Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) | Heavy Seas Beer

very good
517 Reviews
Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale)Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale)

Brewed by:
Heavy Seas Beer
Maryland, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by pezoids on 02-17-2004

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Reviews: 517 | Ratings: 1,000
Photo of nrpellegrini
2.34/5  rDev -39.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Bottle poured to pint glass.

A: clear brown color, 2 finger light tan head
S: very hoppy
T: very hoppy, spices, sweet, bitter bite, sore aftertaste
M: heavy, thick, spices sting your mouth
D: very hard, filling

I anticipated this beer to be amazing, but after trying it I think it's awful. I guess its just another heavy thick beer I can't handle.

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Photo of Dmorrison
2.4/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Drinking this beer reminded me of smoking a clove cigarette. The mouthfeel was nice and solid, like other Heavy Seas beers, but a bit too chewy. I like this kind of chewy feel in Heavy Seas' Weizenbock, where it combines with banana, molasses and light spice. In Winter Storm, it combines with an overpowering range and intensity of spice. I didn't find it to be a pleasant experience.

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Photo of thagr81us
2.56/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served from tap into a sampler tumbler. Poured a dark red-orange with a half finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, wood, and wheat. The flavor was of sweet malt, nutty, wheat, alcohol, perfume, and bitter hops. It had a light feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall I really wasn't too impressed with this one. There was something about the combination of the flavors going on in this one that really turned it off to my palate. I even let others try it and they agreed that something was off on the flavor of this one that wasn't very palate pleasing. Glad I finally got to tick it, but doubt I will be having it again.

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Photo of warmstorage
2.58/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I'm baffled: this isn't like any DIPA I've ever had.

EDIT: another BA who knows a lot about the brewery has clarified that it's supposed to be an ESB, and it seems that the BA listing for this beer has been modified to reflect this. As such, I've gone through my review and re-reviewed another bottle as an ESB.

12 ounce bottle.

Color is medium to deep red/copper. Maintains an average white head, minimal lacing, with average to slightly high carbonation.

Aroma is a malty grain sweetness, with limited or no hops present. EDIT: score from 2.0 to 2.5, but only just barely: I wish a 2.25 were available.

Some hop bitterness tasted, with caramel notes and a slightly harsh and slightly unpleasant metallic note. More of that sweet grain taste, and hints of toastiness. Where are the hops? EDIT: a less pronounced hop body is more appropriate for an ESB, but it remains lacking of any distinct hop body, which even an ESB should have. However, the sweet malt presence and more balanced hop bill are more acceptable. Edited score: from a 2.0 to a 2.5.

I dunno: maybe I got a bad bottle, but I can't find the "pure hop power" their website advertises, or that others seem to have tasted. Just a deeply mediocre American strong ale style. I'll try another bottle, and see if it confirms or denies.

EDIT: my second reviewed bottle, from the same six pack, remains pretty mediocre. It's not bad per se like I thought it was when it was supposed to be a DIPA, but the Clipper City website continues to claim "pure hop power" which simply isn't here, nor is the claimed "floral and aromatic... hop character"... Edited score for "drinkability": 2.0 to 2.5

I have now found a press release on their website that claims the Category 5 is meant to be an "Imperial ESB". Well, this isn't quite as bizarre as a DIPA/Imperial IPA, but I think it remains a serious overblowing of this beer. It's got a decent malt body and sweet malt character, but the hop bill continues to seem that of a basic bitter (i.e., drowned out by the malt bill.)

I will continue to give this brewery a chance, which won't be hard, as I travel to the DC area several times a year. But based on this single beer, I'll go in with a little bit of healthy doubt.

With regard to my initial review, I'm somewhat troubled by other reviewers of this beer who seem to have just accepted that it was a DIPA per BA's initial (and apparently incorrect) description of it as such, or accepted the "pure hop power" propaganda of the brewery, and reviewed it based on this. I'm not going to call anyone out by handle/name, but please: those of you who raved, or even approved, of this beer as a DIPA, try a few good examples of the style, and then re-review. (Suggestions: Pliny the Elder, Great Divide Hercules, Rogue I2PA, AleSmith YuleSmith, etc.)

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Photo of yelterdow
2.64/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

I'm revisiting this offering almost two years later... got a fridge full of beers, and I've got a little free time tonight.

Best by February 2008, I've got the bull by the horns.

Appearance- Very impressive... clear and deeply russet, with just a touch of chill haze and bottle conditioned yeast. The head, still two fingers tall, is craggy and stalwart and looks real mean. Already the lacing is clinging like tape to the inside of the glass. Damn good looking beer.

Smell- Rich and full on the nose, the malts are leaping out of the glass with an earthiness and a suggestion of mineral water. As the beer comes to temperature it becomes less desirable and overly pungent.

Taste- Damn... layers and layers of intensity here, starting clean and malty and becoming sharp and wickedly bitter in the finish. The hops are flogging my tongue, becoming more dangerous as the beer goes down.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Excellent texture... small foamy mouthfeel, active enough to support the malts and hops. The beer itself overall is oversteeped and overhopped for the style, and for a winter beer, it could use a lot more balance from the malts.

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Photo of mcolmsted67
2.75/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Too bitter at the back of my palate. Not an ale for my taste. All other aspects were very good. The aroma of the freshly opened bottle was very hearty and pleasant. At first the taste was nutty like most ales but the overwhelming bitterness was too much. Might be an ale to be paired with food... Probably not buy this product again.

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Photo of Jesse13713
2.8/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Best by date in February

Appearance - Pours a clear caramel with a red hue. Slight transparent with no head and poor lacing.

Smell - Slight chocolate notes covered by barley malts. Not very bitter or hoppy smelling. Slight grassy hints.

Taste - Tastes like ice was melted to make the water used in this beer. It tastes crisp and purified. Slightly bitter with spice notes. The flavor is slightly hard to describe here. Quite a bitter alcoholic swallow.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability - A slight crisp hot that still tastes like the water was melted from ice. I liked this beer a little more than I anticipated.

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Photo of Rudgers73
2.85/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I don't really agree with this beer's classification. I think of it as a strong winter warmer. It has all of the characteristics of a winter warmer, just a percent or two more alcohol by volume.

Deep ruby red color, milky tan head that subsides after a minute or two into a small, blotchy dusting. Slight carbonation. The aroma is slightly malty with an overriding dirty/spicy hop affect. Piny hop resin and a very hidden chocolate malt smell. Overall I didn't like the taste of this beer. Its all big hops with very little balance. It leaves a parched, bitter feeling and it accumulates throughout the drink. Not my kind of beer.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.85/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Look what I found buried in the fridge! 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a clear chestnut color. There's about two fingers worth of pale yellow head, featuring a soft texture and good retention. As it fades, some lacing is left behind.

S: It smells...like an ESB. The malt profile here is quite nutty, with just a hint of chocolate; and even for an old bottle, there is a bit of a hoppy kiss. Earthy hops, in this case. There's also something funky I can't put my finger on. It doesn't really excite me, even for an ESB.

T: At first, the malts come through with some nutty, fruity, and even (occasionally chocolaty) notes. The malt backbone works decently considering I don't like the maltiness of this style. Before I know it, a wave of generic hop bitterness closes this one. The only hop flavor I really note is a touch of ginger. I actually don't mind this one having generic bitterness, because ESB. It's the jarring transition between the malt and the hops that gets me.

M: Creamy and soft, yet dry on the back end. It's pleasantly carbonated, as well. No real trouble with the mouthfeel - it's more of the flavors that support the feel that raises my indifference.

O: It's nice to have your expectations met. Before reviewing this, I thought "meh, ESB"; and after finishing this, I thought "meh, ESB." I didn't particularly enjoy this one, but that's due to my dislike of the style.

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Photo of InkedinRi
2.9/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I was not crazy about this beer. Poured a dark copper with what looked to be something like yeast floating as thick as a snow glob. Taste was watery with a alcohol after taste. Over all a poor beer.

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Photo of nhindian
2.91/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a Delirium Noel snifter.

A - Pours a robust mahogany, almost deep ruby color, crystal clear with some streams of carbonation. Only garners about a finger's worth of head with alright retention. Lots of lacing spackles the glass, however.

S - Smell is sweet and malty up front with some caramel to it. Slight traces of bittering hops, but altogether not very aromatic.

T - Taste is a bit underwhelming. Malts are bready yet shortlived and give way to the more noticeable English hops in the profile really shine. As in the nose it's a quick one-two punch of malts and hops and then... a relatively long, bitter finish.

M - Mouthfeel is medium with moderately low carbonation. Thus, it gains a bit of smoothness and cream texture, but the bitter finish is a stark contrast.

D - Drinkability is moderate. The flavors, while there, are decent, but disappear much too quickly in lieu of the bitterness and overall, I would best describe this beer as relatively bland.

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Photo of gordavidson
2.95/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- An amber brown, slightly cloudy beer with a thin white head that leaves moderate lacing as it slides down the side of the glass.

S- Carmely, roasty, and a little earthy. The alcohol is definitely noticeable here.

T- Earthy malts and booze with some hops. Sweet with just a little hint of cinnamon flavor. I am not enjoying how prevalent the alcohol is here at all.

M- Clean, but a little metallic. The carbonation is good.

D- Boozy and not really all that interesting to me. This is kind of rich but not all that complex.

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Photo of peabody
2.98/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out a nice clear dark reddish brown and the suds are white and one finger thick. No lacing to speak of.
I smell hops and sugar and berries. Caramel and malt.
Taste is hoppy to bland. Not much going on with the palate.
Mouthfeel is a bit dirty but so subtle on the hops that you wonder if this is an IPA.
drinkability would be higher if this were a better tasting brew.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz bottle into dimpled mug. Poured a transparent honey brown/amber pour with creamy bubbly off-white head with sticky lacing and soft carbonation. Very sweet and fresh earthy hop aroma. Flavor is of a slow starting, but ultimately potent grapefruit and pine hop finish; the alcohol is well hidden. Medium bodied on the palate with a nice bitter drag; soft with the decent amount of carbonation.

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Photo of TheKingofWichita
3/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clear deep orange copper color with a thick off white/ slightly yellow head with a small amount of lacing. Smells of caramel malts and a little floral and bitter hops. Tastes much the same. Tons of bitterness from the hops and a slight sweetness from the malts. A little alcohol. The beer is medium bodied and has a small amount of carbonation. Somewhat easy to drink.

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Photo of Frosty80
3.04/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color: pours copper. sits slightly dark copper with a ruby hue. excellent clarity

Smell: not getting much of ANYTHING. just a very light, slightly sweet aroma. no strong malt OR hop presence. both seem to cancel each other out

Taste: again, nothing distinctive. no obvious hop flavors that stand out. same with malt.

im not even going to finish reviewing this beer and save myself some headache trying to pick it apart. very disappointed. i LOVE just about everything these guys do but i gotta say this fell hard on its face. not sure why. the last beer i just got done reviewing was of similar structure so its not like my buds were like a deer in headlights from an enormous blast of hops, but perhaps ill still give them the benefit of the doubt and come back to this beer again some time.

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Photo of MmmIPA
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear reddish body with a off white head that fell fast.Hops in the nose.Hops are the first taste but the malt keeps them from jumping out at ya.Its a pleasent taste.This stuff is a bit thin but good, im not complaing.I have never had a bad Clipper Seas offering.Its great to taste that the East Coast still has it as far as brewing.Kudos to Clipper Seas.

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Photo of Jwaks
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Two fingers worth of bone white brown head sits atop a translucent dark, cherry-finish colored beer. Moderate lacing clings to the glass above a thnning ring of retained head.

The muted and reticent nose reveals only a hint of malt, some autumnal, nutty scents and floral bitterness.

Pleasant roasted malt flavors are masked by bitterness upon entry eventually becoming dominated by dry floral hop bitters from mid palate to finish.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin and below average and drinkability is just a hair below average due to a high-toned bitter mid-palate.

A commendable attempt at an ESB, but it begs for a bit more balance, body and malts to balance the hop bitters.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into DFH pint glass. Appearance is a deep reddish amber with desne micro bubbles up top and a coating left behind on the sides of the glass. The aroma skews in the direction of herbal with notes of spruce, pine, and molasses. Taste is pretty sweet with more molasses and spruce. The sweetness doesn't give way to any bitterness and is very sweet all the way to the finish. Not really getting the ESB quality here, this tastes much more like a winter warmer (Which is what the name implies as well). The mouthfeel is smooth and somewhat heavy. Overall, I don't feel that this qualifies as an ESB, and it definitely leans towards the sweet side. I would pass on this.

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Photo of AndoBrew
3.08/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

*did not like will not buy again*

App: dark copper ruby clear with cream tan head, nice and thick looking head.

smell: smells like a dipa, hops sweet malts.. nothing special or different, nothing bad.

taste: very different for a dipa, it is like a dipa meets a brown ale.
more of a dry brown toasted malt flavor, a warming booze in the throat. it is also got some sweets and of course hops. really nice balance to it all! different but good flavors and a good balance?? this could be a really nice beer.

well actually its kinda boaring.

good dipa, sharp citrus hops, mild sweet malts.. same ole thing, its not bad sept for a really SHARP with a low flavor hop thing.

mf: bright, nice.

drinkable?: less than I was first thinking. it really gets hard to drink as you go.

this seemed neat but then got rough.. this is why you need more than a couple sips to review a beer. It just does not have the flavor to pull its own weight.

its an okie beer. there are much better examples.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.1/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I picked up a bottle of Heavy Seas Winter Storm a couple weeks ago for $1.69 at The Lager Mill. I haven't had any Winter Warmers this season so I thought I would give this one a try and see how it goes, after looking it up I see it's an ESB and not a Winter Warmer, I like ESB's so it's all good but the name led me to think that this was a Winter Warmer. The bottle was notched February 2012. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a imperial pint glass.

A- The label on this beer looks ok and it's a little plain, similar to all the smaller format beers from Clipper City. It poured a very dark amber color that is bordering on being brown and it had a half a fingers worth of white head that quickly died down to a very thin ring. The color is nice, but the head is disappointing.

S- The aroma is pretty simple and straight forward. It starts off with loads of sweet caramel malts that are pretty sweet and impart a brown bread aroma along with some caramel and molasses. There is also a light amount of grassy hops. The aroma is all about the malts which have a sweet candy like aroma.

T- Just like the aroma this beer is all about the malts, but it's not nearly as sweet as the aroma lead me to believe. It starts out with loads of caramel malts that had a low amount of sweetness and imparted a very grainy and brown bread like flavor. After that comes the hops which show up more then they did in the aroma but are still pretty light and they impart of mixture of earthy an piney flavors. The finish had a light amount of bitterness to it with a grainy and earthy aftertaste. I would have liked a little less malts and more hops.

M- Smooth, slightly dry, on the light side of being medium bodied and it had a light amount of medium carbonation. A good mouthfeel for an ESB.

Overall I thought this was a pretty average ESB that really didn't interest me that much. The flavor was heavy on the malts, the malt profile wasn't bad, it just needed more hops to balance it out and it needed more bitterness. I could probably drink a couple of these, but the flavor is a little dull and doesn't hold my attention so I doubt I would want to drink more then one. What I liked most about this beer was the mouthfeel, it was pretty spot on for an ESB. What I liked least about this beer was the lack of hops in this beer, the aroma and taste could have benefited from more hops, the malts are just too dominating for an ESB. I don't think I would buy this beer again, I would much rather have Saugatuck's or Short's ESB. If your a big fan of ESB's you may find this beer disappointing, but if you like malty beers this may be worth a try. I haven't had a whole lot of experience with ESB"s but the ones I have had had a much better hop presence and that's where this beer was lacking. This isn't a bad beer but i just didn't do anything for me, it seems like I have much better luck with the mutiny fleet instead of the smaller format bottles. A pretty meh beer and so far my least favorite ESB, I am starting to think that the better beers from Clipper City come in the Mutiny fleet since I have yet to be impressed by their 12oz bottles.

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Photo of atlason
3.11/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Growler from Whole Foods poured into tulip.

A: Ample head and great lacing. Dark amber colour.

S: Sweet malts dominate the nose of this dark bitter. Warm nuttiness.

T: Aromatic herbal hops on top of toasted malts. Fairly heavy, light toasted caramel notes. Alcohol is very obvious and a bit of a negative. Slight butter, which is fine in the style.

M: Relatively light mouthfeel due to dryness and strong alcohol. Carbonation is low, which is OK for the dry beer.

Overall it is a bit too bold for a bitter in my book. Still a fairly pleasant winter drink.

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Photo of maybrick
3.12/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured the bottle right after removing it from the 'fridge. I let it settle a bit and noted a nice head retention. Holding it up to the light I observed a copper to orange color tinge to another wise dark brown brew. The taste is pretty good with notes of pine, citrus fruit.

The finish is crisp and has good bittering. Overall, not too bad.

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Photo of wangbruins
3.12/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Opaque burnt orange with a thin head that's dotted here and there with leftover carbonation

S- Flowery and earthy with pine and some light citrus

T- Very earthy with minimal citrus and a flowery aftertaste

M- Thin and weak with a slight, almost unnoticeable aftertaste

D- It's okay but very thin and unimpressive. It's not as bold as the bottle lead me to believe

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Photo of crashoveride
3.12/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Was poured into a pint glass from a 12oz. bottle. It poured a light amber/copper color with a very small head that disappeared as I drank it. The smell was of sweet hoppy notes maybe a little caramel as well. The taste was a little disappointing as it did not live up to the smell and up to imperial ESB expectations. With that said the drinkability was also average as it left a little dryness at the finish.

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Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) from Heavy Seas Beer
3.84 out of 5 based on 1,000 ratings.
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