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 bditty187
3.08/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Beautiful, coppery-gold in hue with strong tawny-bronze influences; I love the color depth. Sadly there wasn’t much animation. The lack of head was even sadder, at the apex the foam was a sliver of a finger and then it faded rapidly to a very scrawny collar. There was no subsequent lacing either. What a waste of such lovely liquid. All things head related on this beer were sub-par. The nose doesn’t say much. My first whiff said bananas. What? I couldn’t find that aroma again, but dammit that is what I smelled. I found lots of nondescript fruitiness. Sweet notes, from the malt, but there isn’t any articulation. The label says, “Brewed with spruce tips.” How big were these alleged tips? I can’t smell them. I got hints of alcohol. Not much from the hops, some slight floral earthiness (I mean slight). The nose is disappointing. Yawn. The palate doesn’t say “Winter Seasonal.” The palate seems style-less. I guess this is a ubiquitous Winter Warmer. It is sweet but not rich in taste. At first there are hints of apple cider. Is this beer spiced? Is it just hops I taste? I get some weak spicy notes; I can’t really place them (ginger?). The malt is odd too, lightly toasty. Some alcohol heat is noticeable. Light woody notes at the back. The palate is close to being good; maybe it is good right now and it is close to being great. Honestly, the taste profile is okay; it doesn’t “wow” me at all. If I saw a six-pack in a store I’d skip it. It is better than average but its nothing noteworthy. There is nothing big about it; there is no malty goodness, no hoppiness, and no array of spices… nothing special here. Medium in body with low carbonation, the mouthfeel is tolerable, there is a tacky aftertaste that I don’t like. That makes me think there should be more effervesces. Easy to drink but pointless to do so, I am very underwhelmed with this beer. It is forgettable. I purchased a 12-ounce bottle on-line from Liquid Solutions.

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Photo of GreenCard
4.1/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Best before date: 30th of April 2005...

Appearance: light amber, good clarity, thinnish layer of yellowy-white suds that quickly flatten to a creamy cap

Aroma: biscuity malt, hint of spruce, spiced cider, light hops

Flavor: mildly sweet initially, hint of dark malts, mellow woodsy flavor, spruce is detected in the background, finishes semi-sweet with an aftertaste of crystal malt and a breath of spruce

Mouthfeel: medium-full body, pert carbonation, smooth texture

Other comments: An absolutely scrumptious winter seasonal. The spruce is very subtle, not overpowering. Strangely, you can really taste/smell it if you clear your throat after swallowing a gulp of it... sort of a bouquet of spruce.

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

Came out looking like an amber ale with a one inch light tan head and leaving slight lacing.

Smell seemed lager like with a piney hint and light grain sweetness.

Taste was different. Smooth with a little bite, light caramel sweetness with a decent bitterness and no real trace of alcohol. A bit piney possibly from the spruce tips.

Goes down smooth but a little dry with an interesting aftertaste that lingers. Very nice carbonation gives it a silky feel.

Not too bad at all. Not my favorite winter warmer but not a bad choice either.

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Photo of WesWes
4.3/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours an amber color with a thin offwhite head that fades to lacing. The aroma is good also. It has a nice malty scent with a fruity yeast finish. I can't smell the spruce tips that are supposed to be in here. The taste is awesome. It has a very refreshing crystal malt flavor with a kick ass (spruce?) aftertaste. It goes down really smooth. This is a very unusual beer. The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied with good carbonation. This is a damn good beer. It has awesome flavor; a good drinker.

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Photo of Crotor
3.57/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours crystal-clear amber with a low, light tan head with low retention.

Smells subtly of clean, caramel malt sweetness. A wee bit of toffee too.

Overall, a nice, soft-spoken winter beer. Subdued caramel sweetness, low bitterness, and a hint of spruce, all in excellent balance. The subtlety of the flavor and the medium body belie the moderately high alcohol, making this an enjoyable and quite drinkable winter warmer. Worth picking up.

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

box calls this an old ale brewed with spruce tips.

pours a good clear burnt sienna color in my unibroue tulip glass. The off-white head had the larger bubbles and more meringue consistency, but it completely disappeared in just a few moments. No ring, nothin.

odor is faint, but softly fruity and piney from the spruce. it's nice, just wish it were a bit more powerful. Good body, just thick enough but not flabby. the taste has some sweet currant flavor-- a nice light maltiness with the spruce and hops giving it a nice tartness and crispness. light and lively overall, with some alcohol notes of spicy pepper that come through with the herbal, piney flavors.

this beer is subtle and i like it. definitely some similar characteristics to Alba, another spruce tip-spiced beer. would be fun to sit down with the two of them together. The only thing that i find a bit questionable is the aftertaste, which sits on the back of my tongue with a sappy, someone astringent feeling. just keep drinking and it doesn't bring you down, tho. ;)

i like this beer a lot better than a lot of the other winter offerings i've had this year. not so roasty, rich or hoppy as the offerings ive had from deschutes, pyramid and full sail-- instead, like SN celebration it goes for a brighter taste, and i'm appreciating that this year. seems happy rather than plodding. not sure if it exactly fits in the old ale style, but a fun beer. At 6.4% it's serious enough to qualify as a winter warmer, but the light fruity taste keeps it quaffable.

goods: light, fruity taste, enjoyable pine spice that adds some sweet, tart and spicy character

bads: no head to speak of, aroma could be stronger, aftertaste doesn't stand up to the rest of the beer

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

12/08/04- Purchased at Piazza's Market in San Mateo, CA

Appearance- Pours a glowing deep amber color with a decent size head and nice lacing.

Smell- Not really a strong scent put out by this beer. You can tell there is a spice smell, but you really have to sniff. Maybe a bit of fruityness going on too.

Taste- Hmmmm, much sweeter than I would have imagined. Some pine hops in there mixing with all sorts of spices, some which I can't describe. Taste like something other than a winter warmer.

Mouthfeel- The sweetness makes it feel full and thick. Still goes down well with it's middle of the road carbonation.

Drinkability- Very different taste, as I am finding out from trying different winter two taste the same. They all have their different tastes. I haven't had a real bad on yet, but haven't had one that I absolutely love yet either. Worth a try each winter.

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Photo of mnapier
4.33/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A wonderful trace of caramel malts, and spruce tips, with a nice hoppy edge. As the beer gets warmer from room temperature the evidence of the 3 malts come out of the beer with the aftertaste influence with hop goodness. Not a beer to drink all the time, but does go really well with the turkey sandwich I had.
Overall a beer that I definitely look forward to every year until they stop crafting it or the taste no longer impresses my taste buds.

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Photo of donnebaby
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Slightly hazy and thick looking muted copper color body, with pretty decent haze accumulation overtop. Nose was pretty funky, unlike anything I've smelled recently...I can feel the "pine tips" in there, but it's not pine that comes across. Sweet, and mildly boozy, and something distinctly vegetable, like cooked green beans.

Tastes good, but not wildly interesting, and finishes with a somehow unpleasant dry, rough hop aftertaste. Like a mild Belgian spiced ale, sweet malts, fermenting apples...and very mild.
Carbonation is gentle, and weak.

Good, but forgettable.

A question: should an "Alaskan" winter ale really be considered a "seasonal". Isn't it always winter there???

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

Beer pours an orange color into my pint glass with a white head that lasts throughout the glass. Large carbonation bubbles noticed. Smell is of fruitty yeasty esters, carmally sweetness and then a citrusy piney aroma is either from the hops or spruce. Taste is malty sweet medium thick bodied balanced with hops. There is a citrusy taste here from the spruce boughs but it isn't overpowering. Beer is drinkable but I wouldn't have too many of these because that spruce might be a little to acidic over the course of a night.

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Photo of RootedFool
4.42/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a twelve ounce bottle straight down into a Duvel goblet. The head resembles thick cream of wheat, bright white, and is leaving some thick curtains of lace on the glass. The body is dark copper to light amber, depending on what light is behind it.

Smell: a golden raisin infused caramel grassiness, if you can get your head around that. Earthy, and sweet, but mostly sweet.

Taste: upfront sugar cane bite, followed by a puckering bitterness straight down the middle of my palate, closing on a dim earthy bitterness (the spruce tips?) that buzzes along the tip of my tongue.

The finish is also very dry, clean.

Mouthfeel isn't thick, isn't thin, and doesn't stick -- nice weight and balance. In the middle.

I love the unique malt flavor of this beer, kicked up the spruce tips or whatever -- spicy and full and bright. Festive.

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

Brewed with Sitka spruce tips. The aroma is slightly citrusy, with a spicy component to it. I tasted this just after smelling some fresh Sitka spruce tips, the aromas of the fresh tips were incredibly citrusy with a sweet aroma that was incredibly fresh and interesting. Unfortunately the beer did not have this level of character to it, but at least it was noticeable in the nose.

The taste has a definite slight bitterness and astringency that does not seem to be derived from the use of hops (so it must be the spruce). The beer is sweet and malty up front with a light refreshing citrus character. This is quite light and refreshing to the palate, though there is some solid flavor here, including some spiciness.

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Photo of beertaster13
4.27/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a very good winter ale by alaskan brewing. Pours a dark copper/orange with a slight tan but more white froth head. Lacing is decent but not great. Smell is of cinnamon spice and nutmeg. Slight pine tone but very clean to the nose. The taste is very light for a winter beer, nutmeg sweetness and the hop bitterness is perfectly blended. Citrus and honey aftertones, very light in the mouth for a winter ale. Because of the lightness of this winter ale you can drink quite a few of these, dangerous because the alcohol is 6.4%. Excellent winter brew/ I'd even save some for summer as well.

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Photo of ark57
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It pours a clear amber with a thin, off-white head. The aroma is malty, piney, and slightly medicinal with some citrus. The medium body has some creamy malt that is sweet and coating. It is a little fruity with some pine/spruce notes. The carbonation is a little high as well.

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

Well, they can't all be Smoked Porters....

A clear, copper beer, with a weak off-white head. Light caramel malt in the aroma with a hint of spice. The spices come through a bit better in the flavor, though I'm not sure I detect "spruce tips." Sweet biscuity, caramel malt, a light fruitiness, and a moderately bitter finish. Though something in the finish just strikes me as a bit harsh and unpleasant. Fairly crisp feeling, helped by a decent carbonation. Better cold.

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Photo of canucklehead
4.28/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A lot of Winter/Xmas beers rely on heavy spiced flavours to suggest a brew to savor in cold weather. Alaskan should be commended for successfully taking a different tact.

This beer relies on the subtle interplay with the spruce esters coupled with a medium body. It took a few sips to see how nice this beer works as a winter beer. It was fresh tasting yet suggested complexity and body. Like most of their beers a sense of brewing skill is demonstrated with the execution and the originality of the style.

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Photo of tfinn
4.03/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

color is an attractive copper / deep amber hue. pours with a light head which dissipates a little prematurely.

scent is akin to a damp clean mountain clearing; there are hints of things woody or piney, but otherwise it just smells "fresh" for lack of a better term.

taste and mouthfeel are what make this an interesting beer for me. it's very much a thick syrupy chewy beer, but it doesn't have that extended drawn-out sickly trail that I would expect with something with this flavor profile. yet neither does it have a pronounced hop finish either. must be the spruce tips. flavor is cream / caramel / toffee / almost citrus rind-ish, and the mouthfeel is nice and meaty.

I have to admit that from the bottle it isn't as good as what I had on tap at the 2003 winter ale festival, but it's definitely a close relative. it's an intriguing flavor, easy to drink yet not boring, and I look forward to its return next year.

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Photo of marc77
3.6/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Lightly hazed copper hue. Thin, uniform, ivory white head yields sparse lace. The aroma is comprised of mellow, mildly buttery toffee offset by a curiously fruity, underripe fig twang. Slight sweet wood and lemon rind like hop nose. Fruity tartness continues seamlessly in flavor, and is of an odd, but agreeable tamarind like nature. Simple and stately buttery biscuit and medium caramel malt backbone. Understated hop bitterness leaves ample residual sweetness that precludes easy quaffing. Orange flesh hop flavor with a floral, non descript continental twang. Thins considerably in flavor and body mid palate, leaving a vacuous, airy, diluted molasses presence. Comes full circle late, with a resurgence of figgish tartness offset by a golden raisin like sweetness. Aftertaste of buttered, warm white cracker and marmalade. An eccentric and enjoyable brew. Malt and ester character seemed to compete with each other, but I liked that. With a fuller body this could be outstanding. Maybe.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.42/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

While some of us East-Coasters were working the EBF in Boston, good buddy Genaro was out on the west coast of Oregon gathering a nice selection of brews to send back east.
This one poured a deep amber with a thin white head and lots of lacing.
A sweet malt aroma dominates at first sniff; citrusy hops follow, as does a light piney smell (real or imagined?) Tastes of caramel apples, doughy malt and a hint of pears are upfront. A mild citrusy hop and just a touch of piney esters are noticed. Smooth...real smooth...almost buttery! The 6.4%abv is well hidden, until, of course, it is gone.

Edit 2004 _ It seems to have a bit more of a piney taste this year.(for the better) This is an impressive Winter-style brew!

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

Neat burnt orange color with an off white head.
Unique aroma has a main component I don't know how to describe. Sweet biscuity malt with maybe a hint of pine.

Taste also has a quite unique flavor. Sort of a syrupy butterscotch flavor that borders on cloying. Sweet biscuity flavor. Hint of pine. Too sweet overall.

Mouthfeel is a little thin.
Too sweet and odd to drink more than one, IMO.

Overall, a decent beer, but not one I'd look to have again anytime soon.

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

Clear dark amber appearance, extremely pale thinish head. Good interlocking lace. Buttery toffee aroma. Sweet and honey-like malts dominate the flavor profile, slight diacetyl, thick texture, and low carbonation make this a heavier beer. The spruce tips may be substituting a little too much for hops in a counteracting bitter, because this the beer is a little skewed toward over-sweetness except for a mid mouth sense of medicinal qualities. Slighlty rubbery close to the mouthfeel. Pleasant beer, but not remarkable, kind of a sleepy Old Ale.

Source: Liquid Solutions

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

An amber ale with small head and some lacing. Aroma of caramel malts, apple pie, and minty evergreen (from spruce tips). The malts are big, rich, satisfying and incredibly sweet without being too cloying. I am wary of spiced winter brews and unusual ingredients such as spruce tips but the evergreen quality actually works with the beer quite well. The hops create a surprisingly dry finish. The mouth puckers at the end of each sip, but the beer is not excessively bitter like many highly hopped beers. It's more like a tartness similar to apple juice or white grape juice. A very satisfying finish to a very satisfying beer.

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Photo of WetCoaster
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Thin tan/white head fades quickly, leaving a thin ring around the glass. Some lacing. Beer a clear, rich honey/amber color, very pretty.

Smell: Rich, with heavy malt sweetness, a bit of hops and a pear scent; yeast perhaps? However, no pine scent that I can detect.

Taste/Mouthfeel: A bit of a letdown. Medium carbonation and a nice body create a mouthfeel appropriate for the style. The taste, while good, is fairly run-of-the-mill. It starts with a dense, sweet malt flavor, which is soon balanced nicely by a moderate hoppy bite. However, the spruce tips seem to impart no flavor whatsoever, nor are there any other spices or flavors that I can detect. Rats.

(Note: A third tasting revealed a mild, pleasant pine punch on top of the hops--the two before and three after did not.)

Drinkability: It's a tasty, hearty brew to be sure; it actually tastes like a nice marzen. I'd drink another.

Again, a solid beer to be sure, but a special beer? Not really. It's good, but I was expecting more.

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