2° Below Winter Ale | New Belgium Brewing

573 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 573 | Ratings: 1,217
Photo of Kylito87
2.84/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Another one of our party leave behinds. I hope it is as good as the first one.

Appearance- coppery reddish yellow with a white head that quickly slicks.

Smell- Hoppy with some grassy and grainy undertones. Also some honey sweetness and citrus notes there.

Taste- I was really expecting more from this beer it has alot of the same tastes elements as the smell but there is something there that I can't quite put my finger and it is kind of bugging me a bit. It has a comforting bready biscuity characteristic too. It has a very big alcohol bite at first but it seems to smooth out as you go along.

Mouthfeel- I am not sure if it is just me but I feel like the carbonation might be a bit much for this beer. I mean it feels crisp and clean bur I feel that if they would have toned the carbonation down just a hair this beer would have tasted alot better because some of it's subtler notes would have been brought out some more. It is not too thick and even though it has a relatively high ABV I think you could session it pretty nicely

Overall, I am disappointed because I thought this beer would be alot better. I mean it isn't horrible by any means. It is just not what I figured it would be. I don't even get the feel that this beer is a winter ale. I would say this is a beer that I might drink but I would have to either A be handed one or B it would have to be on super sale. I mean I usually like super hoppy beer but this just didn't do it for me. I had high hopes for this beer because I know alot of people that like it and told me to try it but it just didn't live up to the hype. I really tried to like it but I don't even think it will end up in my top 30.
Serving type: bottle

 1,696 characters

Photo of marksto
2.85/5  rDev -22.1%
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.

 665 characters

Photo of HeadyLamarr
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Drunk straight from a 12oz bottle.

Initial impression is a slightly sweet dark brown roast. It's lightly hoppy, with a nice tingle, and maybe a bit of citrus? It wants to be a full-bodied rich beer.

But the joy quickly fades. Aftertaste is bitter and the overall effect is a very mild, unimpressive drink. I'll put away a couple of these with dinner, but they aren't a beer to sit back and enjoy.

 399 characters

Photo of khiasmus
2.88/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A- Clear light amber with a moderate amount of soapy head that retains like foam on a beach.

S- A bit metallic, hops smell brand new and piney, malt in the back.

T- Initially some weak sweet malt, giving way to a bit of hop balance, then a bit of metal, vegetal, and sulfur.

M- Thin, watery, relatively low carbonation and a dry, lingering finish.

D- It's alright, but not one I'll go for again. The flaws seem to outweigh the good parts of this beer, sadly.

 462 characters

Photo of jampics2
2.88/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One bottle from a six pack purchased at AJ's in Scottsdale.

Appearance is good. Good orangeish-red with small white ring of head.

Smell is OK. Getting hints of citrus and sweet syrup. Caramel from the malt. Appealing, but not overwhelming, but something is a bit funky here.

Taste falls short for me. What kind of ESB is this - I know English hops are appropriate, but why take this pseudo-American/Belgian take on it? Not a fan at all of the hops used for the dry hop when used in this capacity. Citrus then sweet sugars, followed by a weird mix of grass and fruit cup. Orange and pine or clove suggested, but this is just not what I look for compared to the classics. I appreciate the risk NB took, but this just isn't that good.

Mouth is good. Spot-on, nice carb bubbles, light visco.

Drink is OK. Not a fave, so I wish I could have bought a single instead of a 6. I remember having this on tap a year ago March, and I thought it was MUCH hoppier and smooth. Just an average offering and the weird flavors make this sub-standard IMO.

 1,041 characters

Photo of udubdawg
2.89/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle
pours acoppery amber color, nice clarity, and the cream colored head left sizeable clumps of lace here and there as it slowly receded.

Nothing in the nose is bad...it just isn't very strong. Lightly toasted malt, vague herbal hop aroma. Aroma (and taste) just don't seem very winter seasonal-ish to me.

Again I'm not sure where the 6.6% is coming from - there just isn't a lot there, and the flavors I AM getting aren't my favorite. Toasted grain, light earthy qualities. I wouldn't call it very sweet, or very bitter, or very complex. It does feel a bit grainy in the mouth, not at all smooth. Prickly carbonation.

I'd have little trouble drinking another, but have no desire to do so. Pretty average.

 718 characters

Photo of crayphish
2.9/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The ESB offering from New Belgium poured a radiant clear copper. A fluffy head leaves a decent amount of lacing as I consume. Smell is typical malty biscuit that NB is known for. An additional amount of subdued fruity hops. Taste is essentially Fat Tire with a fair amount of bittering hops. The fruitiness apparent in the nose is lost on me here. Mouthfeel is clean and fresh, and I found the brew to be drinkable tho a bit boring.

 432 characters

Photo of thedrewski86
2.93/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a snifter, left 1/2" off-white head. Pretty nice lacing going down. Smell is very nice, like fresh bread, grains and a good amount of maltiness w/o being sweet. Taste is a little surprising, there's an unavoidable artificial spiciness that I guess is supposed to be wintery. Not really my bag. The more I drink it the more it becomes evident in the smell. I read another review that described the taste as being like redhots candy. That is EXACTLY what this tastes like. Eh. Mouthfeel is medium, typical carbonation. Drinkability is so-so; if you like this taste you would want to drink more I guess. I'm not a fan.

 627 characters

Photo of Philly82785
2.93/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This one pours a clear dark amber color with rocky white head. The nose is floral citrus, notes of milk chocolate and toasted white bread. Comes across the palate with a dominant toasted malt bread biscuit and wild flower flavor. This has a medium bodied mouth feel and continues throughout.

 291 characters

Photo of jujubeast6000
2.96/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Reviewed 11/25/2006 (12oz bottle):

Served chilled straight from fridge. Pours a good big head. Foamy, good lacing. Malty brownish reddish color. Very hoppy aroma, some malty aroma. Somewhat spicy, malty taste. Good taste, but not much unlike other malty beers like fat tire. Just a little spicier.

 298 characters

Photo of BrewDoc12
2.98/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Jsut thought I'd give New Belgium another chance after the dreadful Fat Tire; again I was not impressed at all.
A - Pours a deep amber with a nice 1 finger off white head. Very little lacing.
S - Smells of grassy hops and maybe a lil coriander; still doin' alright at this point.
T - Here's where things start going wrong. Really grassy, and kinda sour. Slight maltiness hides beneath the fresh cut grass flavor. Feable attemp to imitate Blue moon or Hoegarden.
M - Not too rich, but not too watery. Pretty good balance.
D - I guess if I was really stopped up, I could knock these out one after another.
Not to knock New Belgium too hard; their Mothership Wit is pretty tasty. Keep at it fellas; you're showing improvement.

 724 characters

Photo of Doppelmax
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I'm not a fan of belgium style beers so with some trepidation I purchased this hoping it would be a decent winter type ale.
Nice head and lace on the glass. Medium amber but hazy. Strong hop smell, kind of piney I thought. The flavor seemed a bit strong on the hops and for my taste could have had a more pronounced malt flavour. Lots of carbonation, average body. It was ok but personally I wouldn't buy it again.
I like my winter ales more malty and darker.

 461 characters

Photo of smc143
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A friend brought me some New Belgium Brewery's 2 Below, which was really quite tasty. It was my first beer of the night, and I dug it a lot. Since this is an ESB, I expected it to be a little more aggressive than your average beer in terms of hops and alcohol content, but nothing overpowering. It is really not bitter at all, but balanced between hops and malts. I drank it right out of the bottle, like a classy broad, so I didn't really look at color or head, but it is a basic copper colored ale, and it was quite quite tasty.

 530 characters

Photo of rye726
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A coppersih body with a tan head. Lots of carbonation. The smell is basic with light hops and faint smalts. No big flavors here either. Slight hoppy bitterness. Pretty light body. A good session beer I suppose, but nothing special. How can they sell this for the same price as 1554?

 282 characters

Photo of Padron4KM
3.01/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. Best before 09Feb07 stamped on bottle neck.

Served at 52° not 37° like it says on the label.
I’ll put sample #2 in the freezer and try to drop the temp down to that level.

Amber color, lively carbonation, 1 finger tan head. Thick lace.

Piney, resinous aroma with a little caramel.

Flavor is piney, with some sweetness and a spicy finish.

Not really a "winter beer" but a solid offering from NB none-the-less.

2nd sample was placed in the freezer for about 10 min. temp was dropped to about 38 degrees according to 2 different thermometers.

Ice started forming in the bottle so it was pulled out and poured into a glass. temp quickly rose to just above 40.

At the lower temp the carbonation is slower, the body is a bit thicker, and the piney flavor is more pronounced, but not dramatically improved. Let it warm.

 857 characters

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.03/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12 fluid ounce brown glass bottle ringed with a ribbed shoulder which has the words ‘New Belgium’ embossed onto it. Glossy red crown cap has the orange and white NBB logo on it. Looks like the bottle in the BA Database. Recommended to be served at 3°C (37°F). Listed at Alc. 6.6% by Vol. Best Before: 23Mar07.

Appearance: Clean polished amber copper body which has a sparkling clarity to it. Frothy dirty beige head, clumped lacing and a tight finely dissolved carbonation.

Nose: At close to the recommended serving temperature…..nothing. As it warms some hop oils and toasted malts but the strength is woefully weak. Has a grainy texture on the nose. Not much here, but what there is not really that appealing.

Taste: Starts with a malt base which benefits from a surge of oily hops in the initial phase. Decent toasted malt centre-piece and a light bitterness to finish with a fruity tingle too. This is alright, nothing wrong with it but the overall impression is of a run-of-the-mill English Bitter.

Mouthfeel: Didn’t get any of the 6.6% in this. The texture is grainy and the feel dry. Seems unbalanced to me and a little disjointed at times.

Drinkability: The first beer of the night for me tends to get a pounding. And this is a good drink, but behind the thirst quenching aspect it has very little to offer.

Overall: Very average, and if you serve this at the recommended serving temperature of 3°C (37°F) which is near freezing (why!?) then I fear you will find it even more ordinary. At least a little warmth allows what flavor is there to escape. Not really a “Winter Ale” to me, but if you serve it at 3°C (37°F) you could certainly be feeling like it is. Definitely not one of the better releases from NBB in my opinion.

Thanks to both BA Erica for allowing me to borrow one of BA UncleJimbo’s recently gifted bottles from the Pizza Port Strong Ale Festival.

 1,923 characters

Photo of srkeefe
3.03/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Overall, this beer is average. I found it drinkable and enjoyed the color and flavor. A little weak on the body.

I bought a six pack and I am going to drink all 6.

I drink a lot of Fat Tire and enjoy the New Belgium products. Will try it again when the snow flies to see if my opinion changes.

 295 characters

Photo of masikon
3.04/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured to a transparent tennessee burnt orange with a fuzzy off white head about 2 fingers deep. A very visually pleasing beer with a lasting head that sticks around and pretty bubbles of corbonation that keep on rising. Unfortunately appearance is really this beer's strongest point. nose is plain and uninteresting with some mildly fruity notes. taste is almost exactly like a mack and jacks african amber for those who have tried it. puckers the mouth, a light mouthfeel and inoffensive taste brings up the drinkability score, overall not a beer I would drink again.

 579 characters

Photo of neonbrown82
3.04/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I really expected better from these guys. Instead, I got a glass full of stomach bile. What in the name of all that is holy would possess New Belgium to brew such an atrocity? This beer is so loaded with biscuity malts that the hops outright fail to stand out in the flavor profile, which is a shame since the nose is so wonderfully dry hopped.

Pours to a very light amber color, quite clear. Has a decent sized head on the pour, though it recedes quite fast and doesn't lace well. Carbonation is decent.

The aroma is very enticing. The hops smell delicious. A bit grassy, but otherwise has a very nice floral, herbal, citrus aroma. When I first smelled this I thought I would be in for a treat, but then I tasted it.

The taste reminded me immediately of stomach bile. Biscuity with some caramel malt flavors. Just a hint of the hops up front, fading into a damn near undrinkable bile-like finish. Unbelievable. The only reason I was able to finish this beer is because I was offered some chocolate and caramel Ghirardelli, which was able to hide the intense biscuity bile flavor to a certain extent.

The body was a little on the thin side with a fairly crisp carbonation. Not bad in that regard, but the finish lingered for what seemed like eternity, and it was not pleasant. I am glad I didn't end up buying a sixer of this, because I wouldn't know what to do with the remaining five. I can't wait to redeem New Belgium with the delicious bottle of La Folie I DID end up buying earlier today.

 1,507 characters

Photo of MaltsOfGlory
3.04/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance is pretty awful for a winter beer. It's almost transparent, not much going on in the look. It is a dark orange color, nice head though, the head is the only redeeming quality. The head is fading quickly however, looks like it might be leaving good lacing. The smell is hoppy, hoppier than I would expect a winter beer to be. In the back end of the smell you get a tiny tiny bit of malt sweetness, not a bad smell though, pretty good actually. Wow, the taste is interesting, it tastes a little watery, with the hops trying to cover it up, I know that doesn't make much sense but bare with me. Like, the body is really thin and watery, and the taste is a little watery too, but at the same time there is a very present hop bite. Not much malt at all, you get a tiny tiny bit, but not nearly as much as I would expect in a winter beer. You do however get some of that winter warmer warmth from this beer, which is nice, you also get a taste of spices. Drinkability is average, nothing special there. Overall an average beer.

 1,032 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
3.05/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this on tap at the local Old Chicago:

Poured a nice reddish gold colour with a small head that dissipated before it even got to me.(Nitro-CO2mix)

The smell was hoppy and sort of fruity.

The taste was a mix of fruit and hops up front with more of the fruit in the middle and huge hop bitterness in the after taste that lingered like forever. The latter part of the drinking experience I liked muchly but....I've tasted better winter ales and since this is a draft only product, there's no need for me to seek it out.

That makes only 2 brews from New Belgium that I'm not really pleased with.(the other is the Loft)

 632 characters

Photo of errantnight
3.06/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a lovely brass/copper with tidy head, attractive lacing, and head with holding power into my Stone 10th Anniversary pint glass.

Smells biscuit-y and sweet, maple syrup and cinnamon hot candies.

Tastes like... well, tastes a helluva lot like a Fat Tire. A very similar toasted biscuit malt flavor that always reminds me a bit of peanut butter. I think there's some greater balance here, though. The hops, still distinctly background in note (and indistinguishable in the nose) come through to provide some needed balance. There's some sweetness, and a vaguely cloying aftertaste that I just can't get into. I'm not a huge fan of ESBs in general, and although this one seperates itself from the fact with some interesting (if not all exciting) characteristics in nose and taste... I'm not sure I like the them.

Purchased without knowing anything about it, and from the description, I was hoping for something with a bit more hop character. Still, pairs fine with red meat. I can't say that I have any desire to drink it again. Not bad, nice smooth mouthfeel, and it looks pretty. And I'd order it before I had another Fat Tire, and I respect the extremely distinctive malt that's in play here... just not the beer for me. 6 pack was drank, but I always felt myself shying away from it.

Ah well.

 1,310 characters

Photo of WeisGuy
3.06/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

a - deep golden color, two-finger dense white head with great retention and lacing, very clear

s - very grainy and bready aroma, hints of caramel, a little spice and bittersweet chocolate, not much alcohol

t - very malty and bready up front, caramel and mild spice on the mid-palate, finish dominated by moderately sweet maltiness and lots of grain and bread with some nuttiness, mild alcohol presense

m - medium-bodied, medium to lower carbonation, mildly dry finish, some alcohol warming

d - not too harsh on the palate, but pretty boring taste that could use some kind of a hop presence to balance out the maltiness and breadiness a bit

 643 characters

Photo of jkdrummer
3.06/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ok, pours a wonderful and promising thick foamy head. A nice golden coppery luster to it as well. But with the initial whiff, I get aaa nothin. What's with this beer? Pretty much tasteless in a sense that nothing really stands out. What's this supposed to be anyway? I know that New Belgium brewers really dislike having to name the style of their brews but this one truly doesn't fit in any category nicely. I can't really recommend it with all the other choices available on the shelf.


 491 characters

Photo of SylviaFaye
3.06/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A very fluffy off-white head gently laces the glass, persisting for an extended period. The clear body is the color of a new penny.

The smell is primarily of grass and ever green trees and is particularly pungent. The mouthfeel is slightly below medium, falling a bit flat.

Ales advertised as winter ales often have a lot of interesting elements to their flavor, but this brew does not deviate far from its smell with a blend of mildly hoppy grass and ever-green sap. The website lists it as a Strong Bitter, but I'm not exactly floored by its hoppiness either. While drinkable, the beer lacks the advertised warm afterglow and falls a little short of expectation. I quite like many other brews by this company.

If handed this at a party, I wouldn't turn it down, but I would not pay money for it a second time.

 815 characters

2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.66 out of 5 based on 1,217 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

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.