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2° Below Winter Ale | New Belgium Brewing

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2° Below Winter Ale2° Below Winter Ale
BA SCORE
3.64/5
Good
1,223 Ratings
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
Ranking:
#34,725
Reviews:
573
Ratings:
1,223
pDev:
12.36%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
29
Gots:
118
Trade:
0
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,223 |  Reviews: 573
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.61/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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Photo of ZEB89
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.08/5  rDev -15.4%
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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Photo of mikesgroove
3.95/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a nice hazy golden amber, with about a one inch head gracing the top. Very quick head fade that left behind nothing more then a thin soapy like glaze across the top. Some slight carbonation bubbles were visible.

S - Spicey with a slight candy like back to it. It definatly came off sweeter then I thought it would. Lots of light fruit but mostly alot of spice in the back here. Almost a pumpkin liek aroma to it.

T - The taste was really quite nice, and I have to echo a fellow BA, this is my favorite from them by far. Light crisp flacvor with a good amount of spice in it and a decent hop profile to finish. Very complex flavor, cinamon, nutmeg, a ton of little spices dancing around in there, very well put together.

M - Super smooth and crisp. Great feel. Lots of carbonation and silky smooth. Flavor really pops and it is a very easy drinker.

D- Very nice, you dont even feel the 6.6%. For a winter beer it was very drinkable in the summer for sure. I could easily put down a few of these with no effort what so ever.

Overall this was an excellent beer. I really enjoyed the flavor profile and the the great finish. I do not know so much about a winter beer as this was totally light enough to drink now. I just wish we could get new belgium around here and I would be set!

 1,305 characters

Photo of womencantsail
3.76/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The pour is a clear amber color with a fluffy off-white head that leaves some nice lacing.

S: A toasted, biscuity aroma with a fairly light hop aroma.

T: I was a bit let down by the nose, but the flavor was an improvement. The toasted malt is the main flavor but there is a nice hop bitterness as well.

M: The body is light and the level of carbonation is moderate.

D: The alcohol is moderate, which makes it easy to drink. It's just not a terribly complex beer, but certainly not bad.

 492 characters

Photo of jgunther71
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of WoodBrew
3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
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 TMoney2591
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

It's cold out, but I doubt it's that cold. Still, this guy pours a clear copper topped by a nice finger of light off-ecru foam. The nose comprises flowers, light grapefruit, white grapes, light lemon zest, and a touch of sugary caramel. The taste doesn't deviate too far from this appointed route, though the caramel is stronger, acting as a nice chassis for the fruitier notes, and the flowers also accentuate themselves. The body is fairly light, with a light carbonation and a smooth feel. Overall, a nice brew, nothing quite special, but very easy to drink.

 605 characters

Photo of thatoneguymike
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of krome
4/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of BEER88
3.82/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of tdm168
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of rolltide8425
3.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Hopheadjeffery
3.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of AlexFields
3/5  rDev -17.6%

Photo of a77cj7
3.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours crystal clear with an amber color with a ruby touch to it. Decent sized head. Nose is extremely heavy on the hops. Just overpowering almost. Flavor is even and smooth, but I get something odd on there. I just can’t place it (inexperience), but it’s almost like a port like character that peeks out at you. At the start you get an almost thin layer of pine which fades to what I think is an alcohol tone after some time. Feel is a little thinner than I would think would be appropriate, but it is pretty drinkable, though not the greatest example of the style by any means.

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Photo of smartassboiler
3/5  rDev -17.6%

Photo of jwc215
3.42/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark golden with a fluffy head. Thin trailing lace sticks.

The smell is fruity (citric), slightly perfumy.

The taste is tea-like, slightly woody, some dried tobacco mixed with a biscuity malt. Citrus comes through in the finish. Something about the mixture isn't sitting so well, but works adequately enough. Some slight alcohol warmth comes through.

Lighter-bodied for a "winter" release, but works well enough. It's smooth.

Not sure what is really "winter" about it, but it's a decent enough brew. It has an ESB/Bitter character about it (and on the hoppy side), but it just didn't "mesh" well together enough to be anything great, in my opinion. Still in all, glad enough it was in the winter variety pack and to have had four bottles of it.

 756 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
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 GClarkage
4.21/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12/30/05- Had on tap at the Toronado in San Francisco, CA.

Presentation- Via tap into a standard pint glass..

Appearance- Perfect example of an amber colored pour. I was looking to see if I could find any insects in suspended animation it was that perfect. 1/4 inch creamy sparkling white head with above average lacing.

Smell- Had to really sniff to get anything here. As the beer went down and I was really able to get my nose in the glass I caught a whiff of a muted hoppy scent with a canned fruit cocktail syrup scent as well as maybe a few spices.

Taste- Different and intriguing, with a light malty flavor. Small amounts of hops creating a bit of light bitterness. Strong tropical fruit flavors carry this beer. Bits of pineapple, peaches and apricots.

Mouthfeel- Sticky sweetness with a mid range to heavier mouthfeel. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability- Very nice fruity flavor, almost tastes like a fruit beer more than a winter warmer. Very tasty for whatever it is though.

 1,000 characters

Photo of Wasatch
3.75/5  rDev +3%
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.

 329 characters

Photo of sendbeer
2.25/5  rDev -38.2%

Photo of Gavage
4.01/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

 593 characters

Photo of Mebuzzard
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
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

2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
Beer rating: 3.64 out of 5 with 1,223 ratings
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