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: 573 | Ratings: 1,220
Photo of Cylinsier
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz.

Pours a medium honey gold, thin white head holds as a film.

Smells of brown sugar and mild spices.

Tastes of mild hops and subtle brown sugar malt sweetness.

Body on the fuller side with mild carbonation.

Good bitter ale, not great but very good, worth trying. Sort of mild.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.6/5  rDev -29%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Bottle into cup (I know...) in high altitude Colorado Springs, CO (aka the place in Colorado where people go either for cheap real estate, cocaine, or a mixture of both).

A: Pours a clear gold-copper with a thin head of decent retention.

Sm: Light clean scent of hops, malt, and barley (the usual suspects.

T: Pathetic open to strangely built, unbalanced body with a bitter finish.

Mf: Nicely coarse, but doesn't suit the style. Too wet.

Dr: 6.6% is excellent for the price, but the taste doesn't justify having it again.


01/11/2014: Revisiting this. 6.6% ABV confirmed per the label. "Best before 23 Feb 14." Reviewed live. Expectations are low given my previous review. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with branded pry-off pressure cap acquired at a local bottle shop and served into an Odell pilsner glass in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado.

Served cold - straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a two finger wide head of white colour. Fluffy, airy, and somewhat thin. Good creaminess. Head retention is good - about 7-8 minutes. No lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a clear translucent copper of above average vibrance. Clean. No floating yeast particles/sediment is visible. Appears well-carbonated.

Overall, it's within style conventions but isn't unique or special. It looks pretty decent.

Sm: Heavy diacetyl/buttery notes, caramel, honey, graham cracker, floral hop notes, and some off-putting soapy hop character. Too sweet. English malts. Toffee.

No yeast character or alcohol is detectable.

A strange aroma of mild strength.

T: Buttery slick English malts provide the tasty foundation, with ample toffee and marshmallow. Diacetyl is through the roof. Floral hop character. Graham cracker. Caramel.

It's got decent balance, but ultimately the diacetyl and soapy hop character really get to me. I think this spent too long in primary. Average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour. Limited complexity. Not real subtle, intricate, or nuanced.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through.

Mf: Buttery, smooth, and slick, with some coarse scratchiness mucking up its presence on the palate. Overcarbonated. Wet. Medium-bodied. A bit too thick. Texture doesn't suit the taste all that well.

Not gushed, hot, boozy, or astringent.

Dr: A downable ESB, 2 Below is better than I remember but far from a new favourite. New Belgium does much stronger work, and I wouldn't recommend this to friends. I'll easily finish the bottle, but I'll be fine if I never have this beer again.


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

12oz bottle, best by June 5, 2011

Pours clear amber with a two finger foamy off-white head. Leaves nice drippy rings of lacing and holds a creamy cap.

Aroma is floral hops with a touch of citrus and grass, caramel malt and bread. Moderate to good strength.

Flavor is caramel malt, pine/grass hops, some citrus, bread, hint of spice, moderate sweetness followed by solid bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, medium carbonation.

Good ESB!

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Photo of drowninginhops
3.82/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served in New Belgium glass. From notes.
A: Average, golden with 1 3/4 white head. Good lacing

S: Hops and Malt nothing special.

T: was not expecting this. What I can only describe as a the body of good scotch. By this I mean earthy slightly peaty with a little roastinees.

M: The scotch body I mentioned earlier server this beer well. Good carbonation.

D: The aforementioned body does not serve it well here. As it sits on the stomach strange. Could only have two.

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Photo of PrivateEquity
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Nothing special about the Appearance. Orangish-Amber color. Okay lacing.

S - Solid malty smell, almost like dough. Hints of spice.

T - I like the spicy hoppiness to this winter ale. Good balance betweeen malt and hops.

M - Solid carbonation, but maybe just a little too much up front. Medium body.

D - Very drinkable beer. Finished it quick and looking for another.

Overall - Hoppy Winter Warmer. Interesting beer. It's a beer that I look forward to having in the winter. In a sampler pack of winter beers, it will stand out and add to the batch. Don't know is I would classify this as an Extra-Special or Strong Bitter.

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Photo of jdspears41
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got this in a sample pack and I enjoyed it enough to drink the 3 bottles provided in the pack in one night. My wife drank a half a glass and also liked it.

A- Basic color or New Bel brew co beers. It didnt shout DRINK ME but wasnt like water.

S- I liked the smell of this beer a lot, it really made me want it.

T-Great taste, I liked it alot, nothing more nothing less

M- More carb than their 1554 and it had a better after taste as well.

D-I liked it alot, could drink a sixer of this with no problems.
Give it a try.

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Photo of BretSikkink
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Orange in color, pretty clear with some bubbling. The head is sticky and fairly tall for its style, with a pleasant craggy recession. Glass lacing is minimal. Aromatic with the nose deep in the glass, somewhat toasted barley note with an herbal hop character. The flavor is pretty mild, lead by a toasted barley and general earthiness. Hopping is quite faint, and somewhat herbal. A little too faint in the mouth and light overall to make a good impression.

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Photo of jadpsu
4.3/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright and crystal clear copper with a nice off brown head, with slightly better than average retention, along with decent side lace.
S: pine and floral hops most prominant, along with some roasted malts showing up.
Taste: Toasty, bready malts, a little sweet up front, then finishes with some piny hops along with a hint of caramel.
Well balanced, enjoyed this one, very drinkable.

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

I poured this one from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass...

It pours a pretty bright, orange amber color with a thick bubbly white head.

In the nose I detected some pine, sugar cookie, a hint of alcohol and pepper.

The taste was a bit spicy, sweet roasted malt, some type of cake maybe, with a very slight bitterness.

This beer is smooth, light and bubbly.

Overall this beer looks great, smells good, and drinks very easy.

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Photo of Erish
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured this 12 oz. bottle into a nonic pint glass. Bottle marked best before 01 May 2011.

A: clear, brilliant yellow-amber color, an aggressive pour produced a magnificent, creamy head that fell into a thick cap with good lacing.

S: a pronounced pine hop aroma surrounds a bread-like core, and underneath there is a subdued and earthy New Belgium trademark yeast aroma.

T: the bread-like core hits first, followed by a slowly rising spice, dried fruit, citrus and pine hop flavor, giving way to pine and herbal hop notes that lay on top of a bitter dryness.

M: medium-bodied, lightly creamy, moderate carbonation.

D: this is a very nice ESB, and one that I will seek out again.

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Photo of bastardface
3.94/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer I have seen on tap but never tried it. I went to the beer store and saw that it was available in bottles and decided to pick it up. The semell is fairly hoppy an to my surprise is pretty drinkalbe. It leave no aftertaste and is has a really good moutjfeel. This is a light but not to light beer that is easily drinkable. I highly recommend this beer.

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Photo of NickRivers
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the 12oz. that came in the Winter Folly Pack. Awesome by the way.

A - Golden yellow with a nice head that dies pretty fast with no lacing.

S - Hoppy, caramel, malt.

T - Bitter, hoppy, some malt, spices, bready.

M - Weird Carbonation. Gassy at first then dies to flat.

D - Pretty easy drinkin'.

I had some of these during Christmas and was blown away. Nice hop flavor and use of light spices. I then saved a bottle for now, (About 2 1/2 Months Later). Im not sure if it went bad, despite the bottle's date being fresh. I really did like it which is why my review is above average. I felt like it was a lighter bodied, more hoppy Fat Tire. I'll be sure to buy it again next year, and also compare it to this batch. Like I said the last ones I had weren't watery at all. For those who say: "Hoppy Winter Beer?" Try Sierra Nevada Celebration.

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Photo of sauron681
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a off color copper. Good head and lacing the whole time. Very carbonated, and medium light mouthfeel. Aroma of citrus and hoppy goodness.
Very roasty malty flavor, finishes with a light dryness. Clean and smooth going down, not chalky at all. Notes of subtle spice, hard for me to distinguish any real predominant flavor, maybe its to well balanced?

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle was a gift from my brother via. Chicago.
Poured in to Duvel tulip

A - Light amber/brown colour; transluscent. One finger of bubbly white head that instantly disappeared.

S - Bready malts, sweet caramel and toffee. Secondary smell of hops with some light earthy and citrus notes.

T - Definitely malt flavoured. Sweet caramel with a slight spicy flavour. Biscuit and some nuttiness are present as well. Slight hop bitterness in the finish.

M - Medium body, lightly carbonated.

D - A nice winter beer, as advertised. I would gladly enjoy another bottle, although it is not spectacular.

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Photo of MaltsOfGlory
3.04/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance is pretty awful for a winter beer. It's almost transparent, not much going on in the look. It is a dark orange color, nice head though, the head is the only redeeming quality. The head is fading quickly however, looks like it might be leaving good lacing. The smell is hoppy, hoppier than I would expect a winter beer to be. In the back end of the smell you get a tiny tiny bit of malt sweetness, not a bad smell though, pretty good actually. Wow, the taste is interesting, it tastes a little watery, with the hops trying to cover it up, I know that doesn't make much sense but bare with me. Like, the body is really thin and watery, and the taste is a little watery too, but at the same time there is a very present hop bite. Not much malt at all, you get a tiny tiny bit, but not nearly as much as I would expect in a winter beer. You do however get some of that winter warmer warmth from this beer, which is nice, you also get a taste of spices. Drinkability is average, nothing special there. Overall an average beer.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.08/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a snifter glass. Poured a clear dark amber color with rocky white head. Picked up aroma of floral citrus and and toasted white bread. Starts out with a dominant toasted malt bread bisquit and maybe wild flower caramel flavor. Has a medium bodied mouthfeel and will continue throughout, with that trademark toasted bread malt backbone. Nice dry hopped aroma of orange, but flat finish.

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Photo of zulufactor
3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Nice golden color with a half inch white head, good lacing

S- Citrus and pine notes

T- Light malt flavor with a strong hop finish. Touches of pine and citrus as well

M- Strong carbonation but was thinner then i anticipated

Not something i would pick up often but i was a good break from my stout and porter stint.

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Photo of JamnesCameron
4.3/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a New Belgium globe.

Pours a clear copper, with a nice off white head that drops fairly quickly. Good lacing.

Aromas of bread, earthy hops, flowery and fruity.

First sip is of earthy and floral hops, sweet biscuity malt, a hint of juicy fruit gum. Short bitter finish. A bit of a carbonic bite.

Mouthfeel is chewy, medium bodied, with a light prickle of carbonation.

Very drinkable winter warmer, with an american hop touch. Good to sip next to a fire on a cold winter night.

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Photo of secondtooth
4.42/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Transparent golden-red appearance, with big bubbles and yellow lace.
Aroma is bold, with accents of floral, fruits, and bread. Appealing!
Flavor is complex and original -- a balanced mix of snappy hops and a wonderful sweet malt character that conjures fresh berries somehow.
A great mix that amply combines the best attributes of a pale ale with a Belgian seasonal. Lovely and delicious!

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Photo of kinupanda
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pleasing medium amber/copper color. Minimal head that forms a somewhat broken, medium surface tension layer; it dissipates rapidly, and thus there is almost nonexistent lacing. The aroma is an appealing orange infused maltiness. An initial kick high in citrus that gives way to some toasty earthiness, with some slight bitterness from the hops. Good body with pleasant mouthfeel; it seems to have something for the entire tongue, and the carbonation is ideal for that. The alcohol is present but nowhere near overwhelming. A lightly spicy bitter aftertaste.

FourthBeer potential: AVERAGE, as there are other good ESBs, but this is worthy of the New Belgium name.

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Photo of beagle75
3.14/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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

A: Clear, light amber color with over one finger of white foam head. Moderate lacing remains around the top of the glass. Occasional bubbles rise lazily in the column.

S: Husky pale and pilsner malt, bright citrus, and green grass transmit clearly. Weak caramel and booziness are also detected.

T: Begins sweet, with lightly toasted bread, faint earthy and spicy hop aromatics, and a brief flare of acidity. Dryness increases and estery fruit emerges in the middle, displaying banana, blueberries, and bubble gum. The finish is at times mineral, astringent, and moderately bitter, with faint herbaceous notes.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, wet on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D: A mediocre pale ale from New Belgium, this beer exchanges some of the more assertive hop flavors present in their other seasonals for a double-dose of fermentation--from mixed fruit to detectable alcohol. The final product isn't really remarkable, coming across as a fruity version of Boston Lager, but it might make a good cooking ingredient.

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Photo of Elimination
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A winter favorite amongst a few of my friends, thought ide give it a try.

A very clear copper, glass like really, thin head

Smell of slight nuts, spiced hops, bread, malt, a mix of baked goods really.

Taste is slight nuttiness, definate biscuit malt, crackers, a little bit of low alpha hops, not bad, honestly tastes like what fat tire could be a well rounded easy drinking beer.

mouthfeel is semi thick, milky, kind of coats nicely

This is actually a pretty good beer, more of a higher end abv sessionish beer for me, not something I would savor of course, more something me and my friends might share a case of at a winter bbq

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Photo of StaveHooks
4.28/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - A solid 2 finger off-white head rests on top of a brilliant amber hued body. Thick vertical strips of lacing.

S - Huge cracker based malt, sesame seeds, pine nuts, toasted white bread, almonds, and berry fruit.

T - Excellent cracker malt, with notes of toffee, Granny smith apple peels, butterscotch, and caramel. A slight tang of citrus plays with carbonation to add a zesty bite. Citrus blends with hints of pine to add a freshness. Some nuttiness pokes it's head in. Finishes with a sweet caramel sweetness but has a spicy back to balance everything out.

M - Medium body, perfect carbonation for the style.

The malt is super complex with variations of breads, cracker, and simple caramel to make this beer a standout. The hops play their role but don't get in the way of the excellent malts. This is a must try if you like ESB's!...or any beer. I can't say enough about the malt profile.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this one at happy hour at a BBQ spot in the Northwest Denver recently, and thought it was pretty solid. Poured a medium amber color with a somewhat rocky white head. Aromas of citrus, floral hops and caramel. Medium bodied, somewhat hoppy, with toffee and caramel on the finish.

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

12oz bottle into 8oz tasting chalice.
A: Fairly clear body, with a light amber hue. The white head pours one finger, then settles into a thin layer and almost completely faded. Slight bit of sticky lacing.
S: The common NB bready aroma, with a nice bit of spicy undertones. A medium intensity aroma, which has a nice warming effect to it.
T/M: The front of this brew is a sweet note of bready mouthfeel, the underlining malt balance is very nice and for this style, I find this to be a really good winter pick. Lingering taste, low to medium and a very nice warming.
D: This is a very sessionable brew for the ABV content and the light bodied taste. I find this one to clear out of my fridge quick, that says something about drinkability.

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2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
3.66 out of 5 based on 1,220 ratings.
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