Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale | Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)

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Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome AleSamuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale

Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
United Kingdom (England)

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-29-2001

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Reviews: 1,137 | Ratings: 2,147
Photo of NJpadreFan
2.64/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Sam Smith's Winter Welcome Ale in a nice big 550 ml bottle!

I poured this into my "borrowed" Bar-A beer glass.
This Ale was a very nice copper/brown with a thick foamy white head.
The smell was slighty skunky with a very grainy odor.
The taste was bubbly, bitter, and cheap tasting. Like a corn/grain flavor you'll find in a macro like Coors!?! I swear I could taste the alcohol in it!!

Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout is such a good beer, but Winter Welcome Ale is a bad winter brew!

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Photo of Popsinc
3.11/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

It poured a nice clear amber/orange with a nice light head. The nose was dull with very mild fuity hints and minimal hoppiness. To be quite honest i was very disappointed with the taste...after all, Sam Smith's Oatmeal is world class and the Pale Ale is good....but this one left me wanting alot more.

A light a creamy mouthfeel with some sweet, fruitiness. Nuff said.

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Photo of irishmoss
3.31/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This ale poured a copper-amber color. Thin 1-finger head with sparse spots of lace. Smelled of malt and caramel. The taste was caramel and malt with a very faint grassy hop presence. Butterscotch with a touch of spice. Easily drinkable, but not what I expect from a winter brew. As far as it being called Strong/Old Ale style, it wasn't strong at all and perhaps tasted a little old.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
2.54/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I've been having some bad luck with beers in clear glass bottles lately. This is the second Samuel Smith's brew I've had that's suffered from being light-struck somewhere between leaving the brewery and my choosing it at one of the local stores.
Winter Welcome poured a rusty orange color with a diminished off-white head that soon amounted to no more than a skim on the surface. The aroma had the unmistakeable scent of a light-struck brew: sourness abounded. By repeatedly abusing my olfactory system, I was able to discern the aromas of caramel and fruity sweetness lurking behind the all-powerful sour odor. The taste was better, but not by much. Initially, there was a sweet flavor akin to carmel-dipped pears, a kind of fruity, syrupy taste. Then a more nutty malt flavor came across before the sourness intruded and finished with a palate-paralyzing bite. The feel was light- to medium-bodied, a bit thin, and dry.
Overall, a disappointment. Winter Welcome probably deserves a second review but I'm a bit put off after my experiences with those damn clear glass bottles. Maybe later, but not too soon. Okay, rant off...

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Photo of gnaussea
3.47/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber, not quite dark enough in my opinion for a winter ale, with a decent head lacking in retention. Nose is medium sweet malt, not particularly bold, with a few misc. spices nestled in taste is much different. The hops hit directly, followed by a sweetness not stong in malt. Some happy spice follows. In general, not a bad brew. Nothing to be joyful about, and not particularly characteristic of other winter brews. In a pinch, it will do, but not this winter.

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Photo of freed
3.05/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Clear bottle? Why...why....why?

Pours amazingly clear with a red straw hue. No head, at all. Aroma, well, you guessed it. Skunked hops that hide all other aromas. Taste is spooked by the initial tide of sour bitterness. Several sips are needed before the rusty malt flavor finally delivers. Its a pleasant malt flavor, but the whole experience suffers all in all.

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Photo of tavernjef
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Nice clearish amber brown syrup color with a inch tall ivory head of thick fluffed cotton, settles slowly to a thick skim on top that never leaves, lace is thick in most places with a favorable thickness nearer the edge of the glass leading up to moth holed sheets and some strings. Smell comes across kinda grassy and dry, toasty and sweet, a nice little mix. Taste is simple yet with some favorable little flavors coming through. Some mild toasted malt grains, dryish hops, grassy hay-like notes, all just kinda there, not in strength but in a presense thats quite easy and milding. Nice lightly drying finish with a mix of dry hops and toasty breadish malts that has just a twinge of very slight bitterness that grabs in the back of the throat. Feel is a solid medium body, packed nicely with mellowness and easy carbonation. An exceptional drinker, oh so good. Not heavily flavored, but whats there makes for some fine easy drinking, nothing harsh; very calm, easy, and relaxing. What a fantastic English Old Ale in the way of drinking it down. A pure session beer; if ever need be, I could drink alot of these.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.6/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – Very clear and thin-looking brown with a nice big head that laced the glass.

Smell – Nice, toasted malt aroma with a lot of sweets. I can pick up mostly molasses and dark sugars.

Taste – A little grainier than I had hoped, but otherwise it is not bad. The sweetness backs up a bit but is still present.

Mouthfeel – Thin in the mouth, which was disappointing for a winter ale. The brown sugar syrup almost films the teeth, though. There’s also a refreshing dryness to this one.

Drinkability – It’s drinkable, but if I’m in the mood for a seasonal winter ales I can find lots better.

Update – I originally had this in 2003 so thought I’d give the ’05 a review. I enjoyed it a little more this year, which may just mean that my palate has changed a bit. I still think it’s thin but will raise some of the other scores up a bit.

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Photo of kbub6f
3.76/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I enjoyed this last year and was looking forward to seeing it again this year. I've had some off-tasting Sam Smiths in Texas, so I snatched this up the day it came into the store. I was rewarded with a fresh bottle.

The head is medium-sized, a creamy tan-colored and dense. Nice. Body is clear, deep amber. Also nice. The aroma is sweet caramel with just a touch of metal. It's probably too cold. Nice grainy malt notes with fruit. A little sour. Nice bitter finish with tangy malt. Bready when warm. Good hoppy burps. This is very fruity, quite malty and nicely bitter. It really needs to warm, though.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2003-2004 Winter Welcome Ale

Appearance: Pours a copper tone with a cream colored rather thin head forms full dwindles kind of fast, lacing is formed in a big collar than with each sip the rings become more and more sparse. Aroma: Fruits seared in alchohol come through with a very mild burn, and this one contains more hops than I was expecting. Floral hopping with a slighty nutty doughy edge to it characteristic of many of the Sam Smith's I've tried. Taste: The malt profile consists of a doughy sweetness backed by fruit tones, alcohol notes, and a great nutty flavor. The most impressive part of this ale was it's hop profile fairly hoppy bitter finish tops of the flavor for me. Mouthfeel: A tad thin sort of a sharrp carbonation in my eyes a Winter Warmer needs to have more body going on. Drinkability: Decent not a beer I yearn for but glad I tried this year's edition after passing on it last year numerous times.

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Photo of Stopper
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This light-colored barleywine pours a transparent orange color with a gigantic fluffy, nearly white head, mostly of small bubbles, but with a few big ones in there. The head dissipates, but very slowly. The aroma is pretty malty-sweet. The mouthfeel is pretty smooth -- it seems that most of the bubbles have risen to the head, although it's still a bit effervescent. Initially there's a very nice balance between the base-malts and the hops, and a flowery fruitiness is very quickly the dominant flavor. This fruit evolves into a very noticeable, though mild, earthy hop finish, whose bitterness and dryness become more evident as the malt sweetness fades.

This certainly isn't as big in body, sweetness, or alcohol as most barleywines I've had, but its sweet floral hoppiness is particularly enjoyable.

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Photo of Rumrunner
3.66/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

550 ml. clear bottle. 2002-2003 version listed on the lable.

A very winter feeling ale. I wish I was at a ski lodge by a fire drinking this one.

It pours a deep amber with a nice head that lasts. Excellent lacing. The picture of a ski slope map across my glass. Even the clear bottle had lacing in it after the final pour. Nice consistent bubbles float to the top. The scents give and airy grass and buttery malt to start with. A hint of pine cone but mostly malts.

The flavors are very heavy malts. Butterscotch and candied fruit. There is a sweet dough taste and some sour bread. I wish the hops were just a bit more present. There is a pine flavor but it gets bounced by the malts. A good buttery and caramel aftertaste. If you are a malt-o-phile this is a great ale for you. I like it but I want a bit more hops.

A deep sticky mouthfeel. It is sweet on the tongue. It leaves an oily quality. Easy to drink and I recommend this as a sipping ale.

I liked this offering. I did not love it. It is I have to be in the mood to drink it ale. It would go great with a cigar on a cold night.

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Photo of AudioGilz
3.39/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Damn these clear bottles. Immediately after popping the cap off, there's the familiar unpleasant "skunked" smell. It's not strong at all, quite mild, but noticeable nonetheless. The beer pours wonderfully though, a clear copperish brown color with a thick head. The aroma is slightly skunky, malty, and my nose is horrible so I don't get all that much out of it. Well the skunking must have just begun, because the flavors didn't involve any skunked flavors. This is a superbly smooth brew with the perfect amount of carbonation. The common and yummy Sammy Smith's yeast character is there with a pleasant balance of malt and hops. I don't sense anything intricate here, just a wonderfully balanced welcome to the horrible Chicago winter that is around the corner.

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Photo of beerguy101
2.94/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Medium brown color, small foamy head. Aroma is slightly malty. A lighter bodied ale. Mild malts and hops. Slight toffee and malt flavors, slightly spicy. Well balanced and very drinkable, but there is not much to this beer. Mouthfeel is full. Finish is clean and dry. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

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Photo of oberon
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep gold to amber color with a light almost non existant head,arom is malty and a little spicey-sweet.Taste is a little complex malty and and slightly sweet with some biscuity flavors rounding this out.A slight skunk taste and aroma but I am quite sure it was from the bottle.This was the 2001-2002 offering.

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Photo of granger10
2/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I must have gotten a skunked bottle. I heard this doesn't happen with Sam Smith's but I'd hope that this bottle wasn't their true beer. Even though it was skunked it still seemed better than macro lights! But I couldn't finish this. I don't know if I'm supposed to review skunked brews but I wanted to let it be known that I got a Sam Smith's brew that was skunked. I'm going to get this again and re-review it sometime.

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Photo of hotstuff
3.03/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured an off-white head with small-medium sized bubbles that was long lasting. The body was clear and had an amber hue. This was another beer that I found to have a bitter taste to it.It is easy to say that this will not be a beer at the top of my beer list.

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Photo of TheDM
3.06/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Another aroma I cannot place. Its initial pour yielded a frothy off white head of small to medium bubbles that lasted a long while with a very nice transparent amber brown body. Initial taste was not full of flavor, but was not bad. There was the hint of an aftertaste that caused me to keep sipping it to try and place it. It was sort of smooth with an aftertaste that was hard for me to place. Not a bad beer, but not a great beer either.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.23/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006-2007 version: Solid golden color with a low tan head and nice active carbonation. Aroma and tastes were similiar to the notes from the 2001-2002 version.

2001-2002 version: Dark gold to copperish amber with a full beige head, good carbonation, and light lace. Malty aroma (a bit spicy) with earthy notes. Spicy earthy malt flavor and crisp maltiness (if that is possible). Light medium bodied (leans medium) with a dry finish.

1999-2000 version: A touch darker with more lace. Not as lively or as spicy as the newer bottle. Fuller and more rounded. Smoother and a bit creamier. Not harmed at all by aging - Ages Well !

Good but not sure it's worth the premium price...

2006-2007 version - Tasted 04/09/07
2001-2002 version - Tasted 05/28/03
1999-2000 version - Tasted 05/28/03

($2.79 / 12 oz. 355 ml clear glass bottle emb. with lots of S.S. info): 2006-32007 version
($4.79 / 18.7 oz. / 550 ml): older versions

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Photo of fattyre
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a clear reddish golden color with a large rocky tan head. The mouthfeel is pleasant smooth and rounded. The smell is toasted bread and earthy. The taste is smooth breadlike with hints of tea, warming alcohol and a zesty piney bitterness. A nice pleasing enjoyable ale that seems a bit mild for a barley wine.

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Photo of jlervine
4.38/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured an amber color with a crisp white head. The smell was very malty with a hint of citrus. The taste was excellent - malty sweetness giving way to a strong hops character, finishing up with almost a lemon aftertaste lightly mixed with alcohol. Starts at the tip of the tongue and works it's way back from there. I was honestly expecting something a bit heavier in flavor for a barley wine, but I was pleasantly surprised - it seems closer to an English ale.

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Photo of HardTarget
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002-3 550 ML Bottle.
Aroma: A malty sweetness topped with a hint of orange.
Appearance: A sunny tangerine with a frothy head of small bubbles that linger a while, but fade into a light lace.
Flavor: OMG that's good! Very well balanced with a slight edge to a malt sweetness. Has a wonderful lemon/citrus finish and aftertaste. I was shocked to find this in the Barley Wine category, think Strong Ale may be more precise, but still misleading. Those beers invoke the idea of a meal in a bottle. This is more of an appetizer.
Mouthfeel: Full, rich, round, beautiful. Thin for a Barley Wine, but again, not your average Barley Wine.
Overall: Drinkability? Like a book you can't put down. Had no trouble at all with the 550 ML's and could drink two more and be a happy man. Expected a heavier beer for a winter welcome, but this warms the belly and cheers the tongue. I know what I'm going to ask Santa for!
Re-reviewed about a year later. Well, I asked Santa for some, but I was disappointed in the gift. I don't know if this years batch changed, or I got a particularly aged bottle for my first review. This beer is much harsher, none of the fruity malt tastes I got last time. Looks like the category changed from barleywine (good). All in all, a decent beer, but just didn't re-blow my socks off.

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Photo of Ave
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am never a fan of clear glass bottles, it just makes you think about how much light has hit the beer, but SS seems to pull it off most of the time with out common problems. It pours an ochreish golden brass color, thinish head. Not a nut or roasted ale. Nice even balance of hops & yeasts in the nose, slightest touch of skunk, but not bad. Bites lightly of hops early on the tongue, but warms up with honey & woody flavor quickly. An easy drink that doesn’t get stale on the pallet as some of the style tends to. I could have many, & probably will.


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Photo of canucklehead
4.18/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This sample came from Maui and was thankfully not skunked.
The nose was slightly skunky but not in a way that detracted
from the beer. The balance was very good with caramel overtones
coming to the fore. This was a very good Xmas style ale that
seems to be a template for more than a few Pacific NorthWest
winter ales. The alcohol is not very high compared to other winter
ales so cellaring for a year may not improve this beer.

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Photo of francisweizen
3.38/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batman...I've been skunktified. This bottle of sam Smiths Winter Welcome must have been light-struck or just plain skunky. It was the 2002/2003 edition and it opened with a loud sound and a rush of carbonation. The appearance was average enough and what one would expect from a buttery English style ale but the smell was pure skunk. The taste was skunky as well but what I could taste through the skunk was pretty good. malty, with a touch of hops, and buttery with some nice alcohol notes. Still for a winter brew this is two week and two suceptible to light damage and skunkiness to be worthwhile. Maybe a fresh-er example would be a lot better, but probably not. The mouthfeel on this was OK if not a little thin and the drinkability was good as well...
Still this is my least favorite brew out of the Sam Smiths that I have was also the first one of their brews that I have ever drank..that was skunky. They should really ditch the clear bottles or at least put warnings on the cases so that packies can keep these things away from the light!!!

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Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
3.65 out of 5 based on 2,147 ratings.
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