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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,323 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1323
Reviews: 672
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.18%

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  6.90% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: maxpower on 11-18-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,323 | Reviews: 672 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

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

On tap at Coles, thanks for driving biegaman.

Pours a clear red/orange, small white head forms, nice spiral lacing, settles to a thin layer. Smell is sweet and malty, vanilla spices and toffee dominate, definately smells like winter love. Taste is sweet toffee, very malty, more vanilla spice, a neat flavour I can't really place but I thought this was an excellent example of a Winter Warmer. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation, nice spice kick in the finish.

Serving type: on-tap

12-12-2006 02:16:04 | More by Viggo
Photo of tempest


3.5/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Clark's Ale House

A very smooth beer, but a touch spicey for me. The beer was dominated by vanilla with a little dry cocoa and cinnamon. Looked pretty and smelled nice enough, but there wasn't enough malt or hops flavor. Easy drinking if you really like vanilla and spice, but I wasn't into it that much.

Serving type: on-tap

12-09-2006 20:12:38 | More by tempest
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled off tap at Coles, in Buffalo.
Nice presentation, served in a wide mouthed tulip glass. An icy, glossed over bronze colour. Very thin head that parts to the outside and sort of slumbers to the sides of the glass. An alluring aroma, warming and welcoming. Gentle, melodious spices. A great deal of caramel malt with softened vanilla notes. Very nice drinkability, quite enjoyable! Smooth carbonation with a mellow, warming aftertaste. Savoury, ripe flavours. Again a light note of reserved, timid spices that blend well with a generous base of sticky, toasty malt. A more than pleasant winter warmer, promising first impression of this brewer, and overall - greatly enjoyed!

Serving type: on-tap

12-03-2006 16:26:06 | More by biegaman
Photo of psinderson


3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Deep amber color, mostly clear. Very little head as it was served.

Smell: A little caramel and some spiciness, but nothing too outstanding.

Taste: A strong vanilla taste hit me up front. There was a nice mildly spicy finish. I could pick out some traditional holiday spices, but in the background.

Mouthfeel: Nice full-bodied feel. The carbonation could be a little higher.

Drinkability: This is a pretty smooth beer overall and relatively easy to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

12-02-2006 04:18:25 | More by psinderson
Photo of drinknewbelgium


3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

poured with a small head smells of malty sweetness in my nose tastes of sweet malts holiday spices with little hop character a little watery in the mouth but i could have a few

not strong spiced honestly i couldnt help but think of cream soda when i was drinking this

Serving type: on-tap

11-14-2006 14:27:05 | More by drinknewbelgium
Photo of guinnessdoc


4.47/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Deep brown, slightly darker than iced tea. Beige head of small bubbles. Was 1/2 inch but fell away quickly to ring around glass.

S - Strong malt presence. Definite fruit in there too, but not sure if it's dark fruit like raisins or something citrusy.

T - Sweet malt taste that fades to the slightest bitterness. No hops are really apparent, nor is the alcohol. Almost spicy somehow. By the end I could definitely taste maple syrup!

M - Low carbonation so it was nice and smooth all the way. Finished a little dry.

D - In one word, Awesome. I'm sorry this is only a seasonal because I would drink it any day of the year. It's a great mix of an amber ale and a winter warmer. Easy drinking and thirst quenching.

Serving type: on-tap

06-24-2006 02:51:15 | More by guinnessdoc
Photo of DaPeculierDane


3.53/5  rDev -9%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

03-24-2006 20:42:54 | More by DaPeculierDane
Photo of tattooedtolley


4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap

Appearance: Reddish amber in color, thin tan head.

Smell: Very sweet smelling, fruit-like, and malty. a bit of hops

Taste: Sweet with plenty of malty goodness, and a bit of hops to balance. For some reason I tasted bubblegum on a few sips. I heard others saying the same thing, but after a few more sips it was easier to pick that apart.

Mouthfeel: Good body to it also fairly crisp and refreshing.

Drinkability: I was satisfied after one, not a session beer for me but I could easily handle another.

I must be honest, I am no big fan of winter ales. I said this to my friend at this particular pub and he insisted that I have one of these on the house. After having this winter ale, I don't think there will be another out there quite like it or one that I like so well.

Serving type: on-tap

02-23-2006 17:37:49 | More by tattooedtolley
Photo of sinistrsam


4.45/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a complete sleeper for me; In my wildest dreams I wouldn't have thought this beer was as interesting and tasty as it was. It poured a dark brown with a small tan head, and left moderate lacing on the glass. It had a rich, sweet nose, caramel and dark sugars, possibly dark fruits. Most definitely dark malts, and some mild spices.
The taste was quite sweet, with plenty of fruit and spice, caramel and chocolate, very smooth and very creamy. I was expecting a bitter spicy seasonal, but I got a creamy chocolate caramel brew that really suprised me. The aftertaste was as smooth as a milk stout, with milk chocolate taste lingering for several minutes. Hats off to Anderson Valley on this one; possibly the best seasonal I've had all year.

Serving type: on-tap

12-30-2005 20:17:31 | More by sinistrsam
Photo of RootedFool


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

The pint is filled to the brim, no head. An ashy ring of foam surrounds the rim of the brew's surface. The color is translucent, effervescent copper. Smell: Maraschino cherries, wheat crackers, orange zest, candy corn. Taste: Opens with a jab of fruit punch, lots of apple and a splash of pineapple. The middle brings out some sharp yeasty notes, much like sourdough. The finish is slightly dry, and pulls the breadiness into the fruit with ease. I with the mouthfeel had a bit more weight to it -- as it, it's very slick.

This is better than I remember it from the bottle last year, and the year before.

Serving type: on-tap

12-15-2005 03:11:55 | More by RootedFool
Photo of pjwilson


3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

had this bad boy on tap. it's hard to compare this beer to others; it's sort of in a league of it's own, at least on tap. It's a very full, rich beer, very, very sweet. I thought it tasted like pure candy, like you were sucking a caramal pop. It poured a nice light amber brown and I wasn't smelling much. Get this on tap if you see, just be prepared that it is so sweet it's like a desert beer or something. I couldn't have more than one, that's for sure.

Serving type: on-tap

12-03-2005 10:29:27 | More by pjwilson
Photo of loving44


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

Had this one on tap at Naja's Place in Redondo Beach

The appearance of this beer was good... dark amber with a nice head that settled quickly. Very little lacing.

The smell was faint but was spicy with hints of vanilla

Taste was good... pretty average holiday spice.

Mouthfeel was a bit too watery for me... a little weak.

This one was pretty drinkable due to it's light mouthfeel... could make a good session brew.

Serving type: on-tap

11-26-2005 22:19:45 | More by loving44
Photo of goindownsouth


4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very, very fine brew, and something of a surprise, in my book. This winter warmer presented before me with a respectable head and a deep and rich dark amber hue. The aroma was of smooth roasted sweetness with some residual hints of fruit and spice (cherry?). The flavor followed suit and this brew clings to the tongue with above-average mouthfeel. All in all, a solid offering by the Boonville crew, and one I will be tasting again, soon.


Serving type: on-tap

01-26-2005 12:29:53 | More by goindownsouth
Photo of IceAce


3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a redwood brown with a rapidly dissapating collar of foam. Nose is of earthy malt, but only reveals itselt after much coaxing.

The initial taste caused my taste buds to do a double-take as this is a much more complex brew than alluded to by the aroma. Entry provides a seemingly void experience leading to the midtaste...and then the party begins. Earthy grain is experienced first, closely followed by support from the spices...namely vanilla, backed up by cinnamon and nutmeg. The finish closes fast with just a hint of hop and the fading glory of roasted malt.

Mouthfeel is a wee bit slick, most likely owing to the inclusion of vanilla. This is a highly quaffable brew, best paired with roasted meats such as lamb.

Serving type: on-tap

12-27-2004 20:34:20 | More by IceAce
Photo of gentlebubbles


2.68/5  rDev -30.9%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2004 17:46:07 | More by gentlebubbles
Photo of Truh

New Hampshire

3.13/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Couldn’t have been any further away from the sun with this one on 11/26/2004. 16-oz. shaker pour at ACPH.

Filmy, cawl of initial chromosomal head. Dark amber to light mahogany hue and fairly clear. Somewhat muted Christmas earthy, floral bouquet of gargled malt, allspice, and hints of clover. Soapy malt taste with some kind of berry involved, maybe the nosey cranberry. Overall, seemingly lacking on the taste front for the style – almost too light for a winter, in my estimation.

Serving type: on-tap

11-29-2004 22:05:24 | More by Truh
Photo of noob


3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On draft at Redbones as part of the NW Brewers Fest, keg just tapped.

Beautiful tawny, amber color with thick tan head. Right away I smelling vanilla and am digging it. Upfront it had an intense, "vanilla coke" taste that really over powered the whole taste of the beer. Also detected were hints of ginger? and nutmeg?

All in all not a bad beer, but not one I would have more than once a night or season for that matter.

Serving type: on-tap

11-22-2004 16:21:33 | More by noob
Photo of tenorvoice0739

New York

4.93/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5


This is definately a "Best in Show" type beer. Across the style categories, this brew is a Platinum award beer. The 2003 edition has been the best so far. It seems that Anderson Valley is paying close attention to the proportions of additives and truely working towards perfection of this important seasonal beer. What I mean is that over the years the beer has ebbed and flowed with many of its characteristics. Last year's version contained an overt vanilla signature that has receeded in this years glass. In this edition I sense more of the pleasant winter spices that are married to, and not in opposition of, the very sweet caramel malt.

This beer is not a rougue interpretation of style, but everything about it says "winter beer". Low carbonation, sweet, toasty malt, and a warming spirit finish contribute to it's adhearance to style and its distinction.

This beer is an example of a brewer's journey towards "getting it right". I have always judged winter ales in their unique addidtives. Many brewers can fail miserably and produce a beer that tastes like a Christmas tree. Balance is where Winter Solstice wins out.

This popular beer will be gone by January so drink up quickly.

Serving type: on-tap

12-06-2003 17:33:52 | More by tenorvoice0739
Photo of GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer arrived at the table with a huge head which lasted from first sip to the last drop. The amber brown beer had an aroma of malt and spice along with sweet fruit. The flavor is sweet almost syrupy cheery as it warms with other fruits and spices. The balance between sweet and the dry finish is well done.

Serving type: on-tap

11-25-2003 02:25:27 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of Longstaff


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

Had this on tap at Redbones - don't know if it is the same beer it was just called Anderson Winter Ale on the board an my impression seems to be somewhat different than other reviews here. Aroma much like eggnog. Tasted like vanilla ice cream at first, then turned to bubble gum flavors. Finished somewhat dry and not as sweet as the flavor suggests. Medium mouthfeel. A nice desert beer that is unlike any other beer I have ever had. I would have had another - or two - if I didn't have to drive.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2002 07:51:13 | More by Longstaff
Photo of PatandDavid


2.65/5  rDev -31.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2002 02:27:17 | More by PatandDavid
Photo of aaronh


3.15/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This deep amber beer with orange-red highlights pours with an attractive white head the displays decent retention. The aromas are a little of spice and a little of hops, pleasant but not assertive enough to pick out individual traits. The taste was like a normal pale ale that had some spice added to it somewhere along the line. The beer displayed a normal light ale feel on the tongue, but left an unpleasant bitterness clinging to my mouth on the finish. The poor finishing characteristics and the high ABV result in a beer I'm glad I tried, but of which I didn't buy a sixer. My third offering from Anderson Valley was definitely not a "charm".

Serving type: on-tap

11-23-2002 19:30:42 | More by aaronh
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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,323 ratings.