Foregoing the path of spiced holiday ales, Brooklyn Brewery instead approaches the blustery weather as a way to promote its Scottish-styled offering, Winter Ale. This seems to fit perfectly with prototypical Scottish forecast of rain and dreary cold, so who am I to complain?
A burnished copper liquid with ruby highlights greets you in the glass which culminates in a frothy, tan head. The head retention is nice, and as it fades it leaves streaks of lacing. The aroma brings an undeniable Scottish influence, as the malts bring a caramel smell first and foremost. It is slightly fruity and bready as well, with a dried-fruit quality and hints of raisins and tobacco. Overall it’s somewhat sweet, and the breadiness comes across as shortbread.
The taste continues the sweet profile, but it’s kept in check with the earthy hops. The malts once again shine here, as caramel, brown sugar, and a little grain take over the beginning of the flavor. As it opens up and develops in the mouth, the hops add an earthy, woody, and leathery quality that seems to fit in nicely with the Scottish landscape Brooklyn Brewery is trying the paint here. The intermittent fruit in the form of apples, pears, and raisins helps the flavors pop that much more.
To be honest, I didn’t read up much on this beer before drinking it and was expecting another run-of-the-mill, overly spiced winter warmer. What I get instead is a top of the line, readily-available Scottish ale.
A- / $9 per 6-pack / brooklynbrewery.com