Moonlight Brewing Company

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Winter Warmer
Ranked #40
Ranked #13,730
4.03 | pDev: 9.93%
Moonlight Brewing Company
California, United States
Very Good
Notes: Adjective in front of the name changes each year.
Reviews: 14 | Ratings: 26
Photo of John_M
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Barclay's tonight.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The aroma profile is intense (typical for moonlight brewing), with coffee and dark chocolate, completely dominated by licorice and some underlying mint. The flavor profile replicates the nose, with once again, the licorice and coffee really dominating. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, with a fairly long, smooth, slightly creamy, licorice dominated finish. The beer starts out with some sweetness, but there's some underlying hoppy bitterness that counters that sweetness very well. Alcohol is hard to gauge in this beer... I guess the 6% makes sense, but it could have been 8% or 9% and I'd have never been the wiser.

Not sure this beer is exactly my cup of tea, but there's no denying the quality of the product. Just another well made, well crafted effort from the folks at Moonlight brewing.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Served a dark black color with a touch of red mixed in and a finger of frothy chocolate colored head atop. The head fades down very slowly leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted chocolate and caramel malts with some earthy hops and some holiday spices mixed in.

T - Starts off with some roasted chocolate malts with some earthy hops in the background. Through the middle some light bitterness comes through with some caramel malt sweetness and some holiday spices. The finish is a mix of earthy hops, caramel and chocolate malts, and some light holiday spices.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet and dry finish.

D - Very drinkable. The spices are at a very nice level as they are noticeable, but do not take over like they do in many winter warmers. The earthy hops also compliment the spices and the malt flavors well.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Toronado

A: The pour is quite a dark brown color with a finger of off-white/khaki colored head.

S: Smells like what I expect from a winter warmer. Very reminiscent of some of the (good) vintages of Anchor OSA. Lots of pine, spice, and chocolate with a bit of a roasted malt character.

T: The flavor is good as well. Lots of malt flavor that is somewhat roasty and a fair amount of chocolate. There's some caramel and molasses, too. There's a good herbal/spice quality (perhaps juniper?) and a touch of pine.

M: The body is medium and the carbonation is low to medium. Pretty smooth and somewhat creamy.

D: A well done winter seasonal from Moonlight. Really easy to drink my pint of and wouldn't mind having this again.

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Photo of largadeer
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Gourmet Haus Staudt. Clear caramel brown, opaque in the center with translucent edges. Smells like Christmas tree, dark chocolate, toasted biscuits. There's a lot of resiny, sappy pine flavor, along with a firm backbone of biscuit-like toasted and caramelized malt. Fairly dry and quaffable with a medium-full texture. The finish displays a lot of pine and herbal bitterness. Quite an exceptional little winter warmer.

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Photo of nickd717
3.47/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Zeitgeist in SF on New Years Eve, labeled as "XXXMas."

Dark brown in color with a small off-white head.

Aroma is roast, earth, spices, and pine and citrus hops.

Flavor is not bad but a bit unbalanced, not melding to well together. Roasted malt, chocolate, caramel, earth, spices, and lots of pine/citrus hops.

Medium-plus body with a fairly slick mouthfeel and low carbonation.

Overall this is a decent beer, but drinkability is not great.

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Photo of cptierney
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Flavor Bistro in about a 10oz or so pour.

This beer cut a striking figure with a warm brown color that gave way to very little light. The top was crowned with a solid two fingers of hearty brownish foam. The lacing was substantial as the brew disappeared.

The nose had an edge of brown ale to it. While there were definitive notes of pine tree bitter, the major scent was of sweet malts. the warm sweetness was slightly reminiscent of dark fruits and made for an inviting picture.

The mouthfeel was surprisingly light and it drank right at its ABV. The carbonation was consistent and enlivening and served as a pleasant delivery vehicle.

This warmer was sweet forward, with each sip containing hints of caramel, and a touch of maple syrup. The bittering was really secondary and just showed up enough to make for a balanced overall picture.

Moderate marks for drinkability as the beer became a sipper toward the end as its sweet nature made me question another. As a one off though, this was a truly enjoyable drinking companion.

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Photo of mjl21
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Toronado. Poured into a pint glass.

A-Pours a very dark brown with a one finger sandy head that breaks down to a smallish ring at a brisk pace. Leaves some nice lacing.

S-It has a big roast malt nose with noticeable coffee aromas. There is also a touch of sweet malt.

T-It starts with roast malt and a little bit of sweet malt. In the middle I pick up on ripe banana, vanilla, and pine hops. The roast flavor returns at the end. As it warms it does become sweeter.

M-It is a very smooth beer and has a light carbonation level.

D-Not as heavy as it looks. I like that it is a winter beer that is not spiced with the usual suspects (nutmeg, clove, allspice, etc.).

I really enjoyed this one. Lots of flavor and a nice change of pace from the other winter warmers I have consumed this year. Worth checking out, especially if you like Death and Taxes or Bony Fingers.

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Photo of Offa
4.63/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this finally on tap at Toad in the Hole, Santa Rosa. This is an excellent, complex, full-bodied, but balanced winter-warmer type.

Deep, deep red-brown, almost black, it has a fairly big, dense, creamy dark tan head that shrinks very, very slowly to a permanent, creamy top about 1/2 inch thick, leaving excellent rings of rich lace down the glass.

Aroma is a but subdued, but has firm toasty, character with burnt grapefruit, molasses, caramelised fruit.

The taste is similar, rich toasty-burnt fruit qualities like a stronger stout but not quite so roasty, with burnt orange, caramelised fruit (prunes, etc.) hints of molasses, bittersweet chocolate, and toast. It has excellently balanced sweetness and bitterness throughout, nice well-wounded, well-integrated, balanced and complex character, very consistent and drinkable. It is solid and full-bodied without being overly heavy.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.97/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Flavor Bistro in Santa Rosa.

A: Very dark brown, almost black with reddish brown highlights. No head, thin disk, though.

S: Hoppy with a bitter, very dark roasted bitterness. Hops, espresso, dark, unsweetened chocolate; in ways, it resembles a hoppy pilsener.

T/M: Opens up with a sharp pine bitterness coupled with a very roasty flavor that's almost burnt. Some espresso and chocolate, not very creamy, though. Tons of carbonation and with a dry, bitter finish, this is solid.

D: Enjoyable, maybe a little more bitter than I'd like, though.

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Photo of ojclark
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draft at Zeitgeist, San Francisco. New Years Day, 2008.

Aroma of dark malt with some chocolate notes. Aroma was fairly subtle overall. Poured black with dark brown highlights when held up to light. Not much head aside from a small ring of tan foam. Flavors of very dark malts and bitterness in the forefront. Some piney/citric hop flavor in the background. Some caramel notes and lingering hop flavor and bitterness in the finish. Subtle alcohol in flavor as well. Beer was served fairly cold to begin with. As it warmed, some spice notes (not initially apparent) came out as well, mainly nutmeg and cinnamon.

Medium-bodied, moderate carbonation. Slight alcohol warmth in finish along with some dryness and astringency.

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Photo of Mark
3.84/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A very dark beer, almost stout like in darkness. No head or lacing but color warranted at least a 3.0. Very hoppy nose, inviting. Sharp hoppy taste bordered on medicinal, hints of citrus tried to come through. This offering from Moonlight was not near my favorite. it is a decent sipping beer for a cold day. Exactly when my favorite beer drinking is done but this beer let down just a bit.

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Photo of watermelonman
4.37/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This came as an extremely dark and thick black with minimal head and lace. The smell brings big spices on top of a nice mix of hops and roasted malts. Roasted malt dominates the front of the taste and then gives way to some spice and then hops complete the finish. The mouthfeel is hefty and pleasing while drinkability is good.

Part strong stout, part winter warmer, this is a winner.

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Photo of Denali
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Toronado.

Presentation: Standard pint glass.

Appearance: Dark brown/black with slight tan head.

Smell: Very spicy aroma, along with dark malts.

Taste: Dark malt flavors hit up front. This is followed by a sweet brown sugar like flavor, and then followed with nutmeg/cinnamon flavors. Finishes with hops to balance everything out. Not too spicy and really well balanced. Nice flavor timeline.

Mouthfeel: Lightly carbonated.

Drinkability: Great drinking beer. I could easily have many of these in a row.

Comments: The Moonlight website lists this beer as a winter seasonal "Dark Strong Ale". I always have one of these when I go to the Toronado. Love the spicy touch and easy drinking. I'm glad its still on, but don't know how long it will last, since it is a winter seasonal. Get it while it lasts.

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Photo of rkhaze
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Winter seasonal on-tap at Barclays in Oakland. Poured a dark brown cola color with a small dense head. Left good lace.
Aromas of roasted malt, spicy hops and some red fruits.
Earthy, tangy roasted malt upfront with a slight molasses sweetness. The red fruit made a subtle appearance in there but more in the way of red licorice, but not so sweet. Perhaps a hint of cinnamon as well. Good spicy hop bitterness that lingered on.
Soft rich full mouthfeel. Full bodied. Good drinkability.
The bartender didn't know the ABV but guessed around 8%.
I would have to say that was definitly in the ballpark.

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Tipple from Moonlight Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 26 ratings