Review of Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale

14 Jan
For today’s craft beer review I thought I would crack open a bottle of Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale produced by The Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery (Tadcaster) located in Tadcaster, United Kingdom.

This is a 2011-2012 bottle, so it’s relatively fresh.  Also, as you guys probably already know, I’m a big fan of Samuel Smith’s beers.  However, I have never tried a Winter Welcome Ale before, so I’m really looking forward to getting this into a glass and seeing how it stacks up to their other beverages.

First, let’s see if we can find some info on this beer from the website,

This seasonal beer is a limited edition brewed for the short days and long nights of winter. The full body resulting from fermentation in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’ and the luxurious malt character, which will appeal to a broad range of drinkers, is balanced against whole-dried Fuggle and Golding hops with nuances and complexities that should be contemplated before an open fire.

Let’s have a taste.

This brew has an ABV of 6.0% and it comes in a 18.7 oz. bottle. 

It poured a very clear, copper to burnt orange color with some burnt yellow highlights outlining the curves of the glass.  The crown was of good size, off white, creamy, very smooth and soft.  The retention time was pretty good and the lacing looked rather nice.  (Samuel Smith’s beers always look nice in the glass I think).

The bouquet had hints of toasted grains and very light fruity aromas.  Very, very slight tones of holiday spices.  Maybe some nutmeg or cinnamon.  Not much there to be honest with you.  I noticed a light hop profile that seemed herbal and grassy.  As the brew warmed it began to reveal a buttery note also.  It seemed well balanced and all, however it was very relaxed and subdued.  I was expecting quite a bit more to tell the truth.

The taste announced a distinctive graininess along with more of those grassy hops.  A nice bit of bitterness was imparted, but again, much like the aroma, it divulged some herbal and earthy characteristics with only the most meager amount of holiday spice.  I detected a little bit of caramel sweetness as well as some kind of unidentified fruit.  Near the end it began to impart a nice leafiness and nuttiness to add a touch more complexity.  

The mouthfeel was medium to medium/thin.  Smooth, slick and soft.  It wasn’t completely dry, but it wasn’t watery either.  It sat right in the middle.  A smidgen of flavor was left on the palate, but not a whole lot really.  The carbonation was nice though. 
Well, I’ll tell ya.  I was a little bit disappointed in this brew.  It wasn’t bad or anything, but it just seemed a little weak in the smell, taste and mouthfeel.  I guess it just wasn’t what I was expecting from a “Winter brew”.  Especially one from Samuel Smith’s.  One thing about it though, it was extremely easy to drink.  I was finished with this glass before I even knew it.  I definitely would have no problem making a night out of this.  Sure, I’d say give it a try if you are making your way through all of the Winter Seasonals, but if you are looking for one of those big and spicy concoctions, this may not be the best place to start.  With that being said, I still appreciate the Samuel Smith’s brews and I’m sure I will taste this again next year, so maybe my opinion of it will change somewhat by then.  

Thanks for reading and commenting guys.  I really appreciate it. 

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  3.5 out of 5
Grade:  B- 


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