Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine?

Learn more about beer and save over 53% with a 3-year subscription.

Subscribe 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

695 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 695
Hads: 1,656
Avg: 3.86
pDev: 21.76%
Wants: 65
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
Reviews: 695 | Hads: 1,656
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 bushbeer75
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

 539 characters

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

Reviewed from old session notes.

Poured out a coppery-edged dark bronze color with a fairly stable single finger of tan head but no real lacing of any significance. Very dark fruit-filled aroma combined with the scent of cinnamon-dusted toffee apples. Tastes like a nice piece of whole grain toast with a bit of melted butter and a bit of mixed berry fruit jam spread on top. The light sprinkling of brown sugar doesn't really appear until after the glass has been allowed to warm up somewhat. Spicing is somewhat light and muted, but what is there comes across as a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Medium body and lightly carbonated. Be warned, this one falls on the sweeter side of the balance scale.

 700 characters

Photo of beagle75
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

 1,258 characters

Photo of nsabo
2.24/5  rDev -42%
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.

 507 characters

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.86/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a nice reddish amber with an off-white 2 finger head. Good retention; the resulting lace thick and sticky.

Smell - Aromas are subtle. Whiffs of sweet malt, and faint vanilla.

Taste - Creamy. Caramel, with notes raspberry and chocolate coming in mid-taste and into the finish. Aftertaste fades with a cream vanilla quality.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Smooth and creamy. Goes down nice and easy. Carbonation lends to a slight tickle on the back of the tongue.

Overall - Delicious, though a bit light for a Winter Warmer.

 540 characters

Photo of Blargimus
3.64/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass. For the life of me, I cannot find a bottling date on this bottle, but it's a winter seasonal so it's either 6 months or 18 months old.

Pours a very hazy brown, maybe a finger of white head that fades very quickly.

Very sweet smell, maple syrup and graham cracker. A hint of nuttiness. No hop smell, but that might be due to age.

Taste is also quite sweet. Heavier on the nuttiness, lighter on the graham cracker. More bitterness than I expected, but not real hoppiness.

Pretty thick for a brown ale, and creamy level of carbonation.

At 6 months old, this is solid. I'd like to try it a little fresher.

 643 characters

Photo of KajII
3.54/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

[Best served in a Lager glass]

The pour was a murky reddish amber with an average sized (1-2 finger) light beige creamy head that was mostly diminishing, reducing down to a thin film with a small collar and a little spotty lacing.

The aroma was of a toasted dark bread malt and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of toffee, caramel, dark fruit (figs and dates) vanilla and a hint of nutmeg.

The taste was malty sweet with notes of vanilla and toffee right off with the finish being about the same except for hints of dark fruit and nutmeg towards the end. The flavor stuck around for an average time after the swallow, allowing the sweet fruity spice taste to linger for a little while.

Mouthfeel was almost medium in body with a nice smooth creamy texture and a mild soft carbonation.

Overall a brew that smells as good as it tastes. It has the right blending of ingredients and flavors, making it quite an enjoyable drinking experience...

 943 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 rarbring
3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The beer is clouded brown, a warm off-white head with little lacing but good curtains.

A smell of roasted nuts, bread, buns and spices. "Assorted small candy".

Very sweet, intensely vanilla, muffin batter, caramel and toffee, ginger bread sponge.

Little carbonation, soft and sticky, rather light body, no dryness.

Very christmassy, but owz too sweet.

 355 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 RudeElf
4.7/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Maybe a hard day at work made this all the more enjoyable for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Poured a hazy dark amber. With a 2 finger tan head.

Smells of vanilla.

Very creamy mouthfeel, mellow sweetness, but not too sweet with lots of caramel. Vanilla.

Overall, very enjoyable.

 285 characters

Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce can into pint glass, no canning date. Pours hazy red-orange color with a nice 1-2 finger dense khaki head with good retention that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Minimal lacing on the glass. Aromas of caramel, biscuit, brown sugar, toasted malt, dark fruit, and light spices. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance. Taste of caramel, toasted malt, toffee, biscuit, molasses, raisin, fig, light chocolate, nutmeg, and herbal spiciness. Lingering notes of caramel, molasses, biscuit, and spices on the finish for a bit. Nice and enjoyable balance of flavors. Medium carbonation and body; with a creamy and slightly slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is well hidden at 6.9% with only a slight warming after the finish. Very smooth to drink as well. Overall this is a very nice and enjoyable winter warmer offering. Plenty of enjoyable and balanced flavors.

 861 characters

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

A – Distinct amber coloring with a white head about a finger-width thick. Some lacing.

S – Sweet spicy nose with hints of vanilla and malts

T – Warm, vanilla flavor with the spices really coming through. Caramel on the finish.

M – Smooth and creamy, very drinkable and enjoyable.

O – This is one of the best winter spiced beers, it has a great balance of flavor and spice.

 386 characters

Photo of Lemke10
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought a single bottle of this as part of a M&M 6-pack from Binny’s in Downer’s Grove, IL for $9.99 in Early 2012.

Pours a medium brown with a thick fluffy head. Scent is mostly malts with some hints of spice. Taste has a great blend of malts and spices as well as some bready tones. Quite smooth and drinkable. A well made beer for a cold night.

 354 characters

Photo of nightowl66
4.06/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lightish red/amber in color, with a moderate head. Not much nose at all, very faint sweet odor like honey or brown sugar. Taste is intense compared to nose. All caramel and mild spice. Enough bitterness to not be cloying, but overall taste is quite sweet. Not a characteristic winter warmer style. Almost like dessert in a glass. Very, very drinkable.

 351 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a medium red-orange amber, lively carbonation with a two finger light tan head that dissipated fairly quickly leaving light lacing. Looked nice. Pleasant aroma of seasonal spices, light fruit and caramel malt. Unusual flavor of sweet malt, light fruit dominated by apple, vanilla, undifferentiated seasonal spices, and a slight eathiness sweet but not cloying. Light to medium bodied with decent carbonation. Flavor is somewhat mild, but the elements work together well and the moderate vanilla makes it a bit unusual. I enjoyed this take on a winter warmer and will buy it again.

 631 characters

Photo of iheartchicken
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured in pint glass

A: thin head which dissipated within a minute or two, red/orange and slightly murky in color, no lacing

S: not much here for me, a little bit of spice and some almost metallic malty notes

T: cream soda! lots of vanilla, malts, holiday spices

M: smooth and fairly light. it goes down easy

O: smell was lacking but the taste more than made up for that. I could drink a few of these

 418 characters

Photo of ChadQuest
2.23/5  rDev -42.2%
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.

 345 characters

Photo of wowbagger
3.36/5  rDev -13%
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.

 450 characters

Photo of GilGarp
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz can served slightly chilled into a pint glass.

Winter Solstice is a hazy dark amber color with thin white head.

Aroma is sweet with caramel and dark fruit.

Flavor has similar notes with milk chocolate, caramel, and cherries. A little bit of hop bitterness but mostly balanced towards the sweet end.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and low in carbonation.

Overall a really good winter warmer. All of the right flavors and enjoyable even at cellar temp.

 457 characters

Photo of VncentLIFE
4.16/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Actually a nice looking beer. Nice red body with an offwhite head floating on top.lots of bubbles coming from the nucleation point in the center of my DFH chalice looking glass.

Smells sweet, like cane sugar and honey sweet. Dry grains and a hint of ginger in there. But thats pushing it, no real spices. I think thats probably because its a bit late for Winter seasonals. Sad I know. Overall, smells sticky sweet.

Very light body, almost watery. Spices are very muted, but still there. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice are low, but there. Ginger gives it a full body. Subtle spices are overpowered by honey sweetness and a grainy body reminiscent of Great Lakes. Kind of like a watered down GL Christmas Ale. Hm I like it.

Leaves a nice grainy feeling that seriously reminds me of Great Lakes.

 795 characters

Photo of Cyrano41
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a bottle. Color is deep amber, reddish brown. A bit light on the smell but I could pick up fruit undertones and toasted malt. The taste is more than the nose promised, the toasted malt comes through with cinnamon and nutmeg and a hint of hop. Combine a medium mouthfeel and a smooth finish:very pleasant! I'll look for this one again.

 364 characters

Photo of WoodBrew
3.71/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Trying the Winter Solstice from a brewery that I dont think gets enough credit or publicity. The beer pours a clear amber topped by a finger of off-white foam that is lacing nicely. The scent is not all that present....subtle notes of caramel malt and holiday spices. The taste includes cinnamon, light nutmeg, ginger and vanilla extract. The mouthfeel is a medium to light body with moderate carbonation. Overall it is another decent beer from AV.

 448 characters

Photo of McNealc31
3.06/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Most of the flavors here are familiar with cinnamon and clove, but I'm also picking up some cedar, which is rather interesting. It's more subdued than other winter warmers. Starts off with a bit of fruit before the spices kick in. Almost like a spiced apple cider.

This is good, but I wouldn't put it on the top of my winter warmer list.

 338 characters

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