1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

1,395 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,395
Reviews: 675
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.18%
Wants: 40
Gots: 65 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,395 | Reviews: 675 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WMBierguy
2.6/5  rDev -33%

I normally like special winter ales, but I just couldn't get into this one. The spices use in this holiday brew were too strong. The end result was an ale that tasted as if it were brewed with potpourri. Not a very drinkable beer, and I won't be getting this again.

WMBierguy, Dec 29, 2005
Photo of Naes
3.38/5  rDev -12.9%

This ale is brown/dark amber in color and has a small off-white head.
The aroma is not much to speak of, but has a slight amount of spice and hops.
Its flavor has some spice, cinnamon, a slight alcohol presence and some caramel malt.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied and moderately carbonated.

Naes, Dec 19, 2005
Photo of SteveO1231
4.72/5  rDev +21.6%

Grabbed a bomber from BevMo!

Looks awesome! Pours a very nice dark ruby red with a diesel layer of tan bubbles floating on top of the brew. Nice carbonation.

Has a vanilla smell to it, kind of like a cream soda.

Nice roasted caramel sweetness, large vanilla flavor with a little spiciness and faint hoppiness.

This beer is very crisp and clean, very balanced and drinkable, a little sweet but a good dessert beer.

I really enjoyed this one.


SteveO1231, Dec 18, 2005
Photo of Brian700
3.88/5  rDev 0%

This beer poured a pale copperish color with a small head that fizzled out to a ring around my glass.

The aroma was malty with a spicey hop addition.

The flavor was well balanced between its malt and spicey hop addition. Caramel notes and mild bitterness.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied with medium/moderate carbonation.

This was my first brew from Anderson Valley and I liked it a lot. Can't wait to try a few of the other ones.

Brian700, Dec 17, 2005
Photo of RootedFool
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%

The pint is filled to the brim, no head. An ashy ring of foam surrounds the rim of the brew's surface. The color is translucent, effervescent copper. Smell: Maraschino cherries, wheat crackers, orange zest, candy corn. Taste: Opens with a jab of fruit punch, lots of apple and a splash of pineapple. The middle brings out some sharp yeasty notes, much like sourdough. The finish is slightly dry, and pulls the breadiness into the fruit with ease. I with the mouthfeel had a bit more weight to it -- as it, it's very slick.

This is better than I remember it from the bottle last year, and the year before.

RootedFool, Dec 15, 2005
Photo of mitchfor3
4.15/5  rDev +7%

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!

mitchfor3, Dec 13, 2005
Photo of HardTarget
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%

Bottle Inspection: abv 6.9%, “ale brewed with natural flavors”, not very descriptive. 2004 printed on the neck label. Thanks to Rick and Betty for the sample.

Aroma: A slightly vegetal, mostly celery aroma that I’ve come to associate with Anderson Valley brews, maybe it’s the house yeast. There are some slight citric sweet notes as well.

Appearance: Clear amber glass with a good tanish head that laced like a champ.

Flavor: Dark cherry leads a sweet balance that had an easy mellow flavor. There is some vanilla and a bit of butter in the taste as well. That celery/cherry taste runs through it like a ribbon.

Mouthfeel: Creamy mouthfeel, good carbonation and a fairly dry finish.

Overall Impression: A great winter session beer. The abv is a little high for an extended tasting, but the flavor is easy going and could provide a fair amount of entertainment.

HardTarget, Dec 11, 2005
Photo of pjwilson
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%

had this bad boy on tap. it's hard to compare this beer to others; it's sort of in a league of it's own, at least on tap. It's a very full, rich beer, very, very sweet. I thought it tasted like pure candy, like you were sucking a caramal pop. It poured a nice light amber brown and I wasn't smelling much. Get this on tap if you see, just be prepared that it is so sweet it's like a desert beer or something. I couldn't have more than one, that's for sure.

pjwilson, Dec 03, 2005
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%

(Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a warm deep brown with a hint of red and a crystal clear body with a nice thin oatmeal colored head. It has a nice gentle carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The smell of slightly sweet of toasted malt and cider with a nice green hop hint in the background is subtle.

T- This beer has a nice smooth malt taste of pale malt with some hints of toasted malt blended it. A hint of biscuit malt is in the background. The finish has a nice gentle hop bitterness with a hint of sweet cider or a very faint cinnamon with a hint of alcohol, but that is very faint.

M-This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with some fizz that makes it seem more full. No real alcohol warmth or astringency.

D- This beer has some nice subtle flavors that give it some complexity and it has some unique taste that is nice.

rhoadsrage, Dec 01, 2005
Photo of loving44
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%

Had this one on tap at Naja's Place in Redondo Beach

The appearance of this beer was good... dark amber with a nice head that settled quickly. Very little lacing.

The smell was faint but was spicy with hints of vanilla

Taste was good... pretty average holiday spice.

Mouthfeel was a bit too watery for me... a little weak.

This one was pretty drinkable due to it's light mouthfeel... could make a good session brew.

loving44, Nov 26, 2005
Photo of macpapi
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%

This Winter seasonal pours a medium amber color with a small white head. Little bubble activity is present, despite its clarity.

Smells mainly of malt and spice. Not overly strong. Fruit--plum and cherries--is also present. Overall the aroma is well-balanced, if not overwhelming.

Tastes very nice. Malty up front with a bit of hop bitterness. Followed by a pleasantly notable balanced presence of spice and fruit. Quite different from other winters in sweetness being as strong as spice. Warmth of alcohol is there but not threatening in any way.

In the mouth, this beer is surpsisingly light and carbonated. But the kick of alcohol makes it pretty substantial.

Overall this is a highly drinkable, surprisingly sweet but potent winter ale. Could be a good session brew for this time of year. A fine effort by Anderson Valley Brewing Company.

macpapi, Nov 26, 2005
Photo of WetCoaster
1.83/5  rDev -52.8%

*2005 edition

Well, usually I go through the whole process, but this beer was so shockingly bad I'm not going to bother. It looks pretty good, a deep amber, decent head, but slides down the hill after that. Smells like malted vanilla. It tastes like a weak, thin red ale with about four tablespoons of artificial vanilla flavoring dumped in. Cloyingly sweet, bland, thin, one-dimensional mess. I cannot believe this came out of Anderson Valley. I love you guys, but you're KILLING me with this one. Two words -- drain pour.

WetCoaster, Nov 23, 2005
Photo of RedHaze
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%

From notes 16Nov05:

Pours a clear dark amber color with a thick off-white head that fades quickly, and leaves behind just a little lacing.

Smell; a little nutmeg, caramel, cherries. Very fruity and spicy smell.

Taste; lots of spiced fruits, partuclary cherries. There's some caramel, and just a litlle bit of a hop twang in the finish. Gets a little to sweet when it gets closer to room temp. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with just enough carbonation.

RedHaze, Nov 22, 2005
Photo of DogFood11
3.4/5  rDev -12.4%

Beautiful red to cherry in color and transparent, Forms an impressive head but it fades rather quickly into a solid off white cap.

Cherries grab my attention right off the bat. Caramel is the backbone and just a mere touch of quick zipped hop twinge. Toasted bread fits this beer perfectly. just a touch of spices, little cinnamon but for a warmer overall this one has a different focus.

Chewy mouthfeel which attempts to clean up nicely with the twinge but in the end this is fairly rich. Carbonation is perfect. super fine and balancing.

Notes: This is one unique son of a bitch! The toasted flavor really comes through even more as it warms. Alcohol is fairly well hidden although my belly says otherwise.

DogFood11, Nov 22, 2005
Photo of battlekow
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%

I'm reviewing three winter warmers that we just got in at the store: this, Avery Old Jubilation, and Great Lakes Christmas Ale.

Winter Solstice falls somewhere between the other two in color, being a cloudy caramel with a thin beige head. Smells quite fruity, like alcoholic fruit snacks. I really like the way Winter Solstice tastes, like spiced and candied fruit. Strong notes of cherry syrup. There are some floral hops in there, as well. I'm surprised I like such a sweet beer, but I'm not arguing.

battlekow, Nov 14, 2005
Photo of jakester
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%

I got this as a single at UJ's on the Manatawny . This is the 2004 model. I drank it in a pilsner glass.

Pours a very hazy brownish red with a one finger head of beige colored foam. Head falls to islands and a ring, with minimal lacing.

Aroma is very fruity and spicy, with notes of cherries, grapes, dates, cinammon, nutmeg, and black pepper. Not much is the way of hop smell, but the malt is dark and rich, like dark brown sugar.

Flavor is dark cherries, raisins, plums, and spices like above. There is also some spice here I can't identify. Don't really taste hops, except for very low bitterness. Aftertaste is fruity, spicy, and luscious. Mouthfeel is pretty full bodied with soft to medium carbonation. There is a lingering richness to this beer that is really enticing.

This has aged extremely well. It is a perfect winter seasonal, well designed and well built. Spicy, fruity, malty, full bodied, and very complex. Highly recommended.

jakester, Nov 14, 2005
Photo of BrewMaster
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%

2005, 12 oz bottle.

Appearance: Light tan and red color with a creamy tan head. Wide open and sticky lacing rings the top of the glass as the beer is consumed.

Smell: Sweet malty nose with a spicy and earthy hop scent. Some pine in the hop aroma and a bit of caramel rounding out the smell.

Taste: Bold sweetness opens up with lots of delectable candied fruit flavor. There's caramel, toffee, and brown sugar feeding the sweet flavors. Strawberry, cherry, fig, plum, and date. Syrupy and sweet and moderately spiced with holiday spices. Cinnamon, orange peel, clove, candy sugar, and ginger. Very sweet from beginning to end but there is no cloying. The hop flavor is not readily apparent but after a few sips I notice the hop bitterness is actually a quick burst right up front that is then overcome by the fruit-spice-sweet combo. The pine character of the hops also shows up slightly in the aftertaste. As the beer warms the hop flavor shows up much more than when chilled. It is earthy and balances well with the sweet maltiness.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, rich, and syrupy. A bit sticky but right for the style.

Drinkability: Rich in fruit and spice, this is what I love about winter warmers. It is almost like a liquid fruit cake (in the best possible sense). Complex and sweet and truly warming. All around very pleasant and one that I will enjoy this winter.

BrewMaster, Nov 02, 2005
Photo of sacfly
3.25/5  rDev -16.2%

2004 bottle

Pours a beautiful Reddish Brown. Clear as day. Thin head of small bubbles. Smell is of chocolate candy cordials. Like smelling the inside of a chocolate covered cherry.

Body is light. Chocolate with a light cherry cough syrup flavor. Malt, no sign of hops. Little to no aftertaste, slightly bitter.

OK, but tastes a bit artificial. A nice change, but not something I would drink more than once a week or so.

sacfly, Sep 21, 2005
Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev 0%

2004 bottle. Fruity spicey aroma, average appearance, good spice and fruity taste that finishes with orange and sediment of tastey and satisfying: Vanilla,nutmeg, cinammon, banana, other fruit melange, carmel. Medium body. A very nice beverage from a consistently good brewer.

Sammy, Sep 18, 2005
Photo of ncbrewerbun
3.35/5  rDev -13.7%

From a brown long-neck bottle with 2004 prominently displayed as the year. Picked up this six-pack in Louisville. It was marked down to move, so I was a little hesitant.

Beer poured a hazy amber, bronze color, but when held up to the light there were definite ruby tones. Had a small light tan head that dissipated rather quickly to a small ring of bubble around the edge (a bit of a stretch to call it lacing).

Aroma was one of malts, toastiness, breadiness and some vanilla, with a hint of the alcohol. I also pick up some oxidation -- wet cardboard -- characteristics.

The balance of this beer is certainly favoring the malts. The toastiness comes through nicely in the flavor along with some caramel...and there is some hop bitterness in the aftertaste.

Overall, a nice beer that probably was done no favors by the store as they kept it around. I would likely think much more highly of this beer if I were having it last December vs. August, 2005.

ncbrewerbun, Aug 07, 2005
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%

2001 - cellared for almost 4 years... lost at the back of the cabinet.

The appearance remains the same... it's a clear reddish brown with a creamy off-white head. The nose is similar as well; malty with caramel and a hint of vanilla, as well as some yeasty fruitiness. It seems to have lost a bit of carbonation, but it's always been a smooth, delicately carbonated and malty beer. In the flavor, the maltiness seems to have dwindled a bit, but its orange-like citrus flavor remains along with some spicy hops. The bitterness has softened, and it's remarkably drinkable! You could easily quaff a pint or two of this before the strength of the alcohol snuck up on you. That's not to say that it's improved, however. This is a beer best enjoyed fresh!!! (Note: I've kept the numbers the same for this beer because I don't want to bring its ratings down, but when scored properly I only came up with a 4.15).

NeroFiddled, Jul 18, 2005
Photo of donchata
4.72/5  rDev +21.6%

This is a very smooth beer with exceptional color, body, fruity tones and quiet kick that will put you at ease as you gaze in wonderment at your Christmas tree. Serve ice cold or room temperature this beer isn't picky about climate. One of the best winter's available.

donchata, Jun 16, 2005
Photo of Star80
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%

2004. Glad I found this forgotten in the back of my stash. Pours out an impressive ruby hued copperish color. Head settles to a light beige covering. Smells a bit vinous almost like a barley wine; dark ripe fruits, some spice, and vanilla. After a sip I detect more of a sugar cookie-like taste, and some caramel malts. There is some bitter hop but not much which could be due to the age of the beer. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. This is a decent winter warmer and I will probably buy another six-pack next year.

Star80, May 08, 2005
Photo of weeare138
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%

This is an '03 version.

Appears amber with about an inch off white head that fades. Barely any lacing as it goes down. Lots of tiny bubbles exploding up the sides of the glass.
The smell is amazing. Lots of vanilla, maple, caramel, and oak notes present within the nose. No traces of hops are detected.
Tastes really, really good. It truley tastes like liquid caramel malts with vanilla cream. You don't find too many beers like this that can please you and go down smooth like this. This is like dessert. I'd rather have this than a DQ blizzard any day.
For the age, the carbonation seems outright perfect. Nice chewiness that lingers. Welcome to candy land! I wish I had an endless supply of this stuff.

Finger licking good!!

weeare138, Apr 10, 2005
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%

Rich, dark orange-copper with the slightest blush of red. The head is equal parts pale orange, butter yellow and ecru. Arching streamers of thick lace are beginning to appear on the upper reaches of the glass as the dense crown of foam takes its leave slooowly.

The aroma is weaker than it should be, which is a damn shame since what's evident is quite nice. Maltysweet with light butterscotch and a healthy dash of orange zest. I don't pick up much in the way of spice, there's just not enough power to really get a handle on things.

With a bigger body, this beer would really shine. The flavor is wonderful, but gets short shrift from a too thin mouthfeel (for the style). While slightly undermalted, it still manages to pull off a sweetish, buttery caramel, butterscotchy, light brown sugary, orangey vibe that deserves a better delivery vehicle than it has been given.

I especially like the orange liqueur character; a comparison that would be even more apt if the mouthfeel had a slightly syrupiness. Winter warmers, in my mind at least, should be more full and luxuriant in the mouth than this. I still don't appreciate much spice, but the flavor profile is fine without it. What is there to say about the body that hasn't already been said? Bigger please.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale is close to great beer. Unfortunately, the too light body is more appropriate for a beer called Summer Solstice (which is pretty close to when I'm drinking it!). Suggestion to the good folks at Anderson Valley: bulk this sucker up and it'll turn some heads.

BuckeyeNation, Mar 29, 2005
Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,395 ratings.