Icelandic Winter Ale | Einstök Ölgerð (Einstök Beer Company)

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Icelandic Winter AleIcelandic Winter Ale
Very Good
23 Ratings
Icelandic Winter AleIcelandic Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Einstök Ölgerð (Einstök Beer Company)

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
In Iceland, winter is not something we fear, it is something we embrace. We celebrate this with our super limited-edition Winter Ale, brewed with hand-cut and cured spruce tips. It is the perfect ale to inspire you to face the elements.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 23 |  Reviews: 12
Reviews by Premo88:
Photo of Premo88
4.34/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

16.9 oz. bottle poured into nonic
(September 12, 2019 best-by date; beer courtesy of @TongoRad)

L: 50/50 clear/opaque dark red, mahogany ... up to the light it's crimson; topped with a little more than half-inch head of offwhite/beige foam; no sticking or lacing; keeps a tight but consistent collar of beige foam

S: caramel, fruit cake, toasted fruit cake, cherry kolaches, toasted apricots with sugar glaze, super sweet cherry cheesecake ... a malt bomb of the highest order and as good a nose as any I've come across

T: boozy caramel ... it doesn't taste hot so much as the 8% ABV hits hard in the aftertaste, a very warming effect; "lighter" dark dried fruits, mainly sugar plums or very sweet dates; as it warms, there might be a hint of a floral note underneath the malty sweet notes; as it warms more, vanilla, a pinch of oak ... and a slow buildup of smoked malt flavor in the background

F: soft and fluffy but hefty, at least a solid middleweight pushing into light-heavy; carbonation is delicate

O: a true treat with loads of the dark-malt flavors on the lighter end of that spectrum, meaning more fruit than licorice, more sweet dates/plums than raisins; the alcohol warming effect is pretty awesome ... normally I like the alcohol to be hidden, but there's something about that good warm glow of raw alcohol that fits perfectly with this beer; reminds me a lot of a big dopplebock with much more caramel flavor than traditional winter-warmer spice; it's hard to say if the spruce tips or the smoked malt are doing much, but who cares? as overall malt bombs go, this one is fantastic.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of thebeers
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark red-brown color with a finger of light tan head. Minimal lacing.

Sweet, malty aroma with hints of wood smoke, cherry cough syrup, chocolate, spruce and Christmas spices like nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon.

Similar tasting. It's sweet, malty and spiced up front, with a moderately strong hop bitterness that mingles with the spruce mid-palate, and then a lightly smokey, but otherwise clean finish.

Medium bodied with a somewhat sticky feel.

Nice balance and moderation in this one. Just about a perfect winter warmer.

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.89/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thank you Knapp85 for sharing this beer.

A - Dark raisin colored pour with nice clarity, head is thick and creamy.

S - Delicate smoke, dark fruit, raisins, and light alcohol.

T - Light citrus, spruce, and toasted malt. The spruce really shines in this beer.

M - Big and full bodied with a silky texture.

O - For 8%, the ABV is totally hidden. The spruce really makes this beer.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.99/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Einstök Ölgerð "Icelandic Winter Ale"
33 cl brown glass bottle, "2017 LIMITED EDITION"
$3.99 @ Total Wine & More, Cherry Hill, NJ

Notes via stream of consciousness: Whenever I see a beer labeled "winter ale" I have to wonder what it will be like. Will it be malty? Or will it have a standard gravity? Will it be spicy? As in "holiday" spices, or something else? Will it be strong? Will it be standard strength? Well this is brewed with spruce tips and Icelandic smoked barley so we're probably off to a good start right there. It's poured a very hazy mahogany brown body beneath a rocky head of yellowed off-white foam. It looks like I'd expect a winter ale to look. The aroma is malty, caramelish, and a little bit minty (must be the spruce tips), and just lightly fruity, probably more like sweet apple and berries than anything else. It's interesting. It's not bold but it's clear, although I don't get the smokiness from the malt. Hmmmm.... I don't think I'm finding it in the flavor either. A little bit in the finish, yes, but it's not really clear in the bulk of the flavor, which is OK, it's adding depth without standing out. It's a little cola-like (again, that must be from the spruce tips). The fruitiness is more like dark skinned fruits as well as well, raisins and figs, which is interesting, and the spruce tips are minimal too - one thing's for sure, this is NOT an American beer, it has way too much refinement for that. Every now and then I also get a light note of chocolate which is nice; and the alcohol never shows. How strong is it? 8%, perfect. Looking back the head hasn't held up and the lacing isn't that great - you can't have everything though, right? In body it's medium, and the carbonation is moderate which leaves it smooth but probably explains why the head didn't hold up so well. What did I miss? Anything? I guess not, just the overall. Well, it's nice. It's smooth and easy to drink while still remaining strong and having some very nice character to it. Charming is what I'd call it.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.39/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Einstock Icelandic Winter Ale has a thick, creamy, beige head, a murky, muddy water brown appearance, with a descending yellow-gray cloud, following the "swish & pour", and sheet glass lacing. The aroma is very much of spices & fruits, of indiscernible sorts. Figs, maybe? Taste is of the same, with bread crumbs, some caramel and nougat, and little bitterness. This is a rich ale. Mouthfeel is high medium, and Einstock Icelandic Winter Ale finishes midway wet to dry.


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Photo of chitoryu12
4.04/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look: Very dark, nearly opaque brown. Slightly more than a finger of foamy off-white head.

Smell: Warm chocolate, fresh baked bread.

Taste: Mild toasted malt, gentle bitterness and hop character.

Mouthfeel: Thick, creamy, and highly carbonated.

Overall: If the bitterness were toned down, this would be excellent and balanced.

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Photo of Dmecca
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of StoutAtTheDevil
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Zorro
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chill hazed brown with a small tan colored head.

Smells of toasted grain and spruce. Fainter scents of pine board and green cardamom. Lesser than that is a faint almond scent.

Starts out mildly sweet with lots of almond and hot crossed bun wheat and yeast flavor. Mildly bitter but more sweet. Not a punch in the face from spices. This is mild and subtle.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall an understated beer that doesn't over power you with spice.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.26/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Welcome to Merry New Christmas Eve Eve (aka Festivus for the rest of us) Beer Sunday (Week 722)! I had procured this bottle at the FGBS during the off-season & held it in abeyance for the advent of Christmas 2018. Today seems like an appropriate time to open, drink & review it.

From the Bottle: "Ale brewed with Spruce Tips and Icelandic Smoked Barley"; "In Iceland, winter is not something we fear, it is something we embrace. We celebrate this with our super limited-edition Winter Ale, brewed with hand-cut and cured spruce tips. It is the perfect ale to inspire you to face the elements."

I was anxious to Pop! the cap on this one for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which was my excitement at the prospect of smoked barley. My slow, gentle, C-Line pour still brought forth two fingers of dense, foamy, bubbly, light-tan head with great retention which left great lacing in its wake. Color was a beautiful Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with NE-quality clarity & garnet highlights! Nose had a great pine/spruce resinousness along with a caramel sweetness. Mmm. Mouthfeel was big, thick, full & creamy, like a dollop had been scooped onto my tongue. The taste was very much of spruce tips & before you ask me how I know, let me impart some 4-1-1. I remember when Tom Kehoe of Yards first brewed Poor Richard's Spruce Ale & people pooh-poohed it, saying that it was too close to drinking Pine-Sol. Meh. I was and am one of his ardent supporters & I still like the extreme stuff, having honed my extremism in the Navy. This had that same pine/spruce intensity with just a hint of spice, perhaps cinnamon (?). Mmm. I may try to procure one of this year's bottles & put it in a double boiler on Tuesday.

There has been MUCH talk of gluwein, mulled beers, wassailing & other warming tactics this year & if we get a significant snowfall, it might happen in an outdoor setting! The last time that I did this was with BFM's La Dragonne in Anchorage, AK with my C/S hostess & her roommate + some other surfers. The trick is to simply warm the beer, NOT to bring it to a boil or even a simmer, just warm it & get it into awaiting mugs.

Awright, yinz mugs, I'm back to the beer. This is one to have only slightly chilled, at most, and perhaps even warmed. The spruce tip/pine mintiness was accompanied by a slightly medicinal quality, which was still very drinkable. Finish was dry and spicy, very evocative of the Winter season. I'd have this one again!

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

(33 cl bottle, no freshness date... poured into a teku)

L: pretty clear, but at an angle nearly opaque, deep garnet colored liquid; tall, tiny-bubbled, spongy pad of aged-white foam... foam fades off not too quickly, no lace

S: lots of sweetish, syrupy malt and a dark cherry note at the fore, similar to some red-colored Belgian (and English) holiday ales (Affligem Noel and Harvey's Christmas comes to mind)... the spruce that I think I detect is faint in power, with a mild menthol bent... any smoked malt notes (possibly contributing to the delicate phenolic methol) are also very faint... alcohol is barely in essence

T: actually a pretty lovely concert of the aromas, with its rich, slightly caramel-y maltiness dominant... bit of dried cherry midway, mellow nutty-cookie note in the finish; spruce adds a pleasant, subtle highlight... spicy alcohol and relatively mild smoked grain note in the back... a bit drier and cleaner than anticipated

F: around medium-bodied, but on the lighter end (alcohol attenuation?)... bit of a bouncy jiggle... the booze creeps

O: looking at this as a British-style winter warmer, it's kinda spot on... was expected a little more umph out of the specialty ingredients, but their tentative touch actually works out well... I could be persuaded to grab a bottle of this again

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Photo of Vipers26
4.69/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.54/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Photo of beergoot
3.86/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Cloudy, ruddy, brownish body topped with a dense, creamy head; sheets of lacing down the glass. Very faint roasted grain scent with touches light smoke and spruce. Subtle caramel malt flavor; a tad bit of smoke; a bit boozy. Heavy, creamy body; some alcohol heat.

I was hoping to experience more smoked malt and spruce tip presence in the aroma and taste, but it was rather subdued. Still, this winter ale has some exceptional mouthfeel and is fair enough for a malt-forward, cold weather ale, bringing some warmth and roasted grain character to things.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.89/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of Bitterbill
4.4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks go out to TongoRad, Michael, for this bottle. 2017.

It pours a cloudy colour of a mix of brown, red, I'll call it mahogany. Lively head of foam, slow shrinking, pretty impressive lacing.

For me, the nose brings dark pitted fruit, caramel malt, citrus like in yes I can smell spruce tips.

The taste matches the smell to a T. Dark fruits, light sweet notes from the malt, a bit of tang from the spruce tips, and, I didn't notice it in the smell, some notes of smoke in and through the finish.

Smooth mouthfeel. Smooth beer.

Bottled September 12th 2017, best before same date 2019.

Something strange...the paper label says 33cl but heck no it isn't. The bottle imprint says 500ml. Yeah, I believe that.

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Photo of rangerred
3.66/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of samEBC
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of WDJersey
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

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

Photo of Zazzi82
3.6/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Diura
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of Offa
3.44/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A good, warming winter ale, drinkable, but lacking in character or complexity or richness.

Deep red-brown, it has a nice, medium tan head soon thinning to thin ring, some tiny bits of lace.

Aroma is dark dried figs and prunes, a bit rummy, but mild and a bit one-dimensional.
Taste is similar - spicy and a bit rummy, vaguely piney, up front, with some dark jammy dried fruit. Faint toastiness. Feel is a touch lively at first, but finish is a bit flat and watery.

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Icelandic Winter Ale from Einstök Ölgerð (Einstök Beer Company)
Beer rating: 3.96 out of 5 with 23 ratings