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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 567 | Ratings: 1,189
Photo of Mebuzzard
3.85/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark amber poured, with stubborn head. Held up to the light it looks more golden.
Aroma of sweet malt and orange peel, alcohol, and something like nuts.
Taste was a bit bland; the hops came in to soften the malt and give a bit of a kick, but not bitter. Citrus was not present in the taste.
Felt smooth and warm, enough alcohol to notice it. A good seasonal if you do not like the darker stuff.

 399 characters

Photo of Gavage
4.01/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours a crystal clear amber color which a big 3"+ head that lasts a long time.

Smell: easy to detect caramel and fruity sweetness.

Taste: caramel, ripe red fruits, and a bit of a bread-like quality. Nice bitterness wraps the package. A straight-forward brew that is easy to quaff.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp at the start and smoother towards the finish. Medium bodied. Short bready and caramel aftertaste sticks to your tongue.

Drinkability: this comes in as a nice session brew in my opinion, not a heavy winter ale expected when I purchased it. Tasty and worth a try.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Draft Picks Pizza Pub, on to the beer:

It looks good with an attractive amber-orange color, whispy lacing on the glass as it's consumed. I found the aroma to be clean with some citrus and toffee. The taste is a hybrid of American and English charactersits. It starts clean with some bready malts. Caramel come in, then diacetyl. The hop flowers provide clean hop bitterness. The tail-end of the journey leaves a buttery feel and taste in the mouth. Don't worry, there's none of that buttered popcorn taste. Right on target.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orange-amber with a white head. The aroma is fairly hoppy. I get some pine and grassy hops as well as some toffee malt. The flavor is much maltier than the aroma. I get a bunch of toffee and some nuttyness, as well as some grassy hops. Very low bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A nice, malt Extra Special Bitter that is very easy to drink. Nice to see a winter ale that isn't full of spices.

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

Best by 9 Feb 07.

Pours a nice slightly cloudy golden amber color, nice carbonation, nice small creamy off-white head, nice sticky lacing follows. The nose is malty, pears, spicy, and some caramel. The taste is malty, fruity, slightly spicy, and some caramel. Medium body. Drinkable, a different ESB in my book, but drinkable.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.2/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Best by date March 2007, Sampled November 2006
I am snippy tonight, who is the pin head who recommends serving this beer at 37°F? Anyway, this is a brilliantly clear, light cherry red color that has just a touch of an amber hue to it. The head starts out at two-fingers thick, is a light amber tinted tan color and leaves some lacing as it falls fairly quickly. Ah, a nice, pungently hoppy aroma greets my nose as I take a draught of the aroma. Sweet citrus aromatics mix with a solid berry-like note, both of which sit atop a herbal, spicy hop character that has leanings toward cinnamon basil and mentholated pine. The front side of the aroma is just bright and vibrant, though if explored too in depth, shows signs of chalk and onions.

Lightly sweet in flavor, but the bright, punchy hop notes definitely play the lead role here. There is a nice malt character here though: caramel and toffee notes mix with a toasted maltiness that leans towards a dark malt side of the spectrum (despite the relatively light color of this brew). There is a slight onion, or even garlic like note here (a flavor I usually associate with Summit hops, which aren't used here) that adds to the hop complexity, in a background sort of way, more than it detracts.

This is a really quaffable beer, there is something about it that makes me want pint after pint of this brew. Perhaps not phenomenal when analyzing the individual, slightly flawed, components that make up this beer, but as a whole this is just my cup-o-tea.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

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Photo of plaid75
3.56/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a medium copper hue with a one and a half finger creamy white head. There was very good retention and sticky lacing.

The smell featured a soft cocoa malt with hints of earthy hop.

The taste consisted of soft malts with a powdery cocoa element. Extremely light peppery hop at the finish.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness with a dry finish.

Overall a nice and easy drinking ESB. I would have prefered a bit more of a hop profile, but regardless I like the concept of an ESB winter beer offering.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.43/5  rDev -6.5%
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.


 1,013 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
3.4/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, bought at Hollingshead's Delicatessen, in Orange, CA,

A: Pours a clear orange, with a nice, white head into a Duvel tulip, nice clarity for a higher alcohol beer.

S: Smells really good, a mix of dark malt and spices, some nutmeginess and cinnamon are there as well.

T: Quite bitter on the taste from the spices, a bit of a peppery flavour, very light, however, I thought it was too light for a winter beer, though there were some good malt notes, and a bit of age character to it. Definite herbal notes.

M: Light and smooth, easy to get down, though I was looking for a little more heft.

D: A pretty good beer from New Belgium, I enjoyed it, would probably try again this winter.

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

The first thing I noticed about this the moment I poured this is its excellent good looks. Clear amber colored ale with strong orange tint to it. Good thick and fluffy tan colored head.

Smell is strongly of hops. Malty with a strongly citrus scented hops kick in the nostrils. Lesser hop scents of menthol, tobacco, leather and tea. Toasted grain and malt aroma mostly caramel, vanilla and faint coffee.

Taste is mildly malty and hoppy and woody at the start. Wood and citrus are mostly what I taste in this good amount of grapefruit and a little bit of a bitter snap in the finish. This pretty much stays a dry woody and hoppy beer, a very nice beer.

Mouthfeel is full.

Very easy to drink, tasty yet not punishing.

A good tasty and hoppy winter ale. This is a very good choice for the time after you have had your fill of too much sweet from you usual winter warmers. Hoppier than you would think, you burp after one of these and you will know it!

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

For those who love Fat Tire, I'm sure they think this beer is the cat's meow. Personally, I can take or leave FT, so this beer really did nothing for me.

Had on tap at the New Belgium "HUB" restaurant at the Denver airport.

The beer pours the typical Fat Tire amber color with fair head retention and lacing. I don't get a lot on the nose, but just some sweet malt and light Belgium spices. On the palate this beer is completely boring. It's sweet and malty, tasting very much like FT, but with a bit more alcohol and some additional spices that, at least to my palate, come across as some skunky bitterness. The beer does not taste entirely fresh, which considering where I got it, is a surprise. The beer has a light to medium bodied mouthfeel, with not very noticeable abv.

One of these was more then enough and I don't plan to ever order it again. I was trying to choose between the trippel (in bottle) and something on draft at the airport, and made the mistake of going with this. Ho hum....

 1,001 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.7/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pale amber with little head. Aromas of apricot with a bit of funk and a little Christmas spiciness, thought this is quite restrained. Tastes of mandarin oranges, apricots, and a bit of metal. Slightly sweet, but not overly so. Light, crisp mouthfeel makes this somewhat refreshing, but the spice and sweetness less so. Not bad, but I've enjoyed a number of other winter ales more.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.86/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a five finger rocky cream head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving a good lace. Crystal clear amber color. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Slight hoppy nose. Flavor is not as hoppy as brewer says, not the usual ESB, hints of sweetness, very drinkable. $1.49 for a 12oz bottle from John's Marketplace Portland, OR.

 331 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.98/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a crystal clear copper color, white head settling fairly quickly. Nose is less fruity, caramel malt, spice, nutmeg and very tasty A nice malty brew, with just enough hops to balance everything out. Mouthfeel is fairly mild, not too complex. Drinkability is high due to its taste and smoothness.

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

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a nutty-amber colored body that is crystal clear with a good carbonation of tiny bubbles. There is a creamy head of yellowish-white head that last and fades to a thin film.

S- The smell of pine and kefir lime hops is bright and floral. There are also notes of lightly toasted malt and biscuit malt.

T- This beer has the taste of soft toasted malt followed by a biscuit malt flavor that increases as the beer warms. There is a green pine hop flavor at the finish and a soft bitterness that lingers. .

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a fizz at the finish.

D- With a name like 2 below I was expecting a nice big barlywine to take the chill of the day but I was let down at first. This beer grew on me and has some nice fresh hops flavors that are really crisp, but the biscuit malt is a bit too much.

 870 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
3.05/5  rDev -16.9%
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)

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

A 12 oz bottle from nvsblman.

A: The ale is a vibrant copper color. There is a small white band encircling the glass and a nice stream of carbonation bubbling up from the center.

S: The aroma is grainy malt and a hint of citrusy hops.

T: This strikes me as an interesting take on an ESB. The hops are ramped up a bit, adding a bit of citrusy hops to the strong malt base. The malts are grainy with a slight nutty sweetness. They are, however, a little thin and allow for a herbal flavor to kick up at the end.

M: The floral flavor is unusual, but the initial hoppy citrus taste is pleasant. There is nothing that screams 'undrinkable' here.

D: The ale is a good drink, I'd gladly have another.

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Photo of Haybeerman
3.73/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Bright, clear dark amber color. Poured a 2 finger off-white creamy head. Ample lacing.

S: Sweet bready malts and big bitter hops.

T: Bitter hops and sweet nutty malts in a avery nice balance. Some warming alcohol with the hop finish.

M: Medium body. Ample carbonation.

D: Very nicely done mnalt and hop balance makes for a fine beer. ABV is limiting.

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Photo of Immortale25
3.38/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a New Belgium goblet. Label says 23FEB14.

A- Pours a clean medium amber color with a 1/2 inch off-white head that retains well before dying down to a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a mostly full sheet of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a bubbly ring behind.

S- Grainy, biscuity malt aroma. Slight tinge of alcohol.

T- Graininess follows through to the taste bringing some bready notes. A bit of butter, slightly sweet. Minimal hop bitterness and flavor.

M- Slick and thin with medium carbonation and a lightish body.

O- One of the less impressive ESBs I've had. It really is a difficult style to nail properly and bring out the subtle nuances. Nothing offensive going on though, so it doesn't lose out on too many points.

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Photo of avalon07
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a completely clear texture. There was a very small amount of foamy head and fairly good lacing.

S: Aroma of malt, mild spices, a little hoppiness and an herbal quality.

T: Tasted of malt, spices, hops and a bitter herbal quality. Not a very big flavor, but not a bad ESB.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a super-dry finish. Light-bodied.

D: A drinkable beer, if you're into ESBs. Not a particularly complex brew, but good enough.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.18/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Can't really pigeonhole this style, looks like an amber ale or a winter warmer, call it an esb though. Just seems darker than esb average, drops 1/3" head, off white. Aroma has that woody malt feel.

Little hop presence in this one, it goes winter warmer like malt first. The malt is roasted but not burnt nor charred. It takes on a woodiness to a degree that makes you look on the label to see if it is a 25% wood aged blend (something New Belgium often does).

Bready, unsweetened caramel and toffee notes. Not super earthen. Carbonation higher than average keeping the mouthfeel from being heavy. Run of the mill stuff, not really sure about its esb designation, needs more of a hop presence to get there for my money.

 734 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
3.06/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a straight up orange peeko tea copper, hardly any bubbling. Film of foam head. Slightly funky hop and toasty, dry bisuit malt aroma. Well hopped, but somewhat dry on the palate. A little off putting. Plus the hopping delves into the skunky bitter of hops that I don't really care for. The finish is smooth, but don't let this beer get to warm unless you like funky hops.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap in the Denver airport today

The pour is gorgeous, amber in color with a creamy off-white head with excellent retention and lacework. Clarity is pretty solid too. The nose is mellow with a blend of brown sugar, toast, caramel and an earthy and leafy hop character. A touch spicy as it warms up, the nose is pretty solid.
The palate opens mildly bitter with a combination of hop and burnt whole wheat toast bitterness before the brown sugar and a light molasses character come in. Mildly spicy, I swear I taste nutmeg, but it could be the combination of the alcohol and the bitterness. Drying on the finish with a grainy astringency, this medium-light bodied beer has a high level of carbonation . Solid stuff, I'm not sure I'd drink an awful lot, though.

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

Hazy scarlet red. Thin off white head. Lacing is thin. Grassy hop nose with a toffee like malt aroma too. Snappy hop presence gives this ESB some character. English malt backbone is sufficient lending toffee notes to the flavor profile. Dry and grassy finish. Easy drinking ESB. Nice stuff.

 290 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.33/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Looks more like an amber ale. Dark amber. Good carbonation making champagne like tiny bubbles. Aroma is woody. Taste, malt predominance, a little hop presence that can't resonate on the palate because of the assertiveness of the roasted malt. Wood flavored almost to the point you would think there was minimal aging inside such a vessel.

 338 characters

2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.67 out of 5 based on 1,189 ratings.
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