I mentioned recently that I'd put away my Belgian winter ale stash for the season, but I also have a couple of Americans that have been hanging around since the colder days and I'm nowhere near as confident about their ability to see the summer through and stay any way fresh, so I guess I'd better drink them.
Brooklyn's Winter Ale came my way via Stephen of The Beer Club. Much as I'm a huge fan of Brooklyn Lager, I've not been all that enamoured by anything (much) else they've produced. This one pours thickly, a chestnut red, topped by a reluctant head. Oddly, despite, the heavy texture, there's quite a lot of fizz. The taste is pleasant, however: predominantly sweet, I get lots of chewy toffee livened just slightly by top notes of milk chocolate, brown sugar and raisins. At 6.1% ABV I think it meets its specification as a warming winter ale quite well.
I'm immediately reminded of the discussion over on Boak & Bailey a while back about Burton Ale, and the thesis that this once-popular style of dark, strong sweet beer is not in fact extinct but merely travelling incognito, under names such as "winter warmer" and "strong ale". I think we may have a contender here, or at least an easy reference point for Statesiders looking for a Burton Ale example.
Flying Dog's K-9 Cruiser is a notch up the alcohol scale at 7.5% ABV. Colourwise it's in a similar vein, perhaps a little browner than the Brooklyn. The nose is sweeter, suggesting treacle or golden syrup, though there's much more of a hop presence. The first hit on tasting is a tangy bitterness followed quickly by a candy fruitiness of the sort found in lurid sweets whose ingredients are little more than sugar and a string of e-numbers. It's pleasant for all that, if a little uncomplicated. I think it lacks the malt richness of its northern counterpart and despite the bigger ABV its warming properties suffer as a result. But I enjoyed it overall and I think we can probably file it as another American cryptoBurton.
Funny what you notice when you start to look for something.