Nick Carr on February 8, 2016 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: Samuel Smith’s Brewery Location: United Kingdom Style: English Strong Ale ABV: 6.0% IBU: ? Hops: Fuggles, Golding Malts: ? Appearance: Beautiful clear amber with two-finger, off-white head; Moderate head retention; Medium-low carbonation with crystal clarity. Aroma: Bready malt and tart fruitiness; Notes of apple, apricot, dark fruits, and warming spice Flavor: Creamy smooth sweet malt, mostly caramel; Fruit pops mid-palate followed by brief floral notes; Slight bitterness and spicy earthiness; Slight alcohol warming. Serving Temp: 51°F Shelf Life: 6-9 months Glassware: Mug, Tulip or Snifter Availability: Winter Seasonal Pairs With: Roast Goose, Pine Board Baked Salmon, English Cheddar, Fresh pears and apples ALE TALE The neatly spaced trees stood bare, unclothed of the last vestiges of their lately changed colors. . A slight chill road the air that pushed, and piled leaves along the street like discarded and forgotten garments. The screen door clacked as John stepped out onto the old house’s sunken porch. He put a hand to the railing and stared out, glanced north, than south down the street, than closed his eyes and turned his face up to the sky. He breathed deeply once, twice, enjoying the pricking sensation of chilled air sucking down his windpipe, rattling and sawing around his lungs before being pushed forth back into the world. He opened his eyes. The sky was pale blue as if the color were being drained away, replaced slowly by a slate gray mass of clouds; at the edge of the horizon now, but imperceptibly advancing upon a waiting world. He would be here soon. May as well get ready, have something to greet the old man with. John ducked back in the house and appeared a moment later carrying a bottle and two glasses. He sat down on one of the two old rockers and carefully set the bottle and glasses at his feet. He sat back and looked north. Had the line of heavy gray-whale clouds advanced? He considered, shrugged and reached across, slapping the rocker cushion against the railing and throwing it back to place. He’d be here when he’d be here. It was just that simple. John folded his hands over his chest, an elbow propped on each armrest, closed his eyes again and let his feet gently sway the chair. The old rocker creaked and the porch boards whimpered and creaked and a tune was laid between the two accompanying instruments. He was content to wait. No sense in rushing. He’d been this way for some time when the air changed. It dropped another couple of degrees and whistled, adding yet a third sound, which quickly found its place in the melody. He smiled, pulled his jacket closer about him and opened his eyes. The clouds were definitely closer now and a couple stray flakes of white trailed past the porch before disappearing into the washed out background of dusk. A man came walking down the street from the north, a grey and stooped figure half lost to the graying background. He carried an old wooden walking stick in one hand and walked with slow long strides. First the stick, a feeler, probing new territory, then one step, two step, and the stick was out exploring again. A rhythmic, practiced flow of movement that brought him to the gate and without waiting for sign from John, he was smartly through the gate and at the bottom of the porch. The old man’s face was deeply lined. He had high, almost severe cheekbones and his chin and cheeks were covered by a thin, much wind-blown beard. His dark eyes were hidden, veiled under a ridge of bushy brows and a mass of hair sat untamed upon his wide head. Everything some shade of gray. “You haven’t changed much.” The old man chuckled and the sound was crisp and clear, whispering of deep cold places. “I never change John. Ye might think it, because living things should change I s’pose, but I ain’t, least not outwardly.” “Sit.” John indicated the other rocker. “Thank ye kindly.” He took the seat and the wind energy seemed to drop, settling into low whistles as it played about the yard. John took the other seat and lifted the bottle and glasses. “I’ve been waiting for you.” “Everybody waits for me. Some in new excitement, others in dull resignation, still others in their small hatreds, but they all wait. They wait, to complain about sore joints, to wish me gone. Except the kids, they are the only ones that await my coming with any genuine excitement.” “I like when you come.” “Ye like these short visits, is all. Ye have little love for what I bring.” The old man drank long and John did the same, looking out into the glum over the top of his glass. They sat in silence for some time, watching the wind play at rearranging, sorting, and re-piling leaf drifts out in the street. Finally the old man stood and, smacking is lips in appreciation handed the glass back. “That’s a fine welcome, John. I enjoy it immensely every year.” “Glad to have you stopping.” The old man shuffled off the porch, his stick picking the way. At the gate he glanced back, lifted a hand in farewell and a draft of crisp air danced about John, smelling pure and cold and clean. Then he turned and was away. The stick probing ahead, one step, two steps, and the stick again. John watched him until he disappeared into the cold gray darkness. Then the snow came. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Winter’s Welcome. If you tasted this beer, please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Pours a beautiful clear amber, like new copper. A high two finger off-white head forms off a somewhat aggressive pour. Head retention is medium with it falling back to the beer-line, leaving low a continent interspersed with a few lakes. A smattering of bubbles are easily found and followed in the crystal clear depth; medium-low carbonation. Aroma brings bready malt and strong, slightly tart fruitiness. The malt is on full, but muted display with sweet caramel and baked bread notes. Apple, apricot, and some darker fruit, low warming and spice notes. Mouthfeel and Taste: Mouthfeel is amazingly creamy-smooth and rich. The medium-full body slides across the palate with only the barest push of low level carbonation allowing its fullness to drape comfortably and truly love your palate. There is just the barest hint of hop bitterness. The taste brings sweet malt, mostly caramel, and some spiciness at the front. Mid-palate the fruit pops up with lingering memories of pear, apricot and muted apple; along with some floral notes, and slight bittering and more spicy earthiness. At the back before swallowing the sweat malts reassert, but can’t quite overpower the hop play. There is also some alcohol warming. FINISHING THOUGHTS This is a tasty beer. Not as big as many other winter seasonal beers, but easy drinking and complex enough to keep the senses happy. I have to say that the mellow smoothness of this one is really what caught my attention. It’s a real treat for the mouth. Also the hops were a more present then in a lot of other winter warmers, which I like. Some winter warmers go a little overboard on the sweet side of things. I know this one’s named Winter’s Welcome, but it would work just as well in a glass raised in Winter’s Farewell. Cheers!