It's the dead of winter, which means it's already spring on the beer calendar. The winter warmers have already started disappearing from the shelves. So I'm only going to review a couple winter warmers this year. And I want to start with one I've enjoyed tremendously. If you believe all the reviews, then Flying Dog's K-9 Winter Ale isn't anything special. It has a pretty bad score on Beer Advocate (76), and even amongst winter ales it's not particularly highly regarded. Well, I'm not saying that all the reviews are wrong. I'm just saying that I don't at all agree. I'm a huge fan of winter warmers, and K-9 (formerly known as K-9 Cruiser) is one of the very best I've had. While not exactly a daring concoction, K-9 is very tasty and pretty much a classic winter warmer. It's sweet and malty, with a touch of bittering hops and the usual roasty, nutty notes you'd expect from a darker beer. It actually has a bit of an English Pale Ale feel to it, which works for me since I could drink Bass any day of the year. And of course, this ale is quite warming at 7.4 percent ABV. The recipe changes slightly every year, and perhaps this year's batch is an improved product. All I know is that I really love this beer. All those caramel malts hit me in just the right way, and I always enjoy an English ale yeast. I'm not saying this is one of Flying Dog's best beers, but it sure isn't one of their worst. It's perfect for a cold night (we've had a lot of those lately!), yet it's not as "heavy" as some other winter beers. If you're a winter ale fan like me, ignore the snobs and give this one a chance!