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Winter Cheer Ale | Spanish Peaks Brewing Co.

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Winter Cheer AleWinter Cheer Ale
45 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 45 |  Reviews: 38
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.78/5  rDev +11.2%
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.

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Photo of cdkrenz
3.1/5  rDev -8.8%
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.

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Photo of rowew
3.68/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

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Photo of Brad007
2.97/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.91/5  rDev -14.4%
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.

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Photo of BigRedN
3.73/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of csmiley
2.28/5  rDev -32.9%
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.

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Photo of PaleAlien2
3.51/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Bottle says it's copper in color, but it's a lot darker than that. Looks like a Porter.
S: Smell is quite weak. No malt or spices, maybe a little hops.
T: Taste is pretty good. Typical of a winter brew, maybe a little hoppier than most. Pretty damn good though if you like the style. Spices emerge as it warms.
Overall: Pretty good, but there are better winters out there.

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Photo of Vancer
3.53/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Don’t know why this is list as an amber/red, cripe, the label plainly says winter cheer/winter ale…

This one starts out with promise – an oaken brown with a hearty topping of tan marshmallow. It’s sticking to the sides like monkey glue.

Good pop of spicy hops in the aroma, but the quaff turns a bit on the harsh side. Woody and resinous, it needs a bit more malt to balance it out better. Smooths a bit by mid-bottle, but a little weak in the body and alcohol to be a top notch winter warmer. Still, good price and enjoyable

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Photo of iceball585
3.3/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Very dark reddish brown color, non-transparent, thin tan lacy cover of a head

S- Caramel malts, toasted nuts, citrus hops, brown sugar, spices

T- Dark malts, dried fruits, molasses, flowery hops, caramel, hint of pine

M- Medium body, medium carbonation, a bit watery to an oily finish

D- Not too bad

When I saw the label of winter cheer I was expecting a winter beer, not an amber/red ale. Still decent flavors thoughout.

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Photo of Reanimator
3.28/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep, bottle brown color. Almost like a lighter porter. Thin head, little retention.

S: Piney hops

T: Taste could be compared to a toned down, and certainly not as powerful, Celebration Ale. Piney hops. I'm a bit disappointed by the malt character, it's fairly weak despite the bottle's claim that "5 different malts" went into it. Also some sour notes. Pretty tasty though.

M: The thin mouthfeel and flat carbonation are immediately noticeable and is the weakest point of the beer.

D: I don't think that the comparison to SN's Celebration Ale is unfair, in fact, the toned down hop character makes Winter Cheer far more drinkable than it's bolder brethren, however, the watery flatness keeps it from being a future purchase. A more lively Winter Cheer would be a great substitute for other more popular winter warmers.

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Photo of tgbljb
4.35/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a very deep brown color with perfectly sized off-white creamy head. Lots of sticky lacing.
Smell is loaded with dark fruit with a faint promise of citrusy hops in the background.
Taste is great. There are strong notes of dark fruit, roasted malt, caramel, toffee, and molasses. There hoppiness is slow in developing, but eventually rises to the point to compliment the malt perfectly.
The sweetness and bitterness combine perfectly at the finish.
One of the best winter beers I had. Great job.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
3.45/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle a dark ruby red with a healthy beige head and lots of sticky lacing.

Aroma is flowery hops and malt.

Tastes of malts, dark fruits and a hoppy bitterness upfront.

Lighter mouthfeel, smooth, and moderately carbonated.

A very drinkable ale but on the light side for a Winter ale.

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Photo of enfield249
3.37/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark burgundy, with copper highlights. Has a 1mm layer of white foam that lasts for a few minutes, and fades to a ring.

S - Floral, spicy, sweet. Maybe a hint of sweet plums.

T - Sweet, and then some bitterness which strikes me as a mix of roast and hops. Then there is some lingering bitterness that hangs out on my tongue in the back.

M - Medium body, lots of sharp carbonation.

D - Overall a really nice winter ale. The smell is really the best part of this beer, and that makes it hard for the taste to live up too. I would almost prefer a touch more sweet and a touch less bitter in this particular beer, but again, very drinkable.

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Photo of dpend
3.46/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served in Sam Adams pint glass @ 55 degrees

Pours a deep copper/black with a rich, but quickly fading head.Lacing is a bit oily without much retention.

Carbonation seems to be bit high, but isn't harsh to the throat.Very thin for a winter seasonal, hence very drinkable.

More hops than most winter brews, but that's fine in my opinion.Aroma is of faint caramel and pine.Tastes of pine,roasted malts in the front leading to a bit of bland middle and finishing with a dry burnt hop linger.Flavors are more or less balanced, but the beer is too young.With some cellaring or slower brewing, the layers would pull through.

Overall a decent winter beer that strays from the norm with a bit more time needed to age and pull out those complexities.Think of a rauchous little brother of Anchor's OSA.

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Photo of GPHarris
3.61/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

a - poured a three-fingers thick light tan head into a snifter. the head was thick and creamy and left sticky lace throughout. the body was dark brown.
s - malty with some spice.
t - spicey hops with a little malt sweetness. caramel?
m - crisp and clean but way too thin for me and this style(?).
d - goes down smoothly and even though it doesn't seem like the style listed i kinda liked it. if you just want to drink some beers and not think about it, this isn't a bad choice.

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Photo of biggmike
3.6/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with a nice frothy off-white head. Aroma is quite spicy and hoppy. Taste is hoppy and malty; a bit like a watered-down English IPA. Mouthfeel is a bit thin. Nice lacing on glass. Overall, not a bad beer, very drinkable, but it just seems like the characteristics are lacking some cohesiveness.

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Photo of rohrbachsfan
2.4/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance: Very dark brown with a tall head.

Smell: Strong Hops and sweet malt.

Taste: Sweet malt with a very strong hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth.

Drinkability: Just didn't like this beer. Way too hoppy for a dark sweet malty brew in my opinion.

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Photo of WesWes
3.7/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a smooth and creamy scent that boasts of crystal and roasted malts. It's got a fruitiness to it as well as a dry roasted element. The taste is decent. It has a dry and bitter flavor that boasts of crystal and roasted malts. It's sweet with a mild hop presence and a dry roasted malt finish. There is some yeast fruitiness as well that seems to mesh well with the hops. This is a decent brew, but definately an uninspired winter seasonal. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. I wasn't expecting much from this beer and I wasn't disappointed. These guys brew middle of the road beers and this is no different.

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Photo of charlesw
3.03/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

You know... I just can't figure out where to put this beer... After drikning barleywine it tastes like a light amber ale. Drinking it, as tonight, side-by-side with an actual amber (Spanish Peaks, none the less), well... It's not amber.

It pours brown. Opaque brown. So... Maybe that's the part they're talking about - the hearty part. The head is tiny. Smells hoppy. Tastes hoppy, too. Like a mass-market IPA, I guess. My wife said, "This tastes like a watered down IPA." and, "Could you pour me a different beer?"

Anyway, this time I'm reviewing it as an IPA. I mean, that's what it tastes like. But it sure looks like a brown ale. And it has the characteristics of a brown or IPA. It's lost and confused. And not enough of anything to be a winter ale. Seriously... As I said in my other review, this tastes like a great lawnmower ale - nice and light and easy to get down if you're all hot and sweaty and thinking of drinking something light. And that is so not what I think of as a winter ale...

Positive side (constructive criticism. Really.): with a little less color and a bit more flavor this could be a decent IPA, I suppose. With a bit less hops and a bit more body and flavor this could be a decent brown, I suppose. With a lot more body and flavor (and maybe fewer hops) this could probably be a decent winter warmer.

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Winter Cheer Ale from Spanish Peaks Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.4 out of 5 with 45 ratings
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