Recently, I had the opportunity to taste three seasonal winter beers. Interestingly, upon further investigation these winter beers are other styles of beers that have been slightly modified. Nonetheless, they all are great tasty versions in their own right.
Here are my findings and observations:
Samuel Adams Winter Lager:
Visiual: Dark copper/amber
Aroma: Nose is malty w/hints of spicy hops. Head is white, weak, and brief.
Body: Malty and hints of spicy hops and orange peel
Flavor: Finishes w/nice balance of sweetness and good spicness from hops
Appraisal: Good beer, and good variation on an old style. This beer has excellent bold flavors and colors.
Pyramid Snow Cap
Style: British Strong ale
Visiual: Nice deep mohagny w/light brown foam
Aroma: Fruity w/malt accents and a deep floral pacific northwest hopiness
Body: Medium but smooth texture. Can easily drink a few of these
Flavor: Complex fruit flavors w/some spicy hopiness and balanced with some winter malty sweetness
Appraisal: Great strong complex flavors with a noticable hopiness. An excellent example of a traditional winter brew, may try to make this as my next homebrew clone
New Belgium 2-below
Style: Extra Special/Strong ESB
ABV: 6.6%, IBU: 30
Visiual: Dark copper, very clear, with white head that dissapates quickly
Aroma: floral nose w/hint of pepper and some ester notes, with strong floral hop notes (from dry hopping)
Body: light very drinkable
Flavor: spicy, hop finish w/malty balance, slightly dry aftertaste
Appraisal: Great balance of flavors, not to strong, easy to drink with lots of flavors and yummy hops!
You really can't go wrong with any of these three choices. They are all great representations of what an american winter beer is supossed to be. It all depends on what your in the mood for.