Tasting Notes: Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome

Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome
photo by Ryan Moses

Where as the Fortnight Vintage Ale 2016 is a well done modern version of an Old Ale, the Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome is a pure classic as one of the first winter warmer beers available in the US. 

The beer pours a dark gold/brownish amber color.  It is pasteurized and has a nice clarity and moderate carbonation.  It pours a moderately foamy off-white head.

The aroma is reminiscent of a cookie or a dessert bread.  You get bread, caramel, prunes and maybe a hint of apricot. There is a slight herbal hop aroma.

The taste is a good reflection of the aroma.  The alcohol isn’t detectable which makes sense, as it only weighs in at 6%.  That is rather light in comparison to modern interpretations of the winter warmer which are made for sipping.

The hop flavor leans on the herbal nature of the flavor and just enough bitterness to offset the sweetness of the malt.  There is a bready and caramelly comfort to the beer that again reminds one of a nutty snickerdoodle or a gingerbread cookie.

Adding to the cookie idea the Welcome has a nice creamy mouthfeel.  It isn’t thick as much as smooth and slightly mouth-coating.  That in combination with the prickly carbonation and dryness makes this an easy drinking beer.

Two good ideas for a pairing are a granny smith apple pie.  The tartness of the apples should balance with the caramelly breadiness.  Almost like getting two doses of the filling and the crust.  Another idea is a tomato bisque.  The tomatoes should provide just enough tartness to play off the beer’s sweetness.  The only issue maybe the creamy to creamy taste from soup to beer, but this is such a good beer that should not matter.

Yes, Christmas is past, but it is still winter.  Also, as we enter January and people are thinking about drinking less after a very busy Thanksgiving to Christmas food/drink period, the Winter Welcome with its low ABV and bold taste is just the beer you should enjoy.