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

921 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 921
Reviews: 512
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 12.37%
Wants: 32
Gots: 65 | 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: 921 | Reviews: 512
Photo of LanceW
3.48/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearence: Dark amber in color with a thin layer of carbonation retained through out the tasting.

Smell: When served at a colder temp the beer did not have any sent at all. There was an aroma as the beer heated up but nothing I could put my finger on

Taste: Very solid beer. Easy to drink and had a very balanced flavor. Would definitely have again but nothing to write home about.

Mouth feel: what you would expect from a beer of this caliber. Nice body but nothing too thick or thin. Once again... very well balanced.

Drinkability: Easy to drink and could have more than one at a sitting.

Photo of RappAttack
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poors an orange color with thin white head
S: malty and earthy
T: sweet malty-ness at the beginning with a nice citrus hop bite at the end, a tiny boozy aftertaste
M: fair amont of carbonation and very refreshing

O: once again clipper city delivers a quality ale at reasonable price

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 Coorskid33
3.19/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass

Appears~ Pours an amber red with a slight orange to it. Small head with minimal retention and lacing. Clear and clean in appearance.

Smells~ Malty and hoppy. I didn't know this beer was on sterioids until I smelled it. Bottle read 7.5 %. It was pleasant overall.

Taste~ wow, alcohol and malt flavors are strong all the way through. Initial hops gives way to a bullish alcohol finish.

Mouthfeel~ Thin and smooth with good carbonation.

Drinkability~ Fair. I guess good for what it is, but not my idea of a good winter brew. Probably won't have another but worth the try and experience of having this type of beer.

Photo of SidewinderX
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into pint glass. Notched April 09 on the bottle (probably why it's on sale here).

Appearance: Pours a clear brown with a small tan head.

Smell: Complex hoppy aroma. Very nice.

Taste: Similarly complex taste with a nice sharp hoppy bite. I like this.

Mouthfeel: Sharp alcohol bite, not exactly warming.

Drinkability: Heavy on the alcohol, probably don't want to have too many of these.

Decent beer, distinct taste. I'd buy it again.
Edit: Pairs nicely with some dark chocolate I had.

Photo of sdawson
4.39/5  rDev +15.5%
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.

Photo of CupcakeNY
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a bright copper color with a thin spattering of off white bubbles on top. Some frothy lacing clings to the side of the glass.

S: Very light fruity esters, lots of lightly toasted bread, and a very light hint of alcohol.

T: Lots of toasted bread up front mingling with a lot of flowery hop flavor, the middle has a more aggressive toasty caramel flavor, and the finish has a pretty grassy and herbal hop flavor. Starts out like imperial ESB, finishes like a west coast IPA.

M: Dry, crisp, bitter, medium bodied, astringent.

D: I actually like this beer a lot, nice Americanization of a classic British style.

Photo of Crackblind
3.86/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pint from a cask. Definitely benefits from being cask drawn rather than tap. Nice bubbly foam head though sweeter scent than expected. Thin mouthfeel but very pleasant flavor. I'm a big fan of ESBs and while I was not disappointed, the sweetness did surprise me. Would definitely get again.

Photo of binkman
3.33/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - I like head. This one had a decent quarter inch or so, but it didnt last. Hence the less than 4.0 rating. Otherwise, its a very attractive amber orange.

S - I have a cold. Not much came through it all. Not fair, I know. I'll update it later when the nose is working a little better.

T - So this might suffer from the cold, too. It tastes rather metallic, almost coppery. Coming through the metalness is a burnt kind of caramel. Very alcoholic. Really fits Baltimore pretty well.

M - Very carbonated but its not a bad thing, takes your mind off the metal. Finishes very clean and dry.

D - Don't drink it with anything salty, it tends to highlight the boozy character and undercut the more subtle hopsy flavor. That being said its just too metallic for more than a few. Luckily as an ESB you won't need more than a few.

Overall it's decent brew and I'll drink it again. ESBs aren't my favorite style but this one's decent. Nice company for a winter night.

Photo of TastyFoodAndDrink
3.57/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pouring a hazy orange-brownish color leaning into mahogany, Heavy Seas Winter Storm gives an initial top note of hops. As it opens up, there’s elements of orange peel, subtle woodsy notes, and elements of cacao. There’s just the slightest trace of bread. On the palate it starts bright, slightly bitter with flavors of citrus, pine, and an earthiness that’s almost slightly herbal. The hop flavors are plentiful, the but the malt plays back up, with notes of subtle biscuit, burnt sugar, and toast. The body is thick, noticeably carbonated, bright, and focused on hops leaning into the bitter side of the spectrum. The ending comes alive has elements of unlit mild cigars, dried herbal notes, bread, burnt sugar, and hits of citrus pith. The finish is long and complex.

Photo of FireEmt37
3.35/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- dark amber color, little head, nice lacing

S-toasty and earthy aromas come through nicely

T- stong, bitter hop flavor, slight metallic taste also

M- smooth with a little carbonation, a little heavy

D- a decent beer if you like strong a strong malt/hop beer.

Photo of inxy
3.39/5  rDev -10.8%
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.

Photo of cfriend2
4.65/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This one pours a deep copper color under a beautifully thick and full head. Great lacing. Strong aroma of hops and alcohol, some citrus and caramel in the nose as well. Great taste: grassy hops balanced very well with a nice amount of bitterness, some malt sweetness, and a hint of alcohol, but not too much. A citrusy and lightly bitter aftertaste. Nice full mouthfeel. Would definitely have another.

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

A: Beautiful amber color with small head. medium body. Hints of citrus and honey.

S: Smell of caramel, citrus , pine and honey .

T: Taste is wonderful , paired with pork and worked great.
M: Medium body, well carbonated

D: A nice mouthfeel and taste combination. Enjoyed this beer , drinkability is good , could have a couple more tonight.7.5 % alcohol very nicely masked here.

Photo of combatbootz
4.52/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Very well brew ESB, great strong bitter end

Photo of vitamaltz
4.08/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- This poured a pretty copper but had a small head that vanished in less than a minute.

S- Not much, but I have a lousy sniffer.

T- A well-balanced beer can also be a revved-up beer with lots of yin and yang. The hops hit like the first rush of a heroin dose (at least, that's what it looks like in the movies. I have no idea what I'm talking about), but quickly and smoothly transition to malty peaches and some other fruit that grows in Florida. There's more of an alcoholic bite than I'd expect for the style and the ABV.

M- Medium-to-thin and gone after the swallow, but that's not a bad thing for an "Imperial ESB." It's not quite sessionable, but I could have two without burning out. Tonight I had a stronger beer earlier and I'm ready to call it a night.

Photo of rgore
3.45/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Pours an amber-red color with a very small light lemon yellow amount of head. Not much lacing on the glass as I drank the beer.

S - A complex nose. Nice balance of hops and malt. Very earthy. This is my favorite aspect of this beer.

T - The balance of hops and malt doesn't hold up as well when I taste. The malts over power the hops. Its an earthy-bitter flavor. More hops to balance with a light floral or fruit taste would help. You can taste the 7.25 alcohol.

M - Crisp, the bitterness stays for a while and drys out the mouth some (not in a bad way).

D - Not something I would session, again I think more hops or reigning back the malt some would help hide or mask the alcohol and improve the drinkability.

Photo of Tiderion
4.32/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Copper color with a light foamy head. Constant bubbling throughout drinking. Mild lacing.

S: Heavy hop smell.

T: Great bitterness on the back end. Strong but not overpowering.

M: Smooth. Has a bit of a bitter punch that you have to get used to after the first two sips.

D: For this style, I'd drink this all the time.

Photo of CTraft
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A bold, translucent, dark red color. Hardly any head, but I could see bubbles throughout.

Aroma: A subtle, hoppy aroma.

Taste: Very bitter, very hoppy. The kind of taste I like for a cold winter day.

Mouthfeel: Rather heavy, but refreshing. Just the right amount of carbonation to feel good on the mouth.

Overall: Well crafted. Just what I would expect for an extra special bitter to sip on during a cold winter day locked inside the house. Try it with some dark, smoked meats.

Photo of DurtyUI
3.64/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Strikingly rich sunset burnt sienna in colour, she is absolutely stunning in a tall pilsner glass, only lacking in any resemblance of a frothy head or even tantalizing legs... Yet still, I couldn't wait to wrap my lips around this winter ale.

A deep sensual and earthy smell indicative of the bitter hops that linger on the edges of my tongue as I inhale her indecent proposal.

Small bubbles rise slowly to the top and barely break the surface, she pours almost flat... and yet still gently teases the tongue.

Deep hearty flavours mingle nicely to keep this beer worthy of it's Winter qualities and title.

I wouldn't buy a 6-pack but it's nice to have a chance encounter.

Photo of briscott99
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This one poured a nice reddish-orange hue. Very clear and a nice white head that drops in a few minutes. Nice lacings on the glass. The smell is a hop lover's dream: strong citrus, green hop smell. Very nice, but I would argue not a typical nose for an ESB.

Still a lot of hops in the taste. The malts come through as sweet but I feel they are a bit overpowered by the bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Low carbination, medium bodied, bitter. A ton of bittering hops on the finish.

Overall: I don't feel this is a very balanced ESB. I think it leans too much toward the hop end of the spectrum. That said, I do like it and would recommend it for hop lovers. It has an exquisite nose, and IMO lets down a bit in the taste and mouthfeel, but nonetheless is a very solid, above average offering from Clipper City.

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 burring
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had Winter Storm (Category 5 Ale) during Northeastern Ohio's first snow storm of the fall season. Quite fitting! Poured into a pint glass to enjoy and warm myself.

Appearance: a dark, brownish ruby colour, as the label on the neck alluded to. Little to no head from the pour. Small amounts of lacing but nothing noteworthy.

Smell: the smell was hoppy with a subtle amount of malt character. I also picked up a fruity aroma that I would characterise as cherry? I couldn't quite pick out WHAT the fruit was. Cherry is the first word that comes to mind though. I found it all a little underwhelming.

Taste: though it was sharp, I found myself a little disappointed. I wasn't sure what I was expecting but I found little character in it. It's not to say it was bad but not what I expected. I suppose it didn't have the balance that I was expecting in an ESB.

Mouthfeel: sharp and hoppy. After swallowing the beer, a malty after-taste ran over my palate. This was probably my favourite part of Heavy Seas.

Drinkability: it's a good, casual drinking beer. I enjoyed the overall experience.

Photo of Bebum
3.45/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Muddy, orange-brown color,
Full body, intense flavor, rich but not heavy mouthfeel, avg length.
Bitter, tart, background sweetness well in balance, bitter finish.
Fruity, orange juice-like,
Different, very interesting.

Photo of Cugabuh
3.47/5  rDev -8.7%
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.

Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) from Heavy Seas Beer
86 out of 100 based on 921 ratings.