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

very good
514 Reviews
For Trade:

Brewed by:
Heavy Seas Beer
Maryland, United States | website

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by pezoids on 02-17-2004

User Reviews
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Reviews: 514 | Ratings: 982
Photo of Mojo
3.65/5  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.

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Photo of Budinetz
4.11/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

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Photo of 57md
3.64/5  rDev -5%
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.

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Photo of dwren89
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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Photo of Jason
3.83/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.04/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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Photo of chefhatt
3.25/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

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Photo of spokeydonkey
3.71/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

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Photo of delta490
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.85/5  rDev -25.6%
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.

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Photo of Dodt
4.16/5  rDev +8.6%
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

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Photo of mountdew1
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

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Photo of superspak
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.02/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of ckollias
4/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

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Photo of Oakenator
4.55/5  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.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.46/5  rDev +16.4%
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.

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Photo of Cugabuh
3.47/5  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.

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Photo of Teleweizen2
3.71/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

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Photo of jlindros
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

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Photo of scootny
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
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!

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Photo of micromaniac129
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of barczar
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

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Photo of metter98
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear dark reddish amber in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high beige head that hardly died down and left a coating of bubbles down the side of the glass.
S: There are light aromas of citrusy hops in the nose along with some hints of fruity yeast. Malts become apparent as the beer warms up.
T: The taste has some flavors of citrus hops like the smell but is maltier with flavors of nuts, toast and sulfur along with a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a bit dry on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This is a pretty good ESB on its own but the use of citrus hops makes it unique compared to other beers in the style.

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Photo of mckenziac
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams Boston Lager glass. Taken from a Heavy Seas variety pack.

Appearance: Pours a clear, dark brown color with reddish hues. Has a large, fizzy head that dissipates slowly and leaves some spotty lacing.

Smell: Smells strongly of caramel malt with a slight grassy hop aroma.

Taste: Starts off fairly hoppy with some grassy, earthy flavors. Finishes malty with caramel and a strong dose of chocolate malt. Really some interesting combinations with the ESB style.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with a nice carbonation.

Overall: A nice winter interpretation of the ESB style. Definitely well-balanced between earthy hops and caramel/chocolate malts. Certainly something I'd have again and recommend to others.

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Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) from Heavy Seas Beer
86 out of 100 based on 514 ratings.