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

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very good
515 Reviews

Brewed by:
Heavy Seas Beer
Maryland, United States | website

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: 515 | Ratings: 984
Photo of cjgator3
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
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 Bitterbill
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I got this bottle in a trade with Wasatch. Thanks John!

It pours from 12oz bottle a slightly hazy medium gold/brown with a very small head of foam that left the scene quickly. Just a ring around the glass and some spotting left after about a minute.

The smell is about equal portions of sweet malt and citrus hops.

The taste on first sips gives me a very large caramel malt flavour and some alcohol. A few more sips in and the hops take their place with both grass and grapefruit and some earthy flavour is there as well. It has a medium mouthfeel and it finishes with a healthy dose of grass. A pretty good sipper here but I think the alcohol isn't as well hidden as in other brews of similar abv. Too much warming in the throat.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle

Appearance - The beer pours a clear reddish brown colour with a large size frothy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some really nice lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it began to dissipate.

Smell - malts, raisins, hay/straw, caramel

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a below average amount of carbonation and it has a full bodied taste. There are lots of malts mixed with a caramel sweetness and some dark fruit flavours. I also picked up on notes of chocolate/coffee, hay/straw, and some fruit esters. There was also a fair amount of hop taste. The beer finished with a malty slightly bitter aftertaste.

Drink - There are a whole bunch of flavours going on with this beer and that definitely makes it interesting to drink. The alcohol was well hidden and it fairly enjoyable. It was the first Heavy Seas beer I've tried and I'm looking forward to trying others from their lineup.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle obtained via trade with meathookjones. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a big pillowy 2" light beige head above the slightly cloudy, light copper brew. Laces excellently, with large chunks here, there, everywhere, and aroma is intense piney hops. Taste is initially malty, and the hops kick in, yet not as intensely as the nose led me to expect. As balanced as you'll see a DIPA, although the hops burps have already started. Mouthfeel and drinkability excellent for the style. Check it out if hops are your thing.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a transparent copper color is ruby highlights. Plenty of bubbles rise to a thick one finger creamy head. Head leaves rings of lacing.

S-A nice mix between caramel maltiness and some earthy and floral hops. Mixed, maybe even leaning towards the malty side of the spectrum. Pleasant but nothing wild.

T-Quite sweet with an earthy/herbal hop presence. Light grapefruit and bitterness. Pretty sweet but there is some good balance. Alcohol is a bit noticeable as well.

M-Medium bodied. Very soft carbonation. Slightly slick and bitter. A bit dry.

O/D-Pretty good. I enjoyed it. Definitely one of the more solid winter 6 packs. I will enjoy all six of these I believe. Nothing amazing but solid.

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Photo of barczar
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear brown amber with a solid half inch beige head that slowly dissipates, leaving lines of lacing.

Butter, toffee, and nutty toasted malt begin the aroma profile, with caramel sweetness and a hint of citrus finishing things off. Minerally, earthy hops emerge late.

Flavor is sweeter than expected. Dark fruits mingle with lightly roasted malt, finishing fairly charred, bitter, and dry. Caramel sweetness is dominated by bitter hops. Booze is fairly assertive. Notes of pine and citrus emerge as it warms.

Body is on the light side, with carbonation on the low side. There's significant alcohol warmth.

Overall, a pretty bitter brew. Sweet initially, then boozy and bitter. The hop character adds a little intrigue.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle says best by May 2007, hopefully this is still good! Served in my new Sam Adams Boston Lager glass (thanks to SA and BA), the beer pours a brown/red color with a thick off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both very good. It smells like pine and spicy hops, and also some sweet malt. The taste is very hoppy, like pine and citrusy (grapefruit) hops, along with some caramel and toasted malt. Mouthfeel is medium/full bodied, and is a bit syrupy and chewy. Drinkability is good, it goes down easy and smooth. I'm impressed with this beer, I wish I would have bought more of it. Another customer at the beer store I purchased this at recommended it, and I'm glad I listened to him. A very nice brew, I'll make sure to buy more of this in the future.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich Frangelico amber with some light suspension throughout the whole brew. There is a good one and a half finger head at the start that semi0gradually recedes to and asymetrical film of foam. The arom is of carmalized hops. Not a whole lots of malt for an English style beer. The taste is just as hoppy. I was expecting some more mlaty sweetness and some X-mas flavors as well But alas. This was an ok beer. Glad I tried it. But the palate was a bitter dry.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark copper tones with a bit of foamy head that leads to a moderate lace ring.

S - You get some nice hops, herbal not bitter with a touch of caramel

T - I like it. Comes off earthy in hops bitter yet smooth with a toffee/caramel sweetness. Finishes with no bite of alcohol yet a bitter finish.

M - Medium bodied. Hard to believe it so smooth.

D - I am actually thinking about getting a six pack as I type if its still around my local place I should get it for around 10 bucks. Not a bad price for such a great brew!

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Photo of Immortale25
3.57/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter. Label says purchase before March 2012.

A- Pours a dark, dark amber with a 1/2 inch head that doesn't last long and withers down to a big bubbly ring around the edge of the glass with swirly surface foam. Nice lacing.

S- Has a hard candy smell that also reminds me of fresh baked pecan pie. Some alcohol fumes show up after some short, sharp sniffs. Pretty enjoyable.

T- The taste isn't as sweet. It's heavier in the malt department. The alcohol also kicks in harder and gives a sharp aftertaste. Also, quite a hop bite that kind of clashes with the rest of the flavor elements. An ESB isn't supposed to be all that bitter but I guess they figured higher gravity = more hops needed. I think their projections were a little off this time.

M- Not very thick and, once again, a sharp tingle in the aftertaste that's not very fun. Medium carbonation.

O- This seems to be a recurring theme with most of the Heavy Seas brews: They have great ideas for beers but don't execute them well. IMHO, their two "Cannon" beers are the best things they've done and the rest is just "eh." Wins points for the pleasant aroma but, other than that, just another dud.

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Photo of avalon07
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a slightly cloudy consistency. Not a whole lot of head, but some OK lacing.

S: Very malty smell, along with some inderminate spices.

T: An interesting taste. Malt, cinnamon and other spices, as well as a nutty quality. Not what I expected, but welcome nonetheless.

M: A pretty vibrant amount of carbonation and a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: This is one of the better American ESBs I've tried. It has lots of character and a well made taste.

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Photo of TX-Badger
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear orangish light reddish color with ivory colored head. Caramel, malts, and some light grass on the nose; follows onto the palate. Medium bodied. Finishes with mostly malt.

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Photo of tigg924
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, high carbonation, clear, yellow/brown in color

Smell:honey, hops, and bread

Taste: honey, hops, bread, touch of cinnamon, brown sugar, and alcohol at the end

Mouthfeel: smooth, sweet with a slightly bitter middle, modearte carbonation, medium/light bodied

Drinkability: An above average bready ESB. I could have two or three. Nothing extraordinary, but nothing bad either.

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Photo of Viggo
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on a cold evening after a spirited game of hockey.

Porus a clear copper, some reddish hues, thick off white head forms, sticks nicely, very persistent, looks really good. Smell is sweet, some toffee, nice citrus/floral hops, bit of vanilla and chocolate, some yeast, very nice. Taste is odd, malty caramel, citrus, floral, mint? WTF! Weird astringent minty flavour. Spicy, very interesting, almost tingly mouthfeel. Medium body, low carbonation, alcohol warming, not sure what to think. I like the concept.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy copper appearance. Good sized creamy off-white head. Lacing is full. This brew has a nose reminiscent of Rogue's Brutal Bitter, except with a little more caramel malt character. It's got a fresh, grapefruit like hop aroma with a little cannabis mixed in. Unike mixture of bready malts, fruity yeasts, bitter and somewhat raw hops. Great flavor combo for me. Body is a little better than medium and the carbonation is subtle. My first Clipper City. And it's a winner.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.95/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark gold/bronze with a full pillowy beige head, very active carbonation and lots of lace. Big beautiful citrusy grapefruit hop aroma and flavor. Medium bodied (may have felt a touch lighter due to carbonation) and creamy with an awesome fresh hoppy finish.... nice hop burps !!!

Must be the CC Reserve Winter Ale redux... very similar from memory as I remember that one being excellent as well.

Per CC website: Winter Storm "Category 5" Ale.
Available - Mid October
ABV: approx. 7.5%
IBU'S: 50+
Malts: Pal, Crystal and Carapils
Hops: Magnum, Fuggles, Cascade and Centennial
Style: Imperial IPA - a hearty, winter warmer, it is brewed with huge amounts of malts and hops, producing a rich flavor and powerful hop aroma.

Purchase Before: Mar '05
Tasted: 12/11/04

($27.99 / case)

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Photo of claspada
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a translucent, dark golden color with a moderate, off-white head that recedes to leave some very thin, lacing.

Aromas begin with well-toasted bready malts with a dash of dried citrus peels, earthy/floral hops and a touch of evergreen. There is a slight alcohol in the background as it warms.

The tastes negom wotj deeply toasted bread crusts and almost a generic table sugary/candy presence. Slight yeasty fruitiness as well with an emerging earthy, zesty, citrusy hop profile with a medium-high bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium-plus bodied with medium carbonation. Finish is fairly crisp and dry with some lsightly emerging alcohol and hop bitterness.

Overall I really enjoy a high quality ESB but unfortunately this just was not one of them. There is an overly assertive minerally, alcohol dryness that overwhelms the flavor profile. The hops are also too American for the style, comes across as a muddled IPA.

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Photo of glid02
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
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 AgentMunky
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce into a pilsner glass.

A: A nice finger of head has moderate retention and leaves heavy lacing behind. The beer is a pleasant golden-red amber, but is exceptionally clear.

S: Malty-strong with a touch of fruit. Mostly sweet, with little noticeable hops. Tinge of alcohol; pleasant beer.

T/O: Damn good beer. Perhaps not exceptional, but definitely a worthy ESB (if, indeed, that's how it should be categorised). The smell is largely indicative -- the strong, malty, noticeably alcoholic backbone is the heart and soul of this beer. The fruit here develops into citrus, lending a well-needed hoppiness to the flavour. The endtaste especially bears the bitter hallmarks of that exceptional, floral bittering agent Humulus lupulus. A balanced, fruity sweetness dominates this excellent beer.

M: Firm, robust, and yet delicate. The superb hop highlights add another dimension to both flavour and feel, adding dryness to complement the carbonation.

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Photo of ccrida
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aggressively poured into an Ename chalice, the Winter Storm Category 5 is a deep orangish mahogany with a thick, creamy tan head, that subsided fairly quickly but remained across the the top of the beer til the end. It left a very nice, sticky lace. The aroma is fairly one dimensional, bright and floral cascade hops, that leads me to assume this is dry-hopped. The taste is much more balanced, with a wider range of hops then is evident from the aroma, some pine and grass. Still, it has the rich malt taste one would expect from an ESB, with some caramel and bread notes. There is little indication of the ABV, and the finish is pleasantly bitter, especially if your a hop-head, although you needn't be to appreciate this brew. The mouthfeel on this one is nice, rich and creamy but at the same time an undeniable sharpness from the hops, resulting in a well balanced feel that can easily lead one to drink more of these then they realize. Overall I think this an excellent interpretation of an ESB/winter warmer, in the more extreme manner that has become standard for many American microbrews.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.23/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer was dark orange, and decent looking. Smelled like nothing and tasted weird. I guess I don’t understand the point of an imperial ESB, why not just make a good ESB? Why does everything have to be "Imperial"? It tasted alcoholic and sweet. This beer was not my bag.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
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 Durge
4/5  rDev +4.4%
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 twiggamortis420
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a medium copper color with a thin beige head that fades to very little cloud cover in a matter of seconds.

Grassy hops are abundant in the nose, but it also has a pretty pronounced sweet caramel malty smell. It smells ok, but I wish it had a cleaner, crisper nose.

Taste is more of the same as the nose, but the bitter hops are more prevalent and floral. Has a British feel to it, but without the mineral flavors. There is a heavy malt backbone here and has a big beer feel to it. Not bad, but not particularly memorable either. Not what I look for in a winter seasonal.

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Photo of Brenden
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is a thick dark orange-red color. Not too much head develops, a light tan-colored cap that's fairly thin but has some staying power. There may be some issue with how I stored this beer; the look, to me, is unimpressive but above average.
I get most of what I expect from an ESB in the aroma, though it's held down by a strong grains presence. Otherwise, I get the strongly herbal and earthy hops undertones with a strongly leafy element, as well as the dry, bready malts balance. A bit of dark fruits and caramel peek through as it warms. I think I stored this too colds (my fridge's fault, not mine), as plenty more comes out as it sits.
Toasty in the malts with some caramel and an undertone of grains, there's time to transition before a very nicely sturdy hops flavor comes out. This one is all kinds of herbal hops with a big pithy presence in the bitterness. Alcohol is very nicely masked, considering, allowing the beer to warm the face and innards before you realize it. There's a good complexity between the pith, herbal leafy bitterness, dark fruits, caramel, toast and bread (even separate, to a point), orange peel and light notes of citrus zest, and nipping spiciness. This is a finely crafted beer, with plenty of balance to boot.
The body is medium with a light carbonation. Crispness is light up front and a bit of a gentle smoothness picks up. FOr such a delicious beer, I do wish it flowed a little better. It's not flat by any means but does seem to lay down just a bit when it could be more interesting.

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Heavy Seas - Winter Storm ("Category 5" Ale) from Heavy Seas Beer
86 out of 100 based on 515 ratings.
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