Hale's Wee Heavy Winter Ale | Hale's Ales Brewery & Pub

71 Reviews
Hale's Wee Heavy Winter AleHale's Wee Heavy Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Hale's Ales Brewery & Pub
Washington, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 04-22-2002

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Reviews: 71 | Ratings: 106
Photo of yemenmocha
3.15/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours dark gold to brown, almost iced tea color. Head is thin and does not retain for long.

Nose reminds me of herbs & iced tea, and those hard crusty cinnamon sticks that are sold to go with coffee (biscotti?)

Palate has brown sugar sweetness, alcohol, iced tea bag, some cinnamon, and finish has alcohol warmth.

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Photo of Jason
4.02/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow, bottle conditioned. Very dark brown with a leaning to garnet, the clarity is fine. Lacing leaves a few rings on the glass. Heavy head of malt in the nose, smells of brown malt and a deep mix of toasted grain and faint caramel. Maltiness starts off bold but then a quick running of hop character comes through, at first your taste buds brace for bitterness but it lands small but balanced. Then a lingering of herbal minty flavor fades to let the malt take over. Slight sugary note, more brown sugar right in the middle of the toasted malt. Faint amount of alcohol shows up but comes off relatively clean, malty finish pulls towards semi-dry.

Solid, very solid. Easy to drink and a bit of a malt bomb, but balanced. Worth the hunt if you can find it.

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Photo of RedDiamond
3.11/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

My understanding of this winter seasonal ale is that Hale's first brewed it in 1985. I don't know if they still brew it to the same recipe, but it seems that the twin themes of Scotch ale and winter warmer have converged somehow. The beer is a luscious glowing ember red as a Scotch ale might be. But it's too hopped for the Scotch tradition and doesn't showcase any sweet maltiness.

Wee Heavy's flavor is an appealing mix of cherry-vanilla-cinnamon, but not in great abundance. It only hints at exotica without really going there. Carbonation is sluggish (as we might expect) and lace is widespread.

As with most Hale's ales, the flavor is not problematic but is too timid to stir much enthusiasm. You might say it's too "wee" and not "heavy" enough, making it a fair but routine beer easily overshadowed by Maritime's Jolly Roger brewed just a few blocks away.

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Photo of ccrida
2.86/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz. bottle poured into a nonic, Hale's Wee Heavy is a pitch dark garnett with a medium sized bone colored head with large bubbles that quickly subsides to thick skim, leaving heavy lace.

Smell is sweet and very fruity, grapes - is this a quad?? It's uncanny how much this smells like the 11% homebrew quad I just bottled last night! Not bad, but not really what I look for in a 6-7% wee heavy.

Taste is also heavy on the esters, malty, sweet caramel. I like 'em sweet, but this one's a bit to one dimesional. Other reviewers have cited 6.8% ABV, in which case I'd say it's fairly well hidden behind the sugar.

Mouthfeel is average, thick but not to heavy - just a wee bit heavy!

Drinkability is a bit low, this wee heavy is just to sugary, and the esters are inappropriate for the style IMHO.

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Photo of markgugs
2.81/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle, poured into a wide-mouth mug

A: I actually worried that this beer had gone bad (and it is only 1 month old) due to the lack of carbonation/head appearance from the pour. The faintest trace of wispy head remains on the beer's surface, and there is no lacing to speak of. The redeeming quality is a very nice-looking rich amber color.

S: I really wanted to love this beer, but for that to happen, there really needs to be a solid aromatic quality and it simply isn't there. It's "wimpy" and barely registers. A good scotch ale needs to have a solid malted nose, and this does not.

T/M: Fairly innocuous. Nothing about this beer is offensive, but nothing about this beer stands out either. Slight caramel & toffee flavors stand out up front, and a solid roasted bready malt character fills out the rest of the flavor profile. Minor smack of hoppy bitterness to finish. Not bad, not great. On the plus side, a perfectly carbonated mouthfeel lends itself well to the style.

D: Could be high, as its very easy to drink, but the lack of "interesting" factor wrecks that. This is an average beer, plain & simple.

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Photo of russpowell
3.61/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a purple hued chestnut with minimal sand colored head. Minimal lacing & head retention

S: Big time cakeyness & some ginger bread spices as this warms

T: Cakeyness, chocolate & a bit of licorice up front. Caramel, brown sugar, some herbal hops & dryness surface as this warms. Finishes dry with much caramel, a little fruittyness & some toffee. Slightly out of style

MF: Chewy with slight carbonation

Drink fairly easy, but the dryness would get off this after a few. Solid Wee-heavy, worth a shot

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.97/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Recently had this on tap at Hale's, Malt and mild spice, with dark cake and raisins in the roof of the mouth. Carbonation washes the tongue. Warm, not all that round (for a scotch style) mouthfeel only a tad bigger than a brit brown. I really like this beer and strongly recommend it.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.03/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz picked from the Coop for about $1.55... enjoyed with a coworker... mine from a small weizen glass... I know not the best glass choice, but it was already dirty.

Very short lasting 1/2" head.. no lacing at all... deep brown until the light reveals a nice ruby color.

Aroma is suprisingly leaning toward citrus hops... some brown malts and toffee aromas... yeasty fruitiness is ever present.

Bitterness is too big for a Scotch ale.. so is the hop flavors.. citrus rinds are obvious.. dark caramel malts.. and toasted grains come into play near the end of the palate.. needs more body and malty flavors and plain and simple maltiness... a little watery.

I really don't know what to say about this brew ... does not at all strike me as a Wee Heavy.. a bigger body is definately needed and quite a bit less American hops.. I feel sorta bad writing this.. I normally like Hales brews ... Reminds much more of a winter warmer...

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Photo of dnichols
3.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was served a about 12 ounces in a chilled pint glass from the rotating tap at the Tony Roma bar in Kennewick, Washington.

A: It poured a body of murky mahogany that when back lit was a ruddy cherry color. The pour was gentile and produced a very slight 1/4 finger tan head composed of small bubbles that receded fast to a ring around the collar. There was a decent initial lacing that was evenly distributed but like the head it was gone before I could really appreciate its beauty.

S: There was a light suggary aroma with a faint odor of grass and spices. As the brew settled it produced a smoky aroma. The overall impression was that the aromas were weak and thin, not what I expected from a wee heavy.

T: It had a nice sweet front consisting of molasses, plums and dark bread yeast. There was a slight peat smoke flavor and distinct zesty grassy hops. The sweet malts and zesty hopps were well balanced...more of a Scotch Ale winter warmer than a Wee Heavy.

M: It was medium-bodied with a sweet front and dry and somewhat sour finish and aftertaste. It had medium carbonation that lasted well into the drink. somewhat dry.

D: It was a nicely balanced winter brew...not overly sweet but nice and spicy with a decent ABV.

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Photo of jklinck
3.52/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thin head that quickly dissapates leaving no lacing down the glass. The initial aroma was that of dried banana chips. Also noticed the banana chip taste, but different than the fresh banana taste of a hefe. Lingering bitterness with with some slight alcohol notes and some sweetness.

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Photo of vurt
3.3/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Purchased from John's Marketplace in Portland, OR, at the tail end of a trip to the Oregon Brewers Festival. Served in a nonic pint glass.

A clear, deep brown/amber brew with orange highlights. No indication of yeast sediment in the bottle, even though the label claims this beer is "bottle conditioned." The head is nougat-beige and dissipates quickly, leaving only a ring of small bubbles.

Brown-sugary sweet and very estery, with some earthy hops and a heady whiff of alcohol. Nothing smoky or peaty to back up the "Wee Heavy" name.

Mostly a bready sweetness, like the inside of a glazed buttermilk doughnut. There's a bit of orangey hop flavor in there too, at the finish. Finishes drier than it starts. Not much in the hop department, aside from a tea-like bitterness at the very end. Still doesn't make me believe this is a Wee Heavy, though.

Medium-bodied with excellent carbonation and a hint of alcohol warmth in the finish. A great example of the kind of mouthfeel a good winter warmer should have.

Good mouthfeel, body and balance, with a good flavor that misses the mark that the label sets up for it. Hales Wee Heavy Winter Ale is a fine winter warmer but not much of a "Wee Heavy." Change the name and my numbers would become much more positive.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.56/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark caramel with generous orange highlights (on the coaster), pristine dark cherry (when backlit). The golden brown sugar colored crown is a quality affair in all ways that matter. Its upper surface is a teeming mass of sticky bubbles that resemble caramelizing sugar. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, the nose is too low on candlepower. I'm willing to wait to see if it makes a comeback with warming, but I'm not optimistic. A hint of toffee and a hint of hops is all that reaches my nose. I'm not even sure if I could identify the correct style if blinded.

While the flavor is an improvement, I'm not jumping out of my chair. For starters, there isn't enough malt for this to be called a Scotch ale/wee heavy. For finishers, there's too much citric hoppiness. I almost never complain about too many hops, but some styles need to stay malt-dominant, just as others need to stay hop-dominant.

The flavor profile consists of dark caramel, liquified dates, sweetened tobacco and grapefruit zest. Sweetness is easily matched by citric bitterness; again, not a classic blueprint for what is supposed to be a wee heavy. If I think of WHWA as a typical Pacific NW winter warmer, it comes together more coherently. If I was in charge at Hale's, I'd change the name.

The mouthfeel is a few notches more full than medium and actually borders on plush as it warms. I have no problem admitting that I was wrong about the malt. The beer firms up and smooths out nicely as it sits. A restrained amount of carbonation is a perfect fit.

This is one instance where I have decided to penalize a beer for failing to live up to the style guidelines. If the brewery would drop the Wee Heavy portion of the name, I would probably have gone with the next highest flavor score. If you like that 'gotta be hoppy' Northwest style of brewing, then I have no trouble at all recommending this Hale's Ales winter seasonal.

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Photo of woemad
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle purchased from Huckleberry's in Spokane a couple of months ago. No freshness date, as is usually the case from Hale's. Stuck this one in the cellar/pantry and promptly forgot about it, so it's not terribly fresh.

Poured a dark mahogany color that takes on a more rubyish tinge when held up to the light. Decent, 2" or so tan head that hung around for a couple of minutes and never did completely dissipate. Lots of spotty lace.

What I detect first in the nose is a caramel sweetness, followed by a mild peat smell that is coupled with a vague dark fruit scent and a kind of tea-like aroma. Good smelling, but it lacks something in the verve department to really grab the attention of the workers at the olfactory.

That mix of interesting tones and missing oomph is present in the taste as well. partway through the sip comes a mild hoppy dryness as well. Mild is a word that seems to enter my mind a lot while drinking this beer. Let this dog off the leash a bit, and I'd suspect it would be a lot more memorable.

Mouthfeel is securely locked into the middle of the road, like most aspects of this beer (and like most Hale's Ales, really). Personally I think it could benefit from a little more body, but I'm really not versed enough in the style to know for sure if it is representative or not.

A decent beer that I wouldn't refuse to drink again, but I'm not sure if I would ever feel the need to seek it out again either. Another beer typical of Hale's Ales, made with their usual blend of quality and conservativness.

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Photo of jletts
4.09/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into pint glass. Appeared dark, dark mahogany with a yellowish-white head and no lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts and dark fruit, with hints of smoke and burbon. Not an overwhelming nose, but complexed.

Tastes of dark smokey malt, sour dark fruits (maybe cherry and plum), earthy, reminds me of a peat bog in the Scottish Highlands (not that I've tasted one, but this is what I'd imagine one tasting like). Ends on a hoppy note as the hops finally show their bitter faces.

The mouthfeel is nice for the style. Substantial and a little viscous.

Drinkability is good, not sure of the ABV but I'd guess around 6.5-7%. This is a good winter warmer and probably my favorite one by Hales. Good stuff.

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Photo of akorsak
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz bottle purchased at Liquid Solutions.

A: The ale is a garnet red color that showcases some deeper brown highlights. The head on pour weighs in around 1.5 fingers and retains nicely.

S: The wee heavy has a sweet malty aroma that is heavy on smokiness. The sweetness conjures up caramel and toffee elements.

T: The ale has a very heavy malt character. It is concentrated and sweet, having some alefruit elements that are chewy. I detect raisiny notes, some brown sugar and a distinctive funky yeast. There is a slightly smoky essence holding everything together.

M: The mouthfeel is heavy on the sweet malts, nicely supporting a smoky element.

D: The ale has a nice flavor but seems to come up short with the smokiness. The malts are sweet and could easily handle the added smoke.

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Photo of Jredner
3.86/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle from Liquid Solutions. Pours a dark ruddy brown and holds a pinky sized tan head that is fairly bubbly. Fruity esters, sweet malt, brown sugar and a decent dose of hops. The first sip is carmelized brown sugar, burnt dark breads and toasted toffee. Cherry tinged fruity notes and again a fairly hefty dose of bittering hops in the finish.

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Photo of unclederby
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours out a darkish amber with an off-tan one finger head that doesn't last. smells kind of sweet and medicinal, with notes of brown sugar and crystal malt. flavor is off-dry and plum-like with a hint of cherry and an extended if not slightly sour, slightly alcoholic finish. a bit more hop profile than i'm used to in a wee heavy (though my experience with them is limited). medium to full in the mouth with a creamy, resinous texture. i guess i'd have to rate it's drinkibility as relatively high as it doesn't seem to have too much of a kick, but it's not a beer i would choose to session because overall i'm not too crazy about it. though i'm not saying it's a bad beer, just alot of other ales out there i'd rather sip. the bittering effect on the finish is somewhat like the beer equivalent of a gin and tonic.

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Photo of bodybyadam
3.32/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served at DEC 06 Winter Fest. Poured from tap into 5oz sampler. This was the 06 brew but the 05 brew was there and I’m not quite sure which one was the more fair. This review will be of the younger.
A: A dark brown color translucent beer with no head to note.

S: The nose had some mild notes of possibly Cascade hops, yet no obvious malt notes came out.

T: At first taste a blast of sour apple came within a subtle malt. Maybe a caramel malt. The taste is definitely different. Later there were some phenol characters, and a finish of bubblegum. Yes I cleared my palette.

M: This had a thin to medium feel, that with the diverse flavor turned out a decent beer.

D: I thought this brew to be unique but to be a winter brew was kind of strange. I did prefer the aged one over the younger. The 05 carried many more malt characteristics.

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Photo of oberon
3.15/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The first "clunker" I have had from Hale's,poured adeep amber/brown with just a very thin wispy head that was gone in a blink it looked like flat pop really no lace just flatness.A flat lifeless mouthfeel no carbonation to speak of,decent flavors dark fruit like that of dried cherries and raisins intertwined with caramel and brown sugar notes.Damn I am not sure if I got a bad bottle or what but it was flat and lifeless,sure it has decent flavor but to many other things keep this beer down.

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Photo of 1whiskey
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle pured into a standard pint glass.

Pours a molasses brown with some copper hues around the edges. Not too much of a head despite an aggressive pour, but this is still pretty cold, as it's right out of the fridge.

Smells of sweet malty goodness, with molasses accounted for in the nose and not just the eye. Distinguishing peat moss aromatics are welcome, it's been too long since I had a wee heavy.

Taste is typical burnt sugar/caramel taste, as well as some raisan and currant notes. Hop bitterness is a little too forward for the style, IMO, but are not too distracting. This does seem a little on the watery side for the style as well, but this is still rather enjoyable. Finishes with lingering hop resin aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is rather wet and slippery, and the body is a little thin, especially considering the style. Carbonation is adequate. As far as drinkability goes....as I said it seems a little thin. ABV is not listed but there is not the noticable alcohol warming normally assosciated with the style. So I guess that makes it very drinkable....if you want more.

Not my favorite wee heavy but it will do in a pinch.

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Photo of msubulldog25
3.41/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a standard pint.

A: A 1/2 finger creamy ivory head on top of a murky ruby-brown pour. Almost still and with minimal lace, looks wike a typically rich wee heavy.

S: Faint sweet malts, with slight spices and sugariness. A floral perfume that's grassy & herbal.

T: Molasses, caramel & brown sugar with an overcoating of hops. A bit of metallic taste with hop bitterness. Perfumy, but has a decent complexity.

M: Slick, slightly oily, just a touch weak. Has a sticky residue with a medium mouthfeel.

D: Worthy of having again. Nothing spectacular, but has good balance and flavor. Give this one a try...

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Photo of ElGordo
3.45/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown color with orange highlights, topped by an off-white head that quickly recedes to a small halo. Nose of sweet dark malt, brown sugar, and a hint of smokiness. Palate is again sweet up front, with dark malt lending a deep brown sugary sweetness, along with some dark fruit. No discernible hop presence. A light alcohol warming sensation emerges on the finish. Body is a bit creamy, but leaves me wishing it were a littler thicker. Not a particularly interesting beer, but certainly passable.

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Photo of TheBungyo
3.03/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This pours like a chunk of dusk. Not quite dark but certainly not light either. Almost zero head and no lacing. Nose is sugary and nothing else. The taste reminds me of a sugary sweet ale sans hops. Really nothing to get excited over. No real complexity to speak of. Mouth is nice and full though, probably the highlight of this beer. I'm glad I opted to buy a single of this rather than a sixer. It doesn't totally suck but then again the thought of having to drink 5 more kind of does.

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Photo of czechsaaz
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is malty, sweet. Not much fermentation character (i.e. fruit or esters) There's a roasty quality in the background that's kind of nice.

Deep red with a nice lasting tan head. Head stays thick throughout the glass.

Taste is very frutiy from the malt. There's a pretty substantial hop bitterness (very out of place for a Scottish-style beer.) In fact, the initial sweetness is wiped clean by a lingering bitter finish. I get no peatiness which is often a hallmark of Scottish. I also don't get any estery undertones that a strong scottish should have.

Now to the good, I really like drinking this beer. If I were sitting at a judging and this were placed before me as a Wee Heavy, it would get trashed. But it's a really nice well made winter warmer type of beer. It's strong, but also refreshing and the hop/malt balance is really good.

Mouthfeel is nice and full bodied with subtle creamy carbonation.

I really like it, I'll probably buy it again and enjoy it. I'm not a style freak so I'm cutting the beer a lot of slack.

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Photo of masikon
3.37/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a transparent chestnut with a slight off-white head receding quickly leaving only a collar and a bit of swirling. Nose is strong with astringent qualities causing one to percieve a fairly high ABV, unlisted but perhaps 8ish percent? Taste is malty and sweet with cinnamon and raisins coming to mind, somewhat metallic mouthfeel with a definite pronounced alcoholic tingle. Finish is quite abrupt leaving me to wonder what happened after the swallow, not much to think about once this one goes down the hatch. Overall a fair beer, unremarkable but warming and pleasant on a rainy Washington night.

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Hale's Wee Heavy Winter Ale from Hale's Ales Brewery & Pub
3.67 out of 5 based on 106 ratings.
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