Do you love winter seasonal beer? Do you look forward to the spicy goodness to which so many craft brewers treat you during the cooler times of the year? Many would answer yes to these questions and they anxiously await the release of their favorite winter seasonal beers each year. But not all beers wearing the “winter” label are made with added spices. There are a few exceptions and one of them is Newcastle Winter IPA.
Beer Tasting Notes and Facts:
Newcastle Winter IPA pours to a light copper/tan color with some gold hues around the edges of the glass and a completely clear, well- filtered body. The nose on this beer is promising, with aromas of caramel, toffee, light roast, and earthy hops. The head of foam on this beer is slight, but it does maintain a thin layer as you consume.
Newcastle Winter IPA has a flavor that is moderate to mild, with tastes of herbs, toffee, caramel, and some roasted malt dominating. Other flavors like dark fruit, dough/bread, and even a hint of butterscotch become more noticeable toward the finish.
Newcastle Winter IPA is an English bitter beer brewed with Super Styrian and Goldings hops. The ale contains 5.2 percent alcohol by volume and has a bitterness level of 28 IBU.
Newcastle Winter IPA is a British version of a winter ale- a beer with qualities somewhat different from the typical American winter seasonal beer, but also qualities different from what we usually expect in an IPA. Brewed by the same folks who brought Newcastle Brown Ale to the world, Newcastle Winter IPA doesn’t have the spicy character common to most American winter seasonal beer, nor does it have the excess bitterness common with most American IPA. It is a unique beer in its class, with qualities not expected in this style.
I just recently had a chance to sample Newcastle Winter IPA for the first time and I was surprised at the results. Since this beer was labeled as a winter IPA, I expected to taste spices, hop bitterness, added alcoholic strength, etc. I expected at least one of the typical taste sensations common to winter seasonal beer and IPA, but this product surprised me by containing none of the above. Its taste is actually more in- line with an English bitter/IPA.
Since Newcastle Winter IPA is not what most expect in a winter seasonal beer, does that mean it isn’t worth trying? No, it doesn’t mean that at all, because this is still a good beer in its own way. Winter beers vary widely anyway, so the beer cannot necessarily be criticized for not holding true to a style. True, there are no discernible spices in this beer, but it does offer some herbal notes and even a touch of butterscotch. In other words, it is much like other English- style bitters/IPA with just a few twists to add more character.
IPA is usually more bitter, but Newcastle Winter IPA isn’t very bitter at all, as its 28 IBU clearly indicates. Sure, the finish provides some bitterness that lingers for a short time, but it is nothing like the bitter sensation from other, American- style IPA. One quality I wish it did have is a little fuller body. The body of the beer is medium to light and noticeably lighter than the body of other winter seasonal brew.
My Bottom Line:
Newcastle Winter IPA is a good- tasting beer with enough positive qualities to make it worthy of a sample. It is now distributed nationwide so it is much easier to find than in the past. It could be better with a boost to the total ingredients used, but this is still a good- tasting beer overall even if it doesn’t taste anything like the typical winter beer or IPA.
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