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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

1,642 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,642
Reviews: 719
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 13.92%
Wants: 58
Gots: 175 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  6.90% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: maxpower on 11-18-2001

Winter Solstice® is our take on the classic style of “winter warmer.” Boasting a deep amber hue and rich mouthfeel, its creamy finish will lift your spirits. Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,642 | Reviews: 719
Reviews by Dapper_Dan_Man:
More User Reviews:
Photo of BradMacMullin
3.52/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

My friend Mike Sondel recommended this. Mike has the taste buds of a hammer. Why do I listen to him. This is another beer I repeatedly get and don't like. It tastes metallic and odd to me - but enough of the positives. Note to self. Don't order this, and get new friends

Photo of oberon
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I have waited quite awhile to try this beer but I was pretty let down flavor-wise anyways.Poured a deep rich aber with a tight well formed almond one finger head that settled nicely into a creamy mass.Xmas aromas going on I picked up some vanilla and caramel with lighter notes of cinnamon and brown sugar,I honestly thought I was drinking a sharp cream soda just way to much vanilla-like flavors it overpowered any other flavor really from coming thru.It got to be cloying half way thru and my wife finished it.wow this beer has everything going for it except flavor in my opinion and is way to pricey,I will not seek this out again.

Photo of RoyalT
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This beer is just gorgeous. It is bright, ruby brown in color with a full, thick, retentive head.

Smell – The dark, Winter Warmer malts give this one a nice aroma. I can also pick up some good, fruity sugars and a light hop compliment.

Taste – The malt and light hop mix turn nutty at the taste. The fruits are there, albeit very light, but it’s this nutty flavor that seemed to come out of nowhere that is dominating the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel – This light to medium-bodied ale was a bit thin for the flavors.

Drinkability – This wasn’t a bad offering by Anderson Valley, it was just a little off and a bit light in the ass.

Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Does anyone remember cattail candy? When I was a kid I used to get this stuff from old people and I always hated it. Cattails consisted of caramel on a stick, which made them look a lot like nature’s cattails and they were slightly vanilla flavored. Well, Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice tastes remarkably similar to cattail candy.

I have to give this brewery props for uniqueness. I have never quite tasted a beer like this. It is supremely rich and tastes strongly of sticky candied caramel and the syrup they add to vanilla flavored vodka. Unfortunately, I don’t care for the flavor much but I could definitely see others relishing in this beer.

The appearance and mouthfeel are both tremendous. The beer is immensely smooth and creamy despite violent swirls of carbonation that give the otherwise transparent dark brown body a hazy look to it. Lacing is decent and lasting. The nose has nice light hop feel to it, which helps to dry the finish of this otherwise sweet beer. Although this beer is not for me, I can’t help but respect it. If the vanilla was toned down a little I might enjoy it a whole lot more.

Photo of MadScientist
2.58/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Light copper, good clarity and a very thin, off-white head

S: Moderately-strong caramel malt with moderate light-fruit aromas of peaches and apples. There is a pipe tobacco like aroma, with a bit of vanilla. I don't smell any spice although that be in line with a winter warmer as apposed to a Christmas Ale. There isn't any hops though maybe a light earthiness that is caught up with the tobacco.

T: It tastes only slightly better than the smell with the pipe tobacco up from mixed with a moderate sweetness. There is a light raisin and apricot type of fruitiness. The hops bitterness is pretty mild leaving the balance is slightly sweet. The finish is of a slight citrus peel flavor.

M: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: An uninspiring beer that I would not recommend. It kind of comes off like a homebrew made from old extract having that extract twang mixed with poor fermentation temperature control fruitiness.

Photo of Dmann
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was a good seasonal beer but by far the best. It poured a nice ruby reddish color with a very small head that left slight lace down the glass. The smell was faint, but was I could detect was a very pronounced spice scent with hints of malt as well. If you are a malt lover you will love this beer for sure, as that is the dominant flavor. There is also a light spice to it and some kind of slight citrus flavor as well, perhaps grapefruit. Also, despite being 6.9% they are very easy to drink. So grab a six'er and enjoy!

Photo of Narnad
3.94/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Edition. Pours from the bottle a muddy copper/orange color with almost no head. Very heavy aroma of fruit (apple/cherry) and spice(cinnamon) with lesser hints of molasses and some light malt. Strong alcohol flavor hits first followed by a very nice fruitiness with lots of cinnamon and some lesser vanilla and a slight bourbon flavor. Slight sediment in the bottom and the beer has very large, medium speed carbonation. Good beer but it definitely feels like more alcohol is present than the 6.9% listed on the bottle.

Photo of Ferks012
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was a pleasant surprise. I had never had it before and was unsure what to expect.

12oz pours and orange-ish amber red, 1 finger of cream colored head. Leaves light lacing on glass.

S- Smells delicious, vanilla, toffee and light spices.

T- has upfront taste of vanilla, toffee, also has light spices with a hint of brown sugar and Graham cracker

M- Medium to full body, very low carbonation.

Overall I really enjoyed this. It was nice to have a winter warmer that was not loaded up with a ton of spices. I will buy more soon as this was a single purchase.

Photo of warnerry
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a beautiful clear amber with slow rising carbonation and one finger of light tan head. Head dissipated pretty quickly; not much lacing.

S - Caramel malt and a sweet spiciness. Has aromas of grain and a a faint cream soda aroma as well.

T - Sweet and bread malt up front, again with a slight cream soda taste. Spices (slight pepper and some cinnamon) are present but pretty subdued, becoming a bit more pronounced on the finish. Enjoyable.

M - Medium mouthfeel has a slight stickiness to it.

O - This is an enjoyable and easy drinking winter warmer. Doesn't over do it with the spices, though there is a spice presence. I would get this again.

Photo of Beaver13
3.18/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. Pours a hazy reddish orange with a creamy off-white head that retains pretty well.

The aroma is sweet grainy malts and some spices (vanilla, gingerbread) and a little honey.

The flavor is more gingerbread and vanilla and caramel. It has a sweet alcoholic finish. The mouthfeel is is medium and a little watery.

Overall, it's too sweet for me. I don't really care for the blend of spices too much either (especially the vanilla - not a big fan). Very reminiscent of cream soda. Give me an Anchor OSA over this anytime!

Photo of cschepers
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber bottle --> big wine glass.

A - pours a nice mahogany brown, very clear. Very little head that dissipates quickly. No lacing to speak of.

S - Sweet molasses, hazelnuts, some faint orange juice.

T - Great big wave of sweetness.. more molasses, carmel. Hazelnuts and spices (not-hot cinnamon, nutmeg) ride over top of this and hit in the middle. Finishes out with a bit of bitterness. Aftertaste is of more nuts and some kind of sweetness... almost tastes like circus peanuts.

M - Not very carbonated, I guess that's okay. Pretty thick otherwise, the sweetness hangs around for awhile.

D - One bomber is plenty enough for a beer as sweet as this. Good beer and well-made, but not overwhelming. Looking forward to trying some other AV beers..

Photo of Guden
4.16/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Deep amber with amazing clarity and a few carbonation bubbles. Pours with a large off-white head that fades to one finger that sticks around and leaves lots of thick lace.

S- Gentle spice, vanilla and cinnamon, mix with a lightly fruity and malty backbone.

T- Again I get a grape fruitiness mixing with sweet and biscuity malt, and vanilla.

M- Medium bodied with low carbonation. Could use a touch more body to let it fill the mouth more.

O- An interesting and refreshing brew. I usually refuse to buy a winter seasonal in October, but I'll make an exception for this one.

Photo of Jason
4.24/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz brown long-neck bottle with no freshness date though on the neck is the year 2001. Blurb about the beer on the back label.

Appearance: Bright reddish amber hue, light tan head is fluffy and dissipates into a pasty big bubbled lace.

Smell: Fresh dipped caramel apple comes to mind, lots of malt sweetness in the nose with hints of fruit and a mild hop.

Taste: Full and chewy in the mouth with a vague hoppy juicy fruit and sweet dark bread maltiness capture the taste buds attention. Both toasted and roasted flavour flexes within the bold caramel taste. Mildly estery and warming to the body. Tight and clean bite of hop bitterness cuts through some of the malt leaving a spicy trail of flavour into the finish of residual sweetness.

Notes: Top shelf for American Winter brews, balanced for a muscular brew and a must buy for winter seasonals. 6.9% abv.

Photo of Billolick
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer, 2004 edition. Pours almond, clear, minimal off white head and a dearth of lacing after its sitting in the glass for a few minutes. Nose is a warm whiff of maple. This is a medium bodied brew. Slight spicing noted. Nice clean malty body. 6.9% fairly well hidden under layers of malt and some grainy/gritty hops, which come in late. Notes of smoke and rum also picked up as it warms. Pleasant winter warmer, one I would definitely pick up again.

Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: orange/brown in color, moderate carbonation, clear, 1/3 inch head

Smell: toasted malt, bread, and a leafy/minty smell

Taste: toasted malt, bread, plum, sweet dark fruit, and hops at the end

Mouthfeel: smooth, sweet, medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: This is a perfect complement to their Summer Solstice. It is different from other winter warmers I have had. A mini-malt bomb with a big fruit taste. I could have three or four. The alcohol is very well hidden.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma has some cocoa and lightly roasted malt, as well as some winter spices that I can't quite identify. The flavor is very similar. The cocoa and dark fruit notes are pretty nice. I also get some brown sugar, cinnamon and caramel malt. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of jakester
4.29/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this as a single at UJ's on the Manatawny . This is the 2004 model. I drank it in a pilsner glass.

Pours a very hazy brownish red with a one finger head of beige colored foam. Head falls to islands and a ring, with minimal lacing.

Aroma is very fruity and spicy, with notes of cherries, grapes, dates, cinammon, nutmeg, and black pepper. Not much is the way of hop smell, but the malt is dark and rich, like dark brown sugar.

Flavor is dark cherries, raisins, plums, and spices like above. There is also some spice here I can't identify. Don't really taste hops, except for very low bitterness. Aftertaste is fruity, spicy, and luscious. Mouthfeel is pretty full bodied with soft to medium carbonation. There is a lingering richness to this beer that is really enticing.

This has aged extremely well. It is a perfect winter seasonal, well designed and well built. Spicy, fruity, malty, full bodied, and very complex. Highly recommended.

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

served into pint glass from a 12oz. brown bottle crimp on cap.

Clear,deep amber color,thick off-white head,lacing the glass.
Moderate aroma,very complex spicey aromas up front. Fruity,carmelly,hints of chocolate also in the aroma. A very soft pleasing quality to the aroma.Would have been a 5 if the aroma was a bit more intense.
Taste was a very complex spiceness,very fruity,candy-like,nutty,hints of vanallia,the flavor explodes on the palate.A fruity tartness in the smooth, pleasing finish.
Medium body,very drinkable,due to the intruging taste.Wish I had more than 1 bottle of this beer.
One of the best winter beers I've had. A good beer to start up a conversation at a party,with all the different flavors. A hard beer to totaly describe from one bottle. A great winter beer,would highly recommend this one. I will be picking more of this beer up before it's all gone.

Photo of jondeelee
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Winter Solstice opens with a warming, malty nose, full of rye and fresh whole wheat breads, toast crust, fresh wheat stalks, and floury baguettes. A light smattering of lemon and pine from the hops brings welcome citrus notes, and touches of apricot and pear add sugary notes. There's also a fairly strong hint of kola nut, making the beer smell somewhat like a soft drink, at least in part. As a whole, the nose is good and enticing, if a bit light and cola-like.

On the tongue, the first flavors are quite cola-like, with kola nut predominating, resembling a Dr. Pepper and Coke mixture. This is mixed with brown sugars, apricot, and wheat toast crust, which do move the beer farther away from a soft drink, as well as lemon and light pine from the hops, and subtle overtones of vanilla and caramel, the latter bringing the beer back to soft drink realm. The aftertaste is a continuation of the main flavors, fading slowly to wheat stalks, wood, and lemon peel. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, while there is much to like about this beer--including the fact that it is a welcome addition to the "Not Overly Spiced Winter Beer" club--there's just a touch too much vanilla and sugary cola-like flavors in here for my palate. I'd still purchase a six-pack again, but for a supposedly winter seasonal ale, this feels more like Oktoberfest fare.

Photo of dogfishandi
3.52/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz can poured into a snifter. No canned on date, but I gotta assume it was from sometime this early winter.

Pours out a hazy deep red color, maybe a little orange and brown. A decent looking yellowish light tan head, spotty lacing.

Smells of sweet malts, dark dried fruits, brown sugar, with a bit of a fruity ester aroma.

Sweet caramel malt, dark fruits, plum, brown sugar, fruity esters, a bit of apple, and just a hint of warmth from the alcohol.

Medium bodied, just a touch too much carbonation for the style.

Kind of like a light version of an old ale. Not really my cup of tea, especially when it comes to winter Warner's, I prefer them with some roast and maybe a bit of x-mas spice.

Photo of ehammond1
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap

Lucky Baldwin's
Pasadena, CA

Deep, dark red and auburn with a thin khaki colored head that leaves spiderwebs of lace down the glass.

Nice but faint aroma, even after significant warming. Sweet fruits, some citrus, mild spice elements, and biscuit combine for a pleasant though faraway aroma.

The flavor is well balanced with low bitterness: orange zest, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, caramel and toffee, freshly baked bread.

Thin to medium mouthfeel with ample carbonation. I would love for this body to be a touch thicker.

A very nice, incredibly drinkable, Winter ale.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.37/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Good brown beer, lots of red running through it, not much head. Aroma, some spice, wood, lesser hop bitterness detectable.

Definitely a winter warmer type of feel to it, robust, but lacking viscosity to be huge. Isn't trying to go there. Good amount of toasting, roasting and hop underpinnings. Toffee, some Christmas/Thanksgiving spicing. Lots of bitterness for not being a thick beer and one of this color (certainly none of it is mutually exclusive).

This is a pretty unique beer, not really for me, but it is respectable.

Photo of ADR
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2002 edition...

Clear and bright dark red-brown color, yellow head of medium duration -- settles to an 1/8 of an inch. Deep aroma, some ginger and cinnamon sense. Nice body but not overly heavy. Flavor starts malty with some sense of cherry and chewiness and flips into a citrus rind and gravelly mode as the impressive hopping asserts itself. Good balance, maybe a little too raw in that the hops are aggressive. A little more variety and interest in the malt profile would have suited me better.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.27/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Was happy to see this one back in stock at the Sharp Edge, because when I went to order it earlier during Christmas break it was already kicked on tap. So, the bottle I cracked had 2002 on the label, and It poured a great deep ruby brown red that seemed the head wasn't trying to form. I started in on taking a couple small whiffs, and then I inhaled it all. This beer contained a niced mild hop character, yet I could smell some nutmeg and other seasonal spices flowing in the air, all complemented with an amazing aroma of maple syrup. At the first taste an awesome malty sweetness arose to my palate, along with the balancing of the hops. I thought the maple syrup flavor was the most noticeable extra curricular flavoring that stood out to me, and it defintely formed an awesome winter seasonal beer that is in my top five for it's category. The body of this beer was great nice and chewy almost felt like I was eating some pancakes. Great, enjoyable, and different. What can I say Big Tony likes.

Photo of chinchill
3.91/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz can served at about 42F in a snifter. Poured out clear but dark, reddish amber with a moderate size, beige head. The head, unfortunately, dies too quickly but not completely, and decent lacing is left on the glass.

The smell of this beer was a spicy and malty mix that hinted of spiced cider.
The taste largely followed, with spices and malts clearly present, but it also has some nice baked bread tones and a good bit of chocolate. Apple is only faintly hinted, and the sweet aroma arises from a brew that has good sweet/bitter balance.

The mouthfeel was very good in terms of carbonation (medium) and had a nice, if delicate, touch of dryness in the finish, but it seemed a little too thin.

Overall: a pleasant and distinct brew that improved with warming. (near 4)

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,642 ratings.