Tasting notes for warming winter beers

  • Updated: January 1, 2014 - 2:00 PM

Indeed Stir Crazy Winter Ale

Aroma: Chocolate, vanilla and toasted grain. Notes of dried and/or candied fruits — cherries and darker fruits like raisins. Low caramel and low earthy hops. Like chocolate Christmas cookies crossed with fruitcake.

Appearance: Very dark brown, nearly opaque. Ruby highlights. Clear. Full, creamy, beige head with excellent retention.

Flavor: After the richness of the aroma, the first sip seemed almost thin. But as it warmed and my palate adjusted, the desired richness came through. The chocolate and vanilla carry over from the aroma to form the base of the flavor. Low toasted-grain notes add layers to the malt. The fruit is there, but darker — emphasizing raisins instead of the cherry of the aroma. Hop bitterness is low — just enough to balance the sweetness of the malt. A hint of alcohol lingers on the tongue after swallowing.

Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full body. Creamy. Medium-low carbonation. Low alcohol warming.

Overall impression: This is my second run at this beer. I had it on draft a few days ago and wasn’t a fan. Maybe it was the setting then or what I had eaten at the time because I quite enjoyed this latest one. It’s rich and soothing as a winter warmer should be, but the alcohol is low enough that it’s not a one-and-done.

Fulton Worthy Adversary

Aroma: Dry. Chocolate like an Oreo cookie. Alcohol is fairly high, almost isopropyl. Some medium-low earthy/grassy hops. Chalky. Burnt, ash, char. Doesn’t quite sit well in my nose. Edgy dry roast.

Appearance: Black and opaque. Appears clear. Full head of creamy, tan foam. Excellent persistence.

Flavor: Full, thick and malty. Dark chocolate and dry roast bitterness. Grainy. Hershey’s syrup. Heavy molasses. Some anise/licorice. A bit of caramel sweetness brings a touch of balance. Bitterness is medium-high — combination of hops and roasted malt. Low earthy/piney hop flavors. Alcohol is on the edge of being hot/solvent.

Mouthfeel: Thick and full-bodied. Rich and creamy. Medium-low carbonation. High alcohol warming.

Overall impression: I drank the whole bottle, but all the while kept thinking that I really didn’t care all that much for the beer. The dry, grainy, burnt roastiness was off-putting to me. As it warmed, the molasses flavors became overwhelming — like eating blackstrap from a spoon. Alcohol was unpleasantly high.

Bad Weather Ominous Midwest Warmer

Aroma: Caramel and toasted bread malt with a subtle background hint of dry, chocolate roast. Fruity esters galore — plums, orange peel. Some light spicy notes such as cinnamon and/or nutmeg. A touch of sweet alcohol. Low earthy hops.

Appearance: Deep, ruby red. Clear. Voluminous head of creamy, beige foam with excellent retention.

Flavor: Malt leads. The faint chocolaty roast of the aroma take center stage, with caramel and toast playing background notes. Finishes with a dry, chocolate roastiness. Medium fruity esters — ripe plums, figs, raisins. Hop bitterness is medium-low, enough to balance the malt, but seems to become more aggressive the longer I sip — enhanced by dry roastiness. Low earthy hop notes. Subtle hints of anise, vanilla, cinnamon. Finishes dry with lingering malt and spice. Low alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Medium creaminess. Low alcohol warming.

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