Brooklyn Winter Ale (2005) | Brooklyn Brewery

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Very Good
45 Ratings

Brewed by:
Brooklyn Brewery
New York, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brooklyn's first "command performance" beer, wherein they brewed a beer for their European importers to match Christmas food in Denmark (aka - Brooklyn Christmas Ale). This beer recalls both the Danish and British holiday ale traditions, which included a range of spices in the days before hops became the only spice in beer. Maris Otter malts give the beer a smooth, round palate, and brisk hopping pulls the sweet malts into balance. The spices recall pies, bread, and time well spent with friends and family.

Recipe has completely changed with the 2006 release.

Added by Jason on 10-22-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 45 |  Reviews: 44
Photo of cwd
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

Photo of hopdog
3.16/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle.

Poured a deeper reddish / brown color with a smaller sized off white head. Has a very strong initial spicy aroma. I'm trying to place it; ginger maybe, definitely pepper. Other aromas of caramel and light bread. Tastes of the same spices, toasted malts, lighter caramel, and lightly earthy. The spices definitely dominate both the aromas and tastes (quite overpowering and overbearing at times).

Notes from: 11/29/05

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Photo of kinger
3.47/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Generously sweet malty scent some light spices are there. Nice color but the off white head soon left and couldn't be brought back. Medium fullness and easily drinkable, nice clean finish. Good tasting ale, sweet malts. A touch of clove perhaps with some complimenting spices although this aspect is greatly downplayed in the overall taste.

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Photo of orfeu
3.58/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

One of two bottles from a Brooklyn "Party Box" from last winter. Garnet brown with a creamy and lathered khaki head. Slightly sour aromas of red grapes, cherries, and tart apples with an extremely mellow clove and anise scent. Fairly uneventful flavor profile: dark cherries and stewed prunes with very mild cinnamon and clove notes. A bit of soured chocolatey malt business near the back. Surprisingly, the 6.9% alcohol content is somewhat noticeable as well at the finish. Soft and roundish, juicy-chewy mouthfeel. I get the sense that when fresh, this may have tasted like a liquid holiday fruitcake (and I'm someone who enjoys fruitcake -- so that's not a bad thing). It still tastes that way after a year, just heavily subdued. A pleasant enough beer, if winter warmers are your thing. They're hit-or-miss with me, and I'd say this one's "fair to middlin'."

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Photo of rarevos
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Purchased as part of Brooklyn's "Party in a Box" 12-pack. With 2 Winter Warmers, two Chocoalte Stouts, and two Monster Barleywines as part of the offerings, that'll make for one hell of a party.

A: Pours a deep chocolate amber with a small amount of tan lacing that disappeared quickly. Ring of foam around the perimeter of the glass is all that remained.

S: Coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg, prunes.

T: Dried fruit up front--prunes, a little raisen-y--and some spices toward the middle: cinnamon, cardamon, a little nutmeg. Mediciny and warming.

M: Syrupy.

D: Probably couldn't drink a sixer of these, but a glass of this was terrific. Really nice beer.

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Photo of cbl2
3.85/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

No best by date on this first time offering from Brooklyn.


Pours a crystal clear claret with a thin film of tan head that settles immediately.


Gingerbread, nutmeg with malty sweetness a touch of anise and ripe fig.


This has the nose of an Anchor OSA, but none of the overpowering pine bitterness appears in the bottle. Relatively smooth with nutmeg dominating coupled with a dose of gingerbread that was hinted in the aroma.

A unique beer that is quite enjoyable. Purchased as part of the Brooklyn holiday pack ($13.99), which included 2 of these, 2 monsters, 2 choc stouts, 2 IPA, 2 brown and 2 lagers. Best 12 pack around IMHO.

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Photo of Kendo
3.52/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

OK, so maybe it's a little odd to be kicking off Memorial Day Weekend -- the start of summer -- with a Winter Ale. But. . . it has been a cool Spring and before this beer gets too old, let's do it. . . .

Pours a coppery mahogany with ruby tints when held up to the light. A very small ivory head disappears almost immediately. Absolutely no lacing throughout.

Scent: the nose is all spice up front. I'm sensing allspice, cloves and nutmeg.

Taste: Sweet, malty, with those spices up front -- cloves and nutmeg and maybe the allspice I thought I smelled. Finishes with a metallic tang, with almost no hoppy bitterness. A slight alcohol warming sensation warms the back of the throat at the end of the sip.

As for mouthfeel: it is a tad too carbonated, I think, and slightly slick towards the end of the sip. Also slightly watery in body.

Drinkability: This is not intended to be a session ale, and it isn't. The spices make for an interesting flavor, and I think this would go well with certain holiday meals (roast chicken? duck? gingerbread cookies?), but these flavors do not enhance drinkability, in my opinion.

I do think this is a decent version of a traditional 'Winter Warmer'-style ale, and maybe I would've given it better marks in December. All in all it's a decent beer, but for my taste, I think there are better Winter Ales out there.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am sampling a room temp bottle poured into a pint glass. The beer exhibits a deep clear chestnut hue with minimal beige head that fades quickly to an edge layer. The aroma is evident spices right away with nutmeg and cinnamon mixing with coriander and some caramel. First sip reveals an avearge body and mild carbonation. Silky smooth texture.
Flavor is similar to nose with chocolate and caramel mixed with nutmeg, cinnamon and coriander as well. The nutmeg lingers after each swallow. The beer is smooth and easy to drink. Quite a nice winter brew that I rarely see around here.

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Photo of jhammerly
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Calico for sending this to me.

Poured from a bottle into an Imperial Pint glass. A deep brown with hints of amber around the edges when held up to the light. Not much of a head and it quickly descended after a few minutes.

A nice malty smell with tones of spice, which I think is cinnamon and nutmeg. The taste is akin to the aroma with a touch of chocolate and alcohol. Nicely balanced. Slightly robust, but has a medium body. This could be very drinkable despite it's richness and 6.9% ABV. One that I would definitely try again during the season.

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Photo of doppelmeup
3.85/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

*Note: I originally reviewed this as the Christmas Ale, but am copying my review over to this beer, as the picture matches what I drank!**

I got this in the Brooklyn Variety Pack, which proudly states that this is the only place you can get it. It's the 2005 brew.

Poured very similarly to a barley wine. Had to really pour it hard to encourage any sort of head. Pretty, auburnish tan color.

Smelled of cloves and malt, maybe some pumpkin pie spice.

Started off very cold (from a cooler covered in ice), and I think the taste will improve as it warms. Initial taste is reminiscent of a barley wine. Hints of dark cherry, cloves, malt, ...(letting it sit for a while to warm)... The flavor does improve as it warms. Same main tastes. Dark cherry seems most prevalent, but it doesn't taste like a lambic.

This has a very dry mouthfeel. It really puckers the tongue and roof of the mouth as if finishes. But it doesn't leave an aftertaste, just dryness. It is quite interesting, actually.

Interesting sums up this beer. I don't think I could drink a lot in a row, but I'm glad the Brooklyn Variety pack comes with two of these.

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Photo of SixpointJMH
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was glad to still see this one on tap (and a bit leery at the same time that it might be wasn't as far as I could tell) so I ordered up a pint.

It pours a nice murky brown colour with a faint head that leaves some residue on the glass.

The aromas are definitely winter/holiday reminiscent, as spice (cinammon, nutmeg and more) dominates but doesn't overpower as it is paired up nicely with a rugged malt backbone.

The flavour hits on the aroma quite effectively, with the afformentioned cinnamon and nutmeg hitting the palate throughout, along with notes of gingerbread and some chocolate from the malt. Alcohol was not really noticeable to me with this one. The mouthfeel was crisp but creamy as well and fit nicely.

I enjoyed this one and will definitely be looking for bottles come next holiday season. If you can still find it this one's definitely worth a try.

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Photo of WesWes
3.33/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a dark amber/brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a dry roasted malt scent with some caramel malt sweetness. It also boasts of nutmeg and cinnamon. The taste is decent also. It has a spicey flavor that is laid over crystal and roasted malts. It is more of a holiday beer than a winter warmer. It does boast an elevated abv. 7.2%, so I guess it warms you up. It's smooth and easy drinking, but relies too much on spice content. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is decent beer, but far from great. I think I'd rather have a good barleywine instead.

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Photo of yelterdow
3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Two of these were included in the "Brooklyn Beer Party" box... right now it's the only way to get it, unless you find it on tap somewhere. Purchased at Bottle King in Hillsdale, NJ.

Served in an oversize brandy snifter at cellar temperature. Alcohol by volume reads 6.9% on the bottle.

Appearance- Pours a medium bodied deep auburn, while a one finger head ascends and crests in a bone white color. Lacing is minimal, and the beer glows brilliantly and steadily.

Smell- Notes of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg intermingle along with a solid malt core... bracing and full. Spicy, and very aromatic.

Taste- Christmas whenever you want it to be... this beer sums it up completely. The dense malt backbone carries the spicy elements of gingerbready goodness with the nutmeg, vanilla, ginger, and holiday flavors very nicely. A dry, mellow finish feels right for the beer's context and showcases the hops briefly.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Slippery and viscous in the mouth, just enough for the complex array of malts and spices to fully accomplish their goals. After the flavors develop and unravel, the texture fades and quickly disappears. A relatively smooth sipper, best suited for by the fireplace on a chilly, late December night.

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Photo of Sammy
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Looks like an auburn brown old ale, droplets of lace, very thin head. Nutmeg, allspice, cinammon. Some chocolate malt, well balanced.Biere de gardish spice. Non-objectional aroma. Easy drink, thin body. Drying finish. A better than average beer. Thanks Dr. Jay.

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Photo of kpantz
3.28/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Executive Summary: A good winter ale, but lacks the qualities necessary to rate a standout. Brooklyn has far better offerings.

Appearance: Deep ruby-red/burgundy with a cream colored head that quickly dissipates to a frothy film.

Smell: Malty, with a bit of cinnamon, and perhaps some nutmeg and vanilla.

Taste: Very noticeable hop flavor, either. Malt backbone is clear, but I'm taken aback by the way the spices run out ahead of everything.

Mouthfeel: Very nice. Subtle carbonation and not too thin. Rests nicely on the tongue.

Drinkability: I'm not sure how many of these I'd be willing to knock back. The alcohol isn't overpowering, but the spice combination just doesn't hold my interest.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.3/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just a hint of spice appears in the nose and on the tongue in Brooklyn's Winter Ale, leaving it remarkably drinkable. It pours a clear deep-chestnut colored body with dark auburn highlights beneath a creamy hhead of beige. The head retention is fair and it leaves tiny spots and larger splashes of lace throughout the glass. The delicate holiday cookie spices blend marvelously with a note of cocoa, begging you to partake. In the mouth it's medium bodied and smooth with an appropriately restrained carbonation that lends to its "English" nature. The flavor delivers a more pronounced spice that the aroma does, and yet it's still remarkably muted as to not reveal itself completely. I'm guessing that it includes nutmeg and cinnamon, but it may also contain ginger, and even perhaps vanilla. The malt base is lightly cocoaish, and definitely toffee-like; backed with just enough bitterness to balance it. Impeccably rounded and well-balanced, this is a superb quaffer!!!

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Photo of evh883
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the one of the most flavorful winter warmer type beers that I have ever had. In the glass, it looks great. It has a medium-dark amber color with a small to moderate sized head that lingers for a little while. The aroma, which includes notes of honey, cloves, cinnamon, and burnt sugar is very nice. The flavor is complex with hints of vanilla, burnt sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Great mouthfeel that allows it to be a very drinkable beer which is great on cold days. I hope they make this one an annual product from now on.

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Photo of Franchise
3.91/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This offering pours a nice dark brown with red highlights throughout. The head starts thick and then disappears quickly although remaining with a thin lace on top of the brew. The nose of this brew is sugary, it has some carmalized sugar, brown sugar, toffee, and a dark fruit making the smell really complex. The taste is syrup smooth, with a sharp bitterness that is quickly dulled by the malty aspect of this brew leaving a sweet fruit coating on the throat. Love this offering from Brooklyn, to bad it is only in the Brooklyn 12 pack.

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Photo of MSchae1017
3.22/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer was tasted in a pint glass from a bottle.

This beer pours a brownish amber with a thin head that does not hold or lace well. The beer smells mostly of cinamon and spices. THe beer also tastes this same way without the presence of hops or barley malts. The beer is fairly thick with a good carbonation. Overall I do not find this overly drinkable because there is just too much spice.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.48/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark red with caramel tint. A half finger head that lasts over a minute and leaves little specks of lacing on the glass.

S - Faint caramel and diacetyl. A bit of nutmeg and allspice.

T - A slight sweetness, nutmeg, allspice, a little coffee and caramel apples. A lingering coffee bitterness on the back of the mouth. A warm cinnamon appears at higher temperature.

M - Smooth, thick and creamy, slightly refreshing too. Great mouthfeel.

D - The sweetness is light and the bitterness, although strong, isn't a deterent. A good winter ale that is easy to drink. Although, I have had it before and remember the taste and smell being more pleasant.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.15/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from Secret Santa AKSmokedPorter. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" tan head above the very dark reddish amber brew. Head quickly fades down to an uneven layer of bubbles, with ample bubbly lacing. Aroma is ample grains and spices. Taste is follows the nose, with malt sweetness giving way to spices and an alcohol warming close. Mouthfeel is creamy smooth, and drinkability is nice, especially for the style. Not one of those cloyingly sweet or over-spiced winter warmers here. Yum!

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Photo of apintofknowledge
4.5/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Cloverleaf Tavern in NJ... a total surprise when I found it on-tap that night, since I'm usually aware of what the new Brooklyn seasonal or Brewmaster's reserve will be. But what a great surprise it turned out to be.

Pours a deep dark reddish brown, a cola color, with a thin tan head. You can smell the roasted notes and the warm holiday spices about to come your way. The taste is just amazing... the wonderful spices of gingerbread and mulled cider meet the warm caramel & roasted character of a porter. Ah, this is everything I could want out of a spiced winter beer. And while some consider spiced beer to be a novelty, somehow the richer malts make the spice more palatable to me. I could really enjoy this as a session beer all night long, never tiring of it (although with it's high ABV, my evening might not last too long!)

If only I could get a growler of this, or better yet a six-pack. Please, Brooklyn Brewery, I know it's too late for this winter, but release this as a sixer next year to make my Christmas wish come true!

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Photo of DrJay
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark cherry/brown colour, clear, with a thin head. Some lacing from fine bubbles. Nutmeg and clove are quite forward in the aroma, with some smokiness in the background. Same spices in the flavour, maybe a bit of cinnamon as well. Things start out sweet, followed by spice and a bit of bitterness. It dries out by the finish and allows the spice and bitterness to linger, along with a hint of alcohol warmth. The body is medium/full, but falls away quickly before the finish. Palate coating. Low carbonation, but doesn't fall flat at all. One of the better winter ales I've had this season.

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Photo of Calico
3.77/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber with a very small head. Quite clear. A lot of ginger, a little nutmeg, and a little cinnamon in the nose along with malt.

In the taste, not a lot of hops. The spices dominate. Nice sparkly feel in the mouth. Slighlty citrusy. The finish is boring, though.

I'd be overjoyed if I brewed this myself. On the other hand, I wouldn't buy another Brooklyn twelver at $15.99 just to have this again. Quite pleasant and I'd have it on tap often if I lived there.

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Photo of bultrey
3.78/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

If ever there was a session winter warmer, this would be it. I wasn't blown away by the taste, but it has a silky smooth mouthfeel and dangerous drinkability. The taste is a bit spicy, like the Anchor Christmas ales, but more earthy rather than piquant spices -- I don't know, maybe mace and licorice. There is also quite a caramel maltiness, along with some fig pudding richness. Overall a winter warmer I would certainly order if available, but not make a special trip to seek out.

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Brooklyn Winter Ale (2005) from Brooklyn Brewery
Beer rating: 3.81 out of 5 with 45 ratings
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