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Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) - Heavy Seas Beer

Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale)
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very good

787 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 787
Reviews: 491
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 11.46%

Brewed by:
Heavy Seas Beer visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: pezoids on 02-17-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) Alström Bros
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Ratings: 787 | Reviews: 491 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of dbrauneis

North Carolina

3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A: Pours a clear dark garnet red in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and some copper + cola brown highlights. The beer has a quarter finger tall foamy sudsy light tan head that quickly reduces to a medium sized mottled very thin film and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light aromas of citrus/orange rind hops, toasted nutty malts, and fruity yeast.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of toasted malts with a light amount of nuttiness as well as a light amount of toffee sweetness. There is a slightly stronger than moderate amount of citrus/orange rind hops that contribute a light to moderate amount of lingering bitterness. Hints of alcohol in the finish as well.

M: Medium bodied with slightly more than moderate amounts of carbonation. Slight amounts of dryness in the finish.

O: An interesting take on an ESB - much hoppier than any of the others that I have tried. Slightly too much alcohol and that alcohol is not well enough hidden for me. Probably would not grab another one of these but it can definitely be enjoyed.

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2014 01:32:43 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of KTCamm

New Jersey

3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served from a bottle into a pint glass. 1/26

Pours medium reddish brown, ruby colored, light layer of white foam. Bready toffee caramel nose. A little sweet. Taste is a light bread filled malt with a firm flavorful hop in the back half. Good flavor blend. Slightly amped ESB.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2014 18:17:41 | More by KTCamm
Photo of Mojo


3.66/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle -> snifter glass

A - deep amber pour with a big four inch head which is light brown in appearance.

S - weak nose, mostly malt and bread

T - some honey, lemon, and orange peel with a bitter finish that is about the same flavor as the corky bitter stuff that can be found inside a pecan (prounced PEE-kahn)

M - medium thickness, bit of an aftertaste

O - decent offering. I'd drink another one.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2014 21:29:50 | More by Mojo
Photo of Budinetz


4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle vigorously into a Teku glass.

A- pours a beautiful amber color, with an inch and a half of white head that stays for a good minute or two. Nice lacing around the glass after each sip.

S- smells of malt, bread, and a hint of alkalinity. Very biscuity. No harsh scents or overtones. Maybe a hint of dates?

T- tastes of bready malts with a pleasant bitterness from the hops. A very crisp, refreshing finish for an ESB. The 7.75% abv in not detectable, in fact this drinks like a 4.5% English bitter.

M- prickly on the tongue and cheek, with a slight bite from the hop bitterness on the finish. Finished dry and clean. Very palatable.

O- a solid brew from heavy seas. Definitely one you want to drink quickly and not age, as 7.5% is a bit under the abv for aging and due to the hop content, will definitely oxidize in 6 months or so. I look forward to next year for this seasonal.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2014 07:39:15 | More by Budinetz
Photo of 57md


3.64/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is a brown color with copper edges and a half finger of head. The head dissipated pretty quickly, but still left some nice lace rings on the glass. The nose was malty. The flavor is malt forward with a semi-dry finish. In addition, the finish was plagued with a funny aftertaste that was difficult to place.

Like most Heavy Seas offerings, it was underwhelming.

Serving type: on-tap

01-08-2014 05:45:19 | More by 57md
Photo of dwren89


3.96/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: caramelly brown with gold highlights, great clarity, thin white head

Aroma: bready, like a fresh baked loaf of cinnamon bread, with caramel and molasses hints, not a lot in terms of spiciness, but some fair traces of cinnamon, cardamom, sugar, and nutmeg

Taste: very malty, with a strong beast and cinnamon flavor, with supporting caramel and molasses and nutmeg notes, firm bitter finish on the end but without much hop flavor.

Mouthfeel: thick and malty, but not viscous, full body, medium carbonation

Overall: Very good, a gray companion to a winter stew, exhibiting great malt character, some delicious spices, and a fitter finish.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2013 00:53:51 | More by dwren89
Photo of Jason


3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz brown bottle with a freshness date.

Great lacing from a dissapating three fingered head. Toasted malt, baked apples, earthy, hint of alcohol, & faint caramel in the nose. Big malt character, thick medium body. Herbal woody hop, lots of balance here. Apple skin, dried grass, faint orange pith, brown malt, husky, drying graininess. Finishes dry and toasty.

This is a great rendition of of an ESB, bold enough to be set as their winter seasonal.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2013 04:58:45 | More by Jason
Photo of tillmac62

South Carolina

4.06/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice medium amber with red hue that has a nice head that laces and retains well. Nice light nose of biscuit malt with a touch of hops. Medium bodied with good carbonation. A nice balanced flavor of caramel malt sweetness and bitterness against a mild hop flavor, which I believe is East Kent Goldings. Finishes clean with malt sweetness followed by the bitters. My first sampling of Heavy Seas products, and this one outstanding. A nice change of pace for winter warmers that is expertly done.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2013 21:12:35 | More by tillmac62
Photo of chefhatt


3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I forgot about this one, when I poured this beer it has a light reddish color body with a cc full 2"white head. The was of dark fruits and malt. The taste has some dark fruit notes and caramel to it. The malt comes in on the tail end. The mouthfeel is ok and overall it is ok beer, just not my style.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2013 03:30:54 | More by chefhatt
Photo of spokeydonkey

New York

3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle. Dark copper in color with a thin white head on it. Aroma is of caramel, figs, dark fruit. Tastes about right for the style (imperial ESB). Malt dominated with biscuit, caramel and a bit of nuttiness. Followed up with intense hop bitterness and restrained hop earthiness and spiciness. Carbonation is a bit high and gives it a bite that detracts from the rest of the beer.

Overall a very nice example of what I'd expect from an imperial ESB. Let it warm up and flatten a bit before drinking, however.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2013 01:52:35 | More by spokeydonkey
Photo of delta490


3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A- a nice clear mahogany with one finger of creamy off-white head. Good retention and lacing on the glass.

S-earthy aromas with some subtle malt notes in the background.

T- an interesting flavor. Initially the traditional ESB notes of caramel and dark fruit are prominent but quickly give way to a nice seasonal spice blend.

M- smooth and pleasingly full on the palate.

O- not a bad beer but I wished for more focus on the esb aspects of the beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2013 21:13:17 | More by delta490
Photo of ThisWangsChung


2.84/5  rDev -26%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Look what I found buried in the fridge! 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a clear chestnut color. There's about two fingers worth of pale yellow head, featuring a soft texture and good retention. As it fades, some lacing is left behind.

S: It smells...like an ESB. The malt profile here is quite nutty, with just a hint of chocolate; and even for an old bottle, there is a bit of a hoppy kiss. Earthy hops, in this case. There's also something funky I can't put my finger on. It doesn't really excite me, even for an ESB.

T: At first, the malts come through with some nutty, fruity, and even (occasionally chocolaty) notes. The malt backbone works decently considering I don't like the maltiness of this style. Before I know it, a wave of generic hop bitterness closes this one. The only hop flavor I really note is a touch of ginger. I actually don't mind this one having generic bitterness, because ESB. It's the jarring transition between the malt and the hops that gets me.

M: Creamy and soft, yet dry on the back end. It's pleasantly carbonated, as well. No real trouble with the mouthfeel - it's more of the flavors that support the feel that raises my indifference.

O: It's nice to have your expectations met. Before reviewing this, I thought "meh, ESB"; and after finishing this, I thought "meh, ESB." I didn't particularly enjoy this one, but that's due to my dislike of the style.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2013 06:09:50 | More by ThisWangsChung
Photo of Dodt


4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

forgot i had this one in the fridge decide to crack it open . poured from the bottle into a sam adams pint glass. deep amber in color has a bit of lacing after a while . rich aroma of roasted malt. nice taste from the roasted malt with a bit of burnt that isn't off putting . wishing i would of had this beer a bit earlier in the year. oh well tonight was a bit chilly

Serving type: bottle

08-07-2013 04:00:04 | More by Dodt
Photo of mountdew1

New Hampshire

3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into an oversized wine glass. Color was a nice dark reddish brown that was translucent, with a very thin light brown bubbly head. Aroma was mostly roasty malty, with a bit of alcohol undertone. Flavor was a bit spicey, just a kick of pepper, somewhat like a slighty burnt brown whole wheat bread. Fairly balanced. Coated nicely, just enough stick, but left a bit of bitter tingle feeling on the tongue. Overall a solid beer. Not bad for a winter, but not outstanding either.

Notched Mar 2012.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2013 23:18:21 | More by mountdew1
Photo of superspak


3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, best before April 2013. Pours slightly hazy ruby red color with a 1 finger fairly dense cream colored head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of raisin, pear, caramel, toast, brown bread, floral, light pepper, light toffee, and toasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of malt notes; with solid strength. Taste of raisin, pear, caramel, toffee, toast, brown bread, floral, pepper, pine, light nuttiness, and earthy spiciness. Good amount of spicy pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of light fruits, caramel, toffee, toast, brown bread, floral, pepper, pine, and earthy spiciness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of malt and fruity ester flavors; with a good hop balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full body; with a creamy and lightly sticky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very nice imperial ESB style. Nice complexity of malt/fruity notes with hop balance; and quite smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

Serving type: bottle

04-25-2013 03:49:02 | More by superspak
Photo of Mitchster


4.01/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed with 2-row, Crystal, Caramalt, and Chocolate Malt. Hopped with Warrior, UK Goldings, UK Fuggles, Cascade, and Centennial. ABV: 7.5%, 50 IBU's. $9.99/6'er @ BevCo.

Pours out to a sparkingly clear medium amber, forming a nice mousse-like light yellow head with excellent retention and great lacing. Carbonation is moderate, ~2.5 carbs. The nose opens with plum and faint cherry esters, followed by some rotting orange and toast with some fruity hops. No DMS, subtle diacetyl, no sulfur or fusels. The mouthfeel is soft with a medium dense body. The taste opens with the fruity esters and is followed by toast, nuts and some tobacco lingering in the finish. Bitterness is moderately firm with hop flavor appropriate to the style, in balance with the toasty malts, but not overpowering them. The Fuggles and Goldings add their distinct papery herbal flavor, but the American hops balance them nicely with some fruits. There is a rough edge in the finish with some higher alcohols and a little pepper, unusual for the style.

This is a good beer, no doubt, but I'd much prefer a Fuller's ESB which is fruitier, less hoppy and easier to drink with that distinct orange marmalade and toast flavor that I love in well-crafted ESB's.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2013 06:35:54 | More by Mitchster
Photo of ckollias


4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this 12 oz bottle out of a Belgian tulip glass.

A: Pours a cloudy amber hue with a thin white head that slowly dissipates down the slide of the glass leaving a decent lacing.

S: Sweet malty aroma with a dark fruit caramel noise.

T: Slightly sweet caramel malt flavor that finishes on the dry side.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: Decent brew – not my favorite heavy seas brew – but worthy of a try.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2013 01:42:56 | More by ckollias
Photo of Oakenator


4.56/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a darker brown to amber color with a decent head at pour. Decent head retention and good lacing. Aroma is darker malts and maple syrup. Taste is sweet - again darker malts and syrup present. Starts sweet and finishes on a slightly bitter note but not over powering for those that like milder hops. Great beer for a cold day.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2013 20:37:49 | More by Oakenator
Photo of puboflyons

New Hampshire

4.46/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle with March 2013 clipped off the label. Sampled on January 22, 2013.

The way it poured all I could think of was a winter storm churning out in the deep ocean with circular carbonation bubbles slowly falling apart and becoming a handsome looking medium amber with reddish hues and a lasting head.

The aroma is of dark malts, plum (maybe), toffee, and English yeast. The hops are not as evident on the nose.

The body is bold and smooth.

The taste begins mildly sweet with a balanced but slight hop bitterness kicking in to round things off. Like the aroma there is an array of dark malts and dark fruits showing up in the flavor. Quite nice and authentic to a strong British Bitter.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2013 22:59:39 | More by puboflyons
Photo of Cugabuh


3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a 6er of this when I got off work. Being a huge fan of both Heavy Seas "Loose Cannon" and ESBs in general, I figured this would be a good match for me.

Pouring into a standard 16 oz pint glass, I notice a head roughly 1 finger length tall that dissipates rather quickly. A bit of lacing lingers for most of the brew but nothing to write home about.

Appearance: The appearance of this beer might just be my favorite part. It's a BEAUTIFUL ruby red color that will certainly catch your eye after pouring is complete.

Smell: The aromas of this beer are a bit lacking, and I wish such a beautiful looking beer could follow up with a wonderful smell (fortunately the taste saves it a bit but we'll get to that)! Unfortunately the smell is on the weaker side. Hints of bread are certainly to be found, as well as a certain nuttiness.

Taste: The taste of this beer (as stated earlier) makes up for its weaker aroma. The bread/nut flavors certainly stand out much more on the tongue. Obviously, with this being an Imperial ESB, even a tongue with a single taste bud could taste the bitterness of this beer. Personally, I love the flavor and the 7.5% ABV blends perfectly with the flavors and malts. You know it's there, but it's not punching you in the face screaming "I'm BOOZY!"

Mouthfeel: Fairly strong carbonation, and of course a bitter flavor that lingers in the mouth for quite some time after taking a sip. It has a body that could be put on the same level as a brown ale (detectable malts but nothing that will weigh you down).

Overall: I'd certainly recommend this beer to a friend. With all the stouts and porter flooding the market during the winter months, it's nice to find something a little lighter. This opens up the window for a good winter drinking session with some buddies. Certainly not on par with their Loose Cannon, but regardless Heavy Seas has impressed me yet again! Touche HS.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2013 02:47:28 | More by Cugabuh
Photo of Teleweizen2

New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - pours a deep mix of ruby red and mahogany brown. Maybe two fingers worth of quickly dissolving tan foam leaves lots of spotty lacing behind.

S - nose is rather muted. I can tease out some grainy bread, sweet cherries and maybe a hint of spicy hop character but not much else.

T - dough and dark bread flavors up front with a molasses sweetness. Notes of ripe cherries with a just a tinge of citrus. Zesty peppery hops excite the back of the palate. Finish is dry with a lingering citrus flavor.

M - medium bodied nearing full with a creamy texture. Medium carbonation.

O - good beer. Having had this beer before I know it has shown better than this bottle.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2013 16:55:43 | More by Teleweizen2
Photo of jlindros


3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a decent fizzy 1/2 finger head that fades slowly, some lacing sticking to it, mostly clear ruby mahogany color.

Nose has some earthy slightly herbal hops, light fruitiness, sweet caramel reddish malts, little candy like malts, hint grassy hops.

Taste starts with sweetness, sweet malts, candy like slightly syrupy rich caramel reddish malts, little nutty even, although that quickly turns to bitterness, quite bitter with earth chewy hops, slightly herbal and very little grassy, hint of pine even, but mostly a chewy hop flavor with a light spiciness. Finish is a bit drier which helps since it was so sweet, long lingering earthy spicy chewy slightly herbal hop profile, hint of candied orange peel as well, and touch of candy malts.

Mouth is med to fuller bodied, decent carb.

Overall OK, but not great. Not my fav style, although this shies away from the over herbal vegetal grassy hops I really don't like in most ESBs. It's quite bitter and a nice malty balance though, although it does get a bit too sweet. But overall done pretty well.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2013 20:36:06 | More by jlindros
Photo of scootny

New York

4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lovely clear rusty color with a light khaki head. Nose is bready with a healthy dose of what smells like Maris Otter malt. A melange of spices to compliment the malt body. Alcohol esters and English fruitiness. Taste is caramel malt sweet with a toasted light and roasted dark grain compliment. Holiday spices abound and flow into the alcohol edge. Big hops show here and give an earthy dry finish that has a good amount of grapefruit. Feel is velvety and lightly chewy. Creamy carbonation makes this on highly drinkable. A superb winter ale!

Serving type: growler

12-31-2012 02:03:04 | More by scootny
Photo of micromaniac129


3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This ESB pours with a copper brown color a small white head and minimal carbs leaving no lacing or perhaps a lighly spotty lacing.
Smells of toffee and bready grains.
Taste is faily malty with some bready grains maybe a hint of spice, I don't know. I pick up some light hops towards the end having a floral aspect but very light.
Drinks smooth with a clean finish.
A good worthy brew.

Serving type: on-tap

12-23-2012 17:58:01 | More by micromaniac129
Photo of barczar


3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear brown amber with a solid half inch beige head that slowly dissipates, leaving lines of lacing.

Butter, toffee, and nutty toasted malt begin the aroma profile, with caramel sweetness and a hint of citrus finishing things off. Minerally, earthy hops emerge late.

Flavor is sweeter than expected. Dark fruits mingle with lightly roasted malt, finishing fairly charred, bitter, and dry. Caramel sweetness is dominated by bitter hops. Booze is fairly assertive. Notes of pine and citrus emerge as it warms.

Body is on the light side, with carbonation on the low side. There's significant alcohol warmth.

Overall, a pretty bitter brew. Sweet initially, then boozy and bitter. The hop character adds a little intrigue.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2012 21:13:22 | More by barczar
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Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) from Heavy Seas Beer
86 out of 100 based on 787 ratings.