Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Ale - Great Lakes Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Winter Ale - Great Lakes Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 6.2%

A dark and very red colour in a glass with a medium head of white foam. An aroma of cinnamon and perhaps cloves [note: nope] with a touch of roasted malt: not all that dissimilar from a pumpkin ale, although without any gourd tones kicking around, of course.

Lots of cinnamon (lots) and sticky, roasted malt in the flavour. The finish is fairly bitter and that is where some hops but especially the citrus (orange peel) comes out. It isn't the sort of sweet citrus that you get in a Belgian Wheat or with some hoppy west coast IPAs but the tangy, sour jolt of real orange peel. There are some red fruity, nearly sherry-like tones in the aftertaste. The spicy mix, which I originally (and mistakenly) thought included cloves (thinking of that other fabulous Christmas beverage, mulled cider) reveals the ginger in Great Lakes Brewery's Winter Ale as the beer warms.

This is a fine spiced beer but it doesn't quite suit the season to my taste. I cut my teeth, so to speak, as a beer geek/blogger/critic on Norwegian Yule Beers (see here, here and here) and therefore winter beers hold a special place in my heart. I just don't find molasses-less ginger and orange peel really speak to me as a far as the proper flavours of a beer for winter. Additionally, the lowish alcohol content and the only moderately malty body (one that is overshadowed by the spices anyway) don't really qualify this as a "true winter warmer" as the label asks you to believe. But do not misunderstand me: it may not fit my idea of a winter beer or a Winter Warmer but this is a tasty spiced beer, maybe just better suited to autumn.

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