Chad9976 (1067) - Albany, New York, USA - APR 30, 2010
3.1 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 12/20
UPDATED: SEP 30, 2012 Dark beer styles such as the bock or the porter lend themselves to a chocolate taste. However, chocolate without sugar or other sweeteners is a very bitter, dry flavor. This is probably why Stoudt’s Winter Ale comes up short as a satisfying winter seasonal – because its chocolaty taste isn’t balanced.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
One of the reasons I’ve never been a fan of the porter or bock styles of beer is in the way they pour – like water. Stoudt’s Winter Ale pours so smoothly it forms virtually no head at all. What is generated is a very thin, brown, soapy head which dissolves quickly and leaves no lacing on the glass. The complexion of the brew is black opaque with no noticeable carbonation. The aroma is standard for a porter with a roasty, dry, almost liquor-like scent.
After my first few tastes of Stoudt’s Winter Ale I felt that I had drank this beer before. It was vaguely reminiscent of other porters, but with a more complex taste. Dark chocolate and some coffee notes seemed to be the most prominent flavors here, but there was no sweet elements to give the taste balance. And these ingredients were only mild as the rest of the palate seemed to be flat and watery.
Additionally, the beer has an underlying taste of whiskey, noticeable in the rear of the mouth and especially in the aftertaste. I’ve never understood the concept of brewing beers with even a hint of liquor flavor. If we wanted liquor we’d drink liquor!
While I wouldn’t say Stoudt’s Winter Ale is as bad as shots of Jack Daniels or even a whiskey sour, its strong alcoholic content is definitely noticeable in the finish. In fact, it subtracts from the chocolate taste and makes the beer difficult to drink in anything other than sips.
I had a heck of a time trying to research this beer. The description on the brewer’s official website is absolutely minimal with no statistics at all, other than to say it’s a full-bodied seasonal whose recipe changes from year to year. Other beer websites describe it as an American porter with an ABV between 5 and 6.5%. There is no indication on the bottles themselves, but having drunk two back-to-back I’d estimate it at 5.5%. Of course, “full-bodied” is definitely an accurate term as the beer does make itself known on the drinker’s system after only half a glass. I wasn’t overwhelmed after two servings, but I was more than content.
I have to give the brewers at Stoudt’s credit for using the porter to create an original winter ale since most other brewers opt for brown or scotch ales or even lagers for their seasonals. I think this beer could’ve been a winner had the flavor been balanced and not been so flat, plus the liquor-like elements were pointless. Not that this is a terrible beer since it’s very drinkable, but not very enjoyable.
NOTE: Watch the video version of this beer at:
Dickinsonbeer (5076) - Hoboken, New Jersey, USA - APR 18, 2010
3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
Tap at BT> Pours a medium bright amber with a thin lasitng head. Aroma is fairly hoppy mostly citrus with some pine orange zest and grapefruit with a caramel toffee malt backbone. Flavor is toast, caramel nutty, carapils, crystal, with earth, citrus, pine and orange zest and a clean finish. Ok,
MartinT (7482) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - APR 16, 2010
3.4 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
My Bottom Line:
Caramelized cereals and lasting herbal hop bitterness make up most of this Amber Ale’s friendly flavor profile.
Further Personal Perceptions:
-A veil of foam skirts the translucent amber.
-This is very drinkable due to the body’s leanness and the soft bubbling.
-The hop bitterness is bolder than I would have expected for such an approachable brew.
-The malt profile is pretty linear.
-This starts as though it is in the Sam Adams line of Winter brews (quenching and easygoing), but that finish is definitely geared towards craft beer lovers. A strange idea perhaps, but very well executed.
docsteigs (500) - Texas, USA - APR 9, 2010
3.5 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
I was expecting last years chocolate brown ale when I dug in and was happily surprised by a nicely hopped Red; would definitely try again but who knows what it will be next year!
Rciesla (5499) - Exit 15W, New Jersey, USA - MAR 10, 2010
3.3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
Draft. Pours an orange amber body with a white head. Fruity aroma with some light grain and fluffy vanilla notes. A light nutty body with some dark fruit with a creamy body with no real spices to speak of. Decent session ale.
r464 (1738) - Earth, Pennsylvania, USA - FEB 27, 2010
3.7 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
Borders on an IPA in flavor as well as color. Not very spiced, as I would have expected from a winter ale.
bu11zeye (11760) - Frisco (Dallas), Texas, USA - FEB 26, 2010
3.2 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
(12oz bottle, 2009 vintage, courtesy of travita) Pours a golden body with a small white head. Aroma of herbs, grass, and caramel. Flavor of roasted malt, pine, herbs, caramel malt, and grass with a dry, bitter finish.
travita (3652) - Frisco, Texas, USA - FEB 23, 2010
3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
The look is clear, copper in color, and has an off white head. The smell is candy, caramel, fruits, hops, and malts. The taste is hops, ok bitterness, caramel, and light fruits.
cprochak (590) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - FEB 21, 2010
3.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
Sampled at the brewery on 2/20/10. Pours clear orange with very little head. Great aroma of cinnamon, brown sugar and tangerine. unfortunately, the flavor didn’t work for me as it was a bit too complex and too much going on, making it not very drinkable.
Heathen (1444) - Wilmington, Delaware, USA - FEB 19, 2010
3.4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 13/20
THOUGHTS: Nothing too special, but nice that this one is different every year, making it a trued Christmas present. It reminded me of a Southern Tier beer. Nicely balance, but nothing too extreme. Just a fairly well make beer.
TECHNICAL: Bottle. Poured a clear, light to medium amber with an average to large, off-white head that kept a decent sheet and left good lacing. The aroma was moderate, bread, toast, nut and caramel malts; resinous and orangey citrus hops; fruits and a hint of Band-aid. The initial flavor was sweet, lightly acidic and lightly bitter; while the finish was sweet and bitter with a long duration. There was caramel malt, citrus (orange mostly) hops, nutty malts, lighter resinous hops and piney hops. The medium body was a bit syrupy and then a little dry with tingly carbonation.