Winter Warmer | Garrison Brewing Company

very good
44 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Winter WarmerWinter Warmer

Brewed by:
Garrison Brewing Company
Nova Scotia, Canada

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.80%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This strong dark amber beer is brewed with spices evocative of the holiday season. Its warming character makes it a great accompaniment on cold winter nights.

20 IBU

Added by nighthawk on 11-09-2008

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 44 | Ratings: 63
Photo of biboergosum
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

650ml bottle - nice to see a brew show up around here from this East Coast operation that isn't a 'Star Trek' offering, of late.

This beer pours a clear, medium red-brick amber colour, with a teeming tower of puffy, rocky, and somewhat creamy beige head, which leaves some splattered chunky lace around the glass as it very lazily bleeds out of sight.

It smells of gingerbread straight off (bready caramel malt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove spice), brown sugar, pink bubblegum, faintly estery yeast, indistinct nutty notes, and some plain earthy, leafy, and floral green hop bitters. The taste is semi-sweet, grainy and bready caramel malt, a still heady cinnamon, clove, and black pepper spiciness, molasses, some wayward son yeastiness, ethereal bittersweet cocoa powder, equally hard to nail down cafe-au-lait, a strange (but welcome all the same) red wine grape fruitiness, and more timid leafy, weedy, and herbal hoppiness.

The carbonation is rather active in its probing and tingly frothiness, the body an adequate middleweight, and sort of smooth, as both the spice and the yeast take a chunk out of this one's disposable income, as it were. It finishes trending dry, the aforementioned spice really pushing the envelope.

Overall, this is a very welcoming and gentile version of the style, all spice this, and malt that, and under the radar alcohol, er, something, I guess. At any rate, Garrison's Winter Warmer is just that - wintry (by way of seasonal affectations), and just right in the warming department, I should say.

 1,537 characters

Photo of EricVonStein
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Amber copper tan head nice bubbly film.

Malty and baking spice. Slight earthy bitterness. Mild sweetness. Burnt sugar.

Tastes like ginger bread. Creamy and nice body.

 169 characters

Photo of PorterPro125
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Serving Type: 500 mL Bottle

A- Dark Amber/ Brown with a foamy 2 1/2 finger head

S- Spicy raisins, cinnamon, cloves, and sweet sugar

T- Rum, raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Lots of sweetness although balanced with a slight hop bitterness.

M- Medium body and medium-high carbonation

O- A solid winter warmer from a great Maritime brewery. A little bit more carbonation than the average winter warmer but still excellent.

 433 characters

Photo of Ivanhoes_Backpack
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Side by side with a bottle of Picaroons Winter Warmer. Each poured into 4oz tasting glasses. Bottled 7 weeks ago.

L – dark amber, a bit cloudy. Light tan head, but nice lacing.

S – spicy nose. Some sweetness in there, but lots of cloves over the sugar. Some cinnamon maybe.

T – really spicy, lots of cloves, some decent malt sweetness in there, but there are times when this approaches a fall beer, almost tasting of some pumpkin interpretations. Some dryness up front, perhaps from hops, that I’m not crazy for.

M – bit too carbonated, feels like it’s bouncing around in my mouth more than I would expect.

O – Of the two beers I would take the Picaroons. This one is a bit too spicy and not quite as sweet as I’d like. That really affects the drinkability of the beer and I think it would be hard to drink several of the spicy Garrison beers in one sitting. More malt and less spices would be my prescription.

 931 characters

Photo of Kremlock
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Mahogany in colour and pours a frothy with head that drops to nothing in a matter of seconds.

S: Booze, raisins, cinnamon, fruit cake, and a hint of bubble gum in the background.

T: rum raisins, hints of licorice, cinnamon, cloves, caramelized sugar. It has a rye bread flarour to it and hops bitterness.

M: Med-Full bodies, med carbonation that is great as it cleans up the palate. Bitterness is assertive but does not distract from the maltiness that is present.

O: This is a great winter warmer that is well balanced, yet presents a great bitterness backbone that lacks in many others.

 595 characters

Photo of joemcgrath27
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

nothing like a winter warmer on a summer day, big ups to andrenaline for the east coast hookup
A - swampy brown, thumb of tan head dissipated slowly leaving a fairly consistent lace ring
S - super spiced, dried fruit, smell like christmas cake to a tee
T - marachino cherries and other dark fruit, apples, fresh bread/cake, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other holiday spice, just like the nose its a christmas cake
M - surprisingly light and even a little on the thin side, finishes spicy
O - captures the essence of the kind of drink you want to warm your soul on a cold evening, and it works almost as well in summer, a fine seasonal

 627 characters

Photo of mintjellie
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mahogany brown, ruby highlights, two-finger beige head. Fair retention, very little lacing. Inviting spicecake aroma with notes of allspice, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and even a hint of banana. Malt-forward with sticky toffee pudding and spice notes. Mild sweetness and low carbonation help lend some richness to its medium body. Spiced enough for the flavourings to assert themselves without over-doing it, this is a tasty winter ale.

 434 characters

Photo of biegaman
3.74/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The brewer said this beer would have me dreaming of winter nights and, indeed, its dark and kind of dreary tone has me thinking just that. The pumpkin highlighting that shows up in the light, however, kindles a much warmer complexion and *almost* let's pass some clarity. Looks good. Only fault is the total lack of carbonation.

Winter Warmer smells like it belongs with the turkey or pumpkin pie in a Christmas or Thanksgiving spread. The cinnamon and clove are highly fragrant and carry a highly seasonal character, a comforting blend of savory spice that makes a remarkably relaxing aromatherapy. The bouquet also has a delicate sweetness to it.

With flavors of - not only cinnamon and brown sugar - but honey, caramel, nougat, hazelnut, ginger and toffee, it's a wonder that Winter Warmer doesn't teach a baking class. Seriously, the beer may not exactly be low in calories, but relative to the things it tastes like, sweet-toothed weight-watchers out there have made a new friend.

Flavors of clove and cinnamon are readily appreciable in the taste but their heat is much watered down. As its dark colour attests this is a well malted beer, sufficiently so to really tone down the gusto on the spice. The same can be said for its sweetness; the brown sugar is tasted but there's no kind of candied sensation whatsoever.

Winter Warmer is a beer worth cozying up to. It's got just the sweet, savory warmth needed on those miserable, grey, chilly, rainy winter days. Atlantic Canadians, especially, should keep a few bottles next to the bottled water and canned beans in basic emergency kits. This is a beer that could help you weather some stiff storms.

 1,662 characters

Photo of andrenaline
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes... Cheers to peensteen for shipping up some of the Garrison beers that were part of the LCBO brewery feature.

A - Pours a golden copper colour with a dark red hue, finger of head with solid retention and some sporadic lacing.

S - Sweet cinnamon, cloves, hints of pepper and toffee malt on the finish.

T - Solid bready caramel backbone, the cinnamon and cloves are present, but not overwhelming, hints of licorice and coffee linger alongside the sweet toffee finish.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and finishes wet.

O - A tasty winter ale that boasts loads of flavour, but whose spice is nicely balanced. Definitely a worthy brew and glad I was able to procure a sample.

 680 characters

Photo of BGDrock
3.26/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: like mahogany, or male syrup; clear; tan head leaves some thick lace

Aroma: some cinnamon, sweet malt; very light; hint of orange

Taste & Mouthfeel: of spice, predominantly cloves, and cinnamon not coming out as much; only a mild sweetness which is cut by the spices and a bitter, dry finish; herbal and woodsy - bitterness is of resin and long lasting; medium body

Overall: with minimal sweetness and moderate spice, doesn't really feel like it would warm me up in winter...not terribly interesting, but not unpleasant

 534 characters

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep cherry red. The head is exceedingly shortlived - but the leftover ring musters up a good amount of lace on the glass. Cloves and cinnamon as well as ginger, anise and molasses fill the nose. The taste follows suit with lots of spices mingled with rum and fruit cake notes. A cookie dough maltiness is also present throughout. Hops are largely overshadowed by the onslaught of spices, providing just a light bitterness. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy with fine carbonation bubbles. Spices and doughy malts make up the finish.

This is a decent example of a Winter Warmer, though (as is often the case imo) they over did it with the adjunct spices. They tend to dominate too much. Still, a very worthy beer from an excellent brewery.

 745 characters

Photo of SebD
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: It has a nice dark brown/amber color to it with some ruby hues coming through. It has a nice tan head that dies down moderately and leaves minimal lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitly give out hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, brown sugar and a roasty malt character.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has that spice aspect to it, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, brown sugar and a nice dark fruit character at the end.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good sweet flavors and aromas.

 597 characters

Photo of Kartoffeln
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a deep, clear ruby with a sizeable, pillowy head of dense and creamy tan foam. Excellent retention, gradually sinking to a thin cap and leaving good lacing.

S: A sweet mix of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, bubblegum, black cherries, and candied figs nearly overwhelms the bready yeast and biscuity caramel malt base.

T: Cinnamon, cloves, and turbinado sugar with a strong undertone of fresh stonefruits on the sip, immediately mingling with bready yeast and biscuit malt with a slightly roasty character. Herbal and citric hops, with an orange zest note, come through and dominate towards the swallow. It's not a bad palate, but the malt and yeast get steamrolled and it increasingly feels two-toned between the spices and hops.

M: Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation and a creamy texture. The hops counterbalance the sweet and spicy flavour profile quite effectively, despite the issues above.

D: Not a bad winter warmer, but it goes too heavy on the sugar and spice for my liking, covering up what nuances may be in the malt. I doubt I'll go looking for it again, but it's worth trying.

 1,100 characters

Photo of liamt07
3.41/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle from the LCBO, bottled December 2, 2011. 500ml into a tulip.

Deep violet with some mahogany around the edges, beige head with modest density and good lacing. Nose is nicely spiced, cinnamon and cloves among other winter spicing. Brown sugar and some dark fruits; soft and inviting but I get a slight sense that something is off with how these sugary notes are being presented. Taste has quite a bit more of the spice and sugars, but there's some disconnect between the spicing and the way the malts work on the palate. Maybe a hint of metal or plastic, a little 'dirty' in flavour but I'm struggling to put my finger on what's off here. Medium full feel and appropriate carbonation. Drinkable, but again, I'm deterred by the lack of fluidity of the flavours and their integration. Maybe something's off tonight, but I certainly wasn't into this.

 854 characters

Photo of DaPan
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the LCBO brewery feature. Tasting on February 19, 2012.

Poured into victory brewing snifter. 1 finger of off-white head, hung around for a little while before dispersing. Oily residue visible in the head.

Aroma is of wood cask, slight booziness, bubble gum.

Taste has a gentle warming bite of alcohol, cloves, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, almost oily.

Very nice warmer, easy to drink and great balance without overwhealming spiciness.

 482 characters

Photo of bryehn
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

With spring fast approaching, I figured it was time to start clearing my winter beer backlog. Served at about 50 in an oversized wine glass.

Pours a deep ruby colour with a medium-sized tan head that burns off after a few minutes, leaving a frothy collar and minimal lacing.

Spices dominate the aroma of this winter warmer, namely cloves. There is a dark toffee backing sweetened by brown sugar, along with a plum or raisin-like note.

The taste is rather sweet and also dominated by the spice blend. The cloves and cinnamon do work well together, but tend to overshadow the rest of the taste. Chocolate and toffee, as well as a bright berry flavour can all be detected in the background. The finish is dry and peppery.

Thin-bodied with just enough carbonation to provide a pop on the front of the tongue. Syrupy on the tongue. The aftertaste has a nice dryness and bitterness to it, which helps balance out the sweetness a bit. A chocolate toffee taste lingers on the back of the tongue and throat.

Not a bad beer or example of the style per se, but I wish the spices were toned down a bit to let the nice flavours shine. Bit of a letdown for me, I won't seek this out again.

 1,180 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle to Duvel tulip. Bottled on date of 12/02/11.

A - Dark mahogany with some ruby glow around the edges and one finger of bubbly cream coloured head.

S - Big clove aroma up front that overpowers the lighter cinnamon and caramel aromas in the background.

T - Clove dominates the palate as the nose indicated and gives way to cinnamon, sweet caramel and brown sugar. The alcohol is slightly warming but well hidden overall. The sweetness from the malt base and the brown sugar cuts through the big spice flavour well, providing a good balance.

M - Medium body and slightly creamy. Carbonation is moderate.

 614 characters

Photo of spinrsx
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml Bottle - from the LCBO

Appearance - Clear reddish/brown colour with an average size fizzy dark beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly good lacing. The head lasted for only 2-3 minutes.

Smell - Malts, caramel, cherries, chocolate, raisins

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel and some herbal notes. There is also a cherry/strawberry sweetness mixed chocolate and clove. It ends with a malty/fruity lightly spiced aftertaste.

Overall - An above average beer but not something that will leave you hankering for more. For the price I had some higher expectations, I would pick up something else next time.

 715 characters

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Single bottle from the LCBO - the Garrison release was perfectly timed for my birthday weekend. See kids, this is what proper sacrifices to the beer goddess Ninkasi will get you!

Poured into a nonic. Murky chestnut-ruby, with a generous blanket of off-white foam that leaves lovely icicles on the sides of the glass. Considering its about five degrees above freezing and with no snow in sight, this is about as wintery as I'm gonna get. Warmed up slightly out of the fridge before serving.

Nose is slightly boozy, with good caramel malt, a bit of cinnamon, clove, orange peel and dark indeterminate fruit.

A fine winter warmer, one of the better Canadian versions I've come across. Nice malt body, good spicyness, and with a mild boozy kick that is not overpowering. Cinnamon, clove, grape, orange, mild drying finish. Complex, yet highly approachable. Slightly thicker body, lower carbonation, a bit of chew.

Fine winter warmer - this, along with the Baltic Porter - will certainly make this an enjoyable Smarch for drinking. Pick up one or two while you can!

 1,065 characters

Photo of Stocean1
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a one finger beige head upon a deep ruby body, good retention and semi opaque, patchy lacing.

Cinnamon and cloves, sweet brown sugar, nutty malt, earthy hops.

Cinnamon and cloves dominate up front, ginger also comes through, earthy hops, malt takes a back seat to the spices.

Refreshingly bitter up front with a lingering tingle at the back of the tongue, dry, medium bodied with plenty of carbonation.

One of my favorite winter warmers, definitely will pick it up again although it is not cheap by any means.

 520 characters

Photo of korguy123
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Clear dark ruby red pour, finger width off white head that drops to thin cap. Lacing is spotty.

S- Cinnamon, cloves, ginger and figs. Very warming with a touch of alcohol.

T- Ginger, brown sugar, cinnamon and stone fruits.

M- Medium bodied, creamy and just wonderful.

O- This is an excellent winter warmer, glad to see a well known Canadian brewery make such a great style.

 382 characters

Photo of MattyV
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear tawny amber in colour, about a finger of beige head. Sweet caramel malts dominate the nose along with cinnamon and nutmeg. Lots of toffee/caramel in the taste, but not overly sweet, in fact a herbal hop character is detectable every now and again. Spices are apparent in the taste but not overbearing. Medium bodied, medium to low carbonation, suits the style. A decent winter warmer, tastes rather similar to my homebrew take on the style from this past holiday season, except this seemed to ferment out a bit cleaner. Have still yet to be disappointed by this brewery.

 576 characters

Photo of peensteen
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ruby red/copper colour, one finger of off white head with some spots of lace. Smell is sweet malt and spices, cinnamon and clove, vanilla and what seemed to be bready cinnamon bun type scents, caramel like notes as well. Taste is quite spicy, clove cinnamon, dark fruits, raisin and to a lesser extent cherry, malt comes secondary, bittersweet notes with a spicy finish. Medium carbonation, medium-full body, decent weight with syrupy points. Not bad, was much better as this warmed compared to right out of the fridge, fairly good stuff but didn't blow me away.

 562 characters

Photo of jbonapar
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Like all Garrison Beer, this one pleases.

Pours a mahogany brown with a super thick tan head. Smell is spicey and fruity with some malt.

Taste is superb. not overspiced like so many winter beers. This is just warming. The hops, the bitterness, the malt....some peppery spice. all very warming.

A winner for sure.

 317 characters

Photo of kjyost
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from BBrianBoogie. 2010 edition, kept cold for 1 year, poured ~7C into a Duvel tulip

Lots of sediment comes into the glass which is a hazy deep reddish brown beer. Orange tan head that drops and disappears. Lots of dried fruit with hints of cloves and other mulling spices beneath the surface. Nice and subtle, playing well with the really nice malty body. Sweet. Daughter knocked over most of my glass... Ken is sad :-(

 428 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Winter Warmer from Garrison Brewing Company
3.83 out of 5 based on 63 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.