If Only Winter Tasted This Good

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A gold-standard of brewing prowess for me is Samuel Smiths brewery in North Yorkshire in the UK. When I attempt to brew British-style ales, I use Samuel Smiths as my template. If only I could emulate their taste...I could open a brewery.

For Christmas, I was the lucky recipient of a four-pack of some of Sam Smith's best beers. Most of these beers, including the one today, are locally available at most "good beer" stores. You can't very well call yourself a good beer store without carrying Sam Smith's.

The lovely concoction I sampled this week is Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale. This is the style of beer commonly called a winter warmer. You drink it because it gives you that lovely warm alcohol spice that warms the stomach and the spirit.

Winter Welcome poured an enticing dark honey, crystal clear and refreshing. As the thick, creamy-white head settled, an inviting effervescence bubbled up from the bottom of the Imperial pint glass. Each quaff left thick lacing down the sides of the glass and spoke of heavy malts yet to come.

The aroma held all those flavors you find in grandma's candy jar when you visit for the holidays: sweet caramel, toffee, and creamy, sticky butterscotch. The malty sweetness blended perfectly with a light, crisp grassy hop character. Under it all was a luscious honey sweetness. The hops, though light, kept this from being an overly-sweet malt bomb. They really pulled the beer towards a pleasant crispness that just became more inviting despite the cold.

The flavor stands up and delivers everything the aroma promised, and then some. Big honey-sweet malt blend with a gorgeous grain savor. Bready yeast, like rolls, balanced with a gorgeous buttery flavor that just makes the beer drip with sweetness and a thick impression. Cinnamon and brown sugar and plums, scant hints thereof, are in a delicate balance with light hops. The thing that brings it all home is this lovely alcohol warmth, which adds a peppery spice to all the sweet, bready flavors that Sam Smith's beers are known for.

Winter Welcome's medium body gives a soothing, refreshing impression despite the frigid temperatures outside my window. Crisp but smooth, refreshing but warming, Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome is the right way to enjoy Michigan's winters.

3 comments:

Bob 1:30 PM  

Haven't had beer in the fridge for about 3 months. (My pants are now starting to fit.)

This beer may inspire me to restock the fridge.

steves 11:10 AM  

The D&W store here in Williamston has a decent selection and also has reviews from Beer Advocate under some selections. They didn't have this one, but had 5 others from that Brewery.

Jesse 2:23 PM  

Amen. Samuel Smith makes some of the best beers on the planet.

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