Secret Spot Winter Ale | Evolution Craft Brewing Company

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Secret Spot Winter AleSecret Spot Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Evolution Craft Brewing Company
Maryland, United States

Style: Altbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.30%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by lackenhauser on 11-26-2010

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Reviews: 24 | Ratings: 115
Photo of 8ense1
4.35/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Evolution's new draft-only offering is a good one. I picked up a growler soon after the prototype was tapped and have been working on it a glass at a time ever since. It stands up well to other winter beer offerings, such as Anchor's 2010 Christmas Ale.

It pours a deep amber, with very modest foaming that clears quickly. The smell is pleasant, a floral scent from the hopping, but not very dominant. But from the first sip it comes across as a bigger beer than one would expect, with a lot of malt flavor. It is brown-sugary rather than chocolaty, and it goes down easily without cloying or building up.

What is interesting is that the hop "bite" is a delayed reaction. While you are still tasting the malt flavor, suddenly its IPA quality begins to tingle on your tongue, and then the herbal flavor of the hopping takes over. It's reminiscent of the impact that Dogfish Head got with its "Bitches Brew," which begins as a stout, but then changes to something more complex in your mouth.

"Secret Spot" doesn't at all taste like "Bitches Brew," but it works in the same hybrid way, an indication that the Evo folks are interested in combining beer types to see what happens. In this case, they get an interesting beer sipped in a beer-geeky way, and also a very good companion to a late-night pizza or other snack. Its bold impact belies its modest alcoholic content, so it is, like Evo's best offerings, quite sessionable.

I'd expect this to become a standard seasonal offering from Evo.

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Photo of daliandragon
4.26/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Murky brown body with cool beige lace that doesn't last. Nose is heavy on the sweet malt, with dark fruit, caramel, and licorice notes. Unique, complex taste with plenty of malt but more balance than expected. Dry lemon hops temper the steady blast of chocolate and caramel malts. Pleasant in texture and solid finish. I see the comparison to Double Bag. Very well done winter seasonal.

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Photo of larryi86
4.05/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- A clear amber color with a two finger white head.

S- Floral hops, toasted malts, some toffee.

T- Follows the nose, hops give this beer a nice bitter finish, great toasted malts, some toffee.

M- Smooth, light to medium body.

O- A solid beer that I will be picking up again. Good beer for the colder months.

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Photo of confer
3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had it on tap and from a bottle, preferred the tap but reviewing the bottle.
Dark gold in color with red tints at the light. Off white head that never fully goes away.
Smell is all malt. Reminds my of a doppel bock.
Slightly bitter hops are dominant in the taste, not to many just enough for little flavor.
Good alt beer. Evo is getting better all of the time.
As a bonus the tour guide brought a growler of Secret Spot along on the tour of the brewery and refreshed our glasses as he talked.

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Photo of utopiajane
3.88/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I loved this. It’s everything an IPA is without all the oil. I’m new to the style but here goes. Pours a cloudy copper amber with a decent head that fell fast to a thin film on top and a small ring. Good lace. Nose is heavenly with malt. It’s bread, it’s caramel, it’s deep and round with a sweetness that takes a backseat in the nicest way. The hops are herbal and pungent, earthy and offer just a hint of lemon. Dark fruits whisper from the nose as it warms but they never fully evince and it’s restrained. The taste is toast and breaddy malt with a nice fullness from the understated sweetness. The hops are bitter on the tip of the tongue but it’s like they hold it back until the finish and then they realize a full bitter without a lot of oil and without a lot of resin. Carbonation is medium and the body is deft and light.

I could compare this to an IPA or to a red ale. Positively enjoyable with plenty of toast but nothing burnt. The malt is outstanding and lasting throughout the drink. The balance is excellent and the hops hold their own without becoming fruity. It’s creamy but also strong and stately. What a treat.

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Photo of argock
3.88/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a Duvel tulip. Best by Mar 2013 notched on side of label. Single received a a local beer exchange event.

A: Crystal clear dusky dark amber with a 1-finger foamy beige head with good retention which leaves a creamy but thin layer of lacing.

S: Dark malts with caramel and toffee met with strong earthy, herbal hopping.

T: The flavor is very on par with a strong red ale until the hops bitterness melts into an herbal noble flavor. The maltiness is very amber ale in content with a lot of toffee and smoky burnt caramel character. The hopping is "assertive" per the Evolution website, and that is putting it likely as the bitterness is very strong and carries all the way through the drink.

M: Very smooth and creamy although not as light as many alts, but I would consider this more of a red ale aggressively hopped with noble hops. Body is medium and carbonation is low-medium.

O: I enjoyed this beer, and Evolution Brewing has had several very good brews in their initial splash into VA (see Lot #3 IPA for the best of the bunch). Secret Spot is also a high quality brew that crosses style lines of WEst Coast style red ale with super-noble hopped altbier. Definitely this is a good one to check out.

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Photo of Billolick
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into an Ommegang tulip. Best by Mar 2013 notched onto the side of the label. Picked by a friend at Stateline on the MD/DE border

A: Pours lightly hazed medium amber. Darker khaki cap, slow to fade, thick collar and film. Leaves some low sheeting.

S: Malts dominate the nose. Caramel and toast abound

T: Malty brew, dark toast, maple and more caramel. Also some moderate winter spicing and then moderate drying hops late.

M: Smooth and pleasant on the tongue and coating the mouth. The body is medium and the carbonation is on the lower side but fine for the style.

O: Enjoyable enough brew. Malty beer lovers will enjoy this one.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes. Had on tap at the brewery.

A: Pours an amber/copper color with a one finger white head that dissipates rather quickly to a ring on the top of the beer. Decent lacing.

S: A little bit of floral hops, but mostly malt driven. Some toffee and caramel dominate the rest of the aroma.

T: Toast malt, toffee, some nice caramelized sugar, and a surprising hop kick.

M: Medium bodied with good carbonation, has a slightly sticky and dry finish.

O: Quite good, reminds of their ESB almost with more hops. Too bad it won't be around until next winter as this is a nice beer for the cold months.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was told this is a double alt or a sticke alt-that being said-Very nice coppery color. Sweet caramel and malt aroma with a touch of floral hoppiness. Very solid malty flavors upfront. Definate hop presence-more so then any other alt beer I have had. Lingering caramel presence. Great residual sweetness going on. Has a nice bite in the finish. Soft, almost a creamy body. Goes down quite easy. Very enjoyable. Nice beer for the colder months.

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Photo of Gajo74
3.84/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Fish House, Rehoboth DE.
Pours a dark amber, slightly brown, color with a nice frothy cap that retains all the way and leaves some soapy lacing.
The nose is fairly straightforward. There is a malt sweetness as well as a fruity quality that is hard to put a finger on; it feels like some kind of dark fruit that has a bit of tartness and zest....maybe plum? Overall, the malts lead the way; they are akin to toasted bread.
Similarly, the taste is predominated by the roasted malts. There is a subtle sweetness in the background, however, a modest to moderate herbal and peppery hops presence adds an excellent balance. The body is medium, gently carbonated and with a slight prickle from the hops. Pretty easy to drink.
I'm not a great expert on the style, but, I suppose it does it justice. In many ways it felt like a simple but flavorful American amber ale. Solid all around.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at TJ's, Paoli, PA

Clear honey-amber pour, topped with a small bubbly off-white head; minimal retention, and a few streaks of lacing. Caramel malts in the nose, some floral and citrus hops. Taste of caramel malts, toasted grains, toffee backbone, quickly giving way to a crisp hoppiness, orange peel and floral notes, fairly bitter from mid-palate onward. Hoppier than I'd expect for an altbier, maybe even closer to an APA, but still good either way. Medium body and pretty good overall.

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Photo of tigg924
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours cloudy, dark amber in color, with 1/3 inch head. Taste is bready malts, dark fruit--cherries, and earthiness. Medium bodied and sweet. Nice and easy winter drinker that holds up fairly well in the hotter months. Glad I found this. Worth seeking out.

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Photo of AdamBear
3.67/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I've some altbiers before, but still I really never know what to expect from of the more mysterious styles for me still.

A-decent amber with a thin, barely noticeable cream colored head

S-altbier...? I'm thinking IPA!!! creamy nice hops and a sweet buttercream note to it. smells awesome! Altbier??? no. i'm excited for this one. decent strength.

T-okay well all the IPAness just left the building. it comes in with a creamy, grainy taste of sweet buttercream...only slightly. some sort of a taste of muted herbal hops...some what. it does have the slightest touch of bitterness to it. has a decent quality.

M-creamy medium carbonation with a semi-dry finish

O-once again the altbier is beyond me. At first I was like IPA? but then i was like nahhh. it certainly has the nose of an IPA, but the taste of a muted IPA that is somewhat more dignified and stable. It is what it is, and its proud, and it won't change. it is...worth a try I'll say. it's really just an easy drinker, much like an APA.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I purchased this at Wegmans in a mix-a-six, poured chilled in a teku.

The color is dark amber with translucent clarity and thick beige head with fine bead and some lace with good retention. The smell has a slight fruity yeast aroma with subtle sweet malt scent and gentle hop note with hint of fruity yeast ester as it warms with light alcohol. The feel has medium high carbonation with slight spice and light sweetness and gentle toasted aspect with mostly dry bitter finish with mild alcohol influence on the palate. The feel leads to a mix of malt with toasted flavor and spicy/herbal hop with gentle malt backing and slightly bitter hops with a malt emphasis on toasted grain flavor and finish is spicy bitter and mostly dry. This is a decent alt but more emphasis on hops than is necessary for the style could use more malt to fit even though it is still very drinkable and yeast seems to be a proper alt strain based on aroma and flavor

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Photo of Jaynuze
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A crisp finishing beer with a nicely rounded malt finish.
A: golden with nice light brown tinge
S: light notes of malt, mild hops, and light spice
T: light and biscuity with light hop notes
M: smooth finish and a solid mf. Light but carriea some heft with a bicuity malt finish
D: A great draft beer worth sipping at the bar with a nove salad and burger. Easy drinking and a light hop/malt finish

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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
3.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From the tap, it pours a reddish amber with a nice head. Lacing as you enjoy the beer. Malty scent in the nose. The mouth mostly gets caramel malts and a little sharpness from the carbonation. Acceptable.

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Photo of tone77
3.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a dark bronze color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of malts, little else. Taste is malty, dark breads, some light hops are present. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is an easy drinking and enjoyable beer.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.52/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

It was #PenguinAwarenessDay yesterday and as such, I am delving deeply into my stash of Winter Warmers & Herbed/Spiced beers, especially in the interest of reducing the Bottle Backlog here at Chez Woody. I have penguin assistants joining me and things are progressing nicely!

I got the go-ahead from the penguin and Pop!ped the cap, much to his delight. He was also down with me using a heavier-than-usual pour to see what would happen. He danced with glee as we watched two-plus fingers of foamy, tawny head rise up and then slowly fall back down, leaving sticky lacing behind. It's easy to get a penguin excited. He peered into the glass with me as we determined the color to be Deep Amber/Light Copper to Copper (SRM = > 13, < 17) with a slight haze that he was willing to attribute to chill. We keep things cool here in the rookery at Chez Woody. We both put our beaks in the glass to smell the rich caramel & bready malt scents wafting up. I asked him, "Alt, who goes there?" and he fell over from laughter. Mouthfeel was on the thin side. It was not exactly watery, but I would not characterize it as Medium, either. The taste was very much of caramel with a light mintiness from the hops. It seemed a bit light for a Winter Ale and I can understand its drinkability even in the summer. It was not enticing me to head anywhere secret, though. Finish was semi-sweet with a light alcohol burn tingling in the back of my throat at the finish. Not bad, but not what I think of, either as an Altbier or a Winter Ale.

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Photo of Profchaos20
3.49/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Reviewed 3/8/13 12 oz bottle in a nonic pint glass

A - Pours a clean amber with a half finger head that dissipates immediately. Very little lacing.

S - Sweet bready malt upfront. A fruity yeast aroma a little deeper. Hints of caramel and maple syrup.

T - Sweet and malty, fruity esters, hint of hops, and a slightly bitter finish.

M - Medium body, light to medium carbonation, smooth.

O - Decent beer, not going to see it out again.

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Photo of HarryPotHead
3.45/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into vintage Gunther Brewing hollow stem goblet.

A - cloudy, semi-opaque, amber to brown with an off white head and some light lacing.

S - waaay could say barely there. Not bad, just not there. Some malt, some citrus, but not enough of either.

T - heavy malt backbone with an IPA finish. Better than expected and pretty easy to drink. Again, pretty nondescript....nothing really over the top for sure. As a winter seasonal I expected more spice. Decent.

M - a little watery, slightly dry, with just the right amount of carbonation for the style.

O - i read back through the above and I feel like I'm not giving this brew enough credit. It's pretty darn good. Not world class....not award winning, but decent in its own right. My first go round with Evolution brewing and I'll be keeping an eye out for them in my travels. Cheers! [ii]D

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3.34/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Did you ever just feel like a Winter ale in the middle of summer? Well I did and that is the way I came to do this review on this mid summer night. Deep brown body hosts a light tan head. Nose is relatively soft but has hints of candied sugar, dark fruit, and molasses. Belgium like malts are there as well. Taste is not quite as promising as the nose. Burnt malts and soft stale fruits play on the front of the tongue. The flavor almost hints at malts not handled at the proper temperature during brewing. It is just slightly off-putting but not all the bad. Overall this beer is just ok.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.34/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy chestnut color. The head is a finger high, with a pale yellow shade. The texture is very thick (not creamy, but thick) with good retention as well. It doesn't seem to leave behind much lacing, though. (3.75)

Smell: I'm no expert on the altbier style, but I do know it's (vaguely) akin to a German amber ale. And judging from the aroma, I'd suggest this hits that mark acceptably. A bit of caramel is backed by faint dark fruit, some noble hops, and a tiny amount of clove. All in all, there are some decent qualities, but the nose is simply too mild for me. (2.75)

Taste: It opens up with notes of caramel and toasted bread, before leaving behind a powerful finish of noble hops. Hints of apricot, grass, earth, (bitter) vanilla, ginger, and nutmeg all appear past the malty opening (the latter two qualities are impressive considering this beer isn't spiced...) I'd suggest it's well hopped for the style, but I'm told by reliable outside sources this style is meant to be semi-hoppy. The hops are the secret (spot) to this brew: it helps to create a spicy, warming sensation as it travels down the food tubes. (3.5)

Mouthfeel: Despite the maltiness, there is some finishing dryness to its texture. This helps to counteract the full body and borderline creaminess. Carbonation is above-average. It's not superbly chuggable, but the savorability factor is quite good. (3.5)

Overall: The nose left me non-plussed. And once I actually took my first few sips, I still didn't fall in love with this one. But the more I drink this, the more I like it - and last I checked, that's the mark of a good beer. A rock-solid example of a style I'm not always keen on. (3.5)

3.36/5: Timid nose aside, this is another (secretly) good offering from Evolution

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Photo of Jeffreysan
3.04/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

12 ounce bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a very pretty, cloudy, amber/mahogany color with a half of a finger of off-white head that almost completely dissolved away into a few wispy clouds of foam that gathered onto the top of the beer.

Aroma: Not much in the aroma department, either that or I’m stuffed up. I do get a few faint notes of toasted malt and some brown sugar.

Taste: Toasted malt up front, imparting notes of freshly baked sourdough bread, followed by some brown sugar-like sweetness and spices of black pepper and clove. The beer finishes with a good amount of well-balanced hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and pretty smooth, as the beer has practically no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 6.3%, there is no presence of alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is a pretty tasty beer. Good notes of toasted malt and brown sugar-like sweetness balanced well with some good hops. It is a highly quaffable beer. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Ryanm1
2.9/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Take a generic IPA and then toss in a few spices. Presto... you have this beer. Brown in color carries a large amount of head on a violent pour from the bottle, so much so that it ran over the glass. Within a minute or two the white foam was gone. I couldn't pick up that much on the aroma but the taste is sour. Yeah you can sugar coat it and say bitter but the lack of sweetness comes off as if you are sucking on a bag of buckles. Nothing to write home about, but good to taste in a comparison of winter beers. Def taste like a backyard brewer.

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Secret Spot Winter Ale from Evolution Craft Brewing Company
3.63 out of 5 based on 115 ratings.
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