fine, if confusing, brew. Drink it for what it is: a dark ale with some interesting flavors.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2005 02:44:37 | More by pentathlete
Photo of bigdeuce


4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mendocino Winter Ale is almost a cousin of the Russian Imperial Stout, it's more a stout than a winter warmer, but who cares. This beer is excellent! Very malty with high cocoa concentration. The smell is what is the best and where I feel it is a cousin of the Stout. Also, very toasty with roasted coffee sediment a little bitter at first goes down smoothly. Terrificly priced at 5.49 a sixer. The only problem with this excellent beer is you can only get it 2 or 3 months a year.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2005 22:49:55 | More by bigdeuce
Photo of Shiredave

New York

3.1/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer is unique to the Saratoga NY Branch of the Mendocino Brewing Co.
Very dark brown color, tall frothy tawny head that slumps quickly leaving a few specks of lace.
A strong sweet coco aroma dominates the first whiff. Very malty with hints of nutmeg or other baking spice.
Flavors are sharp and metalic from the start - harsh and unbalanced to me with a sickly bloody bitterness all the way thru to the finish.
Sugary, light to medium malt body seems watery compared to the rich malty intro from the aroma. Some chocolate flavors carry over but rough dark grain and hop bitterness overpower any subtle sweetness that would add complexity or balance to this beer.
Finish is slightly alcoholic with a strong long lasting tinny bitter aftertaste.
This one aged for 6 months in a cool dark place and didnt do it any favors. Not bad, but not quite good either.

Serving type: bottle

09-04-2005 04:40:30 | More by Shiredave
Photo of BEERchitect


2.93/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Looks thick and rich. Very porter or stout like. Tan to brown head formed quickly and persisted fairly well. Low carbonation and big bubbles.

Smells of sweet roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, toffee. Smells much like a porter or stout. Deep but subtle souring.

Tastes again like a dark porter or sweet stout. Heavy doses of roasted barley and chocolate malt. Much thinner body than one would expect. Medium, round mouthfeel. Body fades quickly into aftertase which lingers with roastedness and bitterness.

Impression: Too weak in the body for a legitimate stout or porter. Too roasted to be a brown ale. It' caught somewhere in between. Nevertheless, a good drinking beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-24-2005 17:21:19 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of RBorsato


4.95/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pure black with a full creamy brown head, good carbonation, and some lace. Dark chocolate and roasty coffee aroma with a touch of hops to balance the nose. Robust roasty, chocolately Robust Porter/American Stout aroma and flavor; reminds me a bit of a Starbucks mocha. Medium-full bodied and smooth with a dry roasty finish.

Excellent rich and robust Porter/Stout style !! Will buy a case next year if it's the same brew...

Per label: "Saratoga Springs, NY" & "Chocolate and Caramel malts, Warrior and Cascade hops"

2004-2005 version
Tasted: 05/26/05

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2005 21:23:58 | More by RBorsato
Photo of Brent


4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was a bit hesitant to buy a winter seasonal in May, but with 7% abv, I figured it should hold up pretty well. It certainly had. Poured near-black with a mocha head that settled rather quickly. Sweet roasted malt aroma. Flavor profile was dominated by a dark roasted chocolate malt. Maple syrup and light molasses were noted, and while the beer had dense, complex sugar flavors, the overall level of sweetness was only moderate. Hops played a supporting role to the malt, but were not plowed under, and lent a broad Cascade bittering at the finish. Mouthfeel at the end was a bit slick, but not unpleasantly so. The alcohol was nowhere to be found in the flavor. Overall, this was very well done. While the brewer calls it a winter warmer, I'd put it in the robust porter family.

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2005 14:02:19 | More by Brent
Photo of elsinore


3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer reminded me of some of the better porters I've tried.
I thought I was an idiot ("It's an ALE, not a PORTER, stoopid") until I checked BA and found I was not alone in that impression.

Anyhow, this one pours from the bottle a deep brown, with a nice tan head that leaves some pleasing lace on the glass.
I got mostly dark malts and coffee out of the smell -- not as complex as what others have reported, but still fine.
The tastes ... hmmm .. chocolate, coffee, a hint of molasses, and a bite of hop bitterness at the end, all mixing together very nicely with a smooth mouthfeel.
I did get *some* sense that this had a higher ABV than your basic beer, but the alcohol didn't hit me over the head.
This would definitely do the trick as a winter warmer, but is not so heavy or alcoholic that you couldn't enjoy it on a warm spring day as well.

Perhaps also worth mentioning: I got this stuff on a pretty deep discount at my local package store, which was trying to get rid of it, it being a winter ale and this being April.
It's possible, I suppose, that the beer I bought (which was not freshness dated) might be reaching its use-by date, and that the stuff might be even better in January when it's really fresh.
No matter -- it's still very good now, so much so that I am considering swinging back for another case.
All in all, would definitely recommend this for winter or spring drinking.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2005 02:01:54 | More by elsinore
Photo of weeare138


4.28/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It looks almost like a porter, or a stout with a half inch head when poured. Leaves scatterings of lace as it goes down. Tiny lines of bubbles arising from the bottom of the glass, straight up to the creamy beige head.
Smells like roasted (borderline burnt) malts, cocoa, and spice. Not what I expected from this one.
The mouthfeel is is creamy with the taste nailing each and every taste bud from the sweetness of the brew in the front of my tounge, ripping through the middle and back with the balanced bitters and roasted tastiness. Very nice! Tastes delicious.
It is very drinkable for this borderline porter. I like it a lot. Probably couldn't drink these all night but I would recommend as an after dinner, or a night capper. Probably very nice with a fine cigar.

Finger licking good!

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2005 23:47:02 | More by weeare138
Photo of maybrick


3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had the joful opportunity to have this brew on 3/22/2005. I poured it into a 16 ounce pint glass. Very dark with hints of red. Good head. Wonderful nose - even cold one can pick up the carmel & chocolate malts. Surprisingly, you can also detect a strong hop aromoa.

I was impressed with the taste. It is sweet on the fron end but remarbaly has a wonderful hop finish! What a nice balance between malt and hop profiles. The bottle neck label reveals this is 7.00 abv. I think it actually may be slightly higher.

If you rn across it, have one I think you'll enjoy it.

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2005 14:02:53 | More by maybrick
Photo of ChrisBowers


4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great beer from a craft-brewing pioneer. Pours a dark black with ruby hues.

Smell: Roasted malts, hops, subtle spicing and a bit of pine maybe?

Taste: Some christmas spices up front, bitter dark chocolate, coffee/espresso, slightly creamy, with a nice bitter hop finish. I'd recently gotten burned out on sweet stouts/porters and this really hit the spot!

Mouthfeel: Rich, full and creamy.

Drinkability: Very drinkable for a higher than average ABV. Richness may limit consumption though.

This is a great beer, falling somewhere between a stout and a porter. Picked up a 6er for $5.99, so that was an added bonus!

Serving type: bottle

03-22-2005 00:16:13 | More by ChrisBowers
Photo of Tballz420


4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This brew is a deep dark black color, red hues lining the glass. Creamy, khaki colored head on the top. The scent is mainly roasted dark malt, some chocolate tones. Pretty much the same going on with the taste, roasted chocolate malt, some spices, with bitter hops rounding out the back. Fully creamy mouth. Seems not far off from a porter or stout.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2005 17:59:28 | More by Tballz420
Photo of WesWes

New York

4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a rich, malty scent that is full of caramel and chocolate malts. It is robust and dark in nature, but it also has a hoppy aroma that adds a bit of balance to an already good aroma. The taste is good. It has a thin, yet very malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes dry and earthy with a chocolate malt and hop aftertaste. It's a warmer, but it doesn't reveal the abv. . The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good beer all around. I like the look, the smell, and the taste; a terrific drinker.

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2005 01:16:23 | More by WesWes
Photo of Billolick

New York

3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ouncer sampled, pours almost black, hmm, dark for a winter ale. Dark tan head, spice, pine and cola in the aromatic nose. This is a full bodied, full flavor brew. Winter spicing bold and up front. Also notes of vanilla, cocoa, grainy coffee and warming alcohol. Nice, smooth finish, well done winter warmer. fine winter sipper

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2005 14:33:11 | More by Billolick
Photo of tavernjef


4.58/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Silhouetted matte black with a glorious thickly pour, which surprised the hell out of me, I was expecting a brown ale-like pour but got a nearly Imperial Stout-like pour. Great cap too, nice and tall with a covering of smooth dark tan foam. Settles to a pretty heavy skim and leaves lacing in sticky little webbings, some bigger globs, and broken sheeting as well. Looks awesome!

Whoa, smells awesome too! Holy complex array of hops and roasty things Batman! An intriguing mix of bittered chocolate and oily pineous orange-tinted hops make the front very warming with scrumptious hints to coffee roast and heavy, dark roasted malting. Yet, all the while keeps one hugely hopped up edge of breathy pinewoody earth. Maduro tobacco cigars soaked in chocolate and molasses spring to life as it warms. This is an unbelievable nose, one I could smell all day! Great hop and roast medley thats akin to Alpha Klaus.

Ahhhh, favorable taster but somethings missing a bit from the strength the nose gives way to. Not sure what it is but its a bit tamer then given what the nose portrays. Any-who, it's still damn good with a moderate bittering of chocolate and hops with weighty bits of roasted grains and malts. Caramel centers it with a touch of Heath Bar-like toffee and malted milk balls coating and texturizing. Ends with a repeating fresh coffee sense, burnt molasses, and slight tobacco juice decorating the finish with a medley of left over sweet roasted malt and hoppy dryness that sits for a good while leaving notes of charred pine super late. Again, the mix of roast and hops makes for one delightful treat. There's bits of smokened dark fruits in there breaking inbetween what room is left from the hops and roast, which ain't much but they do add some terrific little captions along the way.

Body is about medium, nudging towards a thicker turn with a firm hold of fluffy texture thats both hoppy and roasty the whole time. Complex, drying, roasty, hoppy, lingering, stagering, oh great now the 7% hits. Wow! Even so, this was gone in no time flat. Take OSA and Alpha Klaus and this is what you come up with? One fantastic brew. Yum!

Serving type: bottle

03-11-2005 23:52:45 | More by tavernjef
Photo of Shaw


4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours solid black with a nice brown head that turns into just a layer of foam in my glass. It smells of chocolate, roasted malts, coffee and nuts. It's quite complex. There's also a hint of hops in the back end, as it were.

The roasted smells carry over to the taste. It is quite robust and rich, with a bit of "bite" from the roasted malts. It certainly has a warming quality to it. Reminds me of a robust porter or American stout. The hop bitterness becomes noticeable in the aftertaste. For a hophead like me, though, this isn't very hoppy.

The body is good and substantial but also very smooth and glassy.

Overall this is a good Winter Warmer and one worth checking out.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2005 07:28:21 | More by Shaw
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Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05 from Mendocino Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 47 ratings.