Winter Storm Imperial ESB | Heavy Seas Beer

very good
1,025 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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,025 |  Reviews: 523
Photo of BB1313
3.66/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Best before February 2011. 12 oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. Pours a beautiful copper color w/ nice white head and sticky lacing. Smells like faint hops and crisp fruits. Tastes just like it smells, subtle but complex. This is a bitter one! Malty too! My favorite thing about this beer is the mouthfeel. Very rich and creamy; smooth. Drinkabilty is ok, but one's good for me.

This is definitely an original. I haven't really seen any breweries attempt an Imperial ESB, so credit to Heavy Seas. Good beer; give this one a shot in the winter time.

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Photo of LanceW
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearence: Dark amber in color with a thin layer of carbonation retained through out the tasting.

Smell: When served at a colder temp the beer did not have any sent at all. There was an aroma as the beer heated up but nothing I could put my finger on

Taste: Very solid beer. Easy to drink and had a very balanced flavor. Would definitely have again but nothing to write home about.

Mouth feel: what you would expect from a beer of this caliber. Nice body but nothing too thick or thin. Once again... very well balanced.

Drinkability: Easy to drink and could have more than one at a sitting.

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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 Boitnott
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Heavy Seas Winter Storm was poured into a tall tulip glass and came out a vibrant red with orange undertones. The head is an off white color but only lasts for only a little bit and the lacing is somewhat lacking.

A light fruity aroma permeates from the glass, almost similar to a light barleywine. It is not too strong but just subtle enough to intrigue the taster. Some slight medium malts are present too, but the fruity barleywine smell is the main focus.

The nose is very light and has a subtle hint of bitter hops. The sweetness comes through as well here after it lingers. This beer really shines with its finish. Sweet and bitter notes become more exaggerated and mix very well, and even linger in the mouth, enticing the next sip.

Winter Storm has richness which really brings it together. Contrasting flavors of the malt, earthy hops, and sweetness mix well to form a rich enjoyable beer. A slight carbonation goes well with the contrasting flavors and does not take away from the richness.

Great beer overall. I would love to have this on tap during the holiday season. Out of the bottle would be nice for Christmas Eve night and Christmas Eve dinner. I would recommend this beer to fans of Heavy Seas. While not spectacular, it does provide a some subtle complexity that is hard to find.

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Photo of Russellmania
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured this beer into a glass and the head faded away very quickly.
It has a nice amber colored ale holding it up to the light. First sip
I got some carmel from the malt and bitter with a little floral from the hops. It has a very nice and delicate mouth feel. The carbonation was nice in this beer. It stood up to is type extra special bitter.

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

Pours a clear, deep copper color with a tan head the falls to just about nothing. Thin Spotty lace.

Picking up sweet caramel malts in the nose backed by an herbal hop aroma.

Taste is similar with a noticeable caramel malt base flavored with bitter hops. Does a good job of hiding the alcohol.

The beer is much fuller in the mouth than the appearance would lead you to believe. Also a bit biting.

Not bad at all. Easy enough to drink, I'd say a good solid brew.

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Photo of BeefyMee
3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: I like the coppery red color, but the head was a little disappointing. Some decent lacing.

S: Strange aroma of sweet corn, alcohol, and faint hops.

T: Tangy malt and slightly bitter hops. The alcohol also makes itself known, as this one shapes up to be kind of abrasive though not really offensive. Malts turn fruity in the finish.

M: Substantial, zesty carbonation. Good overall.

D: Despite its abrasivish flavor and highish abv, I could put back a few of these. A good beer for the winter.

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Photo of cdbooth219
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Pours a copper-red color, with 1 finger of off white head that dissipates rather quickly, leaving a little lacing

S: Smell is of butter, bread, toffee, citrus, and earthy and grassy hops

T: Taste starts off with caramel malt, bread, butter, and toffee, followed by the hops, which are earthy, herbal, and grassy. Finishes bitter.

M: Medium carbonation, with medium body, slight stickiness

D: Very drinkable, especially for the abv. I could definitely have another one after the first.

Overall, a very enjoyable and unique offering from clipper city

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Photo of tone77
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a deep caramel color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is dominated by hops, floral. Taste is well balanced hops and malts, a touch of alcohol is present, just a tad bit sweet. Feels full bodied in the mouth and overall is a quality beer.

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Photo of pzrhsau
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Nice ruby tan ale color with a nice lace of head that really sticks to the glass.
S: Very strong hop aroma with some nice sweet malt scent to balance the bitterness.
T: It has a really nice bitterness at first and slowly the malt rushes to even out at the end and give you some sweet bready notes.
D/M: Nice crisp carbonation that helps bring out the flavor and aroma of the hops. Not really too overpowering but really does not feel much like a winter beer. Great hoppy beer but not exactly what I was looking for in a winter beer.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

appearance: Copper with a slight tan head.
smell: Roasty malt with floral hops. Well balanced.
taste: As the nose advertises though more understated than expected (and a "Category 5" I would expect to be more aggressive.)
mouthfeel: Medium, medium carb profile.
drinkability: Not bad. Not great. Interesting "imperial" ESB.

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Photo of matty
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber colored beer with a rapidly fading head.Aroma is light toffee.Taste is butter,toffee and caramel malts.There is a bitterness at the end.The alcohol is covered up by the bitterness.A pretty good beer in my opinion.I would recommend and purchase again.

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Photo of thedoubler55
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Amber color with a bit of head that disappers into a great lacing on the glass.

S: Caramel and definitely a sweet smell.

T: This beer reminds me of a good honey tea. Very fruity with some hint of toffee and butter.

M: Very smooth, and light bodied.

D: Very well balanced type of beer, would definitely enjoy it again!

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Photo of Hopfenpeter
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I am drinking from a crystal mug, the color being a very rich amber brown/golden with little head building and dissolving fast leaving little lacing.
The smell is weak, but hints orange, citrus flavors.
A fruity malty taste at the front is balanced by o stronger hop with a dominating bitterness that will again change to bittersweetness at the end. not unattractive, but rather pleasing.I think this beer becomes more drinkable at the second beer.
A nice seasonal brew.

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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 jbriggs7036
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bam! On Cask at Frisco's in Columbia

Looks great, and the head is sexy coming from the cask.

Smells of fruity/fresh hops, purely delicious

Taste- PLeasure to the palate. Again very fresh.

MF- Could have a bit more carbonation

Drinkability- 2 and out.

Overall, loved it, went back to Frisco's looking for it, but they had switched their cask to a Flying Dog that was also good.

PS. Frisco's is my new favortite place to go

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Poured into a tulip. Pours a moderate copper color with a white head and a dose of lacing. The nose is fairly hoppy with some floral and earthy notes. Nice caramel notes. The taste is pretty good with a mild hoppiness. Feel is light and a tad bit harsh. Drinks fairly well and is a nice concept.

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Photo of TheFightfan1
4.17/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Crystal clear ruby color with a very thick fluffy white heading. More of the free flowing bubbling action from the bottom of the glass.

Smell is fruity with a quick following of a roasted maltiness. Earthy tones are dominant.

Taste has an immediate crazy toasted maltiness,some caramel,some burnt that just attack the tastebuds.Very earthy taste's mingle with a decent fruitiness. Good hop finish as well.

Mouth is full bodied,great carbonation and just an all out assault on the palate with that beautiful maltiness.

Very unique tasting beer.

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Photo of burring
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had Winter Storm (Category 5 Ale) during Northeastern Ohio's first snow storm of the fall season. Quite fitting! Poured into a pint glass to enjoy and warm myself.

Appearance: a dark, brownish ruby colour, as the label on the neck alluded to. Little to no head from the pour. Small amounts of lacing but nothing noteworthy.

Smell: the smell was hoppy with a subtle amount of malt character. I also picked up a fruity aroma that I would characterise as cherry? I couldn't quite pick out WHAT the fruit was. Cherry is the first word that comes to mind though. I found it all a little underwhelming.

Taste: though it was sharp, I found myself a little disappointed. I wasn't sure what I was expecting but I found little character in it. It's not to say it was bad but not what I expected. I suppose it didn't have the balance that I was expecting in an ESB.

Mouthfeel: sharp and hoppy. After swallowing the beer, a malty after-taste ran over my palate. This was probably my favourite part of Heavy Seas.

Drinkability: it's a good, casual drinking beer. I enjoyed the overall experience.

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Photo of nickthegun12
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

i would like to have seen a little bit more of a head on this beer>>>dark ruby color
the nose is some warming of the alcohol and aroma hops>>they always do a great job hopping up their beer
the tasters pick up warm cinnamon and a slight bit of hops
creamy mouthfeel def a well built beer
very nice drinkability to it
this beer company makes very nice beers>>>never had one i didn't like!

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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 Brent
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My overall impression was that this was a bit heavy-handed. Heavy-handed, you say? But isn't that the point of an "imperial ESB?" Well, I suppose so - no question that they pumped this beer up on some sort of beer steriod - but in that regard it came across like a similarly pumped-up body builder - no balance. Appropriately big malt, but in an effort to keep pace with hopping, the bittering came across as rough and a bit raw. The ETOH similarly was not well integrated into the flavor, and rode atop with a warming harshness.

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Photo of sdawson
4.39/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Given to me by a generous on-BAer. Thanks Kelli! Winter Storm pours a beautiful brown with ruby undertones. There is a thin layer of foam and moderate lacing on this. I found the scent somewhat nondescript with pine and sweet resin dominating. The taate is where this one truly shines for me, an introduction of sweet sugary maple gives way to tart grapefruit and lemon. The mouthfeel is near-perfect, but a touch overcarbonated for the subtler notes. I am very sad Clipper City is not local, as this would be a very welcome six pack to be always on hand. To be fair, I must be very partial to the imperial esb style, as I loved Velvet Underground ESB when Hopworks had it on draft. I wish more brewers would work with this beautiful style.

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Photo of FeloniousDrunk
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz. bottle into a pint glass. A small head formed, but it left quickly. The appearance is a dark mahogany, brown and rich, but clear.

The smell does not hide the alcohol, but it has a warm cherry brandy aroma, and the malts are well-defined in the nose.

The taste is robust, with caramel, smoked malts, raisins, dehydrated fruit, mild spice, alcohol and yeast. This is a whopper of a winter ale, and will most certainly keep you warm with it's 7.5% abv tag. It is certainly a sipping beer, and mellows a bit as it warms, leaving the smokier notes to linger in the glass.

The mouthfeel is substantial, like soda bread, but not in a prohibitive way. A good beer to chew on is what one looks for in a winter offering.

One of these per session will suffice.

*Reviewers edit: I just noticed that the "purchase by" date was 4 months old at the time of reviewing. This may have affected important characteristics, and will try to amend this review with a fresher batch.

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Photo of cagocubs
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle.

Pours a light brown/almost burgundy color. Good active carbonation with a nice 1quarter head.
Smells like grain and some sweet molasses/honey.
Good taste of spice, bread, and sweetness. A little too much alcohol bite at the end.
Nice carbonation and mouth coating.
A surprisingly drinkable beer for a strong bitter.

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Winter Storm Imperial ESB from Heavy Seas Beer
3.84 out of 5 based on 1,025 ratings.
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