1. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $14.99 (US/print only). Offer ends April 30. Subscribe now! (Because great beer deserves great stories AND readers.)

Harpoon Winter Warmer - Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

Not Rated.
Harpoon Winter WarmerHarpoon Winter Warmer

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
73
okay

1,433 Ratings
THE BROS
50
awful

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,433
Reviews: 639
rAvg: 3.19
pDev: 20.38%
Wants: 10
Gots: 167 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.90% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-06-2000

When you bring a glass of this dark copper ale to your lips to take your first sip you will notice the aroma of cinnamon. There is no aromatic hop added that might overpower the distinct spice scent. The medium body of this beer is formed from caramel and pale malts. These create enough body to support the spices without making the beer excessively rich. Bittering hops are added to counter the sweetness of the malt and spice. The finish of the beer is a blend of cinnamon and nutmeg. The combination of these two spices results in a balanced, pumpkin-pie flavor.

22 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view more.
Ratings: 1,433 | Reviews: 639
Reviews by CSeavey64:
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.7/5  rDev +16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap while living in Vermont,liked it alot.Then bought in bottle form,not quite as good.On tap tasted fresh and like eating a nice spice cake.

Photo of chOAKbarrell
2.11/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

The only beer I've had that possibly has more cinnamon flavor than this is Shipyard's Pumpkin ale. Needless to say, heavy cinnamon flavoring does not lend itself well to beer. It ends up being overly sweet and difficult to finish. That's pretty much the base of this beer - cinnamon, cinnamon, cinnamon. I didnt particularly enjoy this and I'm glad I only bought a single, as I dont want to have it again.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.08/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

My daughter loves this beer. I think that's because she lives in Florida and rarely gets to drink it. It's a clear orange color with a small head. A sweet, spicy aroma. All I could taste was cinnamon, not exactly what I was looking for. I think this is an OK winter warmer, but too aggressive with the spice.

Photo of Todd
1.92/5  rDev -39.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Had this for the first time this year @ the Harpoon X-mas Party. It was dreadful. They actually changed the recipe this year because they were getting complaints about spice dregs at the bottom of kegs that made the beer cloudy. So, this year they went with "liquid spice". I've talked to other brewers, all of who refuse to use this stuff as it's too potent.

Just imagine drinking a cinnamon hotball, but without the hot. It's so over-spiced that you can't enjoy the other characters of the beer.

Photo of Guden
2.54/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

A- A very clear cherry tinged amber color with a one finger off white head that fades quickly leaving no lacing.

S- Very high in the spices, it smells like cinnamon and a bit of off smelling yeast character. I'm a little confused and not pleased.

T- Well the nose had it right. The flavor is a moderately high amount of cinnamon and nothing else. Not awful, just not very well thought out or presented. They should've just called this "Cinnamon Beer" instead of winter warmer.

M- Pretty watery really. Fairly low in both body and carbonation.

D- This is a lot like the overspiced pumpkin beers that are made by most breweries, but with even less complexity and really just one note of cinnamon. There's nothing to hate but unless you're a big cinnamon person stay away. Made me crave Stegmeier Winter Warmer for all the things that this one was not.

Photo of Jason
2.12/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Notes from 2001: Way too much spice this year, takes away from the malt and subtle hops. I wish they would bring this beer back to what it used to be.

2000:

Presentation: 12 oz brown long neck with an ink jet printed bottled on date above the label.

Appearance: Slighty chill hazed copper coloured brew with thin yet creamy lace which leaves a few rings around the glass.

Smell: More cinnamon than nutmeg, fresh pie apples and a faint aroma of esters in the sweet nose also.

Taste: Medium bodied with a sweet chewy malt and spice mix up front, cinnamon and nutmeg are about even. Some fruitiness in the middle with a sharp tingling hop bitterness that is just enough to balance all of the sweetness. Mild alcoholic esters are more evident towards the end ... drying grain in the finish.

Notes: Very drinkable, sweetness is not cloying and spices are not over done. A well crafted and balanced beer. A good pick if you can't handle the "big" winter brews.

Photo of merlin48
3.35/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear amber body with a small offwhite head that retains decently and leaves some sparse patchy lace. Aroma is unusual, reminding me of a wintergreen scented Coca Cola. A dash of cinnamon in the background. Mouthfeel is lightbodied with medium carbonation. Taste is some light caramel maltiness that gets lost in the spices. I taste mostly wintergreen, but cinnamon and nutmeg are also prominent. Some hop bitterness comes on toward the middle and the finish is spicy bitter with a nutmeg aftertaste. Very light in body for a winter warmer. This one fares poorly compared to most of the other winter warmers I've sampled this season.

Photo of Billolick
3.17/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 ouncer, comes w/o freshness info. Pours clear, light mahogany amber, minimal to no head, no lace and seems to be on the low side carbonation wise. Holiday spice on the nose.Thin toasted malts, more thanksgiving pie spice notes and but continued thinness and lack of any sizzle. Metallic and off putting finish. Pretty dull stuff.

Photo of Mora2000
3.23/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at the Libertine.

The beer pours a slightly hazy brown color with a white head. The aroma is a mix of caramel and toffee malt along with some assorted spices. I get some cinnamon and nutmeg. The flavor is spicy along with some toffee and caramel. The spices taste a bit muddled and are tough to pick out individual ones. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A decent winter warmer, but there are better spiced Christmas beers out there.

Photo of jcdiflorio
2.64/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12oz brown bottle poured into a nonic glass.

Clear,coppery/ruby color with lots of very tiny particles suspended. Very generous off-white head,thick turning chunky with good retention leaves a pillowy layer and thick webby lacing down the glass.

Intense spicy aromas with strong cinnamon and lots of nutmeg. Slightly reminesent of old style root beer. No beery aromas present.

Very spicy also in the taste with a strong tart cinnamon as well as nutmeg,what you would expect after a good wiff of the aroma. Sort of tastes like an apple pie minus the apples,although a fruit taste is present in the beer. Finishes with very spicy bitterness and sharp tartness with a drying effect.

Light mouthfeel with slight cloyingness. Was just too spicy for me to have any drinkability. A spice lovers beer,wish it had more beery taste and less spicyness,very unbalanced overall.

Photo of jondeelee
3.12/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Has a spicy aroma, reminiscent of cloves and oranges with a touch of cinnamon.

Spices are also the first flavors to come across on the tongue, with an immediate, sharp burst of cinnamon and nutmeg, paired nicely with gentle fruit flavors such as orange and lemon. The fruit flavors fade off mid-mouthful, but the spices remain, and mingle with sugary malts and toasted grains. And unlike most beers, where "spice" just means "flavor," the cinnamon in here adds a small kick. Hops seem to be kept to a minimum, as there's little bitterness or grapefruit flavors. But the spices are definitely present all the way through, and even linger on the tongue long after the beer has left.

Unfortunately, such an aftertaste doesn't prove as wanted as might be expected, instead leaving a slightly stale, earthy flavor on the tongue--as if I'd eaten a quarter teaspoon of mixed and dried nutmeg and cloves, but didn't have a glass of water to wash it down. Which is a pity, since the ale had been rather nice up to that point.

Photo of dogfishandi
3.6/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle pulled from the fridge poured into an imperial pint glass. freshness date unclear, but if its like the others in the variety 12 pack, it would be best before 2-15-11, just days past its prime.

pours out a clear deep reddish color, 2 fingers of off white head that faded to a thin retentive layer, just sporadic lace that is quick to fall back into the beer.

soft seasonal spices in the aroma. nothing too discernable. light nutmeg, cinnamin, allspice, somewhat pumpkiny. just a bit of malt behind all that.

again with some soft christmasy spices, also somewhat pumpkin ale like. light nutmeg, cinnamin, cardamom, and some light gingerbread cookie. bits of slightly sweet malt mixed in there, kind of a spicy kick and light alcohol in the finish with some subtle bitterness.

medium bodied, ample carbonation, just slightly chalky.

very easy to kick back a few of these. i wouldnt go out of my way to get it again, but if offered, i owuldnt refuse. overall kind of a mellow winter warmer, but i bet this was top notch back in 1988.

Photo of far333
3.42/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Orangey colored with reddish hues and streams of fine bubbles rising up to a half inch beige head of tight foam.

Sweet and spicy aroma of cinnamone, ripe fruit, vanilla and nutmeg.

I've been enjoying this Harpoon selection for many years and have fond memories of having discovered it in Vermont and enjoying it often on ski trips with friends about 10 years ago. Flavor seemed to change a bit year to year, and I always enjoyed when there was predominantly cinnamon flavors. This year seems to be predominantly nutmeg, which is not a favorite flavor of mine and can be overpowering in any recipe (beer or food) if overdone. This one is also sweeter than in previous years, bordering on cloying. Some vanilla and bready malts poke through, but the nutmeg holds them down.

Mouthfeel is thin and bubbly, finishing tingly. Not too drinkable for me due to the sweetness and heavy-handed nutmeg. Hopefully next year's will be different, but from the reviews I've read through, it seems that the recipe may have been altered from what I remember.

Photo of yankeeheel
3.62/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours clear copper with a foamy coppery-white head. The smell is straight nutmeg with a hint of some lightly piney hops. A very nice sweet smell.

The taste is quite malty with the caramel malts doing the bulk of the work. A slightly spicy middle with a sweet finish makes for an interesting brew. Definitely a little different. Goes down easy.

Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
2.88/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured into becker pint glass; medium-amber in color, clear with minimal head of off-white.
Smell is lots of sweet fruit overtop of yeasty esters and malt.
Taste is spice, nutmeg aftertaste after malt, seems to live to up to the name "winter warmer" while also seeming to underwhelm the "winter warmer" name. Hops are present but not important.
Mouthfeel is lighty, pleasant, light carbonation.
Overall, a tasty but underwhelming winter ale. Rather bland and unintneresting, although the spice is interesting. Not much beer flavor to be found.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
2.37/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Reddish brown, light tan head that forms a small ring around the glass. Big cinnamon and nutmeg aroma, huge. Too big almost. Can't knock 'em for going all in though. Definitely does the holiday aroma thing.

But damn, its like eating/drinking the decorative placement at Thanksgiving/Christmas. So dang overwhelming, its like take Anchor Christmas and increase it tenfold. No subtlety. Totally dominates what appears to be a thin base, they just dumped the adjuncts (not necessarily cheap adjuncts) by the truck into this one. If only the malt bill were higher, the spice/cinnamon might not be so dreadful, but with nothing to counterbalance it, your mouth feels like someone put cinnamon and holley in your mouth.

Photo of WVbeergeek
2.76/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance Thin bubbles in a decent sized head dwindle very quickly leaving behind the copper amber body behind with very thin specks of lacing. Aroma: Primarily nutmeg and cinnamon this one takes a hint from Great Lakes but goes off down the wrong path making the spices the primary focal point. Taste: Barrages of nutmeg and cinnamon not a beer it's candy like but not in a good way. There's some alcohol in each sip followed by Christmas spices but guess what that's all that's here so one sided give me a complex Christmas ale. Mouthfeel: Thin body I don't know what Harpoon was thinking with this one, starts to just become watery with a thin amount of sryup texture from all the cinnamon and nutmeg extracts used. Drinkability: Wow, not a beer I would choose if I knew it was this damn over spiced it's just one glass of nutmeg and cinnamon once again folks not a beer.

Photo of chinchill
3.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle dated best by 2/15/12 and served in a pint glass.

Appearance - A crystal-clear, reddish mahogany with a thin, off-white head that quickly reduces to a ring. Very little lacing.

Smell - Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and banana.

Taste - Strong nutmeg flavor from start to finish, although there's plenty of cinnamon here too. Secondary notes also dominated by spices, leaving a barely detectable malt base. A bit medicinal. Mild bitterness becomes medium strength in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Medium-thin body and carbonation. A bit sharp.

Overall - too much spicing, especially the nutmeg.

Photo of ianjsullivan
3.29/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

ST: 12oz poured into a pint glass

A: Light brown with a thin dingy white head, it does leave nice lacing on the glass.

S: Cinnamon, sweet malt, fig, gingerbread, and slight hops.

T: Bread and malt flow into sweet sugar notes, and then plummets into cinnamon and spice that devours most of the finish. Some pine hops are present, but the spice sits on the back of the tongue.

M: Medium to heavy and creamy

D: It does not have a very high ABV for a winter warmer, and it is smooth at certain parts of the experience.

Overall: This beer could be fantastic if it could control some of its spicy characteristics. It has a nice nose, and some great initial flavor, but the heavy spice disrupts the balance of the beer.

Photo of Brenden
3.33/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this one last night, but my notes are fresh.

The appearance is this beer's best attribute. It pours a huge foamy head and takes some time to settle. The color is a just slightly hazy copper-brown. When it goes down it leaves surprisingly light lacing given the head on it.

The smell is all over the place; spices like nutmeg and cinnamon are evident, raisin perhaps, malt and a grainy biscuit smell comes through.

I was surprised when I tasted it that, while the malt, sweetness and spices were all very much present, I tasted hops right up front as well. In spite of the stinging spices, it almost nears balancing out because the hops bitterness is lingering there.

The body is fine enough, though lighter than the bottle claims (it's not exactly full-bodied), but the finish is a little thin. Carbonation is lively throughout, though that may add a bit to the chaos in this case.

This isn't a bad one, at least at the temp I had it and whatever other contributing factors are involved. I'm sure there are winter warmers that aren't so strong on the spices and that balance out better.

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.02/5  rDev +26%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a very pretty golden amber/copper color with a quarter of a finger of white head that quickly dissolved into a halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Very aromatic, with lots of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger, mixing well with strong toasted malt aromas. Gingerbread is what comes to mind.

Taste: Very, very good. Gingerbread in a glass! Notes of toasted malt and freshly baked bread, but the predominate flavor is gingerbread! Strong notes of spice, such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Hardly no hops at all, which pleases me.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with some good carbonation to tickle the taste buds. With and ABV of 5.9%, there is not presence of alcohol on the palate.

Overall: I really enjoyed this beer, as it has great flavors of gingerbread, spices and malt. Extremely tasty. Recommended.

Photo of sloejams
3.49/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

My experience will likely differ with most with this beer. I haven't had this in many years, living away from Boston now for over 5 years. I think that this particular one may, in fact, be that old - if not older. This was buried deep in my father's 2nd refrigerator in Massachusetts. Recently back visiting and with space in my car for the cross country drive, coupled with the fact that my father was not going to drink this ever - I brought it with me.

A few months have past. Of course, being in Los Angeles in the late summer, a winter warmer is never going to be your first choice. So I let this cool out with some other older winter offerings until I was ready. I suppose yesterday I was ready – I busted that bad boy open.

I poured it into a pint glass. Tons upon tons of sediment everywhere. No big deal that would simmer down within a few minutes. When it did it was a murky, ice tea looking beverage. The aroma was pretty intense, nothing subtle about it: pumpkin pie, cinnamon and nutmeg. The first thing I noticed when I tasted it was that the body was a lot thinner than I expected, especially since recently having Anchor’s Our Special Ale (a much better winter beer, imo). The spice flavors were there but not a lot more. As I drank more, I started warming up to it a bit more. Malt and nut flavors came out as the temperature of the beer increased.

I would have liked to have a fresh Winter Warmer to compare this to, but that wasn’t going to happen. I’m sure that one will taste quite different

Photo of caddybuyer
3.08/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter

A-Medium red amber with filtered clarity and a light tan head that settles rapidly.

S-Smells light for a winter warmer. Cinnamon and some clove. A bit like a pumpkin ale.

T-Nose carries through to the taste with think caramel malts and an overwhelming chemical bitterness in the finish. Not terrible but not really enjoyable either.

M-Fairly thin with balanced carbonation.

D-Better than a macro, I guess, but then again maybe not. Will not buy again.

Better if you drink it ice cold

Photo of DagFishHead
2.87/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Fall 2003.
Appearance: Crystal clear amber body. Orange-tinged, light tan head is very temporary and leaves only a trace of lace.
Smell: Another reviewer nailed this one: Spicecake. Cinnamon, allspice, lots of nutmeg. Crystal malt stands ready in the background.
Taste: Disappointing, I think largely due to poor mouthfeel. Clean, semi-dry, spice flavors weaker than those picked up in the nose. Malt and hops fail in their struggle to surface.
Mouthfeel: Thin, watery, with low carbonation to the point of approaching flatness. The zip in this beer disappeared very quickly.
Drinkability: This beer literally went flat during the time it took me to type this review (hunt and peck method I admit, but come on). I expect better from Harpoon.

Photo of glassjaw25
4.42/5  rDev +38.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I think this beer is great. I happen to love Pumpkin beer and I have a feeling that is why I enjoyed this beer so much. This beer has a strong aroma of Cinnamon and Nutmeg. I believe this winter warmer to be very drinkable.

I can see why this beer was rated the way it was on here, you either love it or hate it. There is no middle of the road and I believe many people did not get what they were expecting out of this beer.

My expectations first drinking this beer were non existent, I knew nothing about it and a friend offered it. I poured a pint of it and thought it was fantastic, I have and will once again purchase this beer.

to view more.
Harpoon Winter Warmer from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
73 out of 100 based on 1,433 ratings.