Winter Ales

17Oct08

The inevitable is happening in Alaska, the dark times are on their way. Winters in Alaska can downright suck, and the cold winds are already starting to blow and its only a matter of time before the real snow arrives as well. When Old Man Winter rears his ugly head, it’s nice to have some high alcohol winter ales to help get you through it!
I really enjoy winter ales, especially because of their variety. Some are hoppy, some are malty, some are roasty, some are spiced. It’s great to have a style that is so wide open for interpretation.
The three beers I recently picked up are perfect examples of this variety.
Summit’s Winter Ale not only takes the cake on these beers, but is also my favorite Summit offering. This winter ale is dark and roasty, malty and warming. The perfect beer when your face is frozen and you can’t feel your fingers and toes. It pours a dark chocolate brown with some nice ruby red hues and a foamy finger of a light tan head. There are wonderful caramel/roasty aromas. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel with some roasty and burnt flavors, as well as some caramel and chocolate notes. There’s no hop flavors, but some nice lingering sweetness and the creamy texture makes it smooth drink, even at 7% alchohol. Just a great beer in my opinion.


Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale:
I really enjoy most of the beers I’ve had from Flying Dog, and this one is no exception. Quite different than the Summit Winter Ale, this winter offering pours a deep amber with redish and brown hues and a finger of foamy white head. Malty and spicy aromas followed by a very malty taste. There’s some graininess, as well as a bit of alcohol presence. Its sweet, but also a little bitter. Hardly any hop presence, this beer is smooth and well balanced. It finishes clean, almost like a bock. A nice winter ale.

New Belgium’s 2 Below:
This beer is a beer I actually reviewed last year, but wanted to review it again because I was excited that it is now available in the cities. It pours a copper color with a foamy white head. Biscuity aromas, along with some bready, with some spicy hoppiness. Wonderful biscuit flavors and some malty sweetness. There’s some floral and slightly citrus hop notes as well. This is quite different than the other two beers I reviewed. It’s got a hint of spruce and is kind of a hoppier, spicier version of Fat Tire.

Of the three, Summit’s Winter Ale is the one I will probably find myself drinking a lot of this coming winter. I tend to drink darker beers during the winter, and it fits the bill. I also am going to be making a second attempt at Frozen Beard Winter Ale. Last year’s version would have been a lot better had I not added the spruce extract. In the coming week I will brewing a new version, without the spruce, and with some more hops.

More to come.

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