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Alaskan Winter Ale | Alaskan Brewing Co.

357 Reviews
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Alaskan Winter AleAlaskan Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Alaskan Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States | website

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.40%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed in the style of an English Olde Ale, this ale balances the sweet heady aroma of spruce tips with the clean crisp finish of noble hops. Its malty richness is complemented by the warming sensation of alcohol.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-03-2001

User Reviews
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Reviews: 357 | Ratings: 810
Photo of StoutHunter
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I picked up a bottle of Alaskan Brewing's Winter Ale a few weeks ago at The Lager Mill for $1.69. I've been meaning to try this one, so lets see how it goes. 2015 Vintage. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- The label looks good, it's got a nice design and it's a little eye catching. It poured an amber orange color that took on more of a orange color when held to the light with a little half a fingers worth of bubbly off white head that eventually faded away and it left some a little bit of spotty lacing behind. This is a nice looking beer, but I wish the head and retention were better.

S- The aroma starts off with a lower amount of medium sweetness with a woody and spruce aroma being the first to show up and it goes into a fruity yeast aroma with some stonefruit aromas showing up along with a little more sweetness that goes into the malts with some grainy, bready and caramel malt aromas. This beer has a pretty nice aroma, it lives up to it's name.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts off with a lower amount of medium sweetness with the spruce being the first to show up, but it quickly goes into those fruity yeast aspects that I got in the aroma, it's a little cherry like, but there is still some stonefruit coming through. Up next comes a slightly higher amount of medium bitterness that lingers just a little with some more spruce and fruity flavors showing up in the aftertaste. This is a pretty nice tasting beer, no flavor is too overpowering.

M- Fairly smooth, on the lighter side of being lighter bodied, a higher amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is pretty nice and it works well with this beer.

Overall I thought this was a pretty nice beer and good example of the style, it reminds me of Short's juicy tree, but it isn't nearly as intense. This beer had nice drinkability, I think one would be the perfect amount for me. What I like the most about this beer is that no aspect was to overpowering. What I like the least about this beer is that it wasn't just a little less bitter. I would buy this beer again next year and I would recommend it if you like spruce and piney beers. All in all I was happy with this one, it was kind of like a juicy tree light and I liked how all the key flavors were there, but no super intense. It's not a favorite Alaskan beer, but it's a little above average for the style, good job guys this is a tasty beer.

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Photo of tbryan5
3.64/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Have not had much from Alaskan Brewing Co. but this was a very pleasant ale. Nice winter spices with a malty backbone to complement the spices and slight hop bitterness.

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Photo of akolb
3.29/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Reviewed 1/8/25. Best by 3/3/16.
Look: Clear dark amber with thin, foamy head that quickly loses momentum. A suggestion of blood. 3/5
A: Far off pine trees. Clean, like stainless steel. Subdued malts. Nothing that grabs the nose. 3.25/5
T: Caramel and sweetness. Menthol and spice. The excitement is not there, but pleases the tongue. 3.5/5
M: Thin. Medium-low carbonation. Unfulfilling. 2.75/5
O: Uncomplicated. An easy drinking beer. Tastes better than it smells. The thin mouthfeel distracts. Drinkable, but I would not buy it again as there as multitudes of more interesting winter beers out there. 3.25/5

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Photo of Myotus
3.79/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Poured at 51°F from a 12oz bottle (best by date 21Mar15) into a snifter.
LOOK: Pours with a quarter fingers worth of off-white foam that shrivels into a partial line within 40 seconds. Rising bubbles are medium in size and are so scarce, that I can count them rising. Has a nice and clean copper color to it. There is no lacing.
SMELL: Strong aromas of tree nuts entangle with mild aromas of raisins, prunes, toffee, and caramel along with subtle earthy and spicy hop aromas. The spruce tips that the bottle says it is brewed with can barely be detected.
TASTE: Strong tree nut flavors enter initially and are immediately followed by strong raisin and prune flavors. Strong flavors of toffee and mild flavors of caramel, spicy hops, and earthy hops continue this symphony of taste. Subtle flavors of spruce enter lastly as all previous flavors persist, except for tree nuts, which fade to mild.
FEEL: Medium-bodied and moderately carbonated (where were all the bubbles, though?). Goes down smooth. Finishes with a subtle dryness. A slight alcohol warmth can be felt as it goes down the throat.
NOTE: As beer warms, spruce flavors become slightly more apparent. A very well balanced beer. I would like to have tasted more spruce, but everything else was great.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.62/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Kroger.

A clear copper pour with a thin off white head with decent retention, this looks great. The nose is subdued with a blend of kettle caramelized English malts and some spruce. A little burnt sugar, toffee and butterscotch are present. The palate opens with a clean English hop character, earthy, mildly woodsy with pleasant bitterness. This is followed by a robust malt flavor on a distressingly thin body. Burnt sugar, toffee, a touch of wet campfire smoke even, all complemented nicely by the spruce. Unfortunately, the body is a little too thin to pull this off. The finish is clean and mildly hoppy with a firming bitterness and a wet, woodsy note. Solid stuff.

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Photo of cdragos
2.29/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Oh no! What happened to this awesomly delicious beer? I even asked the owner or brewer at the great American Beer Fest when it would be released this year. I hyped it up at my local liquor store to the clerks. There is no pine smell or taste whatsoever. Did global warming wipe out all spruce trees in Alaska? This years' offering reminds me of a weak Fat Tire Ale.

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Photo of mjurney
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Amber color, clear. Highly carbonated. Small head.

Sweet malts, caramel, bready, a little citrusy and piney.

Rich malts, bready, biscuit, caramel, lightly roasted. Fruity character, mostly black cherries. Hint of pine (I guess that's the spruce). A bit of citrus hops towards the end. Finish is very crisp and clean. Full bodied, very crisp, refreshing, highly drinkable, very nice carbonation.

It's well made English-style old ale. Alaskan did a great job on this beer!

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Photo of Spacedog666
3.26/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Look: The best thing about this beer. Amber in color. There was head... for about 2 minutes. It disappeared very quickly. No lacing at all.
Smell: There is a faint and dulled scent of Spruce... sort of. It mostly smells like PBR with some herbs.
Taste: Again, PBR with some herbs.
Feel: Slightly carbonated. Light bodied.
Overall: I was very disappointed with this beer. It was not at all what I was hoping for. Could be made a little bit more bitter and the Spruce taste needs to pop out at me more.

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Photo of fizzician
1.83/5  rDev -50%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Tried this after seeing the positive reviews and was very disappointed. Very sweet, tastes like raspberries; looks and smells like apple cider. Weird after taste, too.

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Photo of inpherno
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On the red side of orange, Alaskan Winter had me smelling banana from the moment I popped the top. While there is little in the way of head or mouthfeel, this old ale has a fantastic banana nut-raisin bread flavor & the use of spruce brings vanilla notes. This is a light & refreshing winter seasonal that's very easy to drink.
(Best before 04/04/16, drunk 11/13/15)

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Photo of puck1225
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Very brief head, no lacing. Smell is malty and a bit sweet. Taste is no bad. Sweet fruit and some pleasant spice flavors.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A : Honey colored body with 80% transparency. Cap is popcorn colored and 2 fingers tall, leaving webs of lacing as it recedes.

S : Lots of fruit, namely plums and figs, with some grapefruit and pumpkin spice. A good bready malt backbone with a balance of noble hops included in the nose here.

T : Sticky and sweet...scotch, caramel, baked syrup/sap, candied figs, with a bunch of barley malt and a hint of spruce/grapefruit. Some pumpkin and fried squash are also tasted. It's a bit sickly sweet for me, and this is coming from a guy who can down Redd's all day. It's a different kind of sweet - sticky and syrupy, with an attempt of grapefruit to try to balance it, yet all it adds is a piece of fruit into an already sweet body.

F : Creamy and dense, mild to moderate carbonation pricking up through the density. It ends wet and calculated.

O : I was expecting a bitter beer, but I was surprised at the sweetness of this one. It's not bad, but it's not phenomenal. I'd say if you want to try something different for wintertime, this would be an easy ticket.

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Photo of detgfrsh
4.64/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Marked best by 4/4/16. Pours a transparent amber with a big two finger head. Smells of malt and spruce. Light mouthfeel with a rich malt, hop, and spruce flavor. One of my all-time favorites. I love the spruce tips in this one and have only tasted one or two other beers that are even remotely like it.

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Photo of OrtheusMaximusRex
4.23/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

OK. This beer is a polarizing one. It seems people either like it a lot or not very much at all. For context, I grew up in Wisconsin, where winter and pine and fir are abundant and I love the smell of these trees while skiing through the forest - this is what this beer reminds me of. Like the label, a spruce in front of a bright moon, I also associate that smell with the first cold day in late autumn where you know soon snow will be in the air and you take the cold freshness into your lungs.

So for me, I like this beer - especially, ironically, when its chilled very cold, which I discovered by accident. I dozed off while sitting next to the fireplace on a Friday night and was chilling a beer in the freezer. It was early but the family had gone to bed, I decided to drink it while waiting for the fire to die...when I poured it there were ice flakes in the beer. YUM.

A = 4, deep gold with tinge of copper, white head that dissipates.
T = malty with spruce fast (like tasting a fresh needle) but not overpowering, alcohol is there and can be kind of boozy when warmed (it is a winter warmer). IBU is only 22, I wonder what it'd be like if brought up to 30-35...
M = medium
S = maltly with a fresh winter/forest/pine/fir tree smell
O = 4.25

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Photo of Cannibalgasm
3.24/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz. bottle

A: Pours a deep golden color with a reddish hue. Head is thin and white and dissipated rather quickly. Lacing is also minimal.

S: Honey, ginger, cinnamon, citrus, spruce tips, and spicy pine like hops.

T: Honey, ginger, citrus, sweet malts, cinnamon, and some spicy hops.

M: Light bodied, medium carbonation, crisp yet grindy.

O: A great tasting beer that is otherwise unremarkable. It drinks like a domestic but taste like a true brew. Would be a good all day drinker for the festive times of year though.

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Photo of SD-Alefan
3.79/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a chalice.
Beer pours a medium copper color with a very sparse, tan head. No noticeable lacing. Lots of tiny bubble produced throughout the glassful.
Nice nose, with a big big hit of biscuit and caramel backed by a bit of cinnamon and spice and pine.
The taste hits my tongue, initially, a lot like and English bitter but then there is a bit of spicy hops and the piney resin from the spruce tips. I even detect a bit of berry near the end, just before the dry and bitter finish. A hint of warming alcohol as well.
The mouthfeel is medium and fairly sticky.
Overall, a fairly interesting brew. Maybe just a touch odd.

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Photo of SitkaSteve
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I've had this in pint glasses and snifters. I never really noticed any difference in color or head in either glass. Here's the rest.
The appearance was a glossy red to a light purple in the center of the beer. About a finger's worth of white foaminess rings itself around the glass as it drops in rings of lacing. I've never really seen that before, are old ales supposed to that? Okay, no worries.
The smell had more cherries than spruce. It was definitely sweet with a touch of warm booze.
The taste was pretty much the same as the smell. There's a light sweet cherry aftertaste leading to the same sort of finish.
The mouthfeel sat about a light to medium on the body with a decent sessionability about it. Its kinda sticky and has a wet sprucy/pininess rolling over my tongue.
Overall, well, I like it as a beer. I haven't had too many old ales. If anything, I know this goes pretty good with food and in my opinion, smoked salmon.

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Photo of Jaysauras
3.54/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

L: Pours a light orange, amber color with a rather thin soapy head to it. Looks almost like a glass of green tea at first glance. Small champagne like bubbles pool on the bottom and gently float to the top which was a nice thing to gaze upon. Little to no lace upon drinking.

S: faint floral smell with a touch of honey sweetness. There is a fruity citrus to it as well which certainly comes from the noble hops.

T: The taste is fairly remarkable, especially since I was expecting a more complex old ale style. Be that as it may I won't take away from it as if I were comparing it to a standard old ale. Where the smell and the look was a bit on the flat side, the taste is very pleasant. There's a nice crisp caramelly sweetness that hits you up front, followed by a combo of honey, citrus jams , buttered biscuit, and of course, spruce. I thought at first that the spruce tips were just going to be a bit of a gimmick, but you can taste them in the middle portion of the sip and they brought a very unique flavor to the brew. I love the finish on it which is where you really taste the old ale style. There is a slight warming of alcohol followed by a bit of berry and malts.

F: It's crisp and refreshing. Very light on and bubbly on the tongue and definitely a beer you could have two or three of without growing tired of.

O: It isn't the most appealing of brews at first glance by scent or sight. However, the flavor is unique and it is a very drinkable beer overall. I was kind of thrown for a loop with it being classified as an old ale (think Hibernation ale by Great Divide), which are generally darker, fruitier, and more complex. This drinks like a Kolsch or Summer ale almost with a slight hint of more wintery oriented brews. Great taste, but lacking in the overall niceties you want from an all-around strong old ale. The characteristics are there, but not enough in my opinion. For my first Alaskan beer though, I am fairly satisfied and could easily drink a few of them in one sitting. Will have to check out more of their selection.

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Photo of Kuaff
4.51/5  rDev +23.2%

Approximately cellar temperature, assuredly in my snifter.

Well the head is sorta nothin' and disappears to nearly nothin'. The color is pretty, however. A radiant, rich golden amber.

Smells pleasantly of honey, marmalade, white bread, cloves, and ginger. Also a tinge of cinnamon and some sweet, fruity citrus.

The flavor again hits with the honey and marmalade, transitioning oh so nicely into this blend of kinda tangy orange, sweet and yeasty bread, and lightly bitter hops. The finish gets a little astringent and resiny and is where I feel the spruce tips might be making their mark. Well-put-together!

Its feel is hangin' out in the medium to full zone, which works well here.

Very nice. While I wasn't sure at first, I also pick up on tartness that really reminds me of wild Alaskan blueberries (which I'm very familiar with) in both aroma and taste. I don't don't know where it's coming from, but I like it. Overall, this is an ale that doesn't overpower in any area, but is balanced and integrated as well as unique. Subtlety is key, using only the tips, and not the whole tree!

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Photo of PacNWDad
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Pours golden red and clear, with only a bit of head that dissipates very quickly. Little if any lace on the sides of the glass. Aromas of roasted malt, banana, baked apple, bread, a wee bit of piney hops. This is a very sweet beer (as a winter ale should be), with some tanginess from the spruce. Lightly carbonated. The spruce gives it a bit of a drier character than you would expect with a winter ale. Not a very long finish. Overall an enjoyable beer, although I am not particular fond of spruce tips as flavoring.

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Photo of Auraan
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Poured a clear amber body with no real head. It looks alright, though not the best for the style. Scents of fruity esters, apple, sweet malt with aromas of brown sugar, sweet spices, especially cinnamon and light bubblegum. Overall impression of aroma is of a sweet Old Ale that is quite appealing in its overall profile and true to the style. The spruce tips do not show up in the aroma which is disappointing. Flavor begins malty sweet with notes of brown sugar, apple and brown bread, with a light spiciness of cinnamon and a very light resinous bitterness, likely the spruce tips. This moves into a middle with more abundant cinnamon, as well as a light a alcohol presence. Finish is lightly sweet with notes of apple, sweet malt and brown sugar mingling with cinnamon and sweet spices and balanced by a light presence of alcohol and a slight bitterness. Aftertaste is lightly bitter with notes of cinnamon, alcohol, what I assume is spruce and grainy malt. Overall impression of flavor is of a nice Old Ale, spicy and sweet, but not cloying and with a nice bitterness in the background. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with medium-light carbonation. Overall impression of mouthfeel is of a very smooth, easy to drink beer. Overall this is a rather nice Old Ale. It is sweet and spicy as the style demands, and despite it's 6.4% ABV it shows its alcohol well, which is pleasant for a winter's night. It is smooth and easy going down and quite pleasant.

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, best before 3/15/2015. Pours slightly hazy bright orange color with a small dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a good amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of caramel, toast, biscuit, pear, apple, berries, spruce, herbal, grass, light pepper, light nuttiness, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, spruce, earthy hops, and yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of caramel, toast, biscuit, pear, apple, berry, spruce, herbal, grass, light pepper, light nuttiness, and yeast earthiness. Slight earthy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, biscuit, pear, apple, berry, spruce, herbal, grass, light pepper, light nuttiness, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice robustness and complexity of dark/bready malt, spruce, earthy hops, and yeast ester flavors; with a great malt/yeast/spice balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, fairly crisp, and lightly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice old ale style. All around good complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, spruce, earthy hops, and yeast ester flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +16.1%

Had this in the bottle and on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis.
A big, refreshing spruce nose from the bottle - less spruce in the draft version. There may be a little resiny hop in there too.
This pours brilliant amber under a fairly quickly dissipating 1" foam cap.
In the bottled version the spruce works well with the sweet malt flavors. In the draft version there is a little bubble gum and a thin sweetness that does not work as well with the spruce.
The body is medium with medium carbonation.
This is an interesting beer and well worth trying. My score is for the bottled version which I thought was very good. the draft version was just OK.

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Photo of stevoj
3.1/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Wasn’t expecting an old ale, but this fits nicely. The spruce combines with the hops to add a nice piney element to the orange/amber brew. Fast dissipating head, with fine, lazy carbonation. Aroma is whiskey malt and pine forest. Taste flattens out with a dull finish. No warming effect from the alcohol either. Decent, but better to be found.

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Photo of falloutsnow
2.88/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

From: Woodman's, Kenosha, WI
Date: Best by 2014-03-08 stamped on bottle
Glass: Standard US pint glass

Alaskan's Winter Ale is a surprisingly mild mix of pale malts, European hops, and light yeast character. The spruce tips are present, but fairly subdued along with the rest of the flavors. Not bad, but this is a fairly simple beer that could be brewed fairly easy at home. The malts are not particularly prominent or complex, along with the rest of the flavors and aromas. Not one I'd get again.

Pours a 0.5cm tall head of white foam, made up of medium-sized bubbles, creating a dish-soap like appearance. Retention is poor, the foam lasting less than thirty seconds in a decline to a thin ring around around the perimeter of the glass. Beer's body is a dark golden orange to copper color, with light bringing out a pale orange hue throughout the body. Carbonation is visible through the transparent body, moderate-high in number, similarly active.

Aroma is of light minerals and yeast with slight pale malt sweetness. In general, rather underwhelming.

Overall flavor is of light yeast, mild bread-like and pale caramel sweetness, low and clean hop bitterness with a slightly woodsy edge, and a bit of citrus from hops and/or spruce tips. Front of palate tastes light minerals, light pale and low lovibond caramel malt sweetness, and a touch of tartness and lemony flavor from hop and spruce tip usage. Mid-palate tastes pale base malt with a bit of light caramel-like sweetness, faintly woodsy hops, and a bit of tartness and dull fruity lemon from the inclusion of spruce tips. Aftertaste is lightly tart with hints of spruce-like lemon, a bit of pale and caramel malt sweetness, light lingering bitterness, and mild yeast.

Beer is medium-light to light in body, with carbonation of medium-low intensity, resulting in a mouthfeel that is partly foamy (2/5) and otherwise smooth (3/5). This is an appropriate and fine feeling for this type of ale. Closes semi-dry, with light to moderate stickiness clinging to the lips and palate.

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Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 357 ratings.