Father John's Winter Ale | Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company

very good
33 Reviews
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Father John's Winter AleFather John's Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company
British Columbia, Canada

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
A rich, malty seasonal ale brewed every fall for the winter months, this ale is made with four different malts, Nugget & Hallertau hops, and a complex blend of spices. It is named for John Mitchell, Howe Sound's original brewer.

17 IBU

Added by BDTyre on 11-17-2007

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Reviews: 33 | Ratings: 68
Photo of lumikuuro
5/5  rDev +33%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1 litre bottle.

Appearance: Fairly opaque, brownish mahogany colour with fairly white head receding to a ring. Head was monstrous when previously enjoyed in a ceramic stein; this time minimal when poured into tall central European style half litre glass tankard.

Aroma: A wonderful blend of nutmeg, vanilla, ginger, distant cinnamon, rich sugars and malts. Alcoholic nose blending in with the spices like a true winter warmer.

Taste: One word: phenomenal. The nutmeg, vanilla, and the sugary blend of honey, treacle, and yellow sugar added to this beer work in perfect harmony with each other. The added ginger blends into the warming alcohol taste, while the added cinnamon is barely noticeable but surely helps round the spice flavours. There are also hints of black cherry and even orange in here, showing just how well this beer is brewed: there are port notes here as a result. The blend of the honey, treacle, and yellow sugar add a rich sweetness that reminds the drinker of Christmas, without overpowering any of the other flavours and nuances; everything is in perfect balance. In fact, this beer is also known as Father John's Christmas Ale at the Howe Sound brewpub.

Mouthfeel: Fairly full bodied, wonderfully silky as the beer seems to explore the mouth without any effort from the drinker.

Drinkability: A true winter warmer that entices the drinker to have more, but is so complex and rewarding that it also begs to be savoured. Easy to drink, but not as a result of thin body or light flavour; this beer is in a much higher class.

The best winter ale in British Columbia by a country mile. And there is plenty of countryside in this part of the world. Absolutely fantastic beer.

 1,699 characters

Photo of Derek
4.12/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's Christmas Eve and I'm in BC. Three years ago it was 16 degrees Celsius here, today we must've got 16 cm of snow! So this Father John's winter ale seems very appropriate (and it's a 1L bottle too!).

A Auburn chestnut, light tan head, thin ring of retention, very little leg/lace.

S: Bready, cinnamon, nutmeg, dark fruit, light spiciness, caramel, ginger, brown sugar. Very nice.

T: Bready, dark fruit, caramel, nut, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon & brown sugar. Balanced bitterness, alcohol is subtle. This is really good. I'd give it a 4.25 for flavour if I could.

M: Well-attenuated moderate body has a dry finish.

D: Very drinkable for it's strength.

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Photo of strangemusic
4.07/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first review for BA! I just had this beer from a big 1 litre bottle from the Park Royal liquor store.

Poured out a warm red/amber colour with not a lot of head which settled down quite quickly. The in-glass look reminded me of Rogue's Dead Guy Ale? Initial aromas were of smooth, complex spices and vanilla.

The flavour was rich, with spice and malt, I noticed quite a bit of vanilla and other sweet flavours almost like molasses. There is a lasting, but not too strong, hop/alcohol twinge to the end of each mouthful that balances out the sweet flavours.

This beer feels really nice in the mouth, there is a decent carbonation to it and a smoothness that makes the whole thing very drinkable, which I suppose is an asset for such a big beer!

I'd recommend this if you're looking for something mellow to enjoy over the holidays. There's nothing mind-blowing about it, but there's a certain charm in its sweet and very drinkable character.

 946 characters

Photo of Graham5161986
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ah, a cold, wet winter's night - perfect for a Father John's!

A: pours a clear, somewhat hazy, brown with a 1 finger, tan head that dissapates quickly to a thin film and leaves a nice sticky lace.

S: aromas of chocolate malts, honey, vanilla and a touch of spice

T: chocolaty malts, giner spice, honey and a slight hoppy bitterness on the finish.

M: thick and creamy, good carbonation and a nice, smooth, crisp finish.

D: It's a big beer, so I wouldn't be able to finish more than one. However, it's flavours are fantasitc and does not taste artificially sweet like many of the other winter ales out there. I've bought it before and I will buy it again - a great beer to warm you up on a cold night.

 704 characters

Photo of canucklehead
4.02/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drinking this tastes like a homage to the great Xmas ales of BC past such as Granville Island, Shaftebury and Spinnakers. The dedication to John Mitchell makes sense as he and my father Malcolm Faviell created the first Xmas beer in BC with Spinnakers version.

This is all malt and spices with a dark fruit note somewhere in there. Very drinkable and well balanced, this is a worthy heir to the aforementioned Xmas beers.

 422 characters

Photo of beertwisted
3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

After reading the other beer reports, I have a somewhat indifferent attitude to their educated reviews. This beer stands (in my mind) as one of the better winter beers available. There was not the overly intrusive nutmeg flavor that often overpowers other winter beers. This beer had a well balanced assertion of seasonal spices that one might find comforting during the not-so-seasonal cool months in BC. Its head was coppery cool with a nice tantalizing flavor of vanilla and nutmeg.

Another nice accent was in its ability to retain its head long after the first sip. I loved the fact that it came in a swing-top. This is one of the ways you can enjoy a beer while letting it warm up to the appropriate temp; all the while still being introduced to the basic premises of the beer. The bigger the beer the better in my opinion; this from a beer that is well crafted and deserves a second opinion. This one definitely deserves just that... Out of the many Christmas or winter beers I have had, this beer is worth a taste on those unexpected winter evenings.

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Photo of Hornet2003
4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1L Swing-top bottle from the 2007 vintage. 7% listed on the bottle, but previous versions were 8%.

Appearance: Rich looking red-brown in color. Pours with quickly disappearing tan head.

Smell: Very spicy on the nose. Lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, a little vanilla, and a *little* bit of anise.

Taste: Sweet flavor. The spiciness is great and there is a lingering hop bitterness. The malt is nice and pronounced and manages to keep the 7% ABV in check. A little bit of a honey flavor as well.

Mouthfeel: Mid-high carbonation. Leaves a sweet and spicy aftertaste.

Drinkability: Pretty high overall considering the 7%, but the serving size is kind of prohibitive. 1L is a lot for even two people to drink in a tasting. Overall, however, I would say this is a greatly drinkable Christmas beer. Definitely better than stronger winter warmers.

I really enjoyed this beer. Great spice, great malty, wintery character. This really warms you up and gets you want to sit beside the Christmas tree. I have never had a Howe Sound beer I haven't loved, and this one did not disappoint.

 1,077 characters

Photo of BDTyre
3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had honestly hoped for a better, more complex flavour from this beer, but overall it is not bad.

Cloudy copper-brown with a cream coloured head. The head settles down quite quickly and leaves lots of spotty lace on the side of the glass as I drink.

The alcohol warmth in the scent is quite noticeable - surprising that this is only 7% ABV. Malt, brown sugar, raisins in the scent. Smells almost like a Christmas pudding, but a bit heavy on the malts and alcohol.

Heavy handed malt taste that is a bit rough. Vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, plum pudding, molasses all lurk in the background. Enjoyable, but the malts seem to heavy and tend to dominate other the other flavours.

Low carbonation, just enough to provide a nice texture on the tongue. Very drinkable, and certainly provides a bit of warmth on a cold night.

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Father John's Winter Ale from Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company
3.76 out of 5 based on 68 ratings.
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