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

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

805 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 805
Reviews: 491
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.75%
Wants: 31
Gots: 17 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) Alström Bros
Ratings: 805 | Reviews: 491 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Frosty80
3.03/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color: pours copper. sits slightly dark copper with a ruby hue. excellent clarity

Smell: not getting much of ANYTHING. just a very light, slightly sweet aroma. no strong malt OR hop presence. both seem to cancel each other out

Taste: again, nothing distinctive. no obvious hop flavors that stand out. same with malt.

im not even going to finish reviewing this beer and save myself some headache trying to pick it apart. very disappointed. i LOVE just about everything these guys do but i gotta say this fell hard on its face. not sure why. the last beer i just got done reviewing was of similar structure so its not like my buds were like a deer in headlights from an enormous blast of hops, but perhaps ill still give them the benefit of the doubt and come back to this beer again some time.

Frosty80, Oct 19, 2010
Photo of Brent
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My overall impression was that this was a bit heavy-handed. Heavy-handed, you say? But isn't that the point of an "imperial ESB?" Well, I suppose so - no question that they pumped this beer up on some sort of beer steriod - but in that regard it came across like a similarly pumped-up body builder - no balance. Appropriately big malt, but in an effort to keep pace with hopping, the bittering came across as rough and a bit raw. The ETOH similarly was not well integrated into the flavor, and rode atop with a warming harshness.

Brent, Sep 21, 2010
Photo of sdawson
4.47/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Given to me by a generous on-BAer. Thanks Kelli! Winter Storm pours a beautiful brown with ruby undertones. There is a thin layer of foam and moderate lacing on this. I found the scent somewhat nondescript with pine and sweet resin dominating. The taate is where this one truly shines for me, an introduction of sweet sugary maple gives way to tart grapefruit and lemon. The mouthfeel is near-perfect, but a touch overcarbonated for the subtler notes. I am very sad Clipper City is not local, as this would be a very welcome six pack to be always on hand. To be fair, I must be very partial to the imperial esb style, as I loved Velvet Underground ESB when Hopworks had it on draft. I wish more brewers would work with this beautiful style.

sdawson, Sep 20, 2010
Photo of TangTKE402
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz. bottle into a pint glass. A small head formed, but it left quickly. The appearance is a dark mahogany, brown and rich, but clear.

The smell does not hide the alcohol, but it has a warm cherry brandy aroma, and the malts are well-defined in the nose.

The taste is robust, with caramel, smoked malts, raisins, dehydrated fruit, mild spice, alcohol and yeast. This is a whopper of a winter ale, and will most certainly keep you warm with it's 7.5% abv tag. It is certainly a sipping beer, and mellows a bit as it warms, leaving the smokier notes to linger in the glass.

The mouthfeel is substantial, like soda bread, but not in a prohibitive way. A good beer to chew on is what one looks for in a winter offering.

One of these per session will suffice.

*Reviewers edit: I just noticed that the "purchase by" date was 4 months old at the time of reviewing. This may have affected important characteristics, and will try to amend this review with a fresher batch.

TangTKE402, Sep 14, 2010
Photo of cagocubs
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle.

Pours a light brown/almost burgundy color. Good active carbonation with a nice 1quarter head.
Smells like grain and some sweet molasses/honey.
Good taste of spice, bread, and sweetness. A little too much alcohol bite at the end.
Nice carbonation and mouth coating.
A surprisingly drinkable beer for a strong bitter.

cagocubs, Sep 12, 2010
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer review from BA Mag Nov 2007.

Arrrr! You may have missed "Talk Like A Pirate Day" on September 16th, but at least you can drink like one. Yes, this is part of the "Heavy Seas" brand from Clipper City, pirate theme and all--eye patch not included.

Rusty red color, clarity is good. Solid foaming action from medium pour, head retention is stable. Big flamboyant aroma, fruity with expressive alcoholic esters, hops are not shy with thick herbal and citric notes, and the malt draws in caramel, bread crust and cake batter. Fluffy full body, smooth with a light snappy crispness that says "refreshing." Complex flavors flail around, hops and malt battle for domination. The malt is dense with clean toasted grain and sweet caramel flavors while the hops bring a duo of balanced bitterness and an herbal, bitter citric-peel flavor. Middle to end the alcohol comes in with a spicy start and warming finish with suggestions of melon, peaches and raisins. Finishes a little bittersweet.

So this is what an Imperial ESB tastes like--American brewing at its best here even with excessively creative made-up styles. Impressive, yet another seasonal we wish was year-round. Give this one a go especially if you are already sick of the spiced winter warmers that taste like organic toothpaste.

BeerAdvocate, Jul 07, 2010
Photo of canoehornpoint
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

brownish red, light off cream colored head, slightly opaque. Mild aroma, mostly flowery and earthy hops. Big beer taste, sharp chocolatey malts rounded out with indescernable hop bitterness. The hop bite lasts long, moderate mouthfeel. pretty well done. This would be nice in the winter.

canoehornpoint, Jun 30, 2010
Photo of ejimhof
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: nice head, dark brown color,slight lacing

Smell: hoppy, honey and malt smell

Taste: sweetness and slight hops

Mouthfeel: smooth and very English

Drinkability: This is like every other Heavy Seas Beer easy to drink and easy to drink more then one

ejimhof, Jun 17, 2010
Photo of berpwillie
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours an amber-copperish color semi-transparent with less than a fingers width of light tan head. very light on the carbonation. it has an array bitter, citrus, hoppy, and malty flavors. the hops most present in the smell. tons of yeast floating about the beer makes it very interesting to look at while drinking.

berpwillie, Apr 15, 2010
Photo of FallsDamBrewery
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, nicely carbonated, yellow/light brown color

Smell: bready, honey

Taste: sweet, bready, some taste of cinnamon, alcohol at the end

Mouthfeel: nicely carbonated, smooth, not too bitter, easy going down

Drinkability: Definitely an above average ESB, love the smooth alcohol finish, easy to have two or three at a time, warms you when it is cold outside!

FallsDamBrewery, Feb 25, 2010
Photo of tigg924
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, high carbonation, clear, yellow/brown in color

Smell:honey, hops, and bread

Taste: honey, hops, bread, touch of cinnamon, brown sugar, and alcohol at the end

Mouthfeel: smooth, sweet with a slightly bitter middle, modearte carbonation, medium/light bodied

Drinkability: An above average bready ESB. I could have two or three. Nothing extraordinary, but nothing bad either.

tigg924, Feb 17, 2010
Photo of JMD
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Rich copper color with big off white head that fades slowly. Leaves light lacing on the glass.

S: Toasted malt, some carmel and bitter hops.

T: Bready malt with sweet brown sugar and carmel. Finishes with a bitter hop bite.

M: Medium bodied and smooth. Nice texture.

D: Nice drinking winter ale. At 7.5% abv these will definitely keep you warm on those cold New England nights.

JMD, Feb 16, 2010
Photo of tuckevalastin
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear amber with a quickly disappearing white head

S: A roasty malt with mainly caramel tones

T: A sweet malty flavor with lots of piney hops. The caramel flavor carries through as does a brown sugar and fruit taste.

M: Little spice or heat but moderate bitterness. Medium bodied with good carbonation.

D: A little too hoppy to be a everyday drinker. Not so much as to be strictly a sipper though.

Overall, I can't compare this to others of the style as it isn't a style I've tried. It is however a very nice beer and another good member of the Heavy Seas sampler.

tuckevalastin, Feb 14, 2010
Photo of elgiacomo
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Amber color, almost two finger light tan head, but doesn't retain much, some spotty lacing.

Aroma is caramel malts, then some fruit, green raisins, banana, into some citrus/pine hops.

Flavor is sweet caramel malts, some fruit, bread, with a somewhat bitter, hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel is slick, moderate fullness, medium carbonation.

I enjoyed this one, but have had very few ESBs to compare it to.

elgiacomo, Jan 23, 2010
Photo of Jayli
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This beer pours a gorgeous crystal clear amber color with a 1/4 inch of off white head. Head recedes immediately leaving spotty lacing.

S: Nose is of rich, deep caramel malts, toffee, grains and some sugar.

T: Taste is more reminiscent of a red to me. Rich malts fill this beer out - caramel and toffee, touch of fruitiness and honey, and a solid bready quility to it.

M: Lighter side of medium body, moderate carbonation, crisp and clean feel.

D: Decently blended and tasty. It didn't seem to fit the style though.

Jayli, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of jbase
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really dug this beer. Nothing too crazy going on, just good beer. Drank it out of pint glass, and had it with some pork ribs and rice, it was a perfect complement to the BBQ.

I got about a fingers worth of head, but wasn't really expecting much anyway. THis beer has a great slightly toasty malt base with hints of carmel, bread, and citrus. A good amount of hops throughout that drew out on the finish as well.

I've been impressed with all the Clipper City beers I've tried and this one is no exception. I bought one single bottle, but I could have drank 2 or 3 of this fine Imperial ESB.

jbase, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of tippebrewcrew2
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3


Clipper City
Winter Storm
Imperial ESB
Abv 7.5

A=4 small frothy white head

S= 4 Straw with a hint of burnt smell, I couldn't place it

T= 3.5 Harsh hops up front and at the end. It last for close to ever with a mouth coating slam

M= 3 Light Alcohol burn and a moderate carbonation

D= 3 I could not drink a lot of this beer. The hops are harsh with a long draw at the end of bitterness. It was a good style of esb and I'm impressed with Clipper City. This was the first Imperial ESB I have had and I now have an idea, a bench mark, of what an imperial ESB should taste like.

tippebrewcrew2, Jan 21, 2010
Photo of Philabeerphia
3.23/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The ESB is a style I appreciate but often overlook. Glad to have this in front of me. 12oz into a snifter. Hazed amber and ruby body, the khaki head looks painted on. I like my ESBs a shade darker and with a bit more action up top.

The Winter Storm gives up round malty notes of shortbread that elongates into some nuttiness and finally sharpens into a sugared grapefruit blend of caramel and hops.

Giving this a shot on the tongue. Sharp carbonation at the start is a plus...taste starts with a honey and caramel maltiness. Thin on the tongue... A citric acidity shows up at some point then goes back into hiding. A nice, slight touch of dark fruit appears towards the balance. Ends with a potent but long TOASTED CARAMEL note on the tongue... This is the dominant taste here overall. Hints of bitterness pool in the corners of my mouth. A bit of alcohol present at the top of the throat. This beer is too nondescript to really impress. A solid brew, but lacking bright or deep notes. One saving grace is the strong carbonation. The activity on the tongue enhances the beer's bitter character and impedes the toasted malts from becoming cloying. In light of this beers shortcomings, at 7.5% ABV, it is not a beer I would choose to drink often...

Philabeerphia, Jan 20, 2010
Photo of philbe311
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - About a fingers worth of rich white frothy head which quickly fades leaving an intriguing veil of slightly clumpy lacing which is fuller in the center of the glass and thinner around the edges... A full copperish autumnal orange color... A moderate amount of carbonation which starts very slowly at the bottom of the glass and quickly speeds up towards the top...

S - The nose is subdued and rather vague... A rich roasty toasted malt base is undeniable... Caramel... Crust... A hint of brown sugar... Contrary to other reviews, I can't detect any hop presence...

T - Absolutely terrific flavor... A heavy rich malty base... Loads of caramel... Loads of bready malts... Nutty... Hints of raisins and brown sugar... The hop presence is much more pronounced on the palette, though it is still rather mild and is of the piney variety...

M - Stinging carbonation hits the tongue... A little more than medium bodied... Rich... Sleek... Smooth...

D - A really impressive ESB... Enjoyable sip after sip... Hides the 7.5% ABV rather well... I would gladly welcome again and again...

philbe311, Jan 19, 2010
Photo of inxy
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 10 oz tulip.
A - Burnt orange, hazy with very few streams of visable carbonation. Very little head, leaves a snakey lacing which melts down the side into nothingness. If it werent for the pretty color, this wouldnt be a whole lot to look at.

S - I'm not picking up on much. Malts, caramel sweetness.

T - Creamy caramel, sweet fruity banananess, low spice, with a clean hop finish. I like it.

M - Suprized by the carbonation. Very prickly, still smooth, medium heaviness.

D/Overall - In a longer 3+ beer session, I could fit this in towards the end, but I'd skip it if I had lots of options. Not bad, but not super memorable.

inxy, Jan 19, 2010
Photo of stewart124
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark copper with a thin white head.

Earthy aromas and slight floral notes.

Smooth mouthfeel with a medium body. Lots of caramel sweetness with a pleasing touch of biscuity goodness. The hops add a nice amount of noble hops and a spicy bitterness.

The bottle says imperial esb and I believe it has the aftertaste of an imperial ale. There is a bigger warming feeling in the aftertaste and stronger finish. Slightly piney bitterness left on the tongue along with a bready character.

Good drinkability and a nice change for a winter warmer.

stewart124, Jan 19, 2010
Photo of wangbruins
3.1/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Opaque burnt orange with a thin head that's dotted here and there with leftover carbonation

S- Flowery and earthy with pine and some light citrus

T- Very earthy with minimal citrus and a flowery aftertaste

M- Thin and weak with a slight, almost unnoticeable aftertaste

D- It's okay but very thin and unimpressive. It's not as bold as the bottle lead me to believe

wangbruins, Jan 17, 2010
Photo of sprucetip
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very clear copper/amber, with a thin head that fades rapidly. Leaves a bit more than patchy lacing. The sparkling clarity makes this very attractive visually.

Smell is pretty weak overall. Mild hoppy influence is noticeable, but strong booze dominates. Light graininess in the mix, too.

Thankfully it tastes better than it smells. It's grainy with a moderate bitterness, roughly balancing malty sweetness, and strong booze. It's not exactly balanced, let alone smooth, but nor is it a mess. The alcohol is too dominant.

Feel includes a bit of a bit at first, but then the rich, full body is pretty smooth. There is modest warming and a drying finish.

Overall, I guess this one drinks pretty easy. But it doesn't leave me wanting another, and I don't think I'd reach for another one soon, considering the plethora of options. But I'm glad I tried it, and I wish Clipper City the best in its endeavors.

sprucetip, Jan 15, 2010
Photo of MetalHopHead6
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clipper City Heavy Seas - Winter Storm poured reddish copper with little-to-no head or lace.

The smell and taste were sweet, sweet, sweet, with a slightly acidic finish. Malt dominated with an earthy hops finish. The feel was smooth and insignificant.

Winter Storm has a beautiful reddish color, a sweet vanilla-like flavor, and leaves very little behind. Not bad but not worthwhile.

MetalHopHead6, Jan 15, 2010
Photo of BARFLYB
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Number five holds a burnt copperish brown color that's resembles a very dark lager. Just a bit of foam on the top of this off a tap. LAce does not cling well leaving a loose spider web design. Smells like a bigger version of a simple style. It's mainly sweet malty with caramel and some mild spicing. The hops give off a scent that's faint but not dead. This is pretty good stuff. Minimal holiday spices with just a sense of hop bitterness in the end. I really cant say that though cause the hops really don't come in at all. The feel is smooth going down with no sight of the alcohol and the carb seems muted, it works well, this is easy drinking. Medium bodied. This is nothing more than a lightly spiced simple beer with a great feel. Sometimes less is more.

BARFLYB, Jan 13, 2010
Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) from Heavy Seas Beer
86 out of 100 based on 805 ratings.