WINTER ALE: 89 Points
A calming Winter
This English Old Ale/Winter Ale is released seasonally in early Winter in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Brewed in the style of an English Olde Ale, this ale balances the sweet heady aroma of spruce tips with the clean crisp finish of noble hops. Its malty richness is complemented by the warming sensation of alcohol.”
My Description: This beer grows on you. At first, it doesn’t quite fit the Old Ale category but you can tell that it is Old Ale inspired. It is very smooth with tasty malt flavors and an overall warming presence. It pours a small, off-white colored head that fades quick and leaves no lacing; the head is rather disappointing. The aroma makes up for the weak appearance with pleasant notes of caramel malt, toffee, floral notes, and some fruit notes as well. Winter Ale is medium bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile is slightly complex and enjoyable with some caramel sweetness coming through along with notes of fruit jellies like berries. The spruce actually comes through and is not just marketing, providing a woodsy like flavor. The aftertaste is clean with lingering toffee notes and very little bitterness. This beer is highly drinkable and great for sitting on a porch watching the snow. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with chocolate desserts, baked ham, or roasted duck.
ABV: 6.4% Color: Golden Amber Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 2/10
OLD STOCK ALE: 90 Points
This Old Ale is released seasonally in Autumn in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “As a continuation of North Coast Brewing Co.’s commitment to quality, our Old Stock Ale is crafted in the tradition of our critically acclaimed Pranqster Belgian Style Golden Ale and Old Rasputin Imperial Stout. It’s brewed with classic floor-malted Maris Otter Pale Malt and Fuggles Hops imported from England, so it’s a beer to be served proudly. Like a fine wine, North Coast’s Old Stock Ale is intended to be laid down. With an original gravity of over 1100 and a generous hopping rate, Old Stock Ale is well-designed to round-out and mellow with age. North Coast Brewing Co. Old Stock Ale is a vintage dated ale. We produce a small quantity each year and it remains available from release date until our stock is depleted.”
My Description: This beer is only going to get better as it ages and right now it tastes very pleasant. It begins with a good sized, light beige colored head that fades quick and leaves behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is somewhat subtle but never-the-less welcoming with a deep caramel malt note taking center stage along with notes of raisins, figs, and molasses. Old Stock is full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. A silky texture helps make this beer easy to drink but the cloying sweetness makes you take your time between sips. Similar to the aroma, a rich caramel malt note dominates the flavor profile holding up notes of burnt sugar, toffee, green bananas, and some earthiness. I feel that the alcohol is beautifully hidden here even though this beer is young; you can taste the alcohol but it’s not hot or solvent like, but more like a welcoming addition the taste. The aftertaste brings a slightly bitter presence helping to combat some of the malty sweetness. Let this pretty one age a bit. It is best served around 60°F and pairs nicely with chocolate desserts, creamy cheeses, or baked duck.
ABV: 11.8% Color: Amber/Brown Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10
CURMUDGEON: 98 Points
This Old Ale is generally available between April and June in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Think classic seafaring ports, local pubs and weathered old fishermen. This old ale is brewed with molasses and an insane focus on the malt bill, then oak-aged. The result is a strong, rich, malty delight that’s deceptively smooth and drinkable.”
My Description: This beer is amazingly smooth and the flavors compliment each other nicely. The subtlety of these flavors add complexity without becoming overbearing to the palate. It pours a decent, light tan colored head that holds for a bit leaving a thin film. The head isn’t that impressive but it does leave a good amount of lacing. The aroma is delightful and inviting, it is on the sweet side with notes of malt, dates, caramel, and a hint of earthy hops. Curmudgeon is medium/full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. A great balance of flavors begins with a caramel malt body holding up notes of toffee, brown sugar, hints of dark fruit and alcohol, and a touch of oak. The aftertaste is slightly bitter helping the overall drinkability. This beer is easy to drink, it swallows cleanly, and makes for a great sipper. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with grilled lamb chops, potent cheeses, or beef stew.
ABV: 9.8% Color: Caramel/Amber Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10
OLD JUBILATION ALE: 93 Points
Bring on the snow
This Old Ale is released seasonally in the Winter months in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Our winter strong ale has a gorgeous mahogany hue, a hint of hazelnuts, and a finish reminiscent of mocha and toffee. No spices, just a perfect blend of five specialty malts.”
My Description: This ale just makes you want to sit outside on a cold winter night just so you can get warmed up by this beauty. It begins with a decent sized, light beige colored that fades quick to a film but holds the rest of the way leaving behind a great amount of lacing. The aroma is complex and welcoming with a strong nutty presence along with notes of malt, bread, some earthy notes, and a touch of alcohol. Old Jubilation is full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a dry finish. This ale presents a great depth of flavors. Dark fruit undertones and malt are accompanied by nutty notes and toffee. An earthy presence and a slightly bitter aftertaste add character. This beer is really smooth and tasty. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with roasted lamb chops, honey-crusted chicken, or beef stew.
ABV: 8.3% Color: Mahogany Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10
HIBERNATION ALE: 93 Points
3 of these, you’ll be in hibernation
This American Old Ale is released in the winter season in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “HIBERNATION ALE has been our celebrated winter tradition since 1995. This robust, dry-hopped ale has a malty richness balanced with a complex hop profile and hearty, warming character.”
My Description: This is a warming and satisfying winter ale with complex flavors and an alcohol taste that is nicely hidden. It has a decent sized, beige colored head that fades rather quickly leaving some lacing behind. The aroma is more on the chocolate and roasted end with some additional notes of caramel, sweet malt, and dark fruits like prunes and raisins. It is roughly medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. It is malty upfront with dark fruit notes similar to the aroma. There are also notes of toasted bread, a hint of molasses, and a touch of alcohol. The complex flavor profile develops further as the beer warms up. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and very smooth. This excellent ale is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with baked ham, duck in raspberry sauce, or a nicely cooked NY Steak.
ABV: 8.7% Color: Dark Copper/Brown Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 3/10
BURTON BATON: 99 Points
I need to meet Burton Baton
This Old Ale/Imperial IPA hybrid has an IBU of 70 and is available year-round in 12 oz. and 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “When enjoying the Burton Baton, you’ll find an awesome blend of the citrus notes from Northwestern hops melding with woody, vanilla notes from the oak. The wood also tends to mellow the 10% ABV of Burton.”
My Description: This is the kind of beer that reminds me why I have such a passion for this fermented beverage and the brewers who painstakingly develop them. What makes this beer stand out among the rest is the no sacrifice quality and delicious flavor profile. It has a great, light tan colored head that leaves really good lacing and has an excellent retention. The aroma is complex, warm, and inviting with fragrant notes of malt, bread, citrus and pine hops, with a slight oak undertone. The ale is full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a clean, mildly creamy dry finish. There is a pleasing sweet malty base to the beer accompanied by some bread and citrus hop notes. The aftertaste is mildly sweet with a bitterness that balances it perfectly. The alcohol is beautifully hidden behind the flavors of oak, bread, and a touch of vanilla. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with spiced lamb dishes, toasted nuts, or roasted duck.
ABV: 10% Color: Copper Sweetness: 4.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10
THIRD COAST OLD ALE: 98 Points
A Bell’s Masterpiece
This American Barleywine is released in the winter months in 12 oz. bottles with an unlimited shelf life.
Brewer’s Description: “Third Coast Old Ale focuses on malt, offering notes of burnt caramel & other earthy malt flavors. Designed with vintage aging in mind, the malt aspect is matched to a heavy complement of hops. Sharply bitter at first, this will fold into the malt character over time and balance out the maltiness.”
My Description: This is a great representation of an American Barleywine, I was not expecting it to be as delicious as it was. (As with all Barleywines, aging the beer with mellow the flavors and make it syrupy smooth.) It has an average sized, dark tan colored head that fades but holds most of the way producing a good amount of lacing. The aroma is complex and inviting with notes of caramel and toffee, sweet malt, molasses, and dark fruits like cherries and raisins. It is a full bodied beer with a moderate carbonation level and a creamy, velvety texture. The flavor profile is nothing short of heaven; it has a strong, but not overpowering, sweet caramel malt backbone accompanied by notes of dark fruits like cherries, plums, and raisins along with a touch of tobacco. This transitions beautifully into an aftertaste that is very smooth and moderately bitter bringing a satisfying balance. The alcohol taste is almost non-existent, but you will feel its welcoming presence. This is best served around 55-60°F and pairs nicely with grilled lamb chops, honey glazed baked ham, or your favorite steak.
ABV: 10.2% Color: Brown/Mahogany Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 4/10