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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.

646 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 646
Reviews: 332
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: 646 | Reviews: 332 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of xymyl


4/5  rDev +8.7%

Slightly off-white head falls quickly to a thin film on this beer. And the color is a murky amber.

Nose is slightly sweet spruce sap and needles, malt, grapefruit and orange. It probably will display more as it opens up, as it has in times past, but I don't have time to do that right now.

Has a very unique taste, along the lines of what I've already mentioned but with an added dimension of young saplings with soft green bark.

The medium to medium/light bodied beer is enjoyable and interesting, although it would not be unpleasant to drink more than one at a session, it wouldn't be something I would do.

03-04-2008 21:38:17 | More by xymyl
Photo of geexploitation


3.58/5  rDev -2.7%

Pours clear and very bright, a highlight-flecked medium amber with a small head that leaves only a collar. The nose displays some buttery diacetyl and a vague hint of... something... that reminds of refreshment but is too vague and subdued to present itself as an identifiable aroma. On the palate, rich buttery malts and a twang of slight fruitiness toward the end, with some metallic notes cropping up as well. Whatever spruce characteristic there is is very subtle; too subtle, in fact, for me to detect. Mouthfeel is fairly nondescript, but by no means bad: malty but not slick, little acidity, medium carbonation that is unassuming. Overall, this is a perfectly drinkable beer but nothing to write home about.

02-24-2008 03:04:19 | More by geexploitation
Photo of mattcrill


4/5  rDev +8.7%

Aroma: Honey sweetness up front. A bit of earthy spiciness in the background. The balance between honey and carmel persists. No hot alcohols or hop aroma noted.

Appearance: Cloudy orange pour with a thin white cap. Head retention is poor and it collars the glass nicely.

Flavor: Honey and carmel notes up front. A malty sweetness that fills the mouth but is quickly dried out by spicing and what I'm assuming is the spruce tips (per website). Finish is lingering but dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied with medium-high carbonation. Definite carbonic bite at the end.

Overall impression: A malty, lightly spiced winter ale. Nothing over the top in terms of spices. A very clean, good winter ale. Recommended.

02-10-2008 19:36:43 | More by mattcrill
Photo of bobsy

Ontario (Canada)

4.75/5  rDev +29.1%

Picked up a bottle from Whole Foods in San Fransisco.

Poured a shiny copper, with a decent-sized frothy white head, which does diminish a fair bit, settling to maybe 4 or 5 millimetres, while providing some nice lacing. The aroma is sweet and piney, with the spruce tips used in the brew evident, but not overpowering. The first taste I get is full of caramel, but the spruce comes through pleasingly in the middle, and the hops provide a nice bitterness at the sides of the tongue. There is also a strong berry flavour to this brew, as well as a sweet spicy warmth. I'm actually finding it hard to fault the flavour because I like the spruce addition and the freshness it brings to the sweet backbone. The mouthfeel is smooth, helping to make this an easy drinker.

I really dig the spruce flavours and they combine well with the sweet malts to provide a nicely balanced winter warmer that reminds me of a nice Christmas treat. I could definitely take down another of these!

01-28-2008 16:01:40 | More by bobsy
Photo of russpowell


4.1/5  rDev +11.4%

Pours an effervescent amber with 4+ fingers of rocky cream colored head. Good lacing, & above average head retention

S: Bready with some lemon hops, caramel & cakeyness

T: Citric hops, floral hops & some honey sweetness up front. Some cherry cough syrup (the spruce tips, I guess) notes along with lemmony hops, dryness & some caramel as this warms. Finishes dry & citrussy (lemons & orange, with a little mintyness nice breadyness, & just a nice touch of warmth

MF: Medium bodied with low carbonation, love the balance

Drinks too easy, hard to put my finger on some of the flavor here, but I think I could happily session on this! The spruce tips are a nice addition

01-28-2008 05:02:35 | More by russpowell
Photo of henrysunset


3.55/5  rDev -3.5%

reddish orange without a lot of depth of color. Nice white/tan head

smell is nice. malty with a hint of the pine (spruce, i believe) a little too sweet for my preference but good.

taste is nice. sweet with a gingerbreaddy, nutty flavor and malty too. a bit thick but not cloyingly so. smooth and drinkable.

01-18-2008 03:20:06 | More by henrysunset
Photo of barleywinefiend


4/5  rDev +8.7%

Poured a nice copper color but had no head to speak of really, just kind of flat. The smell was very sweet with spices and an overriding maltiness that was a bit overpowering. Flavor-wise, the beer was pretty thick and malty sweet with just a hint of the mentioned spruce tips and just a bit of hops at the very end to add a touch of bitterness. I guess I like my winter beers a bit more hoppy and not so sweet as this one. Recommended if you are a malthead.

01-17-2008 22:00:17 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of Deuane


4.22/5  rDev +14.7%

A-Clear copper with a thin tan head that laced nicely down the glass.

S-Very nice with a sweet maltiness, pleasant spicy hops and the backround scent of spruce.

T-Very crisp and pleasant. Nothing is upfront or overpowering. A wonderful blend of the sweet malts, citrusy hops, some "fruity" flavors and the backround twang of the spruce. A beer that melds oh so well!

M-Not syrupy thick, but not watery thin...a wonderful balance of a "just right" brew.

D-A great, unique, winter offering. Easy to consume even for the person who may think they do not like conifers in their beer...of which I am not one!

01-05-2008 07:12:50 | More by Deuane
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

3.7/5  rDev +0.5%

Pours a four finger cream head that fades quickly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Nice crystal clear amber color. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Slight hoppy nose, no spruce. Flavor is sweet caramel that balances the slight bitterness at the finish. $1.35 for a 12oz bottle from Liquid Solutions Oregon City, Or.

01-02-2008 23:19:56 | More by jdhilt
Photo of NDPDuke


3.3/5  rDev -10.3%

Pours an amber-golden hue with a solid head. Head is completely white. Beautiful looking beer as it sits in my pint glass.

Interesting smell. The bottle says "brewed with spruce tips", but I can't tell if I smell spruce or hops. Interesting smell. It seemed a little pungent too me though.

The taste was interesting. Wasn't as spicy as I would expect for a winter ale. Tasted a bit of hops, but couldn't quite put a taste on anything else. The taste was average overall, nothing special.

Mouthfeel was alright. Went down smooth and felt good against my palate.

Drinkability is average. It is a smooth beer, easy to go down, but the overall taste was not that appealing to me. I'm glad I got to try the beer (THANK YOU NITROGEN) as it was an interesting brew, but I do not know if I would go back to it.

12-27-2007 01:14:25 | More by NDPDuke
Photo of TheodorHerzl


3.68/5  rDev 0%

A big thanks goes out to Younger35 for the trade on this one. Thank you.

Pours a bright amber hue with minimal head and slightly above average lacing on my glass. Tons of tiny bubbles heading to the surface in this brew. I am not really sure if I am smelling hops or the spruce needles. It's isn't quite strong enough for hops, but it's a pleasant citrus scent with some biscuty malt coming to my nose. This beer is actually quite sweet. The malty sweetness overpowers the bitterness coming from the finishing hops. Flavors of citrus and sweet caramel meld fairly well in this beer just leaning towards sweeter than balanced. The mouthfeel is medium carbination, slightly watery, and medium bodied. The alcohol is also fairly well masked in the beer and doesn't really make an appearance. This is a nice winter warmer. Easy to drink and I would purchase this again if I had the chance.

12-25-2007 23:21:27 | More by TheodorHerzl
Photo of MiScusi


3.35/5  rDev -9%

A- Amber-orange. Slightly hazy, no head apparent. No head able to be regenerated by swirling.

S- Couldn't really pick up a whole lot here. Obviously more malty but other than that wasn't able to get a whole lot of detail.

T- Started off similar to a more maltier pale ale and then finished with a weird taste that was kinda berry-ish but also kind of herbal which I'm thinking came from the spruce tips.

M/D- Somewhat oily in the mouth. Not a bad tasting brew, but different, and I personally wouldn't go for more than a bottle of this.

12-23-2007 05:42:02 | More by MiScusi
Photo of ChainGangGuy


3.65/5  rDev -0.8%

Appearance: Pours a clear, orange-copper body with a wispy white head.

Smell: Fairly mild aroma, a light maltiness, a subtle hop character, but nothing I'd point my finger at and shout "spruce".

Taste: Bready maltiness with a candylike sweetness. Hint of tangy lemon-like citrus. Beyond a vague flavor reminiscent of mint, it's still pretty light in terms of spruce character. Drying finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Spruce or no spruce, it's still a decent beer.

12-17-2007 07:17:27 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of OtisinAZ


3.63/5  rDev -1.4%

This beer had an aroma I couldn't quit make out. At first I thought it may be blueberries,but then realized it must be the spruce tips. The head didn't last too long, not sure if it was my glass or not. Really enjoyed the taste, very refreshing, with the right amount of alcohol to give it that winter warmer effect. Great night time session beer.

12-16-2007 22:16:17 | More by OtisinAZ
Photo of AKBelgianBeast


3.78/5  rDev +2.7%

pours a transparent amber/yellow color with little head. nose is piney and reminds me of the bad elf series of ridgeway. taste is very smooth, borderline watery but the spruce tip twinge is quite unique and quite tasty. get easier to drink as you pound em, have a reasonable warming effect at 6.4% good beer, but too many can give u some gnarly heartburn.

12-14-2007 05:42:12 | More by AKBelgianBeast
Photo of irishevans


4.1/5  rDev +11.4%

the look of it is much like yuengling lager, a light copper/amberish colour, thin head but still seems to be sticking to the glass just fine. fairily bland nose but still a little flowery if you breath deep. the taste is crisp begining to end the spruce flavour starts off subtle and then peaks just before the long slightily bitey finish. a very cool truely alaskan brew, worth a try if you happen upon it.

12-12-2007 04:27:24 | More by irishevans
Photo of cerveza5150


3.9/5  rDev +6%

A good solid brew. I'm not a fan of the over-spiced, every herb but the kitchen sink approach that many 'Winter Warmer' beers use nowadays, so this is a good keeper. Don't get me wrong, there's a time and a place for a full bodied, pie tasting ale, but I'm not going to drink it just because the calendar changes and they add pics of snow to their labels. Alaskan brew is different. They don't have to showcase everything in one bottle to prove their hardy and hard-core. They brew in Alaska for gods sake!!!

The taste reminds me of a malty ale like a Fat Tire, but there's more complexity to both the sweetness and the hop flavor. The kicked up alcohol probably helps with this, and this makes the malt a little more pronounced. The hops come in at the end, and the 'spruce tips' are apparent as a slightly different, astringent bitterness. Like a Fat Tire, with a case of elephantitis.

A good keeper alongside my other favorite holiday ales like Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale, Alesmith's Yulesmith, Deschutes Jubilale (my spelling sucks), and Anchor Steam's Merry XMas & Happy New Year Ale.

Now I know the reason why I gain 10 lbs. every year around this time....

12-03-2007 23:10:45 | More by cerveza5150
Photo of fartingdog


2.7/5  rDev -26.6%

A- crystal clear amber with a white head- an beautiful looking beer.

S- Vanilla, caramel, malt- maybe a faint spiciness that i have to assume is the spruce.

T- light vanilla, hints of hop (or is it spruce?), light caramel. A bit sweet.

M- Lighter body, crisp carbonation.

D- Decent, much lighter in body than most winter beers. The prominent vanilla notes are a bit much for me (tho they are definitely not overbearing).

Note to self: Didn't particularly care for this beer.

12-03-2007 18:57:06 | More by fartingdog
Photo of NitroGen


3.9/5  rDev +6%

A: 12 oz. squat brown bottle, 6.4% ALC. Volume

P: Pours a crystal golden lager with an intense white foam head that lowers to a thick cover and massice lacing,

S: Bright herbal scent with a slight sweetness.

T: Herbal, ok I peaked at the bottle of spruce. Which is very subtle and so much subtler than a blast of an anticipated grapefruit pith of hops. Balanced with a light green grain taste and a very dry aftertaste of a very feint sweetness on the palate.

M: Nothing blatant, rather a very smooth and easy to drink glass that is a delight to drink.

D: Could see having a n umber of these as they are bright, unique in taste and not likely to cut one off at the knees after a few.

12-02-2007 05:21:39 | More by NitroGen
Photo of JohnGalt1


3.3/5  rDev -10.3%

12 bottle picked up at the Boise Coop for about $1.50. Poured into my red wine balloon and still listening to Brenda's Jazz albums, "On the Rocks".

I could easily have given this beer a 5 on appearance had it had any sort of head. Aggressive pour leaves only a 2mm collar after about :30 seconds. Very nice clear amber/honey.

Aroma is sweet malts... with a hoppy backbone... but is that the spruce?? Toasty character for sure but completly unidentifiable hop character ... some ways muddies the waters.

Biscuit and toasted malts fold quickly to medicinal (spruce??) hoppiness. Good carbonation, but very little bubbles coming from the upper realms of the glass. Palate is like a restrained amber ale.

This is another PNW winter ale I buy every year.... but every time, I ask why... shortly answer myself and say "because, It can be alot better." This brew is certainly worth trying more than once, but if I bought a 6-pack, at least 3 would be sitting around until I pawned them off on friends.

12-01-2007 10:37:53 | More by JohnGalt1
Photo of jbsteiny


3.78/5  rDev +2.7%

Poured a clear copper with a very nice initial head -- cream colored, dense bubbles, about 2 cm high -- fades to a thin ring around the beer, leaving some droopy bubbles on the glass, which fairly rapidly descend back into the beer itself.

Smells nice -- apparently those are spruce tips (though I'd have believed that they were some mild piney NW hops...), solid malt backbone (toast with honey & caramel, fresh baked bread), faint cinnamon. Tastes good too, more of that spruce than anything else, but the christmas spices come out, and there's a good chewy malt feeling to this brew.

That said, for whatever reason, I have a hard time having more than one of these. It's pretty light for the style, so that's not the problem. For whatever reason, this doesn't appeal to me in the same way that many warmers do. Maybe it could use some more complexity in either the hops or malts? Anyway, it's my first ABC beer, and I'm excited to try some more of their products soon, as this is an interesting take on the style.

12-01-2007 04:54:02 | More by jbsteiny
Photo of czfreeman


3.65/5  rDev -0.8%

Golden Brown color, light head that fades quickly. not quite as dark a I thought it would be. Smells sweet, pine, it just smells like a really nice brisk day, can't really put my finger on it but I like it alot. tastes very sweet, pine comes through at the end. the mouthfeel is sticky, yet tart enough to assert itself as a fairly drinkable brew. I don't really get the the "winter warming" effect from this beer though, just a little too sweet really, doubt I will return to this one.

11-30-2007 05:05:58 | More by czfreeman
Photo of SargeC


4.03/5  rDev +9.5%

Appearance: Rich golden color with a dense golden-white head.

Smell: Piney hops, sweet malt.

Taste: Hops apparent but balanced with spruce flavors. Malt provides the base.

Mouthfeel: Smooth buttery density. Medium body.

Drinkability: Uniquely Alaskan. Good but not designed for mass consumption. The spruce flavor gets to me after a couple.

11-29-2007 09:23:05 | More by SargeC
Photo of CVC


3.48/5  rDev -5.4%

Came in a 12 oz. bottle; served in a pint glass.

This beer pours a copper/orange color with a small, very sticky off-white head. It smells grassy, fruity, and I think I can smell some plum in there. Slightly spicey, too. It has a decent taste; a bit grassy, sprucey, spicey, somewhat minty, with a sharp bitter aftertaste. Very drinkable though.

Overall, this beer is supposed to a winter warmer, but I'm just not feelin' it on this one. In some ways, it almost tastes like a pale ale! but more spicey. I don't know about this seasonal... I mean, it's not bad by any means--certainly not--but there's plenty of other beers I'd rather be drinking when I'm feeling brisk and when the holidays come around.

11-26-2007 18:56:23 | More by CVC
Photo of Domingo


4.08/5  rDev +10.9%

Thanks to younger35 for this bottle. For some reason Alaskan brewing stops their distribution at the Colorado/Wyoming border.
Pours a reddish brown color that looks like like (real) maple syrup. Forms a moderate head that offers a little lacing, but nothing too sticky.
The smell is malty sweet and piney. This beer is brewed with spruce tips and if I didn't know that, I don't think I would've figured it out based on the smell. It just reminds me of pacific northwestern hops and a really sweet malt.
The taste is pretty sublime actually. The spruce tips offer a little bit of a minty backbone that isn't overbearing, but its unique. Caramel-like malt Cinnamon, peppermint, and a sweet pine. Ever smelled a sweetgum leaf? That's sort of similar. The hop smell translates to a little bit of bitterness in the finish just to keep it from being a little too sweet. While the nose is like candy, the taste is malty and spicy, but not overwhelmingly sweet.
Mouthfeel was a a tiny bit thinner than some WW's, but it made this almost too drinkable. It tastes like a beer that's half it's strength. I wanted more ASAP, but it might be a little too sweet/spiced for a some.
I might have to make a trek up to Wyoming for more of this...

11-15-2007 16:44:55 | More by Domingo
Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 646 ratings.