Alaskan Winter Ale | Alaskan Brewing Co.

840 Ratings
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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 840 |  Reviews: 364
Photo of AlexM
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of caninedevotion
4/5  rDev +9.6%

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

This beer pours a clear copper color. The head is one inch in height, and recedes quickly into a small cap of lacing. The aroma is of caramel, and toffee. The taste is similar to the aroma. It is pleasant, but quite simple and straight forward. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a smooth texture, and high carbonation. Overall, this is a decent beer, but i highly doubt I will drink it again.

 394 characters

Photo of Pintofbrown
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was served in a tulip glass.

Appearance- There is no head on this beer, not even some film. Just, no head. The body is a deep amber with some luminous gold highlights.

Smell- I am picking up some malt on the nose, sort of a bread malt. The hops seem earthy. The spruce is not anything like I expected, not like smelling a Christmas tree, just makes the nose kinda, musty.

Taste- The malt, which is bready and buttery, is coming through the strongest on the palate. The spruce is a little stronger here, and engages mostly in the finish. The earthy hops are also noticeable. It is slightly interesting, but not good enough.

Mouth feel- The body is the least of my worries, a decent enough medium body. It is creamy with okay carbonation.

Overall- This winter warmer is awfully bland, just loads up on the malt. It would have been nice to have really noticed spruce any where in this beer. If you're going to say it is there on the bottle, it should be IN the bottle too.

 980 characters

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

Transferred over from the Alaskan session in my tasting notebook.

Appears orange-tinted amber, two fingers of frothy head that dies back in about two minutes, medium levels of lacing. Body is medium thick, lightly carbonated. Smells of some bready tones and that signature spruce tip element...very fresh and piney, yet more sweet than pine, if that makes any sense. Flavor is brassy, sweet, has some minor metallic notes :( medium breadiness and dried figs, vaguely psuedo-mulling spice comes across in a really super subtle way on the finish, really quite tasty yet a bit too far into sweetness for my comfort zone, but YMMV.

Worth looking into if you want something with a psuedo Belgian-y fruitiness and holiday spicing that stands apart from the crowd by having spruce tips in it. My main complaint is that distracting light undertone of metallic flavor...get rid of that, tweak the carbonation slightly, add a bit of earthy hop tones, and this could be something really amazing.

 986 characters

Photo of sweethome
3.03/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hazy golden color with minimal head. Chunky hop or yeast residue floaters.

Sweet nose with a grassy hint - must be the spruce. Entry is fairly thick and sweet. Honey malt flavors - sweetness lingers on. Mouthfeel stays concentrated mid mouth - doesn't flow out. Spiciness on finish from hops and spruce.

The malt charchter is not overly pleasing...spruce is light, which is good. Lack of hops to balance the sweetness. Alcohol is warming, but not to a level expected for an Alaskan winter night.

Just not too pleasing for me.

 528 characters

Photo of brewcrew76
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Clear golden amber with a thin off white head.

S - Light aroma. Some malt, fruit and spruce.

T - Sweet and malty with light spruce and pine notes. Herbal and woodsy. Strange lager type finish. I had to double check the bottle to make sure this was an ale.

M - Medium body and crisp like a lager with a good amount of carbonation. Haven't had a winter warmer before that feels lager like.

D - Light on the spruce and easily drinkable but a bit boring. Not on the "spiced" level of most winter warmers.

 508 characters

Photo of TucsonTom
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

A very interesting, unique and tasty offering.

A: A light amber, with no read head. Doesn't look like much.

S: Hardly any smell to it at first, but the smell seemed to increase as it warmed up: sweet and spruce.

T: The taste is where Winter really shines. Again, the taste is more muted when cold; gets more interesting as it warms up: sweet fruit, spruce, other spices. Very unique.

M: Average, with no carbination.

I can understand why other reviews question this beer's categorization as a Winter Warmer. It isn't something that I would sip by the fire to warm me up. But it IS a great winter session beer for watching sports. It's unique and growing taste makes it an 'A' beer in my book.

 697 characters

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.

 353 characters

Photo of Givekidsmeth
4.58/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bought this after checking out the BA reviews, and they're pretty spot on. My girlfriend hates beer, and this one is something she actually loved. Excellent beer for someone who says they dislike beer because of bitterness.

Appearance - Poured into a tall beer glass. Light carbonation, two finger head, color of perfect caramel. This stuff just looks delicious.

Smell - Bread, light spice, dried fruits, malts. inviting and warm, the only reason I'm knocking a half point off for is that I'm not getting the spruce tips. But that's not to say it was in the least bit disappointing.

Taste - Again, the spruce tips don't come through, but everything else just shines more than enough to carry the weight. There's bread, light spice, that sweet, dried fruit flavor is up front and center. The tastes linger in a sweet, warm way across your tongue, and it just entices you into taking another sip.

Mouthfeel - creamy and delightful. Easy to drink, the carbonation is careful and spot perfect. Not dry, a very "wet" beer.

Overall, I'm not disappointed that the spruce tips didn't come through. The malty, bready, fruity aspects of this beer make it the best winter warmer I've found at my local grocer yet. It's not complex, but that just lends to its charm. It's honest, simple, affordable, and just mixes well with winter in a way few beers can.

 1,349 characters

Photo of jsprain1
3.92/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Dark golden. One finger white retains well with some lacing.
S- Malty, sugary on the nose with pine and a bit of fruityness.
T- Very sweet up front. Sugary and a bit of toffee and butterscotch. Soon enough pine flavors as well as just a light fruityness.
M- Very low carbonation. This beer sits firmly on the tongue.
O- A good winter beer that takes a different perspective than the standard spicebombs a lot of brewers make.

 429 characters

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

 812 characters

Photo of JohnnyP3
3.72/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle dated 030512. Poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark gold, copper color with a thin white cap of foam that simmers down. Very active carbonation. Not a huge amount of lacing on the glass.

Smell consists of a fresh spruce tree (brewed with spruce tips), and a kind of grassy/hay aroma. I can also detect a trace of the malt backbone of the beer.

Taste has a nice rich malt foundation upfront that transitions to some bitterness and sweetness from the spruce/noble hop flavor at the end. A nice fresh winter snap on the finish.

Mouthfeel is clean and crisp and, as noted, has a nice wintry finish.

Overall one of your more easy drinking winter seasonals that imparts a taste of the great Alaskan outdoors during winter. Not a bad choice for holiday gatherings. The higher abv gives it some more warming power.

 823 characters

Photo of bsp77
3.1/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Clear burnished gold (much lighter than expected) with little head and next to no lacing.

Smell: Very fruity, with caramel and cherry. Don't detect any hops or spruce tips, for that matter.

Taste: Aahh, very sweet! Cherry, caramel and dark fruits run amok. There is some very light English-style hops and pine (or make that spruce) on the finish.

Feel: Medium bodied with a strange spritzy carbonation. No dryness on the finish whatsoever.

Overall: I really don't understand why they made this so damn sweet. Should have finished drier or added noticeable hops or maybe actually made something noteworthy with those spruce tips. I am starting to feel that the 12 ounce offerings from Alaskan are just not worth my time or money anymore.

 814 characters

Photo of gatornation
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle BB 020512

A-pours a clear garnet color with an off-white 1 finger head that fades to a nice ring and cap

S- was malt and spice,pine

T- was sweet caramel malts fruits and spice,a wisp of spruce

M- was sweet,and crisp with a smooth butter malt feeling

T- its tasty and smooth and malty..a good WW, easy to drink i sixer for the whole season will be enough for me

 380 characters

Photo of pdoran10
3.14/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Alaskan Winter pours out a dark golden color into a snifter. I get one finger of white head that sticks around and leaves nice lacing.

The smell is biscuit and a faint caramel sweetness.

The flavor is pretty complex, but does not work for me. I get white bread, caramel, dark fruit, and sharp spruce all in small doses. A bit muddled and the spruce doesn't fit with the rich malt for me.

The mouthfeel is average and creamy with moderate carbonation. Very well dialed in here.

Overall a solid and very well made offering, but I'm not digging the flavor combinations here.

 575 characters

Photo of codfeast
3.47/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

bottle to pint.

A: clear amber, thin head fades to a ring, no lacing.

S: Sweet malt, hints of spruce and cotton candy.

T: Much like the nose starts sweet, quite sweet fades to hints of hops or spruce, sweet comes back into play with a semi-bitter finish.

M: Good carbination, smooth and creamy.

O: tough to review not really a "winter warmer" Have not had it for the last two years but seem to remember a much more pronounced spruce flavor. remember a friend who could not stand the beer said it was like "gnawing on a tree branch". That was the appeal to myself guess I was in the minority. still its a very easy drinking tasty beer.

 639 characters

Photo of beerandcycling88
3.45/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a mug from a 12oz bottle.

A Pours a fairly clear amber with a nice white head that has pretty good retention.

S Some light fruitiness with what seems to be a hint of a pine/spruce like note.

T A prominent bready malt note with just a hint of a pine like bitterness. Pretty sweet.

M Smooth and fairly easy to drink.

Overall I guess this one is pretty good, just not great. This used to be one of my favorite winter seasonals, however the spruce seems less strong then it was in the past, which kills it for me.

 531 characters

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

Pours a copper color with a 1 finger head that fizzes off quickly into a thin white layer

Aroma is earthy and fruity, some apple, some lemon and piney notes.

Taste is pretty simple, sweet and malty, with a pine hop note. Clean flavors but nothing complicated.

Mouthfeel is pretty mild but a little sticky with low carbonation and a sweet profile. Hides any alchohol very well but at 6.4 it is not a"warmer".

Overall this is very drinkable but not necessarily what you get from other brewers "winter" styles. I would say it is more of a variation on their Amber than anything. But nothing wrong with that. If you like Alaskan Amber and are not crazy about heavy winter ales, this is your beer.

As for the spruce tips, I get it but it is not so obvious as they could have made it. This definately has a woody note to it which I take as the Spruce tips but it is not like taking a sniff of a spruce tree.

Still I keep buying cases of this stuff so I must like it.

 966 characters

Photo of blakelive784
3.21/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass:

A - Light, transparent amber with a creamy 2 finger head and good retention. Inviting.

S - Mild herbal notes and strong fruit esters. Sweet caramel malt is present as well.

T - Quite sweet, with some herbal/woodsy tones. Nice, sweet fruit. Hop presence is very low. A little mild.

M - Smooth and wet. Works well with the flavors.

D - A highly drinkable beer, but I wish the flavors were more pronounced. Definitely worth a try, though.

 492 characters

Photo of notsoprobeer
4.32/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber in color with a white head that dissipated fairly quickly with no lacing. Aroma is mainly caramel malts and evergreen. I didn't expect the spruce to come through in aroma, but it does. Flavor is mainly caramel malts, very subtle spruce, and a nice sweetness. Virtually no bitterness. The light to medium body, nice effervescence, and a buttery sensation combine to produce a nice overall mouth feel. The taste of alcohol is slight and the drink provides a very nice warming feeling. A bit of sweetness lingers in the finish and leaves a nice aftertase.

 558 characters

Photo of nickd717
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle as part of a random mixed sixer my sister gave me as a gift. Well, it’s a tick. I’d expect a good winter ale from Alaska given that they have one hell of a winter up there.

Nice appearance, surprisingly light and clear medium amber color with a small off-white head and good lacing.

The aroma is very fruity, sort of what I’d imagine Arctic cloudberries to smell like if that makes sense. Some caramel and spruce as well with considerable hop bitterness.

The flavor has caramel malt, fruit/berry notes, earthy hops, and spruce. Decently tasty.

Medium-bodied and fairly crisp with average carbonation level.

A good winter beer, but nothing I’d ever go crazy over.

 687 characters

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

The appearance was clear, with a gold-orange hue. Had nice white head that lasted for some time.

I was expecting powerful herbal smell because of the spruce tips, but very little in the aroma department.

This beer had just enough herbal, pine, and spice flavors to set it apart from other ales. It finished crisp and refreshing, with a very subtle fruit undertone.

Smooth with a light-medium body, crisp finish.

Overall: Although it is not your typical winter variety, this beer was crisp, refreshing, and very drinkable. I was initially worried the spruce may be overpowering, but was pleasantly surprised when there was just enough to let me know it was in there.

 671 characters

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.

 502 characters

Photo of chugalug06
3.91/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Clear copper color with a nice balanced head a top the brew.

S - Unusual, very little smell at all... it could be the IPA I just drank that wrecked house on my senses

T - AMAZING! One of my favorite brews! Great diversity of flavors. Very spicy and flavorful! A+

M - Very good. Not overly carbonated and evenly coats

D - Great, hard to let this one sit for long... Very enjoyable

One of my favorite Winter Brews, year after year. It's very consistent and offers many unique flavors not found in another brew I've had

 525 characters

Alaskan Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Co.
3.65 out of 5 based on 840 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.