Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05
Mendocino Brewing Company

Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05
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Winter Warmer
3.91 | pDev: 10.74%
Mendocino Brewing Company
United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05
View: Beers
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
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TheLongBeachBum from California

4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 ounce rather standard looking brown glass bottle. Crown cap is printed with the Mendocino Logo. The neck label lists the beer as ‘Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05’ and states that this is 7.0% ABV. The main label explains that this brew is ‘Celebrating over 20 years of Brewing Excellence.”

Appearance: It’s a very dark pour, pitch black with a lovely rich creamy tan brown head that remains at a solid ½” for some time. Good conditioning means that a quick swirl helps reinstate the head easily. The head soon settles and relaxes but leaves a decent enough covering, the lacing that is left behind is a humble-jumble irregular Map of the World affair that adds to the presentation.

Nose: Dark roasted malts and thick chunky caramels hang in the air, but wait a little and the Warrior & Cascade hops make a welcome gate-crash to the aroma party at the finish. Lovely appealing nose.

Taste: An existential expansion of the nose, lovely roasted malts, bitter coffee caramel and a kick ass hop bite in the swallow. Pine malts soak the tongue after the swallow, lovely lingering finish that lasts and lasts. Very more-ish indeed.

Mouthfeel: Thick, luscious, rich and creamy. Heavy on the caramel and molasses with a malt-extract viscosity on the tongue, yet somehow this is all enveloped in a light airy body. The best of both World’s in the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Deceptively drinkable. It is so easy to forget the strength and get carried away with the smooth rich roasted entrance and lovely oily bitter hop ending. Gorgeous!

Overall: I have had a mixed bag with Mendocino beers in the past, but safe to say that this one is a beauty!! I’m impressed. A Special Edition “Cheers” To Sir Huge for sending this one back West - Thanks Mate.

Jan 19, 2005
More User Reviews:
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Brent from Kentucky

4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was a bit hesitant to buy a winter seasonal in May, but with 7% abv, I figured it should hold up pretty well. It certainly had. Poured near-black with a mocha head that settled rather quickly. Sweet roasted malt aroma. Flavor profile was dominated by a dark roasted chocolate malt. Maple syrup and light molasses were noted, and while the beer had dense, complex sugar flavors, the overall level of sweetness was only moderate. Hops played a supporting role to the malt, but were not plowed under, and lent a broad Cascade bittering at the finish. Mouthfeel at the end was a bit slick, but not unpleasantly so. The alcohol was nowhere to be found in the flavor. Overall, this was very well done. While the brewer calls it a winter warmer, I'd put it in the robust porter family.

May 05, 2005
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ZAP from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Molasses colored...big java notes on the nose...also some chocolate....some leafy hop notes too....body is medium...perhaps on the light side of medium...definitely a nice roasty malt flavor to this one....hops are more evident on the taste....again leafy and tobacco like....finishes dry and clean..

They seem to have hit gold with this one...the blance and drinkability is truly remarkable....everything blends together perfectly....not a true heavy hitter in regards to body or powerfull flavors but a nice drinking tasty winter brew I will gladly enjoy again...

Jan 16, 2005
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Bighuge from Minnesota

4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Close to pitch black in appearance. Very close. Thin creamy light brown head decorates the surface. The collar that is left behind leaves generous amounts of droopy lace. I love the blast of hops on the nose of this one. So PACNW in character. Must be the Warrior that was used. Pungent and oily. Piney. Resinous and canabis like. Underneath that, there's some sludgey, malty, molasseslike tones on the nose. Great nose. It reminds me a lot of the Alpha Klaus aroma-wise. And believe it or not, the flavor profile reminds me of Alpha Klaus as well. This is kind of like an Alpha Klaus JR. (Or maybe it's just been too damn long since I've had the Alpha and I've forgotten its true impression.) But this beer has some of the same tar-like, tobacco juice, pine soaked character. Just not to the nth degree, like Alpha Klaus. The Warrior hops add a nice citric, pinecone touch. Alcohol is hidden nicely. And the mouthfeel is quite pleasant. Soft and easy. This one surprised me. Good all around.

Jan 13, 2005
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ADR from Pennsylvania

3.18/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Saratoga Springs, NY bottling...

Deep opaque brown color, Stout-like with a brownish head of good height and duration. Laces in delicate patches, some thick. Roasty aroma, some burgundy wine characteristics. Mouthfeel is kind of thin, carbonation higher than average. Interesting flavor, starts coffee-like with a smokey roastiness, moves to a cream-filled version of the same and ends with fruitiness and some definite hop punctuation. Aside from the claim on the bottle, this is not a particularly spicy brew, its much more of a dryish Stout with American hops shouldering the bittering load or a Porter without more typical sweetness. Ends a little thin with a one-note aftertaste.

Dec 13, 2004
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TastyTaste from Minnesota

4.63/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lookis like a stout if I have ever seen one. The body is pitch black, with a head that is a darker maroon color than most stouts I have seen. Smell is very espresso and bitter hops intensive. Taste is very interesting. Neither coffee nor hops dominate this beer. They work very well to compliment each other. Strong coffee first, then bitter hops. A nice, interesting balanced beer.

Dec 21, 2004
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NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mendocino's Winter Ale is darker than a moonless night sky; and has a creamy cap of dark tan foam that holds quite well and leaves nice splashes and spots of lace about the glass. The nose displays bittersweet chocolate with a soft roastiness that's quite welcoming (it actually smells like opening a 55# bag of dark chocolate malt); and occassional glimpses of some well-heeled Cascade hops. In the mouth it's surprisingly creamy and smooth; and the flavor delivers bold notes of dark, chocolatey and roasty malts before it warms to reveal some additional caramel character underneath. It's yeasty fruitiness is restrained, and there's only a hint of some berry-like character at the start and across the middle; but some citrusy and mildly piney hops do make an appearance towards the swallow, and more prominently in the incredibly long and chocolatey/roasty finish. Balance is the key here, and it's both satisfying and drinkable. It's complex enough to keep you coming back, but not so rich that you'd have to turn away a second serving. Very well done!

Feb 01, 2005
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Shiredave from New York

3.17/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer is unique to the Saratoga NY Branch of the Mendocino Brewing Co.
Very dark brown color, tall frothy tawny head that slumps quickly leaving a few specks of lace.
A strong sweet coco aroma dominates the first whiff. Very malty with hints of nutmeg or other baking spice.
Flavors are sharp and metalic from the start - harsh and unbalanced to me with a sickly bloody bitterness all the way thru to the finish.
Sugary, light to medium malt body seems watery compared to the rich malty intro from the aroma. Some chocolate flavors carry over but rough dark grain and hop bitterness overpower any subtle sweetness that would add complexity or balance to this beer.
Finish is slightly alcoholic with a strong long lasting tinny bitter aftertaste.
This one aged for 6 months in a cool dark place and didnt do it any favors. Not bad, but not quite good either.

Sep 04, 2005
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RBorsato from Virginia

4.95/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pure black with a full creamy brown head, good carbonation, and some lace. Dark chocolate and roasty coffee aroma with a touch of hops to balance the nose. Robust roasty, chocolately Robust Porter/American Stout aroma and flavor; reminds me a bit of a Starbucks mocha. Medium-full bodied and smooth with a dry roasty finish.

Excellent rich and robust Porter/Stout style !! Will buy a case next year if it's the same brew...

Per label: "Saratoga Springs, NY" & "Chocolate and Caramel malts, Warrior and Cascade hops"

2004-2005 version
Tasted: 05/26/05

Jun 06, 2005
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SheepNutz from Kentucky

3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter. It pours a deep black color with one finger of head. There's almost no lace. The smell is malty and sweet, with some molasses. The taste is chocolatey and sweet at first, and has a nice balanced hoppy finish. The mouthfeel is fairly thick and strong. The drinkability is good too. A very interesting winter warmer. Thanks to Kevin and Christina for my first Mendocino experience.

Dec 13, 2004
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Tballz420 from Minnesota

4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This brew is a deep dark black color, red hues lining the glass. Creamy, khaki colored head on the top. The scent is mainly roasted dark malt, some chocolate tones. Pretty much the same going on with the taste, roasted chocolate malt, some spices, with bitter hops rounding out the back. Fully creamy mouth. Seems not far off from a porter or stout.

Mar 18, 2005
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tavernjef from Minnesota

4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Silhouetted matte black with a glorious thickly pour, which surprised the hell out of me, I was expecting a brown ale-like pour but got a nearly Imperial Stout-like pour. Great cap too, nice and tall with a covering of smooth dark tan foam. Settles to a pretty heavy skim and leaves lacing in sticky little webbings, some bigger globs, and broken sheeting as well. Looks awesome!

Whoa, smells awesome too! Holy complex array of hops and roasty things Batman! An intriguing mix of bittered chocolate and oily pineous orange-tinted hops make the front very warming with scrumptious hints to coffee roast and heavy, dark roasted malting. Yet, all the while keeps one hugely hopped up edge of breathy pinewoody earth. Maduro tobacco cigars soaked in chocolate and molasses spring to life as it warms. This is an unbelievable nose, one I could smell all day! Great hop and roast medley thats akin to Alpha Klaus.

Ahhhh, favorable taster but somethings missing a bit from the strength the nose gives way to. Not sure what it is but its a bit tamer then given what the nose portrays. Any-who, it's still damn good with a moderate bittering of chocolate and hops with weighty bits of roasted grains and malts. Caramel centers it with a touch of Heath Bar-like toffee and malted milk balls coating and texturizing. Ends with a repeating fresh coffee sense, burnt molasses, and slight tobacco juice decorating the finish with a medley of left over sweet roasted malt and hoppy dryness that sits for a good while leaving notes of charred pine super late. Again, the mix of roast and hops makes for one delightful treat. There's bits of smokened dark fruits in there breaking inbetween what room is left from the hops and roast, which ain't much but they do add some terrific little captions along the way.

Body is about medium, nudging towards a thicker turn with a firm hold of fluffy texture thats both hoppy and roasty the whole time. Complex, drying, roasty, hoppy, lingering, stagering, oh great now the 7% hits. Wow! Even so, this was gone in no time flat. Take OSA and Alpha Klaus and this is what you come up with? One fantastic brew. Yum!

Mar 11, 2005
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weeare138 from Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It looks almost like a porter, or a stout with a half inch head when poured. Leaves scatterings of lace as it goes down. Tiny lines of bubbles arising from the bottom of the glass, straight up to the creamy beige head.
Smells like roasted (borderline burnt) malts, cocoa, and spice. Not what I expected from this one.
The mouthfeel is is creamy with the taste nailing each and every taste bud from the sweetness of the brew in the front of my tounge, ripping through the middle and back with the balanced bitters and roasted tastiness. Very nice! Tastes delicious.
It is very drinkable for this borderline porter. I like it a lot. Probably couldn't drink these all night but I would recommend as an after dinner, or a night capper. Probably very nice with a fine cigar.

Finger licking good!

Apr 07, 2005
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sulldaddy from Connecticut

3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Well as I write this review I struggle with the argument of scoring if I liked the beer or scoring for style. For style I thought this missed, much more of a imp stout or porter than a winter warmer in my mind. That being said I did enjoy this beer.

So here is what I thought. Room temp brew in a snifter.
The beer pours a rich dark brown with a 2cm creamy tan head foaming up easily and leaving tight latticework as it fades to a sturdy surface layer.
Aroma is predominantly grassy and piney hops, which surprises me. I also get a bit of roasted malt and chocolate mixed in but not as much as expected upon looking at the pour.
First sip reveals an average body and average carbonation. A bit of a slightly oily texture is present, hops? Flavor is malty sweet for a second then moves to piney hops and finishes with a long espresso bitter. No spiciness that I expect in winter warmers, even the label promises spices, but I couldnt find them. A good beer that I enjoyed but go in expecting a porter.

I docked the brew in every category because it was not true to style or label IMO. I really did like this beer though.

Dec 29, 2004
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ChrisBowers from Virginia

4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great beer from a craft-brewing pioneer. Pours a dark black with ruby hues.

Smell: Roasted malts, hops, subtle spicing and a bit of pine maybe?

Taste: Some christmas spices up front, bitter dark chocolate, coffee/espresso, slightly creamy, with a nice bitter hop finish. I'd recently gotten burned out on sweet stouts/porters and this really hit the spot!

Mouthfeel: Rich, full and creamy.

Drinkability: Very drinkable for a higher than average ABV. Richness may limit consumption though.

This is a great beer, falling somewhere between a stout and a porter. Picked up a 6er for $5.99, so that was an added bonus!

Mar 22, 2005
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clvand0 from Kentucky

3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer poured a very dark brown color with a small head that fell to nothing very quickly and left no lacing on the glass. The aroma was very hoppy with a chocolate backbone. Pine and floral hops, I think. The flavor was very much like the aroma. Lots of chocolate flavors but with a strange pine hop character over the top. Not sure how I feel about this mixture. Not bad, but not my favorite thing.

Dec 13, 2004
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WesWes from New York

4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a rich, malty scent that is full of caramel and chocolate malts. It is robust and dark in nature, but it also has a hoppy aroma that adds a bit of balance to an already good aroma. The taste is good. It has a thin, yet very malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes dry and earthy with a chocolate malt and hop aftertaste. It's a warmer, but it doesn't reveal the abv. . The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good beer all around. I like the look, the smell, and the taste; a terrific drinker.

Mar 16, 2005
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rajendra82 from Georgia

3.66/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up at Sherlock’s in Kennesaw, Georgia, this one poured very dark brown or black. The reason I couldn’t tell the color is because it was absolutely opaque with no highlights around the edges. The head was generous and light brown in color.

The aroma, well it was hard to pinpoint the exact smell on this beer. It was a bit woody and hoppy with a burnt paper like background. The smell lacked sweetness to make it a pleasing experience.

The taste was dry, roasty, and burnt, with a hop bitterness lurking in the background. There was a sour edge, but otherwise the taste was one dimensional.

Mouthfeel was robust and dry, and the aftertaste was a tad bit salty.

I’d compare this beer to a life sized cardboard cutout display of a bodybuilder. It appears large and intimidating at first glance, but when you look closer, there is not much depth to it.

Dec 18, 2004
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mntlover from Tennessee

4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark with a small tan head that falls to ring of foam, some brown red highlights show thru, leaves some light lace.
Aroma is good chocolate malts combined with nice piney and grapefruit hop mixture smells nice and inviting says please take a sip and enjoy the goodness.
Taste is good also nice roasted malt nice smooth chocolate flavors with some coffee hints to mellow the sweetness out. Then the hops take over nice cascade flavors, citrus and pine sap mixture, some ligth spiciness in the finish also.
Mouthfeel is a little thin but very drinkable, a enjoyable beer.
Drinkability is very good sorry I didn't pick some of this up earlier. The best Mendocino beer I have had. This is worth trying if you see it pick some up, that is if you like hopped up chocolate malt, tastey.

Jan 09, 2005
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kmcnair from California

3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle.

Pours an opaque black color and makes a tanned head that stands about an inch thick. Head retention is not so great, but given the age on this beer, it gets a break.

Aromas of burnt dark grains, liquorice, dark dried fruits.

Very rich flavor featuring dark caramelized sugars meld into a thick, velvety chocolatey, mocha coffee. Strong figs, prunes and a slight hint of diacetyl tell me that it is a bit passed it's prime. More of a robust/imperial porter than a winter warmer IMHO.

Crisp carbonation, medium bodied and a pretty dry finish.

I'm certain this beer was better fresh, but its still drinkable at this point in time.

Thanks Jredner for the bottle!

Jul 10, 2006
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Gueuzedude from Arizona

3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer is an opaque black color that is topped by an initially one-finger thick, fairly quickly disappearing, dirt brown, dark tan colored head. The aroma has definitely taken on an aged character. It is certainly not overtly oxidized, but has picked up notes of concentrated aged malt and burnt sherry. Condensed notes of dark chocolate and dark roast coffee mix quite well and the combination of the two is perhaps the most noticeable part of the aroma. A touch of dry, burnt, grain husk aromatics adds an almost chalky note and a touch of a burnt acidity to the aroma.

There is a touch of soft creaminess to the feel of this beer. On the whole it is fairly light, but does have a certain richness that helps it to linger on the tongue. The finish has a nice chocolate note to it that is almost soft enough to be described as a dark milk chocolate character. Smooth roasted notes of espresso and burnt malt add a touch of acidity to the finish, but definitely a dark grain derived bitterness as well. There is a note of burnt fruitiness here, noticeable in both the aroma and flavor (perhaps more so in the aroma), that reminds me of burnt figs. A malty sweet middle is here as well, it is not as apparent as it's intensity would suggest as the roast flavors of this beer help to hold it in check quite well.

Really in the end the smooth chocolaty, malty middle is what stands out the most to me here. This beer is very drinkable, actually down right quaffable. The flavors show less age than the aroma might suggest, though I think that the body has likely lightened up a bit over the past couple years.

Nov 20, 2006
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Shaw from Florida

4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours solid black with a nice brown head that turns into just a layer of foam in my glass. It smells of chocolate, roasted malts, coffee and nuts. It's quite complex. There's also a hint of hops in the back end, as it were.

The roasted smells carry over to the taste. It is quite robust and rich, with a bit of "bite" from the roasted malts. It certainly has a warming quality to it. Reminds me of a robust porter or American stout. The hop bitterness becomes noticeable in the aftertaste. For a hophead like me, though, this isn't very hoppy.

The body is good and substantial but also very smooth and glassy.

Overall this is a good Winter Warmer and one worth checking out.

Feb 11, 2005
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maybrick from Pennsylvania

3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had the joful opportunity to have this brew on 3/22/2005. I poured it into a 16 ounce pint glass. Very dark with hints of red. Good head. Wonderful nose - even cold one can pick up the carmel & chocolate malts. Surprisingly, you can also detect a strong hop aromoa.

I was impressed with the taste. It is sweet on the fron end but remarbaly has a wonderful hop finish! What a nice balance between malt and hop profiles. The bottle neck label reveals this is 7.00 abv. I think it actually may be slightly higher.

If you rn across it, have one I think you'll enjoy it.

Mar 23, 2005
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altctrlsdelete from North Carolina

3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An intriguing brew from Mendocino, a brewer who I will definitely have to become more familiar with in the future. The bottle was incredibly cheap, buy Capital Ale House bottled beer standards, too.

From the label: chocolate and caramel malts balanced with cascade and warrior hops. Hmm. Okay, that's a new one on me, kind of an India Stout Ale going on here. Different.

Looks like a stout in the glass -- opaque blackness topped by a thin coffee colored head that leaves little lacing as the glass is drained. Very interesting flavors at play. As you take a sip, you're convinced it's a very nice balance and then the warrior hops hit you full force. Definitely something that took some warming up to, but as it warmed up and I'd finished half the glass, I was convinced that this was a winner. Honestly, I'll probably never have this again, as there's a lot out there that's better. But, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend it to anyone who's looking for something different that kind of straddles the line between a porter and an IPA.

Jan 16, 2005
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GCBrewingCo from North Carolina

3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer poured black with ruby highlights and slightly viscous. The head was brown and rose tall to fall slowly and coat the glass.

The aroma was chocolate and coffee with substantial dark fruitiness.

The flavor was chocolate and coffee and fairly bitter from the dark grains and the hop level. The bitterness was on the edge of being unpleasantly bitter. The balance was certainly toward bitter and the roasty chocolate and coffee flavors ruled the flavor.

The finish was bone dry and substantially bitter with lasting bitter chocolate and coffee. The body was medium full.

12 ounce bottle. Kinda like drinking unsweetened coffee with unsweetned chocolate, very dry. With a malt boost or a sweetness boost this would be an outstanding beer. With the current flavors it would be tought to finish the pint without searching for a water glass to rehydrate or the sugar bowl to add in some sweetness. Bottled in NY.

Dec 18, 2004
Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05 from Mendocino Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 47 ratings