Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

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

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
86
very good
515 Reviews
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Heavy Seas Beer
Maryland, United States | website

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
515
Ratings:
983
Avg:
3.83
pDev:
12.27%
 
 
Wants:
36
Gots:
86
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 515 | Ratings: 983
Photo of mckenziac
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams Boston Lager glass. Taken from a Heavy Seas variety pack.

Appearance: Pours a clear, dark brown color with reddish hues. Has a large, fizzy head that dissipates slowly and leaves some spotty lacing.

Smell: Smells strongly of caramel malt with a slight grassy hop aroma.

Taste: Starts off fairly hoppy with some grassy, earthy flavors. Finishes malty with caramel and a strong dose of chocolate malt. Really some interesting combinations with the ESB style.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with a nice carbonation.

Overall: A nice winter interpretation of the ESB style. Definitely well-balanced between earthy hops and caramel/chocolate malts. Certainly something I'd have again and recommend to others.

 747 characters

Photo of CFHMagnet
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pouring aggressively I got a finger and a half of orangey head. This sat on top of a ruby-copper body and bubbled away over the course of a couple of minutes. Kept a good amount of froth up top and light lacing noted during consumption. Bubbles noted clinging to the side early on, eventually rises and join the atmosphere.

Smell is earthy and malty. Vaguely sweet, it doesn't make a big deal of itself.

Mild malt is the immediate taste, then split seconds later the hops come right in and say "hi." This is a good grapefruit flavor, and it is balanced out by the continued sweet presence of the malt, and some spice.

Beer is medium bodied. It doesn't coat the mouth or tongue. Has a dry finish.

 698 characters

Photo of Luigi
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a healthy off whit two finger head, that settles to a blanket of foam still the last drop. There is plenty of lacing sticking to the glass. Has a clear rich amber color with copper highlights.

The aroma is roasted malt, soft bread, and ripe fruit.

Big sweet and toasted malt hits the palate at first. In between, there are toasted bread, plum, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a light ripe citrus from the hop.

Full bodied and slick on the tongue. Has a semi-dry finish with a very tasty medicinal hop lingering of the palate.

Over all I have to say this ESB is delicious . Big malty and spicy flavor with no spice added. I love ESB's and this brew is at the top of my list.

 680 characters

Photo of claspada
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a translucent, dark golden color with a moderate, off-white head that recedes to leave some very thin, lacing.

Aromas begin with well-toasted bready malts with a dash of dried citrus peels, earthy/floral hops and a touch of evergreen. There is a slight alcohol in the background as it warms.

The tastes negom wotj deeply toasted bread crusts and almost a generic table sugary/candy presence. Slight yeasty fruitiness as well with an emerging earthy, zesty, citrusy hop profile with a medium-high bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium-plus bodied with medium carbonation. Finish is fairly crisp and dry with some lsightly emerging alcohol and hop bitterness.

Overall I really enjoy a high quality ESB but unfortunately this just was not one of them. There is an overly assertive minerally, alcohol dryness that overwhelms the flavor profile. The hops are also too American for the style, comes across as a muddled IPA.

 926 characters

Photo of wvsabbath
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Brownish tan, slight white head and minor lacing. Looks like a brown ale for sure.

Smell - Hops, caramel malts. Toffee, spices, brown sugar and mollasses. A little bready, grainy.

Taste - A nice bitter malt kick at first. Caramel, mixed with some spices. Then a decent hoppy note at the finish. Some pine and apple flavors, Herbel spices add a peppery flavor. Some booze shows up adding a little heat.

Motuhfeel - SOme bitterness, malts and hops coat tounge. Spices also add more bitter and peppery notes. Hops hit palate with some fruits and bitterness. The aftertaste is bitter, malty and dry.

Overall - Decent, a different kind of winter beer compaired to everything else that comes out. Its Flavorful, and a nice mix of bitter hoppy and sweet malty. Alcohol is minor in each drink. The spices really are strong and stand out. Nice change of pace, worth a drink.

 907 characters

Photo of Thickfreakness
3.39/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a rich cherry/copper into my DFH glass. A thick and fluffy, tinted head that leaves a ton of chewy lacing as it slowly fades away. Wonderful clarity!

S- Whole grain nut bread, pine needles, cashews, caramel, hay, orange/tangerine peel. Nothing really dominate or over the top, in fact... I'd say lackluster. Even as it warms, nothing really pops out at you. I'm a little dissapointed.

T- Bitter orange peel/pine sap mixed with raw sugar and caramel. Some toasted whole grain bread, wet grass, and lemon-pepper. Dry and citrusy... just a hint of alcohol. Nice, but I was hoping for more than nice. Very drinkable tho!

M- Dry... piney, some bitter citrus and hints of sweetness. Feels a bit flat.

O- A decent sit around the fire fall brew. Flat on the tongue, and nothing very special about this brew. Bitter as it should be, but the nose, taste and mouthfeel are all very underwhelming!

 899 characters

Photo of homebrew311
3.08/5  rDev -19.6%
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.

 672 characters

Photo of BostonHops
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle served in a pint glass.

pours a deep amber / borderline chestnut tone while yielding a solid 2" creamy tan head. very solid retention and some nice lacing as well. simply a great looking beer. nose is nice if not especially potent. caramel malt leads the way with some hop characters trailing in the background.

taste trends a bit more toward the so-so range IMO. big malt-forward beer with secondary notes of piney hops. not overly complex. reasonably tasty, just nothing fantastic. medium-full bodied mouthfeel with average carbonation.

overall a nice beer; not one i would kill myself trying to get a hold of, but does not disappoint either. moderately enjoyable.

(originally reviewed: 11-30-2011)

 716 characters

Photo of HopHead84
3.67/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

5/15/2012

A: Amber with good clarity. The head is a finger of slow moving beige foam. Thick sheets of lacing linger on the sides of the glass.

S: Rich malt character, redolent of bread and caramel, with pronounced dark fruit aromatics. Raisin blends with plum, prune, and date. There's a firm sugary sweetness and a touch of alcohol with earthy undertones.

T: Caramel and sweet bready malt with brown sugar and earthy notes. Light toastiness with pervasive prune, plum, and raisin. There's a low bitterness with a light alcohol presence. I get some lightly astringent dark fruit skin in the finish.

M: Upper medium body with lower medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is smooth and sticky with a little alcohol warming.

Overall: I guess it's not really an ESB but it's still a pretty good beer and better than expected.

 821 characters

Photo of BeerMark
3.56/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Heavy Seas Winter Storm from Heavy Seas Beer is brown in color and has the smell of malt. This one came in a Heavy Seas sampler pack I picked up sometime in March. The taste is sweet with a hop overtone. There is also raisins and molasses in the mix. A good tasting beer to be sure. May be a tad sweet for me.

 309 characters

Photo of Arithmeticus
4.07/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured slightly chilled in ale glass.

A: creamy, thin head; no carbonation; dark caramel color
S: caramel, malty aroma, a bit boozy (but only a bit)
T: very rich, complex, and flavorful; concentrated in the bitter and savory areas of the palate; cinnamon; the flavor lasts long, and it opens up nicely as the temp rises

Very nice, approachable interpretation of the ESB, which I normally can't stand (at least in its macro version found in Europe).

 450 characters

Photo of jkrich
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a freshness dated 12 oz. bottle: clear, deep red with orange highlights. The foamy off-white head receded slowly leaving small lacing on the glass.

Soft malty sweet and caramel aromas wafted from the bottle along with a slightly pungent, fruity wine-like aroma.

The ale begins with a noticeable sweetness that almost becomes cloying until a dash of hop bitterness gives some balance. Some mild fruity apple-like flavors linger in the mouth. This is not quite as smooth as I like in an ESB, but it is an "imperial" ESB afterall.

The mouthfeel is rather thick and chewy with a slightly resinous feel on the palate. Carbonation is rather subdued.

This is my second product from this Heavy Seas line. Both are good, but a little rough around the edges.

 765 characters

Photo of RappAttack
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poors an orange color with thin white head
S: malty and earthy
T: sweet malty-ness at the beginning with a nice citrus hop bite at the end, a tiny boozy aftertaste
M: fair amont of carbonation and very refreshing

O: once again clipper city delivers a quality ale at reasonable price

 289 characters

Photo of thagr81us
2.56/5  rDev -33.2%
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 dorianmarley
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is a nice, ruby red with a decent head and OK lacing.

Nose is excellent: a burst of passion fruit with sweet malt. The hops are mild and dense. It is also mildly medicinal.

Taste is very well-balanced between sweet and bitter. The malts are caramelized, and the hops are bold, but not pungent. There is some oak, and medicinal flavors.

Mouthfeel is very drinkable, with low carbonation and a slightly slick finish that is otherwise clean.

Overall, this is a very creative, and effective, approach to a winter beer.

 529 characters

Photo of JednoPivoProsim
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 fl oz bottle into a rounded old fashioned. For brewery-fresh taste, purchase before Mar 12.

Appearance: Pours a dark amber with a decent white head.

Smell: Rich malts - caramel, molasses, and a slight sherry aroma.

Taste: Molasses in a glass. A malt-bomb for sure. Sherry/port wine flavors. Slight hop spiciness tries to sneak through in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Heavy and rich. Mild carbonation.

Overall: Absolutely appropriate as a winter offering. Nothing too inspiring, but a good beer nonetheless. What is an Imperial ESB? A barleywine junior?

 572 characters

Photo of russwbeck
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer pours a deep amber into my Russian River -tion snifter. It's surprisingly clear for how deep the color is, I was expecting some haziness, really impressive. A couple of fingers of white head rise up and leave some pretty nice lacing.

S: Lot of caramel and brown sugar on the smell, maybe even some hops. Sweet and malt forward.

T: Following the smell, the taste is all about caramel and malts, with a very nice hop finish. Some citrus seems to be mixed in as well, all with a really dry finish. Very sweet up front, the hops create a nice balance at the end.

MF: Medium body with a low carbonation. Very dry finish.

O: Easy drinking, good beer. Nothing wrong with it, but I don't think I'd get it again. Not a huge ESB fan.

 739 characters

Photo of bpw28
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Four finger shaving cream egg shell white head, amazing retention, deep dark amber color, lots of carb, really great lacing.

Smell: Sweet malt, floral hop, light brown sugar, light bread, light whiff of dark fruits.

Taste: Nice full malts, floral, piney hop, fresh dark fruits, light yeast. Nice full and slightly chewy mouthfeel.

Final Thoughts: Very simple but pretty nice. The nose was a little light and the beer itself is more hop forward then what I would consider perfect for a ESB, but on the whole a very simple but good brew. What a great appearance. Worth a buy.

 588 characters

Photo of Knapp85
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out with a nice looking amber color with a light cream colored head on top. The smell of the beer was malty, it didn't have much of a bitter aroma at all. The taste of the beer was interesting, I felt like I was getting hints of Pine in there. The mouthfeel of the beer was basically normal, not anything that really impressed me on that level. Overall this beer wasn't bad, I think it's one that I'd try again just to give it another go.

 455 characters

Photo of silentjay
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a two-toned brown/tan color with amber highlights that produces a short-lived khaki colored head that settles at a thin film.

butterry, toasty, caramelly, butterscotch, with a laid-back hop presence that adds some citrus and a bit of a woody/earthy character.

butter, caramel, toast again out first with a significant bitterness behind that adding some citrus and lots of herbal notes. it stays pleasantly bitter after the swallow until some caramel sweetness kicks back in for the aftertaste.

medium bodied and sticky with just a bit of carbonation.

I was expecting a bit more in the hop department, but overall its a pretty tasty beer. kind of forgettable, however.

 671 characters

Photo of rangerred
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on cask at Nicholson's in Cincinnati.

Arrived a clear ruby with a small head. Excellent lacing.

The smell was full of floral/citrus hops. Some caramel malt as well.

The flavor is very hop forward. Wonderful citrusy hops dominate throughout with a quite assertive bitterness. Malt notes come in at the end and linger.

This is a great beer and one that I am thrilled I got to try on cask. Will definitely seek out again.

 426 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

single finger frothy head without much retention. dark amber in color and clear. some lacing but not much.

lots of herbal and floral hop aroma with a malt backbone.

Very hoppy beer. spicey notes with a semi sweet finish. Nice complexity to the hop character.

Medium to high carbonation and medium body.

Overall a nice beer, a nice strong ESB. One of the better offerings from this brewery,

 393 characters

Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Brooklyn tulip pint.

A: Pours honey-coloured with a fluffy, off-white head.

S: Rich caramel and brown sugar along with herbal hops and mild citrus.

T: Crisp, refreshing, British session ale flavours combine with sticky american hops and booze. Its a clash of worlds, but it works.

D: I can keep drinking these all night! Nice and tasty, but doesn't slow you down like the ABV would suggest.

Overall: This must've been a tough beer to capture, but Clipper City nailed it! Really tasty, refreshing stuff. One of their best seasonals.

 569 characters

Photo of Brenden
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is a thick dark orange-red color. Not too much head develops, a light tan-colored cap that's fairly thin but has some staying power. There may be some issue with how I stored this beer; the look, to me, is unimpressive but above average.
I get most of what I expect from an ESB in the aroma, though it's held down by a strong grains presence. Otherwise, I get the strongly herbal and earthy hops undertones with a strongly leafy element, as well as the dry, bready malts balance. A bit of dark fruits and caramel peek through as it warms. I think I stored this too colds (my fridge's fault, not mine), as plenty more comes out as it sits.
Toasty in the malts with some caramel and an undertone of grains, there's time to transition before a very nicely sturdy hops flavor comes out. This one is all kinds of herbal hops with a big pithy presence in the bitterness. Alcohol is very nicely masked, considering, allowing the beer to warm the face and innards before you realize it. There's a good complexity between the pith, herbal leafy bitterness, dark fruits, caramel, toast and bread (even separate, to a point), orange peel and light notes of citrus zest, and nipping spiciness. This is a finely crafted beer, with plenty of balance to boot.
The body is medium with a light carbonation. Crispness is light up front and a bit of a gentle smoothness picks up. FOr such a delicious beer, I do wish it flowed a little better. It's not flat by any means but does seem to lay down just a bit when it could be more interesting.

 1,533 characters

Photo of atlason
3.11/5  rDev -18.8%
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.

 560 characters

Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) from Heavy Seas Beer
86 out of 100 based on 515 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe