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Alaskan Winter Ale - Alaskan Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Alaskan Winter AleAlaskan Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

343 Reviews
THE BROS
85
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 343
Hads: 765
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 9.29%
Wants: 32
Gots: 63 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-03-2001

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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 343 | Hads: 765
Photo of mwbeerman
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours crystal clear, golden amber, carbonated, and with a small amount of head that disappears before I can blink. I can smell the esther from across the room. Incredibally sweet aromas, bready malt, and SPRUCE!! That spruce sentiment carries over into the flavors, bringing a candy flavor into the profile that is unique. While being very rich, this beer is really balanced, and definitely warming. A nice spice in the profile, and plenty of malt to fill the belly. The bitter aftertaste compliments the malty/esther flavor of the initial taste.

Personally, I would have liked more body, but the rich flavors, great malty/spicy tango, and incredibly unique spruce flavors makes this another beer that will be keeping me warm through the harsh winters of MN. (759 characters)

Photo of Blargimus
3.39/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, poured into wine glass (really need to get a snifter). Best before 4/14/2012.

Pours a crystal-clear brownish gold color. Half a finger of head that disappears almost immediately, leaving absolutely no lacing and no visible carbonation. Not the best-looking beer - looks almost like whiskey sitting in the glass.

I don't really know how to describe this smell. It's maltier than it is hoppy, but the exact proportion is difficult to tell. I don't smell any spruce nibs, but there's a strange fruitiness with a hint of alcohol. I can't properly describe it, but I do like it.

Malt, malt, malt. Just enough bitterness to balance it out, but not enough to distinguish what sort of hops. I detect maybe a hint of pine. The fruitiness from the smell is in the aftertaste - it seems like blueberry, which is strange for a winter beer but not unpleasant.

Medium body. Much more carbonated than it appears. Not overwhelming, and not enough to make it creamy, but enough to be noticeable.

My first beer from Alaskan Brewing Co., and not a bad one. It's not going to touch Odell Isolation, but it's solid. (1,113 characters)

Photo of tjsdomer2
3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Apperance: Very Christmasy red-orange hue. Good thickness as well and crystalline carbonation. Nice layer of foam. I will give high points since it fits the season.

Smell: Very malty as I recall. Honestly don't remember much about this. It was good though.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Very peppery, with a nice fruity balance. Mostly dark fruit. Maybe some cinnamon here? Overall hop bitterness is a bit unnecessary due to the pepper.

Drinkability: Good beer that I wish I could find again. (482 characters)

Photo of stealth
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one is weird. Like many others, I couldn't pin down the aroma. I was out and about and didn't care to be bothered smelling it for 10 minutes so I dove in. Really enjoyed the sweet spucy taste to it. Definitely different. I'll have it again if I see it on tap, but I won't go out of my way for it. (301 characters)

Photo of adrock7309
3.42/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a bottle into a central waters pint glass.

About an inch of light creamy head which sustained about an eight of an inch and bubbled vigorously from the bottom.

Great amber color. Very clear

Smell was light and crisp with a bit of toffee and caramel

Taste was also crisp malt with some dark toffee and good malt/hops balance

Mouthfeel was smooth and light. (370 characters)

Photo of JohnnyHopps
3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Having had the barleywine and smoked porter from Alaskan, I was a little surprised that I liked this one best. The other Alaskan had a strange oily note that I did not like. This beer did not have that.

The beer started with a biscuity aroma and presented a copper color. The initial taste was a surprising sour flavor. This lemon flavor was a surprise for a winter ale. The sourness stays on the tongue nicely to the finish. It is smooth without a bothersome level of carbonation. Though pleasing, the beer is a little one-dimensional in terms of the flavor. (560 characters)

Photo of zeledonia
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tried this when the Four Firkins was pouring it, and decided it was worth having a bottle. Says best before 14 April 2012. Sweet.

Pours a very clear, medium golden orange. Bright colors, and thin streams of bubbles rising through the glass give it some life. One finger of yellowish head, faded pretty fast, left okay lacing.

Smell is hard to pin down, but interesting. Light sweet caramel malts, overlain by something that feels familiar but I can't quite pin a name on. A faint resiny aroma like pine sap (from the spruce, I assume), but that doesn't fully describe it. It's bright and green, if a smell can be green.

Taste is good, and unique in the same way the smell is, but a little less so. A little sweetness from the malts, and a gin-like spicy evergreen flavor. Where the smell was green, the flavor is most definitely blue. Cool, and very different.

Medium-light body, with carbonation that dances on the tongue, and comes back again and again, bringing new waves of "what-is-this?"

This beer is enigmatic. A light-bodied, sprucy old ale? The elements combine well, forming something that I enjoy, but have a hard time describing. It's malty, kinda, and spicy, kinda, and good all around. (1,204 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.36/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best by 3/26/12.

Pours a clear honey orange with a 1 inch puffy orange-white head that settle to a film on the top of the beer. Small dots of lace drip down into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of sweet malt, malt powder, caramel, toffee, and a distinct banana aroma. Taste is of sweet malt, caramel, toffee, banana, and a certain herbal quality that I will attribute to the spruce tips used in the brewing of this beer. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and has a toasty quality. This beer has a nice level of carbonation with a crisp and slightly sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer that I enjoyed quite a lot. I had this one before and I don't remember liking it all that much. I am glad I picked up another bottle to revisit. (761 characters)

Photo of lawlerj
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a wine glass.

A - Pours a translucent amber with a white head that disipates rapidly, leaving a small collar of foam. Nominal lacing - doesn't appear to be overly carbonated as far as I can tell.

S - This guy has a strong malty aroma, with a touch of piney hops.

T - This taste is fairly smooth, with a strong malt component blended with a touch of hops and pine. Not too complex, but the strong malt profile holds this one up.

M - Feels a touch on the light side; I was hoping for amore medium bodied brew, but this ended up not quite meeting those expectation.

O - Overall, not too bad. I'm glad I had this while I'm home for the holidays, because as far as I know, I can't get Alaska Brewing out in Nebraska. (754 characters)

Photo of stouts4me
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

served in a pint glass, smell is muted but pleasant. nice orange-yellow clear beer.

pous out a nice winter-white 1-inch head.

real cold and you don't get the best this has to offer; let it warm and the spruce tips aroma comes out to greet you !

nothing special about the mouthfeel, normal. I liked the nos eand taste better when it warmed. (343 characters)

Photo of rtaps
2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

rust in color with a small white head. minimal retention not leaving any lacing on the glass

decent aroma some caramel, fruits spices, and hints of the srpuce tips used.

mildly flavored not picking much up, candy(caramel i believe). overall of the flavor it does remind me of a winter type beer

medium carbonation leaves the mouth watery, light bodied

overall- there wasn't much to the taste, yet it was easy to drink and worth the $1.48 for a 12oz at 6.4% (461 characters)

Photo of iSip
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Alaska Winter Ale: Some friends brought over a six of the Alaska Winter Ale the other weekend. In a glass, this beer has a deep color with an orange look to it. Very interesting. The head is of average thickness and off-white. Aroma is subtle and hard to pinpoint. The Winter ale goes down smooth, and has a nice balance, it is not too sweet and does not have any bitter or overly hoppy component to it. There is an unusual flavor to this brew that I cannot pinpoint. This is not a bad thing. I did enjoy this Alaskan offering, even if it has been a challenge to review. The label says it is brewed with spruce tips, which must impart the flavor that escapes my ability to describe. Give it a try! (697 characters)

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

This pours medium amber with almost no head, and I swear my glass is clean. Somehow this looks like a lot bigger beer than it is. On the nose there is caramel malt and spruce with some goofy spicy and fruity note sitting on top. It's seriously strange, not awful, but very strange. In the mouth the sweetness dies away a bit with the strange spruce spice/sweet hybrid type flavor taking over. Is that Saaz hops interacting in a goofy way with the other ingredients? The malt turns from caramel into something grainier, and there is some alcohol on the finish, surprising given the relatively low ABV here. The body is medium sticky.

Overall, this is a strange beer that I don't quite understand. It doesn't taste bad, it just doesn't sit right on my tongue. (758 characters)

Photo of kristenrae8
3.36/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer is that brisk breath of fresh air when you run out to start your car at 6 am on monday morning.

Appearance: Amber-Honey colored. Head quickly disappates, no lacing.

Smell: Sprucy. Working at a christmas tree farm - sprucy. Hints of spices like nutmeg and cinamon - faint, hints.

Taste: Not as shocking as the smell, enjoyable. Wintery.

Mouthfeel: Medium to High carbonation, tingles like when snot freezes in your nose.

Overall: Good for a winter all, good for a sprucy introduction. (501 characters)

Photo of azdback
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. A very clear, bright yellowy orange color. Not a lot of carbonation bubbles and the head reflects that. A small, less then one finger and bright white in color. Lace is weak at this time.

Smell is pretty earthy and wheat or biscuity. Maybe just a bit of bright pineapple or orange.

Taste is quite unique and different then the smell. This is very sweet and almost hard candy in flavor. I can't put my hand on what the candy flavor is but I do like it and it really reminds me of the winter months.

Mouth is crisp and a bit light. Body is delicate to medium and the finish is average and a bit dry.

Overall I found this really different and interesting. The sweet candy taste is quite enjoyable. The flavors are wintery but not at all like the average winter warmer. A must try if you get the chance. (830 characters)

Photo of hardy008
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Amber color with a 2 finger off white head with good retention and spotty lacing. The aroma has caramel, grains, and spruce tips. Smells like it should be sweet and malt forward.

The taste is sweet with caramel, biscuit malt, and spruce tips. Light amount of spice is also present. Hard to pick it out, but seems to be a little of cinnamon and nutmeg?

Medium bodied, with average carbonation. Smooth and easy to drink. Light biscuit malt aftertaste. This is another nice, easy to drink beer from Alaskan Brewing. I could drink this again easily. (547 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.74/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on-draught into a pilsner glass in St. Paul, Minnesota. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a half finger head of fair cream and thickness but bad retention. Colour is a transparent copper.

Sm: Amber hops, caramel, sweet candied sugar, and maybe molasses. A mild strength aroma.

T: Amber hops, caramel, lovely candied sugar, and a bit of spice. Really quite delicious. Flavorful and tasty. Wonderfully balanced. Quite pleasantly built.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Really suits the flavour well.

Dr: Very drinkable. The price could be better. I'd definitely have it again. Quite lovely indeed. (595 characters)

Photo of harrymel
3.16/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Best by 14APR12

A: copper with a fleeting finger of white foam. This leaves a broken sheet of the same. Spotty lace. Excellent clarity.
S: Sweet, marzen style malts with a little bitterness to it.
T: Tastes like a Marzen oktoberfestbier with a hint of wood (spruce apparently). Nothing special.
M: Thin and smooth with light carb. Nice feel.
O: I seem to remember this being more satisfying in the past - must be my palate. (424 characters)

Photo of MattyG85
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a bright and clear amber orange with lots of rising bubbles. Solid four finger off white head with good retention. A good amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: Sweet and malty. Lots of bready caramel and toffee malts. Has some noticeable hints of a fruity, spicy raspberry like scent which is probably the spruce tips. Pretty sweet smelling overall.

Taste: Sweet like the smell leads. Lots of sweet and bready caramel and toffee malts. The spruce tips are pretty noticeable with some piney spice and hints of berries. Finishes with some spicy hops. This brew is pretty sweet but well balanced by the spices.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Crisp and very smooth. Finishes a bit dry. Berries linger around in the mouth aftertaste.

Overall: A pretty solid winter warmer. The spruce tips add a interesting twist. (933 characters)

Photo of robmorris31
5/5  rDev +36.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

BLUF: It's like drinking Christmas!

The absolute and I say again the ABSOLUTE BEST regionally distributed WINTER ALE on the market period

from the Alaskan Brewing Company:

Style
English Olde Ale. Traditionally malty with the warming sensation of alcohol, Olde Ales are brewed in the fall as winter warmers.

Flavor
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.

History
From the seafaring adventurers of the 1700s to the homebrewers of today, adding spruce tips to beer has a rich history in Southeast Alaska. Alaskan Winter Ale was first released by the Brewery in 2000.

Ingrediients
Alaskan Winter is made from glacier-fed water, Sitka spruce tips and a generous blend of the finest quality European and Pacific Northwest hop varieties and specialty malts. Our water originates in the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Ice Field and from the more than 90 inches of rainfall we receive each year.

Recommendations
Perfect winter warmer by the fireside or an accompaniment to holiday fare. Serve with roast goose, turkey, ham or lamb. A nice complement to holiday breads, pound cake, or apple pie.

Story
Throughout Southeast Alaska, bald eagles can be spotted landing atop the towering old growth forests of Sitka spruce trees. As many as 3,000 bald eagles congregate among these evergreen trees on the shores of the Chilkat River for the last large run of salmon before winter. Sitka spruce trees carry a significance of their own to local Alaskans. The tender new growth of the spruce tips lends a delicious, yet subtly sweet floral aroma to teas, jelly and now our Alaskan Winter Ale. (1,751 characters)

Photo of brotherloco
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle x2. Best by 03/12/12. Served in a 22oz tapered glass.

Pours a clear dark gold with a finger of beige foam. Takes some time to settle. Bits of lacing, but not much sticks around.

Aroma of English malt, caramel but not overly sweet. A touch of spruce.

Taste is a touch sweeter with a solid malt front end and bright, bitter, spicy hops on the finish. Malt gets very fruity in the middle, apple is a strong component. The piney spruce notes come through on the finish and linger into the aftertaste. A little sting from the alcohol, but doesn't interfere with the flavor. A nice blend of bready malt and piney tang are in the aftertaste as well.

Body is medium light with solid medium carbonation. Very quaffable.

This has been a go-to winter ale for me for years. There's just something about the balance of flavors that I love. (843 characters)

Photo of jera1350
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a crystal clear copper color with a short head that shrinks to a ring around the glass pretty fast. A little bit of lacing is left.

A nice malty sweetness with some candy notes and light bit of spruce.

The malts are very sweet with notes of dried fruit. Crystallized ginger and pineapple maybe? A touch of hops and spruce at the end with a hint of spice and alcohol. I really like the fruity/candy sweetness in this.

A medium feel with soft carbonation and a dry finish.

This one was a bit of an eye opener for me. I expected nothing and was pleasantly surprised with a very tasty winter beer. It's very drinkable compared to some other winter style warmers. The sweetness is very nice and tasty. (706 characters)

Photo of John_M
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the "taproom" at SeaTac airport today.

The beer pours a copper amber color with fairly good head retention and lacing. The nose is attractive, with a sweet intermix of cherry, light clove, and considerable underlying spice. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely in this fairly sweet beer, though the spice helps to buoy the sweetness to some extent. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a fairly long, sweet, fairly spicey finish. Drinkability isn't too bad, and I think it helps that this beer isn't overly boozy.

Shurg. While nothing extraordinary, this is still a pretty good beer. All things considered, this is an enjoyable, easy to appreciate and drink winter ale from Alaskan brewing. Definitely a nice beer to have on hand at an airport facility. (779 characters)

Photo of Mike22
4.92/5  rDev +34.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The color is a bright copper
Smell is caramel with hints of evergreen.
Taste is malty, medium roasted hops with a sweet caramel finish
Mouthfeel seems to be better as the beer warms up, in fact the beer does better the warmer it is, maybe due to the fact it is an English style Ale.

Overall this is one of my favorite easy to get, not over priced brews. (355 characters)

Photo of Philousa
2.07/5  rDev -43.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a clear golden color, bubbly without much foam sticking around on top. Thick caramel syrup and amber malt aroma, a bit of some pine in there and a hint of too-sweet bread. Pale malt flavor starts things off then, out of nowhere, blueberries. The blueberry flavor is pretty prevalent and I might be mistaking it for the pine needle flavor they were trying for. I get some bitter piney flavor too. This is a thick, syrupy beer and is a bit undercarbonated.

I used to like this beer years ago when I was first getting into the craft beer scene. I remember the pine flavor being prevalent but not overpowering. But this most recent tasting was very different. The prevailing flavor was cough syrupish. I hope that this is due to a recipe change and they go back to the original, because if it's my taste buds that are to blame for this reversal in flavor then all hope is lost for this beer. (894 characters)

Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 343 ratings.