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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.

686 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 686
Reviews: 335
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: 13.55%
Wants: 26
Gots: 29 | 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: 686 | Reviews: 335 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dbalsock
3.93/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Very dark amber with reddish hints. The head is minimal and doesn't last long... a rather disappointing appearance in all.

Smell: Definite fruity notes come out in the smell. There is some cherry and a little citrusy action.

Taste: The cherry is stronger in the taste and is supported by some strawberry and grapefruit. There is also an occasional bready flavor that I really appreciate for it's balance to the brew. Very very sweet, rich and malty, I would be guzzling this for warmth if I was in Alaska right now.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, heavy and dense, this brew is coats the palate and sticks to it. Despite the grapefruit in the taste, there is a very minimal bitter quality to the brew that is only really present before it warms to near room temperature.

Drinkability: I think it's still too early for winter warmers... but even so, I'll drink this is, because it hits the spot. Since joining BA, I've only had my favorite beers more than a couple times... this is on the favorite list (not because it's one of the best, but because it's my favorite at the local pizza place right now). This satisfies my malt cravings without destroying my tastebuds with hops.

dbalsock, Nov 05, 2006
Photo of flexabull
2.55/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I have always been a bit disappointed with this one.

Pours an amber color, with a pretty decent head... looks pretty good.

Smells a bit sour and "off". Don't know what it is, but this beer to me comes off as dusty and old.

The taste is to strange for me too. I expect a winter beer from Alaska to warm my belly, but this one just tastes like a funky fruit.

Mouthfeel is ok, but it's not really a flavor I want lingering in my mouth.

I really like Alaskan Amber, and Smoked Porter, but I can do without this one.

flexabull, Oct 29, 2006
Photo of Phocion
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber with a thin but creamy white head which fades into light lacing along my glass.

Nose is warm and soft biscuity/caramel malts with what could either be a piney hops background or more likely just the spruce tips the bottle proclaims this beer is brewed with. Could use a little more oomph, but all in all rather pleasant.

Begins sweet with rich malt tones throughout. Lightly roasted and caramel malts combine with the spruce for a rather interesting brew. Delicate citric bitterness throws this beer nicely into balance.

Full-bodied with a decent level of carbonation. Very smooth, creamy, warm, and a little chewy as well. Definitely a good brew, without being too sweet. Highly drinkable, though a bit on the thick side.

Phocion, Oct 27, 2006
Photo of johnbonham1980
3.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

My first impression was that it was a lot more amber in color than I'd expect from a winter warmer. Quite a pretty beer; my pour yielded almost zero head, quickly dissipating into a bit of lacing.

Either my taste buds are off, or the flavor, to my way of thinking, isn't developed as much as I'd like. The use of spruce tips for spicing is an interesting touch, and I like the fact that the flavor isn't dominated by pine like you'd think. Opposite approach as Rogue's Juniper Pale Ale.

Nice, lingering aftertaste that enhances the next sip. Malt-forward with a definite hop presence. Citrusy and if "Christmassy" was a word, that'd be it. A little gingerbread maybe?

Good level of carbonation.

Recommended for those who like the winter warmer category but prefer something a bit more quaffable.

Epilogue: I really would recommend letting this one sit for about 10 minutes before drinking it. I should've known better, really. As it warmed up, the caramel and fruit notes really came out... I've upped my ratings because of this. Definitely a worthwhile brew.

johnbonham1980, Oct 18, 2006
Photo of pirate252
4.22/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Still new to the beer scene, well the good beer scene. But this has a very interesting taste. Very nice color and smell. Good spicy almost aftertaste. Can also detect some fruity flavors hidden away. Nice warming effect due to it being cold in here, and a nice high ABV content.

pirate252, Oct 09, 2006
Photo of Xadoor
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear copper colour in the glass. Big, bubbly head that quickly shrunk down to a thin white layer. Minimal lacing. Strong sweet aroma, fruity and malty. Sweet malt flavours to start. Fruity, caramel and spicy with a bit of pine. Dry clean finish, but slightly tangy. A slight warming affect from the higher ABV. Very enjoyable.

Xadoor, Jul 25, 2006
Photo of Jredner
2.63/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma is not really present to any great degree other than some vague maltiness. Pale copper in color with a well established white head that is mostly lasting. Has a sort of candy, sugar powder, bubble gum sweetness in the fore. Not getting any spice just that very sugary sweetness and malt which makes it not so Winter Warmer-y.

Jredner, Jun 30, 2006
Photo of scottoale
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 12oz. brown bottle pours an orange-amber ale with an off-white bubbly head. Fine carbonation bubbles, good clarity and the head settles quickly to a creamy ring. No lace so to speak.

The nose is sweet and malty, fruit of apricot and honey, some pine from hops (and spruce tips?) with alcohol in finish.

The taste starts sweet and malty as well, with a note of apricot that turns a bit tart and tangy, then finishes bitter to clean. A very interesting taste.

It's got a full body with a tangy mouthfeel that turns creamy before it goes down. Nice amount of alcohol can be felt and gets more pronounced as the ale warms.

I bought a sixer of this and am enjoying the last one now...would have no problem buying or enjoying it again in the future. Cheers!

scottoale, Jun 18, 2006
Photo of watermelonman
3.6/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This poured to a mix of orange and gold with just a ring of head. There's almost no lace.

Pine and honey are strong in the smell. The taste is unique and herbal, much like a gruit. The mouthfeel is somewhat light and fairly sharp, while drinkability is good.

watermelonman, May 09, 2006
Photo of woodychandler
4.13/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured with a big, thick, off-white/tan head. It had good clarity in a deep-amber colored beer. The nose was highly malty and sweet. The mouthfell was slightly thick with a sugary finish. I got a lot of berry-like sweetness in the mouth, much like raspberries. This was an interesting beer and one that I would have no problem opening again.

woodychandler, Apr 16, 2006
Photo of blitheringidiot
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Label states "Seasonal ale made with spruce tips"

Pours a bright clear amber with no bubbles topped with a thin khaki collar.

Light aroma of a slight woody suggestion and hard candy.

First swigs: Balanced malt and hops profile. Sweet sugary cherry soda like flavors. Overall light flavor and scents. A bit of orange and even a peach liquer.

Feel is light to medium and seems like a lot higher than 6.4% ABV.

Last swigs: Reminds me of Clipper City Below Decks barelywine. Thanks to AKSmokedPorter for the bottle.

blitheringidiot, Mar 06, 2006
Photo of joedon
3.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A pleasant but not exceptional beer. Pretty gold-copper color with ivory head and lots of lace. Subtle aroma of grain and spice with just a hint of spruce.

Flavor fits the old ale profile with layers of caramel, malt, fruit and alcohol.
Nice on the tongue and very drinkable. Mostly a sipping beer due to the 6.4% ABV.

joedon, Feb 26, 2006
Photo of VoodooBrew
3.55/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours light golden in color. The aroma is equally light-- I had to shove my sniffer deep into the glass to perceive the soft semi-sweet aroma. The flavor begins piney, followed by semi-sweet malt, and then a bitterness finishes things off. The mouthfeel and overall drinkability is easy-- but not terribly exciting.

VoodooBrew, Feb 23, 2006
Photo of nvsblman
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clear copper with just a little bit of head. Nice aroma with spruce, some oak, vanilla, and a touch of sweetness. The spruce is also prevalent in the taste with hints of fruit and spiciness rounding out the flavor. The taste seems to be a little stronger than when I had this on tap. I thought that this could have been a little more full bodied, but the carbonation was nice. A nice winter session beer.

nvsblman, Feb 19, 2006
Photo of RJLarse
2.23/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I picked up a six-pack of Alaskan Winter Ale at a grocery store to taste and review. I poured this beer into a pint tumbler.

Pours a light brown color with an orange/red hue. The beer is slightly cloudy. Minimal fizzy head, even on an aggressive pour, is gone in a flash, with no lacing at all. It leaves the beer looking a little flat, and a little like cider.

The smell is quite strong and has a very fruity and sweet aroma.

The taste is quite sweet and fruity as well. It has a cidery or a bit of a wine taste, with hints of sweet malts and sugars. There is a bit of a maple or molasses taste. I think this one is a little over the top on sweetness and fruity flavors. A stronger bitter hop presence would appeal to me.

Mouth feel is light, a bit cloying and somewhat syrupy, although that may be an illusion due to the sweetness.

This is a drinkable beer, but I wouldn’t want to have more than a couple in a sitting. It’s a little sweeter than I like. If you like a fruity beer, or a lambic, this one might be for you.

RJLarse, Feb 18, 2006
Photo of tobyandgina
4.3/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A Wonderful Winter Warmer!

Beautiful maple color (classic amber). Clean smell, a little hoppy, but subtle. The malts jump out of this one, but in an even, not overpowering way. Pretty mild - nothing too different, but unique in it's smoothness and without any real aftertaste. Beats me! Maybe it's in the spruce tips!

Overall, a great classic winter warmer. So far, my favorite Alaskan Brew. Definitely try this one.

tobyandgina, Feb 16, 2006
Photo of bennetj17
3.05/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Barely any head after the pour, color is deep copper, it just looks a bit flat. Smell is faint, fruity apple, mildly alcoholic. The taste is tangy sweet at first, with hints of apple, raspberry, and spices. The finish has bit of a honey-like flavor and then it dissipates into nothing. Not bitter. Alcohol doesn't appear that strongly. Some interesting fruitiness in the flavor but it doesn't come together to be that enticing. The mouthfeel is a bit thin although the carbonation seems adequate on the palate. Unique taste, but it still doesn't make for a very drinkable beer...

bennetj17, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of Tupperwolf
1.93/5  rDev -47.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Pours a very clear amber with a small head of large bubbles that dissipates very quickly; Glows gold in the light and leaves very minimal lacing.
Smells - quick whiffs of honeylike malts and the tiniest nip of hops, but I may be deceived on that front because of the intense smell of pine - these are brewed with spruce tips, and the impression that I get is lots of spice. Definitely a spiced winter beer.

Sleek, a little oily feeling mouthful, and similar caramelly malts give way immediately to the somewhat harsh taste of spruce - a bit too much, in my opinion. In fact, this beer is a bit one-sided - it's like drinking a Christmas tree.

Mouthfeel is quickly fizzy, then totally flat as the bubbles of carbonation pop immediately and give way to oily pine liquid.

Overall, I didn't like this one. It makes my face pucker and makes me feel sick to my stomach. I bought a six pack of these and could only manage to drink three (on subsequent evenings). Trying to drink two in a row just would not fly.

Tupperwolf, Jan 29, 2006
Photo of IntriqKen
4.4/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage
Ah...winter time and the selection of brews is incredible.
This pours a pale golden amber with a small head that quickly dissapates. Little to no lacing remaining as it drains from the glass.
Aroma is slightly fruity...slightly spicy.
Taste is pleasant and clean.
Light carbonation...mild alcohol warming on the back of the tongue.
Tastes of light fruit...light malts...light hops, and yes, really, faintly pine earthiness.
Mouthfeel is nice...not heavy, but not too thin either.
Clean aftertaste.
Overall, well balanced.
A very drinkable session brew for a winters afternoon.
2006 Vintage
More of the same...
Exactly the same.
Still one of the best.

IntriqKen, Dec 30, 2005
Photo of Gusler
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer after its extraction from the stubby 12-ounce brown bottle set in the glass a cloudless brown with a personable off-white head that is semi-creamy in texture, as it dissolves the residual lace a velum like sheet upon the glass. Nose s sweet with caramel, a hint of hops and a nice malt earthiness I find appealing, start is somewhat sweet with a splendid grain presence; the top is light to moderate in feel. Finish is moderately acidic; the hops spicy and pleasing to the palate very dry lingering aftertaste, sure glad that Alaskan beers are readily available here now, and quite a drinkable beer for a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Gusler, Dec 18, 2005
Photo of RedwoodGeorge
3.38/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

A disappointing pour is a bad way to start a brew but fortunately it gets better from there... The beer's a nice clear amber but there's surprisingly little carbonation. A vigorous finish to the pour was required for any head at all and the dirty white foam died down almost immediately leaving no collar or lacing.

The smell is intriguing - there's enough evergreen in the nose that I was worried this would taste of menthol. There's also a good bit of piny hops in the nose so all around it's like being in a conifer forest.

The flavor is a bit more two-dimensional. There's a pretty good sweet malt up front, mostly a light caramel with a moderate but well balanced bitter hops at the end. In between it's all fruit with very strong notes of cherry, raspberry and concord grape. Once you've had a sip the fruit becomes evident in the nose - an interesting phenomenon which either means 1) when you taste the grape-soda flavor you can more easily pick it out of the boquet or 2) the pine resins burn off rather quickly so it's only prominent as soon as you open the bottle. Whatever the reason it's a pleasantly tasty beer with lots of sweetness but not enough to be like cough syrup.

The mouthfeel suffers from the lack of carbonation that started things out so poorly - it's a somewhat heavy (though thin bodied) and cloyingly sweet drink with the only saving grace being a moderate hop bitterness to dry out each sip. Minor oily residue left on the palate but nothing serious. The beer is pretty much flat - it just lays there on the tongue.

Overall a very enjoyable experience which would have been much, much better if there'd been a lot more carbonation. If there'd been a 'sparkle' to each sip it would have highlighted the fruit character more without becoming overly sweet (and the acid from the CO2 would have tarted up the flavors a bit) Despite these flaws I'd still rate it high on drinkability; I'm looking forward to my next bottle and I'd be inclined to recommend this to friends.

RedwoodGeorge, Dec 18, 2005
Photo of germaniac
3.35/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice shiny amber, clear enough to almost expect to find a mosquito from the Jurassic period in my pint glass. Smells of caramel, with a hint of hop/spruce tip spiciness. The taste starts out with a nice bitter kick, most likely a tongue tingling combo of lightly fruity hops and the spruce tips this beer claims to be brewed with. Mellows out into nutty caramel malts with a lingering bitterness. Probably the first of the Winter warmer style that I've had where the thought popped into my head that it could easily be a year-round beer, even though I wouldn't drink it that much. Overall, a good beer, but a batch with a heartier malt profile would be more intersting.

germaniac, Dec 17, 2005
Photo of edmundfitzoil
2.95/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Alaskan Winter Ale a "Seasonal Ale brewed with Spruce Tips" as it said on the brown, short 12 oz. bottle. I couldn't find any date on the bottle, and I poured it into a standard pint glass.

The beer poured a nice paler amber color with some medium, visible carbonation and a white head with little to no retention. The nose had the expected spruce characte along with a caramel character and faint fruitiness to it. The beer is a medium bodied brew with a smooth taste while in the mouth. The finish and after taste are of much greater note. A dry, spruce induced finished lingers on the palate for quite a time after taking a sip. This is a unique brew, not one that I could or would particularly drink many in one sitting. As a winter warmer there are better examples, but in a style where there is so much deviation and lack of one unifying theme, I choose others like Deschutes' Jubelale simply on personal preference.

edmundfitzoil, Dec 17, 2005
Photo of oberon
3.55/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poures a burnt orange color with a slightly off white head that is gone pretty quickly leaving no lace behind as it settles,very muted aromas I picked up some toasted cracker malt but no hopping or spruce tip aromas wich I expected maybe a touch of caramel as well but very light.Flavors are not as muted but dont really stand out much either a dry malt base with some buttery notes wich become stronger as I drink more only a touch of the pine flavors hit in the finish.I realley prefer Siletz spruce ale compared to this,Its not horrible but somewhat run of the mill.

oberon, Dec 16, 2005
Photo of loren01
3.15/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle a light amber color with lots of carbonation and a nice off white head. Smell is a little bit funky, a metallic like scent. Taste is slightly malty with a nutty flavor at first, with a slight bitter hop finish. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth, i would say low to medium bodied, goes down very easy. Overall, this is an interesting beer, never had one with spruce tips in it before I don't believe. Another strong offering by Alaskan.

loren01, Dec 13, 2005
Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
84 out of 100 based on 686 ratings.