Quick Review: Smuttynose – Winter Ale

I was given this bottle by my good friend over at Hockey and Beer.  Please go over there and convince him to get back on the blogging bandwagon.  He puts my beer knowledge to shame and needs to share that with the beer blogosphere more.  Having seen my interest in different Christmas and winter beers, this fine gentleman gave this bottle to me for my opinion and future reviewing purposes.  I actually wanted to turn my musings on this bottle into a bit of a more significant review; however, I have been amassing quite a stockpile of different reviews as of late.  Therefore, this beer is going to get the quick review treatment.  I have basically enjoyed most things I have had out of Smuttynose.  I liked their ipa, I loved their robust porter, but I didn’t care for their maibock.  I was hoping that this one ended up on the good side of my feelings about Smuttynose.

Appearance – The pour was a rich brown color with a slight reddish tint to it.  A fairly moderate head develops on the beer, but it disappears fairly quickly. Swirling the glass bring it back fairly, and it make actually comes back more plentiful than the initial pour.  There is some nice sticky lacing on the sides of the glass that last for a while.  There is certainly some haziness about the beer and visible carbonation as well.

Smell – The biggest smell that invades the nose at first is the rich dark fruits mixed with a slight bit of clove.  I pull out some pleasant citrus as well.  There is perhaps something close to candied orange peel in here.  A very strong Belgian scent, as well as, being a little heavy on the booze.

Taste – There is a very sweet malt intro to the beer. This transitions into the dark rich fruits.  I’m thinking dates, figs, and some cherries mixed with a little clove.  A rather strong orange citrus taste enters the flavor profile and is met with just a slight hint of hops.  There is a slight chocolatey finish to this beer.  In the end, I get a little bit of tangy flavor that I think comes from the particular yeast used in the beer.  This is mixed with some of the remaining dark fruits to give it a very unique flavor.

Mouthfeel – This beer has the perfect combination of carbonation and syrupy goodness.  The syrupy nature is there for the boozy quality that warms you up; however, the proper amount of carbonation keeps some of that syrupy nature in check.  The really nice slightly tangy finish is kind of unique but not unpleasant.  It creates something worth drinking.  I also really like the little note of chocolate towards the end as well.

Avery helped show me earlier that a good winter/christmas beer doesn’t have to be brewed with a high amount of outrageous spices, and this beer continues that message.  I really like how Smuttynose managed to create a beer that has a true winter feel without making you search through your spice rack to figure out what you’re tasting.  Don’t get me wrong, I actually am one of the ones who doesn’t mind spices in my beer, but I also enjoy something that can have the same effect and go in the opposite direction. I may have to get a six pack of this one, and I encourage you to do the same.

Teacher Grade: A



  1. Totally agree! Although I have yet to try this in 2011, I had it in late 2010 and absolutely loved it. It’s truly a well balanced and flavorful beer!

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