2° Below Winter Ale | New Belgium Brewing

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2° Below Winter Ale2° Below Winter Ale

Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing
Colorado, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.60%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-23-2005

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Reviews: 573 | Ratings: 1,221
Photo of pgroove
5/5  rDev +36.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I gotta be honest; this beer is phenomenal. All joking aside, I haven't been this excited about a beer in a long while. I'm shocked actually that there are so many sour opinions out there. Maybe some bacteria got into the other batches or maybe everyone's just feeling pissy from the economy. I have no idea.

This is an EXTREMELY well balanced beer, with the perfect amount of bitterness to complement the strong malt content. The taste is truly unique and refreshing, but not overly bitter like most American winter brews (otherwise known as IPAs).

Someone below commented that this beer "doesn't know what it wants to be" because it doesn't fit neatly into one particular style. I hope that was a joke. Thank G-d some breweries out there are still pushing the envelope and breaking the rules.

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Photo of Xadoor
5/5  rDev +36.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is definitely one of the best tasting winter seasonals that I've tried so far this season. Aroma is lightly sweet and a little floral and fruity. Roasted caramel malt flavours to start but the bitterness from the hops slowly takes over. Finishes slightly dry. Higher alcohol is certainly noticeable in the affects, but not too detectable in the taste. Very well balanced. Certainly a beer that I could drink all night (and did). Definitely a must try if you haven't already.

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Photo of burnerfinger
4.7/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

good ole two degrees below:
God Bless new Belgium:

"poured from the 12 oz bottle into my New Belgium goblet"

A: bright amber - super clear - ish brew, white ish head that's not all that generous. Nice lacing.

S: nice malty background, hints of spicyness

T: love love love this flavor. stong malt but not too stong

M: perfect belnd of malt and abv

D: by the dozen. but dont guzzle so quick that you miss the superlative taste.

thanks a million to new Belgium for the buzz!!!
BTW: PROPS to my BROTHER Pat in California for letting me know this is a GREAT beer that packs a whollop. BRO-HEM!!!

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Photo of Takahiro
4.62/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: bright & amber with thick white foam

S: clean hop aroma, some fruity yeast

T: light caramel malt with clean and earthy hop flavor come together at first. Then fruitiness from yeast, which tastes little bit of not-so-sweet cantaloupe taste, follows. After that, a little bit of lingering bitterness from hops.

M: it is very smooth and light on palate

D: highly drinkable.

NOTE: This beer is very mellow and subtle, but carries lots of good character. It is NOT the sensory overloader like many craft beers out there. It has nice flavors and smell that interplay well together.

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Photo of HabaJohn
4.62/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This was had on a trip to Colorado, very near Fort Collins. Exceptional hop malt combination with caramel and coffee. Balanced wonderfully with the alcohol . This dubbel has eluded me in my area. I've found other brews from New Belgium brewery.Buy some today..

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Photo of yemenmocha
4.6/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours luxurious amber with immense white head that retains exceptionally well. Head retention and aromatics go hand in hand, and this beer doesn't dissapoint.

Nose is a beautiful clean metallic with dark cherries, and a slight citrus bubble gum wrapper component. (reminds me of juicy fruit gum).

Palate offers a nice balance with malt and hops, again the cherry citrus flavors come through, nicely rounded, and it ends on a slightly sweet finish. Exceptionally drinkable, and quite refreshing. Very approachable too for those not fully invested in craft ales.

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Photo of Riccymon
4.55/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured a nice dark copper from the bottle with an impressive two fingers of tan head rising just above the lip of the pint glass. The brewery describes the hoppiness as bright, and I think that's a great description for what I get in the nose among a great deal of biscuity, nutty, New Belgium aroma. The taste is also malty and wheaty up front, with leafy hops and a bit of lemon and pepper in the finish. 2 Below has a pleasant, silky smooth texture, but does leave my mouth a bit dry after each sip. The balance, delicious flavors, and low ABV all combine to make this very, very drinkable, no matter the weather.

My favorite offering from New Belgium, and something to which I'll return each winter to come.

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Photo of FrozenJoe
4.54/5  rDev +24%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

When I first started drinking this beer I thought it was just a hopped up version of Fat Tire. After drinking this beer some more I see that it is far more than that. This is a unique, high quality beer. Here follows my review:

Apperance: In one word, interesting. It is a strange color. I cannot really say I have seen another beer quite this color. It is like water that has made some pennies sitting in it for a few days, capped by froth that you see in the ocean where lots of waves have been breaking. The only reason I give it a 4 instead of a 5 is that the color is just a little weird.

Smell: Here is a much stronger batch of that "biscuit" aroma that Fat Tire is so well known for, but complex. An off sourdough aroma is present in it, like something that you would smell in a bakery just starting to bake sourdough dough in an oven. There is a slight effervescence that comes from the carbonation rising off of the surface of the beer.

Taste: Baked sourdough bread, with fruity hops. The hops turn the flavor in a way very similar to the flavor that rye imparts to bread. With the rye hop flavor mixed in this tastes like a fresh-baked rye sourdough bread. Nice.

Mouthfeel: This is basically a 4 class mouthfeel that gets dropped a notch because the strong hop flavor just doesn't sit too well with the rest of the flavor of the beer.

Drinkabaility: I gave it a 4 for a great beer that just has a few too many flaws to be a 5.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.53/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - This is a real beauty shop. The head is thick, retentive, and clinging to the inside of the glass. The body is a heavy orange with a nice brownish tinge.

Smell - The malts here are very deep and rich. The yeasty base that underlies all good ESBs borders on perfection. This is more of an English-style nose but much more powerful.

Taste - This has a bit more caramel flavor than I predicted from the nose. It is rich and thick like the malt and yeast. There's little sweetness here, but what there is seems mostly like cane sugar. All of these characteristics work extremely well together in making an awesome flavor profile.

Mouthfeel - This is a big medium-bodied with some good bitterness that doesn't overextend itself. The mild carbonation fits perfectly with the flavors and body and the smooth buttery finish is awesome.

Drinkability - This was like velvet liquid. It was stiff enough to earn the ESB moniker yet easy enough to go down freely. It's probably one of the best-drinking ESBs that I've ever had.

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Photo of geokills
4.53/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This medium-bodied ale whiffs of a warm celler, pouring a crimson honey with a slightly off-white head settling into a velvet cloud atop this most beautiful and delicious brew. Lots of nice lacing, and the head sticks around for the whole party!

Upon the lips I am greeted with a very well balanced hop presence that melts into rich malt flavor. Just enough bite from the hops to let you know that this one is to be respected, but so utterly smooth and creamy that you could find me drinking on it all night. Even at 6.6% abv, 2 Below is managed so well that it makes an exceptional compliment to pert near anything - any meal, any lover, any day!

One of my favorite styles, certainly my favorite offering from New Belgium and truly one of my favorite ales altogether. I would highly recommend that you try some as soon as the opportunity strikes ye.

Thank you New Belgium!

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Photo of NatetheGreat
4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this was an awesome brew! I anticipated a good beer, but not one of the best beers I've ever had. I don't mean to sound over-enthusiastic, but this was exceptional from top to bottom (literally!).

A: big head with lots of bubbles, light amber colored beer; very appealing.

S: the nose begins with a burst of vibrant citrus fruit, sweet and sharp, and finishes with crisp pine. enticing aroma.

T: smooth and mellow; perhaps a tad sweet. certainly tamer than the aroma. some toasted grain and caramel sweetness. didn't wow me but was very good.

M: incredibly smooth and balanced; not watery but also not too syrupy or thick.

D: with this great brew, highly drinkable and just a wonderfully pleasant surprise. one of the best winter ales I've had.

Drink this beer.

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Photo of dataskatt
4.5/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a mug. A beautiful medium amber color with a generous head. Lots of lacing. Smell is hoppy with a nice spicy undertone. Smells a bit like cloves. I could smell this all day! Taste is also really good. Hoppy, but balanced, and with a nice warm spicy finish. Reminds me a little of Great Lakes Burning River pale ale, except this has way more spice in the taste. Interesting brew, and very drinkable. Mouthfeel is just right...not to light, not too heavy. Even with a little higher alcohol content, I could easily have several of these. Nice winter brew. I would definitely recommend!

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Photo of KoG
4.48/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Saw this when I was at lunch and decided to try it.

Nice clear amber color with a frothy white head that laces the entire glass like it was frosted.

Smell is nice citric hops with a light malt undertone. Hints of biscuit are present.

Taste is very good. Nice and hoppy but not overpowering, finishes a bit sweet with a "Fat Tire"-ish hint that is kept in check by nice citric hop bite.

Extremely smooth and super drinkable.

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Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Huge fluffy beige head on top of a transparent amber brew. Leaves the most lacing I've seen on a glass in a long time.

S- Smells like spicy American hops on top of rich chocolatey malts

T- The hops dominate the taste of this brew. Clearly dry hopped, the beer has a distinct piney flavor

M- A bit slick, but overall good feeling with balanced carbonation

D- Drinks great for me, but hops might be a bit much for some folks.

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Photo of 1fastz28
4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a really great looking reddish amber color with a big white head on it. has a wonderful mixture of hops and biscuity maltiness to it, really looks and smells great. taste is just as impressive, the hops and malt conteract eachother wonderfully. has a rich full flavor to it, just awesome all around. mouthfeel and drinkability are great too

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Photo of nicnut45
4.44/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Beer poured a beautifully clear medium copper color with two fingers worth of head that fades into a thick silky head with heavy and light patches of foam on top.

Smell - This is possibly one of my most favorite smelling beers. The hops smell FRESH. Resiny, sticky sweetness. Almost reminds me of steaks and fresh cut grass at the same time. I dont think my limited grammer can do this beer justice to its smell. Its awesome.

Taste - Hops are prevalent at the first taste but I notice as the beer warms up you notice more of the malt. Lemony, spicy hops with a bit of that fresh cut grass taste you get from the smell. Nutty toasted malt taste a lot like fat tire with more hops. I will say this too, I have had the most pleasing almost exotic like belches from this beer. Give it a shot you'll see what I mean.

Mouthfeel - This beer feels a little above average on mouthfeel. Its not really heavy like Tripel and nowhere near a light...falls in between. I would say maybe a bit heavy for the style but not bad at all.

Drinkability - I could drink these all night. I would buy it again. Not really a session beer though. Pretty high alcohol content for an E.S.B. All in all I was not too impressed with fat tire or New Belgium brewing after all the craze, but this beer changed my mind.

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Photo of secondtooth
4.42/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Transparent golden-red appearance, with big bubbles and yellow lace.
Aroma is bold, with accents of floral, fruits, and bread. Appealing!
Flavor is complex and original -- a balanced mix of snappy hops and a wonderful sweet malt character that conjures fresh berries somehow.
A great mix that amply combines the best attributes of a pale ale with a Belgian seasonal. Lovely and delicious!

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Photo of Tolnik
4.42/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured with a good finger width head reducing down to a light lacing of foam. Good deep amber. Great smelling hops beer and barley odor. The beer tastes of fresh hops with hints of rye. This is a great seasonal beer that New Belguim pumps out each and every year that I cannot wait till it comes out.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4.4/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served nice and cold, per written instruction. It warmed to 55° area by end of glass.

Nice amber color, clear and crisp. The head is as large, or larger, than the liquid. Nice head retention and lacing. Moderate carbonation.

Smells quite hoppy, floral and grapefruit-like. Malt body, highly overshadowed by hops.

Nice blend of flavors. Light malt base superimposed with mellow hop flavors, floral mainly. Roasted malt undertones. Not overly sweet. The malt doesn’t seem to contribute much to the flavor, but is nonetheless an integral part of the experience. Light touch of alcohol hiding in the back.

Smooth with mild oral foamation and almost no carbo-sting.

Drinking 2° Below is like drinking the nectar of some plant, some wonderful tasty plant. The flavors complement each other almost perfectly. Extremely refreshing. This is a jewel of a beer. I could drink it all day. Well done New Belgium.

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Photo of baos
4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From Notes:

Friend walks in with a growler of this fresh from the Mountains. I jumps up and downs und serve it in my 2 pinter that looketh like the one pinter. Beer has traveled 15 hours and 3 finger head with a shit ton of lacing that lasts the whole day through. I mean the whole glass through. Nice copper body with perfect clarity. Sterling and Liberty hops with nice roasted malty warmth fill the nostril-domis. I predict this motherfucker is gonna taste yummier than chuck. It does, the hops and malts are balanced pretty near perfectly. Enough dry hopping that brings the horse-hoofed malt taste away and finishes with a super nice bright and dry Christmas green hop gremlin. Mouthfeel is light and very nicely carbonated, again balancing the malt hop bitterness. A great present from a special fwend!

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Photo of Fatduck
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a crisp copper color, not exactly what I was expecting. Fluffy white head that lasts. It smells almost like a crisp winter morning with a fresh layer of snow. Reminds me of outdoor hockey games. Tastes like a wonderful simple bitter with a well balanced flavor. Im not really sure why its a winter beer, but its good.

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Photo of industrialswill
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Bright golden amber, frothy head.
The smell warned me of the possibility of clove ahead, but overall it has a nice smell to it.
The first thing that hit me at first gulp was the maltyness...almost to the point of tasting like chocolate. Thankfully, there is no flavor of clove. I'm totally in love with this beer and am very glad to add it to my list of daily options

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Photo of diabecktic
4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This light copper brew pours with a very nice creamy, white head that's ~2 fingers thick. Retention and lacing are both excellent, and I can see a little bit of carbonation slowly rise throughout the translucent body.

The aroma is largely hoppy and spicy with a nice sweet base that helps add balance. As far as specific notes go, I can pick out cloves, caramel, dark fruit (perhaps raisin or plum), toffee, and nutmeg.

Crisp hops are apparent in the early portion of the tasting. As the beer sits in my mouth, the dark, roasted malty sweetness progressively intensifies. The aftertaste resembles something like clove and toffee. The balance between each flavor is excellent.

The crispness experienced during tasting eventually leads to a dry sensation. Alcohol is fairly well-hidden during the smell and taste portions of the test, but I think its lingering effect is likely responsible for the aforementioned sensation. The elements which are responsible for the dark sweetness likely account for the moderately heavy body.

Excellent balance, body, and taste all make this an extremely drinkable beer. I never would have guessed that this beer was 6.6% ABV, so you might have to be careful if you feel like drinking several of these during a setting. For all of its complexity, the beer isn't dense enough to hurt this aspect of the tasting.

I liked the New Belgium beers that I had tried in the past, so I expected this beer to be good; however, it was MUCH better than I could have ever fathomed. The complex flavors, excellent balance, and adequate body make this an outstanding beer to enjoy during the coldest months of the year. As the style suggests, this beer is both "extra special" and "bitter" - I urge you to try this if you haven't done so already.

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Photo of HotterThanHell
4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this beer in my Texas Tech pint glass with a pretty 3/4 inch head and then took a wif...Liberty hops and then some more Liberty Hops. This craft must be dry hopped with an entire crop. Also just a hint of malt. Nice!

Although I'm not much of a hop head, this beer is fantastic. The best I've had from this Brewery.

The taste is malty with just a little sweetness floating about your mouth, but once swallowed the hops reimpose their dominance on the pallet.

Not real dark for a winter ale, but everything else is wonderful. Not sure what others have given this but I think it should be high 80's and is definitely worth your precious beer drinking time.

Hi TTU94

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Photo of JayS2629
4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Deep amber with a creamy 2 finger head. Awesome spiderweb lacing.

S- Bready, toasted biscuit on the front of the nose. A piney hop with hints of vanilla in the back.

T- Nice balance of hops on the front. Opposite to the smell. The malts are bready and toasted but in the middle. Mellow and nutty. Earthy with hints of caramel.

M- Nicely balanced, creamy with a crisp finish.

D- Very nice and complex. Mellow and nutty throughout with a slight sweetness. The sweet and hoppiness are very nicely balanced. Very good winter beer.

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2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.66 out of 5 based on 1,221 ratings.
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