Winter Storm Imperial ESB | Heavy Seas Beer

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Winter Storm Imperial ESBWinter Storm Imperial ESB
Very Good
1,056 Ratings
Winter Storm Imperial ESBWinter Storm Imperial ESB

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:
Formerly Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale)

Added by stirgy on 02-17-2004

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,056 |  Reviews: 533
Photo of Junglejon
1/5  rDev -73.7%

Photo of Bacardi222
1/5  rDev -73.7%

Photo of Sexecutioner
1.44/5  rDev -62.1%

Photo of newbeeraday
1.5/5  rDev -60.5%

Photo of dcisco44
2/5  rDev -47.4%

Photo of BGsWo22
2/5  rDev -47.4%

Photo of Syncro-Vox
2/5  rDev -47.4%

Photo of tmm313
2/5  rDev -47.4%

Photo of nrpellegrini
2.34/5  rDev -38.4%
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.

 350 characters

Photo of Dmorrison
2.4/5  rDev -36.8%
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.

 385 characters

Photo of nickmantia
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of KyleStanton
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of beerborn
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of pathead
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of deonreds
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of ShanePB
2.51/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Extremely unpleasant flavor on the palate which is unfortunate as the look, smell and carbonation level of the beer was well done.

130 characters

Photo of jimmyd8386
2.53/5  rDev -33.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

Photo of jahbless
2.55/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Decent beer, just not my style.

32 characters

Photo of thagr81us
2.56/5  rDev -32.6%
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.

 754 characters

Photo of warmstorage
2.58/5  rDev -32.1%
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.)

 2,836 characters

Photo of yelterdow
2.64/5  rDev -30.5%
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.

 1,142 characters

Photo of dhabersa
2.68/5  rDev -29.5%

Photo of justintcoons
2.71/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Photo of BeastLU
2.75/5  rDev -27.6%

Photo of BogAl
2.75/5  rDev -27.6%

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Winter Storm Imperial ESB from Heavy Seas Beer
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 1,056 ratings