Winter Cheer Ale | Spanish Peaks Brewing Co.

45 Ratings
no score
Send samples
Winter Cheer AleWinter Cheer Ale

Brewed by:
Spanish Peaks Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.30%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by charlesw on 11-10-2007

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 38 | Ratings: 45
Photo of Knapp85
3.18/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer poured out as a nice looking deep red color. The head was an off white and left a decent lacing. The smell of the beer was a little spicy but not anything like what a typical Winter Ale is usually like. The taste of a beer had some deep roasted malts in there with some caramel ones to balance out the beer. The other flavors don't really give off a lot of Christmasy flavors to me. It's more like a typical red ale really. The mouthfeel is decent. Overall I wouldn't go out of my way to try this one again.

 517 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.67/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

DOn't remember where or when I got this, and it must be somewhat old, but here goes.

The head rises up to about a finger and fades at a decent pace with lots of big bubbles mixed in a thick creamy head. The beer is very dark, mostly brown with lots of dark red mixed in, like a maroon chocolate color.

THe nose brings on lots of dark syrups, a little brown sugar, molasses, and maybe corn syrup like, with some dark malts, and there's some interesting fruit aromas. Interestingly it has a light aged bourbon oak chip aroma too, which is surprising.

The taste is not like that, but it does start with more syrups. Some molasses, brown sugar, and sweet syrups add to the rich maltiness of it. A little caramel malt as well. Lots of malts, darker, also bring some minerality to one of the roasted malts. There is a very light hoppy bitterness, which is probably stronger when fresh. SLightly chewy malts, and very light fruits finish it off.

The mouth is medium bodied with decent carbonation.

It finishes slightly sweet but dries a bit, with some bitterness coming on strong on the finish. It has a nice earthy and very slightly spicy bitterness, reminds me of an ESB. Some lingering toasty and dark malts, with more syrupy flavors and stickiness. A slight mineral bitter off flavor also finishes through.

 1,308 characters

Photo of sixerofelixir
3/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled a 12 oz bottle in season, 2009. Review from notes.

Pours very dark brown/copper, cloudy. Dark malty aroma. Taste is old coffee, a little musty with a bitter hop twang at the end. A bit of spices detected. Finish and drinkability average. OK, worth this one try.

 270 characters

Photo of Brenden
3.86/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The color is a deep coppery brownish amber. An aggressive pours makes for a thick, dense and rocky head that leaves fat patches of lacing in the glass.
The aroma is strongly off malts right up front, with natural toffee, dark chocolate and coffee notes. A gentle nutmeg-like spice in the back reminds that it is a winter seasonal.
There's surprisingly good balance and more hops than I'd expect. Hops and malts compliment each other well and the gentle spice is underlying rather than overwhelming, adding a nice effect and aftertaste.
The body is medium and there's moderate carbonation. It's more crisp than smooth.
This is a good winter offering and I'm sure it's fairly old; this makes me wonder if it just ages well. The spice is at an optimal level; evident, though not especially strong, and lingering through every sip.

 828 characters

Photo of mlasher1
3.63/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Found a bottle in the back of the fridge so I thought I'd give it a try even though it's a little out of season...

A- Pours a deep amber with a decent size off-white head, which retains slightly and leaves some lacing

S- Nutty and some chocolaty notes accompany the generally malty aroma..not much hop character detected

T- Sweet with hints of nuts and chocolate, overall a fairly smooth drink..not a ton of complexity, but could be worse

M- Good body to this beer with a medium amount of carbonation..

D- Overall a nice beer with good drinkability...definitely a beer I might keep an eye out for next year..

 613 characters

Photo of ZAP
3.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I think this is correctly listed as a red ale...the description on the bottle makes one think this will be a heavy duty high gravity beer but in reality it is a nice drinking, relatively hopped up Amber Ale.

A-Brown with amber highlights.

S-Very nice....spicy and fruity hop notes...malt gives off a toffee aroma.

T-Not as good as the smell but decent....relatively hoppy but backed with the toffee like malt backbone...hops are earthy and spicy mainly with some mild fruitiness (pears).

M-Medium bodied at best...seems thin and watery at times...finishes dry.

D-Once I got past the expectation that this was going to be a big ass winter beer and started enjoying it for what I was actually experiencing I actually liked it...solid red ale...I wouldn't turn one of these down...biggest knock is a watery feel to the body...

 828 characters

Photo of mwa423
3.18/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Single finger of head that dies down to a steady lacing. The color is exceptionally dark, but when held up to the light it is a very very dark red.

S - Lots of yeast and spice. Very pleasing to the nose.

T - I had hoped for more from the smell, but the flavor is relatively weak, some malt and a slight hop bit, but not much above average.

M - Much thinner then most of the style, the aftertaste is pleasant coffee, but again nothing to write home about.

 462 characters

Photo of adamette
4.03/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle exactly like the one pictured above. Poured into my clean, clear Samuel Smith pint glass. Got this from my friend Floyd around Christmas time. Thanks Floyd!

A Nice frothy head over a ruby red dark brown translucent head. Nice lacing left on glass after repeated drinking.

S Nice winter warmer smell with some strength, some body to it.

T Malt, hops, spice, maybe nutmeg, cinnamon, a nice bigness to it. A nice beer that should be categorized a winter warmer and not an amber/red ale.

M Full with malt, hops, spices. A big beer.

D Good. I would look for this again.

Notes: A very solid holiday beer. I am glad that I tried this one.

 665 characters

Photo of TheBear11D
3.18/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown chocolate color with a quickly disappearing tan color head.

Mostly smells of malty sweetness but there was a good smell of hops lingering in the back.

Again, the malt comes through early on, but the hops are strong in the middle and the aftertaste is a weird spice.

The mouthfeel is medium to think which tastes thicker than the beer actually is.

I can't put my finger on the aftertaste, but I don't enjoy it. The beer is alright overall.

 461 characters

Photo of captenaj
3.33/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was pleasantly surprised at how dark this beer poured. There was only a minimal head (am I pouring incorrectly?) that quickly dissipated. The smell was primarily of malt, but hops could be detected. Slight spiciness was present but not too prevalent. The taste was pleasing but a little too hoppy for my liking. I think this would be better with a burger or other hunk of red meat rather than a sit-back-and-relax drink. Mouthfeel was good: not too thin. Overall, I would say this beer is slightly above average. I'm not a fan of hops but if you are, this would be very nice.

 577 characters

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.45/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

It's a deep chestnut in the glass with a thinnish but dense and creamy khaki head. Leaves sheeting lace. There's a nutty, malty aroma intertwined with a biting herbal hop smell.

The first sip delivers lots more hops than I expected. Spicy, herbal hops balanced by a nutty sweet malt. Sticky finish but a relatively light mouthfeel.

Be forewarned...if you're looking for a big, bold winter warmer, you won't find it here. But it is well-balanced and an easy drinker. As long as you're not expecting it to hit you over the head, it's well worth checking out.

 558 characters

Photo of dstc
3.48/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a very deep dark ruby with a big foamy tan head that falls to a minimal head. Nice lace.

Malt nose with hints of hops.

Sweet malt in taste with considerable hop spice. Not a very pleasant metallic finish.

Medium bodied in the mouth.

Very average beer.

 261 characters

Photo of Drew966
3.7/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Winter Cheer Ale pours a dark brown color with an off white head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. The aroma is kind of hoppy, although malt is clearly present as well. The flavor is malty up front but finishes fairly hoppy and with some caramel. A decent ale, worth a try.

 273 characters

Photo of corcoram
3.99/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

OK, so this is my first review AND I'm fairly new to the quality beer market (having been a bud light chugger for years). Bare with me and I'll promise to make them better as time goes on.

That being said, I stumbled upon Black Dog Ale at the local Kroger. Now that I have tried the Winter Cheer Ale, I am a huge Spanish Peaks Brewing fan. This beer was a like heaven on my tongue when having it last night.

I particularly enjoyed the strength of hops that permeated the beer. Although I drank from the bottle, I'm looking forward to pouring a glass next time.

 562 characters

Photo of cjgator3
3.81/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle

A- Pours very dark brownish amber color with a tan head that leaves a great amount of lacing and retention.

S- The aroma is very malty with dark fruit, caramel, butterscotch and hops. Very nice aroma, this one's shaping up nicely.

T- The taste like the aroma features a nice malty base with quite a bit of hop flavor as well. There is a much bigger hop presence in the taste than the aroma suggests, very pleasant surprise.

M- The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

D- Spanish Peaks Winter Cheer is a pretty solid brew that I wouldn't mind having again. Recommended.

 612 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.16/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz picked up yesterday at the Coop for I believe about $1.25.... poured into my shaped SA glass.

Honestly... an impressive head and tons of lace... brew is more brown than amber...

nose is spicy hops and caramel... a little metallic..

Flavor mirrors the nose with a significant nuttiness to it.. again the finish has a sorta metallic/coppery element.... fair amount of citric hops as it warms. Not alot going on though.. the body is a little lite.

Will I buy again? Probably not.


 502 characters

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.9/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear, deep ruby color. This lazy, fat and pillowy cream colored head puts a smile on my face.

Smells of pine trees, nutmeg, brown sugar, sweet malts and a decent amount of hops.

Wow. I am pleasently surprised, was not expecting too much from this one after several other SP offerings. Malty, hoppy and oh so smooth. Not exactly a prime example of a winter warmer, but it is a tasty brew.

Had as a single in a mixer sixer, but I do believe I would buy more of this if I saw it. Definitely worth a try.

 504 characters

Photo of thekevlarkid
3.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours a deep, dark brown with a frothy cap that lingers and lingers. Darkest amber ale I've ever seen, very wintry. Almost no lacing but great retention. Aromas not very pronounced (butterscotch?) but good flavors. Roasted malt, sweet dark fruit like figs, slightly spicy but an underlying sourness. Mouthfeel is a little thin for a beer this dark. A little unusual in general.

 377 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.78/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Roasted pecan brown (that becomes dusky cranberry when backlit) with orange peel trim. This has to be one of the darkest red ales in existence. The outstanding looking crown is golden beige in color, is softly rocky and is laying down a huge amount of sticky lace in gauzy sheets interspersed with thicker chunks. Talk about a great looking beer coming from out of the blue.

The nose is pleasantly aromatic. It features buttery caramel and butterscotch, with a big assist from citric fruity, slightly spicy hops (Mt. Hood, Perle and Cascade). This is shaping up to be mighty fine beer.

Still going strong, though the flavor isn't holding up quite as well as the ounces pass. The few negatives are relatively minor: a lack of depth due to a mouthfeel that could be more full, an underlying sourness that is easily managed and a faint metallic tang that fades by the third mouthful.

Spanish Peaks did good by slanting Winter Chill more toward the darker malts (roasted and chocolate) than one usually finds in a beer of this style. It gives this offering a heartiness that is lacking in the mouthfeel. Flavors include dark caramel, sweet dark fruit, generous shavings of orange and grapefruit zest... and a maraschino cherry on top.

With a more full, more chewy, more creamilicious mouthfeel, the flavor score would almost certainly get a nudge upwards. It isn't bad, but it shouldn't be too hard to bulk up and fill out. The carbonation is fine right where it is.

Initially, I thought that Winter Chill would supplant American Pale Ale as my favorite beer from this brewery. It comes tantalizingly close, but falls just short in the end. Bottom line: APA and WCA are are the cream of the Spanish Peaks crop.

 1,711 characters

Photo of cdkrenz
3.1/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Brown body that looks allot like a soda but doesn't have the fizz. The medium brown head is decent standing at about a quarter inch.

Smell - The scent of malt and black licorice.

Taste - At first take the flavor is filled with black licorice. Then it migrates and offers a bitter coffee flavor before finishing with the black candy again.

Mouthfeel - The feel is fluid and smooth. It does have the nice subtle coarseness often found in a good ale.

~ I can't say I'm really impressed with the beer but I must admit it is unique. I think this to be an average cross between an English style ale and a mild porter.

 629 characters

Photo of rowew
3.68/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz longneck, label has the usual black lab playing in the snow. Date code is not obviously decipherable.

Appearance: Pours a dark reddish brown, nice offwhite head with good retention.

Smell: Sweet caramel malt aroma, just a bit of hop spiciness in there.

Taste: Mouhtfeel is thinner than I expected. Quite a bit of hop flavors here that come across as peppery.

Overall impression: Not bad, but not what I expected from a winter warmer. If the body was a bit thicker it might fit the bill. That being said, its a nice red.

 544 characters

Photo of Brad007
2.97/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Color: Dark red color with a nice and frothy head. Lacing as well.

Aroma: Malty with a hint of spice. Strong. Somewhat hoppy.

Taste: Malty and spicy. Almost too sweet/spicy for my tastes. Mouthfeel is unpleasant. A hint of chocolate (probably the malt) and not much else to note. It's thick and malty.

Mouthfeel: Dry and too sweet. Somewhat overwhelming.

Verdict: An average beer that falls flat of the style. I can see that they tried to make it a winter warmer-type of beer but should have gone with a brown ale instead.

 528 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.91/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, brownish-red body with a flimsy, off-white head.

Smell: Mushy brown malt aroma with hints of berries and spice.

Taste: Ill-defined brown maltiness, though no real sweetness. Dash of sparkling water. Light fruitiness. Faint hint of spice. Mild, tea-like bitterness. Dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Watery.

Drinkability: I appreciate it trying to Winter Cheer me up, but it just didn't really come together for me.

 469 characters

Photo of BigRedN
3.73/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass, the beer is dark amber, nearing brown in color. My pour produces a 1/2 inch off white head that fades to a thin cover on the liquid. Leaves some patchy lacing.

Smell: Some roasted malt aromas. A scent of caramel, (roasted barley?) and a touch spices which I attribute to hops (the bottle say there are no fewer than three varieties).

Taste: Follows with the scent. A decent balance of roasted malts with a sharp bitter hop finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with moderate carbonation. A little harsh and prickly going down.

Drinkability: I put two bottles in a mixed six pack to try this winter seasonal. Pretty decent. I am compairing this to a beer I had just had before it of similar style (Powder Hound from Big Sky which I liked a little bit more). A decent enough beer to sit back and enjoy.

 839 characters

Photo of csmiley
2.28/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A - Deep ruby / brown in color. Got about an inch of head with average retention. Somewhat impressed with the lacing on this one.

S - Biggest part of the aroma is caramel and molasses. In a very, very distant background there was a citrus fruit aroma.

T - Seems like the malt is dialed back in the flavor. There is still sweet malt that dominates though. A close second is a metallic flavor that just throws the taste off. There is also a nice mild hop bitterness that tries to balance the sweetness but the metallic flavor prevails.

M - Medium bodied and smooth. Carbonation was too much for me.

D - This one just is not for me. It started out with alot of promise but failed in a couple categories.

 704 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Winter Cheer Ale from Spanish Peaks Brewing Co.
3.39 out of 5 based on 45 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

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