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Beer Review: Brooklyn Brewery’s Winter Ale

   February 23, 2012

It was in the 70s here in Nashville today (in February!) and tomorrow night it will be 29 degrees. Might as well review a winter beer while I still can! This one was sent to me from Brooklyn Brewery, and it is their Winter Ale. I’m a big fan of Brooklyn Brewery, so I was excited when I saw the package on my doorstep!

According to the Brooklyn Brewery website, this Scottish-style ale features Scottish Floor-malted Maris Otter, English crystal malts, Belgian Aromatic malt, American roasted malts, American oats, and Willamette hops. According to me, it’s a tasty Scottish-style ale indeed.

The Pour
This caramel-colored ale comes, poured correctly, topped with a 2-finger thick fluffy beige head comprised of tiny delicate bubbles that cling to the glass.  The beer itself resembles a cola in which the ice has been allowed to melt, but with reddish undertones.

The Nose
The nose features some woody-ness and peat, hints of bourbon, slight tart cherry hints and a sweet and toasty malt backbone.  There seems to be a slight whisper of chocolate as well.  All in all, a very interesting nose with a lot to show off.

The Taste
This beer comes across malty and sweet, but with a crisp edge, not at all cloying.  The nose definitely alluded to the nice flavors within, as a woody and peaty character is introduced, with subtle nutty and chocolatey accompaniment on the finish.  There’s a very good depth of flavor here, and the peat and wood really speak to all that is winter.  There is even a slight sourness that edges forward as the beer warms.  This beer is medium/full-bodied, with a mouthfeel that is both crisp and slightly cloying.  The flavors tend to stick around on the palette, which is not at all a bad thing.

Scoring Breakdown

Appearance: A nice head floats atop this beer that shows a good rich coloring, quite appropriate for the richness within, waiting to be quaffed.
8 points out of 10

Nose: Smells great, and rich, and lets you in on what to expect on the palate, without betraying all the flavor notes.
14 out of 15

Taste: Good malty, earthy flavor, with good depth and really spotlighting a lot of characteristics I enjoy, such as slight chocolatey hints and tart cherry, as well as a sourness that arises as it warms and breathes.
49 out of 55

Style: When I think of a Scottish-style ale, I think of a deep, rich earthy flavor, and this beer delivers that, to be sure.  But it does it in a way that is far from one-note, showcasing other complementary flavors and profiles.  This is an example of a beer that takes a style and fits it, then does even better.
19 out of 20

Total rating: 90 points out of 100.

In a nutshell: If you like a Scottish ale but want one that isn’t so earthy you think you’ve been buried alive, this is the beer for you. Excellent, excellent brew.

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One comment

  1. I flew into Nashville for business right around this time and it was actually not much warmer than up here in Chicago. What was going on? I’ve never had Brooklyn’s Winter Ale and didn’t actually know it was a Scottish Ale. I’m going to have to try this one.

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