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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.
very good

1,628 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,628
Reviews: 713
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 13.92%
Wants: 58
Gots: 165 | 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

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,628 | Reviews: 713 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of NorCalYeti
3/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

taste- bready, sweet, spicy

color- copper-amber

clarity- clear

smell- yeasty

body- medium-light, smooth finish

appearance- off-white head, flat, curious

overall impression- not my style

notes- i want to like these beers so much but i just can't get into them. i've never been into this beer yet i come back every year in hope of it delivering. this review is for a 2008 vintage tasted in 2008

glassware: pint

Photo of TheFlern
3.67/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: A nice dark amber pour with a good amount of creamy head that remains for most of the pint. No lacing at all.

Smell: Lots of deep barley notes.

Taste: Barley and a hint of spice. Very warming. However, also very bland. More spice would have been nice.

Mouthfeel: Nice and full bodies like you would expect from a winter warmer. However, this beer isn't overly heavy on the pallet.

Drinkability: I'm not a fan of the drinkability that most winter warmers provide which is why this beer scores above average here. This is one of the more drinkable winter warmers i have tried.

Photo of darklordlager
4.11/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: bronze, with a small cream colored head which sticks around for a while then dives underneath.

Smell: Sweet caramel and dark fruit, hint of spice.

Taste: This is where this beer really shines--Layered caramel and dark fruit, toffee, light spice, raisins. Hops linger in the background melding with the caramel to produce a memorable finish.

Mouthfeel: Nailed this one.

Drinkability: This beer is fantastic, even after 8-9 months the 6.9%ABV helps make it through more than a couple holidays...


Photo of Narnad
3.94/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Edition. Pours from the bottle a muddy copper/orange color with almost no head. Very heavy aroma of fruit (apple/cherry) and spice(cinnamon) with lesser hints of molasses and some light malt. Strong alcohol flavor hits first followed by a very nice fruitiness with lots of cinnamon and some lesser vanilla and a slight bourbon flavor. Slight sediment in the bottom and the beer has very large, medium speed carbonation. Good beer but it definitely feels like more alcohol is present than the 6.9% listed on the bottle.

Photo of KarlHungus
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a hazy brownish-amber color. The head is a half an inch in height, and recedes quickly into sparse lacing. The aroma is tons of caramel, toffee, and even a hint of peat. This smells very much like a Wee Heavy. It is nice, but rather simple. The taste is quite different than the aroma. There is still a lot of caramel, but there is more toffee and the peat is gone. It has a nice malty complexity, and is interesting. The mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with appropriately low carbonation and a sugary texture. Overall, this is a nice beer. It would be a lot more enjoyable if the aroma was lively, but it is still alright. I could drink this again.

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

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a nonic Imperial pint glass. The ale appears a hazed dark chestnut color with an inch of lingering light ecru foam. Nice and malty, sweet caramelized grains, notes distantly related to spice cake with dates. A few notches better than medium in body and amply carbonated for its style. IMO, one of the better winter ales out there.

Photo of Amalak
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This very dark beer (which has a good tannish head) is a good winter brew. Good full-body with an excellent mix of spices and caramel.

The maltiness is well balanced, and with the spice, it makes it truly an excellent cold-weather beer. Definitely a must try if you can find it.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

Photo of jayw73
4.97/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a must have beer for a winter seasonal. There is a tremendous amount of maltiness on the palate on initial taste but enough spiciness and hops to really balance out the flavor. I have had many winter seasonals and this is the best there is!

a dark brown with strong creamy head

t delicious, malty, vanilla, caramel

m very smooth and velvety

d gimme another please

Photo of Lexluthor33
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Medium brown color with a nice head and great lacing action.
The aroma of apples,figs and dates with fruits and malts.
The taste of sweet malts,raisins,fruit hints and in keeping with the nose there are fig and date hints.Some vanilla is also detected.
The feel is creamy,low carbonation and medium to full body and I say that because it is not as heavy as I expected.

Notes: A really good beer and so easy to drink. Rich and creamy and a good ABV to boot.

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 TypeSJess
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours with a moderate tan head. head does not last. just enough hoppy flavor with not too much malts. slight spiciness being a seasonal ale. I bought this with a winter brew pack of 10 and im 4 in and this is my favorite so far. based on this one, im going to check out the others from this brewery.

i thoroughly enjoyed this seasonal ale. definitely drinkable throughout the year.

Photo of olmatty
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Pours a one finger tan head with poor retention and moderate lacing, a dark brown amber liquid.

Smell- Yeast, Spiciness and dark malts.

Taste- Like delicious malt spice candy. Carmelized sugar and spicy sweetness. Dark amber malts and yeast. Outstanding.

Mouthfeel- Lightly carbonated and very smooth, almost sticky sweet feel.

Drinkability- Smooth and easy drinking, especially for a winter. Just very, very nice all around.

Photo of ccrida
4.54/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz. bottle (2008) poured into a nonic pint, Winter Solstice is a murky amber, large, dense creamy light kahaki head with long last but no lace.

Smell is bright, sweet fruity malt smell even at fridge temp when served. Once I had a taste and thought of cream soda, it was all I smelled. Very unique and tasty.

Taste is great, and instantly recognizable - cream soda. There's also light touches of caramel, cinnamon and oranges, but it's really predominantly cream soda, which I'm really loving.

Mouthfeel is super creamy, medium light body, again, very much like a craft soda.

Drinkability is super high, if you like cream soda, which I do. Normally I'd knock a beer for being one dimensional, and so un beer like, but this is just so fantastic, I've got nothing but love for it. The 6.9% is dangerously undetectable, and the beer is a decent value and readily available.

Photo of mralphabet
4.28/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Copper rust in color. Very little head that dissipates quickly. No lacing to speak of.

S: Caramel, sweet molasses, hazelnuts, some faint orange juice.

T: Very sweet malt some molasses and caramel. Hops are very light... Very little bitterness... Very little aftertaste.. lots of caramel !!

M: Very little carbonation, med to heavy bodied.... Very creamy.

D: This is a wonderful beer.... Not as warming as I would have thought... Very sweet beer, well made not over powering.... Wish this was a year round brew... I'm looking forward trying more from AV....

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 GatorBeerNerd
3.33/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz single purchased for me at Jungle Jim's by my friend during Thanksgiving. Poured into a standard beer glass.

A: Pours a reddish brown that reminds me a bit of stained cherry cabinets. Finger and a half thick head reduces down to a thin haze of bubbles relatively quickly. The bubbles try to leave lacing, but it just doesn't stick.

S: The aroma is extremely faint. There is some roasted malty aromas mixed in with a bit of spicing of some sort.

T: It is a bit sweet from the malt. The spice balances it out pretty well. There is a bit of orange flavor mixed in. Maybe the spicing is orange peel?

M: Amazingly thin. I would almost call it watery. The spicing does add a little bit of interest in the mouth, but it doesn't make up for the thin feel.

D: Its relatively low in ABV. The warming is more from the spice. It goes down pretty easy for the style due to it being so thin.

Photo of washburnkid
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brought a six-pack of these back from a brewery visit last month.

A: Hazy copper with a small white head that dissipates quickly, leaving a thin ring on the outer edges.
S: Spicy malts, heavy molasses
T: Sweet, spicy flavor at first, ending in a bitter bite of hops that I can't really pin down (maybe toasted?); berry-like sour endnotes and some yeast
M: Lighter bodied than I expected, and I'd personally enjoy this beer with a tad bit more carbonation. Just a tad.
D: I didn't get a huge "warming" sensation from this beer, but I still really enjoyed it. It is smooth, spicy and flavorful. Reminds me of snow! I look forward to having this beer again come November.

Photo of katan
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a pint:

A - Orange to orangish brown in color. Head formation is light to 1mm - very light and white. Well retained as well, not going anywhere. Certainly opaque, but I'm thinking that is from the density of the beer.

S - Sweet edge of spice - almost floral and piney. Some phenolic notes in the background. Has a small amount of clove and other sweet spice to it. Difficult to describe.

T - Starts off rather light, with only a small amount of sweetness leading the way. Bitterness makes an appearance mid-stream, but very quickly disappears. Not hop note of mention. Finishes with an interesting sweet flavor. Strong in sugars and vanilla - spicy. Almost if I'm eating a nice sweet muffin of cookie.

M - Heavier in body - thick. Must be high in unfermentables. Carbonation is light but it sure seems to add more girth to the beer. Doesn't leave much for an aftertaste.

D - I find this beer highly drinkable for the style. I think the sweet taste makes the beer go down rather easily. The "warming" affect of the flavors really do fit the winter style. The ABV would sneak up on you quickly as well, as it is well concealed.

Photo of Nick3
4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a Samuel Smith Imperial Pint Glass.

A: Hazy copper color with a a head that dissipates quickly into very thin cover over the beer. Looks like a sasparilla.

S: I thought I died and went to heaven the first time I smelled this beer. Caramel and toffee aromas dominate with some hints of berries.

T: Beer is very, very smooth. Liken it to Newcastle in that regard but quite sweeter. Difficult to detect the hops. Caramel and berry flavors make their presence known.

M: A little thin for my taste especially for a Winter beer, but other positive aspects more than make up for it.

Beer is not too high in alcohol but you can definitely feel it warm you up in the chest. Overall, a very delightful beer and you can enjoy several without feeling full. However, if you like hops, stay away from it.

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

Special thanks to Wasatch for this one in a trade.

A: Dark red/brown, dark amber. Cream colored head about half an inch thick that reduced to a film. Somewhat cloudy. Attractive beer.

S: Bready and malty, huge on the fresh bread smell, big earthy smell too, but the breads absolutely dominate this one. Somewhat of a faint hint of something...ginger-y? Not too bad smelling though.

T: Not at all what I expected, this is malty with a huge honey comb presence, some hints at nutmeg, cinnamon, bready malts, excellent tasting winter beer. Very tasty.

M: Not too thick or thin, great carbonation, slight alcohol/spice heat. Very good.

D: This is great, a great winter beer. I could easily drink three or four of these as a change up to porters and stouts in the winter. Excellent beer.

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 MEsquandoles
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber from 2008 release into UK glass.

Looks like an ESB with plenty of head retention.

Smells of caramelized figs and plums, some cherries pie. Holiday spices and brown sugar too. Pleasant but very sweet. Some English Old Ale flavours too. No alcohol in nose.

Taste is dominated by cherry pie. Some Old Ale flavours too with holiday spices in the finish. A lot of caramel. Not much aftertaste. I can't complain about too much spice though. I'd actually like some more spice and hop or some dry woodiness to go with this creamy sweetness, although I realize its middle of February, so those have faded by now.

Kinda thin for 6.9%abv.

Not bad, but I think I'll have a hard time finishing the bomber pleasantly.

Photo of Naugled
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Medium amber with a light tan head that settles rapidly. A nice looking beer in the glass.

S-Cola, caramel, cola, caramel...I'm not sure how they pack so much caramel in this. I think it smell like a coke.

T-Again, caramel and cola flavors. I've only ever tasted this extent of caramel in a few beers. In this case the sweetness and malts are well balanced by the hops. I couldn't detect the hops, but they did cut the sweetness just enough to avoid a soda taste. Just the right amount.

M-mild carbonation and a full creamy mouthfeel without being cloying.

D-for it's sweetness this is a very drinkable beer and IMO a great winter warmer.

I also think this might be a good cellaring beer. I plan to store some away.

Photo of Buebie
3.84/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle courtasy of Wasatch, thanks John.

Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into a tulip. No freshness date on the bottle, although 2008 is stamped on the neck.
Poures with a 2 inch white fluffy head, leaving a thin layer of white retention. Lace is thin and mostly non existant.
A redish chill hazed copper color, that glows brilliantly when held to light.

Aromas of fruity cherry pie. I get the acidic cherry fruit aroma mixing with the bready gram cracker yeasty crumb like smell.
Some carmal and a touch of grains.

Tasteing alot like cherries again with a sweet and sour like flavor. The sour is not a bad one, its more of a citric acid sour with a syrupy like cherries taste. Hints of warming on my toungue. Its fairly dry with a clean crisp bite at the end. Mouthfeel is thin and Carbonaed all the way through. Its a snappy beer, with fizzy hissing coming from carbonation as the beer is agitated. There is a very mild and almost all droped out grassy hop flavor into the finish. Its minimal and mostly not making itself available in aroma and almost gone in flavor.

This reminds me alot of Tröegs Mad Elf.
Its a solid beer, but a little too fruit forward for my lieking. The bready pie crust like flavors and grains definatly balance this out and keep things on track for that beer flavor.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,628 ratings.