Winter Storm Imperial ESB | Heavy Seas Beer

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Winter Storm Imperial ESBWinter Storm Imperial ESB
Very Good
1,049 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,049 |  Reviews: 530
Photo of hopdog
3.47/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle.

Poured a deeper orangish / copper color with an averaged sized off white head. There were lots of suspended particles in there too. Aromas of caramel, toasted grains, and citrus. Tastes of caramel, toffee, and citrus.

Notes from: 12/24/07

 254 characters

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

This is definitely a quality brew, like everything I've had from Clipper City. It's negative attributes are really positive attributes.

There is no bite and no hoppy aftertaste, two things I expect in this kind of brew. There isn't even any feedback on the booziness. It goes down smoothly. One could easily drink a bunch of these and suddenly find oneself wasted. I think I might do that.

It's perfectly clear but a darkish reddish brown. The one I am drinking is a little flat too, but not so much as to be none drinkable. Maybe it was too cold.

I've had these before and I'll have them again (within minutes). Like all the other Heavy Seas beers, this is recommended.

 675 characters

Photo of Coorskid33
3.19/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass

Appears~ Pours an amber red with a slight orange to it. Small head with minimal retention and lacing. Clear and clean in appearance.

Smells~ Malty and hoppy. I didn't know this beer was on sterioids until I smelled it. Bottle read 7.5 %. It was pleasant overall.

Taste~ wow, alcohol and malt flavors are strong all the way through. Initial hops gives way to a bullish alcohol finish.

Mouthfeel~ Thin and smooth with good carbonation.

Drinkability~ Fair. I guess good for what it is, but not my idea of a good winter brew. Probably won't have another but worth the try and experience of having this type of beer.

 643 characters

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

Poured from the bottle a deep clear amber with two fingers of frothy white head.

Aroma is very floral with a good amount of sweet malts and caramel.

Tastes of malts, caramel, floral hops, and biscuit. Clean hoppy finish. The 7.5% alcohol is well hidden.

Medium bodied, smooth, and moderately carbonated.

Easy drinking, smooth, and an enjoyable winter ESB.

 359 characters

Photo of kkosmoski
3.82/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Longneck poured into a tulip style. Bit of haze on this dark amber colored brew. Small amount of cream colored head with tiny bubbles crawling up to the surface. Sticky lacing covers the inside of the glass. Aroma is fruity with hints of pineapple, orange, banana, and a touch of dark toast. Sweet orange flavor to start off followed by some toasty malt and finishing with tropical fruits and an earthy bitterness. Feel is sticky and medium-full with a smooth carbonation. Drinkability suffers a bit from a sticky sweet feel and upped alcohol content.

I do look forward to this seasonal from Clipper City. It is balanced and one of the more approachable brews in their heavy seas series - a solid brew.

 704 characters

Photo of clayrock81
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a two-finger head with seethru body that left a lace ring as it went down my mug. Small, minor aromas of both sweet malts and citric hop notes. Smooth and creamy with a subdued malt sensation that is well-balanced with hints of cocoa and caramel. The hops are noticeable too with a leafy, bitter feeling that leads to a balanced beer and a spicy, dry backbite. Both mellow/sweet and with some hop pick-me-up, the ABV is tucked away well and this beer picked me up on a very cold Pittsburgh afternoon.

 507 characters

Photo of farrago
4.28/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Super-clear, almost shiny, amber red to orange in hue, you could read an eye chart through it, the head disappears real, real quick with no real lacing left behind. Nothing archly bitter about the nose, green hops, spices, meadow-like florality and grassiness, nothing too concentrated, the citrus component starts and then stops, not too round nor soft, just angular enough to stay within category bounds. Medium-bodied, glides well for its consciously semi-gritty texture, the malt eases it into the palate and ably hands off to the hops by the mid-palate. Orange rind, pine resin, hard maple candy, hardly any caramel nor chocolate accents. Never really bitter here too, just keeps you off-balance and plunging forward at angles. Really grows on you over time.

 763 characters

Photo of donteatpoop
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice clear amber red color with a finger-thick cap of white head.

Smells of bready malts and a light floral hop.

A very tastey winter ale with no "tricks up its sleeves" that most winter brews tend to attempt.

Semi-sweet malts and a mellow bitterness dominate the palate.

This would make an excellent session beer, I'll be buying more of this.

 348 characters

Photo of hosehead83
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into pint glass

Color-ruby/amber/copper with 1in. head

Taste- A malty onrush followed by a hoppy undertone, a lingering bitter finish

Not bad at all, but not the best from Clipper City- certainly worth a try, especially if you are fortunate enough to have a beer store that allows single bottle purchases

 314 characters

Photo of jjboesen
4.63/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Having always been a fan of this Baltimore brewery, I was eager to suck this baby down! There was little dissapointment: this beer offers a golden hue with clarity; and it abides beneath a fast-dissolving head, loose clingage and many pinpoint bubbles rising from the bottom.

The nose is treated to an intense floral bouquet that is present at the initial pour. The palate is offered a sweet hop intensity throught the quaff.

I did enjoy the acute and well-balanced hop/malt mouthfeel; additionally, there was detected a lingering warmth sans any noticable bitterness - surprising, given this style.

I love Clipper City beer. They always have something wonderful to offer. Would that they could increase their distribution area, so more beer lovers could fall in love with their wonderful product.

 800 characters

Photo of sweetwaterman
4.42/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours a sort of dark orange amber. Medium head that doesn't last long, but goes to lingering lacing. Appears mostly clear.

Smell: Nice smell very malty, with a hint of sweet. What I'd expect of a winter-type beer.

Taste: Mmmmm, nice solid malt flavor, aggressive hop bitterness about the middle. sweet finish.

Mouthfeel: Slightly viscous. Can kinda-sorta taste the alcohol.

Drinkability: A fine winter beer. I can see why people are giving this one accolades. Would quaff again.

 494 characters

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

12 oz. bottle best before April 2009.

Clear orange copper body, topped by a small, gauzy, light khaki head. Good lacing. Nose shows off toffee malts, grassy-herbal hops, faint metal, toasted bread, and strawberry jam. Toasted grains and minty hop bitterness up front. Toffee and cookie dough malts add some sweetness, while maintaining a toasted edge. Herbal, grassy hop bitterness comes in near the finish as the malts turn a little butterscotchy. Slightly warming. Medium body with a creamy feel. A pretty good winter-y ESB.

 527 characters

Photo of Vendetta
3.18/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours burnt reddish-orange, nice foamy head that leaves a lacing.

Smells well balanced, some bready malt followed by a tad of piney hops. Very nice.

Taste follows, some very good balance to be found in this brew. The malt is good, caramel. A bit more wet than the smell would indicate, at least. Some sweetness, a little bit of a brown sugar twinge. The finish is hoppy, and a bit sticky.

Mouthfeel is good. It's medium-bodied, smooth finish, but decently thick. Very satisfying.

This is a pretty good brew, I'd recommend it for sure.

 538 characters

Photo of vitamaltz
4.08/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- This poured a pretty copper but had a small head that vanished in less than a minute.

S- Not much, but I have a lousy sniffer.

T- A well-balanced beer can also be a revved-up beer with lots of yin and yang. The hops hit like the first rush of a heroin dose (at least, that's what it looks like in the movies. I have no idea what I'm talking about), but quickly and smoothly transition to malty peaches and some other fruit that grows in Florida. There's more of an alcoholic bite than I'd expect for the style and the ABV.

M- Medium-to-thin and gone after the swallow, but that's not a bad thing for an "Imperial ESB." It's not quite sessionable, but I could have two without burning out. Tonight I had a stronger beer earlier and I'm ready to call it a night.

 769 characters

Photo of wchesak
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass

A - like a light colored brown ale with a hint of red, not much of a head and some lacing

S - nice bready, yeasty smell almost like going into a bakery...a slight hint of citrus from the hops right at the beginning but gives way quickly

T - very complex flavor, hard to pick up on everything that is going on...the hop grapefruit hits off first with the carbonation and eventually gives way to a malty, bread like flavor and then finally an almost bitter chocolate is the last thing I get

M - initially strong with the hop presence and carbonation but then becomes smooth quickly, lingering flavors

D - love ESBs in general but Clipper City takes this well beyond most...could see myself buying some to savor year round

 750 characters

Photo of nrbw23
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a clear copper color with an biege head. Head has ok retention and then forms a ring of bubbles that stays the entire brew. Head also leaves some nice layered lacing.

S- First thing that hits me is malts both bready and caramel. Also a little bit of a citrus hop in here.

T- Malts here at front and then finishes with a nice hop bite. A lot of stuff going on here.

M- Medium body and just a little too high on carbonation.

D- I like this one here and a solid brew for sure.

 486 characters

Photo of superdedooperboy
4.08/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle into a snifter glass. Best by date of April '09 clearly indicated on the label.

Pours ruby-brown, with a slight off-white head that fades quickly to a ring that holds throughout but leaves little remnant of its existence on the glass.

Nose is full of slight bready, toffee malt notes and bears, as the label suggests, an earthy tone.

Full-bodied, the palate is dominated by biscuity malts and bitter, piney hops. No alcohol presence is detected, and the finish is slightly sweet, bready, bitter, and dry.

Pretty drinkable, though the elevated alcohol content, while hidden on the tongue, makes itself known in the head.

Clipper City has brewed up a powerful storm of flavor with this one.

 727 characters

Photo of gford217
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle courtesy of Secret Santa lackenhauser poured into a pint glass.

Pours a deep, clear amber with a slight red hue to it. The head is a small creamy tan cap that recedes slowly to a thick ring leaving some spotty lacing.

Aroma is sweet with malts and has some grassy hops as well. Some light fruity sweetness is also in the nose with some apples and pears.

The taste starts with a quick citrus hop kick up front before giving way to the bready malt backbone. There is still some sweetness with both caramel and some light fruits. The bitterness from the hops comes back in the finish.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and well-carbonated. There is actually hints of the alcohol on the palate, which surprised me a little.

This is an amped up ESB that still stays fairly drinkable. It's not extremely complex but is enjoyable nonetheless.

 849 characters

Photo of argock
4.27/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a clear pint glass. Freshness date notched on label.

A: Nice-looking dark amber with 1-2 finger sticky head with respectable retention and lacing.

S: Delicious aromas of both thick, sweet pale and caramel malts and earthy and floral hops blend to complete a wonderful smelling brew.

T: More sweet than hoppy, but the maltiness is impressive. This is a great addition to the Heavy Seas lineup and livers up to the standards of Small Craft Warning and Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale. This fits nicely as an "Imperial ESB" as it states on the label: sumptuous, barely dominant malting with significant spicy and floral hops form a great flavor combination.

M: The mouthfeel belies the careful attention to the hefty malt load used for this beer. Silky and pretty viscous with a sweetish aftertaste. Carbonation is low-to-medium.

D: This is a very good winter ale that fits as a very malty but hoppy ale. It's a very good beer for those who enjoy a balanced beer brewed with care and no malt or hops limits.

 1,034 characters

Photo of TheMistler
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle with a "Brewery-fresh taste" by date notch of Feb. '09.

Creamy, yellow-tinged light tan head. Great lacing. Lots of CO2 along the sides of the glass obscure my view through the beer, but it is a clear orange-ish brown.

Caramel malt serves as kind of a base for the nose, which is fairly pungent (in a good way), with a lot of aromas built on top. Chocolate notes. Grass. Slight dusting of spice and a citrus tang.

Chocolate (becomes more noticeable as the beer warms) and caramel malts. Some grapefruit. Grassy, earthy. Grass and pepper spice crest with the carbonation, which is crisp and plentiful. Aftertaste has both chocolaty sweetness and some hop bittering, grapefruit with hints of pine. The whole package does indeed give a cherry impression at times, as other reviews have noted. Solid doses of malt and hops, well balanced.

Medium bodied, creamy, doughy. The carbonation keeps things fairly easy drinking.

 947 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle dated best by April 09'.

A. Poured into a clean pint glass. Stunning amber with a soapy off white head that sticks around for some lace.

S. A malty and floral nose with just a hint of citrus. Strong bready and earthy notes fill the room.

T. Honey like malt sweetness paired with some brutal earthy pine/grapefruit hop. The malt needs to be very sweet to combat the hop onslaught and does a good job at that but could have used more character. Actually as it warms some roasted malt pulls through and is nice, watch the serving temp. on this one. Probably the most kick ass tasty ESB I've had.

M. Pretty decent overall mouthfeel, creamy yet abrasive to the palate. Smooth yet harsh. Lingering sweet hop on the tongue.

D. This is an extreme ESB and I like it alot.

 780 characters

Photo of williamherbert
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A pale blush red. Large foamy head. Hazy with visible specks of sediment. Thick creamy lace. Great.

Malts sweetly toasted caramel, with hints of sweet berries. Light mocha. Grassy, flowery hop presence. A little sweeter than expected but nice.

Sweet cherry liqueur in the taste. The malts come in more sweet in the taste. Caramel and mocha give a balance. Sharp spicy hop, earthy and rustic. Leafy.

Creamy and rather thick feel. A tiny burn at the swallow. A good, slightly unbalanced drink. Very drinkable but sweeter than it could be.

 539 characters

Photo of beveritt
3.47/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Label depicts a cubic drawing of someone manning the helm during a storm. Recommends drink by April 2009.

Appearance: Pours with just shy of one finger of light tan head. This settles slowly to a ring around the glass and an island of foam in the center of the glass. A very small amount of lacing. The beer itself is a brilliant ruby copper color. No sediment in the bottle.

Smell: Sugary caramel malt with hints of toffee. Slight acrid bite in the finish, not unpleasant, just noticeable.

Taste: Strong caramel malt upfront, with hints of maple syrup, followed by high medium hop bitterness. Finishes dry and midly astringent.

Mouthfeel: Average carbonation level. Body is good.

Drinkability: A pleasant enough beer, with nice malt depth.

 821 characters

Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.64/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best by date of March 09.

Pours from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Beautiful looking beer. Clear and cherry wood stained in color. A slightly tan head of about two fingers forms: it is dense, rocky, and very frothy.

Aroma is a big letdown. I really dont get much at all. I tried and tried. About the only thing I smell is a metallic aroma like a wet battery or cold, wet steel.

Decent flavor. Pretty hoppy and a touch alcoholic. Creamy and caramel malty with some good hop bitterness but not much flavor. Earthy hop flavor with some fruitiness.

Medium bodied with a touch too much carbonation. Finishes really dry which accentuates the hop bitterness. Not a bad beer. A little heavy in the alcohol for an ESB but I guess this is a "Heavy Seas" beer. I would recommend this one.

 785 characters

Photo of kwakwhore
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark copper pour into a DFH shaped pint glass. Ample off white head which subsides fairly quickly but leaves nice lacing as it subsides.
Aroma is a nice balance of hops and malt.
Pretty good balance in the flavor as well. Hoppier than the aroma would lead you to believe. Hops are a little more prominent than the malt but there is an underpinning of sweet malt which makes for a nice balance.
Decent mouthfeel, a bit syrupy. Pretty drinkable but I notice the alcohol a bit more than I would expect to at this abv.
A decent stab at an ESB. I'm not sure that it is really so strong that it deserves the "Imperial" designation on the bottle, but I will look for it again next year.

 680 characters

Winter Storm Imperial ESB from Heavy Seas Beer
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 1,049 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.