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

1,650 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,650
Reviews: 720
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 13.92%
Wants: 59
Gots: 179 | 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: 1,650 | Reviews: 720
Photo of ZorroZ
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Serving type: can poured into glass
Appearance: Beautiful, medium chestnut colour. Upon pouring, forms an incredibly rich, foamy head, albeit one that dissipates quickly.
Smell: Not much of a smell, surprisingly, considering what came next
Taste: Oh, WOW. Nicely malty, with little hops bite, but a lovely overall taste that almost disguises the fairly high ABV.. Just a little bit of the taste remains on the back of the tongue after a sip.
Overall: I'm *really* enjoying this six pack!

Photo of wowbagger
3.36/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light red, very pretty with thin white head but good retention. Some fruit aroma but overall not much.

It has a slight bite, which I didn't expect, like crunching into an apple. Some cherry flavor and some spice, sweet and nice on the tongue, very pleasant.

It's a hard beer for me to describe, is there a 'dessert beer' category? It's like a syrupy red ale. I enjoyed it, certainly worth the bottle, though too sweet for me to want too much more.

Photo of cracker
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a an amber-red color. Not much of a hop aroma which I was expecting. Nevertheless the taste is superb. Has a strong malty presence with obvious use of lots of caramel malts. Almost has a candy apple taste (subtle but there). The hop bitterness is noticeable yet does not take precedence like other winter seasonal ales. Overall, the balance is perfect. One of the best winter seasonals I have tried. I highly recommend it.

Photo of TinkerToys
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

All the flavors you'd expect in a winter, but too light on the malt. Kinda boring.

Photo of kitch
3.77/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle which has a best before 10 June 2016 sticker on it (seems a bit long too me…)

A: Poured into a pint glass a slightly hazy deep amber colour. One finger tan head which disappears slowly.
S: Strong vanilla, caramel and malt in that order followed by some light toffee.
T: Very much like the nose. Prominent vanilla and toffee followed by caramel. Not too sweet which I like.
M: Full bodied, creamy with some light carbonation.
O: This one surprised me in a good way. Although the aroma was a bit weak, the taste was nice as the vanilla, toffee and caramel tastes mixed well together. I would buy this again, but definitely for the winter while its cold and not during the warm spring as it is now.

Photo of thebarnesbomb
4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Comes in 120z. bottle, poured a 1" slightly brownish head.

A- Head lowers quickly and leaves little lace as it goes down. Has a great color to it, a dark amber with some orange around the edges, a really great looking beer.

S- Aroma is mostly of sweet caramel malt, the sweetness is not overpowering though, just prominent. Some citrus hop scent is there as well, a really good aroma to it.

T- The taste is really exceptional, it's the first '5' I've given in fact. I love the taste of this, a little on the sweet malty side, but that's what I like about it. The hops are there to to add a slight bitterness, so it makes it just right. You'd never guess it was 6.9% abv.

M- The mouthfeel is good too, with a little more carbonation than I would've expected. There is a good thickness to it, not chewy like a stout, but a really great mouthfeel to it.

D- Drinkability is really great. The only reason I wouldn't make it a 5 also is because of the high ABV, but otherwise, I just love this beer and would keep drinking it one after another. It's not really filling, which I find to be a good thing. This is a fantastic beer, people, get it before the season's out!

Photo of Kiwano
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured the bottle into a glass. It was cold from the fridge so it got better over time as it became.

A - Light brown. Not much of a head and small bubbles visible

S - Smelled good. A tiny bit yeasty?

T - Started off small hint of yeast but probably because it hadn't warmed to room temperature yet. As it warmed it the malt came through more. With a tiny bit of sweetness.

M - Light fizziness throughout

D - Tastes like a darker beer but without any heaviness.

Photo of HopsYeast
4.29/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

a-pours with a 1/2 finger pale white head that quickly dissapates leaving behind average lacing. has a rusted copper color that is very cloudy.

s-there is an upfront aroma of cherries and other dark fruits with a very small hint of anise. brown sugar, caramel, and orange peels. it has a very sweet yet warm aroma that is very inviting. it smells much like a very good piece of biscotti.

t-sweet cherries again and then a medium does of malt. there are also spices present like sweet cinnamon, and maybe even clove. its a wonderfully tasty beer and the sweetness is not overpowering at all.

m-mouthfeel is excellent. this is a superb example of an easy drinking yet full bodies beer. carbonation is at a very low level but still present, leaves almost no trace on your palate. perfect.

o-take the smell, taste, and mouthfeel, combine them, and you got yourself a pretty damn good beer. this is superb. easy to drink, tasty, not overwhemling, and just damn good!

Photo of carolinahophead
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had to review this beer during Christmas.
A: The beer beer poured a light sunset brown like a clear to partly cloudy winter night. Even a nice snowy head out of a can.
S: A malt lovers dream here with winter spice, let this brew warm up and the aromas come alive.
T: How about vanilla and a malt smoothie ....
A winter warmer to enjoy here with friends.
Maybe a little cinnamon and allspice . Close your eyes and think of fruitcake.
M: A medium mouthfeel with good carbonation and nice finish .
O: A big fan here of AVBC .... Beer geeks a must here for sure . Fun to drink and nice conversation brew as well..

Photo of twistwrist
5/5  rDev +28.9%

This is a GREAT fall/winter beer! It tastes like an adult cream soda!

Photo of BeerLover48Fan
4.97/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is an interesting and worthwhile winter warmer to seek out. It pours a deep amberish brown color with little if any head, and forget about lacing or retention. The smell is caramel and cola syrup, perhaps a bit of cherry in there too. This is a medium bodied ale with very little carbonation and bordering on a syrupy full body. The taste is complex. There are plenty of caramel notes when the beer is cold, but as it settles, there is an unmistakable vanilla flavor, nutmeg, maybe some allspice flavor that begins to emerge. There is a spicy bite in there towards the end, and you will find a discernible aftertaste. This is a relatively flat, spicy, sweet, syrupy ale that pleases the palate. Worth seeking out. . If you are in the Burlington County NJ area Red White and Brew at 33 High Street in Mount Holly is where you will find this beer, Stop in and see Stacey and the staff and browse their Micro and Seasonal selection

Photo of gthornton
3.86/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 1/2 inch thick head - clings to glass; dark brown/amber hue.

S: Caramel, raisins.

T: Well balanced sweetness from caramel, butterscotch, raisin

M: This might be my favorite part; creamy, and a light tickle of carbonation.

D: I can feel the alcohol in this brew, yet it is very drinkable. The raisin becomes more apparent in the bouquet as the beer warms up, but that process likely won't happen long, because each sip/gulp begs for another soon after.

- I recommend you grab this seasonal before its too late.

Photo of mitchfor3
4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle. 2005 release.

Nice looking amber color with a bubbly head. Smell is strongly of malts and a hint of alcohol (this weighs in at almost 7%).

This is a really nice changeup from a lot of the winter brews I've been sampling this season - malt dominated, one of the chewiest bodies I've ever experienced. The balance is saved by some spiciness in the aftertaste. This beer has a pronounced warming effect.

Really unique and delicious winter seasonal. Definitely recommended!

Photo of berebrando
4.14/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I purchased this beer today from Holiday Liqueur in Escondido. It was the first six pack of Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice I've seen since last winter. I am currently drinking from my preferred glassware, a broad, rounded Snifter.

Appearance: The beer poured beautifully with a robust brown-tinted head. At first, it looked like a brown beer as well, however, as I held it to the light, and as the head dissipated, the beer developed a rosy cranberry color - it was unexpected, surprising and very appealing.

Smell: when I smelled the beer, I could detect some sort of fraint berry or fruitiness. The smell was somewhat soft and inconspicuous.

Taste: Given the berry color, I expected something fruity. The first taste revealed a deliciously creamy beer. I love the taste of this beer. The aftertaste has a very slight fruitiness to it, but it is not strong or overdone.

Mouthfeel: The creamy beer dances on my tongue and into my stomach - it is easy to drink and delicious. Very smooth, easy to drink and perfect for the cold winter weather in Julian, CA.

Drinkability: Really? This beer is excellent! One of my favorite winter warmers this winter.

I don't know how they do it up there in Anderson Valley, but I absolutely love just about every beer they produce. This beer is no exception. Great beer - go buy it.

Photo of ItsTheLimit
4.31/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Perfect beer for a cold night, especially if stouts and other traditionally heavier beers aren't your thing.

Hazy copper color with a thin tight head. White-ish lacing with nice head retention.

Smells of sweet malt, caramel, black licorice, and coriander.

This beer tastes delicious. Warming quality from some alcohol but very balanced. Sweet malt up front with dried fruit, nutmeg, caramel and other spices.

Smooth, creamy mouthfeel makes this an easy drinker, but will definitely warm you up. Nice alcohol heat will make this a great evening-sipper near a fireplace. Really liking this beer.

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 treedoctor5002
4.18/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber color with a smaller than normal head that goes away after a while.

Smell is spicey and malty.

Taste is wonderful. Very smooth. Delicate spices like vanilla and cinnamon complement the malt but don't overpower it.

Mouthfeel is medium to light. Not a whole lot of carbonation after a while.

Extremely drinkable for a spiced beer. Very well balanced. Would go great with some ginger snaps or windmill cookies.
You should definitely try this beer.

Photo of ficknish
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark amber. Light bubbles. Good head.

S - Caramel. Toasty malts. Spices. Bread. Raisins. Vanilla.

T - Marshmallow. Vanilla. Toffee. Strong bitter hops. Spices.

M - Tingly. Bitter. Medium body.

O - Loving this beer. Sweet body with homey flavors of vanilla, bread, and spices. Sweetness was well balanced with hop bitterness. Will drink again.

Photo of LibraryTom
2.86/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2


Pours a nice deep amber orange.

All cream soda.

One dimensional sweet malt, with not enough spice or hop to balance it out. Almost no perceptible bittering component.

It is rich and overly done, and it is hard to drink more than a few ounces for me. Overall, eh, on a beer I am never that into.

Photo of Muddybuddy
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(2005 Edition consumed on Jan. 2, 2006)
Appearance: Very clear auburn color. Free of debris and sediment even when the whole bottle was poured. No yeast sediment visible in the bottle, leading me to believe that this may not be bottle conditioned. When pouring, I found it almost overcarbonated and had to slow my hand. A nice creamy off white head forms and will remain on the top for at least 5 minutes, if not more.

Smell: Almost no perceptible hops odor, but it is very low in the background and appears more as the beer starts to warm. It is pleasant and somewhat bright when it finally hits your nose. There is also a smell that reminds me of oatmeal.

Taste: This has a most unusual taste compared with most of the other winter warmers I have tried. There is a dark richness that comes alive and I am hard pressed to name it. There are some notes of chocolate and cherries and possibly even a dark blackberryish thing in there too. This may sound suprising, but it also was quite smooth and had no apparent breaks in the flavor. There is a certain cloying sweetness that reminds me of a honey or maybe lavender.

Mouthfeel: In spite of the apparent good carbonation, there is a velvety feel to this one and it is quite slick on the tongue. I can't seem to find a way to keep this one in my mouth for too long though, as I love the way it feels going down.

Drinkability: I have no idea about the alcohol content of this one but the flavor makes me want to drink more and more. Very good overall.

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

A- Red-brown beer with an off-white head; reddish highlights when held to the light

S- Malty with an undertone of spice.

T- First is warmth, followed by malt, a touch of molasses, possibly dried fruit, and spice.

MF- Smooth, with nice carbonation.

D- Interesting beer, which I realize is a rather non-descript statement, but honestly, I'll probably have it again just to figure it out.

Photo of M_J_Z
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

Had this on draft last night at The Hourglass Brewery in Longwood, Florida.

I enjoyed it, but it's missing the crispness/bite that make others of the style really good. (For example, Cigar City's Winter Warmer.) Granted, CC'S WW has a higher ABV, but it's the same style as Anderson Valley's. AV's version also seemed a little thin, though it wasn't watery or anything.

This could use a little more "punch," but its very drinkable. Not quite a 4-star beer, IMO, but I'm thinking it's somewhere in the 3.5-3.75 range. I would order it again.

Photo of dukew456
3.49/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz glass into a Miller High Life pint glass

Small, light brown head, with almost no retention as I drank this. Medium amber in color, a little bit lighter than traditional winter warmers maybe?

Smell is a a fruity, toffee-like malt attack, no hops in then nose, but surprisinglg appetizing. This smells like fruitcake to me, and that is a good thing.

Taste is much like the smell, almost extremely sweet. Candied fruits, spice, and most of all toffee/caramel dominate, with no hops that I can detect.

Mouthfeel is a little thin for what I think a winter warmer should be, but still plays pretty well to the sweetness.

This beer is a little bit of an enigma to me. I like the smell and what it reminds me of, but the follow up taste is not very pleasant. However, I could see myself drinking a few of these, as its relatively thin mouthfeel doesn't give you the feeling of being overly full. Worth a shot.

Photo of brewbattles
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

We did a blind taste test between this and 4 other Winter Seasonals to objectively determine which one was best. They beers were: Deschutes Jubelale, Anderson Valley Boont Winter Solstice, Big Sky Powder Hound, Alaskan Winter Ale, and Redhook Winterhook. Check it out:

Photo of DrewS
3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My overall impression of this beer is one of unimpression. Poured out a reddish orange and brown with a decent head. Sweet malt on the nose, like cotton candy. Kind of reminded me of the dried malt extract I use in homebrewing. The taste was primarily of carmel like sweet malt which was a bit cloying IMO. There is a tinge of hop bitterness as the malt fades. Besides the intense malt flavor this beer is somewhat thin. Mouthfeel plays a redemptive role with a creamy smoothness. Slight aftertaste. Not the best of the seasonals and a disappointment for me. Maybe I just wasn't into it, but I expect better things from Anderson Valley.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,650 ratings.