New England Brewing 2020 ‘Big Winter’ Belgian Dark Ale


“We brew Big Winter once a year to celebrate frosts, snow flurries and the smell of wood fires – a New England Winter! A strong Belgian Dark Ale, Big Winter has an aroma of dark fruit, burnt sugar and toffee, before taking you to a body of rich malts, chocolate and lingering candy sweetness. Wait for a cold evening and wear a beanie.”

Glassware: Trappist Chalice.

Appearance: Deep chestnut complexion with a short tan head. It steadily reduced and formed a halo with modest lace as we go.

Aroma: Hearty and warming. At first the Belgian yeast characters were a bit top heavy but as it settles the rich chocolate malts, earthy hops and sweet dark fruits pull them in to line. Even still we pick up heady notes of banana runts, clove, sourdough and fruit esters. Getting hints of other unique scents like ginger bread, chocolate bullets, honeycomb and carob. Solid.

Flavour: Rich, complex and nicely layered with mildly roasted malts, earthy fig and prunes, Belgian yeast esters and nuanced chocolate flavours. Something a little nutty in here too. Crusty pumpernickel and sweet brioche then moving in to a slightly cloying finish with a touch of roast to balance.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth with medium-full body. Low-ish Co2. The 8.6% ABV is fairly well concealed.

Overall: Another impressive addition to their annual Big Winter series. The only criticism would be that it gets a tad cloying by the end. That’s it, other than that it’s a cracking winter drop (even though we just had it in spring!)