Twelve Beers of Christmas: Day 3

Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale

Winter Warmers are traditional seasonal beer and Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome is a classic. Beer Advocate has this to say about this beer style. 

The History of Winter Welcome

Throughout history, beer of somewhat higher alcohol and richness has been enjoyed for the winter holidays, when old friends get together to enjoy the season. Wassail, a festival to celebrate winter and the beer that goes with it, predates the Christian era. Winter Welcome is vintage-dated with a special label each year, and was first shipped to the US in 1990 - it was the first imported winter seasonal beer. Serve in a traditional Sam Smith tulip or nonik glass for the holidays.


Taste: Honey-amber colored, creamy head of small bubbles, floral aroma and delicious caramel malt flavor with great finesse. Fine hop aroma finish and a fruity note from fermentation in open-topped stone "Yorkshire Squares."

Food Pairing: Roast goose, smoked turkey with oyster dressing, rack of lamb, candied yams, Smithfield hams, fresh pears and apples, Christmas cake. Serve in crystal tumblers, or traditional Yorkshire tulip or nonik pint glasses.

These malty sweet offerings tend to be a favorite winter seasonal. Big malt presence, both in flavor and body. The color ranges from brownish reds to nearly pitch black. Hop bitterness is generally low, leveled and balanced, but hop character can be pronounced. Alcohol warmth is not uncommon.

BeerAdvocate offers a description on this traditional seasonal beer style. Many English versions contain no spices, though some brewers of spiced winter seasonal ales will slap "Winter Warmer" on the label. Those that are spiced, tend to follow the "wassail" tradition of blending robust ales with mixed spices, before hops became the chief "spice" in beer. American varieties many have a larger presences of hops both in bitterness and flavor.