1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,628 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,628
Reviews: 713
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 13.92%
Wants: 58
Gots: 165 | 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

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,628 | Reviews: 713 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Etan
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%

A: Pours a deep brown-red with a nice tan head.

S: Nutty toasted malt, mild caramel and a bit of cranberry.

T: Toasty, sweet nutmeg and molasses, dry yeastiness, brown bread.

M: Medium-bodied with light carb.

O: This is a tasty winter warmer that's on the sweeter side, closer to a doppelbock than anything.

Photo of bushbeer75
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz can

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice filled my glass mug with a clear dark amber color that formed a one finger tan head that left minimal lacing. The nose is of malt, caramel and a hint of fruit. The taste matches the nose, however is stronger. The flavor of caramel and toffee is dominant with light warming spiciness. The body is lighter, almost a little watery for the style.

Winter Solstice is a Winter Warmer that is lighter in spiciness and body than what I am accustom to in this style, however the Ale is very drinkable.

Photo of PGVG
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of beagle75
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. can into a nonic glass.

A: Slightly hazy, light amber color with one finger of diminishing light beige foam head. Scant lacing remains on the glass.

S: Caramel is well developed. Mixed fruit is cooked but not spiced; butterscotch underscores more obvious qualities.

T: Begins off-dry, with remarkably transformed malt that is bold but not at all grainy. Fermentation qualities from the smell develops early; honest yeast esters followed by a trace of complementary diacetyl. Acidity is restrained into the middle where malt and yeast features grow in complexity, intensely toasty and a bit vinous, but become more nuanced in intensity. Fruit darkens considerably by the end, sweetens up a bit with the affectation of brown sugar, and spices in the form of black pepper, nutmeg, and lesser cloves are exhibited for the first time.

M: Medium viscosity, slightly syrupy on the palate, with low carbonation.

D/O: More old ale than winter warmer, this beer makes an impressive collection of English ale qualities. This should come as no surprise to those who have crossed the path of Anderson Valley's ESB. While not perfect, it delivers a combination of features that are rare in American-brewed ales, much less those packaged in a can.

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

2003 bottling. I found a stash of this beer in my basement that I had forgotten about and figured it might be time to give it a try. Appearance was a clear reddish amber with a small 1/4 inch head. Aroma was malty and slightly caramelly. Taste was malty with hints of cherries, caramel and possibly nutmeg. This beer was smooth and light bodied on the palate. It was easy drinking, but a little thin and tasted like it was missing something. Decent winter warmer but nothing to go crazy over.

Photo of Hex92
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is another one of those beers that I think ends up being better than the sum of its parts. I don't think its amazing in any category. It doesn't look like much. Nice head and lacing, but its not a dark beer and a little murky.

Smells a bit like raisons.

This beer is smooth. Goes down real easy. This beer is a good one to sit down and drink several in a row. I only got one as a mixed sixer. I would definitely pick up a six pack so I could knock back a few in a row next year.

Photo of Hopyard57
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%

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

2005 edition

Pours a brilliantly clear dark russet - crimson hue with a loose 1/2" head that audible as it dissipates.

I can smell it clear as day from my pint glass 3 ft. away. Very sweet dark roasted malts with great amounts of vanilla. I swear this smells just like 'Sugar Babies' candy.

Sugary sweet dark roasted malts with strong vanilla that carried straight through the scent. There's a slight spiciness that reminds me of nutmeg, but more resembles those warm candied almonds you get from the mall - maybe a hint of cinnamon, but it's hard to tell. Very faint hop presence, which adds no flavor but a hint of dryness towards the finish.

Mouthfeel is very smooth and medium bodied. Fine carbonation at a minimal level.

Drinkability is good. I let mine warm to 55F and it's just fine.

Overall a very sweet winter seasonal whose main flavor component is vanilla. I usually but a 6 pack and give a few away, and that suits me until next year. Very well crafted and no faults found here - not my bag though.

Photo of cavmacb2s
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of Guzzler78
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a medium amber color. A light tan head that is small. Some spotty lacing, that doesn't stick around too long.
Smell of sweet malts, vanilla, slight spice, fruity-getting some banana.
Tastes sweet, not much hops, some clove and nutmeg, not much spice for a winter ale.
Thin mouthfeel, could of used some more carbonation.
A decent winter warmer, a bit mild compared to other winter seasonal ales.

Photo of trevorjn06
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber/mahogany color with about an inch of creamy tan head that quickly recedes to a frothy layer on the surface and leaves some lacing on the glass.

Aroma is sweet malts, dark caramels, nuttiness, mild spices and hints of earthiness.

Taste is rich malt sweetness with caramel and some dark fruit flavors. This overall malty beer has a nice hop bitterness balancing it out just enough so that it is not cloying. It begins with a creamy and rich nutty/caramely flavor and moves into caramel with hints of dark fruit and chocolate. Toward the finish a bit of bitterness comes in to balance the sweetness. The finish leaves bready malt, caramel and some soft mineral notes on the tongue.

Mouthfeel is medium/thick with low carbonation and a nice mouth-coating feeling.

Overall this is a good beer, it is strong and rich yet drinkable. I would drink this again.

Photo of Act25
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a large pint glass.

A: The beer is a beautiful, deep reddish brown color, with a stiff off-white head that fades quickly but leaves a massive arcs of spotty lace on the glass. Beautiful red color.

S: The aroma is too faint. It contains caramelized malts, fruit, (Apple?), nuts, some spices and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out creamy sweet almost like a cream ale - may taste against Sweet Action from Sixpoint - with flavors of caramel, spices and fall fruit. Not muscly enough and the back half is sweet. The hops presence is mild, and provides some balance. The after-taste is bready, crackery, and slightly sweet - like jam laden crackers with sweet tea.

M: Crisp and smooth, thinner body than expected, but lots of carbonation, finish is slightly sticky, almost cola or cream soda like. Needs more body. Orange or fruit liquor like

D: A bit too sweet for me. Definitely feels more right as it warms. becomes more after dinner cointreau, grand marnier like.

Widmer Brrrr and Sierra Celebration over top this one, but these beers are each distinct and a treat.

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

This beer has some character. It's got a sort of caramel apple thing going on. The flavor is very full and it definitely stands out from the others in its category. A chewy mouth but also plenty of bubbles. I wouldn't say it's an easy drinker - much like its summer counterpart AV goes for full-bodied and unique over supreme drinkability - but it's well worth getting a six pack during the season.

Photo of BigBry
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of dbalsock
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

App: Pours a dark amber/maroon with a fluffy and thick vanilla head. There's some lacing. The head is the best part, with it's hugeness and it's dense yet cloud-like appearance.

Smell: Alcohol, cherries and prunes all come out immediately with a hint of biscuit and no apparent hops for me.

Taste: Heavy biscuit with a fruit and hoppy aftertaste. The alcohol is present and mixes with some not so intense hop and strawberries on the swallow. It has a lot going on but seems to miss a final dimension that would tie it all together.

Mouthfeel: Thin, with ample carbonation and a slight bitterness that seems out of place. It's a little off in this department and could use more substance.

Drinkability: It's very quaffable for almost 7%, and goes down smooth. Despite all the fruity and sweet tastes, it's not cloying and I could easily have a couple pints in a row.

Photo of Antg8989
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of jackorain
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brigth amber reddish hue. Crystal clear. Topped with a think, firm 1 inch tall head. Head fell very slowly and left no lacing but a scant 1/8 inch collar leading up from the nice consistnet coating on the liquid.

sweet caramel, hint of fruity hops. not a lot here but definitely smells sweet.

Big sweet bready malt (like an all grain dinner bread or roll), dried tropical fruit, molasses. Mild spicy bitterness in the middle followed by more sweet caramel malt.

This baby is firm and chewy with a very full body. Creamy,creamy creamy carbonation. really nice mouthfeel here.

From a drinkability standpoint, I'd have to say that I could only have one of these at a sitting. I would persue it again but, again, only one.

Thanks For Reading

Photo of yourefragile
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown, amber color (thought not entirely opaque) with a medium sized foamy tan head that leaves nice lacing down the glass.
S: Very rich, lots of malty sweetness. Notes of cinnamon, vanilla, some fruityness, etc
T/M: Very creamy, full bodied, with strong roasted malty taste with some slight bitterness for balance. There are a lot of flavors and spices in here, though strongest seems to be the sweetness/vanilla flavors.
D: I can't say I'm particularly crazy about the taste of this beer, but I love the appearance and aromas and has a very pleasant mouthfeel. As a result, I usually find myself ordering this when I find it on tap.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a warm deep brown with a hint of red and a crystal clear body with a nice thin oatmeal colored head. It has a nice gentle carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The smell of slightly sweet of toasted malt and cider with a nice green hop hint in the background is subtle.

T- This beer has a nice smooth malt taste of pale malt with some hints of toasted malt blended it. A hint of biscuit malt is in the background. The finish has a nice gentle hop bitterness with a hint of sweet cider or a very faint cinnamon with a hint of alcohol, but that is very faint.

M-This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with some fizz that makes it seem more full. No real alcohol warmth or astringency.

D- This beer has some nice subtle flavors that give it some complexity and it has some unique taste that is nice.

Photo of Boitnott
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was poured from a bottle into a large snifter. It has a deep red, amber color with a nice cream colored head on top that is about a finger deep. The lacing is moderate but does not remain throughout the entire beer.

The aroma is of strong spices which I cannot put my finger on, maybe nutmeg. Overall it smells very enjoyable and made look forward to the first sip. The nose tastes mostly of malt with little hop presence. There is an underlying sweetness that persists and becomes even more so in the finish. The spices balance well with the amber malts but I do feel that the sweetness is a bit overpowering in the finish. I would expect the malts and spices to dominate here but that sweetness takes over, which is really a downfall in my opinion.

The carbonation goes well with the rest of the beer, and it finishes smooth with a medium body. The higher ABV does not goes as well as I would have thought. I have winter warmers this year that stayed lower on the ABV and made excellent beers. Overall it is still enjoyable but perhaps too sweet for my taste.

Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle. 2004 edition.

Pours a hazy copper borwn with a light brown head that disappears. No lacing to mention.

Aroma of piney hops, period. Smells like a DIPA.

Nice sweet piney hop flavor upfront followed by a taste of caramel malt. Washes away slightly sweet and quite clean.

Nice creamy texture, it just slides down with ease.

Nice drinkable beer. Winter warmer is a pretty generic label nowadays, so I guess that this fits within the style....

Photo of HappyHourHero
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2001 (~2.5 yo)

Poured a decent cream colored head that faded to a film leaving a ring of head around the edges. The beer is caramel amber in color with fine bubbles rising slowly through the middle. The aroma is a mild mix of tangy apples, toffee, and malt balls. The mouthfeel is creamy smooth and the finish is pretty clean. Malty caramel offset by some kind of hoppy flavor that I can't quite pinpoint. With over two years of aging this beer definitely leans in the malt direction. Overall a mild, easy drinking beer with a nice blend of flavor and aroma.


In your face malt aroma is gone, replaced by a soft creamy licorice and caramel smell. Moderately malty flavor if pretty one sided. Nothing is really bad about the beer, flavor just isn't up my alley.

Photo of Slynger
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a color on the light side of copper with just a slight haze. A small off-white head quickly slips down to leave some nice lacing around the rim of my glass.
Nice smell to this one. Sweet and spicy. The upfront sweetness consists of caramel malts and brown sugar followed by some spiced cinnamon and sugar spiced apples. Very nice.
There is a nice medium body to this brew that is both buttery and creamy, but the taste does not quite deliver what the nose suggested. Sweet caramel malts and honey flavors along with some cinnamon, ginger, and other light winter spices. Where's the fruit?
I really think this one could have been great. Some sweet red and tart green apples would have really fit in nicely. Instead the flavor slips closer to average.

Photo of Scrapss
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a cheater pint.

A: Beautiful deep ruddy copper and very clear. Thick two finger head subsides quickly into a very delicate ring. no chill haze, moderate carbonation with wispy lacing, looks like caul fat clinging to the glass.

S: nice malty presence. Some cinnamon notes and raisin and figs, like a cinnamon raisin bagel.

T: follows nose plus some caramel or toffee like notes. Smoooth on initial uptake. More malt notes come out on swallow.

M: Velvety smooth on finish with that characteristic bagel notes peeking up. spicy on side of tongue with the perfect carbonation. Very pleasant.

O: this is probably the best of the winter warmers, imo. The spices do not overtly dominate and punch you in the craw. It really is very well balanced and quite malty without being obnoxiously spiced. A go to in winter for sure.

Photo of mltobin
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a sixer when passing through Maryland.

Appearance is a dark amber and small head, little lacing. Smell contains dried fruits, cinnamon, bark. The taste of this winter ale is sweet, mild spice, malts too. MF is medium with a syrup texture. It is a nice winter ale and pairs well with some pie.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,628 ratings.