2° Below Winter Ale

2° Below Winter Ale (label)2° Below is the Fall/Winter seasonal release from New Belgium Brewing. Rather than a Winter Warmer, though, it’s an ESB (Extra Special Bitter), dry-hopped, at 6.6% alcohol by volume. NB says:

We like to think we beat winter at its own game with 2°Below Winter Ale- a bright, warming blast of Sterling and Liberty hops along with tawny-roasted malts. By pushing our 2°Below into a final, nearly freezing state, its ample structure develops a brilliant clarity.

Dry-hopping during fermentation creates a rosy, floral nose with a hint of pepper spice and subtle, estery undertones. Weighing in at 6.6% alcohol by volume with 30 IBU’s, 2°Below provides a bright, hoppy palate and a cheery warm afterglow.

Amusingly, it sounds a bit like Coors Light’s "frost brewed" process. Or any of the macros that boast of "ice cold filtering" or what have you.

Appearance: Very nice amber color, perfectly clear. One finger of off-white head with the consistency of beaten egg whites.

Smell: Sweet and hoppy. Diacetyl—butterscotch—punctuated by spicy and slightly woody hops.

Taste: Sweet and malty with a hint of roasted grains and plenty of biscuit. It’s warming, too, once the sweetness washes down. Hops aren’t as prominent as they are on the nose—there’s a bit of a base there that’s a tad spicy though.

Mouthfeel: Pleasantly medium-bodied with a nice dry bite to it—not sure if it’s the alcohol or the hops but it works.

Overall: I rather like it; it’s not the usual kind of beer you expect when you think "Winter Ale" but I think that works in its favor.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores a grade of B ("good"). On RateBeer, it scores 3.3 out of 5 and is in their 70th percentile.