Samuel Adams Winter Lager | Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

5,924 Ratings
Read the review
Samuel Adams Winter LagerSamuel Adams Winter Lager

Brewed by:
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Bock

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.60%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Samuel Adams Winter Lager is a dark wheat bock. Bock beers are traditionally strong dark lagers.

This beer is a lager, and hence not a Weizenbock (an ale).

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-25-2001

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 5,924 |  Reviews: 1,986
Photo of Bouleboubier
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Marketing this as a straight-up bock brew would have been more appropriate. Mentioning the additions to the recipe of cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel on the neck label set me up for quite a letdown. None of these flavors made much of an impression on the taste. To be true, through each sip, sensations of the cinnamon show up front while the ginger nips at the back, and the orange peel comes across as old and dried - preserved by chemical means. But they're all super weak in presence. Old Fezziwig, which boasts the very same seasonings, delivers in the way I hoped this would. Getting past my disappointment with the showing of the spice, what's right in front of you is a decent bock, if not rich or complex. Drinkable, yes.

I poured it into a pils glass (why? i can't recall). Finger-width head - diminished rapidly. A deep iced tea color and real clear. Aroma was nearly indiscernible - some faint fruity tones, which did show up in the taste as well. Spices? Nil. Last thing to add is a fairly clean feel, soft and smooth-ish beginning and slightly dry with a teeny-tiny warming rush in the finish. Comparable overall to a maltier, Mexican-made Vienna lager.

I'd drink it with a meal if it was around, otherwise, eh.

 1,229 characters

Photo of JDK
4.5/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

*poured a very nice deep red with a 2 finger head.
*medium lacing
*very nice smell... cinnamon, all spice and hops
*you can taste the different spices, I picked up more clove and cinnamon with a lingering taste of hops.
*mouthfeel was perfect for me
Very enjoyable beer but a little on the filling side. 2-3 would be plenty

 323 characters

Photo of DrinkingDrake
3.28/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby brown with a relativley thick light brown head that goes down to a very scattered lace that clings to the edges.

Not too much aroma a faint amount of cinnamon and gingerbread maybe, malty this is pretty subtle.

The taste is the same as the nose pretty faint cinnamon and ginger bread with a malty sweetness. There is a little bit of a a dryness that finishes pretty nicely.

The flavors are faint but I like it. I don't know if I'm being biased but this is a nice drinkable winter lager. I'm actually sitting in front of a fire and staring at a Christmas tree enjoying this so that may have some influence.

 628 characters

Photo of woodychandler
4.43/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was out to Subs & Six Packs on Columbia Avenue on Tuesday and saw this available as a single bottle and decided to give it another whirl. Today is 16 Dec 2015, the boss is LT Dan, my partner is a redhead and my name is Woody. This is a true account of the events that follow. Only the names have been changed to protect the less-guilty. And now, for the facts. Just the facts.

From the bottle: "German brewers may have been onto something centuries ago when they created rich bock beers for the winter. Our brew is a dark wheat bock subtly spiced with fresh ground cinnamon, ginger, & orange peel for a deep smooth flavor that's perfect on a cold winter's night. Cheers! [undersigned] Jim Koch"

The Pop! of the cap is never as satisfying as the Crack! of a CAN, but I am making do as best as I CAN't with these CANfounded bottles. An aggro pour to vent my frustration released two fingers of foamy, tawny head with decent retention. Color was a beautiful Copper-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with NE-quality clarity. Nose smelled of cinnamon and orange peel and I was put in mind of a Wassail Bowl. Mouthfeel was thin-to-medium. The taste was spicy, but it lacked Ooomph. Yes, I got the cinnamon and ginger, but they seemed somehow muted, like I was not getting the full effect. Finish was dry, thanks to the spices, but I just wasn't feelin' it. A GLBC Christmas Ale would do the trick! Clearly, I liked this a LOT more on draft.

My original, on-tap/draft review dtd 24 Dec 2010 follows:

I had some on-tap last night, which I thoroughly enjoyed, BTW, and my usually non-drinking fellow USN-retiree buddy offhandedly mentioned that he scored some at a local PX for his son and he is actually having some and really enjoying it. TheCANQuest (TM), like heaven, will have to wait while I indulge in some bottles.

I should remember that "Bock" is a style of lager, but when the label(s) scream(s) "Lager", I default to the Greg Koch "fizzy yellow sissy beer" expectation, sometimes to be pleasantly surprised, as in this case. I got a finger of deep-tan head with good retention off of my pour. Color was a deep-copper with NE-quality clarity. I have seen pennies that were less copper-colored than this beer. I was reminded (again) of the beauteous Linda Lou, a striking redhead whose hair was not only this color, but hers was also as coarse as wire. Sigh. She left me while I was on a seven-month deployment to marry somebody other than me. My beer may taste faintly of salty tears. Boo hoo. Nose smelled of ginger (OK, now a reference might be getting old), cinnamon and nutmeg. I was reminded of baking cookies with my maternal grandmother as a kid. The other kids used to make fun of me for my culinary endeavors until they tried what I had made. I still like to cook, just not for by myself. If only I had Linda Lou for whom to make meals ... Mouthfeel was big, thick, creamy. You should really brace yourself for this one. The spices were simply alive on the tongue, each getting a turn on the ol' palate. It was like eating one of those cookies. The finish left me in a melancholy, nostalgic mood but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Good news, also, for my followers - it CAN be purchased outside of the Winter Sampler, unlike Old Fezziwg. Try some for yourself.

 3,274 characters

Photo of B967ierhunter177
4.17/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a clear, deep, amber color with finger thick head and lasting lace. The aroma has hints of vanilla, spices, and caramel. The flavor begins with ginger followed by malt sweetness and cinnamon notes. It's got a medium full mouthfeel whan combined with the flavor gives it a high drinkability. Samuel Adams Winter Lager is a very good beer and is a good compliment for steak. Highly recommended!

 408 characters

Photo of leakyfaucet12
3.29/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

felt this is a good beer to drink the eve of christmas eve.

A- Red and great looking. I like the lacing and the head on this. looks great in my samuel adams perfect pint

S- pretty weak I smell cinnamon and other things that are to faint to make out

t- tastes light. There are some flavors in there but i would expect more flavor out of a winter beer.

M- the mouthfeel on this isnt bad but it isnt good.

D- Extremely drinkable. It is going down like im in a frat house

 474 characters

Photo of mjrod2142
4.12/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a standard pint glass
16 oz. draft in a standard pint glass

The pour produced a thin, off-white head that dissipated quickly. There's a malty aroma with a hint of cinnamon, but it's far from overwhelming or offensive.

This beer has an excellent mouthfeel that is creamy, yet not too thick, heavy or bubbly. The spice in the flavor is so subtle that I wouldn't have been able to place it without reading it on the label (cinnamon, orange zest, ginger).

The smooth, malty flavor is very pleasant and leaves very little aftertaste, making this beer very drinkable. Overall, this is an excellent mainstream "winter" beer that most anyone can enjoy.

 673 characters

Photo of garuda
3.56/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Clear, deep amber with great clarity, thick white head that has great retention, and even a decent display of lacing down the glass.

S - Spicy, cinnamon as soon as I opened the bottle, but it disappeared rather quickly and what remained was some sweet, caramelly, bready malts with some graininess here and there.

T - Less spice in the taste than what was in the smell. Dominated by the big, sweet, caramelly malts. Sweetness becomes a bit cloying towards the end.

M - Medium body, a tad high on the carbonation. Mostly clean on the finish but does leave some residual sweetness across the palate.

D - Pleasantly surprised, as I really wasn't expecting much going in. Nice character overall, but it gets a little too sweet for me by the end.

 749 characters

Photo of BeerBuckeye
3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a deep amber, good head on it.

S - Sweet and malty. Some nice spice notes in there, orange for the sweetness, ginger for more of the crispness.

T - Pretty flavorful actually. Good amount of spice in there, some cinnamon, finishes with a decent amount of hops as well. Even a little fruity.

M - Coats the mouth a little. Crisp, but with a good amount of carbonation. Aftertaste is just a little bitter.

D - It actually feels a little heavy, easy to drink though.

Overall - Winter Lager, IMO is the best of the pure Sam Seasonals (i.e. Noble Pils, Summer Ale, Octoberfest, and this). I always find myself drinking some during the winter, even with the plethora of other great winter and Christmas beers out there. This beer isn't remarkable, but it's solid.

 770 characters

Photo of Jadjunk
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

#8. This is my second Sam Adams, a winter seasonal. Neck reads: "Samuel Adams Winter Lager is a classic holiday tradition. Subtly spiced with a blend of freshly ground cinnamon, orange zest and ginger for a rich, satisfying brew that will make winter seem a little warmer." Let's see how it adds up.

(Appearance) Beer pours one-two finger depth off-white carbonated head that dies away quickly but leaves the surface covered with a thin film. Beer appears a dark copper or bronze with tones of red light. It is a dark beer, but bright enough to see through and is very clear. There is a good deal of thin sticky lacing streaking the sides of the glass that loses its momentum and becomes thinner as the beer warms. Carbonation seems very low, and clustered bubbles are very thin. It could carry a much more impressive appearance, but what's here doesn't look half-bad. 3.5

(Smell) Pretty good balance of sweet caramel malts and some earthy or toasty nuts amongst lighter piney hops. Beyond a faint citrusy odor, some ginger and some wheat scents, there is not much else that I can detect at this point. Beer does not smell as complex nor as pungent as I had hoped. 3

(Taste) Better. I can taste an appropriate amount of toasty grains complemented with spices here, of which I know one is cinnamon, and possibly some nutmeg or allspice. Nothing is overbearing. The orange flavors are more subtle here too, but pair well with the spices. Sweet malts and a touch of slight bitterness from some hops on the finish round out the taste, but the malts are far more dominating here. The beer is largely on the sweet side, but is impressively flavorful. 4

(Mouthfeel) A very medium body. The beer is carbonated, yet smooth and crisp at times. There is little aftertaste, just the same distinctive malty wheat and caramel with a complementing spice or two. The beer is slightly thin; it could be thicker-bodied. The alcohol is not as well hidden as in other drinks. There is a faint roasted note that remains the large part of the drink. Mouthfeel is pretty decent. 4

(Drinkability) Very drinkable, very nice flavor and a pretty good mouthfeel. I could have several of these in a row should I be craving something malt and spice heavy. I found it very easy to drink and largely enjoyable for a holiday brew. Perhaps not my ideal choice for a Sam Adams winter seasonal, but a fine one nonetheless. 4

Verdict: Not disappointing for a winter brew. It has enough complex flavors for me and most everybody without being a hard drinker. At some times thin and not very intense with flavor, it still remains a fairly impressive Sam Adams beer and I wouldn't mind making it a winter season regular. B (3.7)

 2,695 characters

Photo of clings
4.6/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Like many have said I am also a sucker for Sam Adams seasonal beers, but this is definitely my favorite. The bottle tastes like it has been handcrafted individually just for the person who is consuming it. The mixture of spices in the beer is perfect...not to much and not to little.

 283 characters

Photo of tapman
3.23/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Colors of red, brown, and dark amber make up the body and a small head emerged after a careful pour which subsided very quickly to make a thin lacing. Carbonation appears minimal, a big difference between this one and the 'boston lager'.

Sweet malt aroma with some bready, tart hops and hints of spices supporting the sweetness. Too sweet for my nose. Nose is somewhat delicate nose, much less harsh than the regular 'boston lager'.

Tastes like a Sam Adams Boston Lager light, which is weird since it is darker than the SABL. Decent balance between hops, malt and spice, it is hard to pick any of them out. I can taste a little alcohol, though it is neither warm nor astringent. Good bitterness in the finish, I don't really get too much of the spices.

A fine mouthfeel, a little thin for a holiday bock if you ask me. Maybe a holiday helles, but then the color is off. meh.

I would rather have the regular Sam Adams, but not by too much.

 942 characters

Photo of mattkoon
3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i am a sucker for all of sam adams seasonals- i like the octoberfest better than the winter lager- but that being said, the winter lager is still a very solid beer. there is a deep citrus flavor mixed with some holiday spices and just the right amount of bitterness. sam adams winter lager is truly a great cold weather drink.

 326 characters

Photo of Lemke10
4.47/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this in the Sam Adams 12pk Winter Collection variety pack for about $13 at Woodman's in Janesville, WI in mid Fall 2010.

This Winter Lager pours a medium dark amber color with a good long lasting head. Right away you take in the scents of malts and hops. Upon tasting there is a fantastic mixture of spices. Absolutely delightful on a cold winter night.

 363 characters

Photo of TheBear11D
3.72/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle

Pours a clear amber red with visible rising carbonation. Had a short-lived very light brown head that was difficult to work up.

The nose carries hints of spice accompanied by citrus and light hops.

Spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg are the noticeable flavors up front, with a small flare of hops towards the finish. On additional sips I noticed orange and lemon on the front end with a dry finish.

Quite a smooth feel with active carbonation.

Overall is decently enjoyable. The beer is worthy of the season.

 526 characters

Photo of JackieTH
3.51/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Red Robin.

Appearance: Translucent mahogany with reddish cast. Thin creamy white head.

Smell: Subtle ginger spice and citrus but mostly malty and earthy hop.

Taste: Slight ginger and citrus, just like the nose, gives way to an earthy hop bitterness and mostly caramel malt backbone.

Mouthfeel: Medium

Drinkability: Far less 'spiced' that I expected and in that, it's easy to drink.

 396 characters

Photo of woosterbill
3.02/5  rDev -17%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

2010 bottle into a Mad Elf tulip.

A: Crystal clear mahogany body with two inches of ultra-fine off-white head. Great retention and lacing. Stellar.

S: Whoa, where are the spices this year? There's maybe just a hint of ginger on the front end of the aroma, but this smells much more like a straightforward bock (plenty of German hops, some caramel malt) than the sumptuously spiced winter warmer that this beer was last year. It's a decent enough smelling bock, but I miss my cinnamon and toffee.

T: Thin and sharp, with ginger and earthy hops dominating the front and back ends, respectively, followed by a little bit of bitter citrus on the aftertaste (orange peel, I presume?). Some bready malt shows up as it warms, but this doesn't have any of the candied fruit and spice complexity that I loved about last year's version. Disappointing.

M: Light and prickly. Not enjoyable.

D: While I'm upset by its thinness in terms of flavor, the hops do give it a nice crisp finish that avoids all potential pitfalls of being cloying or over spiced. Pretty easy to drink.

Notes: Perhaps I just got used to drinking last year's Winter Lager after a few months had mellowed it and sweetened it considerably, but there's just no way this can be compared to the 09 I drank just a couple weeks ago. The spices here just seem like a distraction from an average lager. Booo.


 1,374 characters

Photo of MowryJC
3.25/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle (from the winter sampler pack) into a Willi Glass.

A - Dark bronze with burnt orange highlights, pouring a nice two finger head that settles into a finger and a half of fluff. Leaves light lacing down the glass that dissipates into spots and then nothing fairly quickly.

S - Caramel malt upfront quickly moves into ginger backed by orange peel and a bit of cinnamon (interestingly, there's a light sour cherry to it as well). I get just a little earthy and herbal hops on the back.

T - Caramel and a little toffee, with the ginger and a touch of orange coming in nicely (not as strong as in the aroma, which is nice). Like the ginger, the hops aren't as present as in the smell (and they weren't very present in the smell to begin with). I could use a touch more earthy hops.

M - Just the right amount of carbonation for this kind of brew, but I feel like it ends a bit cloying. It sort of dampens the whole experience at the end.

D - If it weren't for the cloying finish, I'd give this beer a much higher drinkability score.

As much as I want to really like this beer, there's just a few characteristics that bring it down.

 1,158 characters

Photo of Kemmerlin
3.33/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: amber brown/red color with a thin 0.5 finger head that quickly diminished.
S: has a brown sugar, molasses and cherry aroma mixed with some light spice notes that I can't place.
T: caramel molasses flavors cap a mild hop and pleasant fruity lager yeast taste.
M/D: a medium bodied feel with the usual mass craft drinkability.

 327 characters

Photo of Brenden
3.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this on tap last night and it was one of those odd things in which the head is weak and all of the flavors don't come out for some reason. This has happened before with Noble pils, and it's been several locations.

This beer is deep copper, almost burnished bronze in color. A thick off-white head sits on top, about two finger high. It stays around for a while and leaves some sticky remembrance of itself on the glass.
The aroma is backed by malts with plenty of spices but not overdone. There's also a firm wheat aroma and hints of fruits. There's a touch of something like white pepper that, in my opinion, makes the nose a touch dry and detracts from what little sweetness there is.
It may be a lack of malt backing coming through that does this one in here. From the bottle it's full and flavorful. On tap, some of that's missing.
I definitely lose a bit in the mouthfeel here. The body is medium but feels a touch fuller to me, and carbonation is adequate to add to the smooth feel but not too much to go beyond that.

 1,031 characters

Photo of ScorpyX
2.41/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a very clear reddish amber. The finger width off white head dissipates a little but doesn't completely disappear. Looks nice, at least.

S: Malts foremost, with some hints of spice and alcohol.

T: Malts are noticeably present and it's a very crisp taste, but it's also rather bland. I'm not detecting what I had expected. There is something a little metallic to it when first poured, but that disappears as the beer warms, bringing out more of the hops and definitely the spices. I may have to let this one sit a few minutes next time.

M: Pretty crisp and light as one might expect from a lager. A little heavier than most lagers, but still goes down clean. Dry finish.

D: Nothing would prevent easy drinking except for my dislike of the taste. I could have multiple, but it wouldn't be my first choice.

 815 characters

Photo of bound4er
3.08/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From a Holiday gift pack.

A. Crimson to dark amber in appearance. One finger off white head that is slow to recede.

S. Lots of malt aromas with some underlying cinnamon and nutmeg spice. Though not very strong, this smells nice.

T. Not much going on here - run of the mill malt flavors (bread) with nothing really standing out. There's a hint of bitterness on the finish.

M. Creamy mouthfeel with low carbonation.

D. I don't have a problem drinking this beer - it just doesn't have much flavor. Given that, one is enough for me.

 538 characters

Photo of lespaulrocker
3.95/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark red/amber, very little head, moderate amount of lacing. Very attractive.

S: Christmas/Wintry. Malts, cinnamon, bread, fruits and citrus. Great smell.

T: Cinnamon, malts, pretty bitter, caramel and toffee. Dry hoppy finish.

M: A lot of carbonation, could do with a little less. Still good.

D: Very drinkable.

I picked this up because it was cheap and I just wanted a not so complex brew to enjoy while reading. This was perfect. I didn't spend the entire time trying to detect every subtle quality, I was able to just enjoy. When I want a break from more complex brews, this would be one I would go to.

 614 characters

Photo of hardy008
2.78/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Copper with a two finger creamy beige head. Nice retention and lacing. The aroma has cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, hops, and orange zest.

The taste is much like the aroma with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and orange zest. Unfortunately, the hops used in this beer are not a good match for the rest of the ingredients. They give off an almost sour taste, which clashes with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Not the worst beer I have drank, but this should be better.

Medium body and carbonation. Dry, with a bitter, almost sour aftertaste. Not bad, but not a beer I will go out of my way to get again.

 587 characters

Photo of SDtastentune
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark red, minimal head and lace.

S - Malts and slight spices, hardley any hop character.

T - Malts are definitely present, some Cinnamon & spice out there, but not at all over the top. Kinda a deep ale, but thinner than expected.

M - Fizzy like most SAA, but good balance.

D - Drinks great for a winter ale, not bad, not bland, not too spicy, Good balance for wonderful winter action. Easy to drink, but not water.

 422 characters

Samuel Adams Winter Lager from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
3.64 out of 5 based on 5,924 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.