Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05 | Mendocino Brewing Company

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Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05
Very Good
47 Ratings
Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05

Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company
United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Guinness4me on 12-06-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 47 |  Reviews: 47
Reviews by oracle:
Photo of oracle
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Relatively cheap seasonal offering at $5.99/6-pack.
12 oz pour in a traditional english pint glass.

Once again, I'm stuck between reviewing the beer with respect to my opinion of it or reviewing with respect to it's style.

Because this is like no other winter warmer I've heard of or tried. It's closer to a stout than anything else I can think of.

Beer poured opaque black with 1.5-2 inch dark tan dense creamy head that left moderate amounts of lacing.

Smell was all chocolate malt and coffee with a faint touch of hops.

Taste was right there with the smell, strong coffee and chocolate notes that I would typically associate with a stout. Strongly flavored, but not so much as to be overpowering.

Nice full mouthfeel, with a sweet hop finish.

Not my preferred style at all, but a very drinkable beer.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of merlin48
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, courtesy of mtnlover. Pours the appearance of a stout, deep brown and opaque, with a tightknit, light brown head that exhibits orange hues as if there is some orange zest present. Excellent head retention and nice patch lacing.
Aroma is chocolate and caramel malt, with an inviting note of orange citrus and a hint of hazelnut.
Mouthfeel is creamy, robust and nearly full bodied with a medium carbonation.
Taste has lots of malt and lots of hops. Malt character is mostly chocolate, and balances well with grassy and pine hoppiness. Difficult to note any real spiciness, but I pick up a distinctive orange zest note that really adds interest to the flavor profile. I see no mention of orange zest in the other reviews, but it's here and may be the spicy component mentioned on the label.
Very interesting and complex. A "chocolate orange zest hoppy stout" is my summation of this Winter Ale. One of the better Mendocino brews that I've sampled.

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

12 ouncer sampled, pours almost black, hmm, dark for a winter ale. Dark tan head, spice, pine and cola in the aromatic nose. This is a full bodied, full flavor brew. Winter spicing bold and up front. Also notes of vanilla, cocoa, grainy coffee and warming alcohol. Nice, smooth finish, well done winter warmer. fine winter sipper

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.06/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am blown away by its appearance...I have seen some dark winter ales, but this is insane! A deep dark chocolate w/ just a dusting of lingering tan head.
Definite chocolate and malt smells going on w/ just a touch of hint of hops or alcohol at all.
The taste is pretty complex, but comes together nicely....with the hops and malt well balanced. More dark chocolate undertones and a refreshing aftertaste.
The mouthfeel is nice...not too dry...and definitely not too thin.
I can not taste the alcohol at all and could enjoy quite a number of these in an evening. This is my first taste from Mendocino...not at all what I was expecting, but a great find!

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Photo of ADR
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.

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

Tar black with little head. Molasses aroma. Straight porter with mollasses and only a faint woodiness, roast and chocolate. Mouthfeel is probably medium, but feels thin because of all the better porters I have had. Drying finish. An easy drink with dinner.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
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!

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Photo of Backer2004
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Found this in an Athens, GA beer store for $1.29 a bottle and thought this can't be beat. not the best Winter Ale i've tried this season but not bad at all. Poured deep brown porter like with nice carbonation and lacing. took an entire dinner of pasta to finish off and this was not the best cmbination of food and drink. The first Mendocino I've tried and look forward to many more styles.

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Photo of Imbiber
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From a bottle purchased at Key Food, Brooklyn. Brewed at Saratoga Springs, NY, according to the label.

Almost black with a tan head that didn't quite last to the end; it looked like a stout. Rich aroma, hoppy, malty, slightly grassy. Tasted like a stout, quite heavy but well-balanced; a smooth-tasting but filling brew. Malty finish with roasted notes, balanced with some hops coming through.

This is a nice beer that was reasonably priced - but in my opinion it's definitely a stout suffering from an identity crisis.

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Photo of elsinore
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer reminded me of some of the better porters I've tried.
I thought I was an idiot ("It's an ALE, not a PORTER, stoopid") until I checked BA and found I was not alone in that impression.

Anyhow, this one pours from the bottle a deep brown, with a nice tan head that leaves some pleasing lace on the glass.
I got mostly dark malts and coffee out of the smell -- not as complex as what others have reported, but still fine.
The tastes ... hmmm .. chocolate, coffee, a hint of molasses, and a bite of hop bitterness at the end, all mixing together very nicely with a smooth mouthfeel.
I did get *some* sense that this had a higher ABV than your basic beer, but the alcohol didn't hit me over the head.
This would definitely do the trick as a winter warmer, but is not so heavy or alcoholic that you couldn't enjoy it on a warm spring day as well.

Perhaps also worth mentioning: I got this stuff on a pretty deep discount at my local package store, which was trying to get rid of it, it being a winter ale and this being April.
It's possible, I suppose, that the beer I bought (which was not freshness dated) might be reaching its use-by date, and that the stuff might be even better in January when it's really fresh.
No matter -- it's still very good now, so much so that I am considering swinging back for another case.
All in all, would definitely recommend this for winter or spring drinking.

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Photo of Jredner
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice sharp hop aroma with ample coffee and bitter chocolate notes. Black with a pinky thick, lasting, mocha head. Coffe and roasted hops. Very bitter finish that made me love it. This is the best I have had from Mendocino. Nice beer that far exceeded my expectations.

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

amber with a huge creamy head that quickly faded leaving some nice lace down the sides. Smell was hoppy with sweet caramel undertones and a slight smell of alcohol. The taste was extremely sweet. Almost tasted like candy. Dry hopped finish, but still very sweet.

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Photo of Brent
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.

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Photo of maybrick
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.

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Photo of weeare138
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!

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Photo of mntlover
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.

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Photo of mjc410
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I bought this by the case from a discount rack in the summer of '05. I never reviewed it then, but it was much more bitter and alcoholic, and also tasted overly roasted. Things have developed a bit... (consumed 30 Jul 2006)

Poured somewhat vigorously into a tall, skinny straight glass. The beer is utterly black, capped by a very slight brown lace. Looking closely, I see small bubbles rise to the surface and spread out. It's fascinating how this liquid seems to absorb light, and yet I can see these bubbles along the edge of the glass. On smelling, I pick up brown sugar, a bit of burnt coffee, cocoa, and hints of caramel. I can't tell if the pungeantness I smell is hops or roast (leaning toward roast for the style and age), but it's very inviting. My first sip tells me immediately that the cellar time was well spent. The beer has taken on a vinous port character, although it is quite integrated into the other flavors, which are rich coffee accompanied by sweetness at first, followed by more coffee and port, which finally recedes to bittersweetness. The mouthfeel is the weakest link - it's very thin, especially considering the other potencies, but nonetheless still fairly well carbonated. I would appreciate more thickness, especially if I were drinking this during Winter. Overall, it aged well, and was very nice with some fresh walnut brownies. I've got four more bottles in the cellar, and I think I'll save them for the snow.

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Photo of RBorsato
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

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Photo of TastyTaste
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.

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Photo of sulldaddy
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
2.92/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Looks thick and rich. Very porter or stout like. Tan to brown head formed quickly and persisted fairly well. Low carbonation and big bubbles.

Smells of sweet roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, toffee. Smells much like a porter or stout. Deep but subtle souring.

Tastes again like a dark porter or sweet stout. Heavy doses of roasted barley and chocolate malt. Much thinner body than one would expect. Medium, round mouthfeel. Body fades quickly into aftertase which lingers with roastedness and bitterness.

Impression: Too weak in the body for a legitimate stout or porter. Too roasted to be a brown ale. It' caught somewhere in between. Nevertheless, a good drinking beer.

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Photo of WesWes
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.

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Photo of ChrisBowers
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!

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
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.

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Photo of Stimack
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Was able to try this brew on cask the other night. The brew poured to a deep black color with a dark tan head that broke down rather quickly leaving a faint trace of lacing. Not aromas from this brew where of chocolate/burnt/roasted malt and a pretty heavy hop scent. The taste was more or less what I expected from a Mendocino offering, lots of hop. The hop was very pronounced up front and then broke to a sweet chocolate and roasted malt taste. As the brew warmed I was able to notice more and more of an alcohol aftertaste that was not bad. Over all it was a ok good brew, tried it because it was on case but probably not one I would get again.

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Winter Ale Special Edition 2004-05 from Mendocino Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.91 out of 5 with 47 ratings