Winter Warmer Land

Brewery and Country of Origin: Innis & Gunn of PO Box 17246, Edinburgh, EH1 1YR, Scotland, UK

Date Reviewed: 12-10-12

It's that time of year again. The smell of ginger bread, roasted duck, and pine fills the nostrils, as songs somehow only enjoyable for only 25 days of the year ring through the halls. Ancient claymation movies slot TV schedules, and SUVs are adorned with red noses and felt antlers. And while flight fares go up 5,000%, winter brews fill the shelves. It's an annual tradition which helps to make this hectic time of year a little more tolerable. For us in the Northern bit of The United States, this time of year is associated with warmers. Higher alcoholic ales, stouts, and porters which help to deliver that "invisible" blanket of warmth to you on cold winter nights. Most of these beers tend to be malty, sweet, and at least medium bodied, so it doesn't fee like your drinking ice cold water, which is why we ask kindly, leave the Bud for the summer. Historically it would appear that the British take their winter warmers very seriously. Strong ales have been a large part of their brewing heritage, and while Canada may have colder, snowier winters, The UK isn't much of a tropical paradise either. The first winter warmers were originally Old Ales in the form of Strong Ales (brewed exclusively by the English, and today, they've become a major part of the American seasonal brewing schedule. This is a Scottish ale which follows all of the historical requirements: malty, heavy, and higher in alcohol. This is also a spiced beer (something of a tradition), which makes this beer a great parter with many traditional winter desserts like pie and ginger bread cookies.
Date Sampled: 12-01-12 At: 7 Prescott Place, Allston, Boston, MA, 02134, USA
Beer Style: Scottish Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 7.40%
Serving Type: 330 ml Bottle, 16 oz Stange Glass
Rating: 3.01


The 2011 Winter Beer glows with a hazy and dull appearance, indicating a small amount of fine unfiltered and unsettled sediment. There is a dark bronze color only bright in very clear light. This beer pours smooth with a thin, short, and weak foam head with a low amount of retention. There is an average amount of lacing present.


This beer gives of a sweet molasses and slightly earthy aroma mixed in with a small amount of alcohol present. There is also a very subtle clove note detectable. This is a fairly strong aroma which contains no trace of hoppy presence.


This is a medium bodied beer with a lower amount of carbonation and a below average level of viscosity. This brew has a low bit of weight and there is no texture created by the small amount of sediment. This beer finishes with a fairly dry finish, but with almost no lingering.


This beer has a malt dominated flavor, indicating a heavy use of caramel or medium roasted malt with a relatively high amount of sweetness. There is almost no hops present until the end, where a short lived bitter aftertaste delivers a slightly dry close. There is still a good amount of malty character in the short lived aftertaste. Alcohol is present in the flavor, as well as a slightly metallic aftertaste.

Our Take

This beer might have been a bit too much going on in the flavor, but overall, this is a great starter winter beer. Strong, warming, and with a typically malt dominated sweetness. Hoppy beer fans will not want to look for this beer in stores, as there is essentially no bitterness to speak of in this Scottish Ale. The aroma was mostly pleasant, as was the beginning flavor. Unfortunately, this beer missed the mark with a slightly alcoholic tinge, as well as a noticeable metallic aftertaste. Otherwise, this was a pretty solid beer to start off the holiday season. If you're interested in getting into these kinds of beers, perhaps you should purchase a few while they're in season, and leave some of them cellaring for a year or two (if the brewer suggests). This and other similar beers will be best enjoyed conditioned appropriately, which may mean that sometimes, patience is more than just a virtue. Either way, this is a brew you'll want a good slice of pie, a bit of roast bird, and/or a big, fresh, and warm ginger bread cookie with. Oh, and don't forget the smell of fresh pine tree.