BeerSport Qualifying Round: Winter Ales

Michael Donato, December 08, 2015

I thought it’d be fun to throw up a Drinking With Shirt minor league qualifying round BeerSport. I picked four winter beers to face off, with the winners destined for a trip to the big show at the Drinking With Shirt Podcast studio. This round features Victory Winter Cheers (0.34 BAR, 97 Style+)  up against Smuttynose Winter ale (-0.82, 95 Style+). Winter cheers is listed as a Winter Ale, the Smuttynose as a Belgian Dubbel.

This is BeerSport where two beers enter, and one beer wins.

These are two very different looking beers. The Victory Winter Cheer is yellow and light with a billowy head. The Smuttynose is dark brown, cloudy, with a quickly dissipating head. The victory looks out of place for a winter ale, seems more springy, but the overall appearance of it is more pleasing, so it wins.

Winner: Victory

Victory smells summery too. Orange peel and some spice,  maybe grains of paradise or coriander, makes me think of a witbier. Perhaps it's clove. The Smuttynose is much darker. Some plum, some scent that i can’t help but attribute to rubber cement. Maybe fig or dare I say  Sugerplum? Smutty smells more appealing to me.

Winner: Smuttynose

It  is reminiscent of a witbier, or a hefe, but sweeter. The bottle  does say wheat beer, and that’s basically what this is. It’s not a whole lot different than the Summer Love. a little more wheat, and maybe a different yeast to throw some different flavors, but there’s nothing particularly wintery about it. Hint of banana, the clove is pretty prevalent, and the taste fades quickly. 

Some caramelly notes to the Smuttynose. Very little carbonation so it comes off boozy. Maybe a hint of fig? There's a little bit of plum or cherry dryness feel to the backend. There’s a rich belgian character here. I developed a strong case of hiccups halfway through tasting this one. My body was so desperate for some carbonation it decided some violent shaking on my part would help. So far, it hasn’t. 

Smuttynose has to win here since more true to a winter style, and has more flavor overall. 

Winner: Smuttynose


The victory has almost no feel whatsoever. It’s ephemeral, which isn’t bad but it’s not really winter unless you’re emulating a snowflake. The Smuttynose has a syrupy richness to it, with flavors that coat the tongue. clear winner.

Winner: Smuttynose

Over All

I’d hate to let my anti-wheat bias decide this, but the Winter Cheers was just boring overall. Perhaps it’s my fault for not researching better and choosing an actual winter warmer rather than just a beer that said winter, but this is what the beer store had. Either way the Smuttynose is a better and more interesting beer, though I can’t say I particularly care for either one. Twenty minutes later and my hiccups are still going strong, destined to outlast any memory of these beers. 

Smuttynose Winter Ale advances and punches its ticket to the show. It will face off against the winner of Great Lakes Christmas Ale and Harpoon Winter Warmer.

Michael can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he's drinking beer. You can also email him at