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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.

631 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 631
Reviews: 332
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 13.86%
Wants: 20
Gots: 16 | 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: 631 | Reviews: 332 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of irishevans


4.1/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

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


3.9/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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....

Serving type: bottle

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


2.7/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

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


3.9/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Serving type: bottle

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


3.3/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 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.

Serving type: bottle

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


3.78/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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.

Serving type: bottle

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


3.65/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

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


4.03/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

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


3.48/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 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.

Serving type: bottle

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


4.08/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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...

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2007 16:44:55 | More by Domingo
Photo of Murchmac


3/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours a copper yellow.

Smells a mellow yellow.

Tastes a bright yellow.

And lingers a yella belly.

Alaskan is a good brewery. This beer does not conjure up images of yuletide cheer. I enjoy alaskan brewery, they should replace the smoked porter for their winter warmer. This is an ok beer to drink, just dont think festive holiday.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2007 02:22:10 | More by Murchmac
Photo of mithrascruor


2.85/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a dark orange/amber color. Nice off-white head, slightly creamy. Dissipates into a light film and laces the glass a bit too.

Smell: Rather sweet aroma, with warm sensations. A bit fruity and malty, with some spices, but I am really at a loss to describe some of it. A nice smell, but a bit too sweet for a beer, in my opinion.

Taste: Warming sweet malt flavor with a mixture of pine, citrus, and earthy winter spices. Somewhat bittersweet finish and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied with minimal carbonation. Smooth and a bit sticky.

Drinkability: It's difficult to finish just one of these...

I've enjoyed other selections from Alaskan, and while this certainly has the "[Winter] Warmer" part down, I can't get into it. Though Winter Warmers aren't my favorite style of beer, this one goes a bit beyond that... Excessively sweet.. and a bit odd. Not one for me to repeat.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2007 02:37:09 | More by mithrascruor
Photo of tayner


3.58/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poors a very clear, copper color, almost orange.. not much head to speak of, clears quickly leaving only a slight ring that still manages to lace the glass as i drink.

The smell isnt much to speak of.. slight grassy, pine smell, but not strong at all as i expected for a winter beer.

This tastes like nothing i have tasted before that i can describe.. which in itself is not all bad. i guess what i am tasting are the spruce tips they say are in there... i certainly can taste something, pleasant tasting, just not sure how to describe it... pine i guess, like chewing on a christmas tree needle :) a decent departure from the norm i suppose...

it feels heavier in the mouth than it looks... very malty, so much so you can almost chew it. i am a malt head by nature, and this one had all the malt i wanted for sure. much heavier flavor than i expected when pouring it out of the bottle.

I could drink one or two of these in a sitting and then i think i would have enough of the tree flavor for awhile. not a great session beer for me, but I will certainly keep them around all winter for an evening beverage on occasion. good one to serve guests as well.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2007 01:21:24 | More by tayner
Photo of Dmann


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

This beer 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.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2007 09:55:47 | More by Dmann
Photo of monkeybeer


4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Golden red / brown Hue with a amber good head nice lacing

S- Dark malty smell with a woody under tone. Slight sweet Carmel smell

T/M- rich sweet malty taste with a slight hint of spice and spruce. Very slight hoppy (bitter aftertaste)

D- I love Alaskan amber and tried this fro the first time last year (took me till this year to review). It is very drinkable especially on a cool night. I looked forward to this coming out so I will have to get my fill before it disappears until next year. Good thing that this is just the start of the season for this beer

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2007 02:35:55 | More by monkeybeer
Photo of likestoswallow


4.43/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle from Vons. Winter 2007 release. Poured a rich copper color with an off white head that faded to 1/8 inch. Aroma was light with sweet malts, red fruits and almonds. The flavor was rich with malts and a large dosing of cherries and raspberries. Mouthfeel was very full, creamy and heavy. This is a beer you can almost chew. The finish fell short and showed just a trace of piney hops and some alcohol, but thankfully their was no lingering sweetness (which I had anticipated by this point). Overall: this is a most pleasantly original brew--my congrats to Alaskan. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2007 18:13:15 | More by likestoswallow
Photo of ojiikun


4.03/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixer of the stubby bottles to welcome to cold weather back to the Northwest. Bottles are marked with what looks to be an expiry of February '08. No clue when they were born.

Pours a very clear dark brown with reddish hilights. Little head or bubbling, but what's there is crystal white.

Smell is sweet and of fruity hops, maybe apricot or blood orange. Some definite candied malts, some simple syrup notes. Could be some spruce, though that's probably the power of suggestion talking. Alcohol is evident, even when cold.

Taste is much breadier than the smell, but still has that spicy-sweet taste. Much like fruitcake, to be honest. Hardly bitter at all and not too full in body except at the beginning of sips. Fruits gets more tropical and the middle has a nice note of fresh leather. Yeast is really restrained and a very clean variety.

Feels light but coating on the tongue and palate, but not too sticky. Not nearly as carbonated as it ought to be. Still, drinkable as can be thanks to the nonexistant bitterness and the smooth fruityness.

Honestly, one of the first winter warmers marketed as such that I've really liked. A little stronger, but without the usual bombs of hopping and burnt malts. Goes down easy and actually does warm you up a little. Nothing to get excited about, though, as a proper old-world beer would suffice and do so with more flavour.

Serving type: bottle

10-06-2007 06:11:46 | More by ojiikun
Photo of smcolw


3.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Excellent head, but little lace. Neutral amber color and crystal clear

Strongly malty, nice crystal; slightly sweet. Mild hop.

Some sherry-like flavors from the sweeter malt. Some fruitiness. The aftertaste is very short, but has a touch of hop to it. Good hop in the middle of the taste. Full body, low carbonation.

This is a relatively rich and slightly warming (from alcohol) beer. Understandable to be offered during the winter.

Serving type: bottle

09-24-2007 05:13:06 | More by smcolw
Photo of Floydster


2.88/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle from Hollinghead's Delicatessen during the Christmas in July celebration for only $1.50

Pour was a deep brown with a 1/2 inch off white head

Smell was full of chocolate and peppermint

Tasted like there were hints of coffee as well as a whole lot of malt

Could not drink much of these because they are so thick and sweet

Serving type: bottle

09-15-2007 02:23:36 | More by Floydster
Photo of Halcyondays


4.25/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, bought at Hollingshead's annual Christmas in July,

A: Dark amber, with a medium-style white head.

S: Dark malts, with some spruce and cherries.

T: Very tasty, the spruce is wonderful, backed with soft malts; a very tasty brew.

M: Smooth, oily, resiny, complex yet simple in a way, if you get my drift.

D: An immensely complex yet drinkable ale, even in the summer, the spruce adds a pagan air to this beer, one of my favourite Winter Warmers. A great beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-31-2007 03:25:53 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy medium amber color with a nice white head that leaves some lacing behind

Smell: Caramel and toasted malt dominates along with stone fruit and spruce elements

Taste: Starts with the toasted malt and caramel base flavors that are joined, mid-palate, by the stone fruit and spruce tip bitterness; after the swallow, the flavors blend nicely and the finish has an herbal minty character

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Perhaps the recipe has been tweaked but I like this now (2010) much better than when I originally tried it in 2007

Serving type: bottle

05-07-2007 01:16:16 | More by brentk56
Photo of HoustonTX


4.38/5  rDev +19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aged for one year.

Bright orange, with copper highlights.
Light caramel malt and fruit esters in the smell.

Taste has an amazingly perfect thick-vicious mouthfeel. Upfront it provides load of caramel malt, with a backing of every red fruit imaginable. It's truly incredible. Sweet red melons, strawberries, pomegranate, and papaya. Extremely flavorful and has a solid spruce backing with sugar and spice crispness that provides an incredible balance for the beer overall. Finishes with a reminiscent honey sweetness and slippery caramel malt. Just absolutely delicious.

This beer gets better with age, the spices mellow out, and the beer becomes world class in complexity. A perfect ESB in aging, classified spot on and with steroids injected.

This is just an incredibly well made brew, any way you look at it.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2007 03:41:18 | More by HoustonTX
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy

New Hampshire

3.25/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

AP: Clear, copper amber color with many swirrling bubbles displaying good carbonation and creating a thin, fizzy little head that simply disapears within minutes.

Nose: Herbal and bready malt scent with some honey sweetness and pine cone's; very subtle alcohol heat detected.

Flavor: This is a sweet-edged hearty brew with some zesty-herbal hop effects and a light malted sweetness that evokes images of nutmeg, sweet pine tree sap, and a weird little earthy-bitter effect at the end. The flavor of this brew is all over the place, I'm not really sure exaxctly what "spruce tips" do for the flavor but I'm detecting some very natural sweet-pine ellement that is rather pleasant.

Feel: Light body, mildly crisp at first then becoming much more slick and substantial feeling going down.

DA: I don't know...this one was interesting for the "spruce tips" ellement, but overall nothing fancy. If this was all I had on a very stormy night I wouldn't complain too much.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2007 14:33:01 | More by GratefulBeerGuy
Photo of July2Nov


4.33/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass
A: Just a wee bit of head on it and as quickly as I poured, it disappeared. The brew has a golden brown hue.
S: Mmmmm...spruce...smells like christmas around here.
T& M: Damn that is different...and I like it! It's very light at first, but then that spruce hits and gives you a nice fresh menthol feel to it. Wow this is just to good.
D: I'm just mad that this is a winter release. I could drink this during all four seasons. I can't believe that the ABV is that high, because I felt this was a very light tasting brew. Maybe I should give the stouts a rest and seek out a few more like this. The Alaskan Brewing Co. has done it again. Very well done.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2007 23:40:02 | More by July2Nov
Photo of idResponse

North Carolina

3.9/5  rDev +6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

holy crap
let's flavor a beer with SPRUCE TIPS!
who thought up this crazy idea?!?$%!?%?

hot damn.

okay, so this beer is in a botle, it's a brown bottle i have no clue what it really looks like and i really don't care.

it smells great. it smells like the sweet smell of christmas trees and chestnuts.

it tastes amazing...
it's sweet but not overbearing because this spruce sweet spice sits well with the hops they've included and it mellows out to this round beautiful tree of flavor...

it's a bit dry but amazing... all at the same time.. makes me thirsty for more!

it's easily one of the most unique and drinkable winter brews i've had this year, or any year... seriously... try this out... drink a tree!

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2007 00:27:14 | More by idResponse
Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 631 ratings.