No need for explanations as to why this brew was chosen; with a name like Winter Ale Ale to the King and The Brooklyn Brewery are on solid festive ground. Its also got a nice link back to here, Scotland, in that its brewed with marris otter malts.
The colour too is on solid festive ground, its a beautiful shade of dark crimson. I wouldn’t even describe it as brown that’s particularly red. Its easily a red with a lot of brown, not the other way around. The head dissipates quickly, elegantly emphasising this shade.
On the nose you’re first hit by a very fresh, sweet lemon which rapidly and suddenly changes flavour to spent matchwood. Its got a nice lightness to it with plenty of character behind.
Its a hard beer to pin down on the taste. I had to give it a good wash round the mouth to pin anything down. That isn’t to say its muddy like There is No Santa, it would be more correct to call Winter Ale complicated. Most noticeable on the mid-taste is chestnut, but not roast, more the shell of a raw, uncooked one. Perhaps not quite the Christmassy smell the brewers were going after, but pretty close.
On another good, long taste you get sherbet on the foretaste, right on the tip of the tongue and just faintly the sweetness of a gob-stopper.
There’s also a dominant taste permeating the whole thing of cold, winter rain that brings to mind the wet, shiny tarmac reflecting street lights in December. This is combined with caster sugar which lends almost too much sweetness to the drink.
The after-taste is a bit of a conundrum. Its an an almost rubbery sensation, like when you hit your face on a bouncy castle as a child, but its not an unpleasant one.
And that’s what Winter Ale is, its a puzzle. The flavours are complicated yet not messy and there are sensations in there that shouldn’t be pleasant but somehow are. And I’m puzzled myself. I’m not entirely sure I can recommend this beer as a really good one. A good one, certainly, but really good? It just seems to lack that something special.