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

Not Rated.
Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale)
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BA SCORE
86
very good

811 Ratings
THE BROS
88
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 811
Reviews: 491
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 11.78%
Wants: 31
Gots: 18 | FT: 0
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
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Ratings: 811 | Reviews: 491 | Display Reviews Only:
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1/5  rDev -73.8%

Bacardi222, Oct 01, 2014
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2/5  rDev -47.6%

dcisco44, Mar 20, 2014
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2/5  rDev -47.6%

BGsWo22, Mar 21, 2013
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2/5  rDev -47.6%

Syncro-Vox, Mar 19, 2014
Photo of tmm313
2/5  rDev -47.6%

tmm313, Nov 15, 2012
Photo of nrpellegrini
2.33/5  rDev -39%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Bottle poured to pint glass.

A: clear brown color, 2 finger light tan head
S: very hoppy
T: very hoppy, spices, sweet, bitter bite, sore aftertaste
M: heavy, thick, spices sting your mouth
D: very hard, filling

I anticipated this beer to be amazing, but after trying it I think it's awful. I guess its just another heavy thick beer I can't handle.

nrpellegrini, Jan 28, 2008
Photo of Dmorrison
2.35/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Drinking this beer reminded me of smoking a clove cigarette. The mouthfeel was nice and solid, like other Heavy Seas beers, but a bit too chewy. I like this kind of chewy feel in Heavy Seas' Weizenbock, where it combines with banana, molasses and light spice. In Winter Storm, it combines with an overpowering range and intensity of spice. I didn't find it to be a pleasant experience.

Dmorrison, Feb 19, 2011
Photo of thagr81us
2.5/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served from tap into a sampler tumbler. Poured a dark red-orange with a half finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, wood, and wheat. The flavor was of sweet malt, nutty, wheat, alcohol, perfume, and bitter hops. It had a light feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall I really wasn't too impressed with this one. There was something about the combination of the flavors going on in this one that really turned it off to my palate. I even let others try it and they agreed that something was off on the flavor of this one that wasn't very palate pleasing. Glad I finally got to tick it, but doubt I will be having it again.

thagr81us, Jan 22, 2012
Photo of nickmantia
2.5/5  rDev -34.6%

nickmantia, Feb 03, 2014
Photo of beerborn
2.5/5  rDev -34.6%

beerborn, Feb 08, 2012
Photo of pathead
2.5/5  rDev -34.6%

pathead, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of deonreds
2.5/5  rDev -34.6%

deonreds, Mar 18, 2012
Photo of warmstorage
2.58/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I'm baffled: this isn't like any DIPA I've ever had.

EDIT: another BA who knows a lot about the brewery has clarified that it's supposed to be an ESB, and it seems that the BA listing for this beer has been modified to reflect this. As such, I've gone through my review and re-reviewed another bottle as an ESB.

12 ounce bottle.

Color is medium to deep red/copper. Maintains an average white head, minimal lacing, with average to slightly high carbonation.

Aroma is a malty grain sweetness, with limited or no hops present. EDIT: score from 2.0 to 2.5, but only just barely: I wish a 2.25 were available.

Some hop bitterness tasted, with caramel notes and a slightly harsh and slightly unpleasant metallic note. More of that sweet grain taste, and hints of toastiness. Where are the hops? EDIT: a less pronounced hop body is more appropriate for an ESB, but it remains lacking of any distinct hop body, which even an ESB should have. However, the sweet malt presence and more balanced hop bill are more acceptable. Edited score: from a 2.0 to a 2.5.

I dunno: maybe I got a bad bottle, but I can't find the "pure hop power" their website advertises, or that others seem to have tasted. Just a deeply mediocre American strong ale style. I'll try another bottle, and see if it confirms or denies.

EDIT: my second reviewed bottle, from the same six pack, remains pretty mediocre. It's not bad per se like I thought it was when it was supposed to be a DIPA, but the Clipper City website continues to claim "pure hop power" which simply isn't here, nor is the claimed "floral and aromatic... hop character"... Edited score for "drinkability": 2.0 to 2.5

I have now found a press release on their website that claims the Category 5 is meant to be an "Imperial ESB". Well, this isn't quite as bizarre as a DIPA/Imperial IPA, but I think it remains a serious overblowing of this beer. It's got a decent malt body and sweet malt character, but the hop bill continues to seem that of a basic bitter (i.e., drowned out by the malt bill.)

I will continue to give this brewery a chance, which won't be hard, as I travel to the DC area several times a year. But based on this single beer, I'll go in with a little bit of healthy doubt.

With regard to my initial review, I'm somewhat troubled by other reviewers of this beer who seem to have just accepted that it was a DIPA per BA's initial (and apparently incorrect) description of it as such, or accepted the "pure hop power" propaganda of the brewery, and reviewed it based on this. I'm not going to call anyone out by handle/name, but please: those of you who raved, or even approved, of this beer as a DIPA, try a few good examples of the style, and then re-review. (Suggestions: Pliny the Elder, Great Divide Hercules, Rogue I2PA, AleSmith YuleSmith, etc.)

warmstorage, Nov 15, 2006
Photo of AwYeh
2.58/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into shaker pint; thanks to Jesse13713 for splitting this one with me.

A: Cloudy, just barely translucent amber-brown color. Less than half a finger of white head which dissipates quickly and leaves very spotty lacing.

S: Just a bit musty, with a good deal of sweet candy and caramel malts. Hints of fruit- not much of the bitterness I would expect from the style.

T/M: Much the same as the taste- sweet caramel malts really dominate here; there's a light bitter finish, but nothing as close to as what even a standard American IPA would provide. Hard to see how this is an "imperial ESB" as the label claims, aside from the high ABV. The alcohol is well hidden; though it does provide a bit of a warming effect as part of mouthfeel. Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation; slightly sticky, slightly dry finish.

D: Decently drinkable; not going to seek this one out or anything- it's a bit too sweet without many interesting elements. That said, half a glass wasn't too hard to get down.

AwYeh, Feb 19, 2011
Photo of yelterdow
2.58/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

I'm revisiting this offering almost two years later... got a fridge full of beers, and I've got a little free time tonight.

Best by February 2008, I've got the bull by the horns.

Appearance- Very impressive... clear and deeply russet, with just a touch of chill haze and bottle conditioned yeast. The head, still two fingers tall, is craggy and stalwart and looks real mean. Already the lacing is clinging like tape to the inside of the glass. Damn good looking beer.

Smell- Rich and full on the nose, the malts are leaping out of the glass with an earthiness and a suggestion of mineral water. As the beer comes to temperature it becomes less desirable and overly pungent.

Taste- Damn... layers and layers of intensity here, starting clean and malty and becoming sharp and wickedly bitter in the finish. The hops are flogging my tongue, becoming more dangerous as the beer goes down.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Excellent texture... small foamy mouthfeel, active enough to support the malts and hops. The beer itself overall is oversteeped and overhopped for the style, and for a winter beer, it could use a lot more balance from the malts.

yelterdow, Mar 17, 2006
Photo of mcolmsted67
2.65/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Too bitter at the back of my palate. Not an ale for my taste. All other aspects were very good. The aroma of the freshly opened bottle was very hearty and pleasant. At first the taste was nutty like most ales but the overwhelming bitterness was too much. Might be an ale to be paired with food... Probably not buy this product again.

mcolmsted67, Nov 09, 2010
Photo of dhabersa
2.68/5  rDev -29.8%

dhabersa, Oct 11, 2014
Photo of BeastLU
2.75/5  rDev -28%

BeastLU, May 18, 2013
Photo of BogAl
2.75/5  rDev -28%

BogAl, Jul 07, 2014
Photo of redmaw
2.75/5  rDev -28%

redmaw, Jun 30, 2013
Photo of Garlicjosh
2.75/5  rDev -28%

Garlicjosh, Dec 21, 2012
Photo of aminobutyricacid
2.75/5  rDev -28%

aminobutyricacid, Nov 09, 2012
Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.84/5  rDev -25.7%
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.

ThisWangsChung, Nov 03, 2013
Photo of Jesse13713
2.85/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Best by date in February

Appearance - Pours a clear caramel with a red hue. Slight transparent with no head and poor lacing.

Smell - Slight chocolate notes covered by barley malts. Not very bitter or hoppy smelling. Slight grassy hints.

Taste - Tastes like ice was melted to make the water used in this beer. It tastes crisp and purified. Slightly bitter with spice notes. The flavor is slightly hard to describe here. Quite a bitter alcoholic swallow.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability - A slight crisp hot that still tastes like the water was melted from ice. I liked this beer a little more than I anticipated.

Jesse13713, Feb 19, 2011
Photo of Rudgers73
2.85/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I don't really agree with this beer's classification. I think of it as a strong winter warmer. It has all of the characteristics of a winter warmer, just a percent or two more alcohol by volume.

Deep ruby red color, milky tan head that subsides after a minute or two into a small, blotchy dusting. Slight carbonation. The aroma is slightly malty with an overriding dirty/spicy hop affect. Piny hop resin and a very hidden chocolate malt smell. Overall I didn't like the taste of this beer. Its all big hops with very little balance. It leaves a parched, bitter feeling and it accumulates throughout the drink. Not my kind of beer.

Rudgers73, Jun 11, 2007
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Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) from Heavy Seas Beer
86 out of 100 based on 811 ratings.