On my continued quest to find delicious, seasonally appropriate beer I sampled Shipyard’s Prelude Winter Warmer. This is an ale aged in bourbon barrels, which sounds wonderful.
The beer poured a dark cooper brown with a big head that quickly settled down and left some beautiful lacing. First sip was not at all what I was expecting – instead of complex aged ale I got a sweet, heavy beer, closer to the taste and feel of a barleywine. The predominant taste was dried fruit – raisins and prunes. The beer was overwhelmingly sweet. I could see liking this if the sweet fruitiness was tempered by a stronger malty or nutty flavor. I didn’t love this beer, but if you like barleywine I would check this out.
Vitals: Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip pint straight out of the fridge. 6.4% ABV
Taste: B- This was a very raisiny beer, something I’d not experienced before. If you love raisins or barleywine give this a shot.
Drinkability: C I couldn’t get through more than half a glass. This is a thick, heavy beer. I think I would have liked it a lot as part of a flight, but a whole glass was too much for me.
Packaging: A- Typical Shipyard. Tons of good info including malt, hops and yeast types.
I think I have found my perfect winter beer.
I like Smuttynose. I think their Big A IPA is delicious. I like their branding. New Hampshire is my favorite state. And, full disclosure: I know their brewmaster, he’s a friend of a friend.
All of this biases me toward their beer, but in their Smuttynose Short Batch #18 – Durty I found something I didn’t even know I was looking for: a hoppy brown ale, perfect for cold weather drinking. If you can get your hands on this remarkably small distribution (25 cases in NH and MA only, or on tap at the brewery) definitely try it.
Durty poured a gorgrous brown with a small, thick head. Smells super cirtusy with a hint of cocoa. First sip is a perfect mix of hops and caramel. It’s at once bright and warm, like some delicious brown bread with grapefruit zest mixed in. I would have drank this all night, but we only had one.
Vitals: Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip pint straight out of the fridge. 8.4% ABV, 55 IBU
Taste: A- This was my first brown IPA and it was everything I think it should be: caramely, nutty and hoppy all at once.
Drinkability: B+ At 8.4% ABV I’m not sure I could drink more than one or two but it’s smooth with no overwhelming alcohol taste. Perfect for splitting with a friend.
Packaging: Different from your typical Smuttynose branding. I wouldn’t have recognized it on the shelf, but I like it. Each bottle is labeled with the number from production. We drank #544 of 828.