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: 574
Photo of patobandito
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a golden brown with a creamy head. Good lacing. Smells malty, a hint of citrus, and a bready note. It taste much similar to the smell. Highly bready malt, with a hint of orange peel. Very smooth, full beer. Easily drinkable.

Still haven't had anything bad from new belgium. Great winter seasonal.

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Photo of electricfields
4.23/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear medium-dark amber color with a bubbly, creamy head. Leaves a good amount of lacing on the glass.

S: Smells sort of like Fat Tire. Lots of bready malts, but a little sweeter, with a little bit of spice but nothing overtly "wintery," thankfully.

T: Mild bitter hops balanced really well with sweet nutty malts. A little bit of alcohol comes through in the finish.

M: Medium body. Carbonation is good and stays around for quite a while. I generally don't like this much of it, but it's good here.

D: This is probably one of New Belgium's best beers. While it probably wouldn't be great for a session beer at 6.6% ABV, it tastes good enough you'll never want to use it as one anyway.

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Photo of pgroove
5/5  rDev +37.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I gotta be honest; this beer is phenomenal. All joking aside, I haven't been this excited about a beer in a long while. I'm shocked actually that there are so many sour opinions out there. Maybe some bacteria got into the other batches or maybe everyone's just feeling pissy from the economy. I have no idea.

This is an EXTREMELY well balanced beer, with the perfect amount of bitterness to complement the strong malt content. The taste is truly unique and refreshing, but not overly bitter like most American winter brews (otherwise known as IPAs).

Someone below commented that this beer "doesn't know what it wants to be" because it doesn't fit neatly into one particular style. I hope that was a joke. Thank G-d some breweries out there are still pushing the envelope and breaking the rules.

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Photo of Reaper16
3.33/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

bottle poured into a pint glass

Poured a ruddy, brownish-orange that was very clear. Decent amount of frothy white head that quickly dissipated. Spotty lacing.

Nothing much to the aromas. Nutty, definite hop presence.

Not too awfully bitter, but hoppy still. Not a very pleasant hop taste, though. They tasted old and sort of brown (if that makes any sense), like autumn leaves. A little bit of nuttiness in the malt component, which didn't show up until the beer warmed.

Decent mouthfeel, though perhaps a bit overly carbonated. It's pretty darn drinkable; the alcohol content wasn't noticeable.

Overall, this beer is decent, but nothing that I plan on reaching for again. If I had bought a six pack of this I would be thrusting them into the hands of friends.

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Photo of DrMalt
3.33/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a light orange with a white fizzy head.

Aroma was unsignificant.

Taste was that of a milder Extra Special Bitter with a bit of a nutty finish.

Mouthfeel was unimpressive. Seemed thin on the palate.

Overall a drinkable bitter but not a resounding winner for a seasonal offering.

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Photo of beer2day
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours orange with a thin head. Faint nose with slight hints of hops that get stronger as the beer warms. Tastes more like a winter warmer to me than anything else, but with twinges of a pale ale at times. Finishes malty at first and then the hops kick in. Very drinkable for a beer over 6%.

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Photo of mikereaser
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear amber color with just a fine layer of bubbles covering the glass

S - sweet malt and a bit of nut aroma with some holiday spice

T - caramel malt and nut flavor with a nice piney hop finish

M/D - very drinkable light bodied beer with a nice hoppness at the finish. Highly recommended.

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Photo of whoneeds8
3.77/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out burnt orange into a pint glass with little head. Very good lacing. Smell is hoppy, pretty strong infact. However, the taste wasn't as strong as the smell. Infact, this is very lack luster for a ESB. It's not bad as a "winter warmer", but it's definatly lacking the bitterness that the scent hints to.

Over all, this is a decent brew. Probably a one and done for me, however.

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Photo of Bagman007
3.08/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- Copper coloring with a decent bit of head.

S- At first it had an extremely hoppy smell when I first opened the bottle, but it does not smell as hoppy now. Light chocolate and malt smell.

T- Malts and chocolate are the primary tastes here, though there is definitely a hint of hops in the after taste.

M- Decent amount of carbonation present. Hoppy, but not overly bitter.

D- Fairly drinkable. I think some people wouldn't have more than 2-3 in a sitting, but you could definitely have more.

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Photo of captenaj
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this as part of the Old Chicago winter beer tour. I have been eyeing this for a while and was glad to have the opportunity to try it. I found it to be quite a drinkable brew. Although I am not a fan of hops, this was nicely balanced with just enough hops to cut through the sausage pasta I was eating. Very good.

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Photo of magictrokini
3.33/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours light orange, just as the bottle says. Grass, pepper, and hops in the nose. Smooth flavor, though the flavors seem to compete. Good malt character you expect from an ESB, but a lot of hops that you expect from a west coast IPA. Its like the beer doesn't know what it shoud be. When cool, its a malty IPA. As it warms, the ESB qualities emerge. Doesn't really matter, its still a pretty good beer.

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

Poured from bottle into tulip glass. Pours a nice, clear amber with fluffy white head. Retention and lacing were minimal. Smell is nice. At first sniff I detect a good amount of hops with a bit of a biscuity malt backbone. The hops did smell nice and fresh I thought. The taste was good but something seemed a little out of place. There were some hops at first but it finished with a caramel malt taste which is weird, it seems like most beers you get the malt first and then the hops. Mouthfeel was light, a little too thin I thought. Overall a very good beer.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.54/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Special promotion at Frog & Peach in SLO - We got 6 pints of 2 Below and a New Belgium goblet for $16! Hell yeah!

Appearance: Clear amber body with some pretty vicious carbonation on the inside. Head is tight, white, and very creamy. Great retention and tons of thick, soapy lacing left on the glass.

Smell: Not a whole lot going on, especially at a chilled temp. After letting it warm up for a while I got mainly bready yeast, with some caramel and holiday spices.

Taste: Once again, lots of bready yeast. Caramel and spices follow, with a surprising amount piney hops in the finish. Nicely balanced and pretty tasty.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body with a carbonation slightly higher than average. Not much chewiness. Aftertaste is mild but hangs around for a bit.

Drinkability: My favorite beer from New Belgium thus far. Still, all of their beers are over-yeasted IMHO. There's better winter beers out there, but a solid offering from the New Belgium staff. Give it a try.

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Photo of cokes
3.46/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep, clear, amber with a chunky bleached khaki head that shows good rentention and lacing.
Toasty aroma, with some sweeter squeals of caramel, and a bitterness that shows herbs and celery and onions in equal proportions. The weirdness grows as it warms.
Toasted grain upon its entry in to the mouth. Some nuttiness precedes a black cherry fruitiness. Here on, it gathers towards caramel. Hopping comes in with a variety herbs and vegetables. The flavor is modest, and what's here doesn't exactly jibe. Leeks and basil and milkweed aren't the flavors I'm looking for out of the hops. There's a more general herbal bitterness that is more in tune with what I'd expect out of a beefy ESB.
The mouthfeel is glossy and medium+. It's slick with a tempered CO2, and no notice from the alcohol.
The base is in place for a solid, rotund, ESB-type ale. But I question the hop varieties that are used.

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Photo of thekevlarkid
3.45/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Out of a bottle this beer was a surprisingly bright, rich gold color. The head was white, retained well as a collar and left solid lacing all the way down. The aroma was nice blend of grapefruit and citrus hops plus caramel malt. The flavors were also mostly hoppy, but it started with a flash of biscuit-like malt and some hints of caramel followed by the crisp citrus hop presence. Some brown sugar showed up as it warmed but it generally remained rather acidic. An odd combination. The body was medium and the carbonation the same. An interesting beer but not what I think of when I go looking for winter brews and it never really came together for me.

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Photo of davexisxrabid
3.77/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Clear amber colored with a small white head that fizzled down quickly. Not much lacing on the glass as the drinking progressed.

Aroma was of pine, citrus hops.

Crisp, clean flavor of light hops, with an even lighter note of sweet malts. Can't taste the 6.6% alcohol.

Easy on the tounge, very light, and does leave a pleasant lingering aftertaste of malts.

A good offering from New Belgium, good drinkability, a good choice for a session beer.

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Photo of skeetermoses
3.62/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I have mixed feelings about this beer. At first I really was impressed with it. It had a great taste to it, one that would go good with a nice thanksgiving meal, but after having the 1554, it just felt weak. I felt cheated with the 2 below, it seemed like the half way point of a great beer. Loved it, don't get me wrong new belgium still is doing good. but I just felt like I was hanging there. Should remain a seasonal.

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Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.45/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Huge fluffy beige head on top of a transparent amber brew. Leaves the most lacing I've seen on a glass in a long time.

S- Smells like spicy American hops on top of rich chocolatey malts

T- The hops dominate the taste of this brew. Clearly dry hopped, the beer has a distinct piney flavor

M- A bit slick, but overall good feeling with balanced carbonation

D- Drinks great for me, but hops might be a bit much for some folks.

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Photo of Mdog
4.12/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear amber, big head.

Smell: Big piney aroma, very impressive. A little bit of citrus shows up too.

Taste: Very tasty balance between sweet breadiness that shows up in most New Belgium brews and crisp pine and citrus hops.

Mouthfeel: Not too heavy, just right.

Drinkability: Easily quaffable. Could have one after the other.

This is a very nice beer from New Belgium, it's the first one I've had from them where the hops take on a prominent role. Very good aroma and quite tasty.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.93/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- normal pour produces an amber body with a massive off white head. head quickly falls and becomes sort of a skin on top of the glass. very solid lacing left on the glass from where the head was.

S- floral hops and lots of malt.

T- malty upfront with a solid hop finish. very nice.

M- medium body and decently smooth.

D- an esb is a pretty unique choice for a winter seasonal. its a nice change of pace. this one i could have a couple of in a sitting, and id like to have it a few times before its gone for the year.

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

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appears a copper color with a one inch off-white head that reduces to a very thin skim. Some very small particulates can be seen in the beer when held to the light. Leaves minimal lacing.

Aroma is caramelly, with some toasted notes and fruity esters.

The flavor is basically exactly what is expected from the aroma. Some caramel malts with a pretty strong toasty flavor with some fruity notes from the yeast. A bit of spicy hops on the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, pretty crisp but it goes a bit too far and is slightly astringent.

This stuff was pretty decent, kind of like Fat Tire. Would be a decent session beer for some but it's not really to my tastes.

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

Nice looks from this NB seasonal. Orange amber in color, with an ample orange-tinted head that leaves a bit of light lacing.

Hoppy aromas, but not the hops I'm used to. A little bit of pine and citrus, but herbal and spice notes. Hard to put a finger on exactly what it is, but I like it. I'm also getting a good helping of sweet, caramel malts.

Taste follows suit, but isn't quite as fulfilling as the nose. Sweet, caramel bready malts that somewhat overtake the herbal hops. A little bit of bitterness at the end, but not much there.

Seems pretty well carbonated, with a medium body. I'm glad they didn't go too light with this, I like some heft to a winter seasonal.

For me, a difficult beer to put into words, but I enjoyed it. I've noticed a few times that people think it's really similar to Fat Tire. To my tastes, it's a pretty big departure, with much more hops. A good thing, in my book.

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Photo of deereless
3.3/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark pumpkin, ring of foam along the edges - 3.50, S: Bready and grainy, the aroma definitely favors the malt though there is a noticeable hop bite - 3.50, T: The palate is quite a bit more bitter than the nose led me to believe, strong bitterness, some dark cherries and slightly medicinal - 3.25, M: Light to medium bodied - 3.50, D: A very non-confrontational beer, decent but nothing to rant and rave about - 3.50

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Photo of AustinBeerLvr
4.03/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 ounce bottle into a shaker pint glass. Freshness date clearly marked that states "best before 13Feb2009."

A: Pouring right down the middle created a good amount of head, but not excessive. Nice, dark ruby red color that looks very inviting for a winter brew. Excellent lacing on the glass as it's being consumed.

S: Before I even poured this brew, I took a sniff from the bottle expecting something similar to the flagship Fat Tire, very different, as from the bottle, this beer was screaming with liberty hops! Once poured, the nose is actually very well balanced, with some toasted malt blending well with assertive piney notes from the hops and some estery fruit notes.

T&M: Starts off with a good hit of roasted, somewhat biscuty malt up front, followed by piney and citrus flavors from the hops. Peppery spice flavor continues the hop bite, and blends nicely with some fruity, somewhat cherry esters and lingering dry bitterness to round things out. Very nice balance between malt sweetness and hoppiness. I couldn't detect any alcohol in the flavor whatsoever other than just a trace at the very end. Mouthfeel is good, a little creamy, with a good amount of tingling carbonation.

D&Notes: To be honest, I actually bought a six pack of this thinking it would be different than Fat Tire, as I am really not a big of it. Before I even had a chance to try it, I was hearing it was similar to Fat Tire, and I almost fell into the trap of judging it before I tried it for myself. Come to find out, it is somewhat like Fat Tire, but unlike the flagship brew, this winter release has ample hops to balance out the excessive biscuit like malt flavor I don't care for in Fat Tire. This is overall a very good winter beer, perfectly balanced, and has enough ABV to be warming, but two or three of these for most beer lovers shouldn't be too much either. Can't wait to visit Colorado for the first time this December, as I plan to try this on tap close to where it brewed.

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Photo of KeefD
3.48/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper orange color with a huge three finger off-white head that recedes slowly, becoming rocky and leaving some nice sheets of lacing. Well rounded aroma of bitter hops and sweet malt. Certainly balanced in the nose. Taste is quite sweet, a bit of caramel and toasty malts, and the hopping seems to be a bit light with casual flavors of citrus and light pine. Fairly well balanced but could have used a bit more hop bitterness. Smooth and creamy, light carbonation. A nice winter ale but doesn't taste much like an ESB. Too much caramel malt and too little hop bitterness to be considered such, but still tasty.

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