Winter Warmer | Lancaster Brewing Company

very good
169 Reviews
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Winter WarmerWinter Warmer

Brewed by:
Lancaster Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.90%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our classic Olde Ale delivers a complex malt flavor and blend of British and American hops. True to its name, this beer finishes with a nice warming alcohol flavor.

Added by NeroFiddled on 11-10-2003

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Reviews: 169 | Ratings: 387
Photo of RonfromJersey
4.08/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A dark reddish-brown body which brightens considerably when held to the light. Three fingers of deeply dentable light tan foam for a head.

Bits of bread and cocoa sprinkled through a very low key nose.

Taste opens with a bit of roasted malt - a burnt sweetness akin to the crust of creme brulee (though it's no substitute for a good one). A sheet of earthy hoppiness arrives to sand the edge of the roasty sweetness and bring about some well adjusted balance. Slides gently away like a good winter fire.

Pleasant mouthfeel, and downright dangerous drinkability.

Another good beer from the resurgent Lancaster. If the draft products are indeed that much better than the bottled, a road trip is seriously in order.

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Photo of MaltyGoodness
4.08/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle

Pours a deep chestnut brown with some reddisg highlights. A creamy tan head thins, but doesn't fade away. Spotty lacing on the glass.

A very light malty aroma. I get some nutty and smoky aromas as well.

Nice caramel and nutty malt flavor followed by a distinct smokiness. Finishes with a fairly clean malty taste. Not even a hint of the alcohol.

Nice full body with a very creamy texture. Slides down with pleasure.

This is extremely drinkable. Lancaster's bottles are usually a poor representation of the draft versions. But, this is the best bottled brew I've had yet from Lancaster.

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

I sampled this brew with lunch while visiting with waldo567.
THe beer arrives in an english pint glass exhibiting a mahogany color with ruby highlights. There is a beige surface layer of head that fades quicklyto an edge layer. Aroma is malty caramel and toffee with some brown sugar too, fairly sweet overall and none of the expected spiciness.
The first sip reveals an average body with average carbonation. Flavor is sweet up front with toffee and caramel a hint of mild spice, maybe nutmeg, or maybe my imagination it is very mild in background.
A bit of grassy/herbal hops roll in towards the finish, but dont linger. Overall the beer is decent, but I would hope for some spice in a winter warmer. Would be a solid cask offering I think.

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Photo of Phatz
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is rating was not an intentional 4.0 across the board but it happened to end up that way. It is a solid, good winter warmer, but with nothing really special. An easy drinking beer that is not very distracting. BTW it is much better on-tap than in the bottle. I had it in the bottle a few weeks ago and it was ok but not terribly impressive. I had it on-tap tonight and I was happier with it, on location. Still, though it met all the criteria for a Winter Warmer it was a tad bit boring. Anyway, a solid 4.0 beer!

The appearance was a dark amber/brown almost mahogany in color. The smell was very malty and sweet. I got a bit of sugar and caramel and ever so slightly, a hint of spices but pretty subtle for a WW. The taste had hints of molasses and dark fruits buried in a toasty malty base. The mouthfeel is a medium weight that is mildly syrupy yet crisp as you swallow. Yes, it is a drinkable beer. Not interesting enough to stand on its own but not boring enough to burry under a meal. Perfect for after the appetizers and before the (with dinner) next beer.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of IceAce
3.47/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Twelve ounce bottle with no visible dating system

Pours a deep brown with a light tan collar of foam. Aroma is English style...deeply malty with earthy tones and hints of charred barley, coffee, and chocolate.

Entry is quiet with minimal carbonation and a slick mouthfeel. Midtaste features roasted malty goodness sticking to the back of the tongue with true English earthy undertones. The finish features a nice balance of hoppiness followed by coffee, chocolate, and a nice alcohol warming at the back of the throat.

A nice winter warmer for those looking to avoid the overdone hop-bombs and too-spicy wassales.

Many thanks to froggyfrog for hooking me up with this bottle!

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Photo of yelterdow
3.02/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A friend of mine brought this over tonight as a birthday surprise... part of a mixed sixer of holiday brews. Thanks, breeze... this one comes straight from the brewery itself.

Served in a Duvel tulip at just over fridge temperature, over the course of about 45 minutes.

Appearance- Deep caramel brown with slight reddish highlights, the head rising far above most "old ales" I have sampled. Even when still for several minutes, the thin but firm mat does not break or separate. There is a wonderful presence to this beer, and I can't wait to dig in.

Smell- Divine. Old, sweet, candied dark fruit, vanilla, and sugar blend seamlessly with leather and old books... I am amazed that Lancaster has created such an awesome nose for a Winter seasonal. This is what I love about tasting and rating new, unfamiliar beers... you never know when a blockbuster will surprise the shit out of you. As the beer approaches cellar temperature, a dark, sweet, malty character comes forth.

Taste- Spicy, vanilla laced malt notes take center stage, with a strange, cloying oversteeped tea backdrop. This started off so good, I hate to see it crumble before my taste buds. There is definitely a problem with the structure here, because the aroma would have you believe that a sweetness would follow up with big, candied malts and a mild bittering finish. Instead, the beer turns completely tannic and unpleasant in the mouth... to the point where I cannot go on.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Blah, nothing to enhance the flavors or overall experience of the beer. Almost completely nondescript, and fleeting.

This is the second time that a Lancaster brew has completely bombed in a tasting... the first being their Four-Grain Pale Ale. Maybe it's because of the all-natural ingredients... they might spoil rapidly. I remember really enjoying this beer last month, in a snifter, reading Garrett Oliver's book "The Brewmaster's Table". But tonight it flopped, a victim of who knows what.

Never have I rated a beer so highly on sight and smell, to have it dive below average on the Big Three categories. I am disappointed and sad for this unfortunate reality.

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Photo of Gavage
4.04/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours a clear reddish brown color. Super thick 3" fluffy tan head that lasts a long time. Nice lacing develops through the drink.

Smell: basic caramel and some floral hop bitterness.

Taste: this brew has a nice malty tone, with caramel, toffee, a hint of sweet chocolate, and just the right amount of bitterness to balance it out.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp at the start. Finish is more smooth, and the aftertaste is relatively short on malt and caramel tones. Between medium and heavy in body.

Drinkability: I found this beer to be very fresh, tasty, and easy drinking. Worth seeking out.

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Photo of mmmbeer
3.55/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. with no freshness date - lightly chilled in a snifter. It pours a dark brown with red tinges and a half-inch khaki head that leaves little lace. It smells earthy with smoky/nutty malts and maybe coffee and caramel. The taste follows suit with a mild bitterness, some sweetness, hints of alcohol, and a medium body. Not bad, but not terribly impressed, and not sure if I'd call it an old ale - all the earthy/smoked malts remind me of a Scottish. Hides the 8.9% very well though.

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
3.79/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a medium brown with a reasonable sized clumpy head of tan foam. The head dies back in a bit but leaves some very thick chunks of foam on the collar and good lacing on the inside of the glass.

The nose is a bit on the light side - a few notes of caramel and spice in there but it's surprisingly soft. No real roasted notes or hops to be found. Taste on the other hand was quite good; there was a pleasant mix of fruit, grain and spice to keep me engaged but thankfully it's not overpowering. The first hits are caramel, raisin and biscuit with compliments of vanilla, apple and cinnamon. There was a small hint of smoke and coffee in the background which was far from distracting - it actually helped ground the flavors. Moderately sweet but not cloying.

Mouthfeel was good - a medium bodied brew with some carbonation. No oily residue on the palate and while there wasn't much bittering from either hops or roasted malt the finish was still very clean. No alcohol burn at all - as a matter of fact I'm shocked to read this was an 8.9% brew.

Very drinkable winter beer with all the right notes that you'd hope to find in the style. Unlike many this beer doesn't go too far - it's intersting and complex without being overpowering or cloying.

[Thanks to IrishRedRock for sending this Lancaster brew out my way]

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought this recently as my "tour de winter" '05-'06, or in other words, as part of my winter beer selection for this year. Didn't know what quite to expect, as I'm not much of a winter beer drinker and have never tried an old ale before.

This beer poured a deep caramel brown, with the consistency of fairly flat soda. About a finger's worth of head formed and the lacing was wonderous to look at, even though it didn't stay on the side of the glass for very long. The taste was that of a very strong coffee and toffee flavor, with hints of malt, bitterness, and espresso mixed in for good measure. The package was true to form - no spices or preservatives, and it gives this brew a smooth and warming sensation without any gimmicks or cheap attempts to create it.

The aftertaste was alright - contrary to what some reviewers wrote on here, the 8.9% ABV is a bit discernable, but nothing overpowering or ruinous. A nice warmer, but nothing earth-shattering, and certainly able to take the chill off of a cold winter's day such as this one!

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Photo of blitheringidiot
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz'er reminding me NOT PASTUERIZED pours a mahogany brown burnished garnet hue topped with a quickly settled tan dense headcap, leaving a few spots of lace.

Aromas of doughy brown cake. Some ginger snap scents followed with a plentiful nutmeg and pine suggestion. Smells like Christmas!

First swigs: Caramely toasted malts. Spices of some cinnamon and carrot cake. Doughy and fresh. Plenty of spicy notes to kick around. A bit fluffy dry in the finish.

Feel is medium body with some tongue coating sugar linger.

Last swigs: Just a step away from a Pumpkin Ale. Not mind blowing but overall drinkable. Last years Lancaster WW was hot. This was not. Would give Anchor OSA a run for its money anyday.

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.27/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a sixer while in the area this past bummed I could not find time to chill at the source...would have loved this one on tap. Thanks to LBC for packaging this seasonal...allowing me to enjoy one at home.
Pours like a coca-cola...less than 1/4 finger of off-white head with very little lacing and the head disappears very rapidly.
Very inviting in the nose...sweet malt, raisins, a touch of smoke, and some vanilla extract to boot.
The taste is great...all of the above with just a warming hint of the alcohol up front. A hefty dose of malt to sweeten this one up and a gentle hop bitterness to dry it in the finish.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied and the carbonation is perfect...I had this on tap a year or so ago and it is everything I remember and more.
Solid offering and a nice representation for the style...will enjoy this one again soon.

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Photo of asabreed
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just bought a 6-pack for around $9 at my local market around the corner. I saw the 8.9%, the fact that it's a winter warmer, and considering the heat and my want for maybe something a bit sweet, I thought I'd snag it. Turns out it was a fantastic idea.

12 oz bottled poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: I do have to say, Lancaster is adamant about posting that they don't use preservatives or spices, and I really like that on the side of the 6-pack. That also made my decision a bit easier. In the glass it looks opaque at first, but then in the light shows a gorgeous dark amber, with some tiny bubbles floating to the top in the middle. Decent-sized head at about 1", though that fades, with some clumpy lacing toward the head near the top of the glass.

Smell: A lot going on here, with nothing too dominant and a pretty balanced aroma. Nuts, figs, dark malts, caramel, slight vanilla, slight toffee, vinous characteristics, and almost a brandy-like bit of alcohol floating up. Very very nice.

Taste: Almost right on toward the taste are all the aromas. Some plum and fig sweetness at first, then followed by some vanilla and maple, some of the brandy-like alcohol flavor, then onto some dark and toasted malts. Finishes with a chocolate malt sweetness, onto a chocolate malt bitterness and slight hops to close it out. Very complex and very much lacking the high alcohol taste I thought I'd be getting. This is quality stuff.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and silky to the max, with a pretty big body and fantastic finish. The carbonation levels stay the same the whole time, moderate but contributing completely to the silky feel of the brew. Pretty stellar.

Drinkability: I'm damn surprised that this beer's this good. I guess I just wasn't expecting it. For an Old Ale at nearly 9% ABV the alcohol's hidden (I actually would've guessed maybe 6% at the highest if I wouldn't have known) extremely well, and the brew is complex on all sides. I'm glad I took a chance, and if you see this around, I'd definitely say do the same.

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Photo of waughbrew
4.24/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A deep honeyish brown with a medium off-white creamy head that laces and lingers as a foamy ring. Smell is..oh hell yeah...malt. And more malt. Beautious huge gobs of toffee. Thick, lowly carbonated, and sweet. Balanced by plums and dark wood, this is just sweet enough. Alcohol is not tasted, but is noticed in the feel and finish. Nutty and very smooth. I would choose this over 80% of old ales and barleywines. This is real nice.

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Photo of merlin48
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The last bottle in the local craft brew package received from woodychandler.
Appearance is a dark mahogany or chestnut, almost opaque, that exhibits some clear garnet hues when held to a strong light. One finger beige head eventually falls into a persistent collar of lace that deposits sheets and patches all over the pint glass.
Aroma is complex, with notes of cherry and apple peel, as well as dark fruity raisins and plums. Notes of smoked malts, bitter chocolate, floral and herbal hops, and freshly sliced ginger root add to the interesting bouquet.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with medium carbonation. Some astringent bitterness shows up here.
Taste opens with fruity red apple and cherry notes, but quickly turns to the bitter side, with harsh ginger root and freshly ground pepper. Dark fruits and toffee notes accompany the procession of flavors. No hint of the high abv. Finish is bitter on the spicy side.
Very interesting for style. Well constructed, and exuding of quality, but I prefer a maltier profile with sweeter spices for a winter ale. I'm also missing the alcohol warming that others have noted. I'm certain that I would enjoy this one better on a cold winter night, instead of a hot August evening.

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Photo of assurbanipaul
3.25/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark oaky brown with a thin tan head. Aroma is rich, spicy malts with some raisins, dark fruit and a hint of cocoa. No date or year; I assume this is from the past winter season.

Taste is dark, roasty malts and spice. Nice bready flavors of spice cake, pumpernickel, some chocolate, more raisins and burgundy. Fair amount of cola and chocolate malt elements, good in a stout, probably more than I'd like in a seasonal.

Mouthfeel is light for a winter warmer, which would be medium for most other beer. Easy to drink, a mere hint of the alcohol in the aftertaste. A good beer, a beer I'd drink again, but not a great beer.

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

Pours a murky brown color, with a thin, wispy tan head. Alcohol and roasted malt aroma, with a background of wood, ripe fruit, and spice. The flavor is of molasses, brown sugar, and scorched malt. Alcohol warming kicks in pretty early. There’s not a lot of hops in this brew. Instead, it relies on the alcohol and roasted flavors for balance. A little sweet in the front, but not overly so. It’s fairly full in body, with moderately-low carbonation. This would warm me on a winter night.

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Photo of watermelonman
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This poured to a very dark purple and red color. The head was medium but faded pretty quickly, and there's no lace.

The smell lets through a slight hint of fruit under a good deal of alcohol. The taste is similar, bringing dark fruits up front and adding a good festive hop kick. The mouthfeel is pretty sharp. Still, it's not too hard to drink.

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Photo of Dithyramb
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased at Wells just the other day to help keep me warm during our late winter storms. Quiet winter scene--with an applicable snowflake--on the label with no expiration or born on dating
Pours a deep wood brown with not too much head or carbonation
Sweet and fruity malt aromas
Molasses and caramel malts are the main flavors. Has very faint bitterness and alcohol profile. Unlike a lot of the warmers out there, this one is subtle and nice, without the knock-you-down spice flavors that destroy your tongue for the evening. Therefore, this is not your standard Xmas beer, but one that will adequately keep you warm at night.
Has a medium mouthfeel with lingering sweet malt tastes. Overall, I had this brew a few months back on tap at Thirsty’s in York and liked it better that way. However, the low spice profile and nice candy sweetness would have me finishing the sixer.

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Photo of santoslhalper
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearence: Pours a near-perfect, clear burgunday with a thin beige head.

Smell: The smell is not too over-the-top spicy like most Winter Warmer's I've had. And I'm glad.

Taste and Mouthfeel: As with the smell, I'm glad this isn't very spicy. While I'm not a big fan of this style, this is an enjoyable tasting beer. The spices stay in the background and blend well with the malts. The alcohol volume gives it just enough kick to make it a killer sipping beer. The mouthfeel is a little thin.

Drinkbality and Overall: Definitly a great beer to drink while snowed in. Strong, powerful, and still incredibly pleasent. The alcohol gives it just the right amount of kick to keep you drinking, without being overboard. If Lancaster can continue to produce beers of this quality, they will be on the path to greatness.

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Photo of KoG
4.52/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown with a ruby background and a light, frothy head. Leaves light lacing and keeps head around the edge.

Smells of coffee and fruit. Intriguing smell but very inviting nonetheless.

Taste is very well rounded. Hop flavors blend with coffee and roasted barley followed by a sweeter malt. Finishes a bit fruity with a hop flare. No presence of alcohol and a very interesting Winter Warmer interpretation.

Goes down smooth and can be very drinkable, although the ABV may catch up at 8.9%.

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Photo of Fish113d
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pouring from a growler to a pint glass, it left a nice 2 cm milky, creamy head at the surface with nice latticework on the sides of my glass. The cascading to the top was beautiful to watch as well! It was a mahogany-red color (almost maroon) and looked very clean.

Upon smelling it, I got the sense of some sweet plums and caramel malts. Even some chocolate malts came to the surface as well, which made things seem very interesting. I also found some SLIGHT hoppy aromas as well.

Taking the first sip, I could taste the caramel and the plummy taste right away. Also, the chocolate malts come through in the middle of my palette. A nice, sweet, alcohol swallow finishes this beer off with a slight plum aftertaste, which was pretty decent.

Mouthfeel- The carbonation hits the tip of my tongue right away, but the smooth malts help coat my tongue with yummy goodness. The alcohol leaves a slight warming feeling in my belly along with a slight slight burn on the way down the back of my throat.

I loved this beer enough to buy a growler of it at Lancaster, and I recommend having a pint or two to anyone loving seasonals!

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Photo of hungryghost
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this at a holiday tasting.
Poured a dark ruby color, not big enough a glass to properly test the head.
Aroma is complex with winter spices, orange, and sweet pine kinda.
I get a taste of malt that did not really hit me in the scent. This Winter warmer is smooth and still full bodied, with possibly a tiny hop finish. It finishes dryer than expected.
The entire experience is a good one, but I must move on after two samples. There are others to try this day.
What can I say, these guys never fail to impress me...

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Photo of woodychandler
4.45/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer arrives with a thick, foamy tan head that, much like many of LNC BC's offerings, just dissipates much too quickly. It has a very malty nose with much evidence of an underlying alcohol content. As it warmed, it begins to give off a smell of carmel and/or candi sugar. The color is a deep reddish-brown bordering on mahogany. The mouthfeel is very thick, as well as being intensely sweet as well as noticably hot. The finish is where it really stands out. This is an extremely complex beer for LNC BC, displaying notes of sherry, dark chocolate, and cherries. Very tasty!

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.18/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured crystal clear deep amber brown. The head was off-white, frothy and lasted low to lace the glass.

The aroma was malty with a deep caramel presence. A prominent biscuit aroma was present with some fruity esters and slight molasses presence.

The flavor was malty and bready with molasses flavors. The beer was quite fruity and the end result of the deep dark caramel and fruitiness was a nicely complex beer. As the beer warms an interesting chocolate flavor emerges which only bring additional complexity. The bittering was well achieved to balance the maltiness.

The finish was just barely dry with an interesting fruity malty chocolate impression that continues to dry out over time. The body was medium full to full and well accomplished. There was a definite alcohol warming that occurred after the beer was consumed.

12 ounce bottle. I don't really know anything about this beer, but if the aroma could be more in tune with the flavor this beer would be a force indeed! The website says it is an Old Ale. At a $1.59 a bottle, this one was a steal...

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Winter Warmer from Lancaster Brewing Company
3.77 out of 5 based on 387 ratings.
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