Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Harpoon Winter Warmer

Harpoon Winter Warmer is a unique American Spiced Ale for the holiday/ winter season. Typically, Christmas/ Winter Specialty Spiced Beers can vary in base style such as Lagers vs. Ales, but should carry an appropriate balance of unique flavors and should not be overwhelming in any of the adjuncts used. This beer was introduced in 1988 as Harpoon's first seasonal offering - it can be found during the months of November- January. (See section 21B for style description)

Alcohol Content: 5.9%
International Bitterness Units (IBU): 22
Malts: 2-Row Pale, Caramel, ?
Hops: ?

Medium: 12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
Price: $13.50 for a 12-pack Harpoon sampler

Aroma: A lack of aromatic hops; Therefore, upon pouring the release of nutmeg and cinnamon dominates the nose. Some sense of sweet malts appear after letting the nutmeg subside a bit - takes about 20 seconds before sweet caramel notes appear. There are some maple syrup and rosemary-like aromas present (Perhaps some unidentified yeast-like aroma).
Appearance: Pours for a tan, thin head that subsides after taking a few sips along with a small amount of lacing around the glass. Appears to be very clear with a deep amber/ copper color and only a little carbonation present. No yeast sediment.
Flavor: Initially very spiced with nutmeg dominating over the cinnamon, followed by sweet malts discovered about mid taste. Sweet malty caramel notes continue to linger into the aftertaste along with an astringent bitterness. I also noted a slight rosemary-like and ginger quality to it. Slightly dry finish.
Mouthfeel: Surprisingly smooth, medium to light body with a slight alcohol warmth as I finish. Also possesses a "chewy" malt characteristic. Appropriate carbonation and feels a bit watery for a "winter warmer".
Overall Impression: Its like drinking pumpkin pie that leaves you a bit dry. Could be more balanced and a little less astringent. This beer was very similar to a rosemary/ maple syrup beer that I crafted, which is why I commented on some of the similar, yet unidentified aromas and flavors (most likely not brewed with either) - it was most similar in some of the hot, alcoholic-like esters from yeast.

Score: 35/50

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