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 GClarkage
4.21/5  rDev +15%
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.

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Photo of PintOHops
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance/Smell - Appears an ultra clear amber/copper color, medium carbonation & a nice decent head with spotty lacing. Smells of warm spices with hints of sweet chocolate & dates. A roasted malt character with citrus, piney hop notes. Hops aren't to strong though.

Taste/Mouthfeel - Tastes very malty with spices & mild earthy notes, there's some hop bitterness but not allot. There's some citrus notes that linger but most of the aftertaste is of this wonderful malty chocolate cake like flavor. Hints of alcohol as it warms. Mouthfeel is surprisingly lite & thin. Silky & smooth as well, with a lite-medium body.

Drinkability/Final thoughts - This beer is surprisingly very drinkable, I'd say about 3-4. I love the fact that its pretty lite, making it very easy to drink. I also love its chocolate cake aftertaste. If your looking for a good seasonal beer, don't pass this one up. Its not loaded with spices & hops like other seasonal offerings, but it still has a good amount of spices & a 6.60% ABV that definitely warms you up.

Cheers and Hoppy Holidays!

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Photo of ChrisA
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful pour. Thick two finger head. Golden light copper color, bright and clear. Well balanced malt and hops on the nose. I like this beer a lot. Crisp and refreshing up front with a steady malt presence. Flowery hops kick in nicely on the back end. Perhaps my favorite New Belgium offering. Definitely need to pick up some more.

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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 thektg
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer at The Griffon in Charleston, SC on tap. This was my first time tasting this beer on tap, as I've had it in bottles previously.

A - Very clear orange/amber glow with one to two fingers of off-white head.

S - Minimal hops smell. Mostly a carmel, bisquity smell.

T - Not as spiced as I would have expecected from the smell. Rich and caramelly.

M - Medium body and mouth feel. Had smacks of Fat Tire.

D - Very drinkable since it is not as heavy as other Winter Ales. I recommend it.

If I was not on a mission of trying as many bars as possible, I would have had another. But, alas...

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Photo of GilGarp
4.19/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm trying a vertical tasting, 2007 vs. 2008.

Both pour golden yellow with very good clarity. They both have good amounts of white head but '07 loses it much quicker. The '08 sticks around and leaves nice lacing down the side of the glass.

Aroma is very good on both but with more hops on the '08. Sweet and citrusy for both, very pleasant.

Taste is nice on both with the Fat Tire biscuit flavor coming though on both. The hops are more forefront in 2 Below than in Fat Tire and it really makes a difference for the better. It's more balanced with citrus fruit and bitterness.

Mouthfeel is good on both but a little smoother for the '07. Medium body and good carbonation.

Drinkability is certainly there. I wouldn't mind being stuck with a 12 pack for the weekend.

I'm not sure why this doesn't score better on BA but I think it's an idea winter warmer.

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Photo of theozag
4.19/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thick white head never really fades away; it just becomes a whisp. Amber pour and body. Crisp, strong, and complex smell includes roasted oats and wheat. I find it to be slightly sweet and simply mouth-watering. Starts deliciously sharp but very smooth. Settles full-bodied with a surgary caramel flavor. Finish is strong but without a lasting aftertaste. It is a bold mix of hop bitters that leaves you wishing for the next sip.

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - A big fluffy head rises above a cloudy deep orange and burnished copper brew, and leaves tons of really nice sticky lace that looks like ice on a windowpane. This is really pretty.

S - Mushroom, earth, stewed carrots with caramel on them....I think that's a real dish that I've had before. Weedy hops, and some nice round leafy hop notes too, along with some subdued spices like cinnamon and brown sugar.

T - Again, very heavy on the mushroom and wet earth flavors that I really appreciate. I really like how the winter spices are detectable, but not over the top as they are in some winter brews. Gentle grassy and dank hops overlay a big caramel and biscuit malt flavor. Nicely done.

M - Chalky and full bodied. This one really as some weight in the mouth, and the tingly carbonation and assertive hop flavors balance it out.

D - What a nice winter brew! I've always felt that ESBs are some of the most sessionable, if not the most complex or mind-boggling beers and this one is an above average example of the style, with the added bonus of come really nice mellow spices.

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Photo of Vancer
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I’m glad it’s not 2 below as I sample this lil goodie. The pour was a clear and bright amber – tons of sticky and foamy ivory head.

Aroma was an unique woody and floral combination, very unusual. Quaff was reminiscent of the fat tire – doughy and toasty. But the additional hops are noticeable in the finish. Fresh cut grass pops in there too.

Welp, this was certainly different, and enjoyable. As noted in other reviews, the hoppy burps come forth by mid-bottle.

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Photo of Pantalones
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Drank my first two from the Folly pack before I started doing reviews, and have had the weirdest craving for this beer the past couple days (ever since my taste buds and nose started really recovering from this cold I've had lately, oddly enough) so I figured... hey, why not have another? Seems like an appropriate time for it--though it's not quite "2 below" outside, it is definitely the coldest it's been in my area since last January (hit the mid-teens earlier today)... good night for a winter-themed beer I suppose.

Looks, like every other beer I've had from New Belgium, very nice. Sort of a dark coppery sort of color, hovering between dark orange and light orangey brown, with a nice fluffy-looking not-quite-white head of foam on top and constant upward streams of tiny little bubbles from a few spots around the glass. Starts to shrink away after a bit, leaving a trail on the side of the glass as it ends up as just a thin covering on top.

The smell is pretty interesting. Shortly after opening the bottle, a sniff came up mostly fruity; after pouring, there's fruitiness and nuttiness and some other things going on--leaning toward fruity when the foam's still on top, with the nutty part coming out stronger as it fades away. I almost want to say that it starts to remind me a bit of tea as it warms up a little. Gets a bit less pleasant later on, unfortunately, so I had to drop my score a bit.

Taste is kinda like the smell in a way, but different. The nuttiness (which reminds me of Fat Tire actually--probably not too surprising considering that they're made by the same people and all) is definitely present, but there seems to be a lot of other stuff going on too, enough that I'm almost having difficulty putting into words everything I'm noticing (I assume there are some flavors in here I'm not familiar with, so I can taste them and think "hey, that's something different" but I don't know quite how to describe them in words, though I'll try as best I can.) On some sips I picked up an almost citrus fruit-like flavor, but just a hint of it, and that particular flavor seemed to vanish after a short while; sometimes I get a little bit of a pine-like flavor which I know has got to be from one of the hops involved--it's not exactly like the pine-type flavor I noticed in Ranger and Rampant (even aside from not being as strong), and it's not always there like the nuttiness, but something in there reminded me a bit of pine. There's also a sort of... I guess "dried leaf-y" sort of thing going on sometimes which is pretty interesting when combined with the nutty flavor; seems to come out more as I'm getting into the later half of the glass, replacing (or maybe blending together with?) the bits of pine I noticed earlier. The fruitiness from the initial smell (and sometimes the nuttiness as well) returns in burp form after drinking my way through half the glass.

Feels pretty nice also. Goes down pretty easy but at the same time feels more substantial than a lot of drinks--definitely not watery, but doesn't feel excessively fizzy either. There's a definite bitterness going on (is it weird that I count bitterness as more of a sensation in the mouth than a taste? maybe so, but it seems like the "bitter" flavors and the feel of "bitterness" itself aren't quite the same thing), but the bitterness is never overwhelming or unpleasant at all even by the end of the glass. I almost get the feeling that I could drink another one right now, and I don't usually have two beers in one sitting. Balanced, I guess you could say.

And speaking of feelings, I am definitely starting to notice the effects of the alcohol as I get near the bottom of the glass, even though I had a ham-and-cheese sandwich just an hour or so before. Yep, this definitely has more alcohol than the average beer--but just like the other things going on it's balanced, not some crazy amount of alcohol that would get me insta-drunk after one bottle, just enough to make its presence known. I suspect I would be pleasantly "warm and fuzzy" if I went ahead and drank my last remaining bottle after this one's gone. I already feel warmer now (with my heater off) than I did earlier (with the heater on, and a full glass of beer in front of me rather than a near-empty one.) Tonight was definitely a good night for this beer.

Interestingly, it seems like every time I have this beer I notice more going on than I did the previous time--the first time I enjoyed it but I had difficulty distinguishing different flavors; the second time I could tell there was both a nutty taste and a vague "something else... must be hops" going on; and now, on my third bottle, I'm noticing all kinds of smaller details I never really did before. It's so odd how this one didn't really stand out to me much on my first bottle, but by the third bottle it might just be my second-favorite beer from the variety pack. I'm hoping that trend continues, as I still have one more left in the fridge!

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Photo of MashMouth
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A friend turned me on to this beer and I was happy he did. This beer pour very clear with a light amber color. It has a very bold but clean hop aroma and flavor. Malts are also in ballance. Although a winter Ale I could see this beer being very refreshing on a hot summer day.

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Photo of mikey711
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Fluffy white head on top of a golden orange colored brew. It is perfectly transparent and the head leaves nice lacing although it does not retain well.

S: Nice herbal and and citrus hops with a good amount of honey sweetness to balance it out. Simple but very well done

T: Nice subtle hoppy flavor with some earth and grassy notes. Some nice bread and biscuity notes. Pretty light sweetness

M: A little bit lighter in body than i would have expected which is disappointing

D: Very easy to sip on and goes down quite fast

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Photo of Realale
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear copper. Extremely fine white head settles slowly and stickily to a thin complete cap leaving nice lacing. Very pretty beer.

Nose is an enticing combination of bright fresh green hop notes and warm biscuit malt. Underneath lurks some fresh bread and citric notes as well. Distinctive and pleasant nose - extra points there.

Light side of medium in the mouth. Waves of bready, biscuity malt dominate the palate. There is a good dose of balancing hop flavor, and enough bitterness to keep the beer moving to its rather long, pleasant finish. Quite nice and something different.

Mouthfeel is lovely, with a modest amount of carbonation, which is how I like them. Perilously drinkable, and a welcome companion on a cool winter night. I'll be very much looking forward to this one next year. Well done, NBB! Best before date of April 6, 2007.

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Photo of bcm119
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tawny colored with a fine white head. Toasty, biscuit malt aroma with a little citrus. Flavor is toasty and bready, almost doughy, with a light toffee sweetness and hints of maple and vanilla. Slick mouthfeel with fine carbonation. Hops are unobtrusive and lend balance and a hint of herbal tea. Smooth, complex, and highly drinkable. A really finessed, well crafted beer--whatever the style-- and fairly underrated in my opinion.

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

12 oz for $1.99. Best before 13Mar11.

A: Impressive head on this one. Egg white-like foam that doesn't dissipate. Beer has a nice clarity and bronze/copper tint.

S: Smells like graham crackers, brown sugar, & cinnamon. Excellent.

T: Nutty, sugary malts and a strong minty hop blast. Like Fat Tire on steroids, almost.

M/D: Not sure about this beer being an ESB. There isnt much fruity flavors to justify that label. Still, this is a beer worth trying once for the unique hop flavors.

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Photo of machiavelli
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: coppery, sort of like a new penny

Smell: sorta floral, sorta citrusy

Taste: A little light for a winter style ale, but a good balance of hops with undertones of citrus

Mouthfeel: Bubblier than most winter ales, but palatable

Drinkability: A good beer to have with a meal, I like it with chicken or fish. As I said before, a bit lighter feel than other winter brews, but the muted flavor compliments the food and doesn't overpower it.

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

appearance: pale golden, decent head retention

smell: herbal, orange and citrusy

taste: not a powerful beer, good session pale with some floral, citurs hops flavor.

mouthfeel: light to medium bodied

drinkability: I was very suprised and really enjoyed this beer. Not a hoerum but fefinitly a solid selection.

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Photo of jera1350
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Near perfect looking pour. Deep amber orange color with a two finger head of fluff. Leaves lots of lacing.

Really crisp citrus smell. Big orange peel scent and some lightly roasted malt.

Moderately rich malt followed by boozy pineapple. Almost like a dark rum over pina collada taste. A bit of orange peel, but not as citrusy as the nose.

Medium bodied with a smooth feel. Nice soft carbonation on the tongue. Mildly bitter finish.

Quite drinkable. A bit boozy. One or two of these on a chilly night would be just right. I'm a poet and I don't even no it. It's been a while since I've had an ESB and this one makes me want to seek out more. Very nice beer.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a crystal clear deep gold color with a huge pillowy beige head. Unbelievable lacing and decent retention.

Citrusy hops and sweet caramely malts duel to a draw in the nose here. Both shine and complement each other well.

Grassy and citrus hop flavor comes out on top in the taste, but very nice sweet malt presence balances things out quite well. Gets lost in the shuffle of winter warmers, but really is a great brew...easily my favorite New Belgian beer that they put in 12 oz bottles. Taste is very fresh and crisp with a mellow, creamy carbonation feel to it. Definitely an every-year purchase for me.

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Photo of Foxxypants
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Golden yellow, decent lacing, not much head.

S: Good balance of yeast and hops, but very subtle hops.

T: Sweet, slightly hopped. Citrus notes, maybe grape notes.

M: Light, slightly carbonated, slightly dry.

D: Easy to drink, whether it's cold or warm outside. Light and refreshing.

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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 blindtiger24
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Golden / copper, clear, active carbonation, thin bubbly head.

S: Roasted malts, cereal grains, burnt toast, maybe some cocoa or granny smith apples.

T: Big malty flavor, slight esters of banana and clove, caramel apples, a little hop snap of bitterness as well.

F: Sweet and warm on the tongue. A little sticky but overall is clean and smooth.

O: Great for sitting by the fire in yuletide!

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Photo of karst
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the many taps of Patton Alley Pub 313 S. Patton Ave. Springfield, Missouri.
Across the street from the new brew-on-premises Pub by the same owners who plan the opening one month from now although the brewhouse is presently empty!

Nice pour was a light brown amber with a creamy persistant head. A fruity aroma of amarillo-like hops and yeast esters was very welcoming. Balancing the 50+ IBU bitterness was acomplished with a rich malt bill that also hides the alcoholic aroma (at least half way thru the pint glass) but a slight cardboard flavor took away from the mid flavors. A hop lovers delight that finishes up to its ESB style.
Wanted another but had promises to keep and 100 miles to go before I sleep.

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Photo of Mdog
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
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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2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.66 out of 5 based on 1,216 ratings.
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