Friday, January 23, 2015

Cigar City Warmer Winter Winter Warmer

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1267) - Albany, New York, USA - JAN 23, 2015
I always wondered what a warm weather state like Florida would consider to be a “winter warmer” since it’s always warm there all the time. Cigar City’s “Warmer Winter” is apparently how they interpret the style down there. This is a classic American-style barleywine, and not an actual winter warmer despite the name. It definitely hits on all notes as a barleywine, which is probably why I enjoyed it.

I poured a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled on 11/5/14 and was sent to me from a friend in Florida (thanks, Matt!).

Appearance: Attractive shade of burgundy/mahogany color. Fairly clear with some haziness, slight carbonation is visible. Pours to a two-finger, eggshell, foamy head which retains and laces pretty well.

Smell: Classic barleywine aroma of dark malt, though plenty of American hop character is present, too (mostly citrus and flowers).

Taste: It’s not surprising that a big beer would start out with a big taste. Tons of malty sweetness is present right away, creating for a fruit basket of flavors: cherry, plum, and even some strawberry or blackberry notes (oddly enough). At the same time, there’s a noticeable bitterness. At first it’s dry, then it becomes dank and citrusy – akin to orange juice concentrate rather than orange or grapefruit juice straight up. Subtle confectionery notes can be found, as well. There’s definitely a vanilla character due to the alcohol presence. There’s absolutely no spice in the brew, though the hops offer some balance to the malt. It’s not especially bitter and hoppy for the style (if anything, it’s less bitter than most), but there is some citrus and floral character on the second half that complements the brew quite nicely. Overall, it’s tasty and satisfying, but not quite as amazing as I was expecting. I was hoping for intensity and complexity and what’s here is less than that, but much more than just “solid.”

Drinkability: This is one of those beers where the high gravity works for and against it simultaneously. On the one hand, this is a 12.65% ABV brew (according to Head Brewer Wayne Wambles who told me this) and it doesn’t have the dense weight or high heat you would associate with a borderline “extreme” brew. On the other hand, the mouthfeel does feel a tad thin and the fairly clean aftertaste actually seems to be a demerit. A beer of Cigar City Warmer Winter Winter Warmer’s caliber ought to be thick, sticky and cloying. That being said, I doubt anyone other than a complete and total lightweight is going to have any difficulty with this beer. 
Grade: 8/10

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