Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

2° Below Winter Ale | New Belgium Brewing

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
566 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: 566 | Ratings: 1,184
Photo of Cyrion
3.15/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a shaker pint three months before its best before date of 23 Feb 2014.

Appearance: Aggressive pour brings a coppery, transparent beer with 3 inches of foamy off-white suds. Lacing is ample and lingers a while.

Smell: A balance of malt and hops, both being rather mild at this point and neither remarkable. Could be any bitter at this point.

Taste: Malt comes first, with a roasted biscuit flavor that borders on a cocoa taste. Reminds me of the malts in Fat Tire. Hops come next, presenting an earthy, leafy flavor. A few more sips and some warmth allows a citrus note to appear.

Mouthfeel: A teensy bit sticky, but remains thin. No alcoholic heat, and not a lot of bitter aftertaste, although the hops will stick with you longer than the malt will.

Overall: A decent approximation to a bitter, or ESB, or whatever New Belgium is marketing this as. I would classify it as a more hop-forward version of Fat Tire, which is difficult enough to classify by itself! I might have this again, but with Bass being so cheap, I'd probably stick to the authentic English pub beers.

 1,088 characters

Photo of Hoptometrist
4.25/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from the bottle into a goblet.

A- Poured a mostly clear dark orange color, some visible carbonation with soapy off-white head that left some splashy lace.

S- Big floral, grassy, and citrusy hops. Big biscuit malt, toffee, cereal malt, and caramel sweetness.

T- Big biscuit and cereal malt notes, big floral, grassy, citrusy, and piney hope, quite a bit of caramel sweetness, toffee, bready, and light spice esters from the yeast. Moderate to high bitterness on the finish. with a big lingering hop finish.

M- Prickly carbonation, medium to lighter bodied, and semi-dry finish.

O- This winter ale has a ton of hop character and big malt backbone that really balance each other out well. Reminded me a little bit of a much maltier version of Celebration Ale, it seemed like the hop profile and hop bite was pretty similar.

 833 characters

Photo of JimKal
3.38/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a NB globe.

A: Pours a light amber with a minimal head. The beer leaves behind very little lacing as it is consumed.

S: light malty aroma.

T: The overwhelming impression I got was that this tasted quite a bit like Fat Tire.

M: light mouthfeel.

O: Again, this reminded me of Fat Tire but perhaps a lighter version. I do enjoy Fat Tire but I think I prefer the original to this version. I got this as part of the NB Winter 12 pack.

 446 characters

Photo of WoodBrew
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Foam was white in color, thin and a little lacey. It had a dominate hops and citrus aroma with hints of anise and wheat. The color was a beautiful orange amber. The taste was a complete translation of the smell, a complete balance of hops and citrus with spices. Mouthfeel - medium bodied and crisp. Drinkability - not to bad. To me a simple balance of hops and citrus with some added flavors. Ok session.

 405 characters

Photo of baos
4.38/5  rDev +19.3%
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!

 809 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
3.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cellar temp bottle poured into a pint glass.

The beer pours a mostly clear copper hue with some streams of carbonation rising to the surface. Fluffy beige head of 2 cm foams up and fades slowly as the beer sits. Head is almost faint orange tint to it. The head leave very tightly packed lattice as it slides down the sides of the glass.

Aroma is some grainy malt and caramel, maybe some light fruitiness and a hint of grassy hops.

First sip reveals an average to light body and fine gentle rolling carbonation. Very easy to drink this smooth brew.
Flavor is mild but I get some grainy malt and caramel that mixes with just a bit of grassy mildly bitey hop on the finish. Actually kind of dry too, which I didnt expect.

Overall the beer is mild and very easy to drink. Not a bad choice for this fairly warm evening.

 819 characters

Photo of hopfacebrew
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Found a lonely bottle at the pick your sixer section at the tiny local liquor store! I had heard this may not be back for a while so I jumped on it! I can't read the freshness date but I would guess it's been there a little while. The beer was poured from the brown 12 oz bottle to a NBB globe glass. Clear golden color with a nice 2 finger white head. Solid retention and nice lacing. The aroma is mostly of a malty sweetness with a fair amount of earthy piney hop character. The nose carries over to the beer where the flavor starts with the malty sweetness found on the nose. Toasted grains with a little roasty character. The beer develops to a medium bitterness and hop character. Finishes crisp and clean. Good mouthfeel and good carbonation. Easy to drink.

I am not sure when this will be out again, but I have enjoyed the offering. I hope it's hiatus is only temporary!

Note: This review was a re-post from my former account, jmkratt, which was hacked and I lost all my reviews...sorry for the redundancy.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 03-09-2011 13:49:03

 1,071 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.85/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(these notes are from December 23, 2010)
This is one I've had on tap at various locations, might have had a bottle, but what I tasted from this bottling did not remind me of what I had before. The winter ale from New Belgium Brewing, 2 (degrees) BELOW (hey, they're the ones who capitalize it.)

New Belgium 2 Below Ale…"We like to think we beat winter at it's own game a 2 BELOW Winter Ale, a bright warming blast of Sterling and Liberty hops along with tawny-roasted malts. By pushing our 2 BELOW into a final, nearly freezing state, it's ample structure develops a brilliant clarity, Dry-hopping during fermentation creates a bright, hoppy palate and a cheery warm afterglow. Serve at 3 C (37 F) Acl. 6.6% by Vol.)"

So that's what they say, here's what I say…

Crystal-clear, auburn appearance, pale crimson, with a dotted white head, leaving lace.

Aromatics, hops up front, lightly bitter and herbal, a mix of English and American hop characteristics, a little sweet fruit peeps in for a moment. Bitterness continues on the tongue, with, yes, a bright, cheery flavor below. Crisp and clean, but a little too lean in body for my liking. For a winter ale, I'd like to taste something darker and a bit heavier.

This pleases the pale ale/IPA lover in me, but my taste buds are yearning for darker malts when you say "winter ale." However, as I strive to judge beers on their own, versus what I wish they were, it's hard to really complain.

 1,447 characters

Photo of bayougutter
2.56/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured a clear light orange- amber with a two finger white soapy head. decent retention and lacing was ok.

Smell of bready yeast, slight malt aroma, and a little citrusy alcohol. Not bad, it just left me hanging.

Taste is bready malts followed by some citrus hops. A little confusing at the end with some metalic alcohol. Not so good.

Mouthfeel is ok with crisp dryness on the end.

Overall I didn't like very much, but didn't hate either. It's one of those.

 461 characters

Photo of david18
3.38/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had a sixteen ounce draft of this at the Holstein's at the New Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. I have mixed feelings about this brewery, liking some of the selections and not being impressed with many others. This one falls somewhere in between.

The appearance was a dark amber with an orange hue. The beer was somewhat uncarbonated but i guess that may be on purpose to make it "British pub" style.

Aroma was a bit bready but I wanted more from it.

The flavor had a good balance of malt and bitterness but again I was a bit underwhelmed by it.

In general not a bad beer from a good brewer but not something I would seek out again.

 639 characters

Photo of BeerLover99
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: sharp deep orange, bubbly body, trace head, zero lacing.

S. big bready malt, hint of clean grass/pine.

T: firm malt body, with floral and earthy, low subtle bitter

M: med/light body, plenty of carbonation

D. Solid, but not spectacular. For some reason, when I drink this I don't think of it as a winter ale nor an ESB. Certainly not a bad beer.


 389 characters

Photo of thegodfather1076
3.92/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer was served out of a 12oz. bottle dispensed into a glass....

Presentation - Very cool label. I love NB Label artwork and bottles.

Appearance - Pours a clear golden amber color with a nice 2 finger white airy head. Has a slight carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass. Leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

Smell - Smells of bread-like yeasty maltiness with hints of pine.

Taste - Biscuit like malt taste with a piney hop flavor. Medium bitterness with hints of spice.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied and lightly carbonated has a creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability - An overall good drinkable beer that is very well put together.

Nothing sectacular but still a very good. I would recommend trying this if the chance arises.

 734 characters

Photo of Tilley4
3.06/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up a single recently and I popped it open this weekend...

Lots of sweet maltiness rolling off of this one along with a healthy dose of piney hops to boot... Much like the Mighty Arrow spring seasonal with a bigger malt base... an interesting take on a winter release...

Sweet caramel maltiness pervades and seems to dominate and mops the floor with hops quite frankly... extremely faint hoppiness lingers in the distance watching the sweet grainy malts do their thing...

A fairly decent drinker but probably not one I will await with bated breath next winter...

 571 characters

Photo of devilishprune
3.38/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

New Belgium 2 Below 12/6/10

A. Strikingly clear light orange. Aggressive pour yields little head that doesn't stick around long.

S. Very malty. Maybe some hops in there somewhere

T. Taste is sweet malty as well, but the beer finishes dry and grainy. Taste is slightly flowery/purfumey. Alcoholy finish.

M. Light mouthfeel, with high prickly carbonation.

D. Very easy to drink because it isn't too sweet.

 408 characters

Photo of JayQue
3.55/5  rDev -3.3%
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!!!

 394 characters

Photo of a2marzman83
2.69/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear light amber with one inch of tan head that fades with some lacing

Huge pine aroma from the hops hits my nose first. Other earthy tones follow, almost a fresh soil smell. A sweetness is present that fits nicely with the piney hops. This is an interesting specimen for sure. I would not call this a WW or an ESB but I enjoy the smell of whatever this is.

What I liked in the nose is what I don't like in the flavor. Very complex, not very harmonious. The bitterness is overpowering all other flavors which may be a good thing since what I do detect seems also disjointed. A Sweet breadyness mixed with earthy hops with a bunch of random spices thrown on top.

Mouthfeel is ok, medium body slightly over carbonated.

My guess is that this one will be a love it of hate it for BAs. It had me at hello and then lost me in too many competing flavors.

 852 characters

Photo of IchabodcraneIpa
3.92/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from the bottle

The color of this one was a pale Amber color with a ring of foam around the top.

The smell of the 2 below to me, is a hop aroma that is met with some spices and malts.

The taste of this one was surprisingly bitter at first sip but the bitterness was met with a crazy good malt sweetness and some nice flavors from spices possibly that really went well together. The beer itself is called two below, and I actually feel like the beer has a sort of chilling quality to the flavor that should not be missed.

The mouthfeel of this one was pretty dry and it was also a little heavier on the carbonation.

Overall this is an excellent winter seasonal and it took me many trips to the store before I finally picked up a six pack. Needless to say I drank the whole thing without any difficulty and was very glad to have finally tried 2 below out.

 883 characters

Photo of NatetheGreat
4.5/5  rDev +22.6%
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.

 774 characters

Photo of Cylinsier
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz.

Pours a medium honey gold, thin white head holds as a film.

Smells of brown sugar and mild spices.

Tastes of mild hops and subtle brown sugar malt sweetness.

Body on the fuller side with mild carbonation.

Good bitter ale, not great but very good, worth trying. Sort of mild.

 289 characters

Photo of kojevergas
2.6/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Bottle into cup (I know...) in high altitude Colorado Springs, CO (aka the place in Colorado where people go either for cheap real estate, cocaine, or a mixture of both).

A: Pours a clear gold-copper with a thin head of decent retention.

Sm: Light clean scent of hops, malt, and barley (the usual suspects.

T: Pathetic open to strangely built, unbalanced body with a bitter finish.

Mf: Nicely coarse, but doesn't suit the style. Too wet.

Dr: 6.6% is excellent for the price, but the taste doesn't justify having it again.


01/11/2014: Revisiting this. 6.6% ABV confirmed per the label. "Best before 23 Feb 14." Reviewed live. Expectations are low given my previous review. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with branded pry-off pressure cap acquired at a local bottle shop and served into an Odell pilsner glass in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado.

Served cold - straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a two finger wide head of white colour. Fluffy, airy, and somewhat thin. Good creaminess. Head retention is good - about 7-8 minutes. No lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a clear translucent copper of above average vibrance. Clean. No floating yeast particles/sediment is visible. Appears well-carbonated.

Overall, it's within style conventions but isn't unique or special. It looks pretty decent.

Sm: Heavy diacetyl/buttery notes, caramel, honey, graham cracker, floral hop notes, and some off-putting soapy hop character. Too sweet. English malts. Toffee.

No yeast character or alcohol is detectable.

A strange aroma of mild strength.

T: Buttery slick English malts provide the tasty foundation, with ample toffee and marshmallow. Diacetyl is through the roof. Floral hop character. Graham cracker. Caramel.

It's got decent balance, but ultimately the diacetyl and soapy hop character really get to me. I think this spent too long in primary. Average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour. Limited complexity. Not real subtle, intricate, or nuanced.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through.

Mf: Buttery, smooth, and slick, with some coarse scratchiness mucking up its presence on the palate. Overcarbonated. Wet. Medium-bodied. A bit too thick. Texture doesn't suit the taste all that well.

Not gushed, hot, boozy, or astringent.

Dr: A downable ESB, 2 Below is better than I remember but far from a new favourite. New Belgium does much stronger work, and I wouldn't recommend this to friends. I'll easily finish the bottle, but I'll be fine if I never have this beer again.


 2,687 characters

Photo of elgiacomo
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, best by June 5, 2011

Pours clear amber with a two finger foamy off-white head. Leaves nice drippy rings of lacing and holds a creamy cap.

Aroma is floral hops with a touch of citrus and grass, caramel malt and bread. Moderate to good strength.

Flavor is caramel malt, pine/grass hops, some citrus, bread, hint of spice, moderate sweetness followed by solid bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, medium carbonation.

Good ESB!

 444 characters

Photo of drowninginhops
3.82/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served in New Belgium glass. From notes.
A: Average, golden with 1 3/4 white head. Good lacing

S: Hops and Malt nothing special.

T: was not expecting this. What I can only describe as a the body of good scotch. By this I mean earthy slightly peaty with a little roastinees.

M: The scotch body I mentioned earlier server this beer well. Good carbonation.

D: The aforementioned body does not serve it well here. As it sits on the stomach strange. Could only have two.

 469 characters

Photo of PrivateEquity
3.97/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Nothing special about the Appearance. Orangish-Amber color. Okay lacing.

S - Solid malty smell, almost like dough. Hints of spice.

T - I like the spicy hoppiness to this winter ale. Good balance betweeen malt and hops.

M - Solid carbonation, but maybe just a little too much up front. Medium body.

D - Very drinkable beer. Finished it quick and looking for another.

Overall - Hoppy Winter Warmer. Interesting beer. It's a beer that I look forward to having in the winter. In a sampler pack of winter beers, it will stand out and add to the batch. Don't know is I would classify this as an Extra-Special or Strong Bitter.

 629 characters

Photo of jdspears41
3.8/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got this in a sample pack and I enjoyed it enough to drink the 3 bottles provided in the pack in one night. My wife drank a half a glass and also liked it.

A- Basic color or New Bel brew co beers. It didnt shout DRINK ME but wasnt like water.

S- I liked the smell of this beer a lot, it really made me want it.

T-Great taste, I liked it alot, nothing more nothing less

M- More carb than their 1554 and it had a better after taste as well.

D-I liked it alot, could drink a sixer of this with no problems.
Give it a try.

 526 characters

Photo of BretSikkink
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Orange in color, pretty clear with some bubbling. The head is sticky and fairly tall for its style, with a pleasant craggy recession. Glass lacing is minimal. Aromatic with the nose deep in the glass, somewhat toasted barley note with an herbal hop character. The flavor is pretty mild, lead by a toasted barley and general earthiness. Hopping is quite faint, and somewhat herbal. A little too faint in the mouth and light overall to make a good impression.

 457 characters

2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.67 out of 5 based on 1,184 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!