First Frost
Fullsteam Brewery

First FrostFirst Frost
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Winter Warmer
Ranked #25
Ranked #13,427
3.94 | pDev: 11.42%
Fullsteam Brewery
North Carolina, United States
Very Good
First FrostFirst Frost
Notes: Persimmon (Diospyros Virginiana) — literally, “fruit of the gods.” Sweet and savory, with natural notes of cinnamon and apricot, the orange-globed persimmon fruit truly is heavenly. But it’s not until after the first frost that persimmon turns from astringent and bitter to a luscious fruit worthy of the gods.

This bountiful yield produced a complex, fruit- forward winter ale. The beer’s notes of holiday spices come entirely from the native persimmon and the beer’s Belgian ale yeast. At 12% ABV, it's a strong beer -- a fireplace ale for sure -- brewed with the harvest in mind, not a specific style.
Reviews: 30 | Ratings: 83 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of avalon07
4.04/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L: Poured from a bottle to a goblet. Had an amber-ish color and a cloudy consistency. There was a quarter inch of foamy, off white, fairly long-lasting head. Very good lacing.

S: A solid aroma of malt, spices, honey, dark fruit, and caramel.

T: Tasted of a good amount of malt (not overdone), a decent amount of honey, some spices (cinnamon), a lot of dark fruit (cherry, raisin), a little apricot, a tinge of caramel, and a bit of the advertised persimmon. This is a fairly complex flavor. It's a bit on the boozy side, but the fruit ingredients offset this pretty well. On the whole, a solid flavor.

F: A good amount of carbonation with a warm, yet sharp, finish. Full-bodied.

O: If you like beers with big characters, check this out. Drinkable.

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Photo of MacMalt
3.84/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I had this on draught at the brewery. 11 oz. pour served in a tulip glass. It pours an orange-amber color with virtually no head or lacing and little carbonation. The nose features brown sugar, cinnamon and other spices, cherry, and a sweet fruit I assume is persimmon. You can also smell the alcohol. The first thing I tasted is caramel malt, followed by sweet fruit, brown sugar, and spices. It's very sweet and rather cloying. There is also a discernible alcohol taste. This ale is fairly viscous with minimal carbonation. You immediately notice the 12.4% ABV; this is definitely a sipper. Overall, First Frost is just what it purports to be: a tasty holiday/winter ale that is perfect for sipping after a nice meal, preferable in front of a roaring fire.

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Photo of AngusOg
4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I've been looking to get my hands on this one, and when I finally did I think it lived up to its billing. Nice flavor profile of Belgian yeast spiciness with some really nice fruity flavors, slightly tart. High drinkability, esp for a 12% abv, which I didn't realize until I checked the bottle after starting to feel a bit buzzed about half way through. Definitely enough to warm your insides in the winter (or at least numb you to the point where you don't notice the cold). An awesome and little bit different take on a winter warmer, appropriate and highly enjoyable for the first snow storm here in Western NC. Would definitely seek this again in the future.

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Photo of twage04
4.13/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The 2015 version, 12+ % ABV.

Pours a hazy gold with medium carbonation. Some spices and belgian yeastiness on the nose. Taste is of the same with a whole lot of booze. Some malty fruitiness sorta like a quad but the color certainly makes this look like a tripel. Don't be surprised though, it is a sipper and super malty. Some spices come through but they are muted which is okay with me. Tastes every bit of the ABV. A bomber full of this will put you into a fun state wowza

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a lightly hazy burnt orange/copper in color with light to moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and moderate golden honey colored highlights. The beer has a finger tall creamy foamy beige head that slowly reduces to a large patch of thin film covering the entire surface of the the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of toasted, pale, and caramel malts with a moderate amount of sweetness. Slightly stronger than moderate aromas of persimmons and light aromas of holiday spices (nutmeg, allspice, black pepper). Light to moderate aromas of light fruit (apple + pear) and spicy yeast.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of toasted, pale, and caramel malts with a moderate amount of caramel + light fruit (apple + pear) sweetness. That is followed by light flavors of holiday spices (nutmeg black pepper, and allspice). Moderate flavors of spicy saison/Belgian yeast and a moderate to slightly stringer flavor of persimmons which contribute to the lingering sweetness.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: Very enjoyable, very interesting, and quite easy to drink considering the strength. I like the combination of the sweetness (which is present but not cloying), spices, and fruit flavors.

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4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Looks like apricot juice sitting in the glass hosting a pale tan quick fading head that barely reaches an inch. Nose has a lot of fruit going on with hints of apricot mango in dried persimmons. Really a nicely fragrant beer. Taste is strongly of dark fruit at first yielding to a more juicy fruit profile as you continue to drink. The yeasty feel of this beer is very much on the Belgian side. Kind of reminds me of a mix between a Belgian Strong dark ale and a good Belgian pale. Overall this and Seshan deal this hard to categorize but very enjoyable. I would really like to see this beer with several years of age on it. I will definitely track more down if I can. Indeed very careful because this one drinks way too easy for 12% alcohol by volume.

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Photo of oberon
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours into a large tulip glass a clear amber shade with a lacey slight off white head atop.Spiced yeasty esters in the nose along with a noticeable sour element.Belgian yeast flavors with a tannin-like fruitiness with a light lactic touch in the finish.Not bad a little different than I was expecting but quite good.

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Photo of mverity
4.47/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice amber color with thin light tan head and thin collar. Aroma is a light caramel, some fruity-tangy-berry-like notes. Now I think I know what persimmons smell and taste like. Really digging the fruity taste in this beer. Great medium body and carbonation lend to a great beer experience.

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Photo of SLeffler27
3.81/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours gem clear, SRM 16-17 (dark copper), with lots of random, fine carbonation under a one-inch, creamy ochre head that has amazing longevity. A dense coating of foamy lace lines a Lost Abbey pint glass.

The aroma contains light gingerbread and spruce with very faint spices and plums.

Cinnamon and graham crackers are prominent as First Frost warms. The flavors overall are clean, but lack the punch and complexity generally sought after in this style. A subtle, lingering dry finish brings out dark stone fruits. Style guidelines aside, this was quite enjoyable.

The full body is complimented by a light, creamy texture and faint, prickly carbonation. Alcohol is present, but not hot, possibly due to the noticeable residual sugars.

This is a good sipping beer, but perhaps better with a rich, meaty meal.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.84/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2011 vintage, 750ml, split

Muddy amber body - really minimal head. Aromas of dry malt, sugars, and earthy dark fruits. A bit of a floral taste, malty, earthy, spice, corriander. Interesting, though not particularly great. A bit of a dry finish - more belgian dark than winter warmer to me.

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Photo of brewdude1982
4.52/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This was a 12 oz tulip on draft from Bottle Mixx in north Raleigh.

This beer pours a nice brown with red undertones and decent lacing. It smells a little boozy but not too overpowering. It tastes amazing with what I was later told persimmons added to this beer. It had good carbonation and a medium body. I would highly recommend again.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.42/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Overall I was a little disappointed in this beer. I have fond memories of harvesting persimmons in childhood, and I love the taste of these underutilized fruit. The Southern variety is something special and packed with flavor, as long as they are harvested very ripe to avoid the astringency. No problem with that here- in fact, no real problem with flavor at all- there is very little of any kind. You get a vague musty fruitiness, some very light tartness, and a bit heavy fry maltiness with a hint of bitter. Very, very little persimmon flavor, just that muskiness that could be from any sort of fruit and some sugars that are a bit too converted. I'd be fine with that if some interesting (but clean) funky flavors had been created, but that didn't really happen. Pours a murky chestnut as well, with a short but reasonable tan head. There is at least a promise of persimmon in the aroma, but that simply isn't delivered in the flavor. I really wanted to like this beer, but it just isn't happening for me.

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Photo of gford217
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, #1779.

Pours a deep copper that looks almost black in the glass with a small fizzy beige head that recedes to a small collar and collection of bubbles fed from the middle.

Aroma is fruity with the persimmons definitely coming through, but sweeter than just the fruit, caramelized sugar maybe. There are hints of spices but very faint.

Taste is also dominated by the fruitiness which comes is two waves - first, the slightly tart persimmons, second, the fruity esters.Then some spices, which are more prevalent than in the aroma, especially in the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with soft carbonation, fruity and dry in the finish.

This is my first Fullsteam brew and I'm really enjoying it. It's certainly a unique take on a winter warner.

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Photo of cwguy5
3.22/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle #1879/3000.

A - deep ruby, rusty brown color with a light brown, half-inch head that quickly settled to a thin cap; there was no lacing at all left on the glass

S - a floral-fruity aroma that i assume was persimmon since i am not very familiar with it; toffee, rye bread

T - dry, bitter bite with some dark fruit and a bit of vegetable; a bit of a solvent alcohol spike in the middle followed by the bread-y, heavy malts of a winter warmer

M - medium-thick bodied, a bit chewy; medium carbonation with a coating, mildly bitter finish

O - im sure the persimmons would have been stronger when it was fresher. the fusel alcohol was a bit distracting and it seemed a bit loose overall. i would not go out of my way to try this again though i would have liked to try it just-bottled to compare.

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Photo of tdm168
4.39/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a bomber purchased at the brewery. Bottle says 9.1% ABV.

Pours a dark amber with a thin fizzy, soap-bubble head that quickly fades. The nose is complex; baked apples, raisins, dark fruit, bread, barley malt. The flavor is also complex; sweet, candy sugar, pears, baked apples, barley malt, bread, dark fruit, alcohol. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, warm, smooth, and lightly carbonated.

This is delicious! It's complex, flavorful, and intriguing. It doesn't have the typical winter warmer spices. Instead it offers a more unique, fruity, rich, complex, malty, enjoyable beer. I will definitely get this again.

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Photo of RedneckBeerz
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a caged and corked bomber (bottle # 1608 of 2400) into a New Belgium Tulip and the brew is a translucent brownish red with a -1 finger off white head and a slippery lacing on the glass.

The aroma is caramel sweetness, persimmon, and a touch of alcohol in the background.

The thing about persimmons, for those unfamiliar with them; is that if they are picked from the tree (basically unripe) they are a mouth puckering astringent flavor that about takes Ajax ands a toilet brush to get it out of your mouth/off your tongue. On the other hand, those that have fallen to the ground and ripe are amazingly sweet. Nothing better than a simmon puddin made by the hands of someone that knows what they are doing.

At any rate lets take a sip and swish. The caramel and persimmon (ripe ones) flavor comes through with no bitterness or astringancy. Perhaps just a speck of alcohol on the backside, but it's not hot or biting. It almost has a Cheerwine taste ( if you don't know what Cheerwine is, the best description is a kinda cherry type soda produced in Lexington, N.C.). I can definately taste the carmel and persimmons combining and bringing a dark cherry flavor to the game.

2nd pour produced a much frothier head than the 1st and a more layered lacing on the tulip (attributedd to warming somewhat).

Medium mouthfeel with very nice carbination, the bittering agents (hops assumed) keep this from being to overly sweet.

This is definately a great brew and much different than any Winter Warmer I've had thus far. Fullsteam, you've made an amazingly lucious brew, a big KADOOS to you. The only problem now is trying to scramble to find 3 more bottles, 1 to drink in the near future and 2 to cellar out.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 key tapped in honor of the first frost in the Triangle!

Pours exactly like GL Chistmas Ale. Minimal head though.

Smells like caramelized sugars. Very sweet with with a latent spicness.

Taste is somewhat dry, with hints of of crystalized caramel sugars. Grain bill leaves he mouth feeling parched. Maybe age has dried out this one. Mouth does feel coated with syrup and the flavors feel prickly.

Light body.

2011 batch

The difference is night and day. The fresh is clear amber with a white head. Smell is full of persimmon spices. Taste is way too hot for my tastes. Boozy.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
4.28/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sheets, and sheets of lacing...sheets. Tawny brownish red and translucent. Aroma is of spice, cinnamon, allspice, and an apple pie like aroma, most likely the persimmon. Very fruity/spicy flavor. I pick up cinnamon and allspice again, some nutmeg. A distinctly apple like flavor again, persimmon I assume. Nutty and malty balances out the parade of supporting flavors. Really well balanced flavor that makes for a round warm taste. Smooth and malty with a medium body and slightly drying finish. I really liked this beer. I am hit or miss with winter warmers but this beer was terrific.

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.11/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First Frost pours a hazy dark brown with a creamy off white head on top. The foam dissolves slowly down to a sheet on the beer, leaving behind lines of lace on the glass.

The aroma is estery, with notes of alcohol, pine and peppermint. Hints of ripe fruit and spices.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is soft, slightly creamy with an effervescent fizz. The flavor is malty and sweet with spices mixed in. It begins with bready malt notes, which is quickly followed by pine, cinnamon, nutmeg and peppermint(?). Quite interesting. It finishes sweet with hints of brown sugar. Once gone the the pine and nutmeg linger on the palate.

I'm not very familiar with persimmons, but it's definitely an interesting flavor. This is a complex beer loaded with flavor. However, a little age could smooth out some of the alcohol notes.

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Photo of jsanford
4.34/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #342/800 generously shared by Billy at a recent tasting. Poured into a Cigar City Snifter.

Poured a clear, dark reddish-amber with a thin, bone-colored haze. Wonderful, deep aromas of dried apricots (persimmons?), coriander, prunes, and sweet malt. Stunner of a nose. Taste follows nicely, lots of dried apricot (I assume wild persimmons taste like dried apricots, but I can't say I've tried them), spicy coriander, and sweet malt. Mouthfeel is smooth and slick, with a medium-full body and good carbonation. Overall an amazing beer, loving the addition of the foraged persimmons!

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

huge thanks to jason for sending me this as an extra no less, wow man.

very nice, and very dark which surprised me a bit. Full brown color with a nearly opaque consistency, this was a nice looking warmer right out of the gate. Nice two inch head of tan settled down quickly and eventually left behind only token side glass lace, but some nice carbonation could be seen coming up from the bottom.

The aroma was light at first, but as it warmed seem to pick up a bit in intensity. Lots of caramel, cinnamon and dark earthy hops were stealing the show on this one. Quite nice actually just a bit light for me. The flavor was much nicer though. Rich with a healthy dose of cinnamon and spice but not enough to really push it over the top and make it mind-blowing. Interesting as it warmed as some tart fruit started to come forward and the caramel getting sweeter, turning the feel almost over on it self from a nice medium body to almost syrup like by the time I finished it. Smooth and creamy the aftertaste was solid, leaving me linger on a nice note of dark fruit and a subtle vinous like bitterness. Somewhere lost between a drinker and a sipper, it was easily very enjoyable though.

Overall I thought this one was very well done. A good, classic take on the style that definitely did not disappoint

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Photo of thagr81us
4.45/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to Ryan (can't remember his BA userhandle) for sharing this one at one of our weekly tastings. Bottle 477 of 800! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller flute. Poured a deep red-orange with a two finger cream colored head that subsided to one slwoly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, mango, oranges, citrus, and clove. The flavor was of sweet malt, mango, spices, and clove. It had a light feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a great brew. The mango and fruit flavors in this one really put this over-the-top for this style. This might have actually just become my favorite Winter Warmer I have had to-date. Just shocked me on the aspects going on in this one. Definitely worth trying if you can get your hands on it!

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Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 336 of 800

Appearance: Pours a burnt caramel color with a rocky head that streaks lacing

Smell: Floral stone fruit, with a spice cake aspect - persimmon pie, in its essence

Taste: Persimmon pie, right off the bat, with all the fruit and holiday spicing that entails; by mid-palate, some earthy hop bitterness intrudes on the sweet flavors, just in time to keep the sweetness from cloying; the finish is nicely balanced and very fruity

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body, with moderate carbonation

Overall: A fine brew for Fullsteam's first bottled effort; the flavors are balanced and the alcohol is held in check

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Photo of mactrail
4.26/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Uniquely fruity and very drinkable amber ale.

Beautiful amber brew with dark caramel and red highlights. Nice foam, and lingering carbonation in the mouth. This is just an intriguing beer with dark notes of dates and maybe licorice with the edge taken off. The body is not heavy but the flavors are rich. If you like persimmons you would be surprised to not really taste them. But if you're adventurous, you'll discover an indefinable new flavor. Thanks to Fullsteam for a great experiment that should be an annual event.

I love interesting flavors for beers, and some like this persimmon seem to be just right. Label notes they "foraged" 75 pounds of wild persimmons, and this is the native American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) not the familiar comercially-grown Japanese varieties. And the frost in the name refers to the time-honored way of ensuring the astringency in the fruits is mellowed.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber that my friends brought from NC. This is bottle 712 of 800 for the 2011 batch. The beer pours a light hazy, amber-copper coloring with a substantial cream-white, dense bubbled foam head. Smells of sweet malt, fruit (persimmons), and peppery spices. Flavors are a tangy sweet and sour malt flavor, with effervescent crisp and toasted notes. Persimmons semi-sweetness are present to balance the peppery flavors. The beer is light and crisp in mouth, and it has a toasted malt flavor on the finish with fruity notes and peppery characteristics, once again, in the aftertaste. Great winter warmer, and could likely support a higher ABV, but tasty nonetheless.

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First Frost from Fullsteam Brewery
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 83 ratings