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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 vette2006c5r
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Winter Ale pours a darker copper color with a small non lacing head. There is a very sweet fruity and piney aroma. The taste has a sharp malt backbone, lots of pine, citrus flavors; sweet. A bit too sweet, and a little too flat. Overall it is pretty sweet, and fruity, the spruce tips make it unique.

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Photo of Spikester
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear amber with about one finger of off white head. No lacing.
Smell is big sweet caramel malt.
Taste is sweet caramel malts with a tiny bitter hop or spruce tip bitterness.
Mouthfeel is medium with proper carbonation.
Overall a nice Amber Ale. You must like sweet beers.

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Photo of jwc215
3.57/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours amber to copper with a thin lasting head. Trailing lace sticks.

The smell is of caramel with light spruce.

The taste is of sweet caramel. Mild spruce tips and mild hops give it balance in the finish. Slight alcohol warmth shows.

It is on the fuller side of medium bodied. It's pretty smooth.

Spicing not to heavy, which works fine.

When I was taking notes on it I thought it was a winter warmer, but looking back it could be stretched to fit in with old ale, as styles are open to interpretation. Whatever the case, it makes a nice winter ale.

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Photo of NeedBeerHere
3.46/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

From notes:

Pours out a translucent maroon in color with a small white head with little retention. Smell is of dark fruits, sweet sugar, dark malts, with a tad of orange. The components in the are pretty subdued but present. Taste is basically what was in the nose except a tad more malty and there is a tad of bitterness. The tastes are all quite subdued as they were in the nose. Mouthfeel is semi-thin which seems reasonable for the style. Overall this is a decent beer not is it anything too great. It's pretty good but I like my winter beers in a different style.

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Photo of mhaugo
3.31/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle decanted into a tulip. 6.4% ABV.

Appearance: Brilliant bronze, no head whatsoever (4/5).

Aroma: That spruce comes out quick. Smells like a hike in the forest. I also get a touch of honey and maple syrup (3.5/5).

Taste: Cherry Kool-Aid? Wow… that’s an unexpected flavor. As my palette acclimates to the sweetness, I start picking up a little vanilla and honey. All of that is followed by a whisper of floral hops. Everything is very quiet behind that healthy sweetness (3/5).

Mouthfeel: Medium body, low carbonation. I get a touch of alcohol heat on my exhale. It might benefit from a little more body, but it’s not bad (3.75/5).

Overall: This is a fairly nice beer. The local spruce is a nice twist, but it may be a little sweet for my taste. That artificial cherry flavor is kind of unexpected and bizarre. Thankfully the sweetness doesn’t hang heavy on my tongue, but I definitely would not order a second round. If repeat orders are the measure of a successful pint, I guess this one has failed. But I certainly don’t regret purchasing this single bottle, and may consider another one next year (3.25/5).

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Photo of minterro
2.87/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A&S: Mildly lively translucent murky orange/yellow. Very thin head and dies to nothing. Very malty in the aroma. Some raisins and caramel present.

T&M: Similar to the aroma: lots of maltness with some caramel. Very non-descript. Mildly bitter in the finish. Crisp but moderately smooth. Medium bodied with medium-high carbonation.

Overall: I really don't understand how this beer could be an old ale. If anything it's a winter warmer, but it doesn't really fit anything in particular. This beer is by far the worst old ale I've ever had, it not an awful beer, just an awful old ale. It doesn't have any real dark fruit presents or alcohol intensity.

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Photo of brewbattles
3.44/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

We did a blind taste test between this and 4 other Winter Seasonals to objectively determine which one was best. They beers were: Deschutes Jubelale, Anderson Valley Boont Winter Solstice, Big Sky Powder Hound, Alaskan Winter Ale, and Redhook Winterhook. Check it out:


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Photo of martyl1000
4.28/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Had this as a 10 oz. chaser to an exceptional bloody mary at The Caribou (Madison). Bright amber, with a small white head and serious lacing.

Knowing Alaskan for the syrupy greatness that is their Pilot Series barley wine, I predicted this winter warmer would have a sugary persona. Boy, howdy. Low in alcohol for what I'm used to in old ales, the aroma is quite mild, more like an amber ale, without much by way of spice or hops. Definitely bready and nutty, to be sure, just a bit quiet in the nose.

Surprisingly thick and creamy in body. High sugar content sweetness, even for an old ale, without the leather or sand of others in the style, like North Coast Old Stock or Founders Curmudgeon, which I'm glad for. Surprising sugar-citrus, sweet-ripe mandarin orange. I'd say apricot, green grape, too. Wasn't expecting all the fruit. No hops to speak of, though the sweetness comes in balance, so there must be some bitterness.

Totally satisfying, though doesn't touch the outer realms of my favorite old ale, Bells Third Coast Olde Ale (arguably more of a barley wine, anyway).

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Photo of DerAtomsmasher
2.87/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - a deep reddish orange. Head didn't stick around long.

S - a sweet aroma of dried dates, ripe pear and some grape. Slight herbaciousness.

T - this one's a little sweet for my taste. Almost brandy-like and better in small quantities. A lot of berry jam, white grape, pear and a small amount of peach. I'd really love there to be more of a spruce character here...or even just a piney hop, compared to the hops present here in the background.

M - a little sticky. a little cloying.

I had to try this because of the spruce tips & I give props, always, to Alaskan for having an unpopular German style (alt) as a year-round brew but this one just didn't cut it for me. Longest a six-pack has lasted in my fridge.

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Photo of BeerWizard
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours Triaminic orange with pretty much zero head, just a little perimeter of foam. Nose is actually a little tough to get anything from, smells a little sweet and lightly hopped, but not detecting the spruce tips the packaging says it's brewed with. There is a real berry-like quality in the flavor, and I was getting a little of that in the nose, too. It's got a blackberry jam element to it...is that spruce tips? I don't know. All I know is this tastes really freakin good. Nice medium mouthfeel, bitter on the back end, some detectable alcohol, but not a huge-alcohol beer, really. Low carbonation. Overall, I like this one quite a bit, and would get it again.

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Photo of rawfish
3.59/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dullish amber, very small head from a normal pour. Slick lacing and nearly no retention.

Bready, with cinnamon, honey and brown sugar spices, a bit of pine, syrup and noble hops. Sweet and dry.

Bready and grain husks, rather clean with some nuances of simple syrup, cola and maple. Hops keep things clean and dry with a bit of pine and grassy bitterness. Sticky malt but dries rather well. Medium body, average carbonation and well hidden alcohol.

Simple old ale, plenty of spice notes and a grainy malt backbone. Much better than Alaskan's amber as a winter session beer. Not a bad beer, rather middle of the road, interesting to try.

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Photo of spoony
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From a 12 oz bottle into a snifter (from notes dated January 13, 2013).

A-A normal pour produces a shortish, one-finger head of very-off-white foam. The brew is a pleasant, red-hued, dark amber color. It is mostly clear.

S-Smell is malty with lots of brown sugar, maybe some cinnamon. There is touch of hoppy resin, but I don't pick up much tree.

T-Taste is unique. I detect medicinal, herbal, astringent flavors from the spruce and hops, but the tree flavor is not overpowering and there is a warming, fruity alcoholic flavor, as well.

M-Medium bodied with slightly prickly carbonation. Good balance for the flavors.

O-This beer gets points for originality and for not over-doing it on the spruce tips. Usually, tree is quite bitter tasting, but here, the tree pairs well with other flavors. I would not want to drink it every day, but it made for a good winter brew, so extra points for truth in marketing.

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Photo of Pegasus
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: The body is copper-colored with sharp clarity., crowned a large, show-white head, which retains quite well. The lacing is interesting in appearance, it leave a pattern that closely resembles a dusting of snow on a window pane. The carbonation is composed of numerous streams of small bubbles that drift lazily to the surface.

Aroma: Rich toasted bread notes vie with moderate hop aromas that seem to have a Noble component. There is also an aroma that I associate with spruce, although it could be the hops or a combination of both. In all, the aroma is a touch less sweeter than I would have expected from an Old Ale.

Taste: Opens with toasted malts, and a slight flush of sweet alcohol, soon followed by rather piney hops. The hops dominate, but the malt presence and hops carry throughout the taste, but in a supporting role to the dominant hops. There is a mild, lingering hop note at the end of the taste.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, and quite pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: A very nice example. I have never really thought of visiting Alaska, but I think I might like to, just to check out the craft beer scene.

Presentation: Packaged in a stubby twelve-ounce brown glass bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

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Photo of MarioM
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz poured into tulip

A: Nice clear orange color, good carbonation, small bubbles rising as white head disappears with no lacing.

S: slight maltiness but nothing else, I was expecting some spices but i'm not getting much.

T: slightly sweet, very light hop character but mostly malt characters with some spice.

M: Smooth with some bitterness left over, slight warmness too.

O: Definitely unlike other winter ales, very drinkable and mild, its just not as spicy as I would expect. Others are too spicy but this one just doesn't feel like a winter ale. Still a good beer though.

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Photo of JackieTH
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber pour with a thinnish head, minimal lace. Smell is crackers, bread, malt, with a lightness that may be spruce, but its certainly not piney. Taste is a solid cracker crust malt base, quite tasty, with a nice helping of hop leaving the palate lightly refreshed, a hint of bubblegum and perhaps lemon toward the end. Nice medium body with a hefty, well crafted feel. Easy drinker.

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Photo of bmwats
3.62/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint.

A: Golden hue. Pours about a finger and a half, foamy, white head. Craters quickly and unevenly leaving some dry sticky residue on the sides of the glass. Disintegrates completely. Virtually no lacing.

S: Italian bread, with significant floral notes, and the sweetness of cinnamon toast.

T: Sourdough bread, slightly spiced and slightly sweetened. Pretty solid balance of bread, sweet, spice, and hops.

M: Steely, almost synthetic feeling sweetness in the front, with a nice lingering hop bite.

D: This goes down smooth and easy, but not a session.

Atmosphere is pretty solid. Appearance is good enough on the front end, although quickly deteriorates. Nose is, however, a really nice floral bready thing going on with some sweet notes. Flavor is a hoppy, sweetened, bitter experience. Overall, this is a good quaff.

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Photo of Behrhunter
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tried this ale at a bar and really enjoyed it. Found it at my local liquor store and bought a sixer. Poured it in a glass, and had at it. Smell's great, tastes better hints of fruit and spice, and I dare say minty finish but not too sweet or minty. One beer turned into 2 then 3 and I actually drank 4 of them I was so intruiged by the taste. Really nice Ale! Awesome Winter beer!

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Photo of Vashtar
4.65/5  rDev +27%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Chris_Cali_2o9 nailed it in his review.

It has a nice head with acceptional lacing.

The berry taste is definite, but doesn't become monotonous. It isn't a typical winter beer, but it's one of my favorites.

The mouthfeel is like laying down a heavy grocery sack that you haven't been carrying for more than a few seconds.

The smell could be a wonderful air freshener, but better.

I would definitely like a six pack. I just wish the labeling were more appealing so that more people might discover it.

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Photo of Hoopster4hire
2.83/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served this in a standard pint glass. Poured from a brown 12 o. Bottle.

Going to keep this short and sweet. This beer us sub-par on multiple levels. Numerous pours lead to little or no head, and what stays around evaporates quickly. The smell is light and slightly aromatic with the spruce tips hardly noticeable. This tastes like a ightly upgraded lager, low in carbonation and just disappointing all around. Will not but this again.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a Dogfish Head pint glass. Pours an orange-gold amber with a thin white head that dissipates to small patches of foam and slight slippery lacing. Aroma of sweet bready malt and light fruit. Flavor of sweet malt, grain, a hint of toasted malt and hint of spruce. Skates on the edge of too sweet, but sweetness is balanced by the malt and apple and grape juice flavors. Light to medium bodied. A pleasant light flavored ale with an interesting pine flavor from the spruce, but not nearly malty enough to be an old ale. I enjoyed it, but not what I expected.

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Photo of Chris_Cali_2o9
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Sam Adams cup

A- Amber, 1" fluffy off white head

S- Berries, pommegranet, citrus, apple cider, grapefruit

T- Intensely fruity with a bready malt backbone

M- Medium bodied, low carbonation

O- Pretty good, when i think of a winter warmer, gingerbread and spices come to mind. This one has taken the fruitcake aspect of the holidays. It's very fruity and sweet, but never overbearing. If someone offered me it, i would graciously accept it, but i don't see myself buying it again.

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

Appearance - Pours a clear, golden amber with a head that's just under 2 fingers. Average retention. Lacing is very small and spotty.

Smell - Faint, but the aroma hits on notes of graham cracker, caramel and berry, with slight hoppiness well beneath.

Taste - Forward malt sweetness, with a lot of fruity berry character upfront and hints of graham cracker beneath. A tingle of initial mint. Grassy hop bitterness is subtle, and comes through near the finish, and becomes more significant as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with quite a bit of stickiness. Fair carbonation. finishes smooth, and is quite quaffable.

Overall - Not exceptional in any way, but this is a good, well-rounded beer. One I like to have at least once a year during the winter months, especially if it's on tap. The flavor of the spruce tips does well to add a uniqueness to this beer, a character you don't often see in other winter seasonal offerings.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Sea-Tac airport.

A: The beer was a light amber/copper color with a small white head that reduces quickly and leaves some thin lacing on the glass.

S: Rather closed with some faint grainy malt and some fruity hops. A bit of caramel as well.

T: Similar to the aroma, sweet and fruity, the hops are surprisingly assertive.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: I was expecting an old ale, certainly a bit maltier than this beer was, but all in all, tasty and easy drinking.

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Photo of diamondc
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

$2 for a 12 oz bottle. Best before 031013.

A: Deep amber, pillowy egg shell white head. Filtered. Lots of lacing. Looks good.

S: Fruity, almost raspberry-like, grainy, caramel.

T: Big butterscotch note here, sticky caramel, Fruity Pebbles-like. Wow! Really unusual for this style.

F: A bit 'light' almost lager like, but packed with flavor.

O: A surprise from Alaskan Brewing, will probably buy a six pack soon.

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Photo of NickSMpls
3.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A nice dark-golden beer, light for an Old Ale. You can definitely pick up the spruce notes and roasted malts. Taste is ok, but doesn't seem to have a real focus....maybe trying to be too many things at once. Not bad, but nothing to write home about.

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