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.
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
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
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.