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 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!

 864 characters

Photo of joshuasamantha
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had the Alaskan s Winter beer at Carlies Jewels in redlands california- on tap - strong reddish brown in color medium head with little lacing strong malt and spruce flavors mellow hop undertones definitely an evening session beer, good with barbeque or around a fire -a true winter warmer- ill be getting a few cases next winter for sure!

 340 characters

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

Pours a golden orange color with very little head despite an aggressive pour. This beer is clear and effervescent.

On the nose: spices, earthiness, and a little honey-like sweetness. There is also some orange/orange peel and lemon/lemon peel presence without being citrus-forward.

Taste: Light sweet caramel malts, orange peel, and spruce/evergreen/pine; a unique and pleasant take on a winter ale. The spruce gives the beer a slight minty aftertaste which isn't out of place and actually work with the beer.

MF is smooth and lighter bodied. Very drinkable.

 560 characters

Photo of renolayton
4.07/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer claims to have spruce tips in it, which may have accounted for its "piney" taste. It was a very smooth and drinkable brew. It had an average smell, and because I drank it straight out of the bottle, I couldn't really grade it too much on its appearance, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

All in all, it's a very "cozy" winter ale, worthy of its price, and should be simple enough for simple tastes, and complex enough for beer snobs.

 449 characters

Photo of JamisonM
3.52/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: honey orange color or perhaps light amber small white head

S: sweet pine with a berry note coming through very malty smelling beer

T: a very malty beer with a lot of honey sweetness with the berry kind of flavor coming though alcohol seems to be well masked

M: med mouth with med carbonation

D: pretty drinkable but the sweetness kind of sets the drinkablity lower

Overall: a pretty good beer I would buy it again but it could be great if they balanced this more with a piny hop, but its cool to be able to try a spruce tip beer.

 537 characters

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

Poured into a New Belgium globe.

Appearance: Bright and crystal clear, orange-amber body - nice start. A swirling column of carbonation feeds a fine, patchy, white head. Head retains pretty well as a medium-sized crown. Not much in terms of lacing; white spots here and there. Upon closer examination, I noticed a lot of suspended sediment. Not too thrilled by that. All in all, meh.

Smell: Caramel and spruce own it. Mint, wheat bread, and moist vegetation try to compete, but find themselves heavily outpaced. Could be more complex, but I enjoy what the spruce brings to the table.

Taste: The caramel and spruce are certainly palpable, but not as dominant in the taste as they were in the aroma. Here a thick, bready backbone steals the show. Caramel and cane sugar peek though early on, while spruce tips, spearmint, and a twinge of alcohol come through in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with active carbonation, and leaning toward the malty end in terms of feel. Finishes pretty clean and crisp.

Drinkability: Good enough to warrant a second (tonight anyway). The spruce tips keep things interesting, and the body and finish make for a pretty smooth ride. Not great, but worth a try.

 1,198 characters

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

Deep amber/honey coloring, frothy thick head nearly two fingers thick. Very lively carbonation, tons of visible bubbles in the slightly hazy liquid. Slightly bigger bodied. Really great foam crown, thick and foamy and rich. Smells lightly toasty from the malts, but too clean and thin. Some delicate hops detectable in the background. Taste is a pilsner-like cleanliness and light character. A much smaller brew than I like my Winter Warmers, but pretty tasty and almost refreshing. Some toasty, nut-like malts, some grassy hops flavors and a mellow, balanced finish. Drinking down, I notice a slight alcohol numb in my mouth. Not too bitter, but with a distinct edge for great balance. Lighter body, but not thin. Spritzy carbonation makes the lighter character more enjoyable in it's refreshing sort-of way.

For the style, it's too thin and clean in character. Not a big enough for a Winter Warmer. But it's enjoyable beer in looks, flavor and on the palette, so credit there. Quite drinkable.

 996 characters

Photo of jmbranum
4.11/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle bought at a liquor store in the Old Colorado City section of Colorado Springs. Very excited to find it here in Colorado.

Subtle malty aroma. Orangish-gold clear liquid with a huge fluffy white head.

Flavor is not what I expected for the style. I like this but it is not a winter warmer. More of a cream ale with a bit of hops in the background. Spruce is there but just barely. Sweeter than expected. Maybe a little bit of pear in the finish, but winds up being dry at the end.

Wonderful mouthfeel. Very nice and smooth.

Great session beer. It is not in my opinion a winter warmer but I do like it.

 623 characters

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

This is a great winter beer, very drinkable and tasty. The appearance is dark, not pitch black but dark. Smells very matly, tiny bit spicy or tangy. The taste is very smooth, very matly as well, you can taste an interesting flavor which Im assuming is the spruce tips. I went through a six pack of these no problem. It is a very well balanced beer, nothing wrong with it at all. I will get this one again.

 405 characters

Photo of ebrauser
3.64/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle to a Mac 'n Jack's pint glass

Appearance: Light yellow with some noticeable particulate suspension and a very thin head.

Aroma: Spruce tips, earthy hops, and a biscuity malt, all with the kick of alcohol from the 6.4%

Flavor: The blatant spruce tips steal the beginning and middle of this beer, creating a sweetness that is similar to that of dry mangoes and apricots. As the fruit and pine subsides, a hop bitterness arrives but exits early to leave a warming crisp finish.

MF: Medium bodied without huge hop or alcohol character. A little sweet for warmer temps but I know for a fact that this is a perfectly sessionable beer when it is -40ยบ outside and it's dark 18 hours per day.

 709 characters

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

Body is clear coppery gold with a thick white head that dissipates to a fine ring, leaving curtains of lacing on the glass.

Aromas of malt, wet hay, spruce pine. Generally, a little sweet and spicy.

Tastes of sweet malt, ginger, hops. I wouldn't pick out any spruce flavor if I didn't know from the bottle that it was brewed with spruce tips. Their effect seems subtle. There seems to be a bit of citrus in the finish.

Body is light and carbonation is sufficient to give it a slightly creamy mouthfeel.

Overall, a malty sweet wintery ale that is pleasant and a little spiced, but not very exciting.

 606 characters

Photo of beergod1
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a hazy, amber color with a medium thin light beige head that diminishes steadily, but leaves rows of lacing. Aroma of pine, hops and sweet malt. Medium-bodied with a piney/spruce character, along with fresh fruit, hops and malt flavors. Touches of spice are present too. The finish is hoppy and malty with a fruit and spice aftertaste. Decent overall. They were looking for something different, I think they found it.

 433 characters

Photo of deadbody
2.86/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Hmm. A friend brought this back from Alaska while he surfed on my couch for a week or so.

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass, good caramel color, nice head. Odd smell, almost a pine sol type scent on first sniff. The pine scent dissapates some, but is there for the whole glass. Taste was just not my style. Was interesting, and spicy, with some sort of almost a pine flavor. Mouthfeel was fine, exactly what I expect from an ale, pretty heavy carbonation which was good.

Drinkability is kinda low because I just really didn't like the flavor, however, if you like the flavor I could see this being super drinkable.

 621 characters

Photo of armock
3.87/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Bevmo

A - Poured a copper color with an off white head that leaves some spotty lacing behind

S - Is of sweet malt fruit and a touch of spice

T - Follows the nose withe the sweet malt with some fruit and spice

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - This is a very enjoyable beer it has a good taste that makes it pretty easy drinking it's worth keeping an eye out for to try sometime

 428 characters

Photo of SirRuss
2.91/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - copper amber with a clean white head and mediocre retention.

S - blueberry.

T - club soda on the forepalate, and then a dislocated medley of light hops and airy malt on the mid, followed by the blueberry coming in on the finish.

M - Moderate carbonation carries the beer effortlessly away from the palate, which is just as well since there's not much to hang around for.

D - the unremarkable mediocrity makes this a perfectly inoffensive and highly drinkable beer - assuming you dont mind being bored. In all fairness, the blueberry does provide some novelty, and would perhaps make this beer work well with cheese - goat or white stilton both come to mind.

O - won't be going for this one again any time soon.

sorry for the wasted seat rhettroactive!!

 765 characters

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.

 613 characters

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.

 731 characters

Photo of Nerudamann
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

From a bottle poured into a Pint glass.

Look - Slightly murky, rich amber color. About 2 fingers of off-white foam that dissipates slowly. Good carbonation.

Smell - Not much of a discernable aroma except for a slight hint of hops, probably American hops, maybe Cascade.

Taste and Mouthfeel - Mostly hoppy, but with only slight bitterness at the finish. There's an earthy spice/kick to it that I can't narrow down, maybe the "spruce tips" suggested on the bottle. Texture is slightly toward the creamier side, and there's a filmy aftertaste left on the lips.

Drinkability - Interesting brew. Would love to try this fresh from a tap in Juneau someday.

 653 characters

Photo of FosterJM
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

83rd Review on BA
Bottle to Pint

App- The color of copper in a glass. Very little head at all.

Smell- I get nothing on this. Very bland on the nose. (OregonPaul I agree) Needs to be warmer. Will have to find a 2nd bottle.

Taste- Its much lighter than I would have thought. The degrees of flavor are really hidden by the cold, but this does taste very good.

Mouth- The low carbonation provided a nice feel on the palate.

Drink- A very sessionable beer. As stated above, need to get another and have it a bit warmer

 518 characters

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.

 428 characters

Photo of BucBasil
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 12oz bottle into a large mug.

A: The beer is a deep reddish orange color, almost amber, topped with a nice looking 2.5 finger creamy tannish head.

S: Sweet with apricots and peaches up front with a solid caramel backbone that is also buttery. Biscuit in there, and no clue where the spruce tips come in. On second thought, as the beer warms there is a nice hop freshness in the back there, slightly piney, so yeah I guess it makes a presence in the aroma.

T: Wow. Full bodied with a huge malt presence and buttery character. Slightly sweet in the midpalate with hints of fresh fruit and a light piney hop. Finishes biscuity with dark honey sweetness and something like a peach jam and butter. Very rich finish but delicious. Excellent.

Very interesting take on the winter warmer, and a nice change of pace. Definitely brings out the winter spirit with the full body and the huge flavor. A very good beer.

 924 characters

Photo of Sorcerer
4.6/5  rDev +26%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A six pack from a fresh shipment, 11-2010.

Bottle label doesn't have a yellow frame anymore.

Poured into pint glass.

1/2 inch head bubbles into nothing in less than 5 seconds. Clear dark honey.

Smells like a cold Christmas Day. I smell the tree and some wet wool. A trace of something sweet in the oven and a hint of toast.

Carbonation is in middle of the range, and pleasing. Maltiness prevails with doughy flavor up front. Bitterness is milder than APA's with the Spruce seemingly holding its own against a decent fresh blonde hoppy veneer. Becomes sweet on the tongue after swallowing, and leaves a great sweet blueberry-pine flavor lingering for a long time after the bottle is finished.

Easy to drink. Not sure about the after-effects of a session, as I've only had 2 at a time. I am skeptical of spiced beers. This one, if it is spiced (not sure, but likely), is not over the top.

Obviously I like this beer. Usually I drink IPA's and Munich style Hefeweisen.

 972 characters

Photo of mshannon
3.66/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-Crisp, clear copper color but pretty lackluster, low retention
S-Bready malt, strong spices, very mild hop aroma, berries?
T-a surprise, spruce and spices are almost too much but it works, sweet
M-light, somehow sticky, good carbonation
D-interesting, worth trying but not really my style

 290 characters

Photo of echoes
4.29/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a glass.

A: Pours a thick bubbly head with visible carbonation. Color is a dark yellowish-gold. Slowly dissipating head that leaves little lacing.

S: Hops & spices (not sure which). Can definitely also smell the spruce tips (which is listed on the label). Can smell citrus. Has a bit of a floral scent to it as well. Subtle smell overall but interesting too.

T: Earthy hops taste with slight bitterness probably from the hops & spruce tips. It is also malty. I would not have thought of blueberry had I not accidentally glanced at a comment or two but the blueberry taste mentioned before is definitely there. Spice is well balanced and not off-putting. Complex overall flavor.

M: A little bubbly and medium bodied. Feels nice.

D: Goes down easy but is pleasing.

My first winter warmer and I think I was spoiled. A very nice, complex mixture of flavors balance out well and this beer lives up to its style. I can see more of this in my future.

 959 characters

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

Pulled a 12oz. bottle out of the cellar to drink.. 55deg. C..

- Crystal clear copper brew... finger of bubbly white head... leaves a thin layer behind....

- Grains, oats, bready biscuit goodness.... pine bitter grassy earthy hop.... not too bad... much like a Full Sail brew...

- Very interesting sweet touch to an amber... almost an odd candy-like flavor... almost like cotton candy... with some grain, caramel malt, and citrus zesty hop notes... rather balanced... like others have mentioned.. almost a blueberry flavor.

- Medium to light bodied, slightly stick and syrupy...

- Overall just a very interesting and different flavor for a winter brew... seems like a nice amber with an extra kick of some sweet sugars , candies... etc...

 743 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.