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