Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale Review

Perhaps you’ve seen the cleverly named and marketed Christmas ales from Britain and been disappointed with the beer inside. For a traditional English Christmas beer worth drinking, you won’t go wrong with Samuel Smith of Tadcaster, England. Winter Welcome Ale is their winter warmer. I’m reviewing the 2013-2014 vintage.

Winter Welcome pours copper with a thin white foam head. It smells sweet with bread, caramel, apples and floral notes. Sweet malts with caramel apples launch the taste, followed by bitter fragrant, floral whole-dried Fuggle and Golding hops. These hops are the base of some of the best English ales. As the beer warms to 51˚f, as recommended by the brewery, fruit notes of apricots, pears, hop spice notes emerge. The 6% ABV is high for a English ale, adding warmth. The mouthfeel is smooth and very drinkable.

Samuel Smith makes a full line of beers since 1758 using traditional brewing processes including open-topped fermenting vessels made of solid slabs of slate, which are said to give the beers a fuller bodied taste. The yeast used is the same strain the brewery has used since the nineteenth century.

Samuel Smith changes the picture on the center of the label each year. The 2013 – 2014 picture is of the Shire Horses of Samuel Smith, which are still used to deliver beer to local pubs 5 days a week. The 2014 – 2015 vintage is the 25th for Winter Welcome Ale.

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    While it’s difficult to picture Santa as a young man, he was once. He met the future Mrs. Claus one snowy night when she offered him a winter ale that she brewed herself. It was love at first sight – for both the Mrs. and her winter ales. With Santa’s growing fame, his favorite brews became named after his favorite day – Christmas. Santa now travels the world each year to spread the joy that began in a stable in Bethlehem two millennia ago.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.