Heavy Seas Winter Storm is another winter seasonal beer brought to us by the people at Clipper City Brewing Company in Baltimore, MD. This is my first beer review of anything from this brewery, so I’m curious to find out what this beer is about. Its also a timely review because as I write this we’re literally in the middle of what seems like a weekly blizzard here in NJ!
Here’s some of the beer’s basics. Heavy Seas Winter Storm, according to the label, is a 7.5% ABV Imperial ESB. What makes it a Winter seasonal brew I’m not sure, but from what I’ve seen on other winter seasonal beers like the Long Trail Winter White, a higher ABV is usually part of the categorization process! For example, the Winter White is simply a stronger (7.2% ABV) Belgian White, whereas the ‘regular’ Long Trail Belgian White is a ‘more normaler’ 4.7% ABV. See?
As far as I can tell, ESB is short for Extra Special Bitter or a Strong Bitter which has an ABV of 4.5% or higher. Stylewise, ESB is still a bit of a mystery to me because this particular beer (as you will learn) tastes nothing like the Fullers ESB I previously mentioned. Perhaps English and American ESBs are like English and American IPAs? Similar, but different? Allot different?
This beer from Clipper City could be described by me as a strong American Pale Ale. It pours a nice amber color and its cloudy in the glass. I realize after I pour the beer that there is decent sediment floating in the glass – maybe I poured a little too aggressively and should have slowed down!
The beer immediately gives off an aroma of earthy hops, but there is also some malty sweetness – but hops dominate here. Overall, the aroma is not overpowering in one way or another – and even at 7.5% ABV, the smell of alcohol is almost hardly apparent. Hmm.
The head is (to me) typical of a hoppy-type beer. It’s got a bit of a creamy color and it leaves that odd frothy layer on the surface that never disappears.
Getting on to the taste, I’ll admit I’m more of a malt beer guy than a hop beer guy. I simply prefer my beers nice and malty. This beer, however, while stronger on the hop to malt scale didn’t go overboard. Its a hoppy beer, but not extreme. I actually enjoyed it which is something you will hardly ever see me saying.
The mouthfeel was a little on the sticky side, but this Heavy Seas Winter Storm did leave a nice mildly hoppy and bitter aftertaste. Nice.
Overall, I thought that this winter brew from Clipper City wasn’t bad. Its not really a WOW type of beer – nothing really outstanding about it, but I can’t really fault it either especially because I have a hard time appreciating hoppier beers. (I’m trying to keep an open mind though.)
Not to dwell on it, but besides the higher than normal ABV, I’m not sure what makes this beer a Winter Ale, or an ESB for that matter. I think it could be called an Imperial American Pale Ale and sold all year long actually! I did enjoy it, and I would not shy away from having this again at a pub or something, but I would say that the Yard’s or Fullers were better.
What do you think about Clipper City’s Winter Storm? What about their other beers, do you have a favorite? Anybody care to clarify the ESB confusion I had because this beer didn’t seem to be ANYTHING like Fuller’s or Yard’s ESB!
And please, no more snow!!!