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Alaskan Winter Ale - Alaskan Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Alaskan Winter AleAlaskan Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

737 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 737
Reviews: 344
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: 13.55%
Wants: 30
Gots: 47 | 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: 737 | Reviews: 344 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of NDPDuke
3.3/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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.

Photo of TheodorHerzl
3.68/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of MiScusi
3.35/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of irishevans
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
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.

Photo of cerveza5150
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
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....

Photo of fartingdog
2.7/5  rDev -26.8%
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.

Photo of NitroGen
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.3/5  rDev -10.6%
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.

Photo of jbsteiny
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

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

Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 737 ratings.