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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

908 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 908
Reviews: 508
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 12.37%
Wants: 33
Gots: 54 | 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:
Beer added by: pezoids on 02-17-2004

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 908 | Reviews: 508 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of errantnight
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An excellent, excellent beer.

But first, Imperial ESB... wtf? Because it's .5% over the generally listed style guidlines for an ESB? It's not the only place where this beer deviates from what I'd expect from an ESB... but I'm not going to deduct points for that... beers this good shouldn't be docked for daring to go beyond the pre-existing style guidelines, even if they give themselves silly style classifications that don't fit.

Pours a rich, radiant pale ruby/copper with reasonable head, good lacing all the way down.

Smells strongly of American hops, sweet and citrus, floral (roses). Malty, and perhaps just a bit of English yeast ester around the edges, which blends seemlessly into the hop profile.

Tastes... well, it tastes like an American IPA with the bitterness tamed down to virtually nothing, and the hops reigned in to a perfect balance with the malt. Not a strong, bready, biscuit-y, earthy malt profile like you might expect from a strong ESB, rather, a subtle, smooth malty sweetness redolent of caramel, juicy fruit, oranges. Finishes clean without being dry. Not too rich.

Body is excellent, carbonation helps lift the flavors, but is relatively low, creamy, and smooth.

Pour me another! Now!

Photo of wagenvolks
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first "Imperial ESB" -- 12 oz. bottle (purchase by Feb'08) into a pint glass.

An aggressive pour produces a thin khaki head that recedes slowly to a rocky patch of foam. Listless bubbles rise up through a syrupy-looking, copper body. A ring of head around the edges leaves behind legged lacing. Smell is pleasing, as resinous hops dominate (reminds me of CC's Loose Cannon) while sweet butterscotch and a slight malty biscuit note round out the aroma.

First taste: this is a very good ESB. English-hop bitterness prevails up front and a malty, syrupy, sweetness works its way around the outskirts of the palate. A medicinal, alcohol-rich finish pairs up with bitter, piney hops to coat the back of the throat and leave a lasting aftertaste. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous with a low carbonation level that I'd expect with the high ABV. This is not exactly the most drinkable beer, as it sits heavy in the stomach and gives the palate a hefty workout. However, I could see this staving off the cold with the best of winter warmers and imperial stouts. Good complexity, great flavor, and one I'll definately be having again.

Photo of ericj551
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Winter Storm pours a clear amber with a nice thick head. The aroma is sweet with caramel and citrus. The flavor is crisp with tastes of dark crystal and plenty of citrusy, spicy and earthy hops. Some light alcohol comes through in the end along with some dark fruitiness.

Photo of Redwood21
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: love it love it. a head thats not large but lasts, maybe #2 pencil thick. it sticks like its its job too! insanity! the color is almost rust brown

S: there is some woodland earthy grainy bread hard to distinguish, not bad at all

T: I love it, its good! its creamy and bitter, and full of flavor. there is some malt with a hoppy back ground that is assertive.

A must try, i really like it i wish i could get more in depth about it, when i drink this beer i def don't feel the 7.5% its just that good.

Photo of brdc
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks markgugs for this one.

Small capped bottle poured into a pint, the dark orange body produces a compact, fluffy off-white colored head with nice retention and good lacing.
Aroma is quite well balanced, a fruity/piney hoppiness playing with a caramelized maltiness.
Quite firm on the palate, the alcohol is well disguised, and the same interplay of fruity/piney/earthy hoppiness is very well balanced by the caramel and bready maltiness.
My kind of IPA, the malts play a heavier role than average, creating a nice balance that enhances drinkability, which makes up for the average complexity.

Photo of chiefydawg
4.26/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

These Clipper City guys make a fresh-looking beer, and it's all in that head. Just a small, fresh, creamy, lively head that emanates the scent. The body is like an old varnished cherry wood antique dresser. If you look closely, you can see bubbles rising steadily. Thick, webby Brussels Lace grip from the rim on down.

Smells fresh too, and the hops are apparent. Still doesn't overshadow that plum/raisin scent that tags along nicely.

I let it warm a bit since my fridge is cold - glad I did. Got a full dose of the caramel sweetness, herbal hoppiness and some faint ripe fruit right off the bat. Strong with great balance, like a well-forged blade. Has substance without being to syrupy. The alcohol, for 7.5%, is well-hidden without being concealed by too big a taste, and just adds to the complexity. It actually provides a tad bit of throat warmth during the final sips like a winter warmer/ESB hybrid should. And a well-done one at that.

Photo of manleyphoto
4.07/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clipper City's Heavy Seas line has made a habit of "imperializing" classic beer styles. To make a beer "imperial" brewers up the malt and hop content thereby boosting the alcohol content and as a result amplify the flavor and body of a beer. Heavy Seas' beers include, an imperial pilsner, an imperial IPA, an imperial stout, and a high octane abbey-style beer. Winter Storm is the cold weather installment of their line of big beers.
Winter Storm is in the style of an Extra Special Bitter, which going by the name is a bit of a misnomer. Bitters are an English style of pale ale that are typically served on draft and are neither very bitter, nor very strong. Bitters are notable for their absolute balance. They are typically neither malt-forward, nor hop-forward beers, although both elements are noticeable; very English, and very reserved. In short, bitters are design to be consumed in quantity and as often as possible.
Winter Storm is like an amped-up ESB. The aroma is of caramel malt and earthy English hops which works perfectly for the style. The beer pours a light reddish amber with very little head. Frankly speaking the beer is lovely to look at and even more pleasant to taste. There is a lot of hop flavor, but the beer the hops are not tart citrus-bombs typical in American pale ale. The hops taste like England; green, earthy and slightly spicy, kind of like newly plowed soil.
This beer is not a superstar. It doesn't scream for attention, but it's no slouch either. At over seven per cent alcohol, it should be treated with respect. Winter Storm does live up to the legacy of its style though, an easy drinker for daily use. Heavy Seas' habit of making "imperial" classics is really paying off for me, and Winter Storm works as smooth drinking delicious beer.

Photo of paulthebeerguru
3.35/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Heavy Seas Category 5 Winter Storm
12 oz. brown bottle

Poured into a snifter. Pours a light mahogany color, with an off-white/slightly tan head, that leaves decent lacing. Sweet aroma of prunes, figs and molasses. Tons of flavor up front, sweet immediately then the hops take over for the finish. Tastes of dried fruits with a floral garden finish. Warm and thick mouthfeel, mild carbonation. Very smooth for a 7.5% imperial ESB.

Photo of tayner
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, best before 2-08

Poured an amber color, maple syrup color with a large foamy head that eventually went to a thick ring but laced the whole glass.

I started it out too cold, and there was not much of a nose but as it warmed i got malt, alcohol, and an earthy, flowery hop.

Taste was very bitter when it was cold, but as it warmed the malts came to life and started to try and balance the bitter flowery hops. Not my favorite hop flavor, but as it warmed there was enough malt to make it drinkable for me. I can, however, feel the 7.5%.

Plenty of carbonation, and plenty dry finish to make it drinkable, would say sessionable except for the 7.5%.

Photo of MiScusi
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A special thanks to markgugs for throwing this beer in as an extra in our trade.

This pours an almost clear reddish-orange with a dirty white frothy head. Lacing is very good. The smell at first is very similar to Sierra Nevada pale ale with some piny and earthy hops coming through. With more time you get a big pale and caramel malt presence. At the first sip the hops hit pretty hard- again, earthy and a bit citrusy, fading into a caramel or melanoidin sweetness at the end. That starts to dominate as you get a bit numb to the hops. The general feeling is that this is a very tasty and easy drinking ESB. I've never had an imperial ESB, but this kicks up both flavors- the hops and malt- to something a bit more intense but yet still balances them very nicely. Towards the end of the glass you pretty much enjoy a more malty beer as the hop presence has lessened. The mouthfeel is slightly slick. This is a type of beer I could find myself having a few of and not getting tired of it.

Photo of rsyberg01
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

S - 12 oz. bottle, recieved in Powerball Week 2 group, I believe from Kempleton, thank you!

A - pours a very slightly hazy copper with a small amount of suspended sediment, head is adequate at first but then dissipates to a slightly broken patchy cap, lacing isnt great but still a bit there. pretty

S - caramel, slightly vineous, herbal notes, slightly medicinal, small solvent hit on the nose as well. some type of berry, a touch grassy with a citrus note hidden fairly well.

T - caramel, citrus, grassy, touch of gentle warmth, hop profile is nice, very well balanced. yum

M - creamy, finishes somewhat dry. very nice balance of carbonation in this brew.

D - Damn fine ale, I could tip these as long as you keep poppin them in front of me, given that I can still stand.

Photo of iceball585
3.35/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Reddish copper color, semi-clear, half finger thick fluffy head that lowered to a thin cover

S- Citrus (mostly lemons), pale malts, flowery hops, slightly sweet

T- Bitter hops, grapefruit, light malts, floral, honey, grass, earthy

M- Medium body, medium carbonation, bitter, oily finish

D- Worth trying

This is definatly not an instant classic in my eyes but still good none the less. The hops flavor is too overpowering, in fact thats about all you taste.

Photo of nrpellegrini
2.34/5  rDev -38.4%
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.

Photo of Bitterbill
3.55/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I got this bottle in a trade with Wasatch. Thanks John!

It pours from 12oz bottle a slightly hazy medium gold/brown with a very small head of foam that left the scene quickly. Just a ring around the glass and some spotting left after about a minute.

The smell is about equal portions of sweet malt and citrus hops.

The taste on first sips gives me a very large caramel malt flavour and some alcohol. A few more sips in and the hops take their place with both grass and grapefruit and some earthy flavour is there as well. It has a medium mouthfeel and it finishes with a healthy dose of grass. A pretty good sipper here but I think the alcohol isn't as well hidden as in other brews of similar abv. Too much warming in the throat.

Photo of saintwarrick
3.91/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I wasn't expecting an ESB for a winter seasonal, but I'll take it. This brew pours a cloudy copper with a foamy, long-lasting white head that sticks to the glass. I get mostly malt in the aroma, semi-sweet caramel, with a bit of piney hops mixed in, but nothing overpowering. Malt takes over in the taste, with some bitter citrus tacked on to make this a true bitter. Alcohol is noticeable but not overwhelming. A solid brew to come in from the cold for.

Photo of hustlesworth
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- puffy moist 1 3/4in of rocky beige head with a creamy orange-ish tint. clear garnet-redwood in color with golden amber highs and widely spaced rising bubbles. head slowly recedes like a balloon with a pinhole in it, turning to a thick oatmeal and coating the inside of the glass with a network of sticky lace.

S- roasty toasted grains and caramelized gitrus (orange, grapefruit), curacao, plenty of malt everywhere (this IS imperial, after all). dry sherry, pineapple, some tart yeast aromas, and just the faintest hint of alcohol, aromatic wood, wine barrel, fresh bread, and herbal earthy hops.

T- very full of flavor, there is no question about the malt content. pale & caramel, and lots of it. no shortage of hops either. they come through piney and earthy, with strong notes of pineapple and burnt grapefruit pith. a little cocoa come through as well lending a certain amount of depth to the bitterness. cocoa flavors (from the malt? hops? i don't know) for me blend well with pine, spruce, etc. and make for a great brew. some bitter orange at the end as well as biscuit and quality bread crust and a dry malty bittersweet finish.

MF- thick and rich, would be a quencher if not for the malt sugars and hop oil in this thing making a chewy rubbery, yet velvet-like texture that really feels substantial on this 20 degree ohio evening.

D- i like big beer. the heavy seas line sure has it down and i will try my damndest to sample every one! so far, small craft warning and winter storm have hit it off w me in a major way.

Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to shaebs99 and ThorsHammer for this brew.

Pours a nice clean/clear dark golden amber/orange color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy tan head, which leaves some nice sticky lacing. The nose is malty, hoppy, slight citrus/pines, and lots of caramel. The taste is bitter, malty, hoppy, tones of citrus/pines, and caramel. The finish is bitter and dry. Medium body. Very drinkable, one of the best I've had from CC, recommended, Thanks Steve and Eric.

Photo of John_M
4.08/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on cask at Max's. IMO, this beer is much better on cask then it is in bottle or regular draft.

The beer pours an attractive copper color with very good head retention and outstanding lacing. The beer is very perfumy on the nose, reminding me more of an IPA then an imperial ESB. It's quite attractive actually. On the palate this beer is very nice indeed, and the cask conditioning really softens out some of the rough edges I don't care for in bottle/draft. Again, the beer tastes more like an IPA, but there is some nicie malt to counter the rather large amount of hops. The beer has a very nice soft, smooth mouthfeel, which must be from the cask conditioning. I find this beer to be quite rough in bottle/draft, but on cask this beer is so much more drinkable and enjoyable. The abv. is noticeable, but is not at all obtrusive, and the beer is actually pretty drinkable.

Very nice beer, at least on cask. Any other format and I wouldn't get it, but on cask this is a beer I quite appreciate and enjoy.

Photo of NCSUdo
4.26/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured for a 12 oz bottle

A: Pours a deep copper-brown under a fingers worth of white head. Good lace, good retention.

S: Big hops, mostly piney with some grapefruit, at first with a splash of alcohol. Some caramel maltiness,

T: Grassy hops with a moderate bitterness and some hints of alcohol mixed in. A malty sweetness is apparent as well, a good citrus hop taste tends to linger around. Hop character is done very well.

M/D: A nice medium mouthfeel, carbonation is just right, alcohol is apparent but nothing harsh. Drinkability is nice as well. Really a well done beer.

Photo of Saunapoika
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle. Very slight, quickly receding head followed by a nice lacing that descends with the beer. A nice dark, clear amber that looks very inviting.

S: Advertised an an Imperial ESB, this does have a pronounced hop aroma. Very close to an IPA. Maybe a hint of spice? I like it.

T: Initially I was struck with a nice malty foundation with a hint of hoppiness. Then it quickly led to a strong hoppy, sort of IPAish kick, and then a nice bitter finish. Still liking it. At 7.5%, it's well hidden.

M: Just the right amount of carbonation, with a dry finish.

D: I really like this beer. Too bad it can't be winter all the time. I could have a couple of these with a good nor'easter blowing in.

Photo of Shiredave
4.28/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I look forward to this one every year.

A lovely dark amber ale with a tight cream colored head and good lacing. Very little carbonation noticed thru the clear liquid.

Big hop aroma of flowers and pine needles up front. More lush, fruity malt come thru as it warms and some higher alcohol notes.

This is a hoppy bastard. Medium to full bodied malt is very evident on the tongue with an interesting caramel grain character up front but any sweetness is beaten back by the smoldering hop flavors. The hop flavors are strong - chewy green grass and clover flavors are only slightly softened by some honey and fruit juice sweetness.

Most of the malt body quickly washes away as the bittering takes over and dries things out leaving me a little puckered. A serious lack of carbonation leaves this one a little flat and unable to flood the mouth with the malt that is obviously hiding in there.

Finish is long and dry with a nice evergreen aftertaste that hangs on tightly to the back of the tongue. Very nice, un spiced and hoppy winter ale.

Photo of tfuchs
4.21/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchase by date shows 5/08 on this 12 oz bottle, poured into a 14oz glass mug.

Pours a deep amber/caramel color with a thin bone head. Despite the thin head, the lacing is thick and inviting. Great color for the style.

The beer holds a thick caramel aroma with an earthy hop background to balance it out. Simple but deep, if that makes sense.

The taste is a full and strong complement to the aroma/s. Plenty of earthy hops fill out the dominant malt flavors. A hint of coffee bitterness and a playful alcohol wallop bring up the rear. I thought it was great; others might be turned off by it.

Mouthfeel was just about perfect for the style -- Imperial ESB, not standard ESB. ...appropriately thick, far from syrupy. Carbonation was perfect for the depth and strong malts.

As with all of my reviews, this isn't the first time I've had this, and I think it's very drinkable for the (imperial) style and high(ish) ABV.

Clipper City (B'more) is quickly gaining respect in my book. Especially, as others have noted, their Heavy Seas line of strong(er) ales.

Photo of giblet
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this is a very good beer. i had never heard of it being in the midwest. i am glad i tried it. it poured a nice dark amber color. nice aroma and head. good amount of lace as i drank this beauty down. nice dry taste yet had a full range of flava!

worth a shot. suckem up and movem out!


Photo of dreadnatty08
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Purchase before" date of 4/08, whatever that means.
Pours a barely cloudy rich copper color, great amount of caramel colored head. Aroma is really nice for an ESB, strong floral and herbal hop notes. A lot of toasty malt and whole wheat bread in there as well with a slight alcoholic touch, very pleasing. On the palate, this one is a hoppy ESB with more fresh hop flavor overplaying the malt tones. While not as bitter as an IPA, it isn't classic ESB either. An Americanized ESB a la Brutal Bitter and Hot Shot, it does have a nice rich lingering sweet malt flavor. Clipper City continues to make some nice imperial beers, would try again.

Photo of kelticblood
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a surprisingly good appearance. Long lasting thick off-white head with generous amounts of lacing. Very strong hop aroma with a hint of a thick malt note. I can't beleive this brew is 7.5% ABV. I've been drinking them all week and haven't even noticed. Thin lacing circles the glass. The color is a cloudy amber. Very bitter one-sided taste that leaves a long dry bitter after taste. Overall this is very good and perfect for the long cold winter months.I think they should make the name of this brew more clear. I didnt know if it was called Winter Storm, Heavy Seas, or Category 5" Ale. Alcohol is well-hidden, but is surely there after half the glass was down. Would of liked to see a touch more carbonation on the mouthfeel.

Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) from Heavy Seas Beer
86 out of 100 based on 908 ratings.