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Alaskan Winter Ale - Alaskan Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Alaskan Winter AleAlaskan Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

739 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 739
Reviews: 344
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 13.32%
Wants: 30
Gots: 48 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 739 | Reviews: 344 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of emmasdad
3.45/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a medium orange-amber color, with a decent amount of white foam on top. Nicely spicy on the nose, with spruce, toasted malt and a light, pleasant hoppiness. On the palate, this one is fairly light-bodied, medium carbonation, with pale malt, caramel and spruce, finishing with a profound sweetness. Pretty good.

Photo of JoeAmerican77
3.2/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured out an amber hue with white frothy head that was surprisingly steady. Smelled of sweet malt and not much else. Tastes of carmel and mollasses with a hint of raisen, some metallic at the end, once again not too much there. Medium body with a heavy carbonation. Ya the drinkability was just average too, nothing really impressed me with this beer, and I think either the average rating is saying way too much or everyone must be in Alaska getting it fresh.

Only four bucks for a bomber was quite nice but I would not really recommend it.

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

Alaskan Brewing Company--Winter Ale 2000 12 oz. Bottle Release. 6.40% ABV. (4.0 / 5.0) Clear bright rich copper amber color. Sweet mild spicy front. Toasted mild cinnamon spice rich malt body. Spruce hints liven flavor. Cloying texture. Ends with mild spice spruce flavor and lingering malt. Sampled 10/14/2000.
2001 12 oz. Bottle Release. 6.40% ABV. (4.0 / 5.0) Clear thin amber red color. Pretty.Spicy aroma. Mild spicy nutmeg spruce hint front. Smooth sweet crisp roasted cherry body with spruce. Lingering fruit spice end. Richer flavor than I remember. Sampled 11/1/2001 & 11/4.2001. 4.25 / 5.0 2nd tasting.
2002 12 oz. Bottle Release. 6.40% ABV 27 IBU's.. (4.0 / 5.0) Clear thin amber red color. Light laceless head. Mild floral spruce hop front. Sweet caramel butterscotch body is IPA like. Spruce subs for hops in mild spice end. Light nutmeg malt spice notes. Sampled 12/14/2002.
2003 12 oz. Bottle Release. 6.40% ABV. (4.0 / 5.0) Lacy creamy Head. Clear bright thin light red amber color. Mild spruce tangy hop malt front. Creamy smooth sweet light toasted caramel cherry doughy spruce hint body. Mild sweet citrus hop malt end. Sampled 1/5/2004.
2004 12 oz. Bottle Release. 6.40% ABV--27 IBU's. (3.5 / 5.0) Rich lacy head. Clear thin red bright amber color. Mild floral spruce hop front. Crisp sweet odd spruce caramel cherry biscuit fruity body. Cloying sweet mild hop end. Smooth rich too sweet odd brew. Sampled 12/5/2004.
Alaskan Winter Ale--"Seasonal Ale Brewed with Spruce Tips" 2005 12 oz. Bottle Release. 6.40% ABV--27 IBU's. (4.0 / 5.0) Mild lacy head. Clear bright amber color. Mild spruce hop front. Slightly sweet smooth rich malty caramel toasted mild creamy cherry spruce fruit body. Sweet mild hop end. Clean rich well made sweet brew. Sampled 11/14/2005.
2006 12 oz. Bottle Release. 6.40% ABV--27 IBU's. (4.0 / 5.0) Mild lacy head. Clear thin bright amber red color. Mild spruce hop front. Thick sweet creamy smooth mild spruce pine caramel fruit body. Lingering sweet mild Winter malt spice hop end. Sweet spiced Amber. Sampled 10/6/2006.
2006 22 oz. Bottle Release. 6.40% ABV--27 IBU's. (4.0 / 5.0) Mild lace head. Clear thin bright light amber color. Mild spruce hop pine malty front. Clean mild sweet sultry light caramel fruit body. Mellow creamy mild hop spice end. Nice & Rich. Sampled 1/19/2007.
2007 12 oz. Bottle Release. 6.40% ABV--27 IBU's. (4.0 / 5.0) Thick pour. Lacy off white head. Clear thin bright reddish rich amber color. Mild spruce hop malt fruit front. Creamy sweet mild fruit spicy caramel body. Mild tangy Winter spice hop end. Smooth & Tasty. Sampled 9/18/2007.
2008 12 oz. Bottle Release. 6.40% ABV--27 IBU's. (3.5 / 5.0) Light lacy off white head. Clear thin bright light amber color. Mild spruce hop front. Sweet dry thin caramel fruit pine tangy crisp vanilla hint body. Mild hop Winter spice hint clean dry spruce hint mild citrus end. Dull Winter Ale. Sampled 10/9/2008. 6-Pack--$7.49.
ALASKAN Winter--Ale Brewed With Spruce Tips--New Graphics--2009 12 oz. Bottle Release. 6.40% ABV--27 IBU's. (4.10 / 5.0) Winter Ale--Dark--Spruce. Lacy mild white head. Clear thin bright amber color. Mild floral spruce hop front. Clean smooth mild sweet delicate caramel light winter spice spruce hint tasty malty body. Smooth rich nourishing mild hop spice lingering malt end. Subtle well made Winter brew. Sampled 11/13/2009. 6-Pack--$6.99.
ALASKAN Winter--Ale Brewed With Spruce Tips--2010 12 oz. Bottle. 6.40% ABV. 27 IBU's (4.0 / 5.0) Foamy lacy thin white head. Clear bright thin light-amber gold color. Delicate spruce hop fruit hint front. Satisfying sweet mild Winter spice spruce sweetbread mild caramel cherry doughy hint body. Clean refreshing mild hop lingering spice spruce end. Tasty. Sampled 10/13/2010 from 6-Pack purchased for $7.79 @ Fred Meyer--Ballard on 10/13/2010.

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

a: nonic pint, the beer is golden amber in color, topped with a light head, low retention

s: sweet, bready pale malts, fruity with some golden raisin, white grape, pear, and banana, delicate spruce blends well into mild, earthy hop aromas

m: carbonation light-moderate, body medium with a touch of sugary slickness

t: sweet pale malts to start turning towards crackery/bready grain flavors, candylike at times, a fruity edge gives golden raisin, earthy hop flavors with a nicely drying, mild bitterness in the finish, the spruce isn't exactly obvious - which is probably for the best

d: a nice enough winter warmer, unique and adequately satisfying, there's some good aromas and flavors present, but as a whole the beer is a little reserved for my preference

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

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine Vol. II Issue XI:

Bright copper color sports a fine clarity; a perfect crowning from a two-fingered head drops a curtain of lace on the glass. Slight fruitiness in the nose of fresh peaches and pear. Maltiness ranges from cracker to cake batter with a subtle balance of hops and spruce, making for a lovely aroma. It's big on smoothness and has a nearly full body. Fruity, with a ghost-like bubblegum tone. There's a dry malt character for the most part with a hint of light caramel and toasted bread within. Light prickle of hop bitterness lets a quick flash of pungent spruce come through. Alcohol has just a touch of warmth accompanied by a peach orchard flavor. The spruce comes across with a hint of earthiness as well. Finishes dry with a thick, dry, cracker maltiness and a faint linger of spruce.

A different spin on the Winter Warmer, and it's refreshing to see that the spruce is not overdone. Very tasty and very drinkable, which makes this an excellent Sunday dinner beer.

Photo of Gyle41386
3.63/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Orange pour. Finger of white foam. Lots of rising bubbles. Decent head retention, splotches of lacing.

Sweet malt, spicy hops, pine needles and citrus. Kind of a grainy smell, as well.

Flavor borders on being lager-y. Sweet up front, lightly hoppy, with a grainy finish.

Medium bodied. Appropriate carbonation. Very easy drinker for a winter warmer, though I feel it doesn't necessarily fit the style that well.

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

Poured from a 650ml bottle into a pint glass. Code on label that I found out is the best by date of 3/14/10. It was a hazy orange amber color with good amount of carb streams. It had a large head that slowly settled into a good collar and some partial film. OK lacing but none sticking.

The aroma was bready malt, caramel, some spruce but not the amount I expected and a little bit of WW spice. Not bad but was really expecting more of the spruce to show up. The taste was also good with the sweet malt offset some by the spruce and spice. WW's are not a top style for me but this one stands out in the style. Good flavor without overdoing the alcohol or spice load. Mouthfeel was medium with good carbonation. Slightly spiced aftertaste.

Overall, a good WW that I do recommend. Rotation - not avail here in TX so shipped back from CO trip. If here, I might get a single or two or on-tap during the WW season. [O;O]

Photo of beerwolf77
3.24/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my pint glass the beer is clear amber orange. The three fingers of stark white head settle to leave thick gobs of lace clinging to the glass.

The aroma is a touch muted. What is there is mostly sweet malt with hints of cinnamon and what I percieve to be spruce. This could be simply due to the fact that the label tells me this.

The flavor is is even more faint then the nose. Just a light hint of malt and a touch of hops in the finish. It doesn't much flavor at all.

Medium body with light carbonation.

Overall not exactly a full on flavor blast. Not very memorable.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.6/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Pours a hazy golden amber with a minimal amount of white head that leaves almost no lacing whatsoever behind. The smell has notes of toffee, wheat, pine needles, and a bit of subtle hoppy citrus. The taste has a general malty sweetness to it, along with a hint of hoppy bitterness, some pine sap, and some spruce needles. The body is on the lighter side of medium, has more than enough carbonation, and warms a bit as it coats, making for a fairly drinkable winter brew.

Photo of BetterDarker
3.85/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Scremforme I received this in a recent BIF. 12 ounce bottle poured into pint glass.

A- Light, clear amber with a thin white head.

S- Winter/fall spices in the nose, nice malt presence.

T- Definitely present but not over powering cinnamon taste, well balanced with the malt and a hint of piney hops.

M- Good carbonation and medium body.

D- I'm very glad I was able to try this beer as I have not seen it in MA. That being said, it's not something I will actively trade for, as other local winter warmers hold up to this one.

Photo of bcm119
4.02/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Orange-amber colored. Minimal white lace. Caramel malt aroma with mild, citirc/pine hop undertone. Begins with soft malt; biscuit and bread flavors dominate the mid-palate, with a nice sweetness that stays clean. Hops creep in toward the finish with a muted but distinctly unusual pine note that must be the spruce tips. There are fleeting undertones of berry fruit as well. Flavors are understated and well integrated. Mouthfeel is very nice-- slick, full, but very clean. This is not at all what I expected, but its a very well done beer. It is mild, but shows a lot of finesse.

Photo of JamesP123
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a raiders logo mug.
A. A light hazy copper with almost two fingers of head. Moderate to light lacing

s. Sweet toasted malts not really picking up much else

T. Sweet up front followed by a mild hop bitterness. Don't really taste any spruce. It is a bit tart when first hitting the tounge but fades into a dry finish.

M. Slightly creamy mild carbonation

D. Overall a good not great beer. Tastes almost like a lager and ale hybrid that grew on me as the night went on. Will probably drink again but will wait till next years batch

Photo of MadeInOregon
4.44/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

This is a very good beer but it doesn't taste like spruce at all.

Poured out, it looks like a pale ale with its bronze/red body and thin white/tan head.

It smells, however, more like an amber with some faint fruit and alcohol smells.

The taste is great although confusing since I purchased the 22 ouncer on the premise that it was made with spruce tips--as indicated on the label--and instead found it to taste like a fruit beer! Blackberry, to be precise (or perhaps dark cherry). There is a little milk chocolate flavor that is present as well but other than that Alaskan's Winter Ale tastes like a nice ale made with fruit.

There is a little warming from the alcohol so I guess it has that aspect of "winter warmer" correct. But then again, it doesn't claim to be a warmer--that's what yall have it categorized as. This is clearly a...well...I dunno what this beer should be categorized as. It's not dark or hoppy like most winter warmers, but it does have some of the roasty qualities. I dunno. This beer is confused and so am I. All I know is that it tastes great, just don't try it thinking you're getting a warmer or something sprucey. Bottoms up!

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

A: Clear, lighter shade of orange-amber with a modest head.

S: Mainly pale and caramel malts; sweet and fruity.

T: Sweet and malty. A little spruce, but it's very subtle. Simple biscuit flavor with a touch of bitterness.

M: Light-bodied, slightly sticky with medium carbonation.

Have not had this beer for six or seven years, but liked it better in the past. Not bad, but a tad boring. I remember this as a littler darker, more flavorful, and around 7%. Now it seems a little closer to the amber and not something I would seek out.

Photo of tjd112
4.56/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation - Poured into Flying Fish pint glass

Appearance - Yellow-ish brown with a fast receding half finger head, but with good white lacing

Smell - Very fruity, like your average run of the mill pale ale

Taste - Fruity with spiciness and true to the label, spruce, as well as a hint of booziness

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with a dry finish

Drinkability - Very much so, somewhat sessionable

Overall - A very unique twist on beer

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

A - Pale golden amber with two finger off-white head which recedes fai.

S - Sweet from the roasted malts with a touch of spice and earthiness.

T - A solid malty body with flavors of caramel and toasty grain laced with mild spruce (which is nearly subtle but clearly present).

M - Medium body with decent coating quality. Moderate carbonation. Slightly dry on the finish.

D - A decent brew, but nothing to knock your socks off. Enjoyable and well crafted for sure.

Photo of beertunes
2.3/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in straight pint glass. Poured a light amber color with 3/4 of an inch of white head that almost instantly dissipated and left minimal lacing.

The most noticeable aroma was a sweet, almost fruity, scent that carried none of the expected malt or spice of the style. The flavor was also dominantly sweet and fruity, not rich earth fruits like you might find in other examples of the style, but Froot Loops style fruit. Not pleasant. No spice or hops noticeable.

The body was on the thin side for the style, but not bad. Drinkability was good, but not great. Given the sweetness of this beer, perhaps it would more enjoyable during warmer weather.

Overall, give it a shot if you want add another beer to your list, otherwise avoid.

Photo of camcroteau
3.66/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I love this beer. The only issue I have with it is that each year the beers taste can differ so much. I remember a year or two ago it was way to piney almost undrinkable. I still look forward to this beer every year. IMO a great beer by a great company. I would recommend to anyone and if you don enjoy the first time give it another try.

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

Poured into a Perfect Pint glass.

A: Pale amber, with mild carbonation and lots of very fine particulates. A soapy eggshell head sicks around for a little while before retreating to a ring at the edge of the glass. Leaves no lace.

S: Very earthy. The spruce tips are the centerpiece here. They add an appropriate woodsy essence. Toasted malt aromas are in the rear.

T: A bittersweet toffee flavor starts things out. Bitterness is well balanced, but doesn't add much flavor. The spruce tips; however, do. They had a nice earthy twig-like flavor. Finishes with lingering flavors of earth and wood.

M: The medium light body is both dry and syrupy.

D: This is a pretty decent Winter Warmer. I liked the spruce theme, but would have appreciated a little bit more flavor overall.

Photo of sprucetip
3.7/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes. Very clear, active, light copper/orange, very thin head falls promptly, spotty lacing.

SMELL Rich malty sweetness, booze, fruity esters, spruce tips and hops all blend well. Unique and complex. Surprisingly nice.

TASTE modest malty sweetness leads and is joined by sprucey notes, fruity boozy and floral hop flavors. A hint of hop bitterness balances.

FEEL fairly rich, slightly viscous, med body, clean, dry, sprucy finish.

OVERALL not a huge beer at all ,but not a session brew either (to me). Interesting and unique, but somehow misses the mark. A good and worthy but not a great beer. The use of spruce tips is common in Alaska, due to its historical use by Captain Cook in the 1770s. The spruce buds are high in vitamin C, and helped to ward off scurvy.

Since it is closest brewery to me that bottles beer, I want to like this and other Alaskan Brewing offerings more than I do, but I don't. With the exception of the barleywine and seasonal porters and some other limited releases, their beers tend to be pretty uninspired and average.

Photo of Yeastcakes
4.04/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Serving notes - served cold, on draft, shaker glass.
A - spruce, nutmeg and cinnamon on the aroma.
A - light half-inch head that quickly dissipates to a this film. Slight lacing. Crystal clear with a hint of amber.
M - medium carb and body.
T - cinnamon and other spices from the aroma backed up by a nice malt body.
D - Great winter warmer beer. I would go back to this.

Photo of Bookseeb
3.3/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is a slightly darker copper with a light murk to it and having not much of a head. Smell has a light sweet caramel and dark fruits. Taste has a bitter sweetness with a good amount of malt and light hop. Mouthfeel is medium with good body and carbonation. For what I get for the price, its not bad.

Photo of ocelot2500
3.23/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark golden color with a small white head that leaves a decent amount of lacing on the glass.

Smells of some malt sweetness and a little cinnamon like spice.

Tastes of the malt followed by a small spiciness. Not as much as I would like in terms of taste, but it is a slightly above average offering. I wish there was more in the way of darker malts (caramel). I do not see where the spruce comes in as there is little hop flavor and none of the notes I would expect from a spruce tip.

Mouthfeel is medium light with more carbonation than I would like. The mouthfeel is a little thin.

Photo of showell
4.22/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours yellow gold with a decent head. Nothing special. The smell was mosty malt with just a hint of pine (spruce???). The taste was very nice. A lot of malt with a bit of sweetness. I looked for a spruce flavor but couldn't really find anything I could pin down. Mouthfeel was fine. I could definitiely drink several of them. It's a good beer. Not my favorite, but for something to drink on a winter evening, it's really good. Nice beer - good job.

Update: I'm enjoying this beer more each time I try it. I'm going to have to get some more. I'm absolutely loving the flavor of this. Very nice!

Photo of Psilo707
4.62/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love most Alaskan Ambers and was very happy to try this one finally. If it has been out before I dont believe I have ever seen it.

A: Very light golden/amber color, head dissipates quickly but leaves nice trail of good looking lacing.

S: Smells fruity and inviting, a soft aroma of berries wafts from the top of the glass into your nose in a unique way.

T: WOW! Delicious the ENTIRE way through, from the first sip to the aftertaste. And especially the aftertaste! A nice malty flavor with some blueberry and even boysenberry reminiscence. This is awesome!

M: Decent, 4.0, nothing to write home about but better than most.

D: I could down these all night. Great stuff.

Overall, my favorite Alaskan Amber and one of my newest favorite beers... ever.

Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 739 ratings.