2° Below Winter Ale | New Belgium Brewing

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83
good
1,222 Ratings
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2° Below Winter Ale2° Below Winter Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing
Colorado, United States
newbelgium.com

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
1,222
Reviews:
573
Avg:
3.66
pDev:
12.3%
 
 
Wants:
29
Gots:
116
For Trade:
0
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,222 |  Reviews: 573
Photo of Sammy
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

yellow body with cream, and good lace all the way down. A cross style attempt. Not complex as a winter ale, more of a hoppy ale more than a bitter. Carbonation on the high side. Balance like an English IPA, with some citrus and other fruit. I like English IPAs-the real thing.

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Photo of Texasfan549
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of jaydoc
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of spycow
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of biboergosum
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wondering around Denver international airport, I had a few hours to kill, and right before subjecting myself to a Burger King lunch, I noticed the "New Belgium" listing in the food directory. Well now, get thee hence, I proclaimed...

With a lovely view of the Rocky Mountains, and the terminal with the white peaks that emulates said mountains, I ordered a 2 Degrees Below. This beer appeared a medium copper, with a white head, and lots of lacing. The smell was of muted floral hops. The taste showed caramel malt, and more floral hops. The beer had a mild carbonation, with a medium weight body. This reminded me of Brewster's beer style, only a little bit hoppier. It was a nice quaff, I could drink a few of these while waiting for a connection, flight or otherwise...

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Photo of kojevergas
2.6/5  rDev -29%
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.

2.4

---
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.

C

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Photo of brentk56
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy light amber color with a modest head that speckles the glass with lace

Smell: Yeasty abread aroma with an earthy hop element

Taste: Opens with a bready flavor with caramel undertones; after the swallow, earthy hop flavors briefly join in but the finish remains bready

Mouthfeel: Medium body with low to moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Interesting twist on the ESB style but I don't particularly like its lack of fruitiness

Thanks, brandoman63, for the opportunity

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Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a golden amber color with a bubbly/soapy, off-white, two-finger head. It left nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of hops and grasses. Also a tad bit of citrus aroma. It had somewhat f a roasted malt aroma, too.

T - It tasted of tons of hops and very grassy. Great roasted malt flavor.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a warm alcohol presence. It was a medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good ESB. It almost tastes more like an IPA it is some hoppy.

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Photo of zestar
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of LXIXME
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of DrBier
3/5  rDev -18%

Photo of mothman
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle, drink before Feb. 13, 2009, into a Sam Adams sensory glass.

Pours a nice fluff head that is almost a slight tan. Head leaves incredible lacing! Color is almost a light pumpkin orange color. It really reminds me of the fall!

I can already smell the hops! Yummm!! A slight of caramal is also noted. Taste is really great. I can definitely taste all the hops. A very floral-like taste.

Carbonation is decent, with a pretty awesome mouthfeel. A little bitter (obv.) but very smooth. Not too thick, but not too thin.

Overall, a great beer and a must try. Cheers to New Belgium! For how cheap this is, I enjoy picking this up in the winter. An easy drinking beer.

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Photo of oberon
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep rich golden with a touch of amber tint a tight one finger head set atop leaving a broken ring of lace behind as it settled pretty slowly.Like the hop spike in the aroma like grapefruit rind sitting over top a hefty caramelly malt base,the flavors dont quite match the nose but its well balanced between a brown sugar-like biscuity malt base and earthy,citrusy hop just neither really stand out enough on their own.Not a bad cold weather beer nicely balanced and a nice aroma.

 489 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

New Belgium's 2º Below Winter Ale pours a clear orange-amber body beneath a creamy off-white head that holds remarkably well and leaves sheets of thin lace behind.

The aroma delivers a solid maltiness that's bready, doughy, toasty and caramelish with a suggestion of spice that's probably just hops... it's spicy, peppery, and kind of earthy and grassy.

The flavor follows suit and the hops are a bit more floral and spicy. The bready and toasty malt remains, and it's very well balanced by a firm bitterness. It's very well rounded, and it finishes with a touch of lingering bready and caramel-drizzled malt and a bit of drying spiciness.

Overall it's a really nicely done malty beer that never gets sweet, and isn't too bitter. Additionally, it's really pretty unique in that it kind of suggests spices where there are none. Quite nice!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired from davey, courtesy of the Local Goods 3 BIF so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light amber color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, some hops and a touch of citrus.

T: The taste starts out bready with a hearty malt character followed by mildly sweet flavors of caramel and citrus. There's also a hint of a nutty flavor. The hops presence is strong but not over-powering and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly bready.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, very good representation of style, this is a very solid beer that is worth pounding down for a long period of time.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.74/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a crystal clear copper in color with light to moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and hints of orange + amber highlights. The beer has a finger tall sudsy light beige head that reduces to a couple of medium to large patches of very thick film surrounded by a thin film and a very thick ring at the edges of the glass. Significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of toasted bready malts with light to moderate aromas of herbal, spicy, and floral hops.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of lightly toasted bready malts with a slight hint of grainy sweetness. There are some light flavors of herbal, spicy, and floral hops which impart a light amount of lingering bitterness.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation.

O: Enjoyable and a nice beer for a cold winter evening - reminds me of a slightly stronger version of the beers I would drink on cask in the UK when I was getting something stronger. Nice flavors.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into one of those new and rather nice looking New Belgium balloon goblets that just came out. Big thanks to my buddy Bubba83 for the hookup with both of these in a recent trade.

Pours a crystal clear amber with 2 fingers of creamy looking off-white head. Retention is really good with a nice aggressive flare-up that leaves some solid lacing that sticks. The aroma puts it right out there nicely, with a big scent of buttered bread, light fruity character, and some dry smelling floral notes.

The taste isn't quite as bold as the aroma but is still pretty full flavored with some bready and buttered biscuits, a splash of citrus, and a moderate amount of solid feeling dry bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a smooth and creamy retention. The creaminess really helps bring the bready aspects of this out well. Despite the easy carbonation, there is still a some beef to the overall feel that keeps this from being overly drinkable.

Good take on a Strong Bitter here, with more of an assertive hoppiness than I would have thought and I actually didn't mind the beefier feel, as it added some warmth to the glass and made for some good winter drinking. Solid.

 1,189 characters

Photo of mactrail
3.56/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting malty ale with hoppy bite.

Hints of nutty roasted malt flavor but hops seem to take over the flavor profile. Crisp and clean. There is just some odd hop flavor that shades into an unpleasant, unbalanced bitterness.

This used to be one of my favorite winter beers. It seems less malty and more harsh than past years.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.61/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle - $1.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia. Best Before: March 5, 2010.

Appearance: Pours out a brilliant, amber body with an airy, fluffy, white head.

Smell: Toasty, spicy nose with, on occasions, the toast and spice aspects coming together at just the right time to give me the impression of gourmet cinnamon powder. Also, some hints of dehydrated herbs and a distant, vague fruitiness.

Taste: Initially, it's a sweetish combination of caramel and toasty malt tastes rounded out with an ill-defined hint of supporting, juicy fruitiness. Then, in comes the spicy, herbaceous hop character imparted by the Sterling and Liberty with a notable hint of coarsely-cracked white peppercorns. Drying finish with an enduring spiciness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: One of those odd ales that falls between the cracks -- it's not a great representation of an ESB and doesn't perform too well as a Winter Warmer. Though, as just a pleasant, easy-drinking beer, it's alright.

 1,027 characters

Photo of russpowell
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

BBD of 15 Feb 08

Pours amber/caramel with 2+ fingers of pillowy pearl colored head. Some effervescence kicks in as this warms up. Good head retention & above average lacing

S: Slight citric & herbal hop scent. Caramel shows as this warms

T: Bready with caramel & leafy/herbal hops up front. Fruittyness surfaces as this warms, plus boozey warmth along with more leafy/tobacco type hops. Finishes with a caramel, slight fruittyness & grapefruitty hops & some datey + pineapple fruittyness

MF: A little chewy, minimal carbonation with some wetness, weird. Balances well

Drinks pretty easy, the boozey warmth does slow you down a bit. A fair ESB that is much better on tap IMO

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.08/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Apricot with orange juice edges. Intermittent bubbles zip up to a toasted tan cap and join the tightly packed bubbles already present. I love the roughened, somewhat rocky, sticky nature of the head. Broken sheets of delicate lace look good as well.

The aroma is pretty much as New Belgium describes it. Unfortunately, I'm not a major fan of toasted, earthy malt in combination with herbal, earthy hops. The hop bill consists of Sterling and Liberty, both of which are similar to Hallertau. I love a good English ESB and even a good American ESB. Apparently, a German ESB ain't my thing. Given all that, I'm still able to recognize the nose's quality.

I'm much less accommodating when it comes to the flavor profile since it amplifies the worst aspects of the nose. Thanks to all the Munich malt, or something similar, 2 Below tastes like an Oktoberfest much more than an ESB. Aren't ESBs supposed to be bitter and hop-dominant rather than malt-dominant?

Speaking of hops, either American or English varities, assuming enough were used, might have saved this beer from mediocrity. As is, it tastes like toasted brown bread coated with unsweet caramel, freshly-dug clay and unidentified herbs. How did this recipe pass muster, especially after they tasted a test batch? Not only that, but it's about as far from a winter warmer as it could possibly be.

I'm trying very hard to take personal preference into account, which is the one and only reason I've granted a flavor score of average. The mouthfeel is medium in a general sense, with an odd slickness on the back end and a generous amount of fine-bubbled carbonation. I'm okay with it, but I don't love it.

Even though I have a fairly high opinion of this brewery (why, I'm not exactly sure), the only NB offering that I thought was exceptional was their dubbel, which they call Abbey Belgian Style Ale. 2 Below Winter Ale isn't at all what I expected and has to qualify as a major disappointment. I'd suggest giving it a complete overhaul from stem to stern.

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2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.66 out of 5 based on 1,222 ratings.
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