Today I was a bachelor for the afternoon while Melissa was off shopping with some girl friends. What did I do with my time? Took a nap and watched nerdy TV – a show about UFO sightings. We are probably going to watch the playoff football games tonight, maybe at a friend’s house. Good thing I have Silvio to cover the blogging on Saturdays! Today he does a double winter ale review.
Unfortunately, for the first time in weeks I don’t get to join LIBA nation on a holiday. Just another plain old Saturday, except for the fact there’s some snow on the ground in Washington, D.C. – which must be a sign that it’s time for me to finish off the last of the winter brews I bought about a month ago.
I’ve become a bigger fan of winter seasonals (voted for winter in Josh’s poll of favorite seasonal beer) because of their spicy and thick hoppy/malty flavor. The ten or so winter brews I put aside for review have been a mixed bag, with each one tasting significantly different. Today’s reviews, Brooklyn Brewery’s Winter Ale and Stoudt’s Winter Ale, followed this trend.
I opened the Stoudt’s first, primarily drawn to its bad-ass label. Old Man Winter looks seriously ticked off! It pours a resilient two-finger thick foamy head, which really stays around for a while. The color is rich and dark, almost burnt sienna (yes, like the Crayola crown!). It’s got a decent hoppy smell, not very distinct, but strong enough to let you know hops are the major flavor.
The aroma carries through to a nice hoppy taste, a little bit more piney than floral. While the hops are bitter, they’re not too far in either direction in terms of being either watered down or overly hoppy. I tasted some decent malts through the middle, and a long bitter note toward the end. There isn’t much of an aftertaste beyond the long bitter end note, but that’s not really a bad thing. The only criticism I’ll add here is that it drinks a pretty heavy – think the exact opposite consistency of a macro lite beer.
I was looking forward to the Brooklyn, because they’re definitely one of my all-time favorite breweries. This winter ale is categorized as “having roots in blustery Scotland” and “richly malty and aromatic, perfect for holiday dishes.” Both are points I wish I had known for Christmas dinner!
The pour is interesting. It’s got a nice foam head, but dissipates pretty quickly, leaving lots of bubbles clinging to the side of the glass. It’s quite dark in color, and reminds me of a glass of iced tea. I didn’t get much of an aroma from it, just hints of a spicy warmer without being really distinct.
However, taste is where this brew shines. I got an interesting fruity flavor on the front, with hints of citrus, but a malty citrus – not tart or tangy. Malts shine through the middle, and they’re complex, starting sweet but ending with a nice roast malt flavor on the end. This is definitely a rich beer, but not heavy or strong at 6.1% ABV. I could definitely see putting a few of these down at my next big winter meal!