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Belt’s Beer Garden: Winter is...Here

Hopworks Urban Brewery’s Abominable Winter Ale

Hopworks Urban Brewery, or HUB, is a product of Portland, Oregon and has been brewing up tasty treats since 2008. The family-owned brewery makes sure they do things the right way, as they were the first Certified B Corporation brewery in the entire Pacific Northwest. They’re also a member of the 1% for the Planet Organization, have been Salmon Safe Certified, and every beer they make is brewed with 100% organic grains.

HUB doesn’t have a national distribution yet so I make sure to grab a can or two anytime I see their stuff. However, if you live in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Texas, or Washington, count yourself lucky because they have distribution in those eight states.

Recently I found their winter seasonal ale - Abominable Winter Ale - which I’ve heard nothing but good things about. I was able to get a couple cans for $5 each but I’m sure if you’re in their distribution zone it’d be a bit cheaper.

This winter beer was brewed with four types of hops (Azacca, Centennial, Chinook and Simcoe), four types of malt (2-Row, Black Malt, C40, and C60), and has a 7.3% ABV and 65 IBU. It was canned on October 13th and reviewed on December 1st.

Abominable Winter Ale poured a slightly cloudy copper color with just over a finger of head topping it off. The tan foam dissipates into a thin ring around the edge of the glass rather quickly and leaves a nice coat of lacing as it does so.

It has a rather complex and blended scent. There is a nice, slightly hoppy, pine aroma to it but it also has notes of winter spices, citrus, and tea. A somewhat grassy attribute also peeks out but it is easily overshadowed by the other smells.

The sip starts with a slightly delayed fizzle of carbonation that appeared after a second or two. From there, the hops pop with flavors of pine and grass and a slight bitterness that sits at the back of the throat for a little while.

Characteristics of black tea, grapefruit, and citrus rind appear next; creating a blend of spices, fruit, and hoppy bitterness. But, luckily, the malts join the party midway through and add some sweeter toffee and biscuity flavors to balance out the hops. The heavy dose of malts at the midway spot makes this drink like a hoppy amber ale.

The 7.3% ABV is hidden mostly well but, every so often, a small boozy burn hits you in the throat/chest as you drink.

Otherwise, the beer mostly finishes alright. It does end on the dryer side with some lingering sticky toffee flavor and grapefruit peel bitterness but neither of those stick around too long.

If you’re a fan of ambers and malty IPAs, this winter ale will be right up your alley. I would’ve liked to see more spice and tea flavors come through but it was still a nice, easy drinking beer perfect for the cold nights we’re about to get hit with.

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