Tasting Notes: Warm Up Winter Ale from Starr Hill Brewery

warmupTasting Notes closes out the week by seeking comfort in a tall glass of Warm Up Winter Ale from Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, Virginia).

Warm Up Winter Ale has arrived as the latest release in Starr Hill’s Heavy Rotation Series, a lineup of “fresh styles . . . [that] rotates four times a year and is available in six-packs and on draft.”  For this release, the brewery crafted a smooth Winter Warmer that has been “spiced with cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg and vanilla.” Weighing in at just 6.1% ABV, this Dark Ale proves to be a “fine pairing for fireside sipping.”  Warm Up Winter Ale is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft.  This limited release offering can be found at craft beer-friendly restaurants, bars and retailers in Alabama and throughout the rest of Starr Hill Brewery’s distribution area.

Like all releases in the Heavy Rotation Series, Warm Up Winter Ale is meant to be enjoyed while listening to some great tunes.  Starr Hill Brewery has curated the perfect Spotify playlist to pair with this offering, and you can check it out by clicking here.

Alright, let’s adjust the volume to the appropriate level and get to some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Warm Up Winter Ale from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance: Warm Up pours a striking, red-hued brown in color.  Held to direct light, the reds greatly intensify with glowing garnet tones.  Although it is on the darker side, the beer is clear and displays a dutiful carbonation presence.  The pour produced a solid finger of tan colored foam.  Retention is good, maintaining a half finger cap that lays down spotty lacing on the glass.  An absolutely beautiful beer to look upon.

Aroma: Mmmm, spiced cookie goodness resides within.  Notes of allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove eagerly greet the nose first.  Brown sugar and bready grain then arrive with subtle tones of chocolate and vanilla.  Packed with aromatics, this beer promises that a comforting, warming experience lies ahead.

Taste: The flavor experience begins with a gentle burst of soothing nutmeg and cinnamon. Clove, almonds, light ginger, a touch of citrus and some floral hop notes then begin to develop.  Vanilla adds a bit of a cream-like quality and rich cocoa amps up the level of decadence.  Although this may sound busy, the holiday spices are nicely tempered to keep each sip an absolute pleasure.

Mouthfeel:  This brew falls on the lighter side of medium in body with a moderate carbonation.  It avoids being too heavy on the palate, but still has enough weight to properly carry all of its flavors.  At 6.1% ABV, there is no trace of heat to be found whatsoever.  The aftertaste leaves behind some lingering notes of holiday spice and vanilla.

Final Thoughts: As soon as I first stuck my nose in this glass, Warm Up Winter Ale instantly conjured up childhood memories of getting into a tin of Lebkuchen, a traditional German holiday treat typically given as a gift during Christmas.  Wonderfully aromatic, these confections are basically large, holiday spiced cookies that are often coated with a vanilla or chocolate shell.  They are a perfect balance of sweet and spice that is unmistakable and incredibly nostalgic.  That said, nearly every aspect of these treats can be found in this offering from Starr Hill.  The common pitfall for spiced Winter Warmers is that they can easily result in an intense, overly spiced experience.  This is not the case with Warm Up Winter Ale at all.  Like the Lebkuchen, this offering gives you just enough of these delightful spices and then washes them away with the subtly employed sweetness of vanilla and cocoa.  Every aspect of the beer works in harmony to keep you coming back for another sip.  This is exactly what I seek in a Winter Warmer of this ilk.  If you enjoy Holiday Ales, this is a lighter example that is absolutely worth seeking out.  Prost!