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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.

651 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 651
Reviews: 333
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 13.86%
Wants: 21
Gots: 21 | 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: 651 | Reviews: 333 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of lhaqq
4.47/5  rDev +21.5%

A: Not sure what the quintessential winter warmer is supposed to look like. But this is a clear light copper with big bubbles and little white head that dissipates quickly.
S: Yeast is the first thing that catches my nose. Followed by oranges, bitter green apples, and some sweet oats at the end.
T: The taste takes mainly any sweetness from the smell. Some sweet oat flavor mixed with a pretty generous dose of nuttiness.
M: Pretty light to drink yet leaves a chewy aftertaste for awhile.
D: Picked up a six-pack right as the season was ending. I think this is probably my new favorite winter warmer.

lhaqq, Mar 13, 2009
Photo of homebrewhawk
3.58/5  rDev -2.7%

Thanks to Colts9016 for this one. 12oz bottle served in a shaker pint. Poured a slightly hazy gold with a thin white head. Caramel malt in the aroma. Fairly rich malty flavor. Some slight fruitiness. More caramel malt flavor. There is some hop bitterness in the finish to add some balance. I didn't really get the spruce flavor. Decent winter warmer base.

homebrewhawk, Mar 11, 2009
Photo of RblWthACoz
3.9/5  rDev +6%

Pours a slightly fogged, dull hued brownish amber. Minimal head off a soft pour. Nose is a slight syrupy thing with sweet leafy tones. Mild spices. Flavor is fairly robust on the spices with a sweet tone that carries fruit edges. Seems like cherries, but a subdued one. I guess I can see spruce tips in there. I'm a little rusty on my spruce tips memories. Feel has a bit of an attacking carbonation and the liquid is a bit thick and syrupy. Overall a pretty hearty brew that's worthy of being called a winter ale. I'd prefer to drink this by a fire.

RblWthACoz, Mar 10, 2009
Photo of indiapaleale
3.63/5  rDev -1.4%

Pours dark golden in color with a half inch or so of tight white head.

Smell is fruity, estery with some piney notes. I don't really catch the spruce tips in the nose, but that might just be me. It has a certain smell that reminds me very much of some aged barleywines.

Tastes is more fruity/estery than anything else. A certain flavor of apple cider is present with a bit of tangy and dry finish. Very interesting tasting beer.

Easy to drink thats for sure and pretty smooth going down. Nothing offensive or over the top with this beer. The spruce tips might add something but I'm not catching it.

indiapaleale, Feb 28, 2009
Photo of htomsirveaux
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%

12 oz. bottle tried 21 Jan 2008.

Small cream colored head. Well carbonated. Bright and clear, the color of a shiny new penny. Sweet fresh bread aroma, sugary. Initial taste is of hard strawberry candy (not jolly ranchers) and vanilla coke. Fairly caramely sweet through the middle and finish. Faint bitter aftertaste. Medium body.

Didn't really seem to be much spruciness but still pretty good.

htomsirveaux, Feb 26, 2009
Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.9/5  rDev +6%

huge thanks to my wife for getting this brew for me as part of my goal to sample a beer from every state. I often find myself at odds when it comes to winter warmers as a style. Depending on when you drink them, the spices / flavors are different. Part of the charm / challenge. I have to say for this brew, I enjoyed a nice lightly balanced caramel grainy brew with a pleasant accent of spices and a woody note which I'll attribute to spruce but profess to not having sampled any other spruce type product over the past year(s) for which to compare this to. I could see getting a 6 pack each December and enjoying as part of the holiday season.

barleywinebrewer, Feb 19, 2009
Photo of Billolick
3.48/5  rDev -5.4%

12 ouncer, w/o freshness/vintage/bottling date info. Pours typical amber, clear under a large, retentive and loose, initially fluffy dark tan head and leaving all kinds of thick lacing. Mild sweet maple infused nose. I'm not getting much spice or the advertized spruce here. Just a malty ale, lacking in much complexity or intrigue. I'm getting more maple, toastyness and thats about it. One and done for me of this one.

Billolick, Feb 16, 2009
Photo of colts9016
3.93/5  rDev +6.8%

Poured in a pint glass at 47 degrees.

Appearance: The beer is an amber color with an orangish hue. There is a rocky creamy 2 two finger head that is white. The head has some retention. There is a lot of effervescence in the beer. The clarity of the beer is mostly clear with a slight haziness. The head is clinging all over the glass giving away to lace.

Nose: A nice malty aroma with orange fruity esters and cloves. In the background there is a slight floral aroma and a biscuit note.

Taste: A very nice malty beer with orange fruity esters, and spices. There is hops in the background with biscuits, grassy, resin, and floral taste.

Overall: There is a creamy mouth feel that is slightly astringent. There is a slightly bitter finish and lingers on the palate. I felt that beer was more an amber ale with a little more hops. I was hoping for a warming feeling from the beer, but I didn't get any. It has a good malty backbone but it is not very heavy and hoppy. It is a really good beer but not great.

colts9016, Feb 09, 2009
Photo of ghebel
3.63/5  rDev -1.4%

A - Amber/copper colored cloudy body with a large orangish colored head.

S - Malty with a herbal, piney hop aroma. Some fruitiness and alcohol in the background.

T - First impression was "orange-cream", but upon second and third tastes, some hop bitterness and sweet malts come through.

M - Moderate head and normal carbonation.

D - Don't know if I would drink lots of them d/t the higher ABV, but I was surprised that I liked it this much. As it sits in the glass, it seems to mellow and becomes more drinkable.

Overall - Good winter seasonal. I am not usually crazy about this style, but this one is OK.

ghebel, Jan 30, 2009
Photo of Oatsoda
3.58/5  rDev -2.7%

It pours a deep amber color with a thick, white, long-lasting head of foam.

This beer had a sort of indescribable aroma (by me, anyway). It definitely wafts a scent that I couldn't put my finger on...

The initial taste of the beer is very mild and seems to be overshadowed by the sort of fresh "green" bitterness that takes over.

The Winter Ale has a very smooth carbonation that goes down easy.

Overall, it's a pleasant beer. I enjoyed drinking it, but was content with just one bottle.

Oatsoda, Jan 25, 2009
Photo of pmcadamis
3.58/5  rDev -2.7%

A - I like the label, it really looks cold... like something from a Jack London story. The beer is a deep honey-amber and very clear. The head is a massive three finger foam beast that shows good retention and leaves a lot of nice foamy lace around the glass. With time, the foam slides down the sides of the glass and leaves sticky arcs behind.

S - Honeycomb, maraschino cherries, peach, and Life cereal (Mikey will eat it!). This isn't super complex, or powerful but it is really mellow and pleasing. Gentle even. There is a bit of grainy lagery-ness to this one that I don't really like, but it's only slightly detracting from the nice even-keeled grain and light fruit.

T - This is mellow amber ale spiced with a dusting of cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice (I don't know that for a fact, that's just what I'm getting). There is a nice mellow cherry note that I picked up in the nose also, and I like it for that little addition but this is relatively boring despite it's easy to like flavor. The spruce tips add a lively minty note that I like, and it really adds to the Christmassy wintertime feel of this brew.

M - On the lighter side of medium bodied, this hides it's beefy 6.4% ABV quite well. Carbonation is mellow and silky smooth, and the finish is fruity and just a tad dry with a ending flourish of mellow floral hops.

D - This is a good session brew that might pair well with fruitcake (I don't care what anyone says, I loves me some fruitcake). Lightly spiced, mellow on the hops (they are there for sure, but not the star of the show), and focused on a fruity Christmas cheer flavor combined with tingly menthol-like spruce. Worth a try for the spruce uniqueness aspect, and worth going back to for that minty-fresh, almost hoppy quality of the spruce.

pmcadamis, Jan 24, 2009
Photo of JollyToper
3.18/5  rDev -13.6%

Poured from a 12oz twist top bottle into a American pint glass.

Poured a nice two finger head that dissipated quickly but left nice lace. Cloudy copper color with very low carbonation.

Was a little too cold when I poured it, but after it warmed the smell of malt and spruce came through with just a hint of hops.

It was a little on the sweet side with just a hint of hops. Medium bodied and drinkable. It was good but not a home run with me. I wasn't wild about the spruce tips.

JollyToper, Jan 07, 2009
Photo of mikesgroove
4.25/5  rDev +15.5%

Big thanks to a wonderfully kind BA who sent this bottle my way. I had been wanting to try this one forever and was very pleased to finally be able to try it. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, I threw this one down after work to get ready to go out for christmas eve, 12/24/2008.

The pour was nice with a rich copper colored amber coming forward. Good clarity let you really see the carbonation that was coming up from the bottom of the glass. A nice head of white came up over the top and settled down into a nice browken crown.

The aroma was suprisingly hoppy. Nice notes of citrus hops, light spices and a mean grain like base. Big hints here of cinnamon and nutmeg that came through quite nicely. The flavor carried through as well. Almost like a nice celebration ale. Rich malt profile that was accented nicely by the clean hop bitterness in the finish. Nice moderate hints of spices were enough to offer some very nice complex flavor. Smooth, easy sipping beer was the perfect thing to get me in the mood.

Overall a very solid beer that I would not have minded throwing down another one of in heartbeat.

mikesgroove, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of ncvbc
3.9/5  rDev +6%

Slightly hazy deep amber with copper hues. Nice off white head with pretty solid retention, leaving spots of lacing down the glass. Smell is a good balance of sweet, spicy, and bitter. Caramel, brown sugar, hints of fruit and spruce tips. Flavor provides much of the same. Moderate sweetness that again is met by bitterness, with neither of the two being overly assertive. Spruce tips are less influential in the taste but I think I'm happy this is the case. Nice smooth mouthfeel, lightly creamy with a touch of bitterness in the finish. Overall a solid brew. I really enjoyed it and could see myself having a couple but not any more than that.

Thanks goes to flexabull for providing this as a Secret Santa gift.

ncvbc, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of zeff80
3.8/5  rDev +3.3%

A - Poured out a very clear, light amber color. It almost looked thin. It had a thin head that didn't leave much in the way of lace.

S - It smelled of pine/spruce. It almost gave it a boozy alcohol smell. Also, notes of sweet caramel malt.

T - It tasted sweet like candy with licorice flavors. A subtle caramel maltiness balances out the brew.

M - It was crisp and sharp. It was light to medium-bodied.

D - This is interesting and easy drinking. The spruce is a unique touch but I don't know if it's my favorite yet.

zeff80, Dec 16, 2008
Photo of popery
3.25/5  rDev -11.7%

I keep getting disappointed by Alaskan's beers. They seem to feel a bit out of whack. This beer tastes somewhat like spruce, but it's not an altogether pleasant taste and I don't really get why it's there. The beer isn't rich or balanced enough to take on the spruce flavor. Alaskan calls it an English old ale, which sets it up for some unfortunate comparisons as there are some very big and excellent old ales out there. That's a refined category of subtle, hand-crafted ales. This beer is none of those things. Oh, it's not a bad beer. It just borders on mediocrity. There's some sweet malt and some mild hops with a touch of spice. Nothing really comes together, though. The taste is not balanced to begin with, and the spruce just further knocks things off course. The individual flavors are all pretty good. They just don't really work together for my palate. This beer is trying too hard at being a winter seasonal and needs to work on just being good beer.

popery, Dec 15, 2008
Photo of magictrokini
2.88/5  rDev -21.7%

Nice deep gold pour and aroma of malts and trees. The flavor is good, but the spruce tips are kind of strange. Deep and malty, with some caramel, but then a blast of turpentine. I wish they would have just thrown in more hops instead, the spruce was not a good substitute.

magictrokini, Dec 04, 2008
Photo of ArrogantB
3.78/5  rDev +2.7%

12oz bottle courtesy of Unclejedi, thanks! nice golden color with teh strangest aroma of what I take must be spruce. Its like pine mixed with licorice, huh? The flavor is also strange but surprisingly good. The flavor is very hard to describe as I have not tasted anything like it but weak licorice comes to mind and a hint of malt. This was interesting and very easy to drink.

ArrogantB, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of largadeer
3.18/5  rDev -13.6%

Appearance: Clear golden-amber with two fingers of frothy head.

Smell: Dry biscuit-like malts, a touch of caramel and a hint of spruce that I'd probably not have picked up if not for the label saying that it's made with spruce tips.

Taste & mouthfeel: Sweet caramel malts with a faint herbal quality. Very clean and malty, only faintly bitter in the finish. I'm not getting much spruce in the flavor, or much complexity at all for that matter. I'm not really sure where the brewer was going with this. It's pleasantly malty but fairly flatline, lacking in any sort of variation from start to finish.

largadeer, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of hopdog
3.93/5  rDev +6.8%

I had this one from a 12oz bottle.

Poured an Iced Tea color (a description I got from my wife) with a small sized off white head. Spruce/pine in the aroma and tastes (no surprise there). Lightly sweet with light spices. Refreshing.

Notes from 11/30/04

hopdog, Nov 19, 2008
Photo of sevopie
3.98/5  rDev +8.2%

Appearance - Amber in color with a tannish head.

Smell - Fairly malty, with some caramel overtones. Has a strange spice smell thats presumably from the spruce.

Taste - Again, very malty - heavy on the caramel malts. Has a sweet sugary finish that is only barely touched by a bit of hop bite. The sweetness slowly fades as you dive into it.

Mouthfeel - Light to medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation.

Drinkability - I like this beer, I do. Unfortunately, it gives me a headache every time I have one (I'm guessing some kind of reaction to the spruce tips.) I'm not going to mark it lower for this fact, but give out the warning that it may cause a similar reaction in others.

sevopie, Nov 19, 2008
Photo of kosmoraios
2.98/5  rDev -19%

Appearance is crystal-clear light copper with a half-finger of white head that leaves no lacing. Very fine carbonation is visible rising in the glass.

Aroma is very faint, with light hints of pine and malt. Taste is sweet, heavy on the caramel malts. Piney hops, a hint of light bread. Some vegetal/herbal tones, presumably from the spruce.

Mouthfeel is light and carbonated, too insubstantial for the style, but a drinkable ale nonetheless.

This ale is far too light, too sweet, and too tame to be a proper winter warmer. While still an ok, drinkable ale, the spruce is underutilized and the ale borders on macro in it's timidness.

kosmoraios, Nov 16, 2008
Photo of RunDWP
3.8/5  rDev +3.3%

I really enjoyed this. The spruce could have been easily overused to create a somewhat gimmicky brew, but it gives this one a clear, fresh taste. Liked the restraint here. It's a bit sweet and malty, and the spruce and the hops give it a piney finish. The alcohol is present both in the taste and aroma and warmed me up a bit. Really liked the balance and restraint with all the good flavors to put together an enjoyable brew.

RunDWP, Nov 12, 2008
Photo of djeucalyptus
3.83/5  rDev +4.1%

pours a light golden copper color, crystal clear with some ample carbonation that kept a thin head going for a good while. Initial pour yielded a fluffy and creamy eggshell head that faded fairly quickly leaving behind minimal lacing.

smells of malts, sugar, maple, pine, honey, and some more sweet pine - almost like sap. Toasty and spicy.

taste is sweet. Sweet caramel and toffee malt character with some sweet and piny spruce sap notes. Definitely on the sweet side of things. It's a relatively neutral and even sprucing and spicing, without an intense and overpowering flavor (I seem to recall past years having a bit more spruce kick). This one almost borders a mellow overall taste.

mouthfeel is thick and almost a touch syrupy. Ample carbonation keeps the syrupiness at bay. Full and smooth, with an almost sugary-creamy feel. Not bad at all.

Not your regular winter warmer. This one definitely has some spruce kick. And it's sweet and malty - no question. Not "hints of sweetness and spruce" but in your face sweet malt and spruce. If you're in the mood for a sweet, malty, and piney brew, this is perfect. Definitely worth a shot in the exploration of winter brews.

djeucalyptus, Oct 31, 2008
Photo of jujubeast6000
2.9/5  rDev -21.2%

Reviewed 12/31/2005 (12oz bottle):

Pours a very light brown tan color body, average head, and good sized bubbles. Aroma of spices, alcohol, sweetness. Taste of spruce, maybe sap? Bitter, acidic, sickly sweet taste. Slightly fizzy. A little too much sappy, sprucy taste for my palate.

jujubeast6000, Oct 29, 2008
Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 651 ratings.