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 DurtyUI
3.64/5  rDev -5.2%
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 -14.1%
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 +8.9%
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 +4.2%
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 +10.4%
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 +4.2%
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 +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 +17.2%
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 -18.2%
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 -8.9%
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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Photo of glid02
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cask at Aroma's in Athens.

Pours a hazy light brown color with a 1.5-finger, large-bubbled light tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of lightly toasted caramel malts with large amounts of citrus and lighter amounts of pine. The nose in this is very good though purists will likely disagree.

Tastes good. Light caramel malt flavors have a tinge of nuttiness and hold more sway than they did in the aroma. The malt flavors are soon joined by pine and citrus hop flavors that carry through to a mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a solid thickness with soft carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall I very much enjoyed this beer. While much hoppier than classic ESB's I think the hops worked in this beer's favor and the malt profile itself is nothing to sneeze at. Well worth a shot.

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Photo of manahansf
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear ruby red color with a creamy off white head. The head dissipates fast but gives off a light hoppy aroma with hints of alcohol. The flavor begins with sweet, semi-tart, maltyness and transitions smoothly into a tart hoppy flavor. Well balanced. This brew has a light body with moderate carbonation and the finish fades into a slight alcohol taste. As the flavor fades away, a tart after taste remains.

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Photo of scottyshades
3.74/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a transparent amber color that gives way to a tiny, white cap of foam that retains for a minute, then recedes away into a minuscule ring. Lacing is decent.

S: Soft fruit, earthy hops, and a bready malty backbone make this one of the most balanced noses I've come across. Pretty good. Its like a subtle version of Sweetwater IPA. The tropical fruits (pineapple, mango) along with apricot makes for an interesting aroma.

T: Similar to the nose, except a lot less balanced somehow...Slightly bitter, the hops are much more dominant than the nose predicted. Resiny, earthy, and pungent hops are only partially balanced by the weaker malt backbone. The fruit character also seems to have been a nose-only character.

MF/D: Good carbonation, a little rough and unrefined going down, bitter hop finish.

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Photo of beerman207
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've become a fan of Heavy Seas ever since visiting Baltimore. They will never have a beer that blows you away but each offering is solid based on the pricepoint.

A: Caramel color with a decent head that leaves a skim lacing on the glass

S: Smells of sweet malt, dark fruit, and some hops.

T: Hops are in there in the front as well as some sweet malt.

M: Medium Body

D: Very high. The alcohol is well masked. I could go for another.

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

Served from a cellar temperature bottle into a pint glass. The beer has a dark copper color, almost brown. There was about a finger of tan bubbles when first poured that quickly dissipated. There is a strong hop presence in the aroma; it evokes grass and caramel. It's quite pleasant. When you first taste the beer you're greeted by a smooth maltiness. This quickly gives way to bitter hops. The bitterness lingers on after you swallow and evolves to a slightly burnt flavor. It's complex and interesting. The beer has a fuller body than I expected; it really coats your mouth. There's also more carbonation than I thought there would be. I find the Winter Storm to be very drinkable. It isn't a beer I'd want to drink quickly, but it has some great characteristics that make me think I could slowly enjoy a number of bottles over the course of an evening.

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Photo of endincolorado
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Clear, deep copper with light, foamy, off-white head and lots of nice lacing.

Smell- Fragrant, piney/floral hop character. Toasty caramel-malt to balance.

Taste- Lots of citrusy hops in foreground, with notes of pine and orange peel. Caramel and toasted malt to balance. Refreshing.

Mouthfeel- Medium body-- not too heavy or too light. Good amount of carbonation.

Drinkability- Greatly refreshing, but also a good brew for cold weather (thanks to some nice malt flavors).

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass:

Appearance: Pours a beautiful amber in color, nice size head slowly builds and stays firm. Soapy lacing sticks inside the glass. Very good head retention.

Smell: I get a strong aroma of some spice up front, a complex hop profile is evident, very earth like with a hint of citrus. Hints of caramel malt pop up in the backround and really balances out the aromas nicely.

Taste: A good balance of hops and malt up front, lots of bread-like malt up front, this leads into some bitter hoppiness and some spices. Caramel malt backbone is reserved yet very smooth. Finishes off with some more malt spice and a touch of alcohol

Mouthfeel: Bitterness is the key here, good carbonation, nice smooth, velvety feeling on the tongue.

Drinkability: A very good ESB to have on a cold winter night. Very drinkable besides the 7.5% ABV, but the hints of spiciness paired with the good balance of hoppiness and malt is a key factor in this beer's complexity. Definetley a beer I'll be having more of this winter.

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Photo of kshankar
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an amber color. Lacing is decent

aroma is caramel, malts and some hops

Taste is the malts at first..then a nice bitter finish from the hops

Mouthfeel is light to medium with good carbonation

Tastes fine, mouthfeel is all good. Drinkable. Give it a try

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Photo of BeerisfoodLLC
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass from my keggerator:

A - Dark amber color, decent rich head that laces nicely.

S - Malt and hop smells are evident here. Balanced smells.

T - Bitter hops blend nicely with the strong malt backbone. Some type of spice is evident as well. Well balanced and the ABV is hardly noticable.

M - Medium to heavy bodied, well carbonated.

D - If you like bitter ales, then you will find this very drinkable for this style.

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

Cask at Churchkey. Cloudy amber with chunks and floaties, medium light tan bubbles, just around the edge of the glass. Aroma of bread and caramel. Nicely hopped but with a good malt balance. Taste has a few splinters of oak, very subtle. Longish bitter finish. Nice enough.

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Photo of ATPete
3.66/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle

Pours an attractive orange/amber color, transparent with some visible carbonation and a medium sized, sticky peach colored head. Perfumey nose, mint leaves, planty hops and an alcohol/solvent character. A round sweetness balances the very hoppy profile, peppery, assertive and pretty easy to drink. The alcohol content is apparent only in the nose, and it does become off putting after a while. Not the best ive had in this "Imperial ESB" style but then again not the worst.

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Photo of hdofu
4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A strawberry jam colored beer with a cappuccino colored head. Smell is hoppy, a big old hop smell kicking the nostrils. Taste starts out a deeply bitter taste which sweetens as it finishes as you progress through the glass the beer gets to be much sweeter as you move through the glass. This is a medium bodied bubbly beer. The beer is sweet enough to settle my desires for a bitter brew while sweet enough to keep me interested.

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Photo of kegger22
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a perfectly clear, deep amber with a small head that dissipated to a very thin collar. I couldn't get much of anything for aroma. The taste was lightly malt and even more lightly hops. In other words, a little bit sweet and a little less bitter, not a real stand out. The feel was medium bodied with a little carbonation. Drinkability was good. Not bad. I have found the Clipper City beers to generally be good valued beers.

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

poured a clear darkish brown with a two finger fine head which went away quickly
Kind of a caramel malty smell
The malts hit first, nicely complex
The mild bitterness kicks in next with an ample amount of carbonation
Unfortunately, very drinkable, given the amount of alcohol this one packs.
This one grows on you, or me at least

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Photo of corby112
3.16/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark, slightly hazy golden amber/chestnut brown color with a thin fizzy yellow head that quickly fades. Not much in the way of lacing.

Bland aroma with some slightly roasted malt notes, subtle hops and sweet alcohol.

Nicely balanced medium body with some caramel malt and hazelnut countering a bitter earthy hop presence. The hop bitterness is pretty tame and not too overpowering but lasts throughout. The ABV is pretty well masked with only some slight alcohol warmth.

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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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