Alaskan Winter Ale | Alaskan Brewing Co.

360 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: 360 | Ratings: 831
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.36/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best by 3/26/12.

Pours a clear honey orange with a 1 inch puffy orange-white head that settle to a film on the top of the beer. Small dots of lace drip down into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of sweet malt, malt powder, caramel, toffee, and a distinct banana aroma. Taste is of sweet malt, caramel, toffee, banana, and a certain herbal quality that I will attribute to the spruce tips used in the brewing of this beer. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and has a toasty quality. This beer has a nice level of carbonation with a crisp and slightly sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer that I enjoyed quite a lot. I had this one before and I don't remember liking it all that much. I am glad I picked up another bottle to revisit.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

was real stoked for the spruce tip component. had a brilliant spruce tip casked ipa this summer and thought this might be similar. it wasnt at all, but not in a bad way. pours a perfectly clear maple syrup color with the slightest red hue to it. super carbonated head that fades quickly, tons of bubbles rising up from what i thought was a clean pint glass. bubbles never stopped. nose is slightly sugary, and deep. a glorious but gentle waft of pine appears in the nose too. i cant get the spruce in the taste though, possible a pine sap stickyness, but none of that christmas tree vibe. does have a residual spice element, maybe anise, and also a fruity element, maybe ground cherries or plums. mouthfeel is just way too thin for a winter warmer, but it works under another name. first alaskan won't be my last

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Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy medium amber color with a nice white head that leaves some lacing behind

Smell: Caramel and toasted malt dominates along with stone fruit and spruce elements

Taste: Starts with the toasted malt and caramel base flavors that are joined, mid-palate, by the stone fruit and spruce tip bitterness; after the swallow, the flavors blend nicely and the finish has an herbal minty character

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Perhaps the recipe has been tweaked but I like this now (2010) much better than when I originally tried it in 2007

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Photo of largadeer
3.2/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear golden-amber with two fingers of frothy head.

Smell: Dry biscuit-like malts, a touch of caramel and a hint of spruce that I'd probably not have picked up if not for the label saying that it's made with spruce tips.

Taste & mouthfeel: Sweet caramel malts with a faint herbal quality. Very clean and malty, only faintly bitter in the finish. I'm not getting much spruce in the flavor, or much complexity at all for that matter. I'm not really sure where the brewer was going with this. It's pleasantly malty but fairly flatline, lacking in any sort of variation from start to finish.

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

Served on-draught into a pilsner glass in St. Paul, Minnesota. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a half finger head of fair cream and thickness but bad retention. Colour is a transparent copper.

Sm: Amber hops, caramel, sweet candied sugar, and maybe molasses. A mild strength aroma.

T: Amber hops, caramel, lovely candied sugar, and a bit of spice. Really quite delicious. Flavorful and tasty. Wonderfully balanced. Quite pleasantly built.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Really suits the flavour well.

Dr: Very drinkable. The price could be better. I'd definitely have it again. Quite lovely indeed.

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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 zeff80
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a very clear, light amber color. It almost looked thin. It had a thin head that didn't leave much in the way of lace.

S - It smelled of pine/spruce. It almost gave it a boozy alcohol smell. Also, notes of sweet caramel malt.

T - It tasted sweet like candy with licorice flavors. A subtle caramel maltiness balances out the brew.

M - It was crisp and sharp. It was light to medium-bodied.

D - This is interesting and easy drinking. The spruce is a unique touch but I don't know if it's my favorite yet.

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Photo of oberon
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poures a burnt orange color with a slightly off white head that is gone pretty quickly leaving no lace behind as it settles,very muted aromas I picked up some toasted cracker malt but no hopping or spruce tip aromas wich I expected maybe a touch of caramel as well but very light.Flavors are not as muted but dont really stand out much either a dry malt base with some buttery notes wich become stronger as I drink more only a touch of the pine flavors hit in the finish.I realley prefer Siletz spruce ale compared to this,Its not horrible but somewhat run of the mill.

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, best before 3/15/2015. Pours slightly hazy bright orange color with a small dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a good amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of caramel, toast, biscuit, pear, apple, berries, spruce, herbal, grass, light pepper, light nuttiness, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, spruce, earthy hops, and yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of caramel, toast, biscuit, pear, apple, berry, spruce, herbal, grass, light pepper, light nuttiness, and yeast earthiness. Slight earthy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, biscuit, pear, apple, berry, spruce, herbal, grass, light pepper, light nuttiness, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice robustness and complexity of dark/bready malt, spruce, earthy hops, and yeast ester flavors; with a great malt/yeast/spice balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, fairly crisp, and lightly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice old ale style. All around good complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, spruce, earthy hops, and yeast ester flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Alaskan's Winter Ale pours a slightly hazy copper body with amber and gold highlights beneath a short head of creamy ivory foam that unfortunately fades rather shortly and leaves little lacing. The nose offers gentle wafts of sweetish, biscuity, caramel-laced malt; and in the mouth it's delicately crisp and then smooth. The flavor delivers the same maltiness found in the nose, balanced by a mild brush of drying spruce that appears across the middle and lingers mildly in the finish. It's bitterness is restrained, and the spicing is far from overdone. Well worth trying!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.97/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired via trade from Wasatch, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him.
Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light amber color with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is malty and fruity with notes of apple, brown sugar, caramel, some spice and a little bit of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, spice, apple and apricot. Then some hops come out with a mild bitterness. The malt character is light for the style. The after-taste is sweet & spicy.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, clean finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easy, not very filling considering the style, this is good to stick with for an evening that might not necessarily be too cold. This one is perfect when you crave the style but don’t want a beer that’s too heavy.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear, orange-copper body with a wispy white head.

Smell: Fairly mild aroma, a light maltiness, a subtle hop character, but nothing I'd point my finger at and shout "spruce".

Taste: Bready maltiness with a candylike sweetness. Hint of tangy lemon-like citrus. Beyond a vague flavor reminiscent of mint, it's still pretty light in terms of spruce character. Drying finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Spruce or no spruce, it's still a decent beer.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright orangey copper capped by a generous, fluffysoft head that is somewhere between pastel tangerine and light beige. Thanks to a lively amount of carbonation, it doesn't look as if the head will fall any time soon. I don't have great expectations for lacing, but one never knows (note: thin, uncommitted, random scraps in the end).

The nose is sweet and somewhat hoppy. On second thought, might I be smelling the spruce tips and assuming that it's hops? The aroma isn't quite strong enough for me to pick out specifics, but I do like what I smell. A little more power, a little more verve and it'd be a keeper.

Winter Ale is good, but not very good, on the palate. It's lightly roasted malty with an offsetting bitterness that brings it nicely into balance. Sweetish malt dominates the start and hoppy-piney-bitter dominates the finish. In some respects, it tastes like a hoppier, spicier brown ale with the more full body of a porter. Just when my taste buds show a spark of interest, the flavor peaks and fades.

For a beer brewed with spruce tips, it could be more sprucy. A more imaginative choice of hops (why use Saaz?) would provide much more of an evergreen character if that was the goal. The body/mouthfeel is unquestionably the highlight of this beer. It's medium-full and slightly slick with an energetic amount of carbonation. Makes my mouth happy.

Alaskan Winter Ale is an interesting winter warmer and is not at all what I expected. It's pretty good though and, in the end, I like it a little more than my final score would indicate. I just might give it another go next winter.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Sea-Tac airport.

A: The beer was a light amber/copper color with a small white head that reduces quickly and leaves some thin lacing on the glass.

S: Rather closed with some faint grainy malt and some fruity hops. A bit of caramel as well.

T: Similar to the aroma, sweet and fruity, the hops are surprisingly assertive.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: I was expecting an old ale, certainly a bit maltier than this beer was, but all in all, tasty and easy drinking.

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Photo of russpowell
4.08/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours an effervescent amber with 4+ fingers of rocky cream colored head. Good lacing, & above average head retention

S: Bready with some lemon hops, caramel & cakeyness

T: Citric hops, floral hops & some honey sweetness up front. Some cherry cough syrup (the spruce tips, I guess) notes along with lemmony hops, dryness & some caramel as this warms. Finishes dry & citrussy (lemons & orange, with a little mintyness nice breadyness, & just a nice touch of warmth

MF: Medium bodied with low carbonation, love the balance

Drinks too easy, hard to put my finger on some of the flavor here, but I think I could happily session on this! The spruce tips are a nice addition

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to a wonderfully kind BA who sent this bottle my way. I had been wanting to try this one forever and was very pleased to finally be able to try it. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, I threw this one down after work to get ready to go out for christmas eve, 12/24/2008.

The pour was nice with a rich copper colored amber coming forward. Good clarity let you really see the carbonation that was coming up from the bottom of the glass. A nice head of white came up over the top and settled down into a nice browken crown.

The aroma was suprisingly hoppy. Nice notes of citrus hops, light spices and a mean grain like base. Big hints here of cinnamon and nutmeg that came through quite nicely. The flavor carried through as well. Almost like a nice celebration ale. Rich malt profile that was accented nicely by the clean hop bitterness in the finish. Nice moderate hints of spices were enough to offer some very nice complex flavor. Smooth, easy sipping beer was the perfect thing to get me in the mood.

Overall a very solid beer that I would not have minded throwing down another one of in heartbeat.

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Photo of smcolw
3.73/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Excellent head, but little lace. Neutral amber color and crystal clear

Strongly malty, nice crystal; slightly sweet. Mild hop.

Some sherry-like flavors from the sweeter malt. Some fruitiness. The aftertaste is very short, but has a touch of hop to it. Good hop in the middle of the taste. Full body, low carbonation.

This is a relatively rich and slightly warming (from alcohol) beer. Understandable to be offered during the winter.

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Photo of Jason
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz short brown twist off bottle, a drink before date is on the label.

Appearance: Bright orangey amber (tawny) with a off white lacing that does just fine sticking to the glass.

Smell: Clean maltiness with a hint of citric hop and piney note as well.

Taste: Smooth and a touch chewy, moderate carbonation and full bodied. Solid maltiness, faint buttery diacetyl. Ample hop bitterness, citric twang is underneath the malt. Mild pine or spruce flavour throws a complexity middle to end. Malt sweetness is around for a long time, residuals show off a semi-sweet brew.

Notes: A solid yet serene winter seasonal, the spicing of the hops and spruce are balanced at most … this holds the beer character to a sturdy strong or old ale fashion.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.08/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: The pour is a clear golden orange color with a thin ring of white head.

S: Very sweet on the nose with some fruit notes like berries and apricot. Some definite spruce and "green" aromas. Also a bit of a floral note.

T: Like the nose, lots of sweetness to this beer. Almost cloyingly sweet fruit as well as some definite corn syrup flavors. Lots of spruce and a mild pine flavor, but not bitter.

M: The body is medium with a low to moderate carbonation. It's got that sort of grainy finish that a lot of spruce tip beers have.

D: Way too sweet and to be honest, that's just about all this beer has going on.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.6/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Pours a hazy golden amber with a minimal amount of white head that leaves almost no lacing whatsoever behind. The smell has notes of toffee, wheat, pine needles, and a bit of subtle hoppy citrus. The taste has a general malty sweetness to it, along with a hint of hoppy bitterness, some pine sap, and some spruce needles. The body is on the lighter side of medium, has more than enough carbonation, and warms a bit as it coats, making for a fairly drinkable winter brew.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.08/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured with a big, thick, off-white/tan head. It had good clarity in a deep-amber colored beer. The nose was highly malty and sweet. The mouthfell was slightly thick with a sugary finish. I got a lot of berry-like sweetness in the mouth, much like raspberries. This was an interesting beer and one that I would have no problem opening again.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.17/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Crystal clear copper amber tone with a whimpy somewhat thin head leaves nice speckled lacing spread evenly. Aroma: Spruce tips and hop dosage are evident with a sweet caramel malt backbone this is one nice seasonal scent. Taste: Surpasses the aroma ties it altogether candi-like sweetness with the blend of finishing hops and spruce tips harmonizing together excellent beer for the holiday season. Mouthfeel: Medium body slightly sticky texture to it nice full carbonation excellent. Drinkability: Excellent I am craving more and more of this flavor it just works so well I can't help myself this is an excellent winter seasonal bravo to the ol' Alaskan Brewing Co.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly fogged, dull hued brownish amber. Minimal head off a soft pour. Nose is a slight syrupy thing with sweet leafy tones. Mild spices. Flavor is fairly robust on the spices with a sweet tone that carries fruit edges. Seems like cherries, but a subdued one. I guess I can see spruce tips in there. I'm a little rusty on my spruce tips memories. Feel has a bit of an attacking carbonation and the liquid is a bit thick and syrupy. Overall a pretty hearty brew that's worthy of being called a winter ale. I'd prefer to drink this by a fire.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

I bought a 6pck of this from Meijer. It poured a clear copper with almost non-existent think head that is not lacing. The scent was hint of pine and white grape. The taste was slightly malty with a white grape like flare. The mouthfeel is medium in body with good carbonation. Overall it's ok.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a Nonic pint glass. Thanks to colts9016 for the trade!

Big fisty full head off the pour, four fingers, with off white soapy bubbles. Body is a nice copper simple deep amber, very clear. Some very slow rising carbonation from the bottom but not much. Very little lacing is apparent.

Small breaded malts and faint yeast is about all I get. Some hint of dry arid sensations too. Doesn't seem like much going on.

Sweet and bready malts at first taste with a strange finish. This is somewhat wet, but it has that good dense bread chew on the finish that I like. There's a weird aftertaste that I can't quite pinpoint on this beer as well, perhaps it's the spruce pine tips.

This does not feel like a winter warmer at all, more like a sessionable amber ale, but no complaints there. Tolerable and easily drinkable, so I say good on that!

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Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
3.65 out of 5 based on 831 ratings.
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