Winter Storm Imperial ESB | Heavy Seas Beer

very good
1,024 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: 1,024 |  Reviews: 522
Photo of smcolw
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good starting head but it dies a little too quickly; very little lace. Light brown color, reasonably clear.

Dark crystal malt aroma--slightly sweet. Great hop kick at the end.

On the dry side (surprising, considering the smell). Full bodied, but not quite creamy. Peppery hop swallow and aftertaste. There's a dry darker malt flavor that comes out in the aftertaste. Great complexity and blend of flavors.

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Photo of rgore
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Pours an amber-red color with a very small light lemon yellow amount of head. Not much lacing on the glass as I drank the beer.

S - A complex nose. Nice balance of hops and malt. Very earthy. This is my favorite aspect of this beer.

T - The balance of hops and malt doesn't hold up as well when I taste. The malts over power the hops. Its an earthy-bitter flavor. More hops to balance with a light floral or fruit taste would help. You can taste the 7.25 alcohol.

M - Crisp, the bitterness stays for a while and drys out the mouth some (not in a bad way).

D - Not something I would session, again I think more hops or reigning back the malt some would help hide or mask the alcohol and improve the drinkability.

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

Pours a three finger cream head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving a good lace. Nice clear amber color. Mix of hops and malt nose. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Flavor is almost sweet caramel with the hops balancing. Better than an ESB - brewer calls this an imperial ESB which fits. $2.00 for a 12oz bottle from Tullys Beer & Wine Wells, Me. Best before Mar 2009.

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

This is a first rate winter beer that I'm glad I picked off the shelf. It pours a nice clear amber color with a small but creamy head, some retention, and lacing. The nose on the beer is sweet malts, cherry type citrus notes, a liqueur type sweet but subtle alcohol hint, and some piney or grapefruity hops. This is a low to medium carbonated beer, but not flat or overly syrupy.

The taste is a delight. This is a medium bodied beer, not too syrupy on the tongue, but oily and smooth. This is a complex beer for sure. There is the full palate of caramel and sweet malts. There is a liqueur type sweetness with warming alcohol notes. There is also some citrus flavors, most noteably a bit of cherry and orange rind. There is a nice piney, grapefruity, slightly bittering hop presence. There isn't the oily or estery hoppiness in the beer, nor is it overly leafy or bittering. The hop is just so well balanced with the sweet malts and liqueur and warming alcohol notes, that the whole beer comes together just nicely. The alcohol is present but not over the top. There is a slightly oily mouthfeel and some lingering piney hop bite in the aftertaste. This is a real treat. L'Chaim.

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

On-Tap at the Flying Saucer in Columbia.

A. 3cm sticky, lacy head caps off this rusted-traincar brew. Still and clear. Nice.

S. Toasted toffee, a little... orange? Hm. Restrained hop citrus notes, sweet, clean and touches of dark bread and ripe red apples. This smells good, and actually smells somewhat ESB like.

T. Citrus hops with a bit of pine and sweet, toasty malt blend well here. The malt is more forward, as you'd expect from an Imperial ESB. The hops come through at the finish and leave a pleasing bitter, lingering aftertaste to complement the roasted, nutty malt notes. I like this and am impressed that the hops aren't running wild as they do in so many American Imperial-ized styles. (Sam Adams Imp Pilsner, I'm looking at you.)

M. Easy to drink, about the right mouthfeel for an ESB, little thicker. Crisp, medium body and smooth.

D. Pretty good for a 7.5% brew. I liked it and had another.

An unexpected find from Clipper City, this is surely the best "Imperial ESB" I've had -- not that I've had many -- but it's all around above average beer. Lacks brew magic, yet solid.

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

A: Pours a clear dark copper with burnt orange edges, an off white head leaves splotchy lacing

S: Caramel malts, and moderate hops but not excessivly grapefruity like a typical Westcoast IPA, some earthy pine and citrus but overall the smell is fairly subdued.

T: sweet toasty malt with an assertive bitterness, lots of complexity in terms of hoppiness due to a combination of British and American hops; spicy, citrusy, and earthy this beer is a very tasty and Americanized version of an ESB, the toasty and sweet malt is well balanced with the bitter spicy hops. Just a hint of alcohol

M: very smooth and slick with medium to low carbonation

D: this is one of my favorite ESB's and I find this very drinkable almost sessionable, the alcohol is very well hidden until you finish the six pack and have a decent buzz going.

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Photo of droomyster
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper with a sudzy tan head. Smells of sweet carmel malts and faint citrus hops. Tastes is full of brown sugar and molasses up front but over the effect is well-balaced because it finishes considerably drier, with a burst of piney hops on the back end that linger. I like this beer quite a lot. In terms of drinkability, Winter Storm is dangerously good. Despite it's high abv I could keep reaching for this one all night long.

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Photo of PatrickJR
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

A - Clear, deep copper with a finger of beige head. Retention is decent; moderate lacing.

S - Great caramel and buttery aroma with a floral hop undertone. Overall a very sweet, but mild and subdued aroma.

T - Sweet malt from the nose starts things off, but again very mild. Hints of caramel and vanilla and fleeting suggestions of toffee. Late palate the hops come in stronger than expected, but still in balance with the malt. A few citrus flavors peek through along with some piney and herbal notes. Mild to moderate bitterness is present and the brew finishes on a fruity note, somewhere between apples and apricots. Aftertaste is a lingering, earthy bitterness. Alcohol is hidden well.

M - Near perfect. This beer is ultra smooth. Medium, almost full, bodied with a soft to moderate carbonation that edges in barely on the sides of the tongue.

D - Another please? A fantastic beer that I will revisit this winter and in winters to come. A little high in ABV, but it's difficult to notice.

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Photo of Lexluthor33
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Amber color with copper/reddish highlights. Small head,but a thin,lace that retains it's form well.

The aroma of caramel,malts,hops and some citrus hints.

The taste of floral hops,caramel malts and a touch of sweetness.
There were hints of alcohol and some vanilla.

The feel was medium body,medium carbonation with a dry finish and smooth touch. Even the bitterness was subdued by the overall balance.
Some warmth. Alcohol comes out more and the seas get heavy once this brew warms.

Notes: So well balanced. Alcohol was well hidden. A true winter beer and a fine one at that. Next time I buy six! (1/21/09-I did just that)

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

12oz to tulip glass, pours a roasty looking deep amber shade, off white head fades to lacing.

smell is of good roasty malts, butterscotch, toffee, caramel, light hops, smells good

taste is bitter at the start, creamy heavy malts follow returning to bitter hops. Sweet and citric, toffee, alcohol is hidden well... not bad

mouthfeel is of lingering hops, good malty creaminess, silky and easy to drink/session despite higher alc

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

A - Pours a reddish copper with a thin, slowly dissipating khaki head.

S - Smells sweet, bit o dark toffee.

T - Nice warm, roasty malt. A bit of bite from the hops takes over in the finish. This is a winter beer not dominated by spice like some are. A nice alcohol punch is evident here.

M - Medium creamy with very little noticeable carbonation.

D - I'd drink another. Not my favorite, but I'd recommend it.

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Photo of boilers
4.41/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - copper colored beer with lacy tan head
Aroma - very malty with very little hop presence.
Taste - hop-forward taste rounded out by a good malty finish
Mouthfeel - alcohol detectable but not overpowering. Body could be a bit heavier.

Very easy to drink and a good unique beer!

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Photo of macpapi
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am becoming a huge fan of this brewery. So when I saw their winter release at my local beer story I had to pick up a single to review.

Pours a nice reddish-brown color. Pretty clear through the glass. Has a very good inch or so tannish head and decent lacing.

Smell is dominated by biscuity presence along with a good malt and hop balance. Good aroma.

Taste is malt and quite a nice hop puhch. It is bitter, that's for sure. In a good way though. Alcohol is a bit notable.

Mouthfeel is crisp and biting. This beer packs a bit of a punch.

Overall this is a very nice winter beer. Perfect for cold nights either at sea or on land. It is quite bold, yet is still eminently drinkable. Another fine effort for Heavy Seas!!

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Photo of stockingcpl
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Amazing pour. ery heavy frothy cream colored head. Extensive lacing. Upon pouring, the head foam seemed to cascade similar to a Guiness Stout. Color was a deep amber. Impressive!

Smell: The aroma is also interesting. A strong orange zest with spice overtures were detected. Caramel sweetness mixed with malt aroma. Very pleasant.

Taste: As befits this style of beer, the flavor has a strong character. In this case a heavy malt presence infuses the taste curve. A nice sharp high alpha hops flavor jumps in during mid flavor and remains during the totality of the sustain. Rather impressive. None of the flavors overpower any of the others. Blended quite well.

Mouthfeel: This brew excells in the totality of the taste experience. The flavors remain fairly consistant with a slight afterglow. There is a faint alcohol flavor at the tail o the sustain which leaves a faint aftertaste, but other than that, the brew is well rounded. Turning down the alcohol might help for homebrewers wanting to copy this recipe.

Drinkability: The drinkability is fairly high for this type of brew. Keep in mind however that this is a high alsohol brew with a very hop/malt presence.

Conclusions: This is an excellent brew that was put together well with obvious planning in the design. Others have noted a lack of carbonation, I observed plenty of carbonation...not too much...not too little. This brew is recommended to drinkers, however it will be a little strong for newbies.


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Photo of thain709
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - A very nice amber color...bordering on off white head that leads to a nice amount of lacing

S - Sweet malts...maybe...I can't pick up anything too special

T - A nice balance between hops and malts...the caramel malts from the nose are up front...finishes with a refreshing dose of floral hops

M - Carbonated...medium bodied

D - This is a nice winter beer...I'm looking forward to trying other Heavy Seas beer

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

Had on tap at Fatheads...was suggested to me and I really enjoyed this beer!

A: Pours a ruby red/brown color with a one finger off white tan head.

S: Not as much initially. Some sweet malt, alcohol with a twinge of hops.

T: I was not overly impressed with the smell, but the taste more than made up for it. Starts off with a good amount of bready and caramel malts. Finishes with a floral hop taste.

M: A good amount of carbonation for this medium body beer.

D: I really enjoyed this ESB, but for me, this style of beer I cannot have more than 2 in a sitting It is one of my favorite ESB's though that I have tried, though I have not tried many but I will.

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Photo of russpowell
4.04/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from Sebletije, cheers Seb!

Pours copper with a finger of sand colored head. Very good head retention

S: Slight brown bread notes

T: Caramel, a touch of leafy hops, some dryness & brown sugar up front. Herbal hops, more caramel, a touch of toffee & dryness as this warms. Finishes with slight grapefruit hoppyness, plus leafy hops more caramel & a kiss of vanilla???

MF: Medium bodied, semi-sticky, fairly low carbonation, great balance

Drinks pretty easy for the ABV, a nice heavy hitting example of the style. One of the better beers from this brewery IMO

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Photo of crashoveride
3.12/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Was poured into a pint glass from a 12oz. bottle. It poured a light amber/copper color with a very small head that disappeared as I drank it. The smell was of sweet hoppy notes maybe a little caramel as well. The taste was a little disappointing as it did not live up to the smell and up to imperial ESB expectations. With that said the drinkability was also average as it left a little dryness at the finish.

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Photo of steelcutoats
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Winter Storm "Category 5" Ale

This would be beer #2 from my Thanksgiving brew pack. The label calls this beer an Imperial ESB or "Extra Special Bitter". I've had ESB's before in the past but never an Imperial ESB, so my interests are already peaked. I poured the beer into my crystal snifter with very little head. The color is a deep ruby, yielding to light when held up to the light. The aroma is rich with the fresh citrus and bitterness of hops, along with the roasted, mellow notes of malt. The taste is equally impressive. A good amount of bitterness provided by the hops, and keeps the aftertaste nice and clean. The malts provide a good balance of sweetness that round out the beer. The label proclaims a 7.5% ABV, which is well hidden. I would highly recommend checking this wonderful winter brew.

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Photo of taylorhamrick
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice Red/Amber color, with a small head, without a whole lot of lacing, but swirls of bubbles stay around for the whole drink. You can smell the sweetness upfront, with a bit of hops in the background, nothing very incredible, but it makes me want to start drinking. The taste is sweet with a good kick of hoppy bitterness. Some of the hop flavor is around, a tiny bit of citrus taste, but primarily sweetness, like a golden raisin I would say. The balance of bitterness and sweetness makes this one enjoyable to drink, and despite the above average ABV for the style, it is still very drinkable.
I've had this beer on multiple occasions from its arrival until now, and it was enjoyable each time. And its worth purchasing - I'd call it a good value.

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

poured a redish color with a large tan head that fades to a thin white lacing over the entire top, the smell is big red malt and not to be out done some hops hit my nose, the taste at first is carmel malt, dry bread and the start of the hops, the midle is the malt and hops ballincang equaly with each outher and the end flavor is a strong pine tar tipe taste, i dont know much about the stile but i like this one for sure

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Photo of cjgator3
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle

A- Pours a copper color with an off-white head that leaves a good amount of lace.

S- There's a lot of malt in the aroma, along with some caramel and piney hops. I love hoppy Winter Ales, so this should be a treat.

T- The taste like the aroma benefits from a big malt backbone and a good amount of hop bitterness in the finish. Neither the hops nor the malt outshine each other in this one, it is very nicely balanced.

M- The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

D- Pretty solid drinker, the alcohol is definitely present but it drinks pretty well. Overall, Winter Storm is a pretty solid Winter Seasonal that I wouldn't mind revisiting.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.13/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep ruby with barely any amount of head. Little spotty lacing. Smells of citrus and malt. Some slight alcohol scent wafting out.

Taste of alcohol and some citrus notes. Deep bitter aftertaste. Some licorice and dark fruit flavors. Gets better as it warms. Not too bad. Moutfeel is nice and crisp due to a decent amount of carbonation. Not a bad ESB. But wouldn't drink a ton of these due to the ABV.

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Photo of Dodo2step
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

P- Market Cross Pub in Carlisle.

A- pours a nice clear ruby amber color with a nice head that leaves a spot lacing on my glass.

S- alcohol and strong floral hops come to the forefront. It is rounded out with a piney and citrus aroma as well.

T- A strong dry grapefruit and piney flavor. Quite hoppy and somewhat malty. they dont balance each other out very well. Very dry tangy flavor.

M- dry and bitter. not very smooth or creamy. A tart and bitter coating in the mouth.

D- I like ESB's but this one isnt as good as some of the others. It is decent but i have had better. It can be hard to put more than 2 of these down.


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Photo of aubuc1
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle in to a tulip.

pours a clear brown with an offwhite two finger head.

Cascade smell of citrus and pine yet a nice malt match. Very nice.

First blush is hops, then the smooth malts take over. different than anticipated. Not like other ESB's, but better in my opinion.

Mouthfeel is a little thin, and the hoppiness and abv make it a little less drinkable than your typical esb, but the taste more than makes up for it. Another solid beer from the Heavy seas line.

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Winter Storm Imperial ESB from Heavy Seas Beer
3.84 out of 5 based on 1,024 ratings.
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