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2° Below Winter Ale | New Belgium Brewing

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2° Below Winter Ale2° Below Winter Ale
1,224 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,224 |  Reviews: 573
Photo of macktbone
2.78/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured into a standard pint glass, enjoyed in the month of November as a Winter warmer should.

A- Deep golden color, not really that edge that I would call amber though. True climb on the head that causes wonderfull lacing on the glass. After settling for a while it looks creamy.

S- cream and spice with a touch of vanilla.

T- All Spice with a hint of beechwood that Lends itself better to a macro than a micro. Not as special as I had hoped.

M- good for the style of ESB.

D- Two sips and it's already hitting me as a bloat beer. The flavor and experience isn't pulling me to withstand the bloat that I am envisioning.

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Photo of JayS2629
4.33/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Deep amber with a creamy 2 finger head. Awesome spiderweb lacing.

S- Bready, toasted biscuit on the front of the nose. A piney hop with hints of vanilla in the back.

T- Nice balance of hops on the front. Opposite to the smell. The malts are bready and toasted but in the middle. Mellow and nutty. Earthy with hints of caramel.

M- Nicely balanced, creamy with a crisp finish.

D- Very nice and complex. Mellow and nutty throughout with a slight sweetness. The sweet and hoppiness are very nicely balanced. Very good winter beer.

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Photo of dcook11
4.3/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed out of a pint glass on a semi-chilly November night. I've had this beer out of both a pint glass and a snifter, but I am now reviewing out of the pint.
A- An aggressive pour reveals 2 below to be a medium orange color with a two finger head and fantastic spider web lacing. Fine bubbles are present and rise to the top of the glass to contribute to head formation. The head itself is soapy and the lacing is reminiscent of sea foam splattered on the side of a dock. The carbonation is light to medium bodied and begins to dissipate about five minutes after the actual pour. The beer looks very nice in the glass and is very close to being rated a five.

S- Although the snifter reveals more smell, the pint glass does an adequate job of capturing this ESB's pineyness and malt sweetness. The initial sniff reveals a moderate hop aroma that is reminiscent of fresh pine. This pineyness is followed by a malt/cherry odor that seems to almost blend together. The smell is a winner mainly due to its uncanny balance between malt sweetness and hop spice. A definite winner and very sessionable,

T- Hop burn fades into cherry and malt with a very slight bitterness at the termination. The cheery is almost a candied cherry in that it is artificial. Although pleasant, the taste begs one to make the distinction.

M- The mouth feel is light, approaching medium bodied. Very easy drinking, mostly because of how balanced this beer is.

D- The overall balance of this beer make it very drinkable as the hops and the malt blend very well together. The cherry flavor and the bitterness on termination add to the overall enjoyment of the beer.

Although not very complex, 2 below provide the drinker with an enjoyable session due mostly to its impeccable balance and drink ability. Definitely a great choice for fall and winter nights.

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Photo of cpolking
3.21/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a light and bright copper in color with three-quarters inch of head which laces the glass. The aroma is hoppy, brassy, strangely almost a hint of fishiness. The flavor is hoppy, firmly founded on a nice malt, and follows the aroma. Flavorful, yet light and brassy. This beer is intriguing. I am interested to try it again on another day and double check my impressions.

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Photo of dragonWhale
3.57/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

a heroic tawny color with slight haze, dripping lacing. typical new belgium yeast smell, bready, slightly sweet toast malts too, earthy tones, Colorado dirt.
nice flavor, starts with a crisp bitter, mellowed by a sweetness before some grapefruit and spicy hops roll in, followed quickly by the earthiness from the yeast (i believe). the hops linger on through the end, the toasty malt character staying true, too. lots of flavor going on, mostly working well together. it actually might be better a month from now with the hops mellowed a bit into the beer, perhaps better integrated.

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Photo of jsh420
3.36/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

best by feb 11

pours dark golden brown - almost carmel with a 2 finger head that left lacing all down the glass

smells a little musty like most NB brews - hops are the only things that stand out

taste is nice and hoppy - reminds me of NB's hoptober with a bigger body - citrus hops dominate this brew but for a non overpowering beer it is a weak and one dimensional

mouthfeel - medium body that is crisp and lively

drinkability is so so - with so many other great seasonal beers out this time of year it would too easy to pass this over

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Photo of HeadyLamarr
2.86/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Drunk straight from a 12oz bottle.

Initial impression is a slightly sweet dark brown roast. It's lightly hoppy, with a nice tingle, and maybe a bit of citrus? It wants to be a full-bodied rich beer.

But the joy quickly fades. Aftertaste is bitter and the overall effect is a very mild, unimpressive drink. I'll put away a couple of these with dinner, but they aren't a beer to sit back and enjoy.

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Photo of gkunkle
3.27/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very transparent brown color with a one finger white head that leaves a little lacing. Smells of malted caramel and a little of hops. Taste reflects the smell, but has a little bit of a coffee bitterness in the middle and end that surprised me, . Has a medium body and medium carbonation. I am still unsure what style this beer is, but people who enjoy a winter beer with a bitter finish should give it a try.

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Photo of alleykatking
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle.

A- Poured a deep golden orange color. One finger white head has light retention and leaves wisps of foam on the top of the beer. Some spotted lacing on the sides of the glass.

S- Scents of sweet caramel malts with a touch of light grainy hints in the front of the beer. A citrus hops in the ending of the beer make the aroma a whole. Almost balanced but the hops don't completely cut it.

T- Caramel malts with a light doughy flavor brings the front end. There is a light hop in the front as well toward the begining of the middle. A light nutty flavor also in the middle. Citrus hops in the ending with a light bitter hop bite as well. The warmer it got the alcohol came through a little more in the ending.

M- Medium light mouthfeel. Carbonation is a little higher for the style but not for a New Belgium beer. Light caramel malts left on the palate. Citrus hops and light warming alcohol in the aftertaste. Clean flavors along with a crispness. Light drying on the palate from the alcohol. Balanced overall in the flavor..very well I mean.

D- This beer is drinkable...and I mean very drinkable. The ABV on the beer is well hidden with the alcohol coming through more as beer warms. I am very impressed with this beer...very impressed.

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Photo of vdread
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2 Below Ale pours a clear orange/amber color with a decent amount of fluff on top that leaves a nice wall of lace.

smells strongly of citrus hops, and not much else.

strange- the taste of oranges hits me. some bready maltiness, but lots of very citrusy, slightly floral hops. hops rule the taste, but it's not overbearing. bitterness low-average.

mouthfeel good, medium for the style, well carbonated.

drinkability good. this is a very nice beer.

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Photo of philbertk
3.86/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

New Belgium Brewing Company--2 Degree Below Winter Ale--2006 12 oz. Bottle. 6.60% ABV--30 IBU's. (4.5 / 5.0) Alt IPA?--Rich lacy white head. Clear bright thin amber color. Rosy pepper floral dry hopped Sterling Liberty hop front. Earthy crisp mild toasted caramel dry sweet Belgian hint body. Clean bitter hop spice end. OH! Sampled 1/4/2007.

2007 12 oz. Bottle. 6.60% ABV--30 IBU's. (4.0 / 5.0) Alt IPA--Tight lacy off white head. Clear thin bright amber color. Toasted floral hop malt front. Dry sweet crusty mild toasted caramel fruit effervescent body. Crisp tangy Liberty dry hop rich balanced end. Sampled 10/15/2007. 6-Pack--$6.99.

2008 12 oz. Bottle. 6.60% ABV--30 IBU's. (4.25 / 5.0) Alt IPA--Rich dense lacy off white head. Clear thin bright rich amber bronze color. Belgian hint floral dry hopped front. Mild toasted crusty crisp caramel mild sweet resinous Sterling Liberty hop infused mild fruit rich smooth body. Mild hot hop spice clean dry end. Sampled 10/14/2008. 6-Pack--$7.49.

2009 12 oz. Bottle. 6.60% ABV--30 IBU's. (4.3 / 5.0) Alt IPA--Thin lacy off white head. Clear rich bright thin amber color. Rich Sterling Liberty hop mild malt fruit front. Clean tangy dry mild sweet crisp caramel lightly toasted mild fruit Winter Ale hint body. Warm hop spice crisp clean end. Hoppy despite low IBU's. Sampled 11/6/2009. 6-Pack--$7.79.

2010 12 oz. Bottle. "Dry hopping during fermentation creates a bright hoppy palate and a cherry warm afterglow". 6.60% ABV. 32 IBU's. (3.75 / 5.0) Alt Winter IPA? Dense lacy lasting off white head. Clear rich bright dark gold color. Delicate floral hoppy mild fruit front. Crisp tangy dry sweet rich Golden Ale mild caramel doughy hint Winter IPA flavor. Clean mildly earthy bitter hot hop end. Subtle Winter Ale notes. Sampled 10/14/2010 from 6-Pack purchased for $7.00 @ PCC--Fremont on 10/14/2010.

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Photo of uhhhaaron
3.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

consumed 01-20-2010, 12oz bottle into pint glass.

Pours a dark orange almost copper with a head that left a thin film.

First smell was roasted malts with a hint of caramel. Also just a hint of citrus hops in the mix. Maybe even a bit resiny?

My initial drink was biscuity, with light caramel notes. Leaves somewhat of a hop finish. Somewhat floral. But not much lingers on the tongue after its down . Its not a bad beer, just expected a bit more. Drinkability is above average especially @6.6% abv.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Orangey copper with a rocky ivory head that leaves thick sheeting lace down the side of the glass. A very odd hop profile in the aroma with a very sweet citrusy hop smell reminiscent of limes...but I don't think that's right. I think it's a combination of very bright citrus and piney hops that is creating a unique a heavenly hop aroma. Some biscuity malt evident in the nose as well.

In the mouth, there's a distinct honey-like quality to the malt with the bright hoppiness delivering a juicy bitterness that pierces the malt and balances the sweetness in the finish. It's crisper in the mouth than you would expect. Bready and biscuity malt but, again, the hops balance that sweetness in the finish and aftertaste.

Is it a winter warmer is the classic sense? No. Is it good? Yes. Is it a good beer for winter to my tastes? Borderline but definitely unique and worth a try.

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

A - Poured an amber color with an off white head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is mostly of sweet caramel malt

T - Follows the nose with sweet caramel malt with light hops

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - Overall this was a pretty good beer I enjoyed the taste and it was pretty easy to drink worth getting to try sometime

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.97/5  rDev +9.1%
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 SickGnar
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Clean, Clear, slightly copperish golden with just a hint of an amber hue. Decent size, barely off-white colored head settles to a skim and leaves pretty good lacing.

S: Toasted malts that are a bit bready. Malts are at least as strong as the hops. Fairly straight forward herbal hops.

T: Quite malty. But not really in an ESB or winter warmer way. Actually, it is really thing on crystal, caramelly malt flavor that might be thought of with many English styles. The description, "tawny, roasted malts," is pretty accurate. Sort of grainy and earthy, but in a clean and almost muted way. There is a bit of the (stereo)typical NB biscuit. Mostly though, it's a hefty dose of german/munich type malty character with a restrained sweetness. Hop profile leans distinctly Noble. Herbal upfront that quickly transitions to quite spicy. Then earthy on the backend that turns a bit resiny as it lingers. Pretty balanced between malts and hops.

M: Tight, slightly firm CO2. Just a hair above medium body. Semi-sweet that fades to just barely drying finish.

D: Ok, what is this beer? It is pretty good, but what is it? BA says ESB. NB says winter warmer. Neither of these really seems to be spot on. To me it seems more like an Oktoberfest done in a big bad way. Malt profile seems to have good does of munich and to be germanesque overall. The hops are Liberty and Sterling - Hallertau hybrids. The bottle label describes a lagering process. Both quite malty and quite bitter, and bit toward the hefty side. An Ofest for the after, after, after, after Party?

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Photo of dpodratsky3
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Crystal clear orange amber, sticky fluffy, but compact half finger head, off white

S: Mild malt, with a distinct hop twinge

T: Pretty mild flavor also, light toasted malt and some hops, but its hard to tell the specific flavor, tastes mildly caramel, a little bit of alcohol/medicinal flavor too

M: Slightly drying that starts right away, but doesn't build too much, a little thin

D: Good, light and easy

Notes: It doesn't have nearly the amount of flavor that I was expecting. I love ESB's but this one falls a little short. It is better than average, but nothing great.

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Photo of nickd717
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from Whole Foods Los Altos.

Pours clear deep amber with a substantial lacey cream-colored head. Good retention.

Aroma is bready malt, caramel, mild spice, and a slight hop presence. Not too different from Fat Tire really.

Flavor has strong hints of Fat Tire. The same super-bready/biscuity malt backbone is in this one. The difference is a little more caramel, a little winter spice, and maybe some very slight floral hops. Decent stuff.

Medium-bodied with a fairly smooth mouthfeel. Overall this is not really an exciting beer, but it's well-balanced and enjoyable. Drinkability is good.

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Photo of mactrail
3.56/5  rDev -2.2%
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 SamN
3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Poured into a NB goblet, so it brought out a giant head of dirty white bubbly head, nearly three fingers. The fading leaves wonderfully delicate and detailed lacing. The scoring on the glass gives a fairly solid column of visible carbonation. Very clear orange brown color-- think the color of the 70's. That color. Good lookin.

S- Is that hops I smell? Bitter English hops profile is nothing overpowering, but is assertive. Deep citrus, lemons and pumpkin malt, maybe peanut butter. Some vigorous swirling brings out a maltier aroma.

T- The hops flavors dance around the palette, while the malt delivers it's caramel backbone in a straight line. Blends of nutty breads, creamy squashes, biscuits, crisper sparkling hops. If balance is the name of the game in a ESB, that this is a dead on representation. The balance here is commendable, and the slight bitter aftertaste is subdued and not the usual slab of pine resin I find in a lot of hoppier English beers. Some flat sweetness at the end, too.

M- The carbonation seems to fade with sipping. Still has a decent amount of carbonation left, spicy bubble pinch the palette long after swallowing. Light body, but fairly silky.

D- Not bad. A unique beer, interesting combination of characteristics. Nutty, bitter and stronger than most session beers.

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Photo of zdk9
2.73/5  rDev -25%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A- This beer is the color of liquid pumpkins, with just a half finger of froth and no lacing.

S- Some corn. a bit of woodiness. viniousness.

T- Lightly toasted bread. Slight green grape.

M- There's a wierd amount of alcohol I'm getting here which isn't flatering for the beer.

O- I'm not sure if this is not the best stored bottle or not, but I'm not a big fan of this beer (could be the style too)

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Photo of emsroth
3.78/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz with freshness date.

App: fluffy, frothy head. True amber wit perfect clarity. A bit light for an esb, perhaps, but a beautiful looking beer.

Smell: Equal parts toasty malt and fruity.floral hops. The malt reminds me of something, but I can't put my finger on it. Toasted coconut or licorice. Very interesting how the malt aroma appears to be coming from the outside rim with the hops coming from the center. +1 for that. Otherwise the aroma is nothing special.

Taste: This is where the beer shines. A solid, but light mat profile. A bit of caramel toastiness. Ends rather chewy. But the hops are the star of this brew. Strong flavors of herbs and orange--the most orangey hops I've had.

The mouthfeel is definitely oily and leaves a slight cling.

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Photo of therica
3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A= light copper, nearly no head

S= rusty with caramel

T= slightly watery, sweet toffee and chewy malts, not very bitter at all. Interesting that they use Sterling (German) hops in what is more traditionally an English beer (ESB). Nice florals. More exciting than Red Hook's ESB. I originally rated this "3.5" but changed it to "4" after the beer sat and warmed a little and the flavor emerged.

M= lightly tart and dry, slight toffee and malts

D= very drinkable, would be great for session especially if a tap was flowing.

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Photo of apbarwood
2.53/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Brownish-orange color with a decent amount of rocky, white head. The aroma isn't offensive but not all that great either. Not much complexity. All I really get is a bit of hops and a fruity, almost raspberry quality. They lost me on the first sip. The hops come through in unpleasant ways as far as I'm concerned as there's an almost metallic bitterness. Needs a lot more malt to balance things out. The fruitiness from the aroma is still there but it tastes like watered down berries. Light body, pretty unremarkable mouthfeel overall. In general, this one was very forgettable and not one that I'd recommend. I think even Fat Tire is better than this one and I'm no fan of FT. Pick something else.

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Photo of Gehrig
3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Highly recommended by a local purveyor, I grabbed this instead of New Belgium's Abbey, which will be next on my to-try list. Nice clear amber with two fingers of off-white head that recede a little quickly, but leave decent lacing; good appearance overall. Nice hop aroma, mild and slightly piney.

The taste--Hmmm. There is a moderate candied apple and pear taste, slight honey sweetness, and a nutty flavor skulking about. But it's just too restrained. Not enough of the nice hoppy taste permeates the taste, which the malt might have tamped down but without a forward malty flavor. It's as if the malt and hops negated each other, leaving a somewhat sweet flavor with a decent dry finish without a good, biting hop taste. I'm a bit disappointed.

I do like the dry finish and nutty aftertaste, which atones slightly for a flavor that leaves me wanting. In all, it's a nice accessible beer, on the sweet end of ESB and really more of a nice, comfortable warmer. But among Winter seasonals, there are far better. It would add considerably to 2 Below if New Belgium were to shovel in some more malt and hops, to boldly go where NB had only safely gone before with 2 Below.

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2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
Beer rating: 3.64 out of 5 with 1,224 ratings
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