Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

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very good

1,558 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,558
Reviews: 691
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.18%
Wants: 61
Gots: 125 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: maxpower on 11-18-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,558 | Reviews: 691 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of littlesgtpepper
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had a 6oz taster glass at AVBC.

Poured a deep brownish red color with a slightly tan head which was kind of thick.

Wow! This IS a winter beer. Smells of Christmas spices, cinnamon, nutmug, mild hops.

The taste doesn't disappoint either. There are so many flavors clashing here: caramel, spices, buttered rum, toffee, and a couple others I can't place. Very velvety smooth.

This is a delicious sipper. It pays to drink this slow to appreciate all the layers but I would recommend drinking your lighter beers before this since the flavors are strong and numb the taste buds.

Photo of apbarwood
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Kind of a sun-burnt coppery color with an off-white head of foam. Falls away in a decent amount of time and leaves a fair amount of lace swirling around the glass. The aroma is fruity with a definite tartness. I smell some cherry and an apple/pear note with a hint of a dry citrus. There's something faint that a can't put my finger on that brings to mind a glass of Chardonnay. I'm going to just attribute that to the combo of apple and pears. The flavor is tart cherry up front and borders on a hard candy cherry flavor, like a Jolly Rancher. There's a bit of malt body there too though it's distant which gives the finish a chocolate covered cherry quality. I still get apples but not as much pear as on the nose. To be precise, there's a distinct apple peel flavor to me which I didn't find appealing. It seems a bit astringent almost like crab apple. I have to say that the finish average overall. I don't find myself wanting to drink more. I would like a bit more malt and some spice to balance out the fruit. I'd be happier if I tasted cooked, spiced apples rather than dry apple peels. Overall not bad but definitely not great. It smelled nice, but I suppose I was expecting a bit more than fruit to show up when I tasted it. Disappointing. As far as the Solstice beers go, Summer is a far better choice in my opinion.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
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.

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

Pours a nice amber-copper color with a thick inch or so of foam resting on top. Nice spicy/nutty aromas, hops, caramel and cinnamon. Flavors of caramel, sweet malt, toffee, some hoppiness, and a host of Christmas-y spices. A very, very good Winter beer, one of my favorites, and one that is unfortunately somewhat difficult to find in Colorado (although certainly worth the effort).

Photo of slaintemhor
1.35/5  rDev -65.2%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Tried a bottle of this back in Sept. of '09. The colour was a ruddy amber with a thick head. The aroma was quite funky, and I don't mean that in a good way! There were smells akin to my compost bin,and that can't be good! On the palate, it tastes like my compost bin drippings might taste!! Is this a bad bottle?! I can't imagine that the folks at A.V. Brewing would make something this heinous!

Photo of 4000qtrap
2.95/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Source:/Serving: 20oz. Bottle. No expiration date and not aged.

Smell: Some dark fruit syrup and caramel with a slightly funky, horsey, oak note that leads into low lying black pepper, and clove spice that is muted but on the harsh side. A pinch of cider that adds a depth of flavor and anchors the nose a bit.

Taste: Moderately sweet caramel apple with a cidery edge. Quite caramelly in the middle with a slightly astringent fruit skin bitterness towards the finish. A faint hint of spice. Overall, the flavor isn't as nice as the nose and is pretty mild overall, though it is balanced. Its almost like a slightly sweet and spicier, fruitier amber. Finish is semisweet with toasted caramel notes, but has a earthy/medicinal flavor that tastes a little bit off.

Note: If you don't like your seasonal beers too intense or too spicy this beer would probably be a good option.

Photo of beerwolf77
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my pint glass the beer is brownish amber hued. About two fingers of light tan head recede rather quickly and leave a touch of lace.

The aroma is slightly fruity with hints of oranges, lemons and apples. Traces of malt and spice are present as well. Brown sugar seems to ooze as it warms.

The flavor is rather sweet. Lots of sugar drizzled apples and pears. Smooth malt and a decent amount of spice. Not too strong at all. Just enough flavor to bring you back for another sip.

Medium to light body. Light carbonation.

Overall a nice WW. Not a flavorful blast like most in the style but easy drinking for sure.

Photo of neenerzig
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Spilt a 6 pack of this with my good buddy Passow about 2 months ago or so and realized that I had one of these left in my fridge. Poured it into my pint glass. This beer pours a mainly clear, but slightly hazy amber/orangish color. The tan head is a good inch when poured, settling to a good 1/3 inch and then after a few sips to a nice thick ring lining the inside of the glass. Decent lacing. Aromas of dark fruits and spice are quite apparent along with a hint of vanilla. Has good caramel malt flavor upfront along with the vanilla, dark fruit such as cherry, plum, raisins, and apples. Rounded out with come cinnamon and clove spices for sure. Light hop presence on the back of the tongue, but barely noticeable, you really have to look for it to be aware of its presence. Has a good crisp, smooth and frothy, medium to full bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Easy to drink in the way a well crafted beer should be, but don't try and drink this too quickly, the alcohol creeps up on you and makes its presence known pretty quickly. I really enjoyed this and hope to drink it again.


Photo of JoePat
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour's a reddish brown with a tan two finger head.
Smells like lemmon zest and mixed berry sprite.
The flavor is like mixed berry sprite also while more citrusy on the nose it is more fruity in taste.
The mouth feel is a little thin but is pretty drinkable.

Photo of ksimons
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-rich brown with about an inch of foam which left a thin layer on top

S-warm bread like malt and citrus fruit, no real spices present

T-low carbonation, a fruity taste but not overly sweet, malty, butterscotch, again not getting much winter warmer spices

M-slight carbonation, very smooth, no real aftertaste, thin body

Very easy to drink, but not the most exciting. With a fuller body, richer malt, and more winter spices this could be a pretty good winter warmer.

Photo of nickfl
3.93/5  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.

Photo of Bounty628
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed as a winter warmer ale, Winter Solstice packs a very pleasant 6.9% ABV in each bottle which allows this offering to both provide a nice quantity of alcohol but not be pushed into the Imperial category thereby scaring off some drinkers. The alcohol though at 6.9% is balanced throughout the offering not pushing away the other flavors in the beer that make this beer a solid pour.

Poured from a bottle, Winter Solstice pours brown with ruby highlights accentuated throughout the pour. The head on the pour is rather thin and beige and does not hold its own much after the pour. The pour comes off nice and smooth and there is a minimal amount of carbonation noted in the glass once poured from the bottle. Based upon the minimal amount of head in the pour, there is not a noted amount of lacing left along the glass during the drinking of Winter Solstice.

The aroma of this beer blends some rich and dark fruit notes to a sweet and almost vanilla complexity. You get some dried fruits like cherries up front and then comes in the smooth and warm vanilla nature matched nicely to some holiday spices. The balance in the nose really is remarkable as one component does not shine through more than any other and the symbiotic relationship at play here works ideally.

As one could imagine given the pleasant aroma at work in this offering, the taste has an appealing complexity to it that serves this offering quite well. The malts come through in much greater detail in the taste of this beer and they work off of the sweetness that is within the offering quite nicely. This ale is neither too malted or too sweet and truly is a fine creation for a winter warmer style. Though the spices in the nose do not come through as much in the taste as one might have expected, there is still that warm, holiday feel to this offering. There is also a certain element of tartness to this ale that is expected and matched to the dried cherry undertones recognized in the nose.

Winter warmers tend to across the board have a very smooth and mild mouthfeel and Winter Solstice is no different. Even though this offering is an ale, there is the impression of a creaminess that works its way across the palate during the offering thanks in part to the warming vanilla highlights accentuated in the offering. The mild carbonation in this offering is not a fault of the beer as it allows the beer to sort of be forced across the mouth rather than have the carbonation do all the heavy lifting. This is a very easy to drink winter warmer that is solid from start to finish.

Photo of degerbah
2.9/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark opaque brown with about an inch of head. The head settels quickly leaving a thin film over the top of the beer. The aroma is slightly fruity with a strong dtrain of vanilla as well. The taste is over-sweet with a bunch of strange flavors added in. It seems like there are a bunch of other items added to the beer to add extra flavor. These merge together in somewhat of a mess. The beer's almost seven percent strength is evident in the mouthfeel as it combines with the excess flavor to hinder the beer's drinkability.

Photo of sulldaddy
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampling a room temp 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. The brew pours a clear copper hue with fluffy beige head that almost overflows the glass. The head fades to a sturdy surface layer leaving no lattice on the glass. Aroma is toffee and dark fruit (plums) and hits of brown sugar. First sip reveals an average body with mild but fizzy carbonation.
Flavor is sweet malt with brown sugar glazed plums dominant no real hops to be found and no booze hits either. An easy drinking tasty brew. I would buy this again in a 6er if I found it while shopping for beer.

Photo of TheMadJack
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Prepared from notes. Beer served in Pint Glass.

A: Clear red-brown. Thin head with full, even lacing. Active, if weak, carbonation.

S: Strawberry, apple, vanilla. Malts have a character like a loaf of wheat bread. Little to no hops presence.

T: Strawberry, green apple, very subtle malts.

M: Clear and smooth, with light fizz.

D: Light and entertaining. Not too challenging, but tasty. Low alcohol rounds out a solidly drinkable beer.

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

Pours a translucent ruby/brown color with a great sampling of beigish head.
Smell is well spiced with some toasted qualities, very overwhelming smell spice wise.
Taste is highly complex, we've got the fizzy tastes of spice starts it off and it finishes well with sweet, sweet malts.
Finish is dry but there is so much spice and sweet flavor left over on my palate.
Drinks great with this complex spice flavor that can be tough for some to get through.

Photo of mwa423
4.88/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Pours a beautiful clear red with two fingers of white head that died down to a very sticky lacing.

S - Hefty smell of dried fruit and vanilla, very christmas/holiday like.

T - The taste is a very full flavored with lots of spice, mostly vanilla, and lots of fruit. This is almost more of a fruit beer than a winter warmer. But, I love the taste and will have to pick some of these up in the future.

M/D - Mouthfeel is filling and creamy, very enjoyable. This is a very drinkable beer, but I think that the subtlety and complexity of this beer would be lost after a few.

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

It's a deep, rich amber color with some red. 1" formiddable head rises and falls with a aged look overall.

Dark caramel maltiness, rather woody, gentle heat, brown sugar, flat cocoa aroma, spicey chili's. yowza.

An aged malty complexity, sweet and smokey, powdered cocoa with some earthy zest and pepper from the hop balance. A medium to full feel and rather slick going down although zippy from the hops and booze.

This one is right on for the season.

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

Poured into an American pint glass; reddish brown with a small white head (less than a finger). Smelled of sour cherry, subtle spice, and malt. The tart cherry certainly came through in the taste; so did caramel, molasses, and candi sugar. Medium-bodied and modestly carbonated. Very tasty and sessionable for a winter warmer.

Photo of gthornton
3.9/5  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 horshack7
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A semi dark amber with two fingers of frothy head. The head thins out to about one finger leaving behind a little lacing.

Aroma: Caramel malts and dark sugar. Slight bit of esters with floralness on the tail end. Faint cinnamon and ginger.

Taste: A decent burst of sweetness. Carob and caramel malts. A little bit of bite from the hops but a nice smooth mouthfeel. A nice flurish of butterscotch rounds it out.

Notes: This is a solid beer to be enjoyed anytime. Cheers.

Photo of Stigs
3/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

poured from a growler filled about a week ago...served in a Stone Levitation glass

A - about a finger of light tan head which quickly retreated to a very thin layer of film a little more dense around the inside of the glass. the beer is a strong amber color, quite clear.

S - tough to pikcup much here, faint biscuity and sweetened malt with very faint ginger and cinnamon notes.

T - strong punch of all kinds of sweetness: vanilla, graham cracker, malted milk balls, sweet milk chocolate. grainy biscuit malts underneath it all...complete lake of hops to balance.

M - super creamy but medium bodied and good subtle but active carbonation (might be a product of the growler sitting for a bit).

D - liquid version of a five year olds classroom gingerbread house. hard to finish, glad my girlfriend loves it.

Photo of mckeowbc
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep amber with a dense head that settles down to around half a finger in my glass. A little lacing tries to cling to the glass as you drink but very little actually hangs around very long. Beer is almost completely tranparent.
S - Smell is lightly malty with a hint of spice.
T - Taste is lightly hoppy with a nice balance of malt. A very small amount of spice is detectable. The beer finishes a touch smokey.
M - The malt content gives this beer a bit of weight on the tongue.
D - Very drinkable, well balanced. Although the smokey flavor is not my favorite finish, in this beer it's so light that it doesn't bother me.

Photo of bamadog
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a coppery shade blended with a brownish orange hue; starts with a big 2 and 1/2 finger light tan creamy looking head that fades fairly slowly to a thin and uneven skim; body is a little hazy and shows pretty minimal carbonation; spotty and loose washes of lacing hold to the sides where they can.

Smell: A very light toasty graininess and a very faint whiff of sweet malts - the nose is pretty weak though and doesn't give me much at all.

Taste: World apart from the nose as there seems to be a fair amount going on here -- the toasty graininess is definitely present, but it's accompanied by a nice, sweet and smooth carmally maltiness; a very mild spiciness is way in the back and it is like a bit of warm cinnamon.

Mouthfeel: A little thick and creamy; carbonation is very soft and it makes for a very smooth body; mouth is left a little sticky and the gums are actually left a little tingly.

Drinkability: Quite high; great, warm flavors and an enjoyable mouthfeel would make this ideal for a cool winter night, much like tonight; with the moderate ABV, I could get through a couple of these in a sitting with little to no problem.

Photo of DrDemento456
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have a "Rivertowne" growler now and I have been meaning to fill it for a while so why not with some Christmas Cheer?

Filled at the Verona Rivertowne for 15.29

A - Red-ish brown like an ornament.
S - I detect cinnamon and ginger bread like malts.
T - Cinnamon and honey dominant but the bread like undertone keeps the beer from falling flat.
M - Creamy and delicious. It's hard to believe it's almost 7% by volume until you near the end of the Growler.
D - Excellent. I would try this in bottle forum next since it kind of seemed watery.

Overall one great Christmas beer. I would consider buying bottles of this for either new years or purchase next year!

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,558 ratings.