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Winterfest | Sockeye Grill & Brewery

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Very Good
33 Ratings

Brewed by:
Sockeye Grill & Brewery
Idaho, United States

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-31-2004

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 33 |  Reviews: 19
Reviews by Scotchboy:
Photo of Scotchboy
4.04/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Finally putting a review of this beer in the system: one of my Winterfest pint cans, poured into my CBS snifter.

A: Dark brown pour yields a ruby body with a huge light khaki head and tons of lacing.

S: More sugary malt and caramel is here now than when this beer is fresh. Still dominated by a hoppy onslaught of citrus and some herbal/resiny notes, but the English-style ale peeks through underneath with that distinct sweeter malt edge.

T: Tastes 'big' but isn't boozy; caramel and earthy spice mix well with a good dash of citrus hops that lean toward resiny, even garlicy/oniony. Still the malt backbone is hefty and caramel is abundant.

MF: Fairly full bodied, and very smooth.

O: Very unique and tasty Winter drinker. Still, couldn't drink a lot of this, but Sockeye is doing a good job.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Shanecooke93
4.08/5  rDev +7.4%

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.06/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to JohnGalt1 for this extra!

Pours a red/deep purple. Smmmooookkkeee on the waaataahhh! sorry. One finger white head that dissipates pretty quickly leaving some lace. The nose is subtle, but has a little bit of winter spice. Taste is reealllyy creamy. This is immediately one of the better winter ales I have tried. A great malt character here, but not as harsh as something like jubelale or hibernation. Very crisp on the finish with good hop flavor yet almost no bitterness. This is a fantastic beer, I dont know what it is about it but its great. ahhhh now I know. It is the mouthfeel! Nice and viscous without being too soupy. This enhances the creamy taste and makes it really feel like a true winter ale. Drinkability is great, the abv although not terribly strong is well hidden without taking away that great winter warming effect. I am very suprised by this beer, maybe I am alone in this, but this is one of my favorite winter ales for sure. Props to Toby!

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Photo of johnbonham1980
3.56/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Purchased in a 40 oz. growler at the Boise Co Op. Great deal on this beer, about $6.50... I like Sockeye's beers, and it's great to see some bottles available retail since they don't have a full time bottling operation.

This is pretty much exactly what I like in my winter beers. Warming alcohol, complex flavor profile, and heavy coating mouthfeel. Great to drink in front of a raging fire. I drank this in two sessions, two thirds of the beer I had one night and the rest the next day. A lot of the carbonation was gone, but the flavor was fine...

Winterfest poured with a lasting ample head and had great lacing. Dark amber in color, head was a light brown.

The flavors in this beer are pretty complex. It had a near-perfect balance of malt and hops, with flavors of pine, raisin, rum, and even coconut. The coconut really surprised me, but after reading another review of this beer that mentioned this as part of the observed flavor profile it's pretty obvious. This is very much like a barleywine in nature.

Alcohol is present and apparent, but not overwhelming. Doesn't have the greatest drinkability in the world but that by no means prevents you from drinking a couple of these. Has a coating, somewhat sticky mouthfeel with a pleasant but fairly non descript aftertaste.

Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Glibber
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was really impressed with this beer. Medium dark looking beer with an off white 1/2 head that fizzled down and left nice lacing on the glass. The aroma was very pronounced and hinted of sweetness and malts. The taste did not disappoint. I did not detect the spices associated with many winter style beers, but a great blend of hops and malt with a nice sweetness- caramel perhaps. I will be returning for more.

 412 characters

Photo of fivetime
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of isualum12
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Dark brown alomost black on top with a hazelnut brown color towards the bottom of the glass. It poured with a decent thick head with a cream color.

Taste as it hits your mouth..I little hops flavor to it with a carboniztion and chocolate after taste that is almost smooth but completely if that makes any sense. lots of left on the side of the glass.

I really wanted to like this as a boise resident but it was just ok. Don't take that the wrong way...I will buy and drink this again but I wouldn't put it in my fav. list.

Edit note- second tasting much better. Carmel and butter played in their tonight. Really liked it.

 625 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.02/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


22oz bottle 2007 batch purchased at the brewery tonight for ~$6.. shared with my fiancee... I was told by Jason this is the second go around this year, and he says the 3rd batch is the "good" one... we'll see. :)

Nice head... golden tan collar left with good lacing ... hazy lite chesnut color.

Earthy roasted malts ... nice ... good hop balance ... nowhere near as hoppy aroma as some of the previous years. Complex malt profile.

Wow.. Sockeye has dialed this one in this year. Dark toast and roasted nutty grains.. raisin in the mid palate and good balanced bitterness. toffee and grassy hop flavors linger for quite a while. Medium body and tiny bubble carbonation ties everything together very well.

Man, I love fresh beer. Now I wish I had not shared with Brenda and kept it for myself, or I could have sprung for another bottle ... but I can always go back tomorrow. Sockeye is a really good brewpub and the only one in the Boise area that does any sort of experimentation... Cheers fellas and keep up the good work.

 1,030 characters

Photo of PEBKAC
4.09/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Straight from the mean streets of Boise, & the victim of UPS gang violence, this casualty was medevacked directly to the ICU(intensely chilled unit). It was too late. It was already cold. Decapitation via self mutilation was the coroner's findings. Preparations were made to contact immediate family. In the mean time, I brushed up on my necrophilia. :P

A relieving burp & gurgle released when I removed the suspect bottle cap. Buried alive? Whatever happened, the suspect is still out there. Be careful.

I pour it into my Ommegang chalice, because well, why not? Who's gonna tell on me? The color comes out like a super well oiled brown baseball mitt. Not much head, but an easy quarter inch plus a lot of activity down below lets me know all is well.

Almonds, cola, & a dose of piney/resinous hops to spice up the nostrils. It gives the impression that it's going to be a sweet beer.

Rich almond butter, burnt caramel, diacetyl, muted coffee, & sappy bitterness clings as the beer trails.

Strong but slick body. The carbonation keeps everything from weighing down. A bigger beer then the style would dictate, but that's not always a bad thing. :)

Drink like a fish! :)

 1,178 characters

Photo of 1424IpA
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Photo of claspada
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

No bottle date so I have to guess 2010.

Pours a really dark maroon with an eggshell colored fluffy head that leaves nice spider web lacing on the glass.

Aromas begin with light herbal and grassy hops coupled with a nice sweet malt backbone. Further sniffs allow me to decipher toffee, dark caramel and light roasted malts. There is an underlying spice notes that could be yeast or from an actual spice addition, but it's not dominant enough to be pin-pointed.

The tastes follow the nose with grassy and earthy hops and equal amount of brown toffee and caramel malts. I want to say more here but that's really it. There is that same light spice note in the finish but I still can't say exactly what it is. Flavor profile is missing something here, like a missing ingredient; would probably have benefited from some wheat malt or more carapils to add more body. Borderline watery quality to it.

Mouthfeel is medium to light in body with medium carbonation. The finish is neither thick/sweet or dry, pretty right in the middle. Could use a little more heft and body for my liking, especially because the flavor profile has as borderline watery quality about it.

Overall this is a good but not great beer. It lacks a punch or a standout feature. You keep sipping looking for more but there just isn't anything else to make this memorable in any way. A very drinkable English Strong Ale as I would have no idea this is 7%ABV. This is one of those beers that would be better served in a 4 or 6 pack at a lower price point and would be much more popular

 1,551 characters

Photo of Devehf
3.4/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

$5 22 oz bottles for this 2010 edition. Bought a case of 12 bottles for about $50. I also sampled a pint on tap which was not as solid as the bottled selections. What is that watered down effect from the fresh kegs? The bottles must have matured a bit more?

The hop spike is adequate but not as pronounced as I prefer. I'm a Dagger Falls IPA fan from this brewery.

The malt backdraft is not too sweet as you might find in some Belgian inspired Ambers.

This warm glow is a welcome accompaniment to a hearty stew on a frosty Northwestern Intermountain night.

 562 characters

Photo of ucsbmullet
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of wisegreensoul
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of KlayWey
3.04/5  rDev -20%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Good roasted flavor and decent winter brew

42 characters

Photo of LouZ
3.21/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of DerwinWentworth
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of trill
4.23/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another one from Toby's Idaho LIF. They've been good so far, let's see how this stacks up.

Pours a hazy burgundy, with a 1/2" off-white head. Smell is chocolate, pumpernickel, some faint earthy hops, a touch of roast malt. Overall quiet, but pleasant. Hops are much more present in the flavor, with some Cascade/Centennial-style piney notes. The hops are balanced by either a high Crystal or chocolate malt, but the beer is not particularly sweet. The mouthfeel is very "present," without being sticky or syrupy in any way. Highly drinkable, but it fits more into the hoppy brown ale category than anything else.

 613 characters

Photo of Schmittymack
4.6/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this one in a trade quite awhile back so this might be flawed somewhat. However, I must say that this one has everything I want in a brew: great malt backbone with the right amount of hop bitterness. This would be one I could do over and over on a cold winter night. Might have to seek this out for this next winter.

 328 characters

Photo of irishevans
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

pours a nice oakish red color hazey with a thin off-white head. minimal hop presence on the nose, but mostly malt smell, like a weak barleywine. all malt in the taste, the hops don't seem to show up much, I also notice some kind of berry or fruit in the taste that i can't quite put my finger on as it blends in to the mix very well. the mouth-feel is super smooth all the way through, very nice on the tongue. drinks nicely not deceptively easy to down but not too difficult to drink either. a damn good winter ale, try it.

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Photo of stakem
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter, this brew appears brown in color but when held to the light displays ruby coloration and quite a bit of clarity. Some orange is seen around the edges and 3 fingers worth of creamy yellowish stained head appears across the top. The cap is frothy and leaves an entire curtain of lacework all over the glassware.

The smell of this brew is sweet and fruity but mixed with a grain incorporation that is quite toasted. There is a light spicy aspect along with yeast. Some hints of orange rinds and fruity citrus indications. As the brew warms up, the sweetness of the nose seems to be a bit like vanilla. Herbal hops are present once warm which rounds things out nicely.

The taste is sweet with toasty malt, vanilla and fruity alcohol notes. Herbal hops are present balancing out the sweetness of the malt. The aftertaste is bitter and lightly rindy with lots of fruity alcohol notes. The aftertaste is a pleasant mixture of herbal hops and vanilla, sweet maltiness.

This is a medium bodied brew to full with a modest amount of carbonation. Seemingly creamy in the feel. This is farily easy drinking with a low alcohol impact for 7%. Much more toasty than any brew I have had recently, that was a welcomed surprise. Perhaps a bit more depth to the malt would be encouraged but overall not bad.

 1,313 characters

Photo of Dope
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can from Scotchboy, thanks Daniel! This must be a new incarnation of the brew because the last reviews seem to be very old. This was also a can and not a bomber. And it doesn't taste anything like the reviews. Can says Sockeye Winterfest so I'm pretty sure I have the right entry.

A: Pours a very dark amber/brown. Big dense light brown head. Fades very slowly, leaving a nice island of foam behind. Heavy, impressive lacing covers the glass. Great head retention too.

S: Whoa, hoppy. Citrus, tropical fruits and garlic/onion mainly. Resin and maybe some caramel?

T: Again, a little citrus, very resinous and piney that I missed in the aroma. Garlic and onion tops it off. A little bit of herbal hops too maybe? Mild caramel malt and toast. Lingering drying bitterness with toasted garlic, resin and herbal hops in the aftertaste.

M: Medium bodied, very drying.

O: English strong ale eh? Tastes pretty damn close to an IPA or a hoppy red or something. Either way, it's very tasty. Nice hop strength and variety. Flavorful and drinkable. Awesome.

 1,053 characters

Photo of NWbyNW_Brew
3.69/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of dfhhead25
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of woemad
4.02/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes
16oz can purchased at Huckleberry’s in Spokane for a little over $2, I believe. No freshness date on the can.

Poured a dark, russet-like color that took on a more burnt orange shade when held up to light. Big, beige head – creamy and slow to drop. Lots of lace.

The aroma was primarily malty, but with some piney hop notes.

The hops hit the tastebuds first, but almost immediately melded with the beer’s big, malty backbone. Dry at the swallow.

Medium bodied, with an oily yet “meaty” mouthfeel, if that makes any sense.

This was like an IPA with a big, thick “stick-to-yer-ribs” maltiness. A good combo for a cold winter’s day, which it was when I drank this.

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Winterfest from Sockeye Grill & Brewery
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 33 ratings
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