It’s finally feeling like fall now with the sudden cold and daylight savings knocking the sunlight back an hour. Winter warmers are ales specifically brewed for jump starting that liquor coat, with little to heavy spicing, and of course, heavy malts.

Just as I’ve gotten in the mood, I found Alaskan Brewing’s Winter Ale on tap over at Beck’s in Berkeley. Alaskan Brewing makes this ale in a manner that sticks to the English style, which involves little spicing or flavoring. In this case, they add spruce which acts as a nice contrast to the thick malty backbone. The malts, however, aren’t that strong themselves, and the beer seems more cooling than warming with its light body feel and amber coloring. The head retention is weak, too, and in the end I was left wanting more in terms of flavor and consistency. I would drink this with pork or chicken, or basically anything that could benefit from the kick of pine spice.

Although I’m not too familiar with English style warmers, I feel like a more robust character would have benefited the brewers to make this beer more appropriate as a winter seasonal. The spruce makes this beer unique, and I like it enough, but not enough to put it on my list of beers to get me full and warm for the next few months.

Photo credit: