Alaskan Winter Ale | Alaskan Brewing Co.

362 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: 362 | Ratings: 836
Photo of Auraan
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Poured a clear amber body with no real head. It looks alright, though not the best for the style. Scents of fruity esters, apple, sweet malt with aromas of brown sugar, sweet spices, especially cinnamon and light bubblegum. Overall impression of aroma is of a sweet Old Ale that is quite appealing in its overall profile and true to the style. The spruce tips do not show up in the aroma which is disappointing. Flavor begins malty sweet with notes of brown sugar, apple and brown bread, with a light spiciness of cinnamon and a very light resinous bitterness, likely the spruce tips. This moves into a middle with more abundant cinnamon, as well as a light a alcohol presence. Finish is lightly sweet with notes of apple, sweet malt and brown sugar mingling with cinnamon and sweet spices and balanced by a light presence of alcohol and a slight bitterness. Aftertaste is lightly bitter with notes of cinnamon, alcohol, what I assume is spruce and grainy malt. Overall impression of flavor is of a nice Old Ale, spicy and sweet, but not cloying and with a nice bitterness in the background. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with medium-light carbonation. Overall impression of mouthfeel is of a very smooth, easy to drink beer. Overall this is a rather nice Old Ale. It is sweet and spicy as the style demands, and despite it's 6.4% ABV it shows its alcohol well, which is pleasant for a winter's night. It is smooth and easy going down and quite pleasant.

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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 pat61
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%

Had this in the bottle and on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis.
A big, refreshing spruce nose from the bottle - less spruce in the draft version. There may be a little resiny hop in there too.
This pours brilliant amber under a fairly quickly dissipating 1" foam cap.
In the bottled version the spruce works well with the sweet malt flavors. In the draft version there is a little bubble gum and a thin sweetness that does not work as well with the spruce.
The body is medium with medium carbonation.
This is an interesting beer and well worth trying. My score is for the bottled version which I thought was very good. the draft version was just OK.

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Photo of stevoj
3.1/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Wasn’t expecting an old ale, but this fits nicely. The spruce combines with the hops to add a nice piney element to the orange/amber brew. Fast dissipating head, with fine, lazy carbonation. Aroma is whiskey malt and pine forest. Taste flattens out with a dull finish. No warming effect from the alcohol either. Decent, but better to be found.

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Photo of falloutsnow
2.88/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

From: Woodman's, Kenosha, WI
Date: Best by 2014-03-08 stamped on bottle
Glass: Standard US pint glass

Alaskan's Winter Ale is a surprisingly mild mix of pale malts, European hops, and light yeast character. The spruce tips are present, but fairly subdued along with the rest of the flavors. Not bad, but this is a fairly simple beer that could be brewed fairly easy at home. The malts are not particularly prominent or complex, along with the rest of the flavors and aromas. Not one I'd get again.

Pours a 0.5cm tall head of white foam, made up of medium-sized bubbles, creating a dish-soap like appearance. Retention is poor, the foam lasting less than thirty seconds in a decline to a thin ring around around the perimeter of the glass. Beer's body is a dark golden orange to copper color, with light bringing out a pale orange hue throughout the body. Carbonation is visible through the transparent body, moderate-high in number, similarly active.

Aroma is of light minerals and yeast with slight pale malt sweetness. In general, rather underwhelming.

Overall flavor is of light yeast, mild bread-like and pale caramel sweetness, low and clean hop bitterness with a slightly woodsy edge, and a bit of citrus from hops and/or spruce tips. Front of palate tastes light minerals, light pale and low lovibond caramel malt sweetness, and a touch of tartness and lemony flavor from hop and spruce tip usage. Mid-palate tastes pale base malt with a bit of light caramel-like sweetness, faintly woodsy hops, and a bit of tartness and dull fruity lemon from the inclusion of spruce tips. Aftertaste is lightly tart with hints of spruce-like lemon, a bit of pale and caramel malt sweetness, light lingering bitterness, and mild yeast.

Beer is medium-light to light in body, with carbonation of medium-low intensity, resulting in a mouthfeel that is partly foamy (2/5) and otherwise smooth (3/5). This is an appropriate and fine feeling for this type of ale. Closes semi-dry, with light to moderate stickiness clinging to the lips and palate.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Winter Ale pours a darker copper color with a small non lacing head. There is a very sweet fruity and piney aroma. The taste has a sharp malt backbone, lots of pine, citrus flavors; sweet. A bit too sweet, and a little too flat. Overall it is pretty sweet, and fruity, the spruce tips make it unique.

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Photo of Spikester
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear amber with about one finger of off white head. No lacing.
Smell is big sweet caramel malt.
Taste is sweet caramel malts with a tiny bitter hop or spruce tip bitterness.
Mouthfeel is medium with proper carbonation.
Overall a nice Amber Ale. You must like sweet beers.

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Photo of jwc215
3.57/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours amber to copper with a thin lasting head. Trailing lace sticks.

The smell is of caramel with light spruce.

The taste is of sweet caramel. Mild spruce tips and mild hops give it balance in the finish. Slight alcohol warmth shows.

It is on the fuller side of medium bodied. It's pretty smooth.

Spicing not to heavy, which works fine.

When I was taking notes on it I thought it was a winter warmer, but looking back it could be stretched to fit in with old ale, as styles are open to interpretation. Whatever the case, it makes a nice winter ale.

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Photo of NeedBeerHere
3.46/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

From notes:

Pours out a translucent maroon in color with a small white head with little retention. Smell is of dark fruits, sweet sugar, dark malts, with a tad of orange. The components in the are pretty subdued but present. Taste is basically what was in the nose except a tad more malty and there is a tad of bitterness. The tastes are all quite subdued as they were in the nose. Mouthfeel is semi-thin which seems reasonable for the style. Overall this is a decent beer not is it anything too great. It's pretty good but I like my winter beers in a different style.

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Photo of mhaugo
3.31/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle decanted into a tulip. 6.4% ABV.

Appearance: Brilliant bronze, no head whatsoever (4/5).

Aroma: That spruce comes out quick. Smells like a hike in the forest. I also get a touch of honey and maple syrup (3.5/5).

Taste: Cherry Kool-Aid? Wow… that’s an unexpected flavor. As my palette acclimates to the sweetness, I start picking up a little vanilla and honey. All of that is followed by a whisper of floral hops. Everything is very quiet behind that healthy sweetness (3/5).

Mouthfeel: Medium body, low carbonation. I get a touch of alcohol heat on my exhale. It might benefit from a little more body, but it’s not bad (3.75/5).

Overall: This is a fairly nice beer. The local spruce is a nice twist, but it may be a little sweet for my taste. That artificial cherry flavor is kind of unexpected and bizarre. Thankfully the sweetness doesn’t hang heavy on my tongue, but I definitely would not order a second round. If repeat orders are the measure of a successful pint, I guess this one has failed. But I certainly don’t regret purchasing this single bottle, and may consider another one next year (3.25/5).

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Photo of minterro
2.87/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A&S: Mildly lively translucent murky orange/yellow. Very thin head and dies to nothing. Very malty in the aroma. Some raisins and caramel present.

T&M: Similar to the aroma: lots of maltness with some caramel. Very non-descript. Mildly bitter in the finish. Crisp but moderately smooth. Medium bodied with medium-high carbonation.

Overall: I really don't understand how this beer could be an old ale. If anything it's a winter warmer, but it doesn't really fit anything in particular. This beer is by far the worst old ale I've ever had, it not an awful beer, just an awful old ale. It doesn't have any real dark fruit presents or alcohol intensity.

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Photo of brewbattles
3.44/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

We did a blind taste test between this and 4 other Winter Seasonals to objectively determine which one was best. They beers were: Deschutes Jubelale, Anderson Valley Boont Winter Solstice, Big Sky Powder Hound, Alaskan Winter Ale, and Redhook Winterhook. Check it out:

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Photo of martyl1000
4.28/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Had this as a 10 oz. chaser to an exceptional bloody mary at The Caribou (Madison). Bright amber, with a small white head and serious lacing.

Knowing Alaskan for the syrupy greatness that is their Pilot Series barley wine, I predicted this winter warmer would have a sugary persona. Boy, howdy. Low in alcohol for what I'm used to in old ales, the aroma is quite mild, more like an amber ale, without much by way of spice or hops. Definitely bready and nutty, to be sure, just a bit quiet in the nose.

Surprisingly thick and creamy in body. High sugar content sweetness, even for an old ale, without the leather or sand of others in the style, like North Coast Old Stock or Founders Curmudgeon, which I'm glad for. Surprising sugar-citrus, sweet-ripe mandarin orange. I'd say apricot, green grape, too. Wasn't expecting all the fruit. No hops to speak of, though the sweetness comes in balance, so there must be some bitterness.

Totally satisfying, though doesn't touch the outer realms of my favorite old ale, Bells Third Coast Olde Ale (arguably more of a barley wine, anyway).

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Photo of DerAtomsmasher
2.87/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - a deep reddish orange. Head didn't stick around long.

S - a sweet aroma of dried dates, ripe pear and some grape. Slight herbaciousness.

T - this one's a little sweet for my taste. Almost brandy-like and better in small quantities. A lot of berry jam, white grape, pear and a small amount of peach. I'd really love there to be more of a spruce character here...or even just a piney hop, compared to the hops present here in the background.

M - a little sticky. a little cloying.

I had to try this because of the spruce tips & I give props, always, to Alaskan for having an unpopular German style (alt) as a year-round brew but this one just didn't cut it for me. Longest a six-pack has lasted in my fridge.

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Photo of BeerWizard
3.85/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours Triaminic orange with pretty much zero head, just a little perimeter of foam. Nose is actually a little tough to get anything from, smells a little sweet and lightly hopped, but not detecting the spruce tips the packaging says it's brewed with. There is a real berry-like quality in the flavor, and I was getting a little of that in the nose, too. It's got a blackberry jam element to that spruce tips? I don't know. All I know is this tastes really freakin good. Nice medium mouthfeel, bitter on the back end, some detectable alcohol, but not a huge-alcohol beer, really. Low carbonation. Overall, I like this one quite a bit, and would get it again.

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Photo of rawfish
3.59/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dullish amber, very small head from a normal pour. Slick lacing and nearly no retention.

Bready, with cinnamon, honey and brown sugar spices, a bit of pine, syrup and noble hops. Sweet and dry.

Bready and grain husks, rather clean with some nuances of simple syrup, cola and maple. Hops keep things clean and dry with a bit of pine and grassy bitterness. Sticky malt but dries rather well. Medium body, average carbonation and well hidden alcohol.

Simple old ale, plenty of spice notes and a grainy malt backbone. Much better than Alaskan's amber as a winter session beer. Not a bad beer, rather middle of the road, interesting to try.

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

From a 12 oz bottle into a snifter (from notes dated January 13, 2013).

A-A normal pour produces a shortish, one-finger head of very-off-white foam. The brew is a pleasant, red-hued, dark amber color. It is mostly clear.

S-Smell is malty with lots of brown sugar, maybe some cinnamon. There is touch of hoppy resin, but I don't pick up much tree.

T-Taste is unique. I detect medicinal, herbal, astringent flavors from the spruce and hops, but the tree flavor is not overpowering and there is a warming, fruity alcoholic flavor, as well.

M-Medium bodied with slightly prickly carbonation. Good balance for the flavors.

O-This beer gets points for originality and for not over-doing it on the spruce tips. Usually, tree is quite bitter tasting, but here, the tree pairs well with other flavors. I would not want to drink it every day, but it made for a good winter brew, so extra points for truth in marketing.

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

Appearance: The body is copper-colored with sharp clarity., crowned a large, show-white head, which retains quite well. The lacing is interesting in appearance, it leave a pattern that closely resembles a dusting of snow on a window pane. The carbonation is composed of numerous streams of small bubbles that drift lazily to the surface.

Aroma: Rich toasted bread notes vie with moderate hop aromas that seem to have a Noble component. There is also an aroma that I associate with spruce, although it could be the hops or a combination of both. In all, the aroma is a touch less sweeter than I would have expected from an Old Ale.

Taste: Opens with toasted malts, and a slight flush of sweet alcohol, soon followed by rather piney hops. The hops dominate, but the malt presence and hops carry throughout the taste, but in a supporting role to the dominant hops. There is a mild, lingering hop note at the end of the taste.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, and quite pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: A very nice example. I have never really thought of visiting Alaska, but I think I might like to, just to check out the craft beer scene.

Presentation: Packaged in a stubby twelve-ounce brown glass bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

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Photo of MarioM
3.33/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz poured into tulip

A: Nice clear orange color, good carbonation, small bubbles rising as white head disappears with no lacing.

S: slight maltiness but nothing else, I was expecting some spices but i'm not getting much.

T: slightly sweet, very light hop character but mostly malt characters with some spice.

M: Smooth with some bitterness left over, slight warmness too.

O: Definitely unlike other winter ales, very drinkable and mild, its just not as spicy as I would expect. Others are too spicy but this one just doesn't feel like a winter ale. Still a good beer though.

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Photo of JackieTH
3.85/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber pour with a thinnish head, minimal lace. Smell is crackers, bread, malt, with a lightness that may be spruce, but its certainly not piney. Taste is a solid cracker crust malt base, quite tasty, with a nice helping of hop leaving the palate lightly refreshed, a hint of bubblegum and perhaps lemon toward the end. Nice medium body with a hefty, well crafted feel. Easy drinker.

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Photo of bmwats
3.62/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint.

A: Golden hue. Pours about a finger and a half, foamy, white head. Craters quickly and unevenly leaving some dry sticky residue on the sides of the glass. Disintegrates completely. Virtually no lacing.

S: Italian bread, with significant floral notes, and the sweetness of cinnamon toast.

T: Sourdough bread, slightly spiced and slightly sweetened. Pretty solid balance of bread, sweet, spice, and hops.

M: Steely, almost synthetic feeling sweetness in the front, with a nice lingering hop bite.

D: This goes down smooth and easy, but not a session.

Atmosphere is pretty solid. Appearance is good enough on the front end, although quickly deteriorates. Nose is, however, a really nice floral bready thing going on with some sweet notes. Flavor is a hoppy, sweetened, bitter experience. Overall, this is a good quaff.

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Photo of Behrhunter
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tried this ale at a bar and really enjoyed it. Found it at my local liquor store and bought a sixer. Poured it in a glass, and had at it. Smell's great, tastes better hints of fruit and spice, and I dare say minty finish but not too sweet or minty. One beer turned into 2 then 3 and I actually drank 4 of them I was so intruiged by the taste. Really nice Ale! Awesome Winter beer!

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Photo of Vashtar
4.65/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Chris_Cali_2o9 nailed it in his review.

It has a nice head with acceptional lacing.

The berry taste is definite, but doesn't become monotonous. It isn't a typical winter beer, but it's one of my favorites.

The mouthfeel is like laying down a heavy grocery sack that you haven't been carrying for more than a few seconds.

The smell could be a wonderful air freshener, but better.

I would definitely like a six pack. I just wish the labeling were more appealing so that more people might discover it.

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Photo of Hoopster4hire
2.83/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served this in a standard pint glass. Poured from a brown 12 o. Bottle.

Going to keep this short and sweet. This beer us sub-par on multiple levels. Numerous pours lead to little or no head, and what stays around evaporates quickly. The smell is light and slightly aromatic with the spruce tips hardly noticeable. This tastes like a ightly upgraded lager, low in carbonation and just disappointing all around. Will not but this again.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a Dogfish Head pint glass. Pours an orange-gold amber with a thin white head that dissipates to small patches of foam and slight slippery lacing. Aroma of sweet bready malt and light fruit. Flavor of sweet malt, grain, a hint of toasted malt and hint of spruce. Skates on the edge of too sweet, but sweetness is balanced by the malt and apple and grape juice flavors. Light to medium bodied. A pleasant light flavored ale with an interesting pine flavor from the spruce, but not nearly malty enough to be an old ale. I enjoyed it, but not what I expected.

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Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
3.65 out of 5 based on 836 ratings.
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