Alaskan Winter Ale | Alaskan Brewing Co.

361 Reviews
Alaskan Winter AleAlaskan Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Alaskan Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.40%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed in the style of an English Olde Ale, this ale balances the sweet heady aroma of spruce tips with the clean crisp finish of noble hops. Its malty richness is complemented by the warming sensation of alcohol.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-03-2001

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Reviews: 361 | Ratings: 835
Photo of Benjolovesbeer
1.4/5  rDev -61.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

L: flat looking, thin head, red amber body, not what you expect for A winter warmer.
A: malt, dark fruit
F: heavy but feels like brewer didn't put much effort into it
T: like it smells malty and dark fruit but boozy excessively boozy, and 6.4 abv, fine if it's 9% or more but it's 6.4. Also has cider taste.
O: expected more winter spice, spruce, pine taste. Was moreso a strong Belgian ale with weak abv something I'll never buy again glad I only got 1. Not smooth, unbalanced. Almost undrinkable but I drank it any way because if i bought it i'm going to drink it. But I strongly recommend on passing it and never trying.

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Photo of nathanho
1.7/5  rDev -53.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

I used to put spruce tips in my mouth as a child and the result was always the same; after the initial curiosity wore off, they were not worth a second taste.

Similarly, I could not tolerate a second taste of this beer. I've had spruce tip jelly, which is nice on a piece of toast and even worth finishing a small jar but this flavor in an otherwise fine beer seemed misguided, even freakish to me.

Pine tar is great for a baseball bat but makes beer taste horrible. I bought a six pack for a social event and drank one of these with the impression of "Yes, indeed, they put a spruce tree in that beer alright." I tried to sucker in a few of the other guests but ended up leaving the five orphans to fend for themselves. For all I know, they're still in need of a drinker...

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Photo of fizzician
1.83/5  rDev -49.9%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Tried this after seeing the positive reviews and was very disappointed. Very sweet, tastes like raspberries; looks and smells like apple cider. Weird after taste, too.

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Photo of Tupperwolf
2/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Pours a very clear amber with a small head of large bubbles that dissipates very quickly; Glows gold in the light and leaves very minimal lacing.
Smells - quick whiffs of honeylike malts and the tiniest nip of hops, but I may be deceived on that front because of the intense smell of pine - these are brewed with spruce tips, and the impression that I get is lots of spice. Definitely a spiced winter beer.

Sleek, a little oily feeling mouthful, and similar caramelly malts give way immediately to the somewhat harsh taste of spruce - a bit too much, in my opinion. In fact, this beer is a bit one-sided - it's like drinking a Christmas tree.

Mouthfeel is quickly fizzy, then totally flat as the bubbles of carbonation pop immediately and give way to oily pine liquid.

Overall, I didn't like this one. It makes my face pucker and makes me feel sick to my stomach. I bought a six pack of these and could only manage to drink three (on subsequent evenings). Trying to drink two in a row just would not fly.

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Photo of Philousa
2.07/5  rDev -43.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a clear golden color, bubbly without much foam sticking around on top. Thick caramel syrup and amber malt aroma, a bit of some pine in there and a hint of too-sweet bread. Pale malt flavor starts things off then, out of nowhere, blueberries. The blueberry flavor is pretty prevalent and I might be mistaking it for the pine needle flavor they were trying for. I get some bitter piney flavor too. This is a thick, syrupy beer and is a bit undercarbonated.

I used to like this beer years ago when I was first getting into the craft beer scene. I remember the pine flavor being prevalent but not overpowering. But this most recent tasting was very different. The prevailing flavor was cough syrupish. I hope that this is due to a recipe change and they go back to the original, because if it's my taste buds that are to blame for this reversal in flavor then all hope is lost for this beer.

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Photo of mulder1010
2.18/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

330 ML poured into a Great Divide glass

A-- Poured a brownish gold color, was an aggressive pour and the foam went everywhere. Pretty decently carbonated and have a solid 2 finger head that slowly fades away. Head is a off white and leaving some lacing but not as much as there was foam from the lame pour.

S-- Sweet, very sweet.. malt, sugar, carmel.

T-- Sugar and the carmel are pretty apparent, and a lot of it also.

M-- The sweetness just kills the mouthfeel. it is Ok carbonated though

D-- Long story short.... Loved this beer in Tucson 2 years ago. Now?? ICK. Really sweet and it is a problem. I do remember getting the spruce needles smell from the 07 version. This is sugar and carmel. not a lot of roasted malts. A really good brewery but this version is just plain bad. So glad I just got a single bottle.

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Photo of tewaris
2.24/5  rDev -38.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

"IPA colored", clear with ok head, retention and lacing. Not much of an aroma except cheap candy like notes that the taste also suffers from. Alright carbonation. Rather WTF of a beer, IMO. Not sure what the story is behind this beer but I am not digging it one bit!
3.5, 2, 2, 3.5, 2

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Photo of RJLarse
2.25/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I picked up a six-pack of Alaskan Winter Ale at a grocery store to taste and review. I poured this beer into a pint tumbler.

Pours a light brown color with an orange/red hue. The beer is slightly cloudy. Minimal fizzy head, even on an aggressive pour, is gone in a flash, with no lacing at all. It leaves the beer looking a little flat, and a little like cider.

The smell is quite strong and has a very fruity and sweet aroma.

The taste is quite sweet and fruity as well. It has a cidery or a bit of a wine taste, with hints of sweet malts and sugars. There is a bit of a maple or molasses taste. I think this one is a little over the top on sweetness and fruity flavors. A stronger bitter hop presence would appeal to me.

Mouth feel is light, a bit cloying and somewhat syrupy, although that may be an illusion due to the sweetness.

This is a drinkable beer, but I wouldn’t want to have more than a couple in a sitting. It’s a little sweeter than I like. If you like a fruity beer, or a lambic, this one might be for you.

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Photo of cdragos
2.29/5  rDev -37.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Oh no! What happened to this awesomly delicious beer? I even asked the owner or brewer at the great American Beer Fest when it would be released this year. I hyped it up at my local liquor store to the clerks. There is no pine smell or taste whatsoever. Did global warming wipe out all spruce trees in Alaska? This years' offering reminds me of a weak Fat Tire Ale.

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Photo of beertunes
2.3/5  rDev -37%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in straight pint glass. Poured a light amber color with 3/4 of an inch of white head that almost instantly dissipated and left minimal lacing.

The most noticeable aroma was a sweet, almost fruity, scent that carried none of the expected malt or spice of the style. The flavor was also dominantly sweet and fruity, not rich earth fruits like you might find in other examples of the style, but Froot Loops style fruit. Not pleasant. No spice or hops noticeable.

The body was on the thin side for the style, but not bad. Drinkability was good, but not great. Given the sweetness of this beer, perhaps it would more enjoyable during warmer weather.

Overall, give it a shot if you want add another beer to your list, otherwise avoid.

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Photo of Alkey
2.36/5  rDev -35.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12oz. bottle poured a light amber color with some slow bubbles, very little head and not much lacing. Not much of an aroma in this with faint scents of alcohol, hops, and a bit of spice. Taste is not very pleasing to me. I taste a blend of pine with some sweet, sour, spice, and bitter notes with nothing that stands out on its own. Mouth feel is about the only thing I like in this beer. I would probably try this brew one more time in the future just to make sure it doesn't taste as bad as this one.

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Photo of OregonPaul
2.48/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Don't leave this beer in the snow. Too cold. Take it out of the fridge for a bit before you serve it. The coldness hides the spices. I'm getting a malty smell at first and not much else. I also expect more from a beer labeled "Alaskan Winter". Like maybe some caribou blood? It's also labeled with "spruce tips". Ya i get a little spicy/spruce aroma but not enough to complement this winter brew. Sorry Alaskan... Not impressed.

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Photo of morimech
2.53/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours a clear copper color with a good one finger of head that quickly settled to a thin cap. Moderate amount of spotty lacing is left down the glass.

Not getting much from the aroma. A little fruit and toffee.

What the hell is the flavor suppose to be? Blueberries is all I can taste. Tastes like a summer fruit flavored wheat ale. Nothing like I expected. Very sweet. Where is the spruce?

The mouthfeel is easily the best part of the beer. Not quite medium bodied and nicely carbonated. I actually enjoyed the texture.

Should be advertised and labeled as a fruit flavored beer and take spruce off the label. Then I would of never bought a six pack of this. Not enjoying the flavor.

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Photo of crossovert
2.56/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz twist-off.

It pours a clear orangeish amber with a tightly foamed creamy looking off-white head. It sticks for a good while.

The smell is interesting. Definitely spruced up. There is also this taffy like smell.

The flavor isn't that great imo. It is just like the most basic golden ale you could imagine. Slightly buttery with a hint of spruce.

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Photo of flexabull
2.56/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I have always been a bit disappointed with this one.

Pours an amber color, with a pretty decent head... looks pretty good.

Smells a bit sour and "off". Don't know what it is, but this beer to me comes off as dusty and old.

The taste is to strange for me too. I expect a winter beer from Alaska to warm my belly, but this one just tastes like a funky fruit.

Mouthfeel is ok, but it's not really a flavor I want lingering in my mouth.

I really like Alaskan Amber, and Smoked Porter, but I can do without this one.

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Photo of a2marzman83
2.58/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Clear dark orange with big off white head.

Smell seems a bit understated light malts minor spicing. I'm trying really hard to smell any spruce tips not much coming to the surface.

The flavor has some spruce hoppiness as well as some alcohol. Spices and bland maltyness.

Smooth mouthfeel, medium body

My overall feeling is meh from Alaskan Winter. I like that they put a spin on the classic winter seasonal but I think it is another reason why so few people live in Alaska through all four seasons.

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Photo of RoyalT
2.6/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance – This one has a very light and clear orange body, which is not what I’d expect from a Winter Warmer. The head came up big but went down rather quickly.

Smell – The nose here has a light, malty sweetness that’s almost more like an Abbey Tripel. I don’t know where this one is coming from.

Taste – The malt flavors come out first and foremost at the taste. There’s a big, almost yeasty orange flavor in there. The floral hops provide a bit of a compliment, but mostly this one is sweet and malty.

Mouthfeel – Actually kind of smooth but way too thin for the style. I’d guess this one to be medium-bodied at best, and probably not that.

Drinkability – This went down OK, but it sure as hell wasn’t a Winter Warmer.

Comments – I hate to be the low-ball here, but I thought this was an inferior effort at the style. If you want to make a malty pale ale, just call it a malty pale ale.

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Photo of Jredner
2.62/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma is not really present to any great degree other than some vague maltiness. Pale copper in color with a well established white head that is mostly lasting. Has a sort of candy, sugar powder, bubble gum sweetness in the fore. Not getting any spice just that very sugary sweetness and malt which makes it not so Winter Warmer-y.

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Photo of TheFlern
2.67/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5


Appearance: Pours a thin amber color. Little head even with an aggressive pour. What is there dissipates quickly leaving no lacing.

Smell: lots of malty notes. Not to much else going on.

Taste: Malt but not that strong.

Mouthfeel: Very light with a little alcohol.

Drinkability: This isn't a warmer unless you count the ABV.

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Photo of Oxymoron
2.69/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I would assume that Alaska would know about winter. The pour is a amber color with a darker red hue and good clarity. A pour head that had very little staying power as well.

The nose is good with a spicy aroma as a winter warm. Noticeable grainy malt essence and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Some pine notes as well as spruce too. At the end there is a slight acidic almost lemon zing to the end as well.

The taste is a little disappointing. The malt is rather limited and the spices are more in your face then should be. The spices leave a rather bready feel but there is a peppery finish that mixes with a dry almost chalk like finish in the beer that leaves off flavor. I know its a winter warmer and the spices should be there, but the balance is off. To boot there is a fruitiness of cherries in the background that just doesn't mix.

The body is dry and the chalky flavor is a real deterrent in the beer. Carbonation is a little low but acceptable. The beer is smooth and easy to drink. Overall maybe this beer has seen too much winter, but I could see real improvement for this beer in the future.

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Photo of t420o
2.71/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured 12 oz bottle vigorously into pint glass.

A- Pour produced two finger head that quickly faded away and left little lacing. Golden-copper in color.

S- Overly sweet smelling. Some hops and spruce. Just very sweet and not in a good way.

T- Too sweet for me. This was a weird beer. I liked the light spruce that came through but their was too much going on. Toffee, caramel, spruce, apple, too much

M- Good carbonation. Pretty solid feel, not too thick (if there is such a thing for me) and not too thin (hate thin mouthfeel beers)

D- Ok. had 3 only because that 6 pack is all I had.

I like Alaskan Brewing Co. but did not enjoy this at all. Not a typical "winter warmer" and I was not impressed with their interpretation.

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Photo of fartingdog
2.74/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A- crystal clear amber with a white head- an beautiful looking beer.

S- Vanilla, caramel, malt- maybe a faint spiciness that i have to assume is the spruce.

T- light vanilla, hints of hop (or is it spruce?), light caramel. A bit sweet.

M- Lighter body, crisp carbonation.

D- Decent, much lighter in body than most winter beers. The prominent vanilla notes are a bit much for me (tho they are definitely not overbearing).

Note to self: Didn't particularly care for this beer.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.75/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a clear deep amber color ale with a nice white bubbly head with average retention. Aroma of sweet malt with a subtle mix of spices. Taste is a mix between sweet malt and a subtle mix of spices. Body is a bit thin and I can’t say that I really tasted the spruce tips. I believe I would have appreciated this better with a stronger presence of spices.

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Photo of rtaps
2.8/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

rust in color with a small white head. minimal retention not leaving any lacing on the glass

decent aroma some caramel, fruits spices, and hints of the srpuce tips used.

mildly flavored not picking much up, candy(caramel i believe). overall of the flavor it does remind me of a winter type beer

medium carbonation leaves the mouth watery, light bodied

overall- there wasn't much to the taste, yet it was easy to drink and worth the $1.48 for a 12oz at 6.4%

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Photo of rowew
2.8/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Presentation: 12 oz short bottle, label has been updated this year. Date code is 030210. Ale brewed with spruce tips.

Appearance: Reddish orange, thin head.

Smell: Smells sweet, just a bit fruity.

Taste: Sweeter than I'd prefer, and that hurts the drinkability. The fruitiness is interesting - I'm not sure if its from the spruce - its kind of like a sweet nutty flavor.

Overall impressions: A bit sweeter than I'd like - its not bad, but certainly not something I'd seek out.

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Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
3.65 out of 5 based on 835 ratings.
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