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

1,649 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,649
Reviews: 720
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 13.92%
Wants: 59
Gots: 178 | 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: 1,649 | Reviews: 720
Photo of slaintemhor
1.38/5  rDev -64.4%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Tried a bottle of this back in Sept. of '09. The colour was a ruddy amber with a thick head. The aroma was quite funky, and I don't mean that in a good way! There were smells akin to my compost bin,and that can't be good! On the palate, it tastes like my compost bin drippings might taste!! Is this a bad bottle?! I can't imagine that the folks at A.V. Brewing would make something this heinous!

Photo of WetCoaster
1.89/5  rDev -51.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

*2005 edition

Well, usually I go through the whole process, but this beer was so shockingly bad I'm not going to bother. It looks pretty good, a deep amber, decent head, but slides down the hill after that. Smells like malted vanilla. It tastes like a weak, thin red ale with about four tablespoons of artificial vanilla flavoring dumped in. Cloyingly sweet, bland, thin, one-dimensional mess. I cannot believe this came out of Anderson Valley. I love you guys, but you're KILLING me with this one. Two words -- drain pour.

Photo of ohiobeer29
2/5  rDev -48.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A decent winter ale solid brew drinkable

Photo of waddellc2
2/5  rDev -48.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

why does the review say option then require me to write something?

Photo of popery
2.01/5  rDev -48.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I'll go back and try this one again, but this bottle is awful. It's extremely sweet and tastes a bit like a terrible, buttery gingerbread cookie. I'm trying to figure out what people like about it, but there's enormous sweet note in the finish that's turning my stomach. It reminds me of Shiner's terrible Holiday Cheer - there's almost a peach/apricot note in the sweetness. It tastes like there's an ok winter warmer underneath the bizarre sweet fruit notes, but it's a stretch for me to say anything positive here. More than anything, it tastes like a terrible flavored cola, Vanilla Coke or something. Actually, I think that the terrible flavor might be more vanilla than fruit. Either way, it's not to my liking. Hopefully, this is just a funny bottle. I will try it again soon.

Photo of goz
2.05/5  rDev -47.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Pours reddish brown, nice tan head with good lacing. Aroma is quite nice - vanilla, butterscotch, and caramel in there. Flavor is heavy on the vanilla and butterscotch, and cloyingly sweet. I had trouble finishing this, hoping it would get better as it got warmer, but that didn't happen.
Probably not something I would try again.

Photo of ChadQuest
2.23/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Color is a translucent amber with a small cap.
Aroma is caramel, spices and cherry, and does not really go well together.
The flavors are also an odd mixture composed of the notes mentioned in the aroma, and i cant tell if something is off or just how it normally tastes, but its not very enjoyable. It has a slightly astringent feel.

No bueno.

Photo of nsabo
2.24/5  rDev -42.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

The smell is awesome - cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and everything nice. Pretty stoked to sip it!
Hmm, tastes way too sweet. I don't drink soda, but this tastes like what I remember a cream soda tasted like. I've heard nothing but praise for this brewery and believe what I hear, but this still tastes like artificial flavors were added. Very faint piney hops, vanilla, white wine that’s been sitting out uncorked for a while, and honey.
Definitely a dessert beer, but even then, this is way too sweet for me.

Photo of notsoprobeer
2.25/5  rDev -42%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

It's a gorgeous reddish orange color with an off-white head that dissipated fairly quickly. No lacing. Not very strong in the aroma department, I did pick up some malts, but no hops or spices. Flavor of alcohol, caramel malts, and some faint notes of brown sugar and vanilla. Light to medium bodied. The taste of alcohol is very strong in the finish and it lingers along with some sweetness.

I didn't like this beer because of the alcohol. It was the primary flavor I tasted, was present in the finish--and it lingered. Everyone seems to love this beer but me. But it is what it is.

Photo of bfrank8
2.35/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

On tap, did not agree with me, after taste. Typically not a fan of spiced beers.

Photo of ibashmuck
2.35/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Purchased as part of "build-your-own-six-pack" at local grocer. Medium head on an orange/amber/copper body. There's some sort of nasty funk in the smell...overpowers everything else. Slightly bitter, a touch sweet, maybe maple syrup. Too fizzy. The funk and fizziness were big turnoffs. May have to try another to see if that funk was a fluke.

Photo of BeerBuilder
2.46/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Ruby red in color with a thick tan head that left good lacing. The aroma is malty, caramely, maple and brown sugar, and spice. The flavor is sweet, and again I get the maple syrup, and spices like nutmeg? ginger? It is a full-bodied beer, with an unusual spice flavor that just did not work for me. It was sort of drying and powdery at the end of each sip, like powder spices were poured into my glass. I didn’t find this very drinkable, in fact I gave the rest of my glass to STUBOB. I was disappointed in this one; the spice combo just didn’t work for me in this beer. I will pass on this one again.

Photo of JohnQVegas
2.48/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bottle into Sam Adams Lager glass.

Pours hazy dark copper with a thin, one finger fizzy light khaki head.

Nose starts off with a sugary sweet strawberry fruity note. Unbelievably sweet.

Taste follows suit - cloyingly sweet caramel, toffee, and berry-like fruit note, with some pure sugar sweetness mixed in. It's like they forgot to hop this batch or something. Sightly metallic.

Restrained carbonation, syrupy body. Sticky.

Photo of SpectrePLUS
2.5/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Just aw'ight. Taste kind of lingers... Not great, but I'll finish the two singles I bought.

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 clvand0
2.58/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This beer pours a murky amber color with a small tan head and moderate lacing on the glass. The aroma is somewhat malty and very sweet. The flavor has a hint of some sort of nut. It is very full bodied, but I don't think it fits my taste well. It rates about average in my book. There are also a lot of spices in the flavor. This beer is not very drinkable but it leaves an ok taste on the palate.

Photo of aleyeast
2.58/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I have long been a fan of this winter seasonal and would venture a guess that five years ago or so, it was in the top of my list for must haves in the winter. Lately, at least the last two years, this beer has been dominated by vanilla which I don't personally find attractive in the beer. To me, vanilla is a flavoring, not a spice. It definitely feels creamy to drink, but that may be the vanilla flavor lending that sensation. Overall, the beer is well made and consistent, but I feel the key to good spiced beer is balance and moderation. I also believe this recipe has changed over the years.

Photo of maximum12
2.62/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to swnicholoson for throwing this into an excellent trade this spring!

I have never had a beer that smells like ass before. Interesting. It made me think about a drain-pour before the glass touched my virgin lips. Another first. This is the first time the smell of a brew has interfered with my enjoyment of said liquid.

Thank Zeus, the taste is nothing like the smell (although my wife recoiled in horror & poured her half into my pint glass). Taste very spicy, like cadmun & cinnamon & apple tizzy poured into a beer-like substance. Not something I want every day, but pleasant enough. I think a roaring fire & bearskin rug would make it better.

Hard to drink much of it, though. I can see why it's a 'winter warmer' as my belly is warming already. Huh. Not quite sure what to think of this one.

Photo of WMBierguy
2.63/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I normally like special winter ales, but I just couldn't get into this one. The spices use in this holiday brew were too strong. The end result was an ale that tasted as if it were brewed with potpourri. Not a very drinkable beer, and I won't be getting this again.

Photo of PatandDavid
2.68/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Had this on tap at Redbones...My first thought was, wow this tastes like caramel candy. After about a fourth of the glass, I wondered where the taste went. It pours a nice amber color, no head, no lace either. The overwhelming taste of caramel that first appealed to me quickly vanished. It wasn't particularly hoppy, malt taste was there, not omnipresent though...I've never had a beer where the flavor went so quickly, I don't think my taste buds were overwhelmed, but maybe so. After each sip, there was a wee whisp of caramel, but not like at the first few sips. While it wasn't a bad tasting beer, I had no urge to get another. The flavor just didn't last.

Photo of JohnGalt1
2.69/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz from the Boise Coop for $1.50/bottle poured into a shaker pint. Listening to Renaissance Worldwide Singapore "David Morales Mix".

Sweet cherry juice and crystal clear. Sticky lite tan head.

Malty aroma with vanilla and butter undertones. No real hops ... sorta overpowered by the spices.

I really hate saying this, but it reminds me of a vanilla cream soda .... and not the soda-shoppe kind, more like the artificial bottled kind.

This is a tough review for me to write. I love the Boont amber (almost certainly my favorite amber ale). But this one is going to take a hit. I know from my notebook reviews, I am hyper-critical of diacetyl; and I am only getting a little butter from this beer, but combined with the vanilla ... wow ... The diacetyl is hyper accentuated. I think they should move away from the spices (at least the vanilla) and balance more with a low but still solid flavoring of citrus hops.

Sorry. I will buy this brew again, mainly for comparison ... but I will probably wait a year or two.

Photo of GreenWBush
2.69/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

2004 release. Heady ruby. The graphic design on the bottle is seasonal and gorgeous: the beer's color is remarkably similar to the outlay of the "themed" elements: foothills covered in snow, hollyberry replacing the hop trellises, the bear-ish creature done up for the season. The giant, rocky head and unbelievably sticky lace are noteworthy but seem on par with this great brewery's offerings.

The nose hints at oaky vanilla and slightly sour banana. The malts are sweet and there is a slight stamp of cascade hops in the mix.

Wow, this is downright awfully done. Natural flavor? All I can taste is a tub of butter and some overzealously gooey malt characteristic.

Pass - this year's is much worse than last.

Photo of gentlebubbles
2.7/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

on tap at Redbone's

Luminous honey-gold, served with barely any head, just cream-colored foam skimming across the surface. Syrupy scent. Cinnamon spice mingles with the malt. Lingering syrupy body and a weird medicinal aftertaste that refuses to leave like an unwanted guest.

Photo of harrymel
2.73/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Can date: unk

A: excellent cinnamon brown ale with under a finger of off white foam which falls quickly to a central cap and rim of the same. Spotty lace.
S: Smells like marshmallows, malt, caramel, and a hint of copper.
T: Sweet. Very sweet. Vanilla. malts and vanilla and sweet and low.
M: Creamy and full bodied with a semi dry finish.
O: interesting. I remember this beer tasting a little less artificial. Now it tastes like it has a butt load of sucralose or something in it.

Photo of Risser09
2.75/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a wine glass - 2007 vintage - Poured at cellar temperature

Appearance: this ale pours a transparent brown color with some red highlights. The head reaches one inch in height and has an ivory color. It fades within a minute and leaves no lace on the glass.

Smell: Malty in aroma, with some barely discernable spices. They are cinnamon and allspice. Not much more to say for the aroma.

Taste: Peppery and woody. Cedar and nutmeg are the main flavors. Malt fills up th rest of the flavor profile. No hop presence to speak of. Sweet malt sugar rounds out the finish.

Mouthfeel: Sugary and malty. Not much other flavor. Thin to medium bodied with medium carbonation and not much alcohol presence. Sort of warming.

Drinkability: I generally dislike winter warmers, and I generally dislike this beer. There's not much to really appreciate. It doesn't stand out in any category. I'm not really sure what makes it a Christmas beer. It's not horrible but it's certainly below average. Not my cup of tea....err beer.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,649 ratings.