Category Archives: Samuel Smith’s

Review of Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale

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- 


Review of Samuel Smith’s India Ale

For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be drinking a Samuel Smith’s India Ale produced by the Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery located in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom.

It’s been quite sometime since I last had this brew, so I’m really looking forward to trying it again.

Here’s the description from the website,, regarding the India Ale.

Brewed with well water (the original well at the Old Brewery, sunk in 1758, is still in use, with the hard well water being drawn from 85 feet underground); best malted barley and a generous amount of choicest aroma hops; fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’ to create an exceptionally full-flavoured complex ale with an abundance of maltiness and fruity hop character.

Let’s get it in a glass shall we?

This brew poured from an 18.7 oz. bottle and has an ABV of 5.0%. 

The Samuel Smith’s India Ale was a very clear, pristine, amber to copper color with a barely off white head.  It’s texture was soft, creamy, fluffy, smooth and slightly rocky.  The size was very satisfactory, the retention time was more than competent and the lacing was very solid.  A thin, smooth film stuck with the beer for the entire drink.  I must say, it looked pretty good in the glass.

The aroma brought forth a light, herbal, hop presence with a minute amount of toasted grain and a slight buttery note.  A soft, clean, caramel malt merged with a light biscuit and subtle sweet fruit to create a very well balanced and harmonized bouquet.

The taste provided a very clean and somewhat crisp hop characteristic.  A tamed bitterness teamed with a proper malt punch of sweet caramel and earthy, “leafy” hints.  A gentle fruitiness and sturdy toasted biscuits provided, yet again, a very unified and congenial flavor.  The taste wasn’t overly complicated, but rather well suited and very tasty.

The mouthfeel was medium, clean, crisp, refreshing, dry and somewhat chewy.  It was slick and smooth going back and, all the while, left plenty of flavor behind on the palate for me to enjoy between sips.

Overall, I think this is a very solid, sturdy and worthwhile beer.  I feel as if I should be sitting in an English Pub when I drink this.  It has a very “English” aroma and taste.  Don’t be confused and think that this brew has the same profile as an American India Ale.  The hops are much more subtle and reserved, however not less enjoyable.  The drinkability is excellent and it’s a brew that could be enjoyed year round.  I could set a few of these back after work with relative ease.  The Samuel Smith’s India Ale is just a very good, easy going, enjoyable drink that should be tried by all who have not done so.

Thanks for reading and commenting everyone.  I hope all is well.  Until next time.


Score:  4.0 out of 5
Grade:  B+ 


Review of Samuel Smith’s Yorkshire Stingo

For today’s craft beer review I thought I would sample another beer from the great Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery (Tadcaster) located in Tadcaster, United Kingdom called the Yorkshire Stingo.

Like all Samuel Smith’s brews, I’m sure this one will be worth it’s weight in gold.

Let’s read the description from the website,

Some of the oak casks at Samuel Smith’s date back more than a century with the individual oak staves being replaced by the Old Brewery coopers over the years. Gradually the casks soak in more & more of the character of the ale fermented in stone Yorkshire squares. Yorkshire Stingo is aged for at least a year, matured in these well-used oak casks in the brewery’s underground cellars deriving fruit, raisin, treacle toffee, Christmas pudding and slight oaky flavours, before being further naturally conditioned in bottle. LIMITED AVAILABILITY.

Let’s pour.

This beer has an ABV of 8.0% and it comes in an 18.7 oz. bottle.

It poured a brownish to dark copper color that seemed a little bit cloudy.  Orange highlights were shown around the edges and around the bottom of the glass.  The head was off white, mostly creamy and smooth with a few large bubbles hanging around.  It was nicely sized from an easy pour and it had above average retention and lacing.

The nose was dominated with characteristics of dried, dark fruits.  Hints of dried apple chips, raisins and plums.  Lying underneath the sweet fruits were very nice “woody” tones intermingled with caramel and toasted biscuits.  As the brew warmed, the fruits started to become more forceful, which created a Christmas”y” type of aroma.  I didn’t detect much (if any) alcohol on the nose, but otherwise very nicely balanced and even I thought.  

Within the taste, I, once again, obtained the dried fruits, but this time I did notice a significant Bourbon flavoring that imparted more of the “woody” tones that I found in the aroma.  Some caramel and toffee were acknowledged, however they seemed to be a bit more relaxed than what I had anticipated.  The taste was rather sweet and fitting and the toasted, dark breads and biscuits helped complete this very good, harmonized flavor.

The mouthfeel was medium to medium/full, chewy, dry and smooth.  Some welcome alcohol warmth teetering on a slight burn was felt at the back of the throat.  The palate was covered justly until the next sip.

Well…. this is another very good, solid effort from the Samuel Smith’s Brewery.  Very enjoyable.  It’s one geared more for sipping in my opinion.  It’s very sweet and it filled me up with ease, so the drinkability factor is not as high as some of their other products, but I could have it again without any problem.  I don’t know that this is a brew that I could drink everyday, but maybe more along the lines of a beer that I could handle a few times a year.  I definitely think that it’s worth a try and one that garners plenty of complexity for a lengthy discussion with friends.  

Thanks for reading and commenting folks.  I truly appreciate it.  Until next time.


Score:  4.0 out of 5
Grade:  B+

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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Country: England, Samuel Smith's

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