Winter Warmer


Ed. Note: This is the second beereview from our new resident hopsnob hopulist, timmy.

Harpoon Brewery – Boston, MA / Windsor, VT

Harpoon’s Winter Warmer – An American Winter Warmer Ale

5.5% ABV

Christmas time is finally here / lots of laughter / lots of cheer, until that is you drink this beer and your mouth it feels particularly queer.

Most people (I call them idiots) don’t even think of beer on a COLD winter night. For them, the opposite is the norm… the quintessential cold, crystal clear lager on a HOT summer day. But for me, the Winter Warmer style is as good as a scorching mug of hot chocolate. The style is predominated by dark, malty, thick, complex beers with an appropriately tamed hop bite. The high(er) alcohol contents usually give a warming effect, just like a good shot of brandy. So, keep reading and all, but this one’s a bit of an insult to the style.

12oz. bottle from a case that my girlfriend got at Total Wine in Landmark/Annandale VA. Not the first time I’ve had this. No date on the bottle. 🙁

The Look: was amber. 1″ head that hung on for a couple minutes.

My Nose: was punched with nutmeg. Second time around brought some cinnamon and honey, too. Jesus, that’s strong.

Dang, the taste is ridiculous. Water and nutmeg. Water and cinnamon. The aroma from this guy would be more acceptable if it sat over a crazy, complex, supremely nutmeg-y beer. But it doesn’t. The taste falls flat on what’s really just a mild ale, dominated by an amateur-ish (sorry, but seriously) dose of spices.

The Feel: was too thin for the taste. I really just want more depth to the beer. In taste and feel, it definitely needs to put on more weight before next season, if I’m ever going to invest in it again.

Drinknessableness: Umm, I could drink a lot of these since they’re pretty thin and the ABV’s reasonable. But I’m not sure that I want to. On the counter-point, my girlfriend loves these things. And since it’s opened her up to trying other beers, I’ve gotta respect it on some level.

All-in-all, I was disappointed by the WW. I don’t like talking trash, but I think Harpoon knows better than this. Winter beers are all about one million subtle, comfortable flavors keeping your taste buds guessing, but this one tells all it’s secrets. More weight, more depth, and a little demure would take this beer a long way.

Previously on ES: Stone Ruination IPA.

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  • dad gansie December 7, 2007  

    your amateur -ish pic is neat, i’m sure we can find one of our three kids doing the same, wonder why they like to drink sooo much, anyone find any beamish for gansie??

  • gansie December 7, 2007  

    yes, gansie wants beamish!

  • gansie December 7, 2007  

    oh, and sorry tim, no offense to the beers you’ve reviewed

  • bobbyc December 7, 2007  

    I honestly think your beer reviews are some of the best I’ve ever read. Nice work, again. I completely agree on this one too — spices in beer should be used subtlety, not as a beatin’ stick.

  • EdHill December 12, 2007  

    Your being to hard on my Winter Warmer. Yes it is way over spiced. Yes it completely lacks any kind of subtlety. But I still think it’s a good beer if you only have one per sitting. The spices are so overwhelming that any more than that and it would overtake you.

    On a related note, this Catholic boy from New England recently came upon a revelation at the recent Brewers Association reception on the Hill. The He’Brew 11 Jewbelation Ale. Don’t let the painfully overpunny name fool you. It’s a rich complex and fabulous winter brew. It’s got 11 malts and 11 hops, as well as an 11% alcohol content. While even this “11” thing is too cutesy, the end result is a fabulous beer.

    Happy Chamanukeh everyone!

  • BS December 12, 2007  

    ooh I’ve hade the he’brew and it is in fact the best thing since kosher nationals.

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