Nor' Easter Winter Warmer | Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.

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Nor' Easter Winter WarmerNor' Easter Winter Warmer
321 Ratings
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 Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 321 |  Reviews: 216
Reviews by Georgiabeer:
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.64/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly murky very dark brown with little head. The smell, however, is something different- rich Bourbon notes along with some fruity elderberry as the beer warms. There are definite barrel notes as well, but as an undercurrent, not in-your-face wood. Very nice marriage between the coconut, brown sugar and sultana notes of the Bourbon, the fruitier berries, and a vanilla and lightly roasty finish. If anything, the taste is even better with the flavors even more vibrant than then the aromas. The Bourbon is fairly heavy handed- but I love that. The elderberries add a complex vinous note, and the oak lends a spicy finish, while the malt and roastiness provides an even keel for the other flavors to layer themselves on. Magnificent! Rich and Bourbony in the mouth, but oh, so smooth! What a lovely beer!

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More User Reviews:
Photo of StoutHearted
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It poured dark brown with no head or lace and gave off the smell of fermenting blackberries. The phrase that popped into my head when thinking of how to describe the flavor may be odd, but apt: muddied jam. It had a sweetness that overcame the coffee notes that hung in the back. Smooth mouthfeel, but nothing outstanding, just slight carbonation.

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Photo of steelerguy
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark, rich brown with decent carbonation and little head. Head faded to just a lacing on top.

S - Toasted oak, coconut, port, vanilla, and sweet fruit.

T - Caramel, chocolate, coconut, and port. Did they put chocolate covered macaroons in here? Sweet, but not cloying, not an overwhelming alcohol taste even at 11%. Complex and impressive.

M - Alcohol warmth as soon as it hit the tongue and continues as you swallow. Drier than expected, nice and crisp.

D - Although this would make an excellent dessert beer it could be enjoyed before and during a meal also. The complexity really increases the versatility. Not a session beer, but a beer you drink slowly and savor.

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Photo of Billolick
4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The latest creation by Scott V @ Capt. L's (released on Feb. 9th, 2007), this one was available last Friday at the brewery on tap and in large bottles ($11) Strong dark ale, re-fermented with elderberries, Belgian yeast and then aged in bourbon barrels, bottled Jan 23, 2007, only 183 cases were produced.
Pours pretty much black, murky with just a slight bit of light shining through the edges. Dark tan head, with moderate retention. Settles to a thick long lasting tiny bubble film and leaves generous amounts of sticky, sheeting and scattered lacing, nice looking brew. Nose of dark fruits, fusel alcohol and dark toast. This is a manly brew, not for the faint of heart. Big dark fruity and burnt flavors, plenty of woody, smoky, and rum notes. Strong and brash, alcohol present but seems to fit in nicely into the scheme of things in this bold, heady and complex sipper. Will likely only improve with age. Another clear winner for the Good Captain.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma is a mix of roasted malt and tart cherries. The flavor is a lot of tart cherries along with bourbon, roasted malt, oak and vanilla. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Not sure what I was expecting, but this was completely different - but in a very good way.

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Photo of olradetbalder
3.44/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of dogfishandi
5/5  rDev +22.9%

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

Thanks to hoptopia for this... batch 4. Split with my main mang Joe1510. Served in a tulip.

Pours a dark mahogany with a solid head.

Smells funky. A tinge of barnyard with spices and prunes.

Tastes the dame but throw in some figs and those elderberries. I love elderberry jam and I can definitely pick out that taste in the beer. I taste almost no funk at all... which is just fine by me.

This is a sipper for sure and has a terrific mouthfeel. This is a very nice beer by CL.

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Photo of daveytheformer
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of caddybuyer
3.42/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured at cellar temperature from a 750 into a tulip glass.

Batch #4. I picked this up in the spring and thought I'd crack it open.

A-Blackness with garnet highlights that can be seen in the pour but only at the edges when held to light. Thick, creamy tan head that settles fairly rapidly.

S-Pungent and robust. Berry, vanilla, bourbon, molasses, chocolate. The nose is truly decadent. I am expecting greatness.

T-Sour astringent elderberry hits the palate first. The initial impression is the taste doesn't live up to the promise of the nose. It hides the abv well and is a bit creamy, but less so than I had expected, Belgian yeast and darker fruits establish themselves mid pour followed by more sourness and a burned astringent finish of oak and spent ashtray. This batch could really benefit from some sweetness and body. Glad I opened this as nothing in the aging process is going to cure these ills. Bummer.

M-Decent balanced carbonation is the best thing I can say here. Slighly creamy but very light bodied for this type of ale.

D-This one was a letdown. Saved it for the holidays and I'm glad I only bought one (this set me back $25) I love barrel aged ales, I love strong Belgians, I love strong fruit ales but this one does not hit the highs that I expected. Looking over the reviews I feel I am drinking a different brew. I'm not a fan of sours, although I can appreciate them, and if thats your thing, give it a whirl. Hopefully, you won't be as letdown as I was.

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Photo of TheycallmeTim
4.37/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml. batch #2 bottle into an Ommegang chalice.

A--Body is the color of melted dark chocolate, which is too say: deep brown and totally opaque. Actually looks creamy. Head is small but lasting, maybe eighth of an inch. One advocate described it as "ovaltine" and I like that enough to heist it.

S--Tons of hot bourbon on the sides of the nose, and in the middle is a sweetish ripened fruit that might be elderberries, might be prunes, raisins, currants--you name it. Dark skinned ripe and dried fruit. Amazingly there's still room in the nose for some vanilla and dark wildflower honey.

T--HUGE flavor profile on this badboy. All the bourbon-barrel aged beers I've had to this point, which are admittedly few, have been overtaken by the sweetish mash flavor in the tasting. Not this one. This puppy has as much as its nose: more vanilla, some almond, a spicy sassafras-like character, and then the dark-skinned fruit that's in the aroma. Extremely vinous, with chocolate notes and black licorice toward the end of the spectrum. There's even a small hop bite in the very back right at the end, alongside a solid sweet malt backbone throughout the rest of the tasting. One of those beers that reveals a new flavor ever sip (and you will be sipping).

M&D--Mouthfeel's extremely milky and carbonation is gentle. This is the port of winter beers. It's like a beefed up dubbel, like a dubbel on methamphetamines. Alcohol is well-hidden, but you feel it in no time (or at least I did). Not one to be trifled with, I tells ya--this proves the Captain sea-worthy. Consummate beer for cold weather, and I bet one that mellowed with some age. I'll find out when I score some '08 vintage, hopefully immediately!

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of asabreed
4.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

25.9 oz. capped bottle into two wine glasses. Split with my brother. Batch 4.

Appearance: Almost stout-like with the concentration and denseness of the head, which is mocha-colored and leaves a vast amount of concentrated and tiny bubbles with each swirl and move in the glass. Nearly opaque, but there's a deep and dark amber coming through when moved in the light, and the brew seems less syrupy and thick than a stout. All-in-all this is a beautiful brew with just a lot going on initially for the eyes.

Smell: I have a feeling with some tweaking this could easily be higher, or maybe with some aging. What initially comes through, and I found it slightly odd, is the chocolate, more like dark cocoa mixed with Hershey's syrup, yet it doesn't seem to be too sweet and maintains a balance. But technically they do use chocolate malt, so I suppose that makes sense. There are some dark fruit esters too, but what I imagine gives it the sourness here is the elderberries, which is what folks have said. Not sure I've had them anywhere else before, in a beer or otherwise. But they do seem to impart some vinous characteristics to the beer, not so much Zinfandel, but I would liken it to a Cabernet Sauvignon, and for that to work with the chocolate, as two of the dominate aromas in the nose, is pretty astounding. Also, as it warms, some caramel and oak and woodiness come from the wood, and some vanilla, but it seems like the sourness of the berries trumps the possibility of some good bourbon aromas, which I was hoping for in the end. But wow, this is weird, solid, and it's tough not to keep digging around to see what comes out as it warms.

Taste: Weirdly enough, the chocolate again is the first thing that hits here, and since they're not using chocolate in this, it obviously must be something with the yeast. Though I expected more dark fruit esters to come from Trappist yeast, this is also pretty cool, and it seems like it does give it some depth, as the acidity and vinous nature of the elderberries soon becomes the main attraction, before it slides into oak, caramel, and vanilla flavors, adding some sweetness to balance out the sourness. So with every sip there seems to be some combination of chocolate, red wine, and sweeter wood and oak flavors. Bizarre in some ways, and I have to say that as someone who's gotten into red wines lately, they've done a great job imparting the flavors here to work with the yeast and the oak. I mean there's probably no way that this should work, but it does. That said, if you're not a big red wine fan, you may want to stay away, as the elderberries almost make it seem like instead of bourbon barrels that it was aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, imparting a bit of sourness and acidity but strong ripe dark fruit, which also probably comes from the yeast and the fruit esters. As with the aroma, though, I think I would've preferred a bit more bourbon, but then again, I'm not sure if it would work if it were battling the fruit and acidity.

Mouthfeel: This reminds me, for some reason, of the feeling I got when I was sipping on Black Ops. The mouthfeel seems much lighter than it should be, when you know this is a dark beer with a pretty good amount of alcohol involved. But the yeast almost gives it a champagne-like feel, with tons of lively bubbles that create a good, light creaminess rather than a spritz, or the red wine-like component coming too close to red wine and not close enough to beer. But it straddles the lines here very well, and it closer to the highest rating than away from it, though it still doesn't quite reach those heights.

Drinkability: I paid $17.99 for the bottle, and at this point it feels like a steal. Especially when you figure that you'd be paying at least $8 or $9 for a 12 oz., most likely. Captain Lawrence has done nothing but impress me. They're ballsy, they're talented at what they do, and I hope they keep growing as far as space so they have more money to make wild batches of beer like this. I'm glad I got to visit the brewery over last Thanksgiving, and though it's small, there's a lot of TLC involved, and if they can get some good distribution going, people are going to start noticing, and they're going to make a name for themselves.

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Photo of ipc2000
4/5  rDev -1.7%

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

On-tap at the Ginger Man in NYC.Black with little head, chocolate and bourbon in aroma. This is some crafting of fruitiness, bourbon, malt and hops. Not one overpowers the other. This is a slow sipper, as in hours, and in that regard I could not finish it. Low carbonation, woody, quite complex, with a bit of sourness in the finish. A bottle a year later with great head and bourbon and oak aroma.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Although it was a bit of an expenditure for me at this point ($15 for the 750ml), the collector in me wouldn't let it go, and the beer lover in me wouldn't let one of Scott's brews slip past my palate. He's really found his legs, and he's really putting out some really great brews now. That said, the Nor'Easter was no let down.

It pours an opaque black/brown body beneath a finger thick head of dark tan foam that holds well and leaves some nice lacing about the glass.

The nose is bourbon-like, vanilla-noted, woody, and berryish over a fudge-like malt base.

In the mouth it's creamy smooth with a full body and moderate, very-fine bubbled natural carbonation from bottle conditioning.

The flavor expresses the elderberries upfront, but then they shrink back a bit as it warms to reveal the alcohol and bourbon character. The maltiness rises across the middle, but it's not as full, or sweetish and chocolatey, as the nose suggests. It's more just dark caramel malt with a low-level bittersweet chocolate side as the alcohol comes into play with some heat. At the swallow it turns to a hint of coconut and some woodiness; and it finishes with a spritz of alcohol, some coconut, a hint of fudge, and some drying woodiness along with a smattering of elderberry. The bitterness is a constant anchor, and this ship never slips into "sweeter" waters - but neither does it become drying, chalky, raspy, or abrasive. Nicely done. Interesting. Worth trying.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

P: Poured out of a 750 ml bottle into a Koening's Hoeven wide mouth chalice.

A: 1 finger light caramel course head that dissipated relatively slowly. Beer itself was very dark, almost surprisingly stout dark. Dissipating head left a nice lacing on the side of the glass.

S: Raisins, prunes, dates and other dark fruits with a strong alcoholic overtone.

T: The first thing that hits is the woody, oaky aroma derived from aging in bourbon barrels. Then come the dark fruits, prunes and overripe grapes. This beer creates a strong, warming sensation that lingers in the aftertaste. This one's advertised as a winter warmer and it doesn't dissapoint.

M: Medium to full bodied, leaning towards medium. Carbonation is a little much though for my style.

D: Definitely tasty and something I can see myself enjoying over and over again.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle, split with blackie in scenic reston

graciously gifted by the mayor of reston himself, over a discussion of super fresh sweetwater

appearance: served in a stolen st bernardus chalice, very dark mahogany body with absolutely not head to speak of

smell: potent waves of bourbon, chocolate creme, vanilla bean

taste: yikes - this would be very difficult for one man to stomach. strong currents of bourbon leaves a stinging bitterness. sweet chocolate, loads of dark fruit - brown sugar, raisin/date, plum soaked in bourbon. an intense ride, maybe too intense

mouthfeel: rather smooth and creamy until the aftershock hits - a tongue buckling alcohol fueled bitterness is sure to leave you tasting this one in the morning

drinkability: sip this

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Photo of Photekut
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of Corkpuller
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of Gonzoillini
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of nickd717
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared after the Bruery Reserve Society Initiation.

Pours very dark brown with a small tan head and a little lacing.

Aroma is roasty and sour, with funk, dark fruit, and vanilla.

Flavor is also roasty and really tart, surprisingly. Some nice complexity in there - some sweet caramel malt pokes through the tartness, and there are vinous notes, oak, vanilla, and coffee flavors in there. 12% ABV? No way! This does not have the syrupiness or the booziness that I'd expect from a winter warmer of that strength.

Body is medium-full and fairly dry and acidic. Got to give it a bump up on the palate for achieving that effect, since it seems like it would be tough to accomplish in a beer like this.

Drinkability is good for the style and ABV. Overall, this is good despite the oddities to it.

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Photo of MiScusi
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Jessethehutt... thanks brosef!

Pours a dark cola brown. Smells grapey. Also midly roasted grains with a small sweetness. The elderberry in here is very apparent after all the Sambucol cold/flu medicine my parents had me take a kid. Has that same smell/taste to it. The beer is slightly on the hot side which must be explained by the bourbon barrel it was aged in. Some mildly roasted grains round out the body. We poured this cold and it didn't warm up to much, seeing as how we were sitting outside 45 or 50 degree weather at night.

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