Nor' Easter Winter Warmer | Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.

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Nor' Easter Winter WarmerNor' Easter Winter Warmer
Nor' Easter Winter WarmerNor' Easter Winter Warmer

Brewed by:
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.
New York, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This is a truly unique brew, combining some unusual elements to create a powerful, yet flavorful brew. I brewed a similar beer to this one back in 1998, while I was home brewing out in California. Only this time around, I decided to age it in bourbon barrels to add a new element to the already rich sensory profile. The combination of dark malt, elderberries and bourbon barrels makes for an interesting tasting experience. This is a sippin’ beer, so sit back by the fire and enjoy.

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 216 | Ratings: 321
Photo of Lucular
3.37/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

The description says the "combination of dark malt, elderberries and bourbon barrels makes for an interesting tasting experience" but for me it was just strange. Not horrible but definitely not a huge success either.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

i didnt expect this to be funky but it was, and reading through some reviews, it sounds like others have not had the same experience, so i am wondering if i had an infected bottle or something, but its so good that it seems like the funk in here is intentional, light bacterial pucker, possibly picked up in the barrels, and a really farmy almost wildness to it, piquant with the almost medicinal plum and elderberry character, i thought it was amazing, intentional or not. its rich and creamy for a beer with some acidity, and has a warming and festive bouquet of flavors from tobacco to prune, cocoa and smoke, vanilla and whiskey, its really impressively complex, and the pucker doesnt erode any of the structure, i really dig that. this is unlike other winter warmers, its not sweet, loaded with clove and anise and brown sugar, or boozy to the point of being absurd, its a challenging yet highly refined brew that holds up to cold weather mighty well. the sour part i suspect is not planned for, but its a happy accident in my bottle. these guys are doing some really intriguing and high quality stuff right now!

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.6/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter, the appearance was a semi-dark brown color with a little creamy colored head leaving some sticky lacing. The aroma had some roast, berries, brown sugar and caramel/toffee malts. The flavor copied the aroma pretty much spot on, leaning to the sweet side and adding some nuts. Subtle nutty to berry aftertaste hitting the finish, somewhat sticky, but slightly acceptable. On the body, this one was medium bodied with a fair sessionability about it. Mild carbonation and the ABV felt good. Overall, nicely strong ale, but was this really a Belgian Strong Dark Ale? Not so sure about that.

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Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thought this was a fitting beer for our weather in NY today. This has been in the cellar for a few years, so I am not sure on the vintage.

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a tulip glass.

Look is a black, a lot darker than I expected with little to no head.

Aroma is pure berry and a sweet malty note at the end.

Taste is a mix of slightly tart/sweet berry and malty winter warmer. It's an interesting combo, but def good.

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Photo of Radio_Free_J-Ro
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Batch #5. More sour than I was expecting. But that's ok. I bought this last week (Jan 2015) from the aged rack at a local BD for $12.99. The bourbon barrel aging is awesome, and I'm working on getting more into sours. I can hang with this. Also, I waited until the first snow here on Long Island. Perfect.

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Photo of GPHarris
4.49/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

batch #5

a - poured a one finger thick creamy coffee-colored head into a snifter that left good lace and a thin sheet throughout. dark color almost red wine like.
s - chocolate, dark berries and plums.
t - dark fruit, bourbon woodiness with a hint of tartness.
m - creamy and smooth.
o - really terrific sipper. excellent beer and complex.

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Photo of Justin_Neff
3.86/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a MadTree Snifter

A: Pours a dark brown, molasses colored body. Yields a light khaki colored thin head that slides down the glass quickly with a minimal amount of retention. Leaves a thin layer of retention. Pours like a strong ale or a scotch ale.

S: The waft in this one is really nice. Bourbon is subtle and not overbearing at all, with a strong berry aroma. There is some oak. Vanilla and some walnut and toasted almonds.

T: Whoa baby this is different than I was expecting from the nose. Bourbon is coming through perfectly upfront. There's a strong sweet berry flavor that slaps you right across the face mid-drink that finishes sharp with a boozy warmth and toffee.

M: Full body. Moderately high carbonation. Sticky. Boozy.

O: A solid brew. Not at all what I was expecting, but that's not necessarily a bad thing in this case. I wasn't expecting such a strong berry presence, but overall it meshes together well. I suspect this was a very different beer fresh. Glad I got a chance to try this one.

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Photo of mquartuccio87
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

love this beer batch 4 is the best in my opinion. it has alot of sourness and balance. love drinking it especially in the colder months you cant go wrong. black in color very bourbony, good viscosity and overall taste. one bottle will get tipsy quick.

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Photo of uturn
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

How served: 750ml cap bottle poured into a Kastaar tulip.

Notes: Batch #4 (bottled during the winter months of late 2009 to early 2010)

A: The beer poured a very dark opaque brown with a 1 finger light brown head which dissipated quickly laving no lacing on my glass.

N: The nose included oak, bourbon, raisins/plums and slightly musky.

T: The taste was similar to the nose with mildly sweet dark fruits, berries, light bourbon, vanilla & oak dominating the taste. There was a mild tart undertone by midpalate as well as a mild warming affect from the alcohol. The beer finished clean and dry.

M: This beer had a light-medium body with a low carbonation level.

O: Overall this beer kept growing on me as it warmed. Very tasty and a great sipping beer. This brew is better left for dessert or as an after dinner drink then paired with a meal. IMHO this beer tasted like a hybrid of a Winter Warmer, Christmas Beer & a Belgium Strong Dark Ale. I will be looking for this beer again in the future.

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Photo of sevenarts
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Dark purplish black. Decent sized tan head that soon fades, with no lacing.

S: Rich sweet bourbon, berries, a wine-like acidity, some underlying yeastiness.

T/M: Sweet berries and bourbon, quickly giving way to more of a tart, bitter fruit character. Belgian yeasts, dark fruits, sugar, slightly acidic. Nice and complex, something like a blend of wine and beer flavors.

O: An excellent twist on a Belgian beer. The added berries and barrel aging add a great deal of complexity and completely change the underlying Belgian-style brew. Very tasty and rich.

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Photo of devilheels
4.56/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fantastic beer! I was a big fan of the berry undertones, which were not too overpowering, and hit the tongue just right. The aging in bourbon barrels was a nice choice, as the beer is smooth, and has a lovely alcohol content. This is the perfect beer to be snowed in with (particularly if it's with someone you love!)

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Photo of beagle826
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Beautiful color, deep brown. Smells maltier than anticipated, mixed with a strong hint of fruit, a bit like merlot grapes. Initial taste was nice, with a nice mix of berry and bourbon characteristics. Finish slightly astringent. Overall a truly unique brew, a bit to roasty/astringent for my liking.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bomber into tulip glass. Pours a dark brown/black mahogany color with a thin to medium, light brown head. Aroma consists of caramel and vanilla bourbon barrel notes along with roasted malt and subtle dark fruity and berry notes with cocoa in the background. Dark flavor profile offers some roasted malt astringency with soft chocolate, caramel, and vanilla notes followed by the elderberries characteristics. Alcohol flavors are delicately assertive with some oak aspects rounding out the finish. The medium body conveys an excellent malt and alcohol balance which is supplemented by a final fruity lightness. Overall, an interesting and somewhat complex beer.

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Photo of ummswimmin
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch four poured into a chalice type glass.

This beer reminds me of a red wine. You get a pretty strong amount of fruityness from the elderberries in the nose and body. There are some really strong wine-like qualities from the sour flavor and nose. I feel like those yeasts really worked hard over time.

I also get a decent amount of oakiness in the body. The bourbon comes in at the edges and when you play the beer across your pallatte.

This is a chalenging drinker. I get a lot of complexity coming on here. I'm glad I aged this for a really quality red wine-like beer.

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Photo of joefuzz
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

batch 4

pours deep brown with small khaki

smells of sour berries sweet malts and some slight chocolate

taste is somewhat of a surprise very tart upfront that moves onto a smooth belgian candy sugar and slight bourbon abv is very well hidden

mouthfeel is thick with enough carbonation to carry this huge beer

overall i absolutely loved this beer. its on shelves all year here i am going to have to pick up some more

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Photo of Phelps
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to Cuzco, who sent this bottle as part of the Blind Beers BIF. Poured into a wine glass.

Deep, dark-chocolate brown, fading to the milk variety at the edges. One inch of frothy, sticky tan head.

Lots going on in the nose. Sweet bourbon, cocoa nibs, and some kind of tart fruit, which I later realize must be the elderberries.

The tartness carries over to the flavor, providing a touch of sweetness up front and a citric flash at the swallow. Alongside it are notes of whiskey and chocolate. Smooth blend.

Medium-light body, a touch thin. Nearly-not-there carbonation. Hardly any alcohol heat.

What a great beer for this BIF! The bent styles had me puzzled the whole time.

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Photo of sitarist
4.92/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Batch 5, bottled Jan 2011.

Pours a deep brown color, with hints of purple. 1/4" coral colored head falls quickly to a light top coating. Leaves rings, and webs of lacing that slide back in to the drink.

Wow, its aroma is not what I was expecting. An olfactory orgy is going on in my brain. I honestly do not know how to begin defining this beer. Im not saying its vinous, but Ive had $150 a bottle Cabernet Sauvignon, this is as balanced, and as complex. I smell some oak, but not much if any bourbon, cherries, light smoke, grapes, chocolate, white & green peppercorns, horehound, a little bit of earthy funk, etc... Artfully balanced.

Its flavors fall in line, and are even better. Just like its nose; I taste oak, but not much bourbon, cherries, vanilla, the peppercorns, grapes.... Amazing balance between tart, and sweet.

Mouthfeel suits itself well, it has a Medium body, with light fizzy carbonation. It has a pleasant medium, dry finish. Light body for a winter warmer, but perfect for its flavors.

What a pleasant surprise this beer was. I was expecting a heavy sipper, instead I found a perfectly balanced beer. Not sure how this brew was fresh, but with almost two years on it, its doing pretty dam good! Do beware, alcohol is hidden very well.

ISO more!

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark black with just a hint of brown and a finger of frothy khaki colored head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted caramel and chocolate malts, vanilla, oak, Bourbon, berries, dark fruit, a touch of spices, and some booze.

T - Starts off with some caramel and chocolate malts with some vanilla, dark fruit, and berries. Through the middle, the oak and Bourbon come through alongside some more berries and dark fruit and a touch of spices. The finish is a mix of sweet dark fruits and berries, vanilla, oak, Bourbon, caramel malts, a bit of spices, and some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. The bourbon adds some nice complexity around a bit malty base beer.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought this about 3 years ago and have been holding onto it since. Have had this once or twice at NOTB/EBF up in Boston over the years, but now reviewing it for the first time. This is batch 3, which was released December 2008, so it is a month shy of four years old. Poured from a 750ml bottle into my Bruery tulip.

a - Pours a very dark brown color with a slight reddish tint, light carbonation evident, and two inches of light tan head that leaves quickly.

s - Smells of bourbon, apple, dark fruits, light spice, roasted malts, sweet dark fruits, light tart dark fruits, oak, and light vanilla. A nice mix of dark fruits and bourbon, and the bourbon is definitely not overpowering.

t - Tastes of bourbon, sweet dark fruits, molasses, licorice, oak, roasted malts, toasted malts, slight twinge of sour fruits, figs, and raisins. Very nice again.

m - Light to medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Body is a little bit lighter than I
was expecting, and not hot at all.

o - Overall a really nice beer that seems to have held up pretty well. Not hot at all, but there is nice bourbon and sweet dark fruits throughout it. Worth checking out, and ages well.

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Photo of papat444
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

***Batch 5***

Thanks to Masterski for this one.

Poured from a 1 pint 9 fl oz. bottle and split with my wife.

Appearance: Pours a thick dark body with a good 3 fingers worth of creamy head that likes to coat the sides.

Smell: Sharp, tart berries mixed with bourbon. Pretty straightforward.

Taste: Real nice blend of berries and bourbon with some vanilla notes floating around. Never veers too tart or too boozy. Nice aftertaste of oak.

Mouthfeel: Very low carbonation with a nice long feel.

Overall: A different and tasty ale that we both enjoyed.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.76/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a CCB snifter. Batch 3. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - No real head. Some bubbles on the surface. Ring around the edge and some lace.

Smell - Wow, it smells tart, which I didn't see coming. Vinous, almost infected. Vanilla and red wine notes.

Taste - Hardly tart at all here. Vinous, at most. More bourbon. Dry with red wine and some astringency. Interesting. Vanilla comes through with a distinct Belgian yeast and candi sugar flavor. A little bit, at least.

Mouthfeel - Dry, vinous, and just a touch tart. Medium carbonation. Medium body, despite being quite dry.

Overall - Very interesting. I'm surprised by the vinous aspects, despite what the label told me. More bourbon would be nice, but it's a fascinating beer.

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Photo of kawilliams81
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure on year? Batch 5. Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a 8 oz snifter.

A- pours a dark brown with a 1 finger tan head. Big walls and leopard spotting of lacing remain on the glass.

S- dark fruits, oak, bourbon, slight roast or chocolate.

T- chocolate, slightly sour dark fruits, vinous, tannins, big oak flavor and bourbon.

M- medium body and carbonation. Effervescent with a dry finish.

O- very enjoyable beer. Does not drink like a 12% beer and has lots of vinous notes. Edelberries give nice dark fruit notes and has a slight sourness to it as well but works in this case.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.2/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: appears like dark cola with almost no head, no lacing to note

S: waves of berries come through with hints of vanilla, leather and oak among other earthy notes

T: starts very sweet with dark fruit and becomes somewhat acidic and tart, some cloying sweetness in there, bourbon comes through at the end along with a considerable amount of anise

MF: minimal carbonation, very sticky body

O: this certainly doesn't lack flavor, it is very intense and is in your face with sweetness

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Photo of billab914
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage poured from a 750ml bottle into my Lost Abbey stemware. It poured brown with a bit of a ruby tint to it. A thin but frothy head barely covers the top of the beer. Decent lacing as I drank it.

The fruity elderberries are very apparent in the aroma. There is a good amount of brown sugar, vanilla and bourbon to it as well. The fruitiness has a bit of a tart, slightly sharp presence to it. The elderberries work very well in it.

The taste also shows a lot of the tart, fruity elderberries. The bourbon is a little more reserved but it does give it some nice brown sugar and oak flavors. It's got a little bit of a red wine quality to it in the finish that I'm really liking. The tartness of the fruits give it some nice balance as well.

The mouthfeel is full bodied with carbonation being a little above average for the style. The carbonation fits pretty well with the tart fruits. Overall I thought it was a very nice beer to sip on this evening. It had a lot of flavors to it but managed to bring them together pretty well. The tart elderberries worked well with the sweeter malts and bourbon. Very nice beer overall.

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Photo of b3shine
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle to snifter. Thanks to ksurkin for this one! This is not your father's winter warmer! Looks good; dark and deep. Smells good too; the bourbon is present, but it smells tart like a sour (probably from the elderberries). Tastes great, but it's a sour, not a belgian strong dark. IMO, they're doing the beer a disservice by marketing it as a winter warmer - it's a damn good sour! Mouthfeel is good too, although not what I expected when I read the description on the bottle. Sour qualities subdue the high abv nicely. Overall, a real treat of a beer that I hope to come across again!

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Nor' Easter Winter Warmer from Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.07 out of 5 with 321 ratings