Big Rock Winter Spice Ale | Big Rock Brewery

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Big Rock Winter Spice AleBig Rock Winter Spice Ale

Brewed by:
Big Rock Brewery
Alberta, Canada

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Formerly Big Rock McNally's Winter Spice Ale

Added by biboergosum on 12-07-2008

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Reviews: 27 | Ratings: 50
Photo of Lucaskowalik
2.44/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

Poured from refrigerated 330 mL bottle into a chalice
A- Clear and coppery with a light bubbly head which quickly dissipated
S- Cinnamon and nutmeg with notes of caramel although the smell is very underwhelming
T- Spiced like apple pie albeit fairly watery
M- Light and short-lived, very uninteresting
O- Overall it is a very drinkable beer but it is not as comforting as the title suggest. I much prefer Granville Island's winter offering.

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Photo of Bunman3
3.49/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Looks promising, but ultimately succumbs to its innate "Big Rockiness". The smells, tastes, and depth are lacking for a winter warmer. Sampled on tap - I might need to give it a fair chance in bottle form. Overall, though, you can easily find much better winter beers...

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Photo of Mlkluther
3.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Likely the best offering from Big Rock I have had in a long time. Not as good as Granville's winter spice offering - but this is the first big rock beer I might buy again on purpose.

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Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.69/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle decanted into a tulip glass. A ruby copper red with a finger of impermanent sudsy off-white head.

Has a typical "Big Rock smell", if you know what I mean. If you don't, sweet caramel malts galore, a slight graininess, apple and pear like fruity esters ... There is of course an added spice bouquet that is pleasant if not exactly overwhelming.

Taste is a toffee base seasoned with ginger, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla. Quite sweet. Cooked apples and pears. A slight boozy rum note. Body on the thick side with moderate carbonation. Finishes quite sweet as well, with a whiff of grain husk and lingering dry pumpkin pie spices.

Worth sampling if you like spiced beers. Should not be considered essential tasting. Too much typical old school Big Rock character (see aroma notes above).

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Photo of Eric_Standard
3.11/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Earth, spices, hops, malt, caramel, bread - lots of good flavours that work well for a winter ale. The spices are rather muted however, and could use some oomph to bring the taste in line with the expectations conjured by the name and brewery's description. Not bad by any means, but not quite what I expected.

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Photo of joesi
3.24/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

(look rating was just used to balance out my rating; I don't care about looks, it's silly to do so)

Very little smell, which I found surprising, but I don't care about. Smells of caramel.

Medium-low carbonation level, with a medium amount of creaminess with a swish.

Mild caramel (reminiscent of some sort of Innis and Gunn) and hops seem like the dominating flavors here. In fact, just beer (lager) flavors in general are the most prominent flavors, like a hoppy doppelbock or something. I think I also tasted some ginger here, but it may have just been cinnamon/nutmeg as they didn't mention any ginger. It reminded me of some ginger-flavored beer, namely Ginja Ninja, a beer which had an extremely mild/minor ginger taste. I didn't notice that much other spice though really, which is the whole reason I got this, so it was rather disappointing in that sense.

Overall very mild in tastes aside from regular beer tastes.
No doubt that it is good as a beer in general, but it was bland/boring for me and a bit disappointing. I was probably expecting too much of it though based off the label's description, and having had a Unibroue La Resolution a few weeks previously which was absolutely amazing (it had lots of spice, especially clove flavor, but good luck finding one).

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Photo of leaddog
3.65/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Big Rock brought this brew back as part of their Brewmaster's limited edition brews.

Appearance - Pours a clear copper with a finger of bubbly white head.

Smell - bready caramel malts, cinnamon, clove, hint of nutmeg, hint of ginger, and gingerbread scent aromas.

Taste - Starts off with the bready caramel malts then goes into the cinnamon, clove, hint of nutmeg and ginger.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Finishes with the lingering spices.

Overall - A pleasant winter spiced ale. The spices are all there for the style. Only knock on this one would be to ramp up the spices but otherwise an enjoyable winter spiced ale. I am digging the label on this one as it reminds me of snowshoeing on some of the picturesque trails in the mountains.

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Photo of Scrylol
3.74/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Been a long time since I've last had this beer. New packaging and labels compared to the older version.

Pours a one finger white head that disappears quickly. Dark ruby red body.

Aroma consists of hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves backed by sweet, caramel malt. Smells pretty similar to a pumpkin ale in terms of spices.

Grainy, caramel malt taste backed by the spices; cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Slight taste of ginger in the back. Nice balance on the spices. Leaves a dry, semi-sweet malty taste.

Unlike other beers from Big Rock, this beer seems to have a bit of body to it - a very nice and welcome change. Nice amount of carbonation.

Seems to have improved since I last had it in 2010. Definitely Big Rock's best beer, but that's not saying much when compared to other beers that are in the same price range. Still, a decent winter warmer.

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Photo of scott451
3.74/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One finger bubbly off white head which soon diminished to a ring. No lacing to speak of. A clear dark amber.

Spicy mild sweet smells. Spice up front in the taste, over a mils malt base. Finishes again with the spice. Cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.

Medium body. Fairly low carbonation. Sweetish. Overall fairly pleasant.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.42/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - bubbly clear light amber, short tan head left a thin covering
S - savoury with ginger and cinnamon, light grassy note
T - very bready with modest spices, grassy hops and an alcohol bite
M - high carbonation, watery thin with some spice tingle
D - i like that these guys are trying to get back to their craft brew roots, this is not an outstanding winter, but a decent effort that drinks easy enough

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Photo of marcusR111
4.35/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- a brown ale with reddish tinge to it. Small head that disipates quickly

S- The spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves are out front with a slightly malty smell in the back

T- Spices are once again upfront but this time the malt and the hops are more easily able to distinguish. Very good taste.

M- Good carbonation, not a whole lot but there still is some good carbonation. Not watery at all.

D- I would buy maybe 2 six packs all winter. More of a good beer to have christmas eve.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of MAB
4.12/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This isn't just a gimmick beer, to have one and forget about, or to give away the five of the six-pack that you don't want.
No, you want to keep the entire six-pack for yourself.

Everything about this beer is a bit better than average and it adds up to a lot better than average. Nice brown color, white head. Lots of carbonation.
You can smell the spices (clove and nutmeg?) before you sip, plus a bit of a sweetness from the malt(s).
The taste is very inviting, and quite interesting. More spice, more sweetness.
The only place that it falls down a bit is on the mouthfeel. It's a touch on the watery side. Maybe not watery but you'd expect more body that just isn't there.
A welcome addition to my fridge.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.57/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice amber colour with a red hue, thin finger of head with little retention and leaves no lacing.

S - Spices dominate the nose with cinnamon and nutmeg being the most prominent and the slightest caramel scent on the finish, though it isn't as strong as some of the other winter warmers I've had in the past.

T - Much like the taste the spices dominate, with cinnamon and nutmeg coming through. The flavour that lingers on the tongue reveals a bready ginger snap.

M - This is a bit on the light side, but nothing totally offensive, and it goes down smooth.

D - A tasty offering that doesn't overpower the palette with a strong spice presence typical among most winter warmers. Though one might consider this one a bit bland, it is quite drinkable thanks to the lighter flavours present.

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Photo of ZorPrime
3.69/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one was sent to me by BigBry. Thanks.

This beer presents itself amber with some reddish notes in it. When I drink and look at the beer, it is definitely more red than by looking through the glass. Absolutely no head. Bummer. The aroma is strong cinnamon with some malty notes behind. However, the cinnamon is strong in the nose. Not a bad smell, however I don't expect a lot of bitterness from this one.

On the taste side, it is less intense. Warm in the mouth which is due to the alcohol I would guess. I get some cinnamon and nutmeg maybe. I'm not sure about the nutmeg. The taste is a little bit spicy for me to grade this one a 4-good.

This one is medium body and the carbonation is present in the looks and the mouth.

Overall a good beer, easy drinkability. A nice offering.

Cheers BigBry!

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Photo of mrmanning
3.32/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Chancey Smith's. Deep auburn which is slightly hazed. Pours a frothy beige cap. Spicy nose has allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, fruity malts, with some vanilla. Tastes somewhat sweet, of bready malts, rye, cinnamon, nutmeg. Well spiced with a nice fruity component. Creamy, medium body, with nice lingering spice is pleasant. Good.

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Photo of Sammy
3.57/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed on-tap at Chauncey Smith. A faint spice aroma. Dark colour. A bit light mouthfeel. Some spice (cinammon,colves, ginger, nutmeg) and fruit taste. Nominally rich, vinous. All that's missing is pumpkin, yeast, more caramel.On the sweet side.A little drying.

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Photo of cratez
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pint at Chancey Smith's. My first proper tasting of a Big Rock beer. I tried Warthog and others a few years ago but they were straight out of the bottle and I didn't reflect on any of them. Still haven't sampled the Traditional Ale, I might give it a shot since I enjoyed this offering.

Taps a glowing amber red with a large, frothy cream head that subsides to a thick cap. Dots of lacing speckle the pint glass. Smell and taste are cinnamon sticks, ginger bread, biscuit, brown sugar, nutmeg, spice, and an astringent tartness. Very malty, but good for the style. Mouthfeel is soft and creamy, a little tangy, with some bread and sweetness in the malted finish. A satisfying winter warmer, better than I expected.

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Photo of TerryW
2.18/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A moderate head quickly disappears. No head no lace. Clear coppery beer. Very plain looking.

Nose is pumpkin pie spices and a whiff of hops. Sweet to taste, gentle spice, but almost cloying. No finish. Thin bodied. No sense that you're drinking a 6% beer.

Sorry, but overall quite uninteresting. Not beery enough if that makes sense. A novelty beer offering insufficient novelty.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.58/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draught at Kickoff in Waterloo. First day of winter, figured this was appropriate!

Pours a nice dark amber, a bit of lingering head, some lacing.

The nose takes a bit of warmth to get going, but all the winter warmer favorites are there: nutmeg, bread, ginger, cinnamon, dried fruit, malts.

The taste is fairly similar, and for a winter warmer, this one ain't bad. Quite tasty, actually. Similar flavours as in the nose, but with a bit of cloves and bitterness to balance the sweetness. Aftertaste was a bit tinny, but still a fine brew.

Mouthfeel was excellent. Medium thickness, carbonation was just stingy enough to provide bursts of cinnamon throughout each sip.

One of the better winter beers I've had this year. Certainly worth a go!

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Photo of wordemupg
3.68/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pint served at Moxie's at Market Mall Calgary (don't ever go there) dec13 2009

A reddish copper with a two finger head that has average retention and leaves a few rings of lace

S nutmeg, cinnamon, a little honey about what I expect from a winter warmer

T as it smells but even sweeter, a little generic for the style nothing to original going on here

M decent carbonation gives it a creamy feel that gets better as it warms

D I had no major problems with this beer nothing great but not bad either

for Big Rock this is pretty good, very popular with average Joe. I see a lot of this beer go through the store I work at this time of year, no gingersnaps in the case like last year too bad they were better then the beer

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Photo of EsoxLucius
3.92/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

another excellent and very enjoyable. i tried it after a Bah Humbug from Wychwood, i'd also suggest trying that one out, but both are good!

A: looks like McNally's Extra Ale, i like the way that looks. dark copper with a light tan head, good lacing. head vanishes a bit abrubpt.

S: definately smell cloves and nutmeg with some cinnamon. nice smelling, again festive and suiting.

T: good, i like regular Extra Ale a bit more, but this is definately worthy. nutmeg and spice are pronouced throughout the drink.

M: it does have a warming feel to it, but it's pretty fizzy.

D: after it's sat for a bit, it gets better. i'd recommend trying it.

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Photo of AdmiralMorgan
4.34/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

After hunting for quite a while, I finally managed to locate a 4-pack of Big Rock's Winter Spice ale, just as the cold months began to wane. It included 2 fine glasses that I now use when drinking Mcnally's Extra Ale (one of my prerequisite beers from Big Rock).

I must say I was impressed with the taste, which in my opinion should be the main feature of any beer. It seems the majority of the population in this day and age are satisfied with bland, stereotypical macro brews with no distinguishing characteristics aside from being wet and cold.

Many argue that Big Rock isn't far removed from the conglomerate owned "big-name" breweries. If you need a beer to demonstrate otherwise, Winter Spice ale serves as an excellent representation of Big Rock's unique approach.

This beer sports a body-warming blend of cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, and finishes smooth with an enjoyably sweet and tempting aftertaste that eggs you on for another swill.

The smell is mainly of cloves, with a hint of ginger and nutmeg. Definitely reminiscent of the Christmas season.

Mouthfeel is a little thick. You'll notice this brew coats the palate quite extensively, although this allows for the aftertaste to work it's magic.

Color is an attractive amber, it looks great in the glasses provided... but who really cares how it looks? ; )

Extraordinarily drinkable, set yourself up next to a cozy fire after a day on the slopes and enjoy!

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Photo of bobsy
3.89/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A Canadian winter warmer from an uninspiring Alberta brewery. We do winter well up here, but are Big Rock really up to producing a decent beer to match it considering the rest of their insipid lineup?

Deep copper pour with a small off-white head that eventually receded to a thin ring, but gave up some spotty lace. Sweet, gingery aroma, with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg spicing. Gingerbread is the flavour that springs to mind as I smell this, and it also reasserts itself in the flavour, which mixes ginger in with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to produce a very pleasant flavour profile. Quite warming to boot, which fulfils a big style requirement. Medium body and carbonation are fine for this beer, though perhaps the feel could be a touch heavier.

Interesting... I really didn't expect much, and ended up with a very enjoyable beer. This would make a perfect nightcap or Christmas pick.

Thanks Bryan for this little surpirse!

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Photo of IronDjinn
2.83/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Been quite a while since I've had a Big Rock product, let alone sampled a new one. Maybe I'd consume more if they brought back their Magpie rye ale, which was quite excellent (hint, hint....).

Bought a 341 ml brown single of this, which seemed a safe enough investment for me. It pours out a clear well-carbonated light amber, two fingers of tight creamy off-white that settles slowly.

Given the abundant presence of nutmeg on the nose this is a few spices shy of being a contender for a decent pumpkin ale. Some sweet ginger in the mix as well, giving it a sort of gingerbread character. Mild cinnamon rounds things out.

Ummm....reminds me of a spiced up version of Warthog. Do they still make Warthog? Maybe they can replace it with Magpie.... The first thing that stands out for me is a yeasty homebrew presence, along with wort-like malt, although the two don't blend well. In fact it reminds me of a Winter Warmer I brewed myself a few years ago out of a liquid wort kit. An herbal hop tartness jumps out of the bushes on the finish that doesn't go very well with the spices, especially as they both linger on sparring with each other into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is smooth and a little slick, on the lower end of medium-bodied.

I'm comfortable with my purchase of the lone single of this Winter Warmer, it brought back some fond memories when I had the time to homebrew a lot more, yet confirmed that I have no desire to pay for this commercial version of it. However bring back Magpie, and you'll have a steady stream of my hard earned money every week once again.

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Photo of Derek
3.27/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Copper-bronze with an off-white head, thin ring of retention, slight lacing.

S: Cinnamon, nutmeg ginger are nice, but seem more like a pumpkin brew than a winter ale. Some underlying biscuity malt as well.

T: Ginger, cinnamon, cloves, grainy biscuit, slightly metallic, hint of caramel, good bitterness. Unfortunately it seems to be slightly oxidized.

M: Light to moderate body, moderate carbonation, dry finish.

D: It's alright, but I expect a little more from a winter warmer.

Thanks to seldomseen for throwing this in as an extra in a trade.

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Big Rock Winter Spice Ale from Big Rock Brewery
3.51 out of 5 based on 50 ratings.
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