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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

695 Reviews
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 695
Hads: 1,655
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 11.92%
Wants: 64
Gots: 184 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale Alström Bros
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Reviews: 695 | Hads: 1,655
Photo of Sammy
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 bottle. Fruity spicey aroma, average appearance, good spice and fruity taste that finishes with orange and sediment of tastey and satisfying: Vanilla,nutmeg, cinammon, banana, other fruit melange, carmel. Medium body. A very nice beverage from a consistently good brewer. (276 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.99/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a slightly murky brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a thick cap on top of the beer. Foamy patches of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, fruits, and some slight funky aromas. I think there may be an issue with this beer based on the smell. Taste is much the same with a mild spice finish and a slightly funky flavor that isn't as bad as the smell would indicate. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty average beer as it stands with what seems like a mild infection issue. Even though the funk doesn't come through as much in the taste vs. smell, there is definitely a problem with the can I picked up. (737 characters)

Photo of metter98
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear reddish amber in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high beige head that died down but never completely faded away and left a thick ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are moderately strong and interesting aromas of brown sugar, caramel, nutmeg, toffee and vanilla in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has a bit of malty sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied, smooth and a bit creamy on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. There is a bit of warming from the alcohol.
O: This beer is definitely very drinkable compared to others in the style and has some interesting aromas and flavors. (708 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From old beer notes. Had on tap this past winter at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, IL.

A: Very dark and rich; perhaps a mahogany color with an infusion of a little extra read. The head looks good, and is a slightly-darkened cream color.

S: Excellent nose, with plenty of spices and some citrus; all of this overlays a nice base of buttered toffee and pure creaminess.

T: Much like the smell, though not terribly spicy. Quite sweet and overpowering in malt complexity.

M: Medium-to-full-bodied and very creamy. Not too much noticeable alcohol.

D: Exceedingly drinkable. I'd love to have a keg of this one for by the fire. (624 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

easily the best winter warmer ive had this season. bordering on epic for the style this is so awesome. pours an unfiltered looking maple color with a standard one inch head. smells very unique, fruity hops, vanilla, and english malts. taste is extraordinary, vanilla up front but not sweet, caramel and fruit middle, glorious rounded out west coast hop finish, but not bitter in the least. mouthfeel is gold! fizzles and cascades in the mouth highlighting its complex flavors one by one, and the body is exactly what you need in a warmer that you want to drink all day, the heavier side of medium. its just a perfect winter beer, and honestly i hope i can find it again, brilliant brew (685 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a respectable tan head that leaves some spots of lacing

Smell: Rich caramel aroma with strong vanilla notes; also has some tropical fruit

Taste: Starts out with a rich caramel and vanilla flavor; after the swallow, some nice balancing hop flavors cut into the sweetness and also provide a seasonal spice flavor (cinnamon and nutmeg)

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Extremely well-balanced and flavorful; one of the better winter warmers I have encountered (544 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
3.41/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out as a nice clear but dark lookin red color with a fizzy tan head on top. The head settles and laces the glass pretty well. The smell of the beer was pretty normal for a winter brew, had some light spices on the nose and a touch of sweetness. The taste of the beer reminded me a little of a weak barley wine or something. Spicy hops and some sweet malts but it just seemed a little light to me. The mouthfeel wasn't too bad, it had a semi thick feel to it which is nice around the colder months. Overall not a bad brew, enjoyable. (549 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Well conceived, well brewed, nicely drinkable, but regretfully--forgetable. Caught somewhere between a big Amber Ale and a Strong Ale, it contributes little as a standout for either. Decent alcohols that largely go unnocticed underneath the sweet malt base. Hoped for balance only, with little flavoring or aromatics. No real spices added, which I like. Lightly molassas and barley flavored, with a big amber body. A little sticky sweet, yet drinkable. Good brew, but gets lost in the shuffle of other great Winter Warmers. (523 characters)

Photo of largadeer
3.06/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark amber, slightly hazy, with a moderate head.

Smell: Sweet, cotton candy-like aroma; notes of vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Taste: Just as sweet as the aroma implies, but with balancing bitterness. Vanilla, caramel and butterscotch flavors are prevalent. Very little hop character; it tastes like spices are used as a substitute for hops rather than an accent. Sweetness continues throughout the aftertaste, with the slightest of hop bitterness coming out at the end.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy on the palate with moderate carbonation.

Notes: I can understand why this has mixed reviews - it's extremely sweet and spicy. Not bad, but not really to my liking. (682 characters)

Photo of biboergosum
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz can. 'Ale with Natural Flavor Added'. Not really all that promising or inspiring, eh?

This beer pours a clear, medium red brick amber hue, with two fingers of puffy, somewhat chunky beige head, which leaves some streaky hanging lace around the glass as it evenly subsides.

It smells of heavy caramel malt, baker's chocolate, sweet vanilla, indistinct sugary nuts, and a bit of fruity hoppiness. The taste is sweet caramel/toffee malt, brown sugar, more saccharine vanilla, weakened cocoa, a muddled array of savoury holiday spices, though nothing distinct enough to note, and lightly bitter citrusy, earthy hops.

The carbonation is really quite tame, the body a hefty medium weight, flirting with fullness, and dead smooth. It finishes still on the sweet side, the caramel, vanilla, chocolate, and masked spice doing well enough to keep things sane, drinkable, and desirable, as the extra ABV tries to peek in.

An enjoyable, and at the same time confounding winter ale. It tastes good, but it's quite difficult to tell you why, so sweet, cake-ish, and low-key spice it is. 'Tis seasonal, this much I know, and I could easily put back a few more of these in the coming craziness. (1,187 characters)

Photo of emerge077
3.16/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Mellow copper amber color, transparent with a persistent head of offwhite foam. Ethereal halo of densely patterned spotty lacing.

Mild but inoffensive aroma, vaguely sweet, though not much substance.

Tangy bready malt, cream soda, vanilla, cookie sweetness, light nutmeg. Light bodied, some light astringency. Tastes like cream soda and sugar cookies, but overall is a little too subdued for my taste. Pretty drinkable, but would like more flavor and body, it just isn't there. (480 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rich, dark orange-copper with the slightest blush of red. The head is equal parts pale orange, butter yellow and ecru. Arching streamers of thick lace are beginning to appear on the upper reaches of the glass as the dense crown of foam takes its leave slooowly.

The aroma is weaker than it should be, which is a damn shame since what's evident is quite nice. Maltysweet with light butterscotch and a healthy dash of orange zest. I don't pick up much in the way of spice, there's just not enough power to really get a handle on things.

With a bigger body, this beer would really shine. The flavor is wonderful, but gets short shrift from a too thin mouthfeel (for the style). While slightly undermalted, it still manages to pull off a sweetish, buttery caramel, butterscotchy, light brown sugary, orangey vibe that deserves a better delivery vehicle than it has been given.

I especially like the orange liqueur character; a comparison that would be even more apt if the mouthfeel had a slightly syrupiness. Winter warmers, in my mind at least, should be more full and luxuriant in the mouth than this. I still don't appreciate much spice, but the flavor profile is fine without it. What is there to say about the body that hasn't already been said? Bigger please.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale is close to great beer. Unfortunately, the too light body is more appropriate for a beer called Summer Solstice (which is pretty close to when I'm drinking it!). Suggestion to the good folks at Anderson Valley: bulk this sucker up and it'll turn some heads. (1,561 characters)

Photo of zeff80
3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a copper/burgandy color with a one-finger, tan head. It didn't leave much lacing.

S - It smelled of malt, spice and vanilla.

T - It was fairly malty and spicy. It also had a sweet, bready-quality.

M - It was relatively soft and creamy.

D - A pretty good beer. An interesting blend of flavors and tastes. (322 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured amber with a huge creamy head that quickly faded leaving some nice lace down the sides. Smell was hoppy with sweet caramel undertones and a slight smell of alcohol. The taste was extremely sweet. Almost tasted like candy. Dry hopped finish, but still very sweet. Overall this is very drinkable, but a bit too sweet to be really drinkable. (345 characters)

Photo of oberon
3.23/5  rDev -16.3%
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. (634 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The pour is a slightly hazy amber color with two fingers of creamy khaki colored head.

S: Not the most impressive nose, but quite a bit of spice. Seems to be some orange peel, nutmeg, and cinnamon sugar. Molasses and creamy caramel provide sweetness.

T: The flavor is wonderfully creamy and sweet. Lots of caramel and almost sugar cookie flavor. Some nice toasty character to it and some dark fruits. A definite spiciness and not as much citrus as on the nose.

M: The body is medium with a smooth and creamy carbonation.

D: Another solid beer from Anderson Valley. A very underrated winter seasonal that is worth picking up a sixer of. (642 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a reddish-amber body with a tight, thin cap of small bubbles that faded fast.

Smell: Fruity, spicy aroma of orange, nutmeg, almond paste, and cinnamon.

Taste: A variety of flavors upfront - light caramel, juicy oranges, and a shot of amaretto make for an overall tangy taste. Finishes sweet, with the taste of toffee leading up to an enduring cinnamon, cocoa powder aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body, but there's definitely a creaminess to it.

Drinkability: Clearly, this is one of the lighter winter seasonals available, both in regards to body and spiciness. Very drinkable. (612 characters)

Photo of nickfl
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Two and a half fingers of tan head on top of an amber brown body with excellent clarity. The foam settles slowly and leaves nice, thick lace in it place.

S - A light aroma of caramel malt with some toffee. Some peppery spice notes and a hint of yeasty fruit.

T - Some light caramel up front with a huge note of buttery toffee. Some spice cake flavors in the middle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Finishes with lingering spice and brown malt flavors as well as light, balancing hop bitterness.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - Thick and rich malt character dominates this beer's character and helps to spread out and spicy flavors and keep the beer drinkable. The aroma is somewhat subdued, but the flavor is full of rich toffee and malt that provides an excellent background for the mellow spice and yeast notes. Overall, this is a very nice example of a style that can be, and too often is, ruined by excessive specialty grain character and spice. (995 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Chicago Bears shaker pint glass.

The Bears are winning at the moment, so hopefully swigging from their glassware will magically keep the momentum going in the right direction. The beer inside pours a clear rose-amber topped by a finger of off-white foam. The nose comprises caramel, mandarin orange, lightly-buttered biscuit, and a hint of powdered sugar. The taste brings in more of the same, along with cinnamon, light nutmeg, and a bit of ginger. The overall effect comes close to resembling a gingerbread cookie. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a sorta dry finish. Overall, a very nice winter brew, one that throws out a bunch o' spice without overdoing it. Good stuff. (728 characters)

Photo of oline73
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

Appearance: Pours a clear dark reddish amber with very little off white head.

Smell: Strong smell of caramel with some dark fruit and spices as well.

Taste: Very sweet with a lot of caramel. There are also hints of dark fruit with a bit of bitterness at the end as well as some alcohol. The caramel sweetness dominates the flavor throughout.

Mouthfeel: Smooth with a medium body. There isn't much carbonation here. Seems like it wants to be dry but it never gets there.

Drinkability: I think it could use a bit more carbonation, but the taste is quite good, I really like the caramel flavor. I would drink this again. (674 characters)

Photo of Kegatron
3.28/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz can into a pint glass.

Pours a clear copper ruby, with a couple fingers of rich and foamy off-white head. This retains with a big frothy finger, which just drenches the sides of the glass with thick sticky lacing. The aroma smells lightly grassy with some festive feeling spices. Bready sweetness and a touch of dark fruitiness, like cherry, mix in as well. This has a bit of a gingerbread feel to it in the nose.

The taste is dark fruit, sweet doughy sugars, and spices, with a bit of green citrus working itself into here as well. Flavors are here but this lacks some pop. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with soft and creamy carbonation and just a light crispness on the tongue. This is really easy feeling in the mouth overall.

Eh. I liked the flavors that were present in this but I just wish that there was more to them. They just lacked robustness and a reason to go back after each sip of this. The easy feeling body kept this in the game some but otherwise, this was fairly forgettable. (1,007 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 - cellared for almost 4 years... lost at the back of the cabinet.

The appearance remains the same... it's a clear reddish brown with a creamy off-white head. The nose is similar as well; malty with caramel and a hint of vanilla, as well as some yeasty fruitiness. It seems to have lost a bit of carbonation, but it's always been a smooth, delicately carbonated and malty beer. In the flavor, the maltiness seems to have dwindled a bit, but its orange-like citrus flavor remains along with some spicy hops. The bitterness has softened, and it's remarkably drinkable! You could easily quaff a pint or two of this before the strength of the alcohol snuck up on you. That's not to say that it's improved, however. This is a beer best enjoyed fresh!!! (Note: I've kept the numbers the same for this beer because I don't want to bring its ratings down, but when scored properly I only came up with a 4.15). (908 characters)

Photo of jlindros
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tap at prezo

Pours a nice creamy 1 finger head that fades at a med pace with a bit of lacing, over hazy copper dark peach orange color.

Nose loaded with malts like a light barleywine, caramel, toffee, molasses, plenty of reddish candy malts, light bready, toasty, hints of winter spices, little grainy and hint of earthy hop.

Taste loaded with sweeteners but not super sweet, tons of toffee and caramel, candy from candy apples, molasses, rich candi sugar almost. Lots of reddish malts, little toasty and bready, again very malty almost barleywine like without the booze, although just a hint. Light earthy hops are there but barely, with very light holiday spices, and hint of dark fruit plum fig like. Very smooth and tasty. Finishes a bit sweet still, plenty more caramel, toffee, candy, reddish malts, etc. hint of bitterness and earthy hops lingering, light spices as well.

mouth is med to slightly heavier bodied, decent carb.

Overall very nice, great malts and sugar flavors although sweet but not crazy sweet at all, hints of hops and spices, very smooth and drinkable. (1,082 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a short off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is pretty faint but contains caramelized malts, nuts, some spices and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, spices and a little bit of fruit. Then there's a strong breadiness that comes in from the hearty malt character. However it's not quite as heavy as most in the style which I consider to be a good quality. The hops presence is mild but complementary and provides some balance. The after-taste is slightly bready and slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, this beer is on the lighter side of a style that is usually kind of heavy which makes the beer a bit more poundable than most other winter beers and it also doesn't have as much of the "gingerbread cookie" kind of feel and flavor that other get knocked for. Overall it's a decent beer with flavor and substance. (1,156 characters)

Photo of mactrail
3.08/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pretty serious vanilla takes over most of the flavor. Quite aromatic with more of the same. Amber color, decent lacing in the glass. Malty but very spicy. Strong cinnamon adds to the excess of flavorings. Rather cloying sweetness conflicts with the bitterness in the aftertaste. Seems to be a taste like butter, along with candied nuts. I have to admit that as off-putting as this at first, your taste buds get used to it. But not enough to drink the whole can.

In the swell new red, blue, and black 12 oz can. (512 characters)

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 695 ratings.