Friday, December 14, 2012

Geary's Winter Ale

I tend to associate "winter ales" with the winter warmer style or any Christmas beer full of spices, but why not use a traditional style for a change? Several brewers release India Pale Ales in the winter, but few call them actual "winter ales," except for Geary’s Winter Ale. It’s quite unique for what it is: an English style IPA with a touch of Christmas spice thrown in. Not just interesting, but good.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (768) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 14, 2012
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Brown/ruby red appearance. Dark, but translucent. Forms a small, white, soapy head which mostly evaporates but does leave some lacing on the glass.

Smell: Surprisingly sweet nose with notes of caramel and ginger plus some floral hops.

Taste: It’s hard to find a traditional English-style IPA in America, let alone a good one, but Geary’s Winter Ale is both. It’s too hoppy and too dark to be just a pale ale, but doesn’t have the over hoppiness of most American brews of the style. Instead of a sharp citrusy or piney hop bite, there’s a consistent, slightly dry bitterness from start to finish.

Much like the aroma, there’s a prominent sweetness to the palate here. Caramel, toffee, shortbread and a touch of ginger and/or cinnamon all seem detectable. They make for a good flavor combination as the spices and hops complement each other quite well, while the malty sweetness keeps it balanced. I think I even get a touch of berry in there somewhere. For what would appear to be just another generic winter ale sitting on the store shelf, this one really should stand out more than it does.

Drinkability: While not exactly a beer you’d chug, Geary’s Winter Ale is no challenge at all to drink. The body is quite full with plenty of flavor throughout. The mouthfeel is slightly crisp, but in no way thin (not thick either). There is a slightly bitter, dry aftertaste, but something akin to eating a Christmas cookie. At 6% it’s right where it should be in terms of all-around weight. It would work well with a meal or cheese, or a standalone as a dessert.
 Grade: 8/10

1 comment: