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Alaskan Winter Ale - Alaskan Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Alaskan Winter AleAlaskan Winter Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

654 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 654
Reviews: 333
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 13.86%
Wants: 21
Gots: 22 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Alaskan Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  6.40% ABV

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.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-03-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 654 | Reviews: 333 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bcm119
4.03/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Orange-amber colored. Minimal white lace. Caramel malt aroma with mild, citirc/pine hop undertone. Begins with soft malt; biscuit and bread flavors dominate the mid-palate, with a nice sweetness that stays clean. Hops creep in toward the finish with a muted but distinctly unusual pine note that must be the spruce tips. There are fleeting undertones of berry fruit as well. Flavors are understated and well integrated. Mouthfeel is very nice-- slick, full, but very clean. This is not at all what I expected, but its a very well done beer. It is mild, but shows a lot of finesse.

bcm119, Feb 08, 2010
Photo of JamesP123
3.55/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a raiders logo mug.
A. A light hazy copper with almost two fingers of head. Moderate to light lacing

s. Sweet toasted malts not really picking up much else

T. Sweet up front followed by a mild hop bitterness. Don't really taste any spruce. It is a bit tart when first hitting the tounge but fades into a dry finish.

M. Slightly creamy mild carbonation

D. Overall a good not great beer. Tastes almost like a lager and ale hybrid that grew on me as the night went on. Will probably drink again but will wait till next years batch

JamesP123, Jan 25, 2010
Photo of MadeInOregon
4.5/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

This is a very good beer but it doesn't taste like spruce at all.

Poured out, it looks like a pale ale with its bronze/red body and thin white/tan head.

It smells, however, more like an amber with some faint fruit and alcohol smells.

The taste is great although confusing since I purchased the 22 ouncer on the premise that it was made with spruce tips--as indicated on the label--and instead found it to taste like a fruit beer! Blackberry, to be precise (or perhaps dark cherry). There is a little milk chocolate flavor that is present as well but other than that Alaskan's Winter Ale tastes like a nice ale made with fruit.

There is a little warming from the alcohol so I guess it has that aspect of "winter warmer" correct. But then again, it doesn't claim to be a warmer--that's what yall have it categorized as. This is clearly a...well...I dunno what this beer should be categorized as. It's not dark or hoppy like most winter warmers, but it does have some of the roasty qualities. I dunno. This beer is confused and so am I. All I know is that it tastes great, just don't try it thinking you're getting a warmer or something sprucey. Bottoms up!

MadeInOregon, Jan 18, 2010
Photo of GeezLynn
3.6/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Clear, lighter shade of orange-amber with a modest head.

S: Mainly pale and caramel malts; sweet and fruity.

T: Sweet and malty. A little spruce, but it's very subtle. Simple biscuit flavor with a touch of bitterness.

M: Light-bodied, slightly sticky with medium carbonation.

Have not had this beer for six or seven years, but liked it better in the past. Not bad, but a tad boring. I remember this as a littler darker, more flavorful, and around 7%. Now it seems a little closer to the amber and not something I would seek out.

GeezLynn, Jan 18, 2010
Photo of tjd112
4.63/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation - Poured into Flying Fish pint glass

Appearance - Yellow-ish brown with a fast receding half finger head, but with good white lacing

Smell - Very fruity, like your average run of the mill pale ale

Taste - Fruity with spiciness and true to the label, spruce, as well as a hint of booziness

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with a dry finish

Drinkability - Very much so, somewhat sessionable

Overall - A very unique twist on beer

tjd112, Jan 09, 2010
Photo of JTahoe
3.6/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pale golden amber with two finger off-white head which recedes fai.

S - Sweet from the roasted malts with a touch of spice and earthiness.

T - A solid malty body with flavors of caramel and toasty grain laced with mild spruce (which is nearly subtle but clearly present).

M - Medium body with decent coating quality. Moderate carbonation. Slightly dry on the finish.

D - A decent brew, but nothing to knock your socks off. Enjoyable and well crafted for sure.

JTahoe, Jan 01, 2010
Photo of beertunes
2.3/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in straight pint glass. Poured a light amber color with 3/4 of an inch of white head that almost instantly dissipated and left minimal lacing.

The most noticeable aroma was a sweet, almost fruity, scent that carried none of the expected malt or spice of the style. The flavor was also dominantly sweet and fruity, not rich earth fruits like you might find in other examples of the style, but Froot Loops style fruit. Not pleasant. No spice or hops noticeable.

The body was on the thin side for the style, but not bad. Drinkability was good, but not great. Given the sweetness of this beer, perhaps it would more enjoyable during warmer weather.

Overall, give it a shot if you want add another beer to your list, otherwise avoid.

beertunes, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of camcroteau
3.63/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I love this beer. The only issue I have with it is that each year the beers taste can differ so much. I remember a year or two ago it was way to piney almost undrinkable. I still look forward to this beer every year. IMO a great beer by a great company. I would recommend to anyone and if you don enjoy the first time give it another try.

camcroteau, Dec 24, 2009
Photo of Rayek
3.6/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Perfect Pint glass.

A: Pale amber, with mild carbonation and lots of very fine particulates. A soapy eggshell head sicks around for a little while before retreating to a ring at the edge of the glass. Leaves no lace.

S: Very earthy. The spruce tips are the centerpiece here. They add an appropriate woodsy essence. Toasted malt aromas are in the rear.

T: A bittersweet toffee flavor starts things out. Bitterness is well balanced, but doesn't add much flavor. The spruce tips; however, do. They had a nice earthy twig-like flavor. Finishes with lingering flavors of earth and wood.

M: The medium light body is both dry and syrupy.

D: This is a pretty decent Winter Warmer. I liked the spruce theme, but would have appreciated a little bit more flavor overall.

Rayek, Dec 15, 2009
Photo of sprucetip
3.68/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes. Very clear, active, light copper/orange, very thin head falls promptly, spotty lacing.

SMELL Rich malty sweetness, booze, fruity esters, spruce tips and hops all blend well. Unique and complex. Surprisingly nice.

TASTE modest malty sweetness leads and is joined by sprucey notes, fruity boozy and floral hop flavors. A hint of hop bitterness balances.

FEEL fairly rich, slightly viscous, med body, clean, dry, sprucy finish.

OVERALL not a huge beer at all ,but not a session brew either (to me). Interesting and unique, but somehow misses the mark. A good and worthy but not a great beer. The use of spruce tips is common in Alaska, due to its historical use by Captain Cook in the 1770s. The spruce buds are high in vitamin C, and helped to ward off scurvy.

Since it is closest brewery to me that bottles beer, I want to like this and other Alaskan Brewing offerings more than I do, but I don't. With the exception of the barleywine and seasonal porters and some other limited releases, their beers tend to be pretty uninspired and average.

sprucetip, Dec 13, 2009
Photo of Yeastcakes
4.03/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Serving notes - served cold, on draft, shaker glass.
A - spruce, nutmeg and cinnamon on the aroma.
A - light half-inch head that quickly dissipates to a this film. Slight lacing. Crystal clear with a hint of amber.
M - medium carb and body.
T - cinnamon and other spices from the aroma backed up by a nice malt body.
D - Great winter warmer beer. I would go back to this.

Yeastcakes, Nov 24, 2009
Photo of Bookseeb
3.3/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is a slightly darker copper with a light murk to it and having not much of a head. Smell has a light sweet caramel and dark fruits. Taste has a bitter sweetness with a good amount of malt and light hop. Mouthfeel is medium with good body and carbonation. For what I get for the price, its not bad.

Bookseeb, Nov 20, 2009
Photo of ocelot2500
3.23/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark golden color with a small white head that leaves a decent amount of lacing on the glass.

Smells of some malt sweetness and a little cinnamon like spice.

Tastes of the malt followed by a small spiciness. Not as much as I would like in terms of taste, but it is a slightly above average offering. I wish there was more in the way of darker malts (caramel). I do not see where the spruce comes in as there is little hop flavor and none of the notes I would expect from a spruce tip.

Mouthfeel is medium light with more carbonation than I would like. The mouthfeel is a little thin.

ocelot2500, Nov 15, 2009
Photo of showell
4.3/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours yellow gold with a decent head. Nothing special. The smell was mosty malt with just a hint of pine (spruce???). The taste was very nice. A lot of malt with a bit of sweetness. I looked for a spruce flavor but couldn't really find anything I could pin down. Mouthfeel was fine. I could definitiely drink several of them. It's a good beer. Not my favorite, but for something to drink on a winter evening, it's really good. Nice beer - good job.

Update: I'm enjoying this beer more each time I try it. I'm going to have to get some more. I'm absolutely loving the flavor of this. Very nice!

showell, Nov 09, 2009
Photo of Psilo707
4.65/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love most Alaskan Ambers and was very happy to try this one finally. If it has been out before I dont believe I have ever seen it.

A: Very light golden/amber color, head dissipates quickly but leaves nice trail of good looking lacing.

S: Smells fruity and inviting, a soft aroma of berries wafts from the top of the glass into your nose in a unique way.

T: WOW! Delicious the ENTIRE way through, from the first sip to the aftertaste. And especially the aftertaste! A nice malty flavor with some blueberry and even boysenberry reminiscence. This is awesome!

M: Decent, 4.0, nothing to write home about but better than most.

D: I could down these all night. Great stuff.

Overall, my favorite Alaskan Amber and one of my newest favorite beers... ever.

Psilo707, Oct 27, 2009
Photo of projectflam86
4.22/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bonsreeb85 sent me this as an extra. Thanks Chad!

A- Pours a light golden color with a thick white foam head that leaves nice lacing.

S- Light grain and honey aroma with spice and pine coming through as well.

T- Nice sweet flavor initially with some pine needles, honey, and caramel. A slight sting of alcohol opens up some toasted grain and spice in the finish.

M- Light/medium bodied with perfect carbonation.

D- This is a nice refreshing brew that is easily sessionable.

projectflam86, Oct 27, 2009
Photo of bonsreeb85
3.08/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Snow on the ground this evening in Denver. How fitting that for this to be my first winter warmer of the season.

A - clear and somewhere between amber and copper in color. 2 finger head from vigourus pour disapates rather quickly

S - sweet. biscuity and malty, like toasted and buttered bread. some pine needles and gentle spicy and floral hops make an appearance.

T - citrus fruit, wheat bread and cereal-like flavor. buttery and sweet w/ slight hops and spruce. after taste of orange peel and lingering sweetness.

MF - light bodied, smooth and relatively thin. definately a short coming here. not that light, but for a winter warmer I was expecting a fuller body.

D - not a bad brew, just a bit light. on the other hand it is quite sessionable.

bonsreeb85, Oct 19, 2009
Photo of mulder1010
2.15/5  rDev -41.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

330 ML poured into a Great Divide glass

A-- Poured a brownish gold color, was an aggressive pour and the foam went everywhere. Pretty decently carbonated and have a solid 2 finger head that slowly fades away. Head is a off white and leaving some lacing but not as much as there was foam from the lame pour.

S-- Sweet, very sweet.. malt, sugar, carmel.

T-- Sugar and the carmel are pretty apparent, and a lot of it also.

M-- The sweetness just kills the mouthfeel. it is Ok carbonated though

D-- Long story short.... Loved this beer in Tucson 2 years ago. Now?? ICK. Really sweet and it is a problem. I do remember getting the spruce needles smell from the 07 version. This is sugar and carmel. not a lot of roasted malts. A really good brewery but this version is just plain bad. So glad I just got a single bottle.

mulder1010, Oct 16, 2009
Photo of NorCalYeti
3.05/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

taste- almost tart, sweet malt

color- amber

clarity- clear, very little carbonation

smell- sweet malt, spice perhaps

body- medium body and finish

appearance- nice color, nice light head

overall impression- not my style

notes- brewed with spruce tips. i want to like this beer but each year i'm disappointed; too sweet and exotic. this review is for a 2008 vintage tasted in 2008

glassware: pint

NorCalYeti, Oct 16, 2009
Photo of TheFlern
2.65/5  rDev -28%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5


Appearance: Pours a thin amber color. Little head even with an aggressive pour. What is there dissipates quickly leaving no lacing.

Smell: lots of malty notes. Not to much else going on.

Taste: Malt but not that strong.

Mouthfeel: Very light with a little alcohol.

Drinkability: This isn't a warmer unless you count the ABV.

TheFlern, Oct 13, 2009
Photo of rowew
2.8/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Presentation: 12 oz short bottle, label has been updated this year. Date code is 030210. Ale brewed with spruce tips.

Appearance: Reddish orange, thin head.

Smell: Smells sweet, just a bit fruity.

Taste: Sweeter than I'd prefer, and that hurts the drinkability. The fruitiness is interesting - I'm not sure if its from the spruce - its kind of like a sweet nutty flavor.

Overall impressions: A bit sweeter than I'd like - its not bad, but certainly not something I'd seek out.

rowew, Oct 06, 2009
Photo of HeroJH
3.73/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A well done beer with some fun flavors.

A - nice amber color light head.

S - A sweet flowery hop and slight spruce smell. kinda perfumy. It says it's brewed with spruce tips. I have a spruce tree in my yard and if you grab the spruce tips off it when they first bud and are bright green, they are edible and quite nice smelling.

T - malty and kinda sweet. A nice aftertaste some tangy bitterness which might be at least half form the spruce, but I don't know.

M - nice mild carb and coating

D - Good, I could have a couple.

HeroJH, Aug 27, 2009
Photo of illidurit
3.85/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear amber-tinged orange with a modest, wet, thin head. Mediocre retention and barely any lacing. Very English aroma with lots of toffee and cookie maltiness and a Christmasy spiciness. I don't get any spruce though. The flavor has a sweet, graham crackery, toffee maltiness that's quickly tempered by earthy hops and, at last, a distinct but light spruce character. Nice balance here in a style that tends to be rather sweet. Finish is pleasantly dry. Nice mouthfeel and uncommon drinkability.

illidurit, May 29, 2009
Photo of angelmonster
3.63/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a small 2 finger off white head. Body is clear, golden copper in color. Steady stream of carbonation rising to the top. Head retention is good and lacing is above average.

The smell is of a spiced beer, like a pumpkin ale or christmas beer. There is also straw pale malt aroma. Hops are present but kinda faint. Smell also reminds me of grape juice.

The taste is somewhat similar to Great Lakes Christmas ale. Pale malt, sort of corn grain taste to it, but in a good way. Some peppery spice is also in there with a slight bittering aftertaste. Not really sure if i can taste the spruce, there is a bit of pine tree flavor but that may be attributed to the hops.

Carbonation is slightly on the high side. Body has a semi silky smooth consistency to it but still a bit lighter than most winter ales.

Over all this is a good beer. The drink ability is good, but nothing spectacular. One of the lighter winter warmers I've had, almost seems more like a mix of a oktoberfest and winter ale, maybe Novemberfest? Would order again, price is nice also

angelmonster, May 23, 2009
Photo of BradLikesBrew
2.98/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Just now getting around to typing up a winter beer review?
Damn I'm behind.

a: Clear caramel body with an off-white head.

s: Light sweet malt aroma.

t: Sweet caramel malt, but then something strange: raspberries. Some herbal, floral, pineyness in the finish.

m: Medium body, nothing special to say here.

d: not bad, but that fruity raspberry flavor mid palate really through me for a loop. Didn't like that at all.

That being said, a bunch of my customers just loved this beer, it was one of my best selling Winter seasonals. So what do I know?

BradLikesBrew, May 18, 2009
Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 654 ratings.