1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Alaskan Winter Ale - Alaskan Brewing Co.

Alaskan Winter AleAlaskan Winter Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

619 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 619
Reviews: 333
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 13.86%

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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Alaskan Winter Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 619 | Reviews: 333 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of rtaps


2.78/5  rDev -24.5%
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%

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2011 20:22:20 | More by rtaps
Photo of iSip


3.58/5  rDev -2.7%
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!

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2011 22:03:11 | More by iSip
Photo of EricCioe


2.8/5  rDev -23.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2011 03:56:40 | More by EricCioe
Photo of kristenrae8


3.38/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2011 19:13:58 | More by kristenrae8
Photo of azdback


3.38/5  rDev -8.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2011 07:53:37 | More by azdback
Photo of hardy008


4.05/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2011 03:58:34 | More by hardy008
Photo of kojevergas


3.78/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-07-2011 00:51:20 | More by kojevergas
Photo of harrymel


3.15/5  rDev -14.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2011 09:05:05 | More by harrymel
Photo of MattyG85


4/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2011 06:46:38 | More by MattyG85
Photo of robmorris31


5/5  rDev +35.9%
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:

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2011 00:15:34 | More by robmorris31
Photo of brotherloco


4.13/5  rDev +12.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2011 04:02:57 | More by brotherloco
Photo of jera1350


3.98/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2011 02:06:19 | More by jera1350
Photo of johnmichaelsen


3.98/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

11-28-2011 21:23:16 | More by johnmichaelsen
Photo of Mike22


4.93/5  rDev +34%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2011 02:36:25 | More by Mike22
Photo of Philousa


2/5  rDev -45.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2011 23:01:47 | More by Philousa
Photo of morimech


2.48/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours a clear copper color with a good one finger of head that quickly settled to a thin cap. Moderate amount of spotty lacing is left down the glass.

Not getting much from the aroma. A little fruit and toffee.

What the hell is the flavor suppose to be? Blueberries is all I can taste. Tastes like a summer fruit flavored wheat ale. Nothing like I expected. Very sweet. Where is the spruce?

The mouthfeel is easily the best part of the beer. Not quite medium bodied and nicely carbonated. I actually enjoyed the texture.

Should be advertised and labeled as a fruit flavored beer and take spruce off the label. Then I would of never bought a six pack of this. Not enjoying the flavor.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2011 23:10:32 | More by morimech
Photo of tewaris


2.23/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

"IPA colored", clear with ok head, retention and lacing. Not much of an aroma except cheap candy like notes that the taste also suffers from. Alright carbonation. Rather WTF of a beer, IMO. Not sure what the story is behind this beer but I am not digging it one bit!
3.5, 2, 2, 3.5, 2

Serving type: on-tap

11-22-2011 18:58:01 | More by tewaris
Photo of tempest


3.58/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had a pint at 3 Squares in Maple Grove, MN. It was a smooth, slightly sweet with fruity notes. It reminds me a bit of Summit Winter Ale from St. Paul. It's a nice beer for a cold winter day, but it's a little more simple than I'd like. Sure, it's not too sweet or heavy, but a little crisp, clean malt character or spice would go a long way.

Serving type: on-tap

11-20-2011 21:36:20 | More by tempest
Photo of Humulus85


3.45/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Darkness snifter.

Produced a dense, off-white, 2-finger head. Moderate retention and a bit of lacing. Deep copper color, very clear. A bit lighter than expected.

All malt here. Caramel and toffee, almost candy like.

Again, almost candy like. Not super complex, just caramel and some toffee. Where are the spruce tips? Tasty just not outstanding.

Mouthfeel is a little light for what I want in a Winter Warmer. Carbonation is solid and it doesn't finish too sweet.

Overall this is a decent Winter Warmer, but it could use a bit more depth in flavor and a heavier body. Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2011 19:43:15 | More by Humulus85
Photo of BeardedBoffin

New Mexico

3.48/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a nice copper color with a few centimeters of foam above. The aroma is malty with caramel and ripe fruit in the nose. A faint hint of spruce lingers in the background. On the palate the malt is a little husky up front. A fruitiness, almost berry like rises through the center as the spruce and malt comingle. It finishes with a light pop of spice which balances everything. An interesting twist to a winter staple.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2011 01:50:36 | More by BeardedBoffin
Photo of KarlHungus


3.5/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a clear copper color. The head is one inch in height, and recedes quickly into a small cap of lacing. The aroma is of caramel, and toffee. The taste is similar to the aroma. It is pleasant, but quite simple and straight forward. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a smooth texture, and high carbonation. Overall, this is a decent beer, but i highly doubt I will drink it again.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2011 22:42:05 | More by KarlHungus
Photo of Pintofbrown


3.43/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was served in a tulip glass.

Appearance- There is no head on this beer, not even some film. Just, no head. The body is a deep amber with some luminous gold highlights.

Smell- I am picking up some malt on the nose, sort of a bread malt. The hops seem earthy. The spruce is not anything like I expected, not like smelling a Christmas tree, just makes the nose kinda, musty.

Taste- The malt, which is bready and buttery, is coming through the strongest on the palate. The spruce is a little stronger here, and engages mostly in the finish. The earthy hops are also noticeable. It is slightly interesting, but not good enough.

Mouth feel- The body is the least of my worries, a decent enough medium body. It is creamy with okay carbonation.

Overall- This winter warmer is awfully bland, just loads up on the malt. It would have been nice to have really noticed spruce any where in this beer. If you're going to say it is there on the bottle, it should be IN the bottle too.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2011 21:02:29 | More by Pintofbrown
Photo of WastingFreetime


3.6/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Transferred over from the Alaskan session in my tasting notebook.

Appears orange-tinted amber, two fingers of frothy head that dies back in about two minutes, medium levels of lacing. Body is medium thick, lightly carbonated. Smells of some bready tones and that signature spruce tip element...very fresh and piney, yet more sweet than pine, if that makes any sense. Flavor is brassy, sweet, has some minor metallic notes :( medium breadiness and dried figs, vaguely psuedo-mulling spice comes across in a really super subtle way on the finish, really quite tasty yet a bit too far into sweetness for my comfort zone, but YMMV.

Worth looking into if you want something with a psuedo Belgian-y fruitiness and holiday spicing that stands apart from the crowd by having spruce tips in it. My main complaint is that distracting light undertone of metallic flavor...get rid of that, tweak the carbonation slightly, add a bit of earthy hop tones, and this could be something really amazing.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2011 00:04:58 | More by WastingFreetime
Photo of sweethome


3.03/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hazy golden color with minimal head. Chunky hop or yeast residue floaters.

Sweet nose with a grassy hint - must be the spruce. Entry is fairly thick and sweet. Honey malt flavors - sweetness lingers on. Mouthfeel stays concentrated mid mouth - doesn't flow out. Spiciness on finish from hops and spruce.

The malt charchter is not overly pleasing...spruce is light, which is good. Lack of hops to balance the sweetness. Alcohol is warming, but not to a level expected for an Alaskan winter night.

Just not too pleasing for me.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2011 06:46:04 | More by sweethome
Photo of brewcrew76


3.63/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Clear golden amber with a thin off white head.

S - Light aroma. Some malt, fruit and spruce.

T - Sweet and malty with light spruce and pine notes. Herbal and woodsy. Strange lager type finish. I had to double check the bottle to make sure this was an ale.

M - Medium body and crisp like a lager with a good amount of carbonation. Haven't had a winter warmer before that feels lager like.

D - Light on the spruce and easily drinkable but a bit boring. Not on the "spiced" level of most winter warmers.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2011 23:37:48 | More by brewcrew76
Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 619 ratings.