Nutcracker Ale | Boulevard Brewing Co.

very good
349 Reviews
Nutcracker AleNutcracker Ale

Brewed by:
Boulevard Brewing Co.
Missouri, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.80%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Nutcracker Ale is Boulevard’s holiday gift for real beer lovers. This hearty, warming brew is a classic winter ale, deep amber in color, with hints of molasses balanced by the “spiciness” of freshly harvested Chinook hops.

38 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-11-2002

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Reviews: 349 | Ratings: 896
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.56/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best by 2/16/16.

Pours a hazy copper with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Tiny particles of sediment are seen suspended in the beer after the pour. Smell is of malt, citrus fruit, citrus zest, and earthy hop aromas. Taste is much the same with malt, citrus zest, grapefruit juice, pine needle, and earthy hop flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with nice flavors, but the aromas on this one work together slightly better to me.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours a mellow cherry red color with a gentle haze. huge white fluffy head sits atop this holiday looking beer. smells a but fruity, with plums, cherries, and maybe even figs in the nose. a slight sour smelling as well, which isnt entirely enticing. taste is surprisingly complex for what is billed as a winter warmer. i taste none of the usual alcoholic sweetness i ascribe the this genre of beer. theres a definite malt profile to this one tempered by some fruity yeasty things. mild honey and allspice flavors in the background too. mouthfeel is very nice, with an almost belgian style vibrancy to the feel, with a lovely dried fruit finish. i could wish for a higher abv here, but this one works just as it is.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A nice Winter Warmer that doesn't try too hard to do that 'Winter-Warmer' thing. The beer has an inviting hop nose that promotes pine, fresh-cut grass, orange zest and a balance of nutty malts. Based with a mostly barley / partly grain taste, the beer has a firm but crisp backbone of toffee and nuts that never waiver. The hops add intrigue, balance, and contrast without conflict. Nestled somewhere between Great Divide's Hibernation Ale and Sierra Nevada's Celebration the flavors straddle both. However the body is smoother, less creamy, and lighter than either. This is a very nice beer; even 20 minutes after the pour the head still covers the beer with a creamy foam, nice lacing, covering a moderately hazy amber / copper hue. A true pleasure to drink.

Thanks again BlueOkie!

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Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Version (best by 2/15/10; tasted 2/5/10)

Very similar to the 2004 (see below)

2005 Version (best by 2/1/06)

(A: 4; S: 4; T: 3.5; M: 3.5; D: 3.5)

Appearance: Pours a hazy copper with a foamy tan head that leaves some lacing

Smell: Christmas spice (dried orange peel, clove and coriander) aroma backed up by a molasses tone; almost smells like Dr. Pepper, but not as sweet

Taste: Starts with a caramel and fruit/nut flavor; mid-palate, some earthy hop flavors storm in and balance the sweetness; the bitterness continues to grow through the finish, which is spicy, but a touch metallic

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with prickly carbonation

Drinkability: An interesting, but slightly flawed Winter Warmer; not sure how much better this would have been if consumed before the "best by" date

2004 Version (best by 2/1/05)

(A: 4; S: 4; T: 4; M: 4; D: 4)

Appearance: Pours a hazy copper with a foamy tan head that leaves some lacing

Smell: Molasses and dried Christmas spices (orange peel and cinnamon)

Taste: Starts out with a fruity quality on a malty molasses base; mid-palate, the earthy hop flavors kick in and provide a dry balance; the finish has both sweet and bitter elements

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Tastes very similar to the 2005 version but without some of the flaws; a nice Winter Warmer

Thanks, beeryhandy, for the vertical tasting and also to Schmittymack, for the chance to taste the 2009 version within the freshness date (as good as the 2004)

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Photo of kojevergas
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle into dinner glass (I know...) in Denver, CO at high altitude.

A: Three finger head of mild cream and thickness. Inviting. Hazy maple-brown colour.

Sm: Nutty, estery. A hint of cream. Hops.

T: Very nutty on the smooth open, which resolves to a heavy grapefruit lacing. Unexpected, but built well for this style (which is quickly becoming a favourite). Balanced but complex. Extremely estery. Holy hops, batman!

Mf: Wet with a dry finish. Adequate coarseness as needed.

Dr: I'd certainly have it again at this price. I'm liking winter warmers more and more. This is no exception.

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Photo of emerge077
3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the Brewhaus, Springfield IL.

It pours a deep reddish amber, speckled lacing, with carbonation visible through the haze. Slightly sweet aroma of apricot, some light malty cookie.

Light and dry hop on the back end, a pleasant ale yeast character, and mild hop spiciness to round it out. Doesn't seem like additional spices were used. It's medium bodied with a strong yeast presence. A couple of these would be easy, but not really a session ale to me.

2012: This always seems to be on draft at Northwoods Lodge in Springfield, usually hits the spot and is relatively fresh.

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Photo of zeff80
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours out an orange/amber color with a small, white head. Leaves small traces of lacing.

S - Smells nutty and a little citrusy.

T - Very malty and nutty. It has a sweet citrus kick as you drink it down.

M - It is soft and dry. Light to medium-bodied.

D - This is a pretty good winter treat and a very good offering from Boulevard.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.56/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass.

Pours a moderate brown color with a bit of light cloudiness. Big light tan with great retention. A good amount of lacing throughout. The nose is a bit plain with a bit of caramel and toffee plus some very light spicing.

The taste is a bit sweet with some brown ale characteristics. The spicing is there a bit and there is some mild earthiness to this. The spicing doesn't come through too much until the back end and especially in the finish. Medium body with good carbonation. A bit drinkable, but the finish is slightly off-puting in juxtaposition to the flavor and I don't quite need all that much of this.

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Photo of mothman
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my New Belgium Globe Glass. No freshness date on bottle.

2008 Edition (if that matters)

Color is a copper/ruby brown. Thin off white head. Very slight lace.

Smell is of cinnamon and roasted nuts. Taste is malty. A lot of spices and earthy floral hops are present.

Mouthfeel is just slightly bitter, but then is smooth and creamy.

Overall, this is a really great winter beer and easy to drink. I'd recommend this for a nice session beer.

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

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, best before 2/15/2017. Pours slightly hazy/cloudy deep orange/amber/light copper color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big grapefruit, orange peel, caramel, brown sugar, toasted biscuit, cherry, plum, apple, pepper, pine, light nuttiness/toffee, herbal, and floral/grassy earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of citrus/pine hops, fruity yeast, brown sugar, and moderate dark/bready malt notes; with great strength. Taste of big grapefruit, orange peel, caramel, brown sugar, toasted biscuit, cherry, plum, apple, pepper, pine, light nuttiness/toffee, herbal, and floral/grassy earthiness. Light-moderate pine/grassy/spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of grapefruit, orange peel, caramel, brown sugar, toasted biscuit, cherry, plum, apple, pepper, pine, light nuttiness, and herbal/floral/grassy earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Great complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/pine hops, fruity yeast, brown sugar, and moderate dark/bready malt flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance, and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light dryness from lingering bitterness, increasing through the glass. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, and moderately bready/grainy/creamy/sticky balanced mouthfeel that is great. Minimal warming alcohol for 7.8%. Overall this is a great English strong ale. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/pine hops, fruity yeast, brown sugar, and moderate dark/bready malt flavors; very smooth and easy to drink for the ABV. Really well balanced and not overly bitter for being fresh. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of oberon
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a rich tawny color with a huge billowing crown that held for a very long time,finally settling into a frothy mass after leaving globs of soap scum lookin stuff behind.Spicy hop and caramel malt come together well,it has to be chinooks to give off such a spicy note in its hop profile,very nice.A nice mix of winter spice,clove,cinnamon,nutmeg,candied orange peel,and again that hop spiciness,a sweet but not overly sweet caramle base holds true to the finish.Each year I say Iam gonna get some of this stuff,this year I finally did and Iam glad I did,this for my money is one of the best winter warmer's out there.

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Photo of chinchill
3.62/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Deep red-amber with a weak head.

Aroma is a mismash of components that don`t gel at first: spices, caramel, earthy hops ... But this improved with some warming or just the repeated tasting. The flavor was initially better than the aroma but as the latter improved they became more similar in both quality and character.

O: an interesting and distinct winter ale. Not challenging although it took me a little while to warm up to it.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Best enjoyed at cellar temperature (not right out of the fridge!), Nutcracker pours a beautiful chestnut body with a reddish cast beneath a short cap of creamy light beige foam. The nose reveals a combination of light spice and delicate spruce or pine wrapped in a caramelish and slightly biscuity malt. It's medium bodied and its median carbonation lends a gentle zest to the tongue. The flavor is slightly richer than the nose suggests, but delivers the same basic profile with hops arriving up front and giving way to it's maltiness towards the finish. Cellaring this beer for a year, however, softens the hop presence and allows the malt to become more dominant.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.35/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

16 ounce pint - Taco Mac in Woodstock, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a relatively clear, dark amber-hued body with a slim, light beige head.

Smell: Moderately spicy with a growing pine resin presence. Toasty, crystal malts. Thin hint of fruit. A bit of alcohol.

Taste: Toasted bread, crystal maltiness with an extra sip of thinned treacle. Scantly nutty. Lightly estery. Woodsy, lightly resiny hops with very light citrus slipping in the taste. Medium bitterness, yet it still finishes a bit sweetish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Overall: It's fine, but, I'd politely pass it up on a second occasion.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cherry caramel suffused with glowing sunset orange. Nutcracker has a wonderful, festive color that reminds me of any number of American barleywines. The lightly creamy, orange-tinted, golden beige cap looks good as well, even if it doesn't look like it'll be a lace monster. This is one tremendous looking winter warmer.

The nose is a keeper too, in large part because I can appreciate the citric hoppy goodness emanating from the Magnum, Cascade and Chinook. I wish the caramel maltiness and the orange and grapefruit hoppiness of the nose was even more prominent, but I've chosen not to mark it down for a wee lack of power. Besides, warming opens it up quite nicely.

Nutcracker Ale certainly has no shortage of flavor. Boulevard Brewing has seen fit to pack it with ingredients, something that I wish more brewers of winter warmers would do. From a hophead's perspective at least, this is a balanced beer. Malt and hops, sweet and bitter; both are well accounted for and neither gets the upper hand at any point along the flavor arc.

Each mouthful reminds me of well-toasted whole grain bread slathered with melted caramels and orange and white grapefruit marmalade. It's sweet and nutty and spicy and bitter and tangy all at once. I wasn't sure what to make of it initially, but now I'm definitely a fan. Warming helps, so I'll be sure to start my next bottle out at barely cool.

The mouthfeel is akin to a mid-range IPA. It may be just a tad light for a big winter warmer, but then given the ABV, it could be hardly be called a big winter warmer. It sure is big on flavor though. I'm enjoying the incredible smoothness and the perfect (read: restrained) amount of carbonation.

In poker parlance, Nutcracker Ale is the nuts! It's a fantastic winter warmer from a brewery that has previously impressed me with only two beers, Bully Porter! and Bob's '47 Munich Style Lager. I've never seen it in sixers, only in holiday packs, but I'll have to look harder from now on. Kudos to the boys from Boulevard for this flavorful, incredibly drinkable holiday treat.

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Photo of billab914
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into my Devil's Backbone glass. It poured caramel brown in color with a frothy, bubbly head covering the top. Good head retention.

The aroma has a good amount of malty, caramel flavors to it with some notes of brown sugar as well. I get some herbal spices to it as well, which compliment the maltiness pretty well.

The taste shows a little more of a herbal hoppiness to it with a touch of pine and citrus. The malty, caramel and brown sugar flavors come out as well, especially in the finish. It comes together pretty well.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with carbonation being a little above average. Overall it was a pretty good beer. Pretty flavorful and easy drinking. There wasn't really anything really outstanding about it but it was a pretty solid version of the style.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.01/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a hazy reddish-brown with a massive 2.5 finger egg-white head, overflowing from my glass. Decent lacing.

S: Up front there is a lot of apple and some floral hops, with a decent amount of alcohol.

T: It tastes almost like cider with a light citrus kick to it. Some bready malt fills out the flavor profile. After finishing the review, I went back and read some others, and this flavor profile doesn't really jive with most, might be a little past due, looked for a best by and didn't find one, might have been rubbed off?

M: Medium bodied with high carbonation, texture is a little on the grainy side.

O: Not sure on this one, I am guessing its no longer good, but can't imagine a change this drastic. Will try again.

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Photo of russpowell
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

BBD 02/01/08

Pours an orange-hued amber (looks more brown closer to the head) with 2 fingers of sand colored head. Average lacing & head retention

S: Faint bready notes & slight fruittyness

T: Bready with herbal hop notes up front. Hop profile holds up as this warms with leafy & herbal hops, plus a kiss of pine offset by a little cakey/gingerbread sweetness & tangerine slices. I also catch some boozey warmth. Finishes with leafy hops, a bit of grapefruit & some caramel. More complex than I remember

MF: Chewy enough, with low carbonation

Drinks pretty easy for the abv, let this warm up a bit. Great to session on

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Photo of Jason
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle with a freshness date.

LOOK: Muddled tawny hue, great lacing

SMELL: Christmas pudding, candied fruit, alcoholic esters, toasted bread, herbal hops.

TASTE: Smooth, medium body, raw, rustic, bready, hop bitterness, leafy, ripe oranges, papaya, brown sugar, esters, spicy, grainy, bittersweet finish.

Lot of complexities here, don't rush this beer ... let it warm up slowly and sip it and the flavors will unfold. This ale has more than enough going to put a grin on just about any beer geeks face.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.62/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Chicago Bears shaker pint glass.

For some reason, nutcrackers always kinda creeped me out a bit. Yeah... Anyway, this stuff pours a partly cloudy sunset amber-russet topped by a finger of dirty khaki foam. The nose comprises nutmeg, clove, brown sugar, dark wheat, light pumpernickel, and a small vein of sweet caramel. The taste holds notes of orange peel, nutmeg, clove, dark wheat, light grapefruit rind, and cardamom. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a slightly grainy feel. Overall, a nice little winter warmer, nothing really special, but drinkable enough to allow for a couple 'round the fireplace.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appears cloudy nearly opaque amber almost marron hued nice sized caramel tan head leaves fine lacing. Aroma contains a great hop profile christmas tree esque piney character nice doughy malt not overly sweet thank god no holiday spices to kill it finishes a bit citrusy sort of celebration like but unique and it's own. Taste is one great hoppy winter warmer once again thanking the beer gods that some brewers leaves out holiday spices and substitue semi sweet caramel malt profiles with yeasty bread chacter blended with a wallop of pine cone and citrus flavored hops, nicely done. Mouthfeel is medium bodied texture is silky smooth of course carbonation is perfect why mess it up now. Drinkability effortless b/c it's so good yet challenging due to the flavors that one could without a doubt crave.

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Photo of jwc215
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to hwwty4!
Best by 02/15/10:

Pours hazy orangeish to brownish amber with a thin, foamy off-white head. Some trailing lace sticks.

The smell is grassy/herbal and minty, some pine, and a touch of caramel and alcohol.

A pretty hoppy/minty winter warmer - Herbal/grassy notes with tea-like spicing. A touch of lemon tartness in the back. Subdued caramelish maltiness in the back. A touch of alcohol is in the finish and aftertaste.

A bit sudsier than expected, but the body holds together well enough. A little less carbonation would help.

Quite drinkable despite touch of noticeable alcohol (which enhances rather than detracts in this case). A hoppy winter wamer, with a nice minty seasonable touch to it.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Color, a deep, murky brown, coppery-red at foot and sides, with a large, fizzing, tan head atop.
Aroma. fresh, creamy, welcome and inviting, with some slight spiciness, distinctive nuttiness, and very mellow and smooth. excellent buzzing bracket of hops right away, that soon subside, but are ably replaced with a large mouthfell, generous texture, and well-rounded, full flavorful character. Full-bodied, with an over-riding nutty feel and a nicely spicy twist. Drinkability encounters no difficulty, this would stand in quite well as a winter session brew!
A very nice ale to accompany one on colder nights (such as!) and stave off discomfort!

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Photo of Wasatch
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to Vancer for this brew.

Pours a nice clean/clear dark amber color, nice carbonation, nice two finger creamy head, lots of nice sticky lacing afterwards. The nose is of sweet malts, hops, spices, and caramel. The taste is mostly sweet and malt, with a nice touch of caramel. Medium body. Drinkable, a nice little winter warmer, this is my first Boulevard brew, not bad at all.

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Photo of tempest
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pulled a bottle out of a variety case. Poured a dark ruby red with an off-white head. This beer reminds me of a hoppy version of Sam Smith's Winter Welcome on a basic malt level. This is both good and bad, while the flavoris very smooth, the caramel malts aren't terribly rich. This beer relies more on the pleasant mix of citrus hops flavors that make this similar to Rogue's Santa's Reserve, or a hoppy red ale. Worth a try for non-spiced winter warmer.

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Nutcracker Ale from Boulevard Brewing Co.
3.78 out of 5 based on 896 ratings.
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