2° Below Winter Ale
New Belgium Brewing Company

2° Below Winter Ale2° Below Winter Ale
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Style:
English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
ABV:
6.6%
Score:
83
Avg:
3.65 | pDev: 12.33%
Reviews:
574
Ratings:
1,227
From:
New Belgium Brewing Company
 
Colorado, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  29
Gots
  124
SCORE
83
Good
2° Below Winter Ale2° Below Winter Ale
Notes:
Reviews: 574 | Ratings: 1,227 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Pantalones:
Photo of Pantalones
4.18/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Drank my first two from the Folly pack before I started doing reviews, and have had the weirdest craving for this beer the past couple days (ever since my taste buds and nose started really recovering from this cold I've had lately, oddly enough) so I figured... hey, why not have another? Seems like an appropriate time for it--though it's not quite "2 below" outside, it is definitely the coldest it's been in my area since last January (hit the mid-teens earlier today)... good night for a winter-themed beer I suppose.

Looks, like every other beer I've had from New Belgium, very nice. Sort of a dark coppery sort of color, hovering between dark orange and light orangey brown, with a nice fluffy-looking not-quite-white head of foam on top and constant upward streams of tiny little bubbles from a few spots around the glass. Starts to shrink away after a bit, leaving a trail on the side of the glass as it ends up as just a thin covering on top.

The smell is pretty interesting. Shortly after opening the bottle, a sniff came up mostly fruity; after pouring, there's fruitiness and nuttiness and some other things going on--leaning toward fruity when the foam's still on top, with the nutty part coming out stronger as it fades away. I almost want to say that it starts to remind me a bit of tea as it warms up a little. Gets a bit less pleasant later on, unfortunately, so I had to drop my score a bit.

Taste is kinda like the smell in a way, but different. The nuttiness (which reminds me of Fat Tire actually--probably not too surprising considering that they're made by the same people and all) is definitely present, but there seems to be a lot of other stuff going on too, enough that I'm almost having difficulty putting into words everything I'm noticing (I assume there are some flavors in here I'm not familiar with, so I can taste them and think "hey, that's something different" but I don't know quite how to describe them in words, though I'll try as best I can.) On some sips I picked up an almost citrus fruit-like flavor, but just a hint of it, and that particular flavor seemed to vanish after a short while; sometimes I get a little bit of a pine-like flavor which I know has got to be from one of the hops involved--it's not exactly like the pine-type flavor I noticed in Ranger and Rampant (even aside from not being as strong), and it's not always there like the nuttiness, but something in there reminded me a bit of pine. There's also a sort of... I guess "dried leaf-y" sort of thing going on sometimes which is pretty interesting when combined with the nutty flavor; seems to come out more as I'm getting into the later half of the glass, replacing (or maybe blending together with?) the bits of pine I noticed earlier. The fruitiness from the initial smell (and sometimes the nuttiness as well) returns in burp form after drinking my way through half the glass.

Feels pretty nice also. Goes down pretty easy but at the same time feels more substantial than a lot of drinks--definitely not watery, but doesn't feel excessively fizzy either. There's a definite bitterness going on (is it weird that I count bitterness as more of a sensation in the mouth than a taste? maybe so, but it seems like the "bitter" flavors and the feel of "bitterness" itself aren't quite the same thing), but the bitterness is never overwhelming or unpleasant at all even by the end of the glass. I almost get the feeling that I could drink another one right now, and I don't usually have two beers in one sitting. Balanced, I guess you could say.

And speaking of feelings, I am definitely starting to notice the effects of the alcohol as I get near the bottom of the glass, even though I had a ham-and-cheese sandwich just an hour or so before. Yep, this definitely has more alcohol than the average beer--but just like the other things going on it's balanced, not some crazy amount of alcohol that would get me insta-drunk after one bottle, just enough to make its presence known. I suspect I would be pleasantly "warm and fuzzy" if I went ahead and drank my last remaining bottle after this one's gone. I already feel warmer now (with my heater off) than I did earlier (with the heater on, and a full glass of beer in front of me rather than a near-empty one.) Tonight was definitely a good night for this beer.

Interestingly, it seems like every time I have this beer I notice more going on than I did the previous time--the first time I enjoyed it but I had difficulty distinguishing different flavors; the second time I could tell there was both a nutty taste and a vague "something else... must be hops" going on; and now, on my third bottle, I'm noticing all kinds of smaller details I never really did before. It's so odd how this one didn't really stand out to me much on my first bottle, but by the third bottle it might just be my second-favorite beer from the variety pack. I'm hoping that trend continues, as I still have one more left in the fridge!

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More User Reviews:
Photo of JohnGalt1
3.43/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12oz purchased at Whole Foods for about $1.40... enjoyed from my FW tulip. Listening to John Kelley High Desert Soundsystem.

CRYSTAL clear orange lite amber.... very nice color... decent head but goes away quickly.

Very distinctive nose, I swear I could pick it out of a lineup. Toasted grains are all over the place ... still hops are there, but are definately not of the American varieties... noble hops all the way here ... they just don't work well together.

Flavor is aromatic and toasted malt (Victory??) ... clean very vibrant noble hop balance. The malt flavor is like chewing on a small teaspoon of brewers biscuit malt... the hops really muddy it up. Edit: The taste is also very earthy, like a cigar humidor, sorta reminds me of a fresh hop brew... I just can't put my finger/palate on it.

Wow.... this is a back and forth review... I have, would and will buy this beer again here and there just because it is soooo freaking different ... and damnit, I want to figure it out.

3.5/3.5/3.5/3.25/3.25

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Photo of scootny
3.67/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A 12 oz bottle. A light terracotta liquid with a Creme fresh head. Light toasted biscuits and mild Belgo-funk fruitiness. Toffee tinged sweetness, herbaceous hops. Taste follows like a winters Fat Tire. Well balanced malt body with a dry graininess. Light caramel sweetness. Herbal earthiness with a light hop bitterness clinging to my palate. Feel is nicely weighted for winter with a light creaminess'. Smooth and drinkable it is a satisfying and delicious brew.

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Photo of brandoman63
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%

Photo of gpogo
3.38/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Brilliantly clear copper body loaded with bubbles and a fluffy cloudlike off-white head. Very sticky with a nice lacing..

A- Very earthy hop aroma. Malt aroma was a bit lighter than I expected, with slight biscuity aroma.

T- Very smooth initial bitterness with a light malt backing, kindof similar to the light malt in west coast ipa's. Lots of caramel malt in the body, quite sweet.

M- Medium to light body. Very smooth, I loved that about this beer. The smoothness is almost like a nitrogen charged beer. Moderately high carbonation.

D- I'm a fan of this beer, definitely a decent ESB. Perhaps a bit light in body though.

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Photo of JMad
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured this one from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass...

It pours a pretty bright, orange amber color with a thick bubbly white head.

In the nose I detected some pine, sugar cookie, a hint of alcohol and pepper.

The taste was a bit spicy, sweet roasted malt, some type of cake maybe, with a very slight bitterness.

This beer is smooth, light and bubbly.

Overall this beer looks great, smells good, and drinks very easy.

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Photo of Buddha
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of dshansen1184
3.25/5  rDev -11%

Photo of buffettfan
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from eh bottle into a glass. Amber in color, not a lot of head, but what was there stuck around for a little bit.
Smell was malt, and a little yeast. Tastes is malty and hoppy, a little fruit. A nice beer and a good seasonal choice. I like to have some of this in my fridge for the holiday season.

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Photo of dwaz
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of ssjkyle
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of jgarvis
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of jpuetz
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of JayQue
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A good, solid balanced ale!! Pours a clear light amber color with a medium sized nicely carbonated head. Good retention and light rings of lacing on the glass.

Smell is robust, mostly malty. Tastes good. Very well balanced, primarily slightly sweet malt but with a mild hops bitterness at the end.

Mouthfeel is crisp and rich. Overall a well made beer...a lawnmower beer for the wintertime!!!

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Photo of whoneeds8
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out burnt orange into a pint glass with little head. Very good lacing. Smell is hoppy, pretty strong infact. However, the taste wasn't as strong as the smell. Infact, this is very lack luster for a ESB. It's not bad as a "winter warmer", but it's definatly lacking the bitterness that the scent hints to.

Over all, this is a decent brew. Probably a one and done for me, however.

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Photo of Arithmeticus
3.34/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured chilled in ribbed shaker pint

A: clear, dark copper color; very strong head and very robust carbonation; good lacing
S: dank hop aroma, rather light
T: caramel and hops; malt toasted nicely; well spiced, but not as much as other winter ales; bread/biscuit; strong estery taste on the back end detracts from an otherwise promising beer; dry--not very sweet

A decent try

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Photo of Tash2360
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of qcghost
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of marksto
2.85/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours amber colored and crystal clear - no doubt due to the cold conditioning described on the label. Aroma displays some restrained fruity esters along with a distinct hop aroma and a slight breadiness. Flavor continues with a slight fruitness along with malt and a hop bitterness that overlies through the finish. The bitterness is again distinct and different from any I am familiar with. I'm guessing this is from the sterling hops. I'm not particuarly fond of this character, it exhibits a harshness bordering on metallic that I don't find appealing.

Overall, not the best among New Belgium's many excellent labels. Skip this one and go for one of the others.

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Photo of SIRIUS2
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass from 12 oz. bottle. Pours clear amber in color with very abundant head of dense white foam. Retains foam well and leaves behind plenty of lacing down the glass. Very attractive looking brew.

Plenty of hops on the nose, a bit of grass with citrus, but not overpowering. There is malt here too, something light to moderate.

First pull has nice weight and comes forth with hops the most noticeable, but necessarily bitter. After just a second on the tongue, the malts come forward and there is a nice balance there. The tastes are a bit dry overall, and there is a quick clean finish with a slight bitter linger. Like many of the New Belgian brews, this seems a bit heavier after a few swigs than first thought.

Very nice brew! If you are fan of hops but don't like to 'chew' them through your beer experience, give this a shot. Very enjoyable and recommended.

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Photo of Nerudamann
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look - clear amber color. Good 2 or 3 fingers of foam, which dissipates slowly. The froth is between off-white and egg white. Very slow/low carbonation.

Smell - Very hoppy smelling. Beyond that I can't discern much.

Taste - just as the definition proclaims..not nearly as bitter as one would expect. The balance is pretty well-done. One can actually feel the malts in the aftertaste. Texture is actually a little on the creamier side.

Drinkability - quite decent brew. Not terribly complex, but a good taste in general.

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Photo of Brian15
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of dcscientist
3.25/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This isn't my favorite winter warmer, simply because it's kind of light but still somehow too bitter for my taste. If you like that, then give it a shot, but I prefer other winter seasonals more.

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Photo of cleonile2000
3/5  rDev -17.8%

Photo of jadpsu
4.3/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright and crystal clear copper with a nice off brown head, with slightly better than average retention, along with decent side lace.
S: pine and floral hops most prominant, along with some roasted malts showing up.
Taste: Toasty, bready malts, a little sweet up front, then finishes with some piny hops along with a hint of caramel.
Well balanced, enjoyed this one, very drinkable.

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2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing Company
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 1227 ratings