3.8AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
UPDATED: SEP 30, 2012 In my quest to the find the perfect winter beer I’ve found many that started out strong and finished weak and some that were strong in one facet only, but few have been consistently sturdy across the board. Brooklyn Winter Ale comes awfully close to being the perfect beer for the cold season because it’s very tasty and well-balanced, but it doesn’t seem to have any distinctiveness to it. Oh well, a really good beer sans specifics is still a really good beer.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
As difficult as it is to find a perfect beer, trying to find one that pours well has been quite challenging as well. Fortunately, Brooklyn Winter Ale poured very smoothly to a clear, rusty-colored body. It formed a thick, off-white, foamy head which lasted for quite a while and left trace amounts of lacing on the glass. The aroma was fairly mild with a very general scent of spice but no individual ingredients stood out from the rest.
For a beer that is brewed in the Scotch Ale style, Brooklyn Winter Ale tasted nothing like what I was expecting. Often, beers of this type tend to have a harsh, smoky taste to them but this beer was surprisingly soft in its mouth-feel. Caramel seemed to be the most noticeable and strongest flavor even though it is not mentioned in the beer’s description.
Like most winter beers, this one has a general palate of spices to give it quite a bite. However, it also seems to have a sweet component to give the flavor true balance. I’ve been disappointed in many winter ales this season which were too strong or too weak, but Brooklyn Winter Ale really delivers with a spicy taste. The only thing I might criticize it for is having a bit of a generic taste in that no distinct ingredients are detectable other than caramel.
Spicy beers tend to scare off Joe and Jane Six Pack because they aren’t the easiest beers to drink. Although I have had coarser and smoother finishes, Brooklyn Winter Ale is a fairly simple beer to drink especially considering it’s brewed in the Scotch Ale style. There is a noticeable bite to the palate, but only up front. The rear mouth-feel and the finish itself is quite subdued for a beer of this caliber. Nearly any drinker of any experience level should be able to get through this beer without much problem.
A heavy, potent body is something winter ales are known for and Brooklyn’s is no exception. At 6% ABV it is a beer that makes itself known, however, it’s not so powerful that it will overwhelm the average drinker. I’m not sure why the brewers felt the need to make the beer so strong, as it would have been just as satisfying had it been slightly lighter.
I wouldn’t say Brooklyn Winter Ale is the best of its type, but it does deserve acclaim for being such a tasty, relatively easy to drink beer considering the fact it’s a niche style and a pretty heavy beer. Still, I trust the Brooklyn Brewery and I’d certainly recommend this beer.