NAMED WINTER WARMER, classed (by the brewery) as a Strong Ale, plus some of the thick smoky malt of a Wee Heavy, Emmett Tavern’s latest seasonal is hard to pin down. AT 8+% ABV, dark copper, and full-bodied, perhaps it’s just best to call it a winter seasonal and leave the nitpicking in the dregs. A steady, finely articulated carbonation endures throughout the entire glass (a snifter), implying some light creaminess in a body that’s otherwise rather dense and dark: smoky as aforementioned with a little charcoal (vaguely similar to their Rauchbier), distinct but not prominent licorice, a twinkle of ginger, and a slight fig sweetness, all anchored with just enough chocolate malt to keep it honest. The alcohol level is clear from the warming finish (faintly hot, even) but not unruly. Furthering the Scotch ale associations is the role of bitterness—some showing from roasted malts, some from hop acids, but overall a subdued impact that’s certainly subordinate to the dense malt core. Winter Warmer is not too well stocked with layers, but is confident in the handful it has and showcases them well.
Served: On Tap (Emmett’s Tavern, Palatine)