Lawrence is a brewery that, in my opinion, tends to make decent beers
of conventional styles. Their “Winter Ale” seems to epitomize this
hypothesis: it’s a traditional winter warmer brew and a beer that tastes
good and is fairly easy to drink, but lacks anything memorable or
special. At least it’s priced right.
I poured a 12oz bottle into a goblet. There was no freshness date and it cost $2.50 ($0.21 per ounce).
Appearance: Rusty brown hue; extremely cloudy body. Pours to an average
sized, white, frothy head which retains and laces fairly well.
Smell: Nose reminiscent of a standard amber ale but with distinct winter spices. Not too intense, but nice.
Taste: This is a beer that could easily pass for a standard American
amber ale as it has all the makings of the style: a malt-forward palette
that’s fairly sweet, but at the same time has a good amount of hops to
keep it in balance. Darker malt presence is noticeable right away,
imparting some caramel and toasted bread flavors. Through the middle
there’s a dry bitterness which is accentuated by a light spicy
character. Interestingly enough, the brewery’s website does not reveal
which spices are in the beer, though they seem to be similar to that of a
pumpkin brew with notes of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. There’s also a
subtle nutty character skulking in the background. All in all it’s a
fine-tasting beer which, despite its seeming complexity, only manages to
create for a “good” overall taste, which is fine if that’s all they
were trying to accomplish.
Drinkability: This seems to be a seasonal whose recipe varies from year
to year and the 2014 edition weighs in at 6% ABV. It doesn’t seem to be
quite as full-bodied and robust as that potency would usually deliver,
but at no point does it feel light or underwhelming. The mouthfeel is
more of lighter medium intensity with average carbonation. It goes down
smooth and finishes clean – which is nice since there’s nothing cloying
about it, but also a bit disappointing that the flavors don’t linger
when they probably should.