12/13/19: Samuel Smith's Brewery's Winter Welcome Ale

10:04 AM

Just like that, it's the 13th of December, meaning that we're over halfway through the 2019 Christmas season. I'm a little shocked at how quickly the season's rolling by. The good news is that I'm nearly done with my Christmas shopping. Woo hoo!

I have the day off today and some stuff I'd like to get done around the house. But, before getting into that, a beer review's in order. On the block today is Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale.

Samuel Smith is the kind of British brewery that really doesn't need introduction. But, since introductions are kind of a thing around here, you'll get one anyway. Established in 1758, Samuel Smith is "Yorkshire's Oldest Brewery." If you read through their homepage, you'll see they're all about tradition: they've used the same yeast strain for all their beers since the 19th Century; they deliver beer via a horse-drawn cart; they open-ferment in stone squares; they use whole English hops. The list goes on. Really, if you want an authentic, traditional British beer that's readily available in the US, Samuel Smith is the way to go.

Winter Welcome Ale is, quite obviously, a seasonal ale. It's brewed with Fuggle and Golding hops, malted barley, yeast, and water. No adjuncts here! Clocking in at 6% ABV, this is an ale that sticks to the basics with complexity that begs to be considered before an open fire. Sorry, Sam. No fire here for me today.

Since the ale has a foil wrapping, I poured it into a glass, per my drinking guidelines on the blog (foil-wrapped/wax-dipped cap? It gets poured into a glass. Easy peasy). On the nose, I get honey and biscuit. There's a little sweet rice and a hint of resinous pine. It's none too spicy, but you'll have that without any adjuncts. Overall, Winter Welcome has a pleasant bouquet which I and Purrl both enjoy (she gave my pint glass eight whiffs).

The flavor profile is sweet yet heavily tempered by the bitterness of the hops. The malty sweetness is akin to some of the maltier American Oktoberfest brews but the hops provide a punch that give the ale a pineyness (only a slight hint of which I noted above). There're toffee and caramel notes here, with mild honey sweetness that plays about before that pine kicks in. However, the malt does return to linger long in the finish.

Really, there's not a lot to say about Winter Welcome's mouthfeel. It's a well carbonated ale. That's all I wanted from it.

During my freshman year of high school, we had an unseasonably warm winter. Seriously, it was in the 60s during the first week of January. How do I remember so well? You see, there was a day--a full day that I had off from school that I was supposed to spend studying for midterms--when I was outside doing yardwork. My dad had chopped a bunch of wood previously, and I was using a wheelbarrow to move the wood from where it lay down to the firepit at the far end of our property. I got so hot doing this that I had to take my shirt off to keep working. This was in, I repeat, January. Think about that.

Should I have been studying for my exams? Probably, but I still got a "B" on that science one anyway. That super-warm January day is what I'm thinking about as I sit here drinking this seasonal ale.

Is Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale a good beer? Sure. Is it reminiscent of Christmas, though? Hard no. It drew near enough to it with the honey on the nose, but was pushed back by the un-Christmas-like flavor profile. Still, I'm giving it a 7.5/10. My bottle ran me two or three bones, which seems a good enough price point.

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