Belgian Winter Ale | Barrel House Brewing Company

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Belgian Winter AleBelgian Winter Ale
27 Ratings
Belgian Winter AleBelgian Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Barrel House Brewing Company
Ohio, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 03-01-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Ratings: 27 |  Reviews: 27
Reviews by jpiper:
Photo of jpiper
3/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

3.5. Pours an amber browm with essentially no head.

3.5. The smell is filled with sweet fruit: like cooked figs. Some roasted smells in the sweet malty aroma. Also a bit nutty.

3. The flavor is a bit more one-dimensional and a bit thinner than the aroma. Very much dominated by the cooked fruit sweet malts. Somehow, eating with the Carbonnades brought out the roasted flavors - some coffee notes. This disappeared into a distant memory once I finished with the dinner and focused on the beer. The flavors are actually pretty decent, but it's tough to get into such a one-dimensional beer.

2.5. The mouthfeel is pretty syruppy and thick. There is not very much carbonation in this beer.

2.5. With the mouthfeel and one-dimensional flavor, it will be tougher than I'd like to get through the full 22 oz.

Not an excellent beer, but not too bad if you can find someone to to share it with and the moment calls for something sweet.

$25/12-bottle case ($2.08/22oz) in the quantity my friend bought it at. Tough to hate it at this price. But tougher to love it... period.

 1,156 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of degerbah
3.42/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought bottle direct from the brewery. Pours a beautiful thick brown wih perfect head. smells faintly of malt with possibly some bitter fruity flavor.

Initial taste is subtle spiciness: good for the style. finishes with a weird sour fruity flavor. It tastes like sour cherries or possibly apricots, but its hard to tell. Very little alcohol taste considering over 8% abv. Oddly it kind of reminds me of th efruity flavor they have with their red legg ale.

for a $5 bomber in most stores this is pretty good, not amazing. It's hard to justify it when ommegang is available in the same places and is about the same price.

 623 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
3.67/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is from a 22 ounce bottle I picked up a couple weeks ago at Jungle Jim's. Served in a goblet, the beer pours a dark brown/reddish color with a small tan head which goes away pretty quickly. It smells like dark fruit, chocolate, and it also has a peppery spicy smell. It tastes fruity, like dark fruit, apples, and some sugar. It's sweet, but with some bitterness and alcohol taste in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium, with a decent amount of carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's not hard to drink at all even with the higher alcohol. Overall, not too bad of a beer. I'd buy it again.

 590 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
3.78/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured an opaque reddish brown with a nice one inch tan head, Lots of lace left to soak down the glass.

S - Smekk was lively, Fruity and spice aromas lifting out of the glass. Many players here were raisins and plums, with a slight hunt of alcohol. Very nice, tingly feeling left in the nose.

M & T - The taste was very nice and complex. Lots of fruity flavors, apple, pears, grapes with even a hint of raisin were noticeable right away. As it warmed some more subtle spiceness started to come through, nutmeg very noticeable. Very smooth, silky feel due to very nice carbonation. The flavor was a bit sour, and there was a hint of alcohol present.

D - Overall this was very nice, and a definate nighttime sipper. A big winter beer with a big bite, probably a cellar candidate as well. Very nice effor from Barrel House.

 834 characters

Photo of weeare138
3.65/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to zrrbrrt for sharing this bomber...
Appears a hazy, dark brown with a light tan head that slowly fades out. Scattered lace is left around the glass.
Smell is bready, yeasty, with cocoa, cola, and raisins standing out.
The taste is similar to the aromas with a hard liquor harshness jumping out of the glass with a raisin bread backbone.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, slightly cloying, with a raisiny stickiness clinging to the tongue.

 445 characters

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.5/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ruby brown in color. Almost purple like the bottle. Smell is a faint belgian yeast and candy sugar, but mostly malt. It wants to be a dubbel, but seems to be a bit lacking. Taste is decent, but nothing to write home about. Would like to revisit this on tap. It's easy to support a local brewery when you can get a bomber of 8.25% for $3.49 !

 354 characters

Photo of hopdog
3.8/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle shared courtesy of Josh.

Poured a darker and cloudy amber / brown color with an averaged sized tan head. Aromas of dark fruits, apples, caramel, yeast, and some spices. Tastes follow with some citrus thrown in. On the sweeter side.

Notes from 12/22/06

 266 characters

Photo of DanielClouser
2.93/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz.l bomber into Duvel tulip.

Appearance--Relatively unremarkable. Perhaps a little light, but I appreciate lighter dubbels, myself (I know BA says this is a Belgian Strong Dark, but the bottle says it's a dubbel).

Smell--Here is where this beer started to confuse me. I expect malt and spicy yeast aromas, but I get little of that. Just a little chocolate, some fruit, and something I can't identify.

Taste--Oh! It's infected! Now I know what that odd aroma was. I have some DFH Festina Peche in house right now and was shocked to find that this brew tastes almost exactly the same, at first sip. Lactic acid dominates the flavor profile almost entirely, with a little dark chocolate at the end and a slight, lingering malt aftertaste. It's difficult to review this beer because it is an average sour but a completely wretched dubbel. I'll say it's average, anyway.

Mouthfeel--Just what one would expect from a sour--light and crisp (but not at all what a dubbel should be). I gave it a 3.5.

Drinkability--Hard to say. Would I want another? No, but I'm drinking this bomber, anyway. Of course, there aren't a whole lot of folks out there who want to melt down their tastebuds with sour after sour. But, really, is it fair to get high marks on a drinkable sour that was supposed to be a dubbel?

 1,302 characters

Photo of kels
3.71/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at the Catskellar on UC's campus and again at The Comet last night. Glad to see our local brewery putting out a Belgian style.

Appearance: Pour is dark brown ruby red. Little-to-no head with zero retention and zero lacing. Light carbonation flows throughout.

Smell: The smell is deeply yeasty, malty and fruity. Definitely smell sticky figs and prunes. The alcohol is clear and present.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The taste is very well-balanced and pronounced with strong, sticky syrup, yeast and fruit - figs, plums, apricots. The aftertaste is very crisp and reminds me of hard pears. The carbonation is good, lending a freshness to all the heavy flavors. The alcohol again is quite present.

Drinkability: Pretty high. I was overall pretty impressed.

 765 characters

Photo of phiberoptik
4/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought direct from the brewery in 22oz bottles.

This is actually a 8.25% ABV brew.

I really enjoy this beer. Dark, malty, and gives you a warm feeling inside. The taste is very much a reminder of the Belgian style ales. Hints of spices but nothing overpowering. I just cant put a name to them. The smell doesnt have anything that jumps out at you but there is nothing negative about it, I just am not good with pinpointing specific characteristics.

I would be happy to trade this beer with anyone not in our area while it lasts.

 532 characters

Photo of ultimatebeersnob
4/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber for $4.49. I'd pay it again from time to time.

A moderate poor produces a nice fizzy cream colored half inch head that dissapates somewhat quickly. Brown to amber in color with some cloudiness.

The smell is yeasty and a bit like red wine--quite pleasant.

The taste is a bit sweet, and overall a nice change-up from some of the darker beers I usually prefer. The aftertaste is a bit like I've been drinking a red wine--though with a little less warmth. Definitely enjoyable!

Mouthfeel is slightly carbonated.

I would definitely drink one of these from time to time. It's great to wind down with and sip on! I figured with winter nearly over, I should try one more winter beer before it's too late!
Defiitely worth trying this one~UBS

 763 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
2.27/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Simply not a good session for me. Reading other reviews, it's plausible that I received a bad bottle. Nevertheless, the beer opens no head-retention, mild carbonation, and a simple ruby hue. Sweet (grape) aromas, swirled around raison malts, vineous (red wine) and berry tartness, and dark, dried fruits with spicy esters. Flavors begin very sweet (a mix of grape juice and candy sugars) malty (on the side of figs, dates, nuts, and syrup). Character builds through a distinct berry tartness that ends up very sharp and intense (kinda vinigar-like). The balance of sweetness and tartness never happens, leaving the beer terribly astringent in the feel. The beer alternates sweet and tart without melding, leads to confussion and awkwardness. Finishes very thin and souring. I could not finish the bottle.

 804 characters

Photo of bruachan
2.53/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

hmmm...not sure i'm a fan. it's not a bad looking brew: deep chestnut or mahogany and a decent head with staying power (little lacing, though). the aroma isn't totally offensive, though it does warn of the hazard to come. very spicy. coriander and something i don't recognize (but it's strong). the taste is where it all goes wrong for me. it's not overly sweet, though whatever it is that i can't finger exacerbates the sweetness. intense fruit and sour (brett?). too sweet, too fruity

 486 characters

Photo of bjohnson
3.65/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

thanks to skinnyelvis for the chance to try this offering.

Pour a murky dark brown almost plum like color with a caramel colored two finger head. Soft and fluffy retention. Sticky lacing. Aromas of figs dredged through a bowl of molasses and caramel. Meaty and earthy with a good spicyness. Slight sweet fruit.

Fig and raisin notes. Caramel and cocoa flavors. Burnt brown sugar. Sour tartness of dark grapes and cherries. Nice balance between the sour and the tart profiles as they shouldn't be confused as one and the same. Residual sweetness left on the lips. Crisp carbonation. Soft on the palate. Drinkable, but more of a sipping brew. Not bad, but not great.

 670 characters

Photo of dgfair
3.83/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber bottle served in a tulip glass

A - Dark, dark brown almost opaque with a nice thick head on top...dissipates to a nice little layer on top of the beer, even leaves some nice lacing on the glass. Great appearance, as this beer could be mistaken for a nice Belgian ale.

S - Strong yeastiness, balanced by a sweet, fruity scent (plums, banana, apple, candy sugar). A light pepper aroma is also present, but not overpowering. Overall, a nice complex complaints here.

T - Sweet, sugary taste upfront with a very strong malt backbone. A nice little bit of warming alcohol on the swallow. I would like to see a little more complexity here, but I'm not complaining. This is a great tasting American interpretation of a Belgian Dubbel.

M - Full, creamy body with a nice carbonation. Bubbles seem really small and a little tingly. Not bad.

D - Very nice drinkability for a beer coming in at 8.25%. I could certainly drink more than one, and would like to at this price point ($3.99 a bomber). This is a very nice beer from Barrelhouse, and I look forward to trying more and more of their offerings as they continue to expand their product line.

 1,174 characters

Photo of fightingwords
3.63/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Filled into a growler of mine. Served into two American 16oz pint glasses. Finished just within 5 or so hours of purchase and served just above tap temperature.

A--Dark brown opaque body with just a hint of copper showing through. A heavy off white head about 1.5 fingers hung around the whole time and laced the glass like crazy.

S--Super strong toasted malt was what I smelled from the growler, and it was pretty much all candy sugar once I poured a glass. Though I could make out some bitter earthy hop notes and a hint of what I thought smelled like grain alcohol.

T--I thought it was very sweet. Lots of dark candy sugar, but I definately could find some smokey flavors, and a nice bitter hop as it warmed. There wasnt much complexity to this drink at all just mostly a sugary malty beverage. I could taste the alcohol in the finish, it was somewhat distracting, but not over the top.

M--Medium to heavy bodied beer that finished with a warming alcohol feeling. Not much carbonation, even right off the tap. Finished very slowly, not very crisp.

D--It's heavy body and alcohol taste would keep this at a 2 pint max for me, but its simplicity are good for some, boring for others. I liked this beer and it didnt wear me out, but the alcohol is way too pronounces both in tase and quantity to make a session out of this brew.

Overall--the 2nd best offering I've had from this brewer on tap. Definately worth a shot. If you like a good sweet drink its worth a shot, if you are in the area during the right season.

 1,527 characters

Photo of DrJay
3.35/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This one came to me from nlmartin via BC2. Thanks Nate!
It poured a deep brown with a thin dark tan cap. Decent head retention, with the foam settling to a solid ring after a few minutes. Not much lacing. Malty aroma with some fruity raisin and bread, light alcohol and cocoa. Maybe a bit of nut and yeast. The flavour was out of balance towards fruit character - lots of juicy raisin, plum and fig. Malt was present, but very restrained - some bread and cocoa notes. Alcohol stayed mild throughout, giving it a bit of warmth. Once in a while it seemed almost like chocolate covered raisins, but then the fruit overwhelmed things. Fairly sweet too. Medium bodied with average carbonation, decent texture, but a little sticky. Drinkability is alright. It's out of balance, but not bad, and I did enjoy it.

 804 characters

Photo of bigdeuce
4.17/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was shocked when I picked this one up. This is really good. Decent head, disapates quickly. Little lacing down the glass. Smells of cola and sweet malty plums. Nice backdrop with little or no hops, as expected with the style. Dark pour almost black. Taste is rich and complex. Many fruity flavors, apple maybe? Some hints of cherry. Very reasonably priced and I am looking forward to more from this brewery.

 409 characters

Photo of Wetpaperbag
3.1/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Cloudy dark brown with very very little head. It almost looks as though there is a touch of red in the mix. Great looking beer, but being a BSDA I would have hoped for a bit more head. But the bottle says Belgian Style, so I wonder if it is just blue printed after a BSDA or truly is a BSDA.

S- Dark fruits, clove, and I want to say cola and dr. pepper mixed. It smells very unique. But I can pick out the fact that Belgian Yeast was used for sure.

T- This is tart, almost like cranberry juice was added into the mix. Dark fruits are there as well, but this tartness seems to just over power the taste. It is almost like this has brett in it, but the bottle says otherwise.

M- Feels good, but the tartness seems to take a bit away from the feel in the mouth.

D- Easy to drink, but the tartness seems to be keeping me from drinking this like I would any other beer. Mostly because I'm in BSDA mode and not tart beer drinking mode.

 938 characters

Photo of Vancer
3.48/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was an odd duck brew, fairly solid in all aspects, but it had an off-taste quirk to it. Nothing bad, just something I couldn’t put my finger on.

Nice dark oak pour, tan head and good sheeting action. Black pepper and winter spices in the aroma. The spices are balanced in the quaff, which adds Belgium sugar cane and yeast. A dollop of oranges comes thru, perhaps to the point of being a distraction. Still solid and enjoyable.

Many thanks to mcallister, whom sent it for my BA annv

 494 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.53/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This is well carbonated as a reasonably soft pour easily produces almost a four-finger thick, amber tinged, tan colored head in my 25cl tulip glass. The beer is an opaque, concentrated red-amber color as it sits on the table, but shows a clear, cranberry-red color when held up to the light. The aroma is sweet and fruity up front with a kick of toasty malt towards the finish. Aromatic notes evocative of caramelized fruit (prunes, raisins and even a touch of tart tamarind), toffee, a touch of rum-like character (light molasses perhaps) are found up front but seem to not have much staying power. When digging around for a bit some dry, malt driven character is noticeable with touches of toasted crackers, biscuit malt, and a crushed grain character are noticeable. The aroma is fairly appetizing, but somehow does note have a lot of presence after the initial surge of sweet grain / fermentation aromatics.

Lightly sweet and definitely a bit tart in the finish; it is not so tart that this is necessarily attributable to an infection, instead it is quite light and certainly pleasant. Fairly light bodied & along with the light body is a bit nicer than suggested by the somewhat sweet aromatic intimations. A toasty malt backbone gets a hint of roastiness to it at times, but mostly reminds me of lightly toasted whole grain bread, and whole grain crackers. Since the sweetness is soft here the fruit flavors are not quite as prominent as suggested in the aroma; this causes the tamarind notes to play a slightly bigger role, but the raisin notes are still pretty noticeable. A nice prickly carbonation couples quite well with the soft mouthfeel & residual body to make this a chewy, yet easy drinking beer; the mix is just about perfect for a Belgian-Dubbel inspired beer.

A pretty good beer, the flavor and aroma are nice, but the texture is just about perfect for a beer of this inclination. I do like the dimension that the light tartness adds to this brew, it adds a much needed complexity as I think this beer would be much to shallow without it.

 2,059 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
2.11/5  rDev -39%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

22 oz bomber. Last chance for this brewery. I visited their brewpub when it was open many moons ago and really enjoyed the food and beer, but I think they have some serious issues with infection in their new setup. Lets see where this one goes.

It pours a nice dark brown color with a finger of tan head. There are few bubbles in the brew and clarity seems to be good. Taking a sniff, I get some fig, some chocolate, some phenolic band-aide quality. Hmmm. The flavor is sour and phenolic with an almost syrupy cherry fruityness. This one is not tasting right. Mouthfeel is slick, moderate with a mild carbonation. I will have to say that this one solidifies how I will approach the brewery in the future. This one is lacking the strong malty and candied sugar presence that I want in the style. There appears to be some major issues with both phenolic flavors and some infection, which I have found in two other brews, meaning it is systematic error and not isolated. This one will not be finished.

 1,000 characters

Photo of Dansting
2.78/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle. Pours a clear purplish-brown color with a medium off-white head. Sweet caramel and malt aroma, similar to a brown ale. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth. Flavor is sour. Almost like a Flemish sour, which is odd. Hints of strawberry, caramel, and a malty finish. I'm not sure this bottle tasted how it should even though I bought it from the brewery. If it is suppose to taste like it did, then it's not a very good beer. But I'm guessing it was just a bad batch.

 465 characters

Photo of budsboy
3.53/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark and cloudy red with a thick, full tan head that shrinks back fairly quickly.

Smells of grapes with a hint of spice and alcohol.

Sweet, tangy grape flavor, almost cloying, and a spit of dark chocolate, spice and alcohol. The grape flavor is of the juice variety, very sweet.

Medium-bodied, bordering on thin.

A touch too sweet and too grape for my liking. The darker flavors of roasted malts and spicy alcohol save it for me. I like this brewery, but this is probably the most disappointing sampling I've had from Barrel House. That being said, you could find much, much worse.

 599 characters

Photo of tmoneyba
4.15/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

New draft at Dilly Deli in Cincy.

Poured a hazy brown with a small creamy light brown head that lasted with excellent lacing.

Good malty fruit aroma.

Medium body with a smooth texture.

Full flavor of allspice, cinnamon, clove and a good black cherry tone at the finish.

This is a good seasonal beer.

 304 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Belgian Winter Ale from Barrel House Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.46 out of 5 with 27 ratings