There are a few things I expect from a winter ale. I expect a good level of alcohol heat, some darkness to its color, a good amount of body, and usually some sort of unique flavor. A lot of winter ales are spiced, and I'm a big fan of spiced beer. Bifröst started out a bit disappointing, in that it pours a very beautiful deep golden color, giving it the appearance of a very fine pale ale or IPA. It has a healthy, modest head that didn't linger longer than it needed to and left thick lacing on the side of the glass. It's a very beautiful beer, but it didn't match my expectations for the style.
Its smell was rather faint, but notes of alcohol and honey were certainly present. My drinking partner for this event asked, "Why does sniffing this make my nose feel warm?" This beer weighs in at a healthy, but not overwhelming, 7.5% ABV, and it's not shy about letting you know.
Finally, we drank the beer. It's an easy drinker, that's for sure. It lacks the fullness of flavor that I expect from a winter ale, but is loaded with a good dose of hops and possesses a thick, malty body that somehow does not manage to become the focal point of the beer. It's got a sharp, crisp flavor to it as well. Overall, while Bifröst may indeed be an enjoyable beer, I am going to continue my hunt for the ultimate winter ale. It deserves a solid three stars.