Winter Ale
Shipyard Brewing Company

Winter AleWinter Ale
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Red Ale - American Amber / Red
3.69 | pDev: 14.09%
Shipyard Brewing Company
Maine, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Winter AleWinter Ale
Reviews: 96 | Ratings: 110 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
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TheLongBeachBum from California

2.84/5  rDev -23%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Presentation: 12 ounce bottle that looks exactly per the BA Avatar. Twist-off crown cap mentions that this is the 10th Anniversary Year of Shipyard. No strength but a nicked label edge states that this is Best Before End April-05.

Appearance: Dark orange-copper body with a good sized off-white head that rises quickly and leaves some solid sticky lacing

Nose: Sweet malts with some grainy aspects. Little hints of bitterness but very weak aromas throughout the experience.

Taste: Sweet malts yet again with some buttery feel in the back third. Clean and very crisp but not that impressive at all. Allegedly there are hops in this one, somewhere.

Mouthfeel: Has a very thin feel to the body when the beer is first imbibed at chilled temperatures. As it warms it has a little more stuffing – but it is still rather thin overall.

Drinkability: The light grain and buttery feel I can just about live with, but this is just too thin on body to keep me interested. Not much at all in the way of encouragement to get me to buy another bottle, let alone open one.

Overall: Nothing “Special” at all about this.

Dec 23, 2004
More User Reviews:
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mikesgroove from South Carolina

3.75/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

the pour was a wonderful shade of amber with a good level of carbonation that was easily visible through the glass. nice head of white that comes up to around two inches and settles own with a moderate amount of lacing.

aroma of nicely rounded hops, light citrus mixed with a caramel sweetness that is simply sublime. near perfection here with every whiff. taking the first sip only reinforces this as each sip is better then the next. really just clean, crisp notes of citrus hops, caramel, bready malts, and a touch of apple like tartness cross the palate and leave a clean, sparkling finish that begs you to drink more.

May 23, 2011
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birchstick from Colorado

3.71/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - poured a reddish copper / brown with a nice one finger head that dissipates quickly

S - smells of caramelly malts, spices, and some spruce

T - tastes starts with buttery caramel malts that are quickly pushed aside by a lot of spices, most notabely some nutmeg. Next, I got some piney resin with some spruce. This tastes like it could be an Anchor Steam Our Special Ale, which is a good thing.

M - full bodied with light carbonation, pretty good

D - this is a pretty good Christmas Ale. I don't really know how this fits into the ESB category, but whatever, it is a good beer. I would recommend this drink to share with others at Christmas.

Dec 30, 2010
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Todd from California

4.03/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz brown bottle, with freshness date scored on the label. Nice Maine coast picture.

Appearance: Beautiful clear copper colour with orange hues, and an off-white creamy, sticky head that retains well.

Smell: Raw leaf hops in the nose along with caramel malt and the distinct aroma of Ringwood yeast.

Taste: Smooth, rich, full bodied. Very complex. Large dose of sweet caramel malt, with a touch of toffee. Goes a bit crisp then introduces a hoppy beer with amazing depth of flavour; citrus rind, spice notes, raw leaf, sweet orange. Nice fruitiness to boot. Finishes sweet, a bit nutty and somewhat dry/grain.

Notes: Brewed with 5 malts: malted wheat, pale, crystal, munich and caramalt. And, 5 hops: Fuggles, Goldings, Progress Tettnang and Mount Hood ... All of which makes for one interesting and highly complex winter brew for the gods. Hot damn this is one fine beer!

Nov 30, 2000
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Jason from Massachusetts

3.95/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Impressive head retention that leaves a caked on sticky mess within the glass. Good clarity on a sunrise orangey reddish hue.

Comlexly inviting aroma of buttery, malty, hoppy and fruity aroma. Medium to full bodied, just as smooth as it is crisp with a lush malty mouth feel. Maltiness is expressively toasted and sweet upfront with a buttery and light juicy fruit middle … finishes with a long bitter and flavourful hoppiness.

A strong arm of malt and hops beats on the palate as the buttery diacetyl soothes, wild flavours with a straight lined chaotic balance of malt, hops and everything else in-between and easy drinking at that.

Nov 21, 2002
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beerluvr from Canada (ON)

3.83/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a solid looking light tan head over clear russet/amber liquid. The nose is quite malty/fruity and fresh. Taste is biscuity maltiness, nothing too heavy though, followed by a touch of sweetness and then some hoppy bitterness. Finishes up very tasty with a sweet note that closes things up.

Thanks to Stevie W. for the bottle!

Feb 16, 2003
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pbrian from Connecticut

4.7/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

At first, I couldn't put my finger on this one. I detected treacley notes with a warming finish so was leaning towards old ale. Now I read that it's made with wheat. Hmm. Anyway, who cares? This is a great winter brew that I will definately be getting more of.

Nov 13, 2001
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Brent from Kentucky

3.28/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle gave no indication of the style - my guess was a Scottish ale. Listed here as an ESB. Brewery website calls it a "non-traditional full-bodied American red ale." Coppery red, a bit on the lighter side. Muted aroma. Malt predominant in the flavor profile, a slight steelyness in the hops. Seemed not quite beefy enough in the malt, particularly for a winter seasonal.

Nov 08, 2004
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garymuchow from Minnesota

3.98/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sweet malt character for the aroma with a nice caramel quality. Hop aspects are rather low, but there in an English form.
Brightly clear. Dark amber of oranges and browns. Original one inch head that settles to a creamier denser cap, before showing a broken-up layer of tannish bubbles.
Dryness to the malt with a nicely balancing bitterness. Sweetness is muted with hop flavors stronger than in the aroma. Lots of flavors blended well. The classic Shipyard diacetyl flavors present in time (with warmth), but is not distracting, merely an addition of flavors.
Moderately light body. Softer carbonation but enough fullness to add to the enjoyment without being filling.
This is nicely flavored and well balanced beer that would be easily to use as a session beer or blended with food. Nice.
Thanks JB

Feb 09, 2007
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ZAP from Minnesota

3.3/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Copper colored...minimal lace...nose has some ringwood yeast characteristics...also some berries on the aroma..taste is an interesting combination of sweet berry fruitiness (strawberries) and berry like tartness (raspberries)..very light bodied for a winter ale...more of a quencher than a hearty winter brew..all in all, somewhat interesting but I wouldn't buy this again...

Jan 13, 2004
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Bighuge from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great looking clear copper. Nice little tight beige head. Retention is better than adequate and lace is spotty. Aroma is quite nice. Very sweet. Like a blend of molasses, brown sugar, spiced rum and raisin. The taste is nice as well. Sweet. Great toffee tones to this one. Just a little buttery, but it is held in check. Sweet like a coffee cake or rum cake. The sweet tones are the thing. A unique take on an ESB, but I like it. Mouthfeel is pleasing. Body is about medium. I like this one. It's a keeper.

Dec 02, 2003
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Bierman9 from New Hampshire

3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This Ship has a deep copper color and a thin, fine, lasting head. Lacing is decent. Found some buttery aspects to the nose, along with a bit of spiciness. The brew was fairly smooth, yet I found it more on the thin side of medium than expected from a Winter. Ringwood flavor is right there in yo' face, like in all Shipyard brews. Malty flavor was decent, but the buttery Ringwood aspect was a bit over the top, and is growing old real fast on me. I expected more, to be honest....

overall: 3.6
appearance: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | mouthfeel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5


Nov 09, 2002
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RonfromJersey from New Jersey

3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bright red body, perfect clarity, and fine carbonation, topped by a just-off-white three-finger shaving cream head, with decent lacing. This is a fine looking beer. Bit of biscuit in the nose, but actually very little there at all. Taste opens with a surge of caramel malt, balanced with a subtle hop brushing, and finishes with a bit of spice. Full by not syrupy. Goes down easy, especially at above fridge temperatures.

Not a winter beer that the thought will get you drooling on Labor Day, but not a bad "everyday" beer for the cold weather. Not worth a heavy search, but worth trying when handy.

Dec 14, 2003
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maxpower from Missouri

3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Deep glowing orange-amber color, decent off white foamy lasting head. Has a flowery citrusy aroma, caremel wheaty bitter flavors, light bodied with a watery mouthfeel, this one does have a dryish bitter finish, somewhat unbalanced, an average brew and thats about it.

Jan 10, 2003
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oberon from North Carolina

4.17/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber with not much head to speak of though,the aroma is malty sweet but with a definant hop background that comes thru pretty well.A really appetizing brew here,a nice malty taste with a nice zippy hop flvor in the middle with a real bready malt taste in the finish that lingers well.A real nice intergrated beer I will have to get a six pack of this winner.

Dec 21, 2003
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ADR from Pennsylvania

3.32/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark bronze color and clear, 1/4 inch head is fine-bubbled and has an attractive ESB orange color. Laces in looping drips. Nice aroma, vaguely brown sugar with a bit of pear to accompany it. Dry and gravelly mouthfeel and taste, malt is decent and somwhat cider-like but there's a bit of overbearing ashy hop tone that's beyond floral in character -- and coming on mid mouth to finish. Body is just shy of medium, aided by typical Shipyard diacetyl. Gets a little better on warming but I still don't connect well to the overall profile of many Shipyard brews.

Nov 16, 2003
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cokes from Wisconsin

4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Essentially copper. Gleaming rather orange. Pale khaki foam on top.
Fruit-laden nose of apricot, rapsberries, cherries and apples. Mixed with toasty malts and gobs of diacetyl.
Enters the mouth buttery, yet well-measured. Caramel-drenched Red Delicious apples provide counterpoint. Quite fruity, with berry traits a forceful secondary. Layered on buttered english muffin backing. Hopping is herbal (tea), metallic and persuasively bitter, without being forceful.
Medium firm in a hefty, glassy texture.
Well put-together, and well-quaffed.
Quite a solid version.

Feb 19, 2004
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StevieW from Florida

4.23/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle. Best buy August '03 label notches.
Shiny deep dark copper color. To call it brown would be an understatement. Bubbly beige head, was full of hop bubbles but faded quickly. Head did lace the glass nicely.
Notable smells of sweet toffee, butterscotch, which I believe to be the ringwood yeast everyone speaks about. Taste was smooth, snappy hot bite, and roasted toffee taste to finish. The hop profile reminded me of an old thumper kick. Very tasty, and perfectly bitter finish.
A bit thin, especially for a winter ale. I was surprised it was a wheat ale. I expected something a little heavier and with more spices. Still very good. Another winning Shipyard product for me.

Nov 17, 2002
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aracauna from Georgia

4.2/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Similiar dry grainy head as the Prelude, but this time over a deep reddish brown glowing body. The Aroma is a bit lemony and sharp with contrast with the soft butterscotch of the yeast and caramel of the malt. The Flavor is warm and earthy. They did a good job of blending the diacetyl of the yeast with the similar flavors of the malt. A hint of alcohol warmth lurks underneath. Very biscuit-like. Mouthfeel is a bit dry and fibrous, but not overly carbonated.

Jan 01, 2003
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IrishRedRock from Pennsylvania

3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orange body with some lacing, chill hazed. Sweet and malty in the nose, with notes of citrus. Not hugely complex in the flavor, but has a nice balance of caramel malt, a sweet cherry fruit flavor, and a solid hop bite in the finish. Mouthfeel is good, and hides the carbonation that appears to be overwhelming from looking at the massive bubbles quickly rising to the top of the glass. Not one to go in search of, but a solid choice as a winter session.

Apr 27, 2004
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BillyBrew from Maine

4.47/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another fantastic, suprise winter-beer sampled in sweltery July! Everything is right about this beer. This brew has an orangey-copper colour with a clumpy, creamy head that forms into a thick lace. Sweet caramel malts swirl about the nose. Wonderfully sweet caramels and subtle, drying hops load the palate with orangey citrus and nutty cloves. The mouth is velvety-smooth, hefty body that finishes surprisingly dry. This brew drank very, very smooth: tastey, hefty and slighty dry. I suggest drinking this winter special every month. Cheers!

Jul 08, 2002
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Dogbrick from Ohio

3.68/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber color with a thin off-white head. Minimal lacing. Aroma is mostly caramel with some malt and spices. The body is not rich like similar beers, but I like the balance. Malt character is balanced out by the hops and spices. The finish is smooth and malty as well. Pretty good.

Jun 16, 2004
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NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Note: This beer should be enjoyed at cellar temperature, or just below to bring out its fullest character. It's quite English in nature, and it should be enjoyed as such.

Shipyar's Winter Ale delivers a slightly hazy, copper body with a ruby cast and glowing orange highlights. Its creamy tan head holds well, and it leaves strings of spotty lace about the glass. Caramelish malt dominates the nose, accented by yeasty character (some iron, berry-like fruitiness, diacetyl) and a touch of leafy hops. It's smooth and creamy across the palate with a medium, dextrinous body and very fine-bubbled, slightly restrained carbonation. There's no surprise in the flavor as it's already been revealed by the nose. But it is richer than might be expected. The malt is full, but not overly sweet nor caramelish; and the yeasty fruitiness and diacetyl smooths and rounds it out into a very drinkable balance. That's not to say that it's solid bitterness and low-key hop flavors aren't doing their job, but they come into play across the middle and into the finish. It's dry in the finish with some lingering butter and fruit.

Feb 05, 2005
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edchicma from Massachusetts

3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Coppery appearance with quickly dissipating head. Smell was very lightly malty and taste was equally uncomplicated...bitter finish was there, body was ok, but not as rounded as I would have liked. The bitter afetretaste was fine, but there was little before it to get excited about. Easy enough to drink, but so is water and soda. Not my favorite, but I may review againas I am getting over a cold and my taste buds may not be 100%.

Dec 21, 2003
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UnionMade from New York

3.31/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer pours a brownish amber, topped with a thick froth of antique white head. The head thins to a fimly coating, leaving tons of sticky lace.
The aroma is pleasantly malt, with soft caramel and slight breadiness. Butterscotch diacetyl hangs over everything, perhaps a bit too much. Light fruity pear, with vague herbal hopping, mostly obscured by the butterscotch aroma.
The flavor starts with a sweetish caramel malt, with fairly strong diacetyl kicking in almost immediately. A butterscotch flavor continues through the entore sip, obscuring the beer's subtleties somewhat. Some toasted, biscuity malt edges through as the beer warms up, with vague juicyfruit gum-like esters adding some soft sweetness. Grassy herbal hops finish the beer, distinctly fuggles bittering, providing adequate balance and moderate bitterness. I think it would be a really great beer if the diacetyl wasn't turned up to full blast. Medium bodied, with lower carbonation and a fairly smooth drinking mouthfeel. A pleasant, warming ESB style that suits the chill weather.
I don't mind ringwood yeast or buttery flavor at all, but I think it's a bit overboard, at least in the pint that I had. The malt is very pleasant, but I think most of the subtleties are overpowered with the butterscotch.

Feb 06, 2004
Winter Ale from Shipyard Brewing Company
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 110 ratings