First brewed in 2000, Winter is Alaskan Brewing Co.’s winter seasonal release that is based off of Capt. James Cook’s historical recipe for a beer he brewed in 1778 while searching for a northwest passage. In fact, the beer he brewed used spruce tips in order to provide vitamin C to the sailors who drank it to prevent scurvy.

Alaskan’s version of the beer is an 6.4 percent ABV English olde ale-style beer that incorporates hops from Europe and the Pacific northwest as well as spruce tips that are harvested in the springtime from Sitka and dumped directly into the boil.

Alaskan Winter Ale bottle

The Alaskan website gives a bit more information on the beer:

Alaskan Winter is made from glacier-fed water, Sitka spruce tips and a generous blend of the finest quality European and Pacific Northwest hop varieties and specialty malts. Our water originates in the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Ice Field and from the more than 90 inches of rainfall we receive each year.

Winter joins three other beers in Alaskan’s seasonal lineup:

  • Hop Turn IPA (7.5 percent ABV) — Spring
  • Pumpkin Ale (6 percent ABV) — Fall
  • Summer Ale (5.3 percent ABV) — Summer
  • Winter Ale (6.4 percent ABV) — Winter

The Alaskan Winter pours a close-to-clear amber color with a half finger of off white head that quickly dissipates, leaving a decent lacing behind. Aroma from the glass is surprisingly tame, with sweet malt, light tree sap, figs, cinnamon, cloves and earth fighting for dominance.

Alaskan Winter Ale

Starting out, the Alaskan Winter has a profile that is nice and crisp, with a surprisingly malty backbone along with flavors of biscuits, honey sweetness and a touch of lemony citrus. There is a noticeable floral bitterness on the finish that gains in strength as the beer warms, and the sweetness that is present is thick and syrupy on my tongue. The mouthfeel is slightly thin, but not annoyingly so, and there is plenty of spritzy carbonation to go around.

Alaskan Winter Ale
BREWERY: Alaskan Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Juneau, Alaska
STYLE: English Olde Ale
ABV: 6.4 percent
IBU: 22
PRICE: $1.99
RELEASE DATE: 2000
AVAILABLE IN: 12-ounce bottles
BEERS POURED: One
Like the season it is named after, Alaskan Winter is an clean, crisp and easy drinking beer that goes down easy and smooth. While it is certainly not going to knock you over the head with complexity, the profile has some great balance, and is extremely drinkable. I tasted almost nothing that would indicated it was brewed with spruce tips, but there is a noticeable floral quality to the finish that is quite unique.
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