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

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Reviews: 572 | Ratings: 1,216
Photo of assurbanipaul
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear light copper with a frothy white head. Aroma is immediately fresh clean hops, very bright and straight out of the bag.

Taste is medium toasty with a nice hoppy freshness. Bright, slightly lemony hop flavors rides the light malt base very well. Would not be surprised to learn this was dry hopped (which, as the label states, it is). No trace of alcohol flavors or aromas; finish is dry.

Mouthfeel is light and thin but holds up very well. Very clean, sharp, an excellent palette upon which to paint these hop varieties (Sterling and Liberty, as per the label). A welcome hoppy mid-winter seasonal light IPA, although it's clearly too hoppy to be called an ESB.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Very clean looking brew, copper color with pumpkin highlights. Attractive streams of bubbles conjure from nothing on the side of the glass. Head is off white with a slightly green tint. Decent ring with a small gathering of foam on top.

S: Toasted malts, floral hop character, dried biscuits and pepper.

T: A malty brew with a pronounced bready personality. A lot like a xmas style bread your aunt might bake. Reminds me a lot of a mulled drink you might be served at the same gathering. Choc full of nutty flavors; sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and almonds. Maybe a smidgeon of chocolate and cream in there as well with. Hops play the back up roll in this show but add much needed balance and depth across the tip of the tongue. Finishes with alderberries and surprising peanut butter.

M: Medium mouthfeel but amazingly creamy.

D: This beer really grew on me. First sip and I prepared myself for some boring malt bomb with no depth. This beer actually has a lot going on. I can confidently say this is my favorite New Belgium beer to date.

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Photo of theopholis
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours an amber color with a thick, fluffy, white head. The head has decent staying power, leaving good lacing.

Smell- Grassy-citris hops with a perfect balance of malt.

Taste-The 1st thing you taste is freshly made biscuits, followed by a very nice blend of hops. Drinking it straight from the bottle, you get a more pronounced hop flavor with a hint of roast.

Mouthfell-This beer goes down smooth, with no CO2 bite. Just a tad undercarbonated.

Overall: A nice, easy drinking session beer. Not extraordinary, but worth aq try.

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Photo of WetCoaster
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Crystal clear golden copper with a dense pure white head. Nice.

Smell: Booming, as promised. Piney, spicy hops over a base of butterscotch malt. Slightly floral yeast.

Taste/Mouthfeel: As with many NB beers, about three-quarters of where it should be. Starts out hop spicy and bitter, but soon waters down miserably. The malt really goes nowhere. A bit fruity and juicy, but finishes dry and bland. The mouthfeel is fine; thin and crisp.

Drinkability: I think what they were going for here was a SS Winter Welcome clone. What they got was a somewhat watery IPA with an odd malt and yeast base. Not offensive, but not particularly interesting, either.

Note: Unless you plan on serving it as a smoothie, don't serve at the recommended 37 degrees.

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Photo of allengarvin
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brand new in the Dallas area. Pours out a clear copper color with a big inch-worth of frothy foam, followed by excellent lacing. Lighty toasted malt aroma with a distinctly peppery hop nose. The malt flavor on the initial taste is completely identical to their flagship beer, Fat Tire, but it's got a stronger hop underpinning, with more bitterness and a good deal of spicy, peppery hop flavor. The nutty, toasted malt remains a dominant flavor and it finishes malty. Creamy body.

Not a complex beer, and remarkably similar to Fat Tire, but still quite tasty and quite quaffable. Really, this is kind of like the classic English winter beer, which in most breweries was a stronger version of their basic beers. Very nice, and worth buying again.

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Photo of goochpunch
4.27/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a copper amber body with rather active carbonation and a thick off white head that settles down to some peaks and plateaus along with lacing all over the place. Hops hit me in the nose first off. Lots of grassy, herbal, and floral aromas. Following that is a whiff of butter followed by smells of bread, both fresh and toasted. Flavor is big on herbal hops up front, with an underlying fruity ester quality. Something about the mix of the hops and malt flavors remind me of watermelon bubblegum just for a second. Follows through with some bready malts and toasted notes. Finishes dry, slightly bitter, with a little alcohol kick and slight astringency. Herbal hop flavor sticks through the entire way. Mouthfeel is amazing. Smooth and of moderate body. This is dangerously drinkable, especially at its alcohol level.

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Photo of leedorham
2.12/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a clear amber with an off-white thick creamy head.

This smells hoppy and has a very grassy-hoppy-oily aroma. Not making me puke but not entirely pleasant.

The taste is the same. Grassey-piney-dandelion green taste. I assume there is malt in this beer since it is a winter ale but I can't taste it because of the dominance of the oily vegetable drawer hop taste. No balance to the taste at all. Although it gets more tolerable towards the end and there are some pleasant spicy notes I can't say I am happy I bought 6 of these. Maybe if your a serious hop head you'll disagree but I am wishing I had tried another brewers winter offering. It looks good. I'll give it that.

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Photo of AlesRTasty
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

A - thick foamy tan head, moderate retention. Amber brown color. spot on for ESBs.
S - good malt aroma followed by a the hop aroma.
T - to me the hops overpowers the malt too much for this style.
M - too carbonated
D - not a good representation of the style BUT mighty tasty so its worth a try. I won't have a problem drinking the rest of the sixer.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4.4/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served nice and cold, per written instruction. It warmed to 55° area by end of glass.

Nice amber color, clear and crisp. The head is as large, or larger, than the liquid. Nice head retention and lacing. Moderate carbonation.

Smells quite hoppy, floral and grapefruit-like. Malt body, highly overshadowed by hops.

Nice blend of flavors. Light malt base superimposed with mellow hop flavors, floral mainly. Roasted malt undertones. Not overly sweet. The malt doesn’t seem to contribute much to the flavor, but is nonetheless an integral part of the experience. Light touch of alcohol hiding in the back.

Smooth with mild oral foamation and almost no carbo-sting.

Drinking 2° Below is like drinking the nectar of some plant, some wonderful tasty plant. The flavors complement each other almost perfectly. Extremely refreshing. This is a jewel of a beer. I could drink it all day. Well done New Belgium.

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Photo of whynot44
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A nice coppery amber color with a decent off-white head that retains fairly well and leaves some nice lacing.

The aroma is fresh biscuits with just some hints of pine needles.

The taste is also mainly biscuity malts but with a bit of citrus and some definite spicy notes. The finish is slightly dry with a peppery, piney aftertaste. Not bad.

Medium bodied, smooth and easy enough to drink with just a touch of alcohol warmth for the fall/winter season, although this wouldn't be bad year round.

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Photo of aaronh
2.65/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Not sure what expected out of this beer. Copper colored body topped by an off-white head. Aroma of malt and a bit of funk. Flavor was OK, but a bit thin and dry on the finish. Very reminiscent of Fat tire with a bit more malt and peppery hops. Body is fairly solid, but the carbonation was aggressive and the finish was dry. Drinkability is OK, but not very enjoyable, unless you're a big fan of Fat Tire.

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Photo of ColoradoBobs
3.66/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Moderate pour into my New Belgium half-liter chalice (appropriate) yields a large creamy off-white head over a lovely clear amber-red body. This is a very pretty beer! Lovely. Lots of lacing

Smell is fruity hops and an interesting sour note. Odd -- reminds me of aged salami! Nice malt backbone.

Taste is pretty normal for an ESB. Nice malty foundation with decent pine and citrus hops. A bit of peppery spice

Mouthfeel is pretty good and round.

Very drinkable.

Overall, not a winter warmer, but I like it. Nothing spectacular. Almost sessionable in taste, but not in ABV. Worth a try.

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Photo of Imstillthegman
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear amber with a quickly diminishing white head. Nice rings of lacing remain.

This beer smells like a hop biscuit. Doughy malts envelope the green (pine, grass, and light citrus) hops. Wish the local bakery would offer something like this...just think about it, a hop biscuit...yum.

The taste is a fine blend sweet and spicy. The hops show a spicy side not noted in the aroma while the malts show up as sweet, doughy biscuits. Not exactly what I was thinking of when I saw this was an ESB, but darn tasty.

Medium body with a good level of carbonation. Slick, creamy feel on the tongue. This brew is one "winter warmer" I could drink all year long. New Belgium, when are you coming east?

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Photo of loren01
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a translucent amber color, small white head. Good lacing down the glass.
S: Mmmm, I love hops. Strong spicy hop scent even before poured into glass.
T: Biscut malts, good hop flavor. Not too bitter, tastes very fresh. Not sure what the ABV is but it seems pretty warming going down.
M: Medium bodied, good amount of carbonation, not too much not too little.
D: Basically tastes like a hopped up Fat Tire in my opinion, which isn't a bad thing. In my opinion you can't really go wrong with anything New Belgium puts out. Would for sure buy this again.

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Photo of OStrungT
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a golden color, with a very slight brown tint. It boasts a thick, fluffy, white head. The head fades slowly, leaving a huge lacing.

As with most New Belgium beers, this beer has a dominate biscuit aroma. Behind that, I smell a nice hoppy aroma. Grassy hops, and a slight cirtus hop hint also. It has a mild caramel aroma as well.

Tasting like it smells, this beer is quite biscuity. The hop flavor is stronger than I thought. I wouldnt call it hoppy, but I can definately taste the grassy hops. It has a sweet caramel malt finnish.

This beer goes down smooth, leaving a biscuit like flavor. The carbonation might be a little low for the style.

This beer might make a decent session beer. The only problem I can think of is the biscuit flavor. It can be cloying after a few.

Overall: As with most New Belgium beers, I think they used a little too much biscuit malts. If they toned it down a bit, and maybe hopped it up slightly, it might be better. I doubt I will buy it again, with all the great beer I can get anywhere down here.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
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 ojiikun
3.29/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a medium-dark amber with a fine off-white head that never quite gets big, but never quite goes away either.

Smells of hoppy hay, maybe even wakame. Hints of alcohol, even served fairly cold. Second one smelled a bit more like roasted malt, but the ESB smell masks it almost entirely.

Tastes nothing like I expected. The label says it's hoppy winter ale - which made me think of the sweeter, darker, stronger brews of this season. This is not at all strong or full-bodied. Plenty of New Belgium's characteristic hops/malt/yeast, but surprisingly little of the hops you smell are there on the palate. There is, however, the occaisonal smoky character that I think fits the theme well.

Fairly drinkable, though more body would help those bitter hops down the gullet! I think the fair carbonation lends itself to colder service, so perhaps not the best winter brew.

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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.

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Photo of Domingo
3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a a light amber color. Reminds me a little of Fat Tire, but not as dark.
Smell is definitely of hops. Smells a little pastoral to be honest.
The flavor starts off a little like the NB Saison. It has their "signature" malt flavor used in a few of their beers, but with a definite hops kick. When you swallow it, the hops hit...and to be honest I didn't like 'em. I guess is the variety of hops used or maybe how they work with the malt, but the aftertaste really turned me off.
Mouthfeel's fine and I'm sure if you like the flavor profile this would be a fine brew. In my case, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

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Photo of hckyfn9999
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a burnt orange color with a nice white head that last a long time, and leaves some solid lacing throughout the glass.

Smells like fat tire with some piney hops as well. There is a strong carmel pressence as well.

Taste is sweet of malt up front followed by some hops bitterness finishing with a pine after taste.

Mouthfeel is good and this is a pretty drinkable beer.

Similar to fat tire, but in my opinion better. The strong pine pressence makes this stand out. Pretty decent.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours with a brilliant copper hue. The head reaches about a quarter inch but holds on well leaving a nice lace on the glass. The toasty malt aroma reminds me alot of their Fat Tire, except perhaps with a hint of spice. It's classic New Belgium. The taste is also dominant on toasted/bready malt. It has a touch of sweetness paired well with a mild bitter dryness at the finish. The hop character is herbal/grassy, and overall there is just enough hint of nutty spice to keep things interesting. The mouthfeel is light and crisp, with average carbonation.

Overall this beer works for me. It's nothing unique but is definitely drinkable. There's a reason why they recommend you to drink it at three degrees celsius though, because it certainly didn't get any better as it warmed. Give it a shot, I think it's a step up from their fall seasonal...

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Photo of rowew
3.77/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Standard NBB bottle with a good description, ABV, best by date, and serving temps.

Appearance: Pours a copper color with a decent head, average retention.

Smell: Thick malt aroma, spicey hops, just a bit of pine.

Taste: Spicey hops - a bit of pine and a good malt backbone. Very drinkable - the relatively high ABV is well hidden.

Overall impression: Nice beer from NBB, I'm glad to see this one bottled this year. This doesn't fit the standard template for winter beers - it could easily be a year round.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

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4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've always been a fan of Fat Tire, but not too interested in any of the other New Belgium offerings. The description on the bottle of 2 Below made me want to give it a try-- the "dry hopping" is something I always seem to favor in a beer!

The smell was outstanding-- like a great IPA. I expected it to have a lot of hoppiness, and I wasn't disappointed.

The beer poured well, and left a bit of foam even as I drank. The lace on the glass was nice, as well.

Taste was hoppy, citrusy, and malty at the end. Very drinkable beer. I could taste a bit of the "Fat Tire" recipe in this beer-- must use the same hops.

Glad to see New Belgium come out with a tasty, hoppy ale.

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Photo of RJLarse
4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked up a six pack of 2° Below Winter Ale at a grocery store. I had seen it on the shelves for a couple of weeks, and figured to give it a try. I poured this beer in to a pint tumbler.

Pours a rich amber color and is crystal clear. A foamy three finger off whit head forms and is very resilient. The head is rocky and created ridges and valleys as is breaks down. There are curtains of lace on the side of the glass.

The smell is floral and fruity. There are fruit fragrances like peaches, and some evergreen scents like Juniper.

The taste is very good. Some roasted caramel malt flavor and a multi-dimensional, zippy, bitter hop taste. The flavors are difficult to describe and well balanced.

The mouthfeel is light crisp and clean.

This is a very drinkable beer. They say it has a warming aftertaste, and is a winter ale, but it would be good year around. This is a nice easy drinking, full flavored, hopped up brew. I will definitely be having more of this beer.

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2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.66 out of 5 based on 1,216 ratings.
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