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Solstice D'hiver | Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!

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Solstice D'hiverSolstice D'hiver

Brewed by:
Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!
Quebec, Canada | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This noble winter beer is brown in colour with flaming red highlights. It has a complex aroma of fruits, alcohol and hops. Its taste is delicately sweet and liquor-like with a hint of burnt caramel. It is a very bitter beer with aromas and flavours reminiscent of red fruit. The aftertaste is accentuated by the wonderful flavour of hops.

Added by Rastacouere on 12-10-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 430 | Ratings: 893
Photo of kemoarps
3.65/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This came highly recommended per the woman at the liquor store.
The pour is a little lighter than I expected, but not a whole lot. Almost kind of muddy. Small off-white head dissipates fairly quickly. The lacing is more patchy than lacy.
I'm not getting too much on the nose. A lot of light grains, which is not really what I want to be the overwhelming smell from my barleywines. Raw threshed grains give way to a bready-ness. My excitement level for this beer is dropping. Faint brown sugar, but really really lacking in the olfactory department.
Wow. Umm... while the nose was a huge let down, the taste is at least attempting to make a case for itself. While the nose was all graintower, the taste takes the reigns and directs us in a much more vegetal direction. There is a fairly intense hop bitterness that accompanies the traditional barleywine flavours of boozy soaked raisins and brown sugar. A distinct ribbon of caramel comes through at the end, and that 10.2 makes its presence known as well. There is still a sidetaste of those grains, though they mercifully take a back seat to the more pronounced malts and hops.
Medium sized body, and good carbonation level, the finish is decidedly hoppy (though the fact that this was brewed about two weeks ago probably helps them to be so pronounced).

As it is I'd consider it a middle of the road BW, but I'll probably pick up one more to lay down for a year or two and see how it matures.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This had a murky brown color with crimson highlights. The head was a creamy lace of thick brown foam.

The aromas had chocolate and marshmallow with big hints of prune, date and raisin. I detect almost no booze in the nose but more tangy dried fruit.

The flavor is a nice mix of chocolate and caramel sweetness with a tangy dried fruit. The overall maltiness is, for the most part, absent but I enjoyed the green Apple tartness along with prune, date, fig and raisin.

The feel is very light with a seeming absence of carbonation. This is very tangy on the tongue and if you drink it too fast the booziness becomes apparent.

I found this to be a very good example of the style that was simply begging for some small refinements.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

11.5 oz bottle into a Chimay goblet.

A: Pours a dark, murky brown color. There's about two fingers of mocha-colored head. It features an excellent texture and good retention. A LOT of lacing is left behind on the glass. This is pretty attractive in its own way.

S: This seems to have a fairly boozy aroma, primarily. In spite of all the booze, there are other (fairly prevalent) elements - most notably chocolate, raisins, figs, brown sugar, and caramel. I kind of wish it was less boozy and more everything else, to be honest. That doesn't mean it's a bad aroma, just that it could have/should have been better.

T: Immediately, I notice its subtle stout-y elements: there's a slight initial flavor of chocolate, and the finish is faintly roasted. They really add to the archetypal ('Murican) barleywine notes of candy-coated hops and booze admirably. There are also some tangy fruit flavors (think cherries, maybe even apricots) popping up in spurts. It's layered so that the alcoholic flavors die down as more is consumed. Seemingly, it's replaced with a strong, earthy toffee flavor. It still remains a fairly alcoholic ordeal, typical of the style.

M: Rather slender in feel, which doesn't do this beer many favors in terms of decadence. When combined with the fine carbonation and moderately hidden booze, it means this is pretty easy to drink for the style. Still, I can't help but wish this was a bit more substantial feeling.

O: Nice one. It gets somewhat harsh in places - then again, so do most barleywines. Rather, it's a bit harsher than some of the really great examples out there. Still, I can't think of a better aging candidate.

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Photo of MacQ32
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

2011 Vintage.

A - Pours a very mudied brown with a hint of red, great finger of dense darker tan colored head. fantastic lacing and still ~1/4 finger of head remains 5 minutes later.

S - Faint booze aromas, some dark fruits (cherries and dates) - tons of cherries. Very faint overall

T - Initially a bit boozy, followed by cherry and tannis, more booze and maybe a hint of bitterness from the hops. Finish has a bit of sweeter caramel malt.

M - Pretty decently carbonated, quite carbonated but not too much so, not smooth but kind of - if that makes sense. Nicely drinkable.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours very little head and what little head forms is an off-white color and creamy. The beer itself is a very dark and opaque ruby reddish plum with hints of brown. The smell is interesting. The caramel and toffee smells come out very strongly in the beer. The malt smell is very sweet and hints of the alcohol. The combined smells make it appear to be fruity in a candy kind of way.

The beer taste is fairly different from the beer smell. The taste has a stronger emphasis on the malts than the other flavors. The malts taste sweet and roasted as well as caramel. The bitter hops make an appearance towards the end and linger a bit in the aftertaste. The beer retains the combination of the alcohol and sweetness from the swell, which gives it a bit of a medicine taste for a little bit. Technically, the beer tastes like one of the fruit shaped candies with the hard shell and gooey outside but with a hint of alcohol. While the beer might be difficult to drink at first, the beer taste significantly improves as it warms up because the hops become more noticeable and begin to balance out the sweetness.

The mouthfeel is smooth with very little carbonation. Overall, not the best and not the worst. The taste is certainly different from most barleywines and was what the brewer was probably going for.

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Photo of Chico1985
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pour into a snifter is dark reddish brown and just barely translucent. A beige head retains at about a half-finger most of the time eventually reducing to a thick ring.

Very strong earthy and grassy scent with some toffee, grains, bread and alcohol there as well.

Taste brings on earthy and grapefruit hops though the earthiness is toned down from the scent. Malts also come through a bit more - caramel, dark fruits, and some chocolate noticeable, though they seem to lack the potency for a barleywine. Quite a bit of alcohol warmth as well.

Mouthfeel has a somewhat hefty and malty feel to it with low-ish carbonation. Decent balance of hops+malts but the alcohol deters for sure.

Not bad, the scent kinda throws me off/doesn't really resemble a barleywine, the taste is an improvement but is kinda bland and boozy. It's decent for a winter warmer-type beer though, it will be nice to be able to pull these out of the cellar for the next few winters at least.

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Photo of ssmack
3.76/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Muddy dark brown. Half inch beige head that becomes a ring and the slick is all gone at the half way mark. Lots of streams of carbonation.

Smells of alcohol and dark fruit - prunes and raisins.

Taste of semi-sweet chocolate and burnt coffee with fruit underneath. Herby bitterness throughout. This is like toffee soaked in alcohol.

A full mouthfeel and not oily like some barleywines.

This beer deserves respect and demands to be sipped. This is liquid warmth on a wintry night.

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Photo of rapidsequence
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle from Total Wine in NoVA.

Appearance: Very dark, but clear amber. Very thin, wispy off white head with poor retention and just some spots of lacing.

Smell: Cherry and some raisin. Very earthy hops aromas. Caramel malt aroma is a bit steely and slightly burnt. Not real boozy for a big barleywine, not all that interesting either.

Taste: As with the smell, there is quite a cherry presence, and some more dried fruit flavors as well. Hops impart significant bitterness. The estery flavors are a signature of the English ale yeast used. Again, not very boozy tasting.

Mouthfeel: Lacks the heavy, sticky mouthfeel I expected. Carbonation is appropriate. Finish is drier than I'd like.

Overall: This is a decent beer that is better than the sum of its parts. Its actually very easy drinking for the ABV and has some interesting flavor combinations, but it just isnt as good as a really good big barleywine.

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Photo of wiscokid920
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz Bottle Poured into Snifter

A- Pours dark brown in color with nice reddish hues in the light. A nice tan sticky head that fades to a ring around the glass.

S- A nice warming booze starts things off followed by dark fruit, figs, and a nice caramel sweetness.

T- A lot of nice flavors. Starts off with a warming sweetness of caramel that fades into a nice dark fruit which helps offset the sweetness. Just as the sweetness subsides a big booze heat enters and mingles with a nice earthy hop bitterness.

M- Nice carbonation, medium chewy body with heat

O- Not overly complex but features nice highlights that run true to the style.

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Photo of KFBR392
2.56/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Muddy brown/very dark red color. Light bubbly head on the pour which dissipated quickly and was not present while drinking. Low active carbonation in the glass while drinking.

Smell: The front is a mossy hop profile with plenty of sweet oak. Cherries and fruit sweetness jump out as well. There honestly is not much more after that. A semi bright barley profile is also picked up but is light.

Taste: An overly sweet oak and barley front hits the palate first. That synthetic, crayon like feeling continues to pile on. Mild barley continues to warm up as the beer does as well. Lingering off tastes which just don't seem to belong stick around for a while. Sweet, really way too sweet.

Mouthfeel: Sweet, synthetic, strange oak, and nothing worth wanting this again.

Overall: Disappointed with this one no doubt. Besides Peche, I haven't had another brew from Dieu du Ciel that is really worth continually buying.

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Photo of MarkJBurch
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Twist off cap. Pours a dark, murky brown. Reddish and rusty in color with a tan head that resides quickly to a ring around the glass.

Aroma is sweet, booze laden, fig, dates or some other dark fruit. Caramel-vanilla almost, oak.

Wow, a lot of flavor. Somehow sweeter on the back end of the tongue with caramel and slight fruit. Similar to the nose in many aspects, but no vanilla. Wood like, slightly astringent tannin draws the sweetness out of your mouth, leaving you vulnerable for the big booze punch that follows. There is some earthy, hop oil, resin bitterness. Not very well balanced but enjoyable nonetheless. Would like a little more going on in the beginning of the sip.

Carbonation is on the lower end of the spectrum, but it's fine really. Completely appropriate for the style in my opinion, however quick to leave the beer. By the time this warms to my liking it'll likely be flat in the glass.

Overall this beer wasn't terribly complex, the highlight for me being the nose. I would like perhaps a little more balance and a cleaner aftertaste. Interested to know how age will effect the progression of this beer. Given the twist off bottle cap, oxygen will do it's work faster, and a year might be enough time to turn this into something completely different.

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Photo of maximum12
3.12/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Located this bottle loitering in the back of the fridge & apprehended it for further questioning. 12 oz. bottle of unknown providence.

Pour comes out a dark rose' right up until the last 1/2", which is chock full of what appears to be congealed french fry grease; wow, floatie city, & whoppers at that. Smell needs to be coaxed from the glass: caramel, toffee, with a spoonful of sweetness.

Solstice d'hiver is cut from the Great Book of Standard Barleywines. Chock full of nice caramel, with a heavy, boozy bite: the alcohol is standing out front with a bare chest. More sweetness than a Lifetime Original Movie, & zero 0 of 5 dentists recommend drinking this beer. Glad I split this with my wife, six ounces is plenty.

Nothing remarkable about this brew. Very simple & without a lot going on. Decent enough, but wouldn't feel the need to put this in my glass again.

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Photo of ISmith87
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 4.0 - The color is a murky dark brown with a nice off white head that leaves good lacing.
s - 4.0 - Really boozy, molasses, caramel, honey, plums, spicy hops.
T - 4.0 - Also really boozy, plums, figs, molasses, caramel, honey, spicy hops. Lots of maltiness.
M - 4.0 - Medium-heavy mouthfeel, tons of alcohol, maybe a little too much. Aftertaste is plums, alcohol, some spiciness from the hops.
O - 4.0 - It's alright, not the best, not the worst. Little too boozy for 10.2 percent. Reminds more of the belgian strong darks than an american barleywine.

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Photo of facundoCNB
3.99/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a deep amber pour, cloudy, finger of head which quickly dissipated. smells of tons of barley, caramel malt, molasses, honey. the flavor is pretty boozy overall buy you get TONS of plum, raisins, fig, dates, lots of bready caramel malt, barley, honey. a nice warmth grows in the chest from this full bodied beer - slow sipper with low amount of carbonation.

this was a pleasant experience. one of the first beers i threw into my cellar, so this is one is from 2011. i do suggest aging one for yourself.

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Photo of artoolemomo
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance- Pours up about a finger's worth of head which doesn't last long- not surprising for a barleywine. The head is a light, creamy beige while the body is a muddy, almost chocolate brown that shows maroon and garnet when held up to the light. A thin line of sheeting is left above the surface of the beer. Some lacing above that.

Nose- Nice, inviting, fairly typical barleywine nose. Starts off with lots of caramel which gives off hints of coconut but moves quickly to vanilla and toffee. Slight hints of raisins and cherries. Minimal notes of chocolate and cocoa. Very well balanced. Swirling displays a messier quality- replete with oak and alcohol that I didn't get before.

Taste- Starts with caramel and quickly moves into oak and coconut. Heat is noticeable but so far seems to jive with the flavor profile. Brown sugar and molasses are notable. Very oaky with touches of vanilla. The heat is undeniable which is interesting for a beer that seems to have been released at the end of last year. This is definitely a candidate for aging and I might have to grab another one to do just that. Don't mind the heat; it just seems a little too oaky for me. A tiny bit of thinness and maybe a little too hot at the moment. A good beer nonetheless. Perhaps in more in the average range in relation to all the really good barleywines I've had but still enjoyable. It certainly doesn't lack in presence or complexity but could use the balance and integration that aging would bring. Really holds up when I do a deeper tasting of holding it my mouth for an extended period of time as the oak begins to fade and mellow. This is really opening up and developing well. Some of the complexity fades but this beer has become more and more drinkable as I continue. Is that the heat kicking in? Some spice- suggestion of cinnamon perhaps?

Mouthfeel- Between medium to heavy bodied with ample carbonation for a barleywine. Works well. Has a good feel of creaminess as well.

Drinkability- The oak is a little bit of an obstacle. It is my biggest complaint about this beer. The price seems reasonable for an import of this style. There are cheaper and better barleywines but no real complaints.

Overall- Above average to good. Almost solid. Its progression and mouthfeel justify the price for me for the most part. Worth a try. If you don't like it, you might want to try aging it. I think it will benefit. I might try this as well.

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Photo of brewskis
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark, murky brown color with no head. Smells of dark fruits, nuttiness, carmel, molasses, brown sugar, some pine and some type of berry from the hops. Taste starts with lots of dark fruit and molasses. The middle brings a note of nuttiness, more molasses, and carmel. Start to get pine from the hops too. The finish gets much hoppier, as I get notes of pine and grass; however, the malt bill stays strong and really goes well with the hops. Lots of molasses, dark fruit such as raisins and figs, carmel, a hint of cocoa, and grapes. Just a tiny hint of alcohol on the finish, but it goes well with the other flavors. It does bring a nice warming sensation. High medium body with a creamy and syrupy feel. A pretty complex brew. My first brew by them, but overall, a really nice American Barley Wine. Looking forward to more beers by them.

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Photo of templar316
4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours the dark amber of liquid gold in my Selins Grove snifter. No head or lacing on this well aged bottle. It's risen to room temp and the aroma has hit it's peak: butterscotch, oak, muscat grapes, there's a lot of depth. And it dives deep as it rolls across the tongue coating it with the soft echoes of forgotten treasure, winter campfires and lost loves. A beer to savor.

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Photo of SawDog505
3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a 16 oz snifter. Pours a dark mahogany with a a half inch if off white head that leaves little lace. Smell is brown sugar, molasses, caramel, vanilla, and dark fruit. Taste is all of that with brown sugar and molasses dominating and hint of the rest in the finish, plus some warming alcohol. Body is medium, little carbonation, on the dry side, and a slow sipper for sure. This is an o k Barleywine and they got me into craft beers.

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Photo of justintcoons
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Murky copper with a short tan head that dissipates quickly. Yeast sediment floats to the bottom.

Caramel, molasses, cocoa, toffee and some kind of berry notes.

Big caramel and toffee malts with a syrupy sweetness. Notes of cocoa nib, molasses and a big piney hop bitterness. Residual floral notes and sugars linger with a hint of blackberry.

Medium plus body, silky and smooth.

A nicely balanced American Barleywine. The 9.8% abv is well hidden.

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Photo of eduardolinhalis
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

341ml bottle served in a Duvel tulip glass.

A: Pours a dark amber nutty color forming a big creamy, fluffy, thin bubbled and soapy beige head. Good retention and tons of lingering and molasses lacings left in the glass. A thin layer remains for long time on the top

S: Caramel bomb in the nose. Candy sugar, dark fruits, caramel malts, roasted malts and flowery hops. A bit of alcohol can be felt in the end

T: Sweet upfront. Intense taste of caramel. Strong notes of caramel and roasted malts. Strong notes of dark fruits, mainly raisins and grapes. Quite bitter end. Actually, it's quite hoppy and bitter to a barleywine. Great bittersweet balance

M: Heavy and molasses body. Medium carbonation and a fruity and bittersweet aftertaste

O: Good drinkability. Nice American Barleywine. Another good surprise from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel

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Photo of mendvicdog
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Blind BIF Beer #6

Not a sour. Hooray. Regular 12 oz bottle.

Dark murky red appearance.

Old ale raisin smell.

Stale old ale taste. Slight battery acid finish.

So far the beers had been from all over the place. I had no idea what this was.

Reveal. Barleywine?

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep brown with dark caramel hues along the edges. There is very little head, but I do get a thin off-white ring of bubbles along the edges of the glass. Only spotty lacing as it drinks, which is almost non-existent.

S: The nose is caramel, fig, mild toast, bread,some bittering hops, and some booze.

T: It starts out sweet yet biting right up front. I get a good malt base and some caramel, but the hops are also there right away. The sweets and hops stay on the palate through the middle, and as it moves to the finish the alcohol presences take shape. The finish is sweet and coating, but a bit bitter and hot.

M: Medium bodied beer. It's sweet and syrupy up front, but not overly so. It coats the palate but slides off nicely in the finish. The alcohol dries it up as it leaves the palate, and only a wacky mix of sweet, bitter, and alcohol heat remain for a time.

O: Decent beer. I much prefer English Barleywines to American Barleywines, but this one isn't too bad. It has nice balance, but the alcohol percentage isn't well hidden. This beer seems like it would greatly improve with some barrel aging. We shall see.

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Photo of Hopswagger
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

P: Murky nut brown ale with a rippled wake and minimal lacing.

S: Fruity syrup laced barley, molasses, fruit cake, natural fruit roll ups, cinnamon, brown sugar, earthy hops and booze. Moldy dank esters once warmed.

T/M: Cherry NyQuil upfront with smoldered barley, caramel and orange oil. Spicy booze, wood and herbs cut through the sugary malts. Syrupy feel in a fully carbonated body and finishes with a juice dose of hops that aren't overly bitter.

O: Super sweet and easy drink barley wine. It's decent but really comes off as lack luster. No real problems but its just not great.

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Photo of PicoPapa
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

11.5oz bottle. Note-bottle says this is 9.8% not 10.2%. Pours a dark, dark brown color with ruby hues and no head. Almost no lacing. The aroma is boozey and sweet with some brown sugar, earth, bread, dark fruits and some spicy hop presence. Hints of orange. The taste is boozey caramel upfront with some spicy hops and dark fruits. Earthy and maybe a bit nutty. Burnt caramel and brown sugar towards the end. Slick mouthfeel. I wish I had a chance to try this on tap at the Brewpub when I was there. Overall, solid barleywine I hope I get to have again.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep ruby chestnut body light caramel tan head, nose is filled with equally impressive big fruit and caramel malts...it's a Canadian hop bomb of a barleywine. Sharp acidic notes with leafy herbal hops playing a big role in it, roasted nuts and caramelized sugars collide to equate to the aromatics of the beer. Flavor is harsh bitterness all day, bitingly bitter big and bad with warming alcohol...it's a rough sultry barleywine meant for the cooler months, don't ask me why I chose to crack the bottle in the warm rainy spring weather that we are having today. Big fruit ride the wave of harsh bitterness, yeast nuttiness, plum soaked in brandy, this is a big beer all day with lingering waves of earthy bitterness. Mouthfeel is full bodied with a warming alcohol effect taking over in the first few sips, if this is their winter beer it's meant to be this way for a reason to keep you warm when you are walking from pub to pub in the dead of winter up in the Quebec province of Canada. Overall very pleased it's like an exotic version of Bigfoot and I'm sure it's appreciated and held on to every year during it's release to experience something like this so big yet so quaffable.

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Solstice D'hiver from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!
88 out of 100 based on 430 ratings.