Alaskan Winter Ale - Alaskan Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Alaskan Winter AleAlaskan Winter Ale

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725 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 725
Reviews: 341
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: 13.55%
Wants: 30
Gots: 42 | 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: 725 | Reviews: 341 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of czfreeman
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

Photo of SargeC
4.03/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

Photo of CVC
3.48/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

Photo of Domingo
4.08/5  rDev +10.6%
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...

Photo of Murchmac
3/5  rDev -18.7%
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.

Photo of mithrascruor
2.85/5  rDev -22.8%
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.

Photo of tayner
3.58/5  rDev -3%
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.

Photo of Dmann
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

Photo of monkeybeer
4/5  rDev +8.4%
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

Photo of likestoswallow
4.43/5  rDev +20.1%
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.

Photo of ojiikun
4.03/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

Photo of smcolw
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

Photo of Floydster
2.88/5  rDev -22%
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

Photo of Halcyondays
4.25/5  rDev +15.2%
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.

Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +8.4%
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

Photo of HoustonTX
4.38/5  rDev +18.7%
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.

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.25/5  rDev -11.9%
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.

Photo of July2Nov
4.33/5  rDev +17.3%
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.

Photo of idResponse
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
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!

Photo of jletts
3.63/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle to pint glass and served at 55 degrees.

Appearance- light golden-amber

Smell- hops and malt. Not a very complex smell. bleh.

Taste- Hops and sweet cookie malt. Well-balanced between hops and malt. Some light sprucey flavors throughout the profile. The alcohol comes through just a bit at the end contributing to a warming after-taste.

Mouthfeel- Decent, but a little thin for the style it seems.

Drinkability- an over-all good tasting brew and very easy to drink a few.

Photo of DoubleJ
3.13/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Found a bottle of this at a discount and thought it looked interesting enough to try out, so let's get on to the beer;

In a glass, the closest I could relate too in looks is iced tea. The head's a little thin and doesn't last too long. Smells like a national forest, with piney and wood scents, and a sweet dose of alcohol. In the taste, it's a little sweet like peach, sourish mixed berries, and woody. Finishes with a grainy taste.

I've heard good things of Alaskan Brewing, and this is the first beer I've sampled from their brewery. Unfourtunately, it didn't make as good of a first impression as I was expecting. I was bumed about this brew, but it shouldn't stop me from trying thier other products.

Photo of rsyberg01
3.63/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

S - 12 oz. no freshness. Thanks to Andy (sneagrams3) for popping my cherry with the alaskan family.

A - Pours a slightly hazy amber, head isnt very substantial could be more, never really fluffs up or resides.

S - Honey, slight fruit, woody, touch of pine, not bad, kind of light though for a winter warmer.

T - Definite pine on the palate, honey and citrus up front then piney resins on the back burner. I like it, though it could be more pronounced.

M - Clean and crisp, with a lingering taste. good.

D - Undoubtedly a session.

Photo of gbontrag
4.4/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

pours a clear burnt copper. A thin head rises with a swirl. Smells like apple scented caramel. Alcohol carries a vanilla quality.
Taste a touch of smoke first then darkened walnuts, burnt sugar. A medium body, and drying mouthfeel. An alcohol bite leads into the drier mouthfeel. There's nice fresh apple ester. This is surprisingly dry considering the richness of the malt; the dryness is in contrast to the caramel. There's woody quality to this: I feel like I'm sitting in front of a fireplace. I also feel like pouring a scotch, interesting. This is fantastic. The sour hops/spruce are a nice accent. Super drinkable.

Photo of Talisker
3.7/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not being a fan of holiday spice winter beers (e.g., Anchor Holiday), I was skeptical of the Alaskan Winter. But I was delighted by its subtle distinctiveness - quite a remarkable beer.

Pours from a 12oz bottle a very clear but deep tannish orange. Almost no head - a problem, given other reports of heavy carbonation? No lacing follows, and a sort of flatness dominates.

Mint! The most interesting and surprising note on the aroma, which is otherwise a malty sweet reminscent of the Alaskan Amber Altbier. There's a pleasant mintiness throughout the drink - sounds gross, but it's not - and it's not dominant, just complementary.

I'm guessing this is the spruce tips. I don't get much piney-ness or other spice, and while the finish isn't long, it diminishes very nicely. A very well crafted beer.

This one's a bit flat, perhaps the sample rather than the intended outcome, or I would rank it even higher. But even though I'm generally not a fan of Christmas beers, I'll be coming back to this one every year.

Photo of ccrida
4.2/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a pint glass, the Alaskan Winter Ale is a bright, clear copper with a large, light tan head that quickly subsided to a very slight collar, and left minimal lace. The aroma is bright, maybe too sweet, piney, fruity and a noticeable amount of alcohol. As mentioned on the bottle, that dominant aroma is spruce tips. The taste is a bit cloying but nice, more of a fruity bubblegum with a firm malt backbone and bitter hop finish, then the dominate spruce in the aroma - but make no mistake, it is certainly there...I just think it is really nicely balanced, much more then the aroma would leave you to believe. My taste runs towards sweeter, extreme tasting to beers, so consider that when I say that I really enjoyed the taste of this one. Only complaint would be the the aftertaste looses the balance and can be a bit sprucy, but it creeps on you slowly. The mouthfeel was perfect, and it was one the most drinkable winter ales I've, at least from this country. I never had more then 2 of these in one sitting, but I'd guess they'd session quite nicely.

Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 725 ratings.