Winter Storm Imperial ESB | Heavy Seas Beer

very good
1,023 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,023 |  Reviews: 522
Photo of ejimhof
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: nice head, dark brown color,slight lacing

Smell: hoppy, honey and malt smell

Taste: sweetness and slight hops

Mouthfeel: smooth and very English

Drinkability: This is like every other Heavy Seas Beer easy to drink and easy to drink more then one

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Photo of berpwillie
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours an amber-copperish color semi-transparent with less than a fingers width of light tan head. very light on the carbonation. it has an array bitter, citrus, hoppy, and malty flavors. the hops most present in the smell. tons of yeast floating about the beer makes it very interesting to look at while drinking.

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Photo of FallsDamBrewery
3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, nicely carbonated, yellow/light brown color

Smell: bready, honey

Taste: sweet, bready, some taste of cinnamon, alcohol at the end

Mouthfeel: nicely carbonated, smooth, not too bitter, easy going down

Drinkability: Definitely an above average ESB, love the smooth alcohol finish, easy to have two or three at a time, warms you when it is cold outside!

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Photo of tigg924
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, high carbonation, clear, yellow/brown in color

Smell:honey, hops, and bread

Taste: honey, hops, bread, touch of cinnamon, brown sugar, and alcohol at the end

Mouthfeel: smooth, sweet with a slightly bitter middle, modearte carbonation, medium/light bodied

Drinkability: An above average bready ESB. I could have two or three. Nothing extraordinary, but nothing bad either.

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Photo of JMD
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Rich copper color with big off white head that fades slowly. Leaves light lacing on the glass.

S: Toasted malt, some carmel and bitter hops.

T: Bready malt with sweet brown sugar and carmel. Finishes with a bitter hop bite.

M: Medium bodied and smooth. Nice texture.

D: Nice drinking winter ale. At 7.5% abv these will definitely keep you warm on those cold New England nights.

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Photo of tuckevalastin
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear amber with a quickly disappearing white head

S: A roasty malt with mainly caramel tones

T: A sweet malty flavor with lots of piney hops. The caramel flavor carries through as does a brown sugar and fruit taste.

M: Little spice or heat but moderate bitterness. Medium bodied with good carbonation.

D: A little too hoppy to be a everyday drinker. Not so much as to be strictly a sipper though.

Overall, I can't compare this to others of the style as it isn't a style I've tried. It is however a very nice beer and another good member of the Heavy Seas sampler.

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

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Amber color, almost two finger light tan head, but doesn't retain much, some spotty lacing.

Aroma is caramel malts, then some fruit, green raisins, banana, into some citrus/pine hops.

Flavor is sweet caramel malts, some fruit, bread, with a somewhat bitter, hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel is slick, moderate fullness, medium carbonation.

I enjoyed this one, but have had very few ESBs to compare it to.

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Photo of Jayli
3.91/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This beer pours a gorgeous crystal clear amber color with a 1/4 inch of off white head. Head recedes immediately leaving spotty lacing.

S: Nose is of rich, deep caramel malts, toffee, grains and some sugar.

T: Taste is more reminiscent of a red to me. Rich malts fill this beer out - caramel and toffee, touch of fruitiness and honey, and a solid bready quility to it.

M: Lighter side of medium body, moderate carbonation, crisp and clean feel.

D: Decently blended and tasty. It didn't seem to fit the style though.

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

I really dug this beer. Nothing too crazy going on, just good beer. Drank it out of pint glass, and had it with some pork ribs and rice, it was a perfect complement to the BBQ.

I got about a fingers worth of head, but wasn't really expecting much anyway. THis beer has a great slightly toasty malt base with hints of carmel, bread, and citrus. A good amount of hops throughout that drew out on the finish as well.

I've been impressed with all the Clipper City beers I've tried and this one is no exception. I bought one single bottle, but I could have drank 2 or 3 of this fine Imperial ESB.

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Photo of tippebrewcrew2
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3


Clipper City
Winter Storm
Imperial ESB
Abv 7.5

A=4 small frothy white head

S= 4 Straw with a hint of burnt smell, I couldn't place it

T= 3.5 Harsh hops up front and at the end. It last for close to ever with a mouth coating slam

M= 3 Light Alcohol burn and a moderate carbonation

D= 3 I could not drink a lot of this beer. The hops are harsh with a long draw at the end of bitterness. It was a good style of esb and I'm impressed with Clipper City. This was the first Imperial ESB I have had and I now have an idea, a bench mark, of what an imperial ESB should taste like.

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Photo of Philabeerphia
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The ESB is a style I appreciate but often overlook. Glad to have this in front of me. 12oz into a snifter. Hazed amber and ruby body, the khaki head looks painted on. I like my ESBs a shade darker and with a bit more action up top.

The Winter Storm gives up round malty notes of shortbread that elongates into some nuttiness and finally sharpens into a sugared grapefruit blend of caramel and hops.

Giving this a shot on the tongue. Sharp carbonation at the start is a plus...taste starts with a honey and caramel maltiness. Thin on the tongue... A citric acidity shows up at some point then goes back into hiding. A nice, slight touch of dark fruit appears towards the balance. Ends with a potent but long TOASTED CARAMEL note on the tongue... This is the dominant taste here overall. Hints of bitterness pool in the corners of my mouth. A bit of alcohol present at the top of the throat. This beer is too nondescript to really impress. A solid brew, but lacking bright or deep notes. One saving grace is the strong carbonation. The activity on the tongue enhances the beer's bitter character and impedes the toasted malts from becoming cloying. In light of this beers shortcomings, at 7.5% ABV, it is not a beer I would choose to drink often...

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Photo of philbe311
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - About a fingers worth of rich white frothy head which quickly fades leaving an intriguing veil of slightly clumpy lacing which is fuller in the center of the glass and thinner around the edges... A full copperish autumnal orange color... A moderate amount of carbonation which starts very slowly at the bottom of the glass and quickly speeds up towards the top...

S - The nose is subdued and rather vague... A rich roasty toasted malt base is undeniable... Caramel... Crust... A hint of brown sugar... Contrary to other reviews, I can't detect any hop presence...

T - Absolutely terrific flavor... A heavy rich malty base... Loads of caramel... Loads of bready malts... Nutty... Hints of raisins and brown sugar... The hop presence is much more pronounced on the palette, though it is still rather mild and is of the piney variety...

M - Stinging carbonation hits the tongue... A little more than medium bodied... Rich... Sleek... Smooth...

D - A really impressive ESB... Enjoyable sip after sip... Hides the 7.5% ABV rather well... I would gladly welcome again and again...

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Photo of inxy
3.39/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 10 oz tulip.
A - Burnt orange, hazy with very few streams of visable carbonation. Very little head, leaves a snakey lacing which melts down the side into nothingness. If it werent for the pretty color, this wouldnt be a whole lot to look at.

S - I'm not picking up on much. Malts, caramel sweetness.

T - Creamy caramel, sweet fruity banananess, low spice, with a clean hop finish. I like it.

M - Suprized by the carbonation. Very prickly, still smooth, medium heaviness.

D/Overall - In a longer 3+ beer session, I could fit this in towards the end, but I'd skip it if I had lots of options. Not bad, but not super memorable.

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Photo of stewart124
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark copper with a thin white head.

Earthy aromas and slight floral notes.

Smooth mouthfeel with a medium body. Lots of caramel sweetness with a pleasing touch of biscuity goodness. The hops add a nice amount of noble hops and a spicy bitterness.

The bottle says imperial esb and I believe it has the aftertaste of an imperial ale. There is a bigger warming feeling in the aftertaste and stronger finish. Slightly piney bitterness left on the tongue along with a bready character.

Good drinkability and a nice change for a winter warmer.

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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 sprucetip
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very clear copper/amber, with a thin head that fades rapidly. Leaves a bit more than patchy lacing. The sparkling clarity makes this very attractive visually.

Smell is pretty weak overall. Mild hoppy influence is noticeable, but strong booze dominates. Light graininess in the mix, too.

Thankfully it tastes better than it smells. It's grainy with a moderate bitterness, roughly balancing malty sweetness, and strong booze. It's not exactly balanced, let alone smooth, but nor is it a mess. The alcohol is too dominant.

Feel includes a bit of a bit at first, but then the rich, full body is pretty smooth. There is modest warming and a drying finish.

Overall, I guess this one drinks pretty easy. But it doesn't leave me wanting another, and I don't think I'd reach for another one soon, considering the plethora of options. But I'm glad I tried it, and I wish Clipper City the best in its endeavors.

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Photo of MetalHopHead6
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clipper City Heavy Seas - Winter Storm poured reddish copper with little-to-no head or lace.

The smell and taste were sweet, sweet, sweet, with a slightly acidic finish. Malt dominated with an earthy hops finish. The feel was smooth and insignificant.

Winter Storm has a beautiful reddish color, a sweet vanilla-like flavor, and leaves very little behind. Not bad but not worthwhile.

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Number five holds a burnt copperish brown color that's resembles a very dark lager. Just a bit of foam on the top of this off a tap. LAce does not cling well leaving a loose spider web design. Smells like a bigger version of a simple style. It's mainly sweet malty with caramel and some mild spicing. The hops give off a scent that's faint but not dead. This is pretty good stuff. Minimal holiday spices with just a sense of hop bitterness in the end. I really cant say that though cause the hops really don't come in at all. The feel is smooth going down with no sight of the alcohol and the carb seems muted, it works well, this is easy drinking. Medium bodied. This is nothing more than a lightly spiced simple beer with a great feel. Sometimes less is more.

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Photo of feelmefoam
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into a Stone pint.

Pours a mellow brownish-red hue, kind of rusty. Not a whole lot of head on this one though, it's tan but it only put up about a finger. Decent lacing, though.

Pretty nice smell, the piney and spicy hops come through nicely, overpowering the caramel maltiness that's also noticeable.

Malty and sweet up front, a roasty and predominantly caramel malt sweetness that's quickly overpowered by a piney and citrusy hop character that carries through to the end of each draught. Good, solid flavor.

A little more than a medium body, the beer is pretty smooth and provides a nice drinking experience. Relatively low amounts of carbonation work well to cover up some of the alchol bite.

Overall a drinkable beer winter beer that has a solid flavor. I wish it would've given me a bit more head, though. A robust drinker for these cold winter months.

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

Picked up a single of this to give it a try, I tend to like winter seasonals. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my pint glass.

A- Clear copper amber, small off white head.
S- Toasted malt, spice, light hops. Has an earthiness to it.
T- More bitter than I expected from the aroma. Nice balance of toasted malts with earthy hops. Lingering dry, bitter aftertaste.
M- Medium bodied.
D- Pretty good. I might get a little bit bored with it after a few...or maybe just full.

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

12oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

Hazed red/amber color with a thin beige head that stayed as a ring leaving thin trails of lacing.
Smell is earthy hops and pale malt.
Taste is a good balance of malty flavors and bitterness from the hops which lead to a dry, bitter finish.
Medium bodied with mild carbonation.
Easy drinking brew.

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

This pours a dark but clear mahogany color with a modest off-white head and good lacing. The aroma is a solidly bitter swampy malt and citrus hop. The flavor jumps out with lots of malty pumkin spice, a little bayberry fruitiness. It mellows nicely and provides a smooth mid-bodied feel with a very tiny bubbled but lively carbonation. It grows on you, full of dark coffee/kahlua and holiday accents that blend into a satisfying libation to usher in the holidays with aplumb. Drinkable enough too!

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

Imperial interpretations of (relatively) mild style appeal.

Appearance is a rich golden/ruby color with a thin but tenacious head. The neck label mentioned yeast sediment but it looks remarkably clear.

Smell gives hints towards the imperial nature of this brew.

Taste is impressive. Strong malts with hops not far behind. A rather syrupy finish seems somewhat out of place, but is not too troublesome. Tends to a bit of alcohol when warming...I prefer this beer a bit colder than cellar temperature.

Mild carbonation, if any, was noted. This is not a problem. Fizzy at first, then well rounded. Very pleasant.

Drinkability is good. Perhaps I'm not used to an Imperial ESB, but the finishing flavers tended to accumulate on the palate. Good enough to try a second bottle after the first, but nearing the end of the second bottle I decided I did not care for another.

I would buy this again and would recommend it to almost anyone. Very accessible.

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

12 ounce bottle - $1.79 at Hop City in Atlanta, Georgia. Purchase Before: February 2010.

Appearance: Pours out a translucent, darkened amber body with a finger-high, off-white head. Very thin, very sheer lacing on the way down.

Smell: Well-toasted malts seasoned with sugar and spice and a small dash of dried citrus peels, with just hint of alcohol in the background.

Taste: Malt profile tasting of deeply toasted and subsequently crushed bread crusts sweetened with a generous mixture of both brown sugar and common, ordinary, everyday table sugar. Slight fruitiness. Earthy, zesty, citrusy hop profile with a medium-high bitterness. The initial sweet, sugary quality comes straight back into the taste alongside the persistent bitterness for a bittersweet, lightly crisp finish at the end.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium-plus carbonation.

Drinkability: It's alright, I suppose. It's sweet, it's got ample bitterness, and alcohol (though thankfully not anymore than it does). Personally, I've never been overly enamored with the Heavy Seas line-up, but you could certainly do alot worse than this.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Comes out of the tap a warm translucent coppery amber with a fine, coppery-tan head Aroma is strong, spicy, malty and slightly hoppy. Flavor is rich, malty and spicy with an undertone of hops that is only slightly bitter. Texture is sharp, lively, sassy and tingly and leaves a hoppy-bitter and spicy finish.

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Winter Storm Imperial ESB from Heavy Seas Beer
3.84 out of 5 based on 1,023 ratings.
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