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Brooklyn Winter Ale - Brooklyn Brewery

Brooklyn Winter AleBrooklyn Winter Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

935 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 935
Reviews: 461
rAvg: 3.6
pDev: 13.33%

Brewed by:
Brooklyn Brewery visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
Scottish Ale |  6.10% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Brooklyn completely changed the recipe in 2006. It’s now a Scottish-style ale. Brewmaster Garrett Oliver explained to us that: “There are no spices at all. Good British floor malts and hops along with our yeast strain account for all the flavors. It has a Scottish-style cooler fermentation, which pushes malt to the forefront rather than fruitiness.” It was brewed with Scottish Floor-malted Maris Otter, English crystal malts, Belgian Aromatic malt, American roasted malts, American oats and hopped with Willamette.

(Beer added by: Todd on 12-02-2006)
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Ratings: 935 | Reviews: 461 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of 160Shillings

North Carolina

5/5  rDev +38.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Aroma: The aroma is full of strong malt; caramel, roasted and rich floor malt, also includes faint esters and surprisingly very faint alcohol as well.
Appearance: Pours with a tan head that collapses into a fine bubbled ring. The color is very dark copper.
Flavor: The flavor begins with sweet malt, caramel and roasted notes. The body is surprisingly full for a beer that the label says has only 6.1% abv, it almost seems sticky sweet. However that is a deception since the palate soon becomes dry and shows full attenuation. The bitterness is appropriated, but does not linger. The finish is unexpectedly dry, short and abrupt. It’s not the finish one would expect from an ale that begins so very rich and sweet. It leaves you easily ready for the next swallow and even the next beer. The esters suggest dark fruits, for those that think they are wine connoisseurs, for beer zealots it tastes like a great Scottish ale.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium-low carbonation, without lingering.
Overall Impression: This Scottish ale is everything it should be and nothing it shouldn’t be, a true benchmark for Scottish ale.
Comments: Thank you Garrett Oliver! Brooklyn’s Winter Ale is a wonderful example of Scottish ale. The web says this beer is 6.0% abv, however my bottle says 6.1% abv. The nominal strength is half a percent lower than guidelines for a Wee Heavy, but 1% abv more than an 80/- Scottish Export. All things said, Winter Ale taste like a Wee Heavy. Most importantly it avoids the two most common failings of American craft-brewed beer. First, it’s not too hoppy. Most American craft-brewers, especially those on the west coast, use far too many hops, even in beer styles in which it would be inappropriate. Second, Oliver doesn’t use whisky malt in this beer. Almost every other example of American craft-brewery’s Scottish ale uses this peat smoked whisky malt. This is simply inappropriate for a true Scottish ale. It is Scottish ale, not Scotch whisky. I can’t think of a better example of an American craft-brewed Scottish ale.

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2012 02:11:22 | More by 160Shillings
Photo of auxiliary

Rhode Island

4.63/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance – Nice reddish dark color. Thin head after it was poured butfaded out and just left a ring, did leave some lace on the glass.

smeill - Smell of malts, and caramel.

taste – Sweet malty taste, with a ting of hops taste in it. I can taste some caramel too.

mouthfeel – Medium body.

drinkability - Nice sipper beer, not your normal winter brew. A keeper

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2007 21:00:30 | More by auxiliary
Photo of PatriotsRule


4.63/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent take on a Scottish Ale.
A: Reddish with an off white head, decent retention and pretty lacing throughout
S: Malty goodness, some hops and spice
T: Stellar mellow brew, crisp and warming when cool...
M: Smooth city, with a large malt presence
O: Excellent ale which is very much sneakily smooth :D

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2012 02:47:53 | More by PatriotsRule
Photo of TagoMago

New York

4.5/5  rDev +25%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Held up to the light, the beer has a rich, dark, copper-red color. The beer pours with a creamy white head, which lingers to coat the glass with a fine lacing as the beer is sipped.

Smell: Toasted malts with some carmel sweetness. There are some yeasty notes present as well.

Taste: Roasted malts combined with carmel and toffee overtones that provide the beer with a subdued sweetness. There is also a very slightly metallic taste noticed in the finish, which adds rather than detracts from the beer's overall character.

Mouthfeel: The moutheel of the beer is one of incredible smoothnees, making for outstanding drinkability that combines with a nice creamy finish.

Overall: This is very different than most winter brews, though outstanding nevertheless. This beer is very mild in every aspect, yet tasty and very satisfying. Its exceptional smoothness makes this a very easy drinking beer that can easily be enjoyed on a cold winter's night by any beer drinker who prefers maltier beers. I highly recommend this beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2008 04:54:09 | More by TagoMago
Photo of TheDeuce

New York

4.47/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Now a Scottish-style ale.

Poured into a pint glass, very dark with a very carbonated head. Smell is very malty (bottle claims it's Maris Otter malts), taste is very balanced, mix of chocolate and caramel tastes, alcohol well hidden by the malt, a slight semblance of hops in the middle of it all but this is way more malty. Smooth finish, light on the tongue.

One of the best versions of the style I've ever had, many craft breweries try this style and fail but this one succeeds with flying colors. Malty beers aren't really my style but this is an incredible success. Way to go.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2008 19:36:47 | More by TheDeuce
Photo of Tilley4


4.43/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What an awesome winter brew this is... I loved this and I'm kicking myself for not buying more....

Pours out a deep deep amber with a small head but a thick winter look to it... Rich malty appearance...

Loads of thick rich sweet caramel maltiness with a kiss of noble hops... This smells dense and thick and exactly like I want a cold weather brew to smell.. Warming and delicious...

A big sweet malt bomb... Not overly sweet like a doppelbock but sweeter than an amber... Not loaded up with spices like some others of the style... Straight forward deliciousness...

I really enjoyed this brew.. Malty and deep and delicious... Excellent seasonal brew..m. Good job, Brooklyn!

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2010 02:11:35 | More by Tilley4
Photo of Grundle20


4.4/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer is amber in color with a minimal eggshell white head. The retention is mediocre at best but the lacing is intermittent throughout the drink.

The scent is rich with sweet caramel malt notes. I detect underlying herbal tones like heather and a little bit of nutmeg and peppery spice.

Taste and Mouthfeel:
The beer drinks crisp especially given it's focus on the malts which are full and buttery with a hint of sweetness. I'm again getting those herbal undertones of what I believe to be heather. The finish is a little bit polluted with malts which carry on in to the aftertaste but it's a pleasant malt flavor unlike something you would expect from a stout.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is hands down the easiest drinking winter beer I have had this season. It's good and full for the cold weather but it's not overly done so that all refreshing qualities have been destroyed.

Bottom Line:
Props to Brooklyn Brewing for doing something a little different for a winter ale and I think it really payed off. A pretty fine brew all in all.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2007 01:09:18 | More by Grundle20
Photo of JamesS


4.4/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a very nice deep brown with very nice head and good lacing throughout. Nice deep malty scent, very heady and thick with some nice earthiness in the nose. Good flavors, a very thick malty flavor with a bit of biscuit and a bit of roastiness in it. Went down quite well, very smooth.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2012 18:49:29 | More by JamesS
Photo of hustlesworth


4.38/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- nice rich beige head sits atop a clear reddish brownish amber maple syrup with tangerine and golden highlights. the pitted dimpled surface of the foam is reminiscent of some of the finer scottish ales i've had in the past and it looks beautiful in my great lakes xmas ale stemmed glass. vicosity is apparent and retention is good and the foam sits heavy leaving spots of lace and furthermore thick drippy rings.

S- fresh grainy toasted malts like aromatic rice, some oat creaminess and a wonderful touch of wood smoke perhaps similar to beech? it reminds me of schlenkerla and it transitions nicely into a dark caramel sweetness as the beer warms. very malty, with a distinct lack of fruitiness. woodsy, bready, toasty, and warm with a touch of earthy hop aroma.

T- taste is a different planet than the aroma, softly metallic, chocolate and weak coffee, with a familiar savory fruitiness. grilled dates and figs with sage and thin meaty gravy or beef stew is about as best i can describe it. stone, granite, concrete, and damp wood, cigar tobacco, soil, and mid range earthy and herbal hop bitterness create a great wintery balance for those who desire something woodsy and rustic in the midst of other hoppy, spiced, or fruity winter ales. molasses cranberry finished it out with some tartness and herbal hops.

MF- just a touch lighter than porter thanks to the oats in the mash. rich, full, almost creamy feel is achieved here. woodsy earthy feel and a smooth maltiness sticks on the palate.

D- christmas beer or not, this is a unique scottish ale regardless, and mr. oliver's decision keep the lid on tradition has left him with a smooth, gentlemanly brew that seems to put itself past other novelty (no matter how superb) offerings. expertise is shown to me by the malt combination, if any are even smoked at all, and the addition of oats. this would be a tremendous pair with any red meat. hats off and merry xmas.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2008 07:11:33 | More by hustlesworth
Photo of TrevorGW


4.38/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark body with reddish tints coming through the glass.

Powerful caramel aroma. Deeply sweet ... great presence from the malt.

Taste is spot-on for a nice crisp winter beer. Dark chocolate offset by a soft creamy butter. Not too sweet, and not too fruity.

A carefully-crafted beer with a fantastic malt profile. One of the more memorable winter beers I've ever tasted. Will definitely seek it out again.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2008 17:13:53 | More by TrevorGW
Photo of cabsandking


4.35/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark amber poor and beige head of various sized bubbles. Aromas of malts, something sulfur like, and some boozy wine like esters. The flavors are all rather mild but nutty, smokey malts and roasted grains make up the majority. Other notes are figs, wheat bread, some sour dark fruits, mild oaky bourbon barrel, and some faint chocolate found way in the back. Really nice velvety mouthfeel and a touch of carbonated crispness. Some alcohol strength is detectable but not detracting and some lemon and buttery notes become apparent as it warms. This beer has a slew of nuances that seem like they’ve been mellowed like its been aged for a while.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2007 19:59:35 | More by cabsandking
Photo of generallee

New York

4.35/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass. The bottle has a "Best Before" date of Apr. 2010 printed on it. The label has the abv listed at 6.1% and there is also a very brief description of the beer on the neck label.

Appearance: The body has good clarity and a deep reddish amber color. On top is a light off white which rises up about two fingers tall before slowly fading down to a thin cap. This thin covering hangs on well and leaves some slick lacing on the glass.

Smell: It has a fairly light nose with nice notes of bready, doughy and lightly toasted malt. Hop aroma also adds a light spicy note as well.

Taste/Palate: The flavor has a good sweet bready and ginger bread cookie like maltiness with light caramel notes. Hop flavor is modest and adds light leafy spicy bitterness to just give some balance to the finish. The palate has a solid medium feel with soft yet active carbonation.

Notes: This is a very solid example of the Scottish ale style and a great winter treat.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2010 19:01:25 | More by generallee
Photo of leokbelo


4.35/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich copper color into a snifter. Foamy 2 inch head dissipates into a nice lacing.
Sweet malts on the nose, fruity, hints of raisins.
Medium carbonation, again sweet/caramel malts, balanced by the hops. Extremely smooth and drinkable.
An excellent Scottish Ale, perfect for this chilly evening!
Highly recommended!

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2012 00:32:38 | More by leokbelo
Photo of kylehay2004


4.35/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: thick 2.5 finger off white head with nice retention and lacing on a murky amber with garnet hues body.

S: caramel and toffee malts with a confectioners chocolate note. Overall full and sweet.

T: sweet caramel malts throughout with a finish of mild herbal musty hops. Rye and nutty notes intermixed.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation. Buttery and rich.

Overall: A nice example of the style. Drinkable with a nice malt presence. My rating is based on its representation of the genre and drinkability combined.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2012 22:43:53 | More by kylehay2004
Photo of ggaughan


4.33/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This winter beer poured into a Duvel tulip with a clear brownish body and slight white head. There were touches of toasted coffee in the nose, sweet fresh brewed coffee. The taste was more of the coffee taste and although I don't drink coffee, I like the aroma and taste in my beer. The coffee taste was also mixed well with a caramel character. Despite the these big complex tastes, the beer was very easy to drink, probably due to the relatively mild abv. This beer had a nice creamy body that I think I could drink more than a few in a sitting.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2007 00:39:08 | More by ggaughan
Photo of IntriqKen


4.33/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber with slightly off white head that sticks around a decent amount of time.
Aroma is special. Caramel and slight smokiness comes across a little like burnt marshmallow
Flavor is Scottish with burnt toasted malts yielding sweet dark caramel flavors and then a nice crisp bitterness from the Willamette Hops.
Unusual for a Winter Warmer but definitely appreciated.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2007 01:52:09 | More by IntriqKen
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly

New York

4.33/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, best before April '08, served in a standard pint glass.

A - clear, amber color with a good size, tan head that settled to a layer, leaving lots of tiny lace bubbles all down the glass.

S - toasted malt aroma.

T - roasty, toasty, malty flavor. Nice malty brew.

M - light bodied, light carbonation.

D - very easy drinking beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2008 23:09:52 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of dstc


4.33/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear deep ruby color with a big off-white head that falls to a minimal head. Thin lacing.

Sweet malt aroma. Also picking up mild alcohol.

Big malty taste that I love in this type of brew. Sweet buttery caramel, bread like.

Medium bodied and low carbonation in the mouthfeel.

Great, easy drinking winter ale. A standard.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2008 19:52:52 | More by dstc
Photo of Ladybugger


4.33/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a cellar-temperature bottle into a standard pint glass. Beer is a beautiful clear tawny brown with many rising bubbles visible. Head is thick and tan, long-lasting, with very small bubbles. The smell is malty and slightly toasted, mildly yeasty. This beer is delicious! It tastes of caramel and toasted malts, and finishes sweet but clean. A lingering maltiness follows in my mouth. The carbonation lends crispness and keeps the beer from feeling heavy or thick. Despite the higher alcohol content, this beer is very smooth and mildly warming, without any harshness or heat. This beer is very drinkable - I could spend a long winter evening drinking pint after pint.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2010 20:02:04 | More by Ladybugger
Photo of BeardedBoffin

New Mexico

4.3/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a deep amber color with a big head rising above it that did leave some lacing. The appearance itself indicates winter. Malt and an inviting freshly baked bread aroma dominate the nose with a sweet caramel and nutty butter linger behind the scenes. On the palate the beer is soft and smooth, almost coating the palate. Light for a winter ale, but not too light. The tastes backup the aroma with bready malt and round rich caramel. The beer finishes with needed and well executed balance provided by the hops in the form of both spice and bitterness. The exit of the beer leaves behind a comforting warm feeling like a warm blanket on a chilly night. The Scottish influence is noticeable in the malt. Definitely another strong brew from Brooklyn Brewery.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2008 21:36:09 | More by BeardedBoffin
Photo of droomyster


4.28/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This Scottish ale is dark reddish brown with a beautifully frothy tan headd. It smells of sweet malts (LOTS of malts!) with and a hint of alcohol. The flavor is dominated by yummy toasted malts, a light brown sugar sweetness, and a small amount of hops whose profile I can only describe as dead-grass or fallen leaves. This beer has an almost woodlike quality about it. It has an exceptionally smooth medium body that is finely carbonated. This might be my favorite seasonal this year -- it's such a pleasure to drink! Props to Brooklyn for another well-crafted brew!

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2008 08:18:47 | More by droomyster
Photo of Traquairlover


4.28/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12-oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A = Very clear amber liquid with small orange tinted head that quickly settles into just a few small bubbles on surface in the middle.

S = Good strong smells of biscuits, caramel, some butterscotch, freshly harvested grains, some earthy hops.

T = Has tastes of a chocolate, cinnamon bun, nice sweet flavors of bread dough, caramel, brown sugar, hints of cocoa and very light cinnamon (like getting a single hit of cinnamon syrup in a cappuccino, not enough to really make it cinnamon tasting but enough to give it is a slight hint reminiscent of mulled cider), at the same time there is just enough of a hops earthiness to make this a good refreshing taste, not a purely sweet wort taste. Just an excellent, complex example of a Scottish Ale.

M = Medium-light body, fair mouthcoating, soft but constant carbonation.

D = This is an eminently drinkable beer, it goes down very smoothly, combines a good amount of light refreshing tastes and senses with nonetheless a good sweet, warm malt presence.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2009 13:19:45 | More by Traquairlover
Photo of wahhmaster


4.28/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic imperial pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a translucent copper-brown color with lots of carbonation bubbles. It has a thick creamy head that dissipates slowly and leaves copious lacing.

Smell: Caramel and sweet-smelling malts come through strongly in the smell. Hints of fruit and toast also come out subtly.

Taste: Malty with a nice caramel finish. Has a nice hoppy bitterness to it and this is well-balanced by a malty sweetness. Leaves a slightly bread-y aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with kind of a creamy texture. Has a nice carbonation bite to it as well.

Drinkability: A great beer and one of my new favorite winter seasonals. I wish this one were easier to find in my area and a little cheaper but this is really good. I'll certainly be trying to find more by the end of the season.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2010 21:14:47 | More by wahhmaster
Photo of afksports

New York

4.28/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

So there's hops and malts in beer. And in winter beers there are malts and fruits and spices. And this is basically all malt. Who cares. I'm a malt whore.

In enjoying this on tap at Amity Hall where I'm trying my damndrst to drink 101 beers by my 30th birthday. And I must be in a good beer mood off the Knuckle Samdwich from yesterday, because i'm ready to forgive this one for it's lack of sexy appearance (barely any head, no lacing) and fairly bland smell (subdued malts, tinge of fruit, tiny interesting lingering complexity). I'll do that because of a good mood and because the taste is fairly solid. Malts. A nice combination of caramel, pear, and a tiny hoppy bite.

Very drinkable because of its smooth and crisp light to medium body, Brooklyn's winter offering does not stand out. But it also doesn't dissapoint.

Serving type: on-tap

01-07-2011 23:19:54 | More by afksports
Photo of ksbrainard


4.25/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Perfectly clear, red with a hint of brown when held up to the light. The head is fleeting, as it quickly dissipates leaving little other than bubbles popping up rising from within the beer.

Smell: It smells mostly grainy. You could also say that it smells generically "dark" at first. As it comes together, perhaps due to warming a bit, it hints at a toffee/caramel aroma.

Taste: It has a lightly roasted flavor. There is maybe just barely a hint of the toffee and caramel in the flavor that was in the aroma. Hops settle in mid-sip and linger nicely. There is sort of a plum flavor in there. In this world of extreme beer (most of which I love to try) it is hard to appreciate a great subtle, complex, well-balanced beer like this. It took me about half the glass to realize that this beer wasn't hiding anything with excessive malts, hops, or alcohol, and furthermore, that it is no small feat to achieve such divine balance in a beer. There is a bit of a tangy (?) taste in there, maybe that's roasty, or maybe that's the water that one of the other reviewers was talking about.

Mouthfeel: To complement a subtle-yet-complex taste, this beer boasts a hearty-but-not-overwhelming mouthfeel. The body is good and solid, and it is dried out well at the end by the hops and carbonation.

Drinkability: This beer is so well balanced, it is easy and enjoyable to drink. You can find lots to love in it, and even the uninitiated should be able to handle it. I drank this one with a gingerbread man, and that was just an awesome combination. I can't wait to have one with a hearty main course, as recommended on Brooklyn's web site.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2007 00:34:55 | More by ksbrainard
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Brooklyn Winter Ale from Brooklyn Brewery
82 out of 100 based on 935 ratings.