Harpoon Winter Warmer | Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

648 Reviews
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Harpoon Winter WarmerHarpoon Winter Warmer

Brewed by:
Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.90%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
When you bring a glass of this dark copper ale to your lips to take your first sip you will notice the aroma of cinnamon. There is no aromatic hop added that might overpower the distinct spice scent. The medium body of this beer is formed from caramel and pale malts. These create enough body to support the spices without making the beer excessively rich. Bittering hops are added to counter the sweetness of the malt and spice. The finish of the beer is a blend of cinnamon and nutmeg. The combination of these two spices results in a balanced, pumpkin-pie flavor.

22 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-06-2000

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Reviews: 648 | Ratings: 1,537
Photo of manofmanners
4.77/5  rDev +50%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

If you want a taste of Christmas, this is your beer. Good to have at the Christmas get together and most people haven't had it so it would be like your gift to them. The cinnamon scent and taste makes this truely a holiday beer. It is a true New England beer.

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Photo of JMScowcroft
4.63/5  rDev +45.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Let me be the one to piss others off by saying this is one of the best and most unique beers I've ever had. Yes it's more of a treat than a beer, but to me, that still counts.

Look - Crisp looking container. Has a Christmas feel to it. Pours copper and settles dark amber in the glass. Highly fizzy with a great, full head.

Smell - I could smell the cinnamon and nutmeg as I was pouring it, so I knew what to expect next. The scent is extremely sweet and pleasing and builds you up for the taste.

Taste - Gave me a head rush just taking a sip. Bite hits mild to moderate, then the cinnamon and nutmeg flow over your taste buds in harmony with one another.

Mouthfeel - Almost perfect. The spices linger in almost the perfect proportion for just the right amount of time.

Drinkability - Smooth and drinkable, surprisingly drinkable. You can have as many as you want with no problems.

I'll admit, this is more of a family drink than anything else. Your wife would love it, your grandmother would love it. But that's what makes it a really, really good beer in my opinion. I wouldn't give it the time of day on a table with Guinness or Allagash, but nonetheless, a fine creation by Harpoon.

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Photo of burnerfinger
4.6/5  rDev +44.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

poured from the 12 oz bottle into my new belgium goblet:

A: deep honey colored brew, medium clarity. lite amber head that tastes like, cinamon? really Christmas - y. settles leaving a wonderful full lace

S: cloves maybe?

T: unlike any beer I've tasted but I like it a lot. Like a spciy cookie but not too sweet.

M: medium- full body. no ABV bite.

D: this is RICH = flavored. no to be guzzled.

LOVE the FLAVOR! but very unusual

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Photo of skiatd1
4.57/5  rDev +43.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really enjoy this beer. There is nothing that reminds me of christmas like this brew.

It should be pointed out that this beer is mediocre in a bottle. The highlights are the seasonal spices of cinnamon and nutmeg. This is noted both in smell and taste. It is dark red in color, more carbonated than many other winter beers but that helps to pump out the aroma. It normally has very little head when poured.

If you want a beer to drink by a wood stove when you are wearing flannel and down this is the beer.

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Photo of dmbdusty41
4.54/5  rDev +42.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm a little surprised at the overall average of reviews. My wife and I had this for the first time on tap in NYC a few years back it we were blown away. It's litterally Christmas in a glass. We look forward to every Winter to get this. It's surprisingly dark, great spice, good mouth-feel. I have a sweet tooth and am partial to sweeter beers, so maybe that why I enjoy this more than some. I can usually handle up to 3 before needing something less sweet. Either way, a delicious beer I will enjoy each winter.

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Photo of Weissenheimer
4.52/5  rDev +42.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

I spend a few moments marveling at this pure, crystalline copper pint. Its smallish, foamy head has some of the biggest bubbles I've seen on a beer, and it dissipates very quickly into a thin nebula. Smelling cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, I wonder if I've finally found a winter ale that tastes how I expect a winter ale to taste. I'm fairly certain that no pumpkins were harmed in the making of this beer, but I associate this mix of spices so strongly with pumpkin pie that they spring to mind anyway.

I smile as I take my first swallow. Yes, I have found a winter ale that tastes how I expect a winter ale to taste. Finally. This is absolutely delicious. There's a tingle on the tip of my tongue amid the pleasant wash of spices, and that's as close as I can come to finding any complexity in it. Try as I might, I just can't get multiple taste stages out of this one. I don't care, though. Not one bit. It's cheery, beautifully balanced, and outlandishly drinkable. Gotta get me some more o' this.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.44/5  rDev +39.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 Version:

Hazy bronze color with a light brown head. A powerful spice aroma and taste (cinnamon and nutmeg). Hard to smell or taste much else but spices but I liked it a lot. Full bodied (leans medium). Great for winter time!

Label states: "Beer with spices added"

[2001 version Tasted 11/23/02]

2003 Version:

Consistent notes but adding: Little to no carbonation and lots of suspended sediment.

Lowered Appearance from a 4 to a 3.5.

Bottled: 10/17/03 (lasered on neck)
Tasted: 03/29/04

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Photo of taez555
4.43/5  rDev +39.3%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 vintage (this is key considering they seem to change the recipe slightly every year)

This beer poured a small white head that died almost immediately with a rather clear amber body.

The nose was beautiful. A big nutmeg smell with touches of cinnamon. A sweet candy like sweet malt smell, with doughy bread like quality.

The taste is light and smooth. A firm malt and surprisingly attentive bitterness. Basically though it’s dominated by a big nutmeg and cinnamon spice taste. A sort of grainy quality is present throughout each taste. There’s even a slight slight hint of grapefruit bitterness.

Simply this is THE holiday beer. Unlike most seasonal offerings that are a Belgian with a touch of spice, or just a big-bodied beer, this one, tastes like Christmas. I know it sounds weird, but… this beer just screams the holiday season. You smell and taste the cinnamon.

I will say that this beer has really gone down hill over the years. It’s gotten a lot grainer and it seems like every year they use cheaper and cheaper ingredients in the way of spicing it. Not that it’s bad, just disappointing if you’re used to last years effort. Also… this is a beer that is MUCH better on tap than in bottle.

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Photo of glassjaw25
4.42/5  rDev +39%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I think this beer is great. I happen to love Pumpkin beer and I have a feeling that is why I enjoyed this beer so much. This beer has a strong aroma of Cinnamon and Nutmeg. I believe this winter warmer to be very drinkable.

I can see why this beer was rated the way it was on here, you either love it or hate it. There is no middle of the road and I believe many people did not get what they were expecting out of this beer.

My expectations first drinking this beer were non existent, I knew nothing about it and a friend offered it. I poured a pint of it and thought it was fantastic, I have and will once again purchase this beer.

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Photo of Vashtar
4.42/5  rDev +39%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice appearance! Tan/leather color and very clear. Nice head with some lacing. Head doesn't last forever.

The smell is to die for. This is one of the nicest smelling beers I've ever had. Then again, I'm a cinnamon and banana fan.

It tastes fairly good too. There's a bit of a bitter aftertaste, though.

It goes down smooth and very even, like a soft ocean wave with no white bubbles, that hasn't broken.

Overall, this is one of my favorites from all 30 or so winter beers that I've tried so far.

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Photo of stockingcpl
4.39/5  rDev +38.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: This brew pours a wonderful red amber. The head is thin, but there is plentiful spiderwebbing.

Smell: Upon opening, a wonderful sweet spice aroma that assails the nose. There are pine overtones that pervade the background. Very well done!

Taste: Indeed the spices shine through. Malt taste is slight, but accompanied by a pine presence. The flavor is very good.

Mouthfeel: This brew sits well on the tongue, but the spicy character tends to burn into the palate. This would not make a good selection for accompaning food, however on it's own this brew stands out.

Drinkability: The very heavy spice presence, while wonderful, does tend to crowd the stomach and palate. Thi is a good selection, but one or two would be enough for any drinker.


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Photo of NJpadreFan
4.38/5  rDev +37.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Harpoon Winter Warmer

Appearance- perfect copper orange with a nice white billowy head.
Smell- nutmeg and spice. Cinnamon, pumpkin, and clove. a warm winter popouri smell.
Taste- cinnamon and spice. Nutmeg and clove. Light malt but more like a pumpkin ale.
Mouthfeel- smooth and warm. goes down smooth. No bitterness. Leaves a spicy aftertaste.

Overall- a definite winter beer! Tastes soooo good. Should be called a pumpkin ale though!

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Photo of CardinalBrewing
4.36/5  rDev +37.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Update: Several years after the review below, I gave this beer a second try (thinking that if it was really as bad as my first try, it would not still be on the market). I am now attributing the first experience to a bad keg (or they really improved the recipe). I will be deleting my review, but wanted to post this retraction first.

I enjoy a spiced winter warmer as much as anyone, but I want to be able to taste the beer, not just the spice. I actually tried this because a friend noted how "cinnamony" it tasted. This observation proved to be all too true. It has such an overpowering flavor of cinnamon and nutmeg that I seriously considered giving up on it and ordering something else. It just seemed that these spices were poured into this beer with reckless disregard for the malt and hops (far beyond the spiciness of a pumkin ale). The best winter warmers are characterized by a subtly of spicing, but this concept was lost on the brewers at Harpoon (for whom I do have an overall very high regard). It was a very interesting beer to try once, but once was definitely enough.

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Photo of kelticblood
4.34/5  rDev +36.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a tap.

No head really present but did not lack in carbonation.The color presented a dark cherry red.The taste is simply outstanding and festive.Tastes of cinnamon,nutmeg,and ginger are abundant.A medium body with a spicy finish.The taste is of ginger bread cookies and pumpkin pie.What a great brew!

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Photo of Nutleybeer
4.34/5  rDev +36.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Talk about a festive holiday beer. Most brands have steered towards darker, roasted flavors, but not this one. Harpoon made every effort to pack Christmas in a bottle...and for the most part, they succeeded.

Borderline orange in color...very mild head after the pour. Little bits of carbonation seen in the tiny bubbles.

Take a sniff. A instant burst of cinnamon and nutmeg hits your nose. A sharp, spicy aroma. It reminded me actually of a gingerbread cookie.

Interestingly, it tastes just as it smells. I could not really imagine this paired with any specific food. I would be interested in hearing recommendations.

Very nice work. A different type of holiday beer. To be enjoyed in moderation. I can't imagine having more than 1 or 2 of these in a single sitting.

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Photo of neenerzig
4.32/5  rDev +35.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a free sample of this when my twin sister and I went to a beer tasting this past Saturday at the brewery in Boston when I was on vacation there visiting her. Served to me in a 5 oz sample glass. This beer is a clear amber/copper color. The white head was 1/4 inch when served and settles to a good surface coating and white ring lining the inside of the glass. Good lace. Nice spice aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg. Has a sweet caramel malt flavor upfront with cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of apple, rounded out with a nice hop presence. Perfect blend of different flavors here. Has a bit of a crisp, mainly smooth full bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Quite easy to drink indeed. I think I'll be asking my sister to bring me a 6 pack of this when she comes home for a few weeks around Christmas time.


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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.3/5  rDev +35.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - amber with a thin cream head. A thin but nice blanket of lacing.

Aroma - cinnamon and clove or allspice maybe. Can't tell for sure but it smells yummy.

Taste - malty base with cinnamon and some tasty spices I still can't identify. Barely any hops noticeable, only a little if I concentrate. Finishes with a sweet cinnamon and clove flavor.

Mouthfeel - average weight, but a good smoothness that fits the style well.

Drinkability - very nice stuff, one of my favorite styles anyway, but just hit me right.

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Photo of Applesauce1
4.3/5  rDev +35.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got the 2006 Winter Warmer at the Pit Stop in Nelsonville, OH. The bottling date is 10/4/06.

Appearance: copper-orange color with thin white head that disappears pretty fast; decent looking
Smell: kinda bland; slight hints of cinnamon and nutmeg
Taste: not bland at all; exceptional; spicy with cinnamon and nutmeg (those are the two dominant); maybe some cloves too? not sure; anyhow, an excellent taste; as good or better than the 2005
Mouthfeel: medium bodied; a good hearty beer
Drinkability: good; you could have a few of these in a night

Overall, this is one of my favorite American Winter Warmers with the great added spices.

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Photo of mempath
4.27/5  rDev +34.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours the color of deep dark classic southern sweet tea. dark peachy-amber brown with a nice tan head that settles moderately and leaves some nice lacing. smells like a nice winter spice holiday tea...i know the Bros. review is from years ago, i think this isn't the same brew. the nose is inviting and festive as it should be. suggests something special...(and not quite designed to be a session brew unless that's all the party has....).

now to what counts most....the taste. and it's really nice. i admit, for a festive winter spice style brew, the mouthfeel is a bit thin. i'd like to see it more chewey. some dry-hopping might help the overall sense. but what we have here is really tasty and not overblown in the least. thankfully, nothing cloying at all here. this reminds me of a holdiay spice tea my mom used to have. there's an orange pekoe note with actual orange-citrus going on with the spices. every sip and gulps reveals dimension, too, but i admit i oddly don't any sense of malts or hops (if there are any). i can still tell it is an brew, but this is designed to be something quite different. of course, check out harpoon's own description of it and we are right on target. judge it for what it is. not against your expectations. prejudices.

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Photo of JISurfer
4.25/5  rDev +33.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one kick arse beer. I gave it a shot on a whim. Boy, was that a great buy! I got a sixer of it for $6! At first I was expecting a robust beer, with a harsh aftertaste. I was once again proved wrong. It smells just like a gingerbread house. The taste is of strong baked ginger, like gingerbread, with the gingerbread aftertaste. I guess the main theme is gingerbread. The finish is very smooth and goes down super easy. Give it a try, it won't let you down.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.21/5  rDev +32.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got really excited recently when I saw that Harpoon had begun CANning their Winter Warmer & when I saw it on the shelf during a recent DC visit, I snapped one up for inclusion in The CANQuest (tm). Today is F, 14 January 2016.

From the CAN: "May your beer be merry and special!"; "Love Beer. Love Life. Harpoon. Established 1986". Another beautiful CAN with great graphics directly on the aluminum surface! Deep, Kelly Green overlain by red, white, yellow &Mint Green colors.

I was so excited to Crack! this open that, after doing so and seeing a brimful CAN, I CANducted an inverted Glug. My pour (if you CAN call it that) resulted in two-plus fingers of puffy, rocky, light-tan head with moderate retention. Color was Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with NE-plus quality clarity. The CAN also identified "cinnamon and nutmeg", but the bready malts combined with these spices put me in mind of gingerbread. Mouthfeel was medium. Taste was very much like liquid gingerbread! Oh, man, this was great for a chilly evening in mid-January! I know that the selling point for CANned beers is generally to take them out during the summer, but they also have their place during the winter. Their place for me was in my belly! Finish was dry, spicy, warming. Beautiful.

My original Bottle review, dtd 29 January 2011 follows:

My local hook-up, tone77, came by with a buncha bottles to help me keep my numbers in line with my CANQuest (TM) numbers. I CAN't just give up bottled beer - that would be sacrilegious!
From the bottle: "Brewed since 1988, the flavor of cinnamon and nutmeg in Harpoon Winter Warmer make this full-bodied, rich ale a classic holiday treat. Enjoy!" Really fresh, too, Best By 03/15/11! The 2016 bottle reads: "A touch of cinnamon and nutmeg give this full-bodied ale its festive flavor. Fitting for a season steeped in tradition, this classic winter ale is ready for revelry."; " 'Tis not the first snow that falls or the first holiday song. 'Tis that seasonal aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg drifting from the brewhouse that heralds this season of tradition, wonder, and the overuse of ' 'Tis.' We've been brewing Harpoon Winter Warmer since 1988. This is our holiday tradition."

My overly aggressive pour not only caused a wee bit of spill-over, but also netted me two fingers' worth of light-tan head with good retention. Color was a solid copper (no amber at all) with NE-quality clarity. Beautiful! Nose had notes of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Suddenly, I was hungry for some fresh-baked gingerbread cookies. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full with a nice spiciness on the tongue. It reminded me of making cookies and baking bread with my maternal grandmother when I was just a lad. Lovely sticky lacing began to appear as the liquid level decreased in my glass. Finish allowed the cinnamon to really shine and it lingered well after the initial swallow. This was great on this cold day with intermittent flurries.

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Photo of chicagoish
4.2/5  rDev +32.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look - Pours a dark copper with a small head.

Smell - I could smell the cinnamon and nutmeg but it's not overpowering. There's a sweetness to the smell

Taste - I was surprised by the hop bite. I was expecting overpowering spice, but that's not the case. The spice is there.. nutmeg and cinnamon, but they are not so overpowering as to detract from the hops and malt.

Mouthfeel - It has a smooth creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability - Smooth and drinkable, surprisingly drinkable. I was expecting overpowering spice that would limit the amount you could enjoy over a night, but that's not the case with this brew.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.2/5  rDev +32.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Half finger head with nice amount of lacing on a clear amber body.

S: peppery and cinnamon in the aroma.

T: tons of cinnamon flavor and gingerbread. Caramel malt background.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: this beer is appropriately flavored for the winter season. For what it is trying to be it is actually very good.

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Photo of bigdeuce
4.18/5  rDev +31.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found this Harpoon style to be very interesting. The smell is outstanding, a little light in body with a nice, crispy, carbonated, cinnamon backlash on the tongue on the follow through. Many other spices as well, perhaps vanilla and definitely, nutmeg. I recommend giving this brew a shot, as I feel it is Harpoon's best.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.17/5  rDev +31.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The cinnamon is immediately noticeable in the nose of this reddish-amber ale. It's bright and fresh and welcoming! It's creamy ivory-colored head holds well, and it leaves some small areas of craggy lace at the outset of the glass. In the mouth it's medium-light bodied but still somewhat creamy and surprisingly smooth. The softness is a nice change of pace; and it's restrained carbonation helps balance it by letting the malt come through rather than accentuating its spiciness. Nutmeg and some mild cloves appear in the flavor along with the cinnamon and some yeasty fruitiness. Initially some malt gets through (although the spices do start to becoming cloying halfway through), and it's just-delicately caramelish and mildly biscuity. It's flavors are subtle except for the spice, but it's well-balanced. The malt is mild; the bitterness is sublime; and it's spices are clear but kept in check. It's a really nice holiday beer that would be perfect before, during, or after a holiday meal; but I'm not sure how drinkable it would remain outside of a special event. I'd enjoy one at the pub, but I don't think I'd go beyond that - personal preference.

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Harpoon Winter Warmer from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
3.18 out of 5 based on 1,537 ratings.
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