Febrewary: Winter Warmer Ale


Brewer: Lancaster Brewing Company
Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Type: Old Ale
ABV: 8.9%

Oh, denizens, don’t forget your booties, because it’s a cold one out there today!

It’s cold out there every day. Talk about the season of our discontent. It’s the perfect weather for staying indoors, wrapping up in blankets and leopard-print slippers, and sipping a nice winter ale. And what more perfectly named beer than Lancaster’s Winter Warmer Ale?

Truth is, I fell instantly in love with this beer the first time I saw the bottle for two reasons. First, it’s from Lancaster Brewing, which makes some incredibly tasty beers and offers one of the most impressive beer flights I have ever had. Seriously, if you love well-crafted beers and ever find yourself near their brewpub, you have got to go and have a flight. They bring you ample pours of every beer they have on tap. This is typically between 12 and 14 beers. It’s pricier than most flights, but it is worth every single penny.

Second reason? Well, that one should be more than obvious from the photo of the bottle. Yes, that would be a wolf on the label. More importantly, proceeds from this particular beer go to support the work of The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania. Yes, I’ve been there, ironically on the same day that we went to Lancaster Brewing and I had their awesome beer flight.

I wish I could say that the beer inside the bottle was as awesome as the outside label or the generous deal that Lancaster has with the wolf sanctuary. Pour this dark beauty into a glass and see rivulets of ruby sketch through the mahogany darkness. Very low carbonation but an incredibly intense bouquet of dried figs and currants smacks you right in your olfactory zone.

Take a sip (and I do mean a sip) and you find yourself plunging head-first into a molasses-sweet morass that still succeeds in zinging your tastebuds with hoppy astringency. It’s actually quite a disconcerting experience to drink this beer, as the bitterness bites you up front while the sweetness clings to the back of your palate, building up with every swallow.

It was a struggle to get through even half of this beer. I thought letting it warm a little (yes, I did have this one in the beer fridge rather than in the storage room with most of my other dark beer; I don’t really know why) might help; instead, it merely intensified the sweetness.

I so desperately want to like this beer. I guess I will just have to make donations directly to the wolf sanctuary rather than support them through this brew. That said, I still think that Lancaster is an amazing brewer and I will continue to enjoy several of their other beers. I also hope to make it back to their brewpub again soon, especially if I ever hear that they’ve got their chocolate strawberry stout back on tap. Anyone up for a road trip? 🙂