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Winter Storm Imperial ESB | Heavy Seas Beer

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Winter Storm Imperial ESBWinter Storm Imperial ESB
Very Good
1,038 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: 1,038 |  Reviews: 525
Photo of Philabeerphia
3.25/5  rDev -14.5%
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 +1.3%
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 -10.8%
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 -6.1%
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 -17.9%
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 -8.9%
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 -5.8%
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 -1.3%
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 +4.5%
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 -5.8%
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 +5.3%
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 +5.3%
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 +9.7%
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 -5.8%
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 +6.6%
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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Photo of DurtyUI
3.64/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Strikingly rich sunset burnt sienna in colour, she is absolutely stunning in a tall pilsner glass, only lacking in any resemblance of a frothy head or even tantalizing legs... Yet still, I couldn't wait to wrap my lips around this winter ale.

A deep sensual and earthy smell indicative of the bitter hops that linger on the edges of my tongue as I inhale her indecent proposal.

Small bubbles rise slowly to the top and barely break the surface, she pours almost flat... and yet still gently teases the tongue.

Deep hearty flavours mingle nicely to keep this beer worthy of it's Winter qualities and title.

I wouldn't buy a 6-pack but it's nice to have a chance encounter.

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Photo of kimcgolf
3.3/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured to a brownish orange with medium off-white head and some lacing. Nose was very hard to detect and the mouthfeel was slightly on the thin side. Taste tried to bring out some caramel hints, as well as a touch of hoppy fruit, but didn't exceed well. At 7.3% abv, I would have expected either a whiff or taste of alcohol, but got neither. Not surprisingly, finish was somewhat on the short and watery side. Have realoly enjoyed the others I've had from Clipper City...this one just missed the mark slightly.

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Photo of justincolts
4.18/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Very good amber looking ale, thin head, doesn't stay around very long. Action for long after it is poured. Nothing to fault in terms of appearance.

Smell- Nothing offensive to be sure. Just mostly a bitty of a hop filled smell, nothing else really jumps out at me.

Taste- Certainly a good taste. A bit of a hoppy taste, with good flavoring. Certainly an appealing taste going on here. Maybe a bit of caramel, seasonal flavoring going on.

Mouthfeel- Certainly a nice mouthfeel, good consistency, good stature

Drinkability- Actually pretty good drinkability, smooth, and at 7.5 abv is certainly impressive.

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Photo of Morey
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a somewhat hazy copper-orange color (when held up to the light). Lots of bubbles following a medium pour...some big..some small..leaving a nice lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell is a good mix of hops and malts. Nothing crazy, but a nice aroma never the less.

Taste: This beer has a very pleasent bitterness, but it rounds out nicely into some earthy flavors on the back end for a somewhat smooth finish with some lingering hop flavor.

Mouthfeel is medium with a good amount of stickiness from the hops. I like where the carbonation is on this beer...just enough.

I could definitely drink a few of these, but the alcohol would start to catch up to me after that.

Morey's Bottom Line: I like this beer a whole lot. Not necessarily ground breaking, but it's darn good. This and Loose Cannon are my favorites from Clipper City although I've yet to try the Barleywine.

If you like Southern Tier Old Man Winter, then I highly reccomend this beer. Very similar in style and taste.

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Photo of rapidsequence
4.24/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, last of my six pack. Bought at a Total Wine in NoVA.

Appearance: Despite all 6 attempts, I can't even rough pour a decent head into this beer. I get a thin rim that rapidly dissappears. The beer is not flat, but there's no head (this is not my glass, its happened six times to this beer, and none to any other beers). Interestingly, it laces pretty nicely. The color is a nice, clear, dark amber.

Smell: Mmmm. Pretty hoppy. Dry grassy hops and some citrusy notes too. There's a little sweetish caramelly toastiness too. Thats a good smelling ESB.

Taste: Hoppy upfront with grassy, earthiness and a little grapefruity bite for just second in the middle. The finish is sweet and toasty with a little hint of fruit. After you swallow, there's another touch of bitterness in the finish. This is tasty and nicely balanced.

Mouthfeel: Its about right. Carbonation is lowish, but not low. Good.

Drinkability: I'm glad I bought this beer. Its a tasty, well balanced, easy drinking beer with a sneaky 7.5% abv. Good stuff.

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Photo of tanousa
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Beautiful amber color with small head. medium body. Hints of citrus and honey.

S: Smell of caramel, citrus , pine and honey .

T: Taste is wonderful , paired with pork and worked great.
M: Medium body, well carbonated

D: A nice mouthfeel and taste combination. Enjoyed this beer , drinkability is good , could have a couple more tonight.7.5 % alcohol very nicely masked here.

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Photo of Daniellobo
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rich winter warmer with a tasty malty range on a cask serving.

Presentation: 12 oz cask offering. Short description noting main characteristic of the style and brew, menu also notes Alc. by Vol (7.3%) Served in a pint shaker glass.

A - Hazy brown pour with a rich creamy head, good retention and nice lacing.

S - There is a rich malty sweet range with a caramel hint, a bit too subtle.

T - Taste follows with a roasted malt sweetness and a nice hoppy balanced bite that picks up the malt at the end again

M - Medium body to full body with hints of the second cask carbonation, nice thick texture and finish.

D - Works rather nicely on cask, very drinkable.

Notes: Imperial ESB or not, this is a rather nice malty brew with a nice hop counterbalance. The cask profile gives it quite a nice character.

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Photo of CupcakeNY
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a bright copper color with a thin spattering of off white bubbles on top. Some frothy lacing clings to the side of the glass.

S: Very light fruity esters, lots of lightly toasted bread, and a very light hint of alcohol.

T: Lots of toasted bread up front mingling with a lot of flowery hop flavor, the middle has a more aggressive toasty caramel flavor, and the finish has a pretty grassy and herbal hop flavor. Starts out like imperial ESB, finishes like a west coast IPA.

M: Dry, crisp, bitter, medium bodied, astringent.

D: I actually like this beer a lot, nice Americanization of a classic British style.

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Photo of GoalieRon33
3.14/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

a- pretty beer...dark orangish brown with some red mixed in. decently clear, fun to look at.

s- not much here. Some hops, some malt, but overall, nothing great with the smell

t- decent maltiness with a some hop finish. Heavier alcohol is definately noticeable with a slight metallic flavor

m- not bad, but not great either. A little thin for me, considering it's a winter beer

d- Easy to drink, with mellow flavors. This beer goes down easy, even though it may be lacking in some other catagories

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Photo of Gmann
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a blood orange color, hazy, with a rather small tight cream colored head. The aroma is bready, some pepper, and a muted citrus hop. Fairly large honey malt presence in the taste, bready, very light pepper and a grassy slightly piney hop. Has a bit of a funk taste from the yeast. Funk as in off, not farmhouse. Kind of like a buttery apricot flavor. Moderate feel, bordering on full, soft carbonation; sweet overall but finishes with a slight bitter twang. A so so brew, decent flavors but some odd flavors as well. They seem to go with a imperial ESB which seems counter to the style. Why take a lighter style brew and imperialize it. I don't get this. Imperial pils, ESB, Helles??? Why? Imperial Bud Light here we come.

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Winter Storm Imperial ESB from Heavy Seas Beer
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 1,038 ratings
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