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 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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Photo of benito
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The folks at New Belgium must have rushed this out in anticpation of the early winter that has struck CO's Central Mountains this winter. Really, wasn't their saison just released a month ago? Make no mistake--I'm not disappointed to get to try another tasty offering from New Belgium, but it seems like they might have left the fall 'saison' linger on a little more...

In any case, this is a handsome amber beer with a thin head and a bouquet bursting with pine and citrus. I thought for sure that NB had released a winter IPA when I got my first whiff of this, but the flavor itself is quite mellow--balanced by a strong, bready maltiness in the middle of the palate, this seems to sit more comfortably in the amber genre than the ESB one.

The overall impression is that of a competent brew, though the bright aromas of the bouquet got me excited for a more assertive and bitter flavor. It's drinkable and, for a winter release, light enough to serve before, during, and after dinner. It's not my favorite offering from New Belgium (another reason that I wish Saison would stick around longer), but it's interesting and worth a look nonetheless.

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

There's a little fat tire hiding in here.
Pours a medium golden amber with a small white head that melts to a thin layer of very sticky lacing.
Aromas are toasted amber malts and light caramel. Somehow I sense pine in the aroma as well.
Tastes of the amber malt but suddenly balanced out with citrus hops and a bit of caramel. Again, a little piney hop resin afterwards in the swallow
Aftertastes are slightly burnt caramel.
Clean mouthfeel.
Decent but not the winter warmer I was looking for...more like a soft warming amber but with nice piney hops. DEFINATELY not an ESB.
But definitely a wonderfully quenching brew...sort of a cross between an ESB and a warmer. I like it.

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Photo of Padron4KM
3.01/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. Best before 09Feb07 stamped on bottle neck.

Served at 52° not 37° like it says on the label.
I’ll put sample #2 in the freezer and try to drop the temp down to that level.

Amber color, lively carbonation, 1 finger tan head. Thick lace.

Piney, resinous aroma with a little caramel.

Flavor is piney, with some sweetness and a spicy finish.

Not really a "winter beer" but a solid offering from NB none-the-less.

2nd sample was placed in the freezer for about 10 min. temp was dropped to about 38 degrees according to 2 different thermometers.

Ice started forming in the bottle so it was pulled out and poured into a glass. temp quickly rose to just above 40.

At the lower temp the carbonation is slower, the body is a bit thicker, and the piney flavor is more pronounced, but not dramatically improved. Let it warm.

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Photo of Pooba001
3.67/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours a coppery amber color, with a little head that dissipates quickly. Bottle says to drink beer at 37 degrees, I started at about 50 and drank slowly. Aroma is piney resinous hops, caramel/toffee malt, fruit, and another almost sprucy spice.

Taste is fairly muted, the hops promised by the nose don't show up in the mouth, there's just a little citrusy character. Toffee sweetness is there. Was expecting more.

Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy, big and dry. Drinkability is ok, I could drink a few of these, but I think I'd want to switch to something else before too long. This beer's ok, but however you want to classify it there's better out there.

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Photo of msubulldog25
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a snifter. Per recommendations on the label to serve cold (3 C = 37 F), I took one straight from the fridge.

A: Light golden-copper, clear with a small fluffy white head and bits of slippery lace. Poured so cold that condensation soon clung to the glass...

S: Pretty good smell of spicy/piney hops (bottle label lists Sterling and Liberty varieties). Decent malt balance, dark roast with a bit of smokiness.

T: Well balanced malt/hop with a fairly assertive nuttiness roastedness and a nice resinous & bitter hop zing. 6.7% ABV is hidden pretty well, though there is a nice "winter warmer" quality in the huskiness of these flavors.

M: A little disappointing: medium body but with a mouthfeel that'ss sorta thin and slick. Not much lingers on the palatte, except for a so-so roasted bitterness. A touch above average.

D: Pretty good beer all-around. Nice flavors and aromas, well-crafted, easy to drink. I'm sure I'll have more this fall and winter - very worthy of a try.

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Photo of Reidrover
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice burnt orange beer with a small off white head, pretty clear, no carbonation visible. Lovelly aroma piney,resinous hops with a good spiced background Taste is nice also , quite malty to start then a great hoppy , dry bitterness takes over and is only broken by peppery spice then a great after taste. Quite good on the palate, does not get boring, semi-dry finish. A nice simple winter warmer type beer in the English style IMO.

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Photo of KoG
4.48/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Saw this when I was at lunch and decided to try it.

Nice clear amber color with a frothy white head that laces the entire glass like it was frosted.

Smell is nice citric hops with a light malt undertone. Hints of biscuit are present.

Taste is very good. Nice and hoppy but not overpowering, finishes a bit sweet with a "Fat Tire"-ish hint that is kept in check by nice citric hop bite.

Extremely smooth and super drinkable.

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Photo of carln26
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear amber color with a fluffy white head. Caramel and toffee aroma, slight citrus hop on the finish. Taste has a lot of caramel. Not too sweet, just a pleasant mouth feel. The bitterness of a light citrus hop balances the sweetness. Nice full mouth feel very drinkable. The seasonals from New Belgium continue to impress.

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Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.07/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Beer shows up a beautiful clear copper color with billowy puffed head that is completely gone by the time I'm halfway done. Nose I get big hop aroma here. Definately makes me think of homebrewing, smells just like hop pellets I've used when they come out of the fridge. Its odd that this beer has retained that raw aroma. Guess thats what happens when you dry hop with Liberty. I also get a lucious fruity backend in the aroma, but it isn't typical ale fruit, its more like a peach or apricot (some fruit of "the fuzzy family"). Also has a nice kick of hop spice. Kinda funky but very appetizing.

The taste is a sweet but resinous/ piney kind of base with faint spices, and peach or apricot and maybe pineapple all popping in and out in turns. Great depth of malt flavor with signature New Belgium toasted complexity. Hop spice lingers in aftertaste. As the pint warms and I dink more, I find that dry-hopped Liberty aroma really coming through in the taste. I feel like I'm practically drinking those hop pellets. Its beginning to beat down some of the fruit and while I find this flavor interesting as a brewer, it gets a little pushy for me as a drinker. I feel this would be worthy of the title "Double ESB" since it's flavors are so big and work together on a basis of contrast, rather than the subtle synergies of traditional examples of the style.

Mouthfeel is thick but has some carbonation and is approprite. Very good, very different beer, but I would really struggle to get more than one of these down in a night. Its kind of exhausting. This is a beer I like to revisit year-to-year. It is so unique and it is actually an effective winter brew despite staying just on the light side of the style spectrum.

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

Pours a beautiful brownish gold color.

Some delicate aroma- mostly of sweet malt.
the body leaves generous sheathing on the glass.

Similar house character to NB Fat Tire- which I describe as woody and enjoy.

Not sure what the intended style is but this is a
Very drinkable brew.

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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 Beertracker
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

New Belgium's 2°Below is best served cool (45-50F) into a logo pint or tulip glass. 2°Below pours up brilliantly clear with lots of lively carbonation. The color is distictively deep golden-copperish orange with a volumous white head that collapses fairly quick leaving lots of lacy rings behind. The aroma is distinctively houselike (New Belgium) with a classic ester (dried apple/pear-like) profile from the yeast and the signature toasted (cracker-like) maltiness, but hey now!...there's also some unexpected grassiness & dried floral aromas along with some pleasant spiciness from the noticeable dry-hopping e.g. Liberty. The background is full of citrus juice, toasted crackers & pepper spice which makes everything nice! The flavor starts off fruity & somewhat spicy from the emerging bitterness, but the grape nut maltiness is never too far behind. The hop complexity continues to flourish towards the lightly alcoholic finish that's loaded with dried fruits & toasted bread. This is a very smooth, creamy & finely crafted ale in the English Bitter tradition which makes it suitable for quaffing in mass-quantities. It's certainly one of the hoppiest beers that I've ever had from New Belgium. Try pairing 2°Below with some freshly roasted nuts & dried citrus fruits. Here's to coming in from the cold!

CHEERS! Beertracker

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3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - 1/4" white head. Fell right away. Copper penny colored brew.

S - Similar malt aroma to Fat Tire. Much more hops. Muted pine aroma. Malt mingling in the background.

T - Tastes alot like Fat Tire (pattern forming??). Flash of piney hops fade quickly into a mild chocolate malt flavor. Sugary sweetness in the middle. Some evident alcohol. Light bitterness.

M - Thin mouthfeel. Good finish. Clean. Low carbonation.

D - Good. Unique flavor, mix of Fat Tire and an IPA. Lucky enough to obtain a bottled sample for this review. The classification of this beer seems a little off to me, although I can't come up with a better one.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.05/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this on tap at the local Old Chicago:

Poured a nice reddish gold colour with a small head that dissipated before it even got to me.(Nitro-CO2mix)

The smell was hoppy and sort of fruity.

The taste was a mix of fruit and hops up front with more of the fruit in the middle and huge hop bitterness in the after taste that lingered like forever. The latter part of the drinking experience I liked muchly but....I've tasted better winter ales and since this is a draft only product, there's no need for me to seek it out.

That makes only 2 brews from New Belgium that I'm not really pleased with.(the other is the Loft)

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Photo of Boilermaker88
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap at the Yard House in Phoenix, AZ. Had a clear amber color topped with a foamy white head that trailed lots of sticky lace in its wake.
Nose had the aroma of orchard fruits - think apples, pears, lighter plum notes - up front under which lurked a more earthy malt base. Interesting that in the taste the roles were reversed with the malt profile coming to the forefront and the fruitiness taking the backseat. Has a nutty, earthy flavor. Hops bitterness is pretty mild. Faint metallic tang in the finish. The feel was light with a low level of carbonation.
Overall, not a bad effort by the folks at New Belgium. Definitely not your "normal" winter seasonal.

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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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