Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) | Heavy Seas Beer

very good
519 Reviews
Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale)Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale)

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:
No notes at this time.

Added by pezoids on 02-17-2004

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Reviews: 519 | Ratings: 1,015
Photo of Crackblind
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pint from a cask. Definitely benefits from being cask drawn rather than tap. Nice bubbly foam head though sweeter scent than expected. Thin mouthfeel but very pleasant flavor. I'm a big fan of ESBs and while I was not disappointed, the sweetness did surprise me. Would definitely get again.

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Photo of sweetwaterman
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

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Photo of IceTrey9785
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got a six-pack on sale since the spring seasonal brews are starting to hit retail stores...$7.49.

A: Poured the ale in to an English pub glass, medium to full body, really nice cherry/chestnut hue, with a nice pearl lacing that remains for the whole ale. The creaminess and the rich color remind me of a Smithwick's initially.

S: Spicy, citric hops, pine resin, rosemary, sage, bread pudding, and toffee round out the nose. Perhaps a hint of spiced black tea on the end. A hint of alcoholic spice, but nothing overwhelming. Big, robust, and very complex.

T&M: Very rich, creamy, and full. Lots of flavor, initially very sweet. The caramelized malt dominates the palate with flavors of salted toffee, peanuts, with a hint of milk chocolate. Halfway through the hop bitterness takes over and you're left with a candied, spicy ginger taste with orange peel, clover honey, and rosemary needles. I enjoy the contrast. Very crisp and clean on the finish, rather refreshing for such a huge beer.

I really like this one. It is much more balanced than a lot of ESB's I've had before and I think it is nice for a change. There is hop spice, but not the elaborate "coriander, ginger, nutmeg, etc" that you find with other winter brews. I prefer when a brewery can let the hops speak in the beer without tweaking the natural aromas and flavors. I'd buy this again -- definitely a beer to keep you warm when it is below freezing outside...

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Photo of GrizzlyBrew
3.21/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - rich amber, brilliantly clear, a whitish head that disappeared almost immediately

S - metallic/minerally character (reminds me of Bombardier, but a little too prominent), some British yeast characters

T - low bitterness with a semi-sweet malt character coating the palate and then a sharp turn towards toffee at the end of the sip; an unexpected twist. That dark, dry caramelized finish is nice, but comes a little too late and fades too quickly. There is also a alcohol sweetness coming through (not heat, but sweet).

M - fine carbonation at a moderate level, but still extremely smooth overall

O - A little too disjointed for me. Some nice characteristics, but they fail to play nicely together and leave me searching too hard for the highlights.

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Photo of cdrummer
3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Murky, cherry wood colored brew topped with a short-lived off-white head.

S: Herbal and floral with a surprisingly soft hop aroma.

T&M: A firm viscous mouthfeel with flavors that start out nice and malty then - WHAMMY! - the hops come in with a storm surge of bitterness that lingers all the way through the warming alcohol finish. Overall pleasant caramel, woody, dark fruit and earthy notes (accented by a yeastiness) that get more smoothed out and complex as the beer warms.

D: I am a fan of big bitterness, but with the alcohol being quite in-your-face, I feel it is best sipped instead of guzzled. But that's just me.

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Photo of tigerdoc
4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a deep amber color with very little head that quickly dissapates. Hops dominate the aroma with floral and piney notes with some yeasty notes and biscuity malt notes. Taste reflects the aroma with mostly hop flavor coming out balanced with toasty malt. Moderate carbonation accentuates the hops without making the beer too filling. A very drinkable beer that is more hoppy than many of the amber winter beers, which I find as a welcome change to many of the malt balanced beers.

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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 Bebum
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Muddy, orange-brown color,
Full body, intense flavor, rich but not heavy mouthfeel, avg length.
Bitter, tart, background sweetness well in balance, bitter finish.
Fruity, orange juice-like,
Different, very interesting.

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Photo of drinknewbelgium
3.52/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours dark amber decent head that doesnt last smells of hops and caramelly malts with woody hints tastes of caramel and sweetness then accented with a great flow of hops nice mixed of flavors and interesting enough i think i could have one or two but the taste would bore me after a while

this one i would recommend to anybody nice seasonal beverage

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Photo of jbriggs7036
4.27/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bam! On Cask at Frisco's in Columbia

Looks great, and the head is sexy coming from the cask.

Smells of fruity/fresh hops, purely delicious

Taste- PLeasure to the palate. Again very fresh.

MF- Could have a bit more carbonation

Drinkability- 2 and out.

Overall, loved it, went back to Frisco's looking for it, but they had switched their cask to a Flying Dog that was also good.

PS. Frisco's is my new favortite place to go

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Photo of LanceW
3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearence: Dark amber in color with a thin layer of carbonation retained through out the tasting.

Smell: When served at a colder temp the beer did not have any sent at all. There was an aroma as the beer heated up but nothing I could put my finger on

Taste: Very solid beer. Easy to drink and had a very balanced flavor. Would definitely have again but nothing to write home about.

Mouth feel: what you would expect from a beer of this caliber. Nice body but nothing too thick or thin. Once again... very well balanced.

Drinkability: Easy to drink and could have more than one at a sitting.

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Photo of RappAttack
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poors an orange color with thin white head
S: malty and earthy
T: sweet malty-ness at the beginning with a nice citrus hop bite at the end, a tiny boozy aftertaste
M: fair amont of carbonation and very refreshing

O: once again clipper city delivers a quality ale at reasonable price

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Photo of manleyphoto
4.07/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clipper City's Heavy Seas line has made a habit of "imperializing" classic beer styles. To make a beer "imperial" brewers up the malt and hop content thereby boosting the alcohol content and as a result amplify the flavor and body of a beer. Heavy Seas' beers include, an imperial pilsner, an imperial IPA, an imperial stout, and a high octane abbey-style beer. Winter Storm is the cold weather installment of their line of big beers.
Winter Storm is in the style of an Extra Special Bitter, which going by the name is a bit of a misnomer. Bitters are an English style of pale ale that are typically served on draft and are neither very bitter, nor very strong. Bitters are notable for their absolute balance. They are typically neither malt-forward, nor hop-forward beers, although both elements are noticeable; very English, and very reserved. In short, bitters are design to be consumed in quantity and as often as possible.
Winter Storm is like an amped-up ESB. The aroma is of caramel malt and earthy English hops which works perfectly for the style. The beer pours a light reddish amber with very little head. Frankly speaking the beer is lovely to look at and even more pleasant to taste. There is a lot of hop flavor, but the beer the hops are not tart citrus-bombs typical in American pale ale. The hops taste like England; green, earthy and slightly spicy, kind of like newly plowed soil.
This beer is not a superstar. It doesn't scream for attention, but it's no slouch either. At over seven per cent alcohol, it should be treated with respect. Winter Storm does live up to the legacy of its style though, an easy drinker for daily use. Heavy Seas' habit of making "imperial" classics is really paying off for me, and Winter Storm works as smooth drinking delicious beer.

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Photo of Coorskid33
3.19/5  rDev -16.9%
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.

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Photo of SidewinderX
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into pint glass. Notched April 09 on the bottle (probably why it's on sale here).

Appearance: Pours a clear brown with a small tan head.

Smell: Complex hoppy aroma. Very nice.

Taste: Similarly complex taste with a nice sharp hoppy bite. I like this.

Mouthfeel: Sharp alcohol bite, not exactly warming.

Drinkability: Heavy on the alcohol, probably don't want to have too many of these.

Decent beer, distinct taste. I'd buy it again.
Edit: Pairs nicely with some dark chocolate I had.

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Photo of sdawson
4.39/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Given to me by a generous on-BAer. Thanks Kelli! Winter Storm pours a beautiful brown with ruby undertones. There is a thin layer of foam and moderate lacing on this. I found the scent somewhat nondescript with pine and sweet resin dominating. The taate is where this one truly shines for me, an introduction of sweet sugary maple gives way to tart grapefruit and lemon. The mouthfeel is near-perfect, but a touch overcarbonated for the subtler notes. I am very sad Clipper City is not local, as this would be a very welcome six pack to be always on hand. To be fair, I must be very partial to the imperial esb style, as I loved Velvet Underground ESB when Hopworks had it on draft. I wish more brewers would work with this beautiful style.

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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 binkman
3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - I like head. This one had a decent quarter inch or so, but it didnt last. Hence the less than 4.0 rating. Otherwise, its a very attractive amber orange.

S - I have a cold. Not much came through it all. Not fair, I know. I'll update it later when the nose is working a little better.

T - So this might suffer from the cold, too. It tastes rather metallic, almost coppery. Coming through the metalness is a burnt kind of caramel. Very alcoholic. Really fits Baltimore pretty well.

M - Very carbonated but its not a bad thing, takes your mind off the metal. Finishes very clean and dry.

D - Don't drink it with anything salty, it tends to highlight the boozy character and undercut the more subtle hopsy flavor. That being said its just too metallic for more than a few. Luckily as an ESB you won't need more than a few.

Overall it's decent brew and I'll drink it again. ESBs aren't my favorite style but this one's decent. Nice company for a winter night.

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Photo of TastyFoodAndDrink
3.57/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pouring a hazy orange-brownish color leaning into mahogany, Heavy Seas Winter Storm gives an initial top note of hops. As it opens up, there’s elements of orange peel, subtle woodsy notes, and elements of cacao. There’s just the slightest trace of bread. On the palate it starts bright, slightly bitter with flavors of citrus, pine, and an earthiness that’s almost slightly herbal. The hop flavors are plentiful, the but the malt plays back up, with notes of subtle biscuit, burnt sugar, and toast. The body is thick, noticeably carbonated, bright, and focused on hops leaning into the bitter side of the spectrum. The ending comes alive has elements of unlit mild cigars, dried herbal notes, bread, burnt sugar, and hits of citrus pith. The finish is long and complex.

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Photo of FireEmt37
3.35/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- dark amber color, little head, nice lacing

S-toasty and earthy aromas come through nicely

T- stong, bitter hop flavor, slight metallic taste also

M- smooth with a little carbonation, a little heavy

D- a decent beer if you like strong a strong malt/hop beer.

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

Appearance: A bold, translucent, dark red color. Hardly any head, but I could see bubbles throughout.

Aroma: A subtle, hoppy aroma.

Taste: Very bitter, very hoppy. The kind of taste I like for a cold winter day.

Mouthfeel: Rather heavy, but refreshing. Just the right amount of carbonation to feel good on the mouth.

Overall: Well crafted. Just what I would expect for an extra special bitter to sip on during a cold winter day locked inside the house. Try it with some dark, smoked meats.

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Photo of cfriend2
4.65/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This one pours a deep copper color under a beautifully thick and full head. Great lacing. Strong aroma of hops and alcohol, some citrus and caramel in the nose as well. Great taste: grassy hops balanced very well with a nice amount of bitterness, some malt sweetness, and a hint of alcohol, but not too much. A citrusy and lightly bitter aftertaste. Nice full mouthfeel. Would definitely have another.

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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 vitamaltz
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

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Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) from Heavy Seas Beer
3.84 out of 5 based on 1,015 ratings.
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