Traditionally a winter warmer was a stronger, maltier, & heavier beer brewed for the end of the year for holidays and festivals. Brewers have been making this stuff for a long time. Over time though, particularly in the last few decades this definition has started to break down. Brewers are stretching the definition on this and frankly that is awesome. So here is how we are going to define "winter warmers" on the blog. A seasonal beer brewed for winter. And while holiday beer and ales fall into this category we are going to exclude them since we spent all of December looking at them. We will also be excluding stouts and porters. They get their own months. (Yay!)
This is our working definition and I am happy to hear your thoughts on this.
Starting right out the gate we are going to stretch the traditional definition of a winter warmer.
|The beer was lackluster,
but the bottle art was cool
I really expected more from this beer. It poured a hazy, reddish-gold color with some particulate matter suspended throughout the glass. Interesting to note that it stayed the way also, never settling. It had a nice fluffy white head that stuck around for awhile and glommed onto the side of the glass as I drank it down. It has a nice aroma that lends you to think that the beer is hearty than it is.
Here is where the disappointment set in. My first thought was "it's flat," there was little carbonation in mouthful. The spices flashed immediately and then just vanish, they didn't give me much to work with. I almost wanted to season it a bit on my own, a little of nutmeg or coriander to liven it up. It had a flat, uneventful aftertaste that disappeared rapidly after the drink.
Here is the crux of the problem, winter warmers have an expectation with them and this isn't fulfilling the basic ones. More hearty and some "weight." Let's go back a few weeks to the review of Starr Hill's The Gift. First Snow suffers from pretty much the same problem we had there. We have a beer that is trying to do too many things. It is labeled as a "hearty pale ale" It doesn't do the hearty very well and it not bringing the hops I would expect from a standard pale ale.
I was a bit surprised that this comes in at 6% ABV because I honestly couldn't tell. It is very well masked. In summation I could chug this beer and that is not necessarily a good thing, at least it is not what I am looking for in a wintertime beer. I am glad I tried it, I may have had a bad bottle, and I still would love to try it off draught. Overall I would recommend this as a "gateway beer" where it may serve a useful purpose of exposing inexperienced folks to the larger world of beer.
Here is the "propaganda."
THE FIRST SNOW ALE
This hearty American pale ale contains a rich blend of spices that warms the soul on a cold winter's night. Chill the mug, stoke the fire, and savor this quality seasonal brew. Available only during the Winter season.