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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

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

1,390 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,390
Reviews: 674
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.18%
Wants: 39
Gots: 64 | 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: 1,390 | Reviews: 674 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MiScusi


3.35/5  rDev -13.7%

12oz bottle.

A- Translucent brown on initial inspection, but a clear orange/red as you hold up to the light. 2 finger off-white fluffy and slightly creamy head with an aggressive pour. Settles to a thin cap and remains for a long time. Streams of rising bubbles throughout.

S- Sweet malts, caramel, toasted malt.

T- Sweet on the front and very faint hops on the back. A little vanilla at first and as it warms a lot of vanilla. The taste becomes kind of bland to me after the first few sips which are really good.

M- Semi-chewy mouthfeel, carbonation isn't so high, but still enough to tickle the palate.

D- After about 1/2 of my bottle I just got bored with this beer. It started out great, but didn't keep my interest at all. While this isn't a bad beer, there are winter warmers I much prefer.

12-21-2006 20:46:26 | More by MiScusi
Photo of Phatz


3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

Appearance: Pours a clear light red brown color with a small fading head and minimal lacing.

Smell: The smell is of red cherry syrup like the kind you squirt in a snow cone. It is artificial in character but pleasing if you can forgive all the spicing. Very candied sugar and cherry with a hint of vanilla and cinnamon with a touch of underlying caramel malt.

Taste: The taste follows the nose but exaggerated a bit more. Very syrupy and candied like a maraschino cherry and cinnamon and vanilla with some caramel. Who would like something this sweet and juicy slick, but is it beer?

Mouthfeel: Slick syrupy smooth with just a touch of carbonation.

Drinkability: This beer (if you call it that) is extremely approachable and welcoming to all as winter candy but is it sessionable? I don't think so. I like one after dinner mint but I won't eat a bowl full. In the same way this is a nice desert beer that one dinks very nicely but I'll have another one tomorrow night not back to back.

Hope this is helpful.

12-20-2006 07:32:49 | More by Phatz
Photo of aleyeast

South Carolina

2.5/5  rDev -35.6%

I have long been a fan of this winter seasonal and would venture a guess that five years ago or so, it was in the top of my list for must haves in the winter. Lately, at least the last two years, this beer has been dominated by vanilla which I don't personally find attractive in the beer. To me, vanilla is a flavoring, not a spice. It definitely feels creamy to drink, but that may be the vanilla flavor lending that sensation. Overall, the beer is well made and consistent, but I feel the key to good spiced beer is balance and moderation. I also believe this recipe has changed over the years.

12-18-2006 14:55:56 | More by aleyeast
Photo of smcolw


3.63/5  rDev -6.4%

Nice two-finger head; very light beige. Slight cloudiness; dark amber color. Nice lace

The smell is closer to fine liquer, very smooth. Vanilla nose with some warming alcohol touches.

Strong Vanilla flavor. Light hop. Something like a vanilla smoothie, but thinner. Decent body, high carbo. The aftertaste is shortlived but here is where the hop shows up.

I love different beers. In that regard, this is a fun beer to try. It doesn't fit into any traditional category easily--it's different from most winter beers in that it has little spiciness (other than the vanilla) to it.

12-16-2006 22:52:23 | More by smcolw
Photo of SixpointJMH

New Jersey

3.63/5  rDev -6.4%

Pours a nice looking amber to ruby colour with a frothy off-white head atop the body. Head has nice retention and leaves a good amount of residue on the glass as well.

The aroma is sweet (primarily caramel) with a bit of malty ruggedness to it. Hops shine through nicely as well for a fairly simple but solidly good smell overall.

The flavour is a nice blend of all of the aromas but hits a little too hard with the caramel sweetness. It's not over the top to the point that its undrinkable, but it is a bit too much and takes away from the balance somewhat. Other than that, there is a nice ruggedness from the malt and a hint of citrus flavour from the hops. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied and a touch slick.

Overall, I liked this one. If the sweetness was toned down a bit more it'd be really good, a '4' beer all around (at least) for sure.

12-14-2006 03:26:30 | More by SixpointJMH
Photo of Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

4.2/5  rDev +8.2%

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.

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


3.5/5  rDev -9.8%

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.

12-09-2006 20:12:38 | More by tempest
Photo of ultralarry2006


4.18/5  rDev +7.7%

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Leaves less than a one finger head that reduces to just a foam ring at the edge, and not much lacing at all. Body is a beautiful clear copper.

Smell - toasty malt with spices. Also apples and diacetyl.

Taste - toasty malt, caramel, cinnamon, honey, and hint of ginger, and root beer.

Mouthfeel - full, smooth, and sort of fluffy at times ( like eating puffed grain cereal ).

Drinkability - this is a very good ale, and is rather sessionable.

12-09-2006 17:27:38 | More by ultralarry2006
Photo of MuenchenerKindl


3.68/5  rDev -5.2%

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass. The liquid is a cloudy red brown with good Carbonation. The head is 2 fingers thick, tan and leaves spotty lace.

The smell is mellow spice like vanilla, poured over a sweet bread.

The taste is fruity, bready, sweet with some vanilla

The mouthfeel is good medium body and good carbonation.

The drinkability is good a nice flavorful brew. MK

12-08-2006 00:51:03 | More by MuenchenerKindl
Photo of clabaugh


4.47/5  rDev +15.2%

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with a fluffy, bubbly beige colored head. Retains less than lustily, with the head giving way to a thin, creamy froth. Laces respectably.

Smell: Sweet-smelling baked malts predominate in the aroma. Pastry-like in the nose. Soft vanilla tones, hints of diacetyl, and sugarplum.

Taste: Deliciously sweet malts and spices. Vanilla, honey, macadamia nut, butterscotch, and buttery malts elegantly mixed. Some tasty fruit flavors as well; plum, or date perhaps.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and creamy, with a gentle tingle. Soft and sumptuous on the palate. Well done.

Drinkability: Highly drinkable. Exceedingly fine flavor, pleasantly warming, and not at all filling. Simply a great beer.

12-04-2006 02:02:40 | More by clabaugh
Photo of Riggo


4.05/5  rDev +4.4%

appearance: a handsome orangey-amber with a beige head that drops to a thin collar and hangs around.

smell: buttery and toffeeish, with some notes of orange candy, grapefruit and pine.

taste: very nicely balanced. malty--toffee and orange candy--but balanced with a judicious amount of citrus hop edge. finish is fruity with some slight chalky dryness.

mouthfeel: excellent. very silky smooth and low on carbonation. soft.

drinkability: pretty drinkable. like an english ale.

12-04-2006 00:49:09 | More by Riggo
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.4/5  rDev +13.4%

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!

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


3.88/5  rDev 0%

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.

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

North Carolina

4/5  rDev +3.1%

Pours up a cloudy orange/amber color, with a medium sized light tan head of creamy foam. Touch of lace on the glass.
Smell is of sweet orange alcohol with some cinnamon or another related spice. A bit of vanilla? Maybe just a hint of hops underlying.
Taste is sweet, a bit spicy and tangy; Warm bread with cinnamon sugar. Malt dominates, but doesn't overwhelm. A quick hop bite in the aftertaste is somewhat grapefruit.
Mouthfeel is medium with lots of carbonation, tingles all over, especially on the cheeks and in the throat. Very dry finish.
Good drinking winter warmer, I love these beers this time of year.


11-30-2006 23:16:25 | More by NClifestyle
Photo of OStrungT


4.13/5  rDev +6.4%

This beer pours a clear, redish golden color. It has a fluffy light tan head. The head fades slowly, leaving a nice lacing.

This beer has a spicy aroma. It has a sweet toffee like malty aroma as well. It has a slight raisin aroma also.

This beer tastes much like it smells. Toffee up front, with a nice spicy, coriander like flavor. It also has a slight vanila flavor that was not present in the aroma.

This beer goes down smooth, leaving a toffee like aftertaste. It is well balanced. It is carbonated just right.

This beer would probably make a good session beer. It tastes good, and it is not too high in alcohol.

Overall: This beer is good. I will probably buy it again next year.

11-30-2006 21:15:18 | More by OStrungT
Photo of Beerzebub


3.98/5  rDev +2.6%

Amber color, thin off-white head, some lace.

Soft, cohesive smell. Estery prune, raisin, banana, apple. Roots, vanilla, chocolate, coriander.

Tastes like it smells, not strong, with a little sweetness, and a touch of allspice heat in the finish.

Watery mouthfeel. Very drinkable.

Subdued, but very enjoyable.

11-30-2006 10:01:02 | More by Beerzebub
Photo of Callenak


3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

2006 release - 12oz bottle.

Poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark amber color with a nice beige head.

The nose is malt and raisins. A great fruit presence to it and a little spice.

A great caramel taste to it. The raisin is more toned down and replaced with vanilla and spices. Definitely taste like a winter beer. I was shocked to see that this beer was 6.9% alcohol too. I didn't pick up on it at all.

Not an amazing beer but a very drinkable one. I wouldn't mind having a case of this lying around to get through the cold winter.

11-29-2006 00:11:33 | More by Callenak
Photo of CWiggins

North Carolina

2.98/5  rDev -23.2%

I picked this one up at Sam's in Durham while looking for several things to try. Having been impressed with Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice this past season, I thought this would be worth a shot.

The color is a nice, deep amber/red. Poured rapidly into a pint glass, very little head formed, although some bubbles remained around the liquid's rim the entire session (about 40 minutes). I found the aroma to be quite nice; it was very clean, with hints of caramel, sweet fruits, and vanilla. The flavor was a little disappointing. It begins with a pleasant spicyness, but finishes with a bland malt/alcohol character that left me wondering what the intent was. I wanted the winter spices to last longer, perhaps throughout the aftertaste, but all I received was this medium-dark malt thing. The mouthfeel is fine: it's not too sticky and goes down just right.

It seems everything is great about this beer except the flavor! I doubt I'll seek this one out again, especially since there are so many other winter warmers to try.

11-25-2006 13:34:31 | More by CWiggins
Photo of Diogenes


4.35/5  rDev +12.1%

My first review of any beer. I just tried this up against Anchor's Christmas Ale and found it to be more rounded and mature in both appearance and taste although less robust in general character (Anchor quite nice and I will review that soon). It's a fairly deep amber ale with a relatively small head (considering the thin pilsener style glass I'm using). The taste is balanced, pleasantly sweetly spicy with some room to further mature (but not nearly to the same extent as the Anchor), but drinkable now and in vast quantities if that is your aim. Its aroma matches its clean appearance with the sweet spice hint although I'm at a loss to precisely identify the constituents added to this fine beer. I'm not sure about the "mouthfeel" category in general as most quality beers seem silky to me and the Anderson Valley Winter Solstice 2006 is no different. My inclination is to only highlight mouthfeel when I notice something unusual one way or the other, and this beer has the "right" feel. Overall a particularly enjoyable beer that doesn't beat you over the head with hops like another seasonal ale I tried yesterday. The Winter Solstice is very, sweetly, good - I intend to buy a case! Hope this helps.

11-23-2006 03:07:53 | More by Diogenes
Photo of Westsidethreat


3.73/5  rDev -3.9%

A: Dark copper with amber highlights. Head is medium beige and falling quick

S: Tutty fruity bubblegum, vanilla, subtle caramel and dark fruits

T: A very trademark flavor the two solstice beers have achieved (summer and winter). Its this mixture of vanilla, caramel, angel food cake and nutmeg. Very sweet, rounded and affectionately seasoned. Finishes with some fruit; cherry, raspberry and blueberry. Aftertaste is more of the traditional sweetness that goes along with this beer but with a grainy profile

M: Medium body, a bit hard and spritzy at times.

D: I look forward to this beer every winter, but I can't drink too much of it. It can get seriously too sweet after a period of time.

11-21-2006 05:46:16 | More by Westsidethreat
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

3.15/5  rDev -18.8%

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.

11-19-2006 15:58:17 | More by oberon
Photo of sabrills70

North Carolina

3.6/5  rDev -7.2%

12oz brown bottle with 2006 on the neck label. Pours a deep copper color with red hues, a 1 finger head, OK longevity and good lace. Nice malt and caramel aromas mixed with a bit of spicyness. Big malt and caramel flavors mixed with an odd, not bad, but an odd spice I can't quite put my finger on. It wants to cry out cinnamon and nutmeg etc but its not quite there. Finishes with a somewhat surprising hop flavor. A nice seasonal but not one I can drink a bunch of at one sitting.

11-19-2006 03:16:48 | More by sabrills70
Photo of

3.38/5  rDev -12.9%

12oz. bottle.

Crystal clear, amber colored liquid. Large, rocky, ivory colored head.

Aroma included caramel and pine. I was not able to pick up much in the way of spices.

Fairly strong hop flavor - grassy and floral. Malt was bread like through most of the taste, and got slightly sweet in the aftertaste. Well balanced by the hops, spices and alcohol. Alcohol flavor/presence seemed fairly strong for ABV of beer. I can't define the spices, but they showed up near the finish and combined with the alcohol to give this beer a rather "zippy" ending.

Medium to heavy in body. Carbonation seems low. Coating, but very smooth. ABV warms you up pretty well.

Hard to explain overall impression. It seems like a malt bomb, based on the texture/mouthfeel, but the taste is quite well balanced by the hops, spices and alcohol. Not to my liking.

11-17-2006 14:28:35 | More by
Photo of jcdiflorio

West Virginia

4.45/5  rDev +14.7%

served into pint glass from a 12oz. brown bottle crimp on cap.

Clear,deep amber color,thick off-white head,lacing the glass.
Moderate aroma,very complex spicey aromas up front. Fruity,carmelly,hints of chocolate also in the aroma. A very soft pleasing quality to the aroma.Would have been a 5 if the aroma was a bit more intense.
Taste was a very complex spiceness,very fruity,candy-like,nutty,hints of vanallia,the flavor explodes on the palate.A fruity tartness in the smooth, pleasing finish.
Medium body,very drinkable,due to the intruging taste.Wish I had more than 1 bottle of this beer.
One of the best winter beers I've had. A good beer to start up a conversation at a party,with all the different flavors. A hard beer to totaly describe from one bottle. A great winter beer,would highly recommend this one. I will be picking more of this beer up before it's all gone.

11-16-2006 01:43:53 | More by jcdiflorio
Photo of drinknewbelgium


3.55/5  rDev -8.5%

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

11-14-2006 14:27:05 | More by drinknewbelgium
Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,390 ratings.