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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

1,562 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,562
Reviews: 693
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.18%
Wants: 60
Gots: 130 | 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: 1,562 | Reviews: 693 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of homebrewhawk
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber served in a shaker pint. Poured a dark gold with a finger of off white head. Lots of malt in the aroma along with some spice that I had a hard time placing. Lots of vanilla in the flavor. Medium bodied with a rich mouthfeel. A bit of hop bitterness, but malt and vanilla dominate. This beer might not be for everyone, but I thought this was very interesting.

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

I need to confess up front that this has been one of my favorite "holiday" beers for some time. Living in NJ, with family and friends in OR and WA, I'm always a bit jealous this time of year with their selections.

This afternoon, I found 7 - six-packs of the Winter Solstice, and picked up an unopened case.

The bottle opened without much of a release. It poured a beautiful dark brown, but left almost no head. There is a hint of carbonation in looking at the glass under a light; but it's borderline flat. Could be shipping issues...been a strange couple of weather weeks this side of the Rockies. The shipping label showed it leaving the distributor on Tuesday (today is Saturday)...so it hasn't been sitting around too long in any place.

The taste is better than I'd have expected; not flat, nice little bite, nose of spice...ahh....what I remember. It really is a very drinkable brew. I'm hopeful that the remaining 23 have a bit more "life", but the taste good. Actually seems like it could be last years edition...but the label says 2008.

Photo of ricke49
2.75/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

First two things I noticed: for an essentially 7% abv brew there was no hint of alcohol (not even enough to qualify as a "warmer" style brew). Secondly, was strong vanilla essence. Too strong for my taste - almost cloying. Would have appreciated a more assertive hop profile.

Very low on any flavor that I would consider 'beer'. I had to ask "is this beer?" (or perhaps some adult style crème soda?). At least when I drink Jubelale I get a nice lip smack from the hops...I guess I'm spoiled. Not a very exciting brew, and when this 6-pack is gone, I'll not be acquiring more.

Photo of Dodo2step
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

P- Market Cross Pub in Carlisle.

A- love the bottle labeling. Pours a nice creamy nutmeg brown color with a decent head but it runs away from the top quickly.

S- we got some sweet fruity malts. Some nice clove or nutmeg spices as well. Smells of thick caramel come to the front and the back end has mild hops. Its like a caramel apple with nutmeg and clove thrown in on top.

T- a bready caramel flavor that pounds you in the mouth. Spices are more pronounced in the taste than in the smell. Very sugary and fruity. Cinnamon and brown sugar come to the palate after i have had a few more sips.

M- chewy and mouth popping. Full of flavor as far as sugar and malts go. The hops arent there but thats ok i still like the flavor.

D- other than spices it is pretty easy to put back. the spices come out and warm the throat but the after taste is all apice and it is good and bad to some extent. A tad too much.

I love this beer and will look to buy more of it.

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

12oz bottle. Vintage 2002.

Poured a dark, hazy amber color with a large, frothy, off white head. Malty smells. Light tastes - malty and sweet. Tastes are too light for me to really pick anything specific, other than some sweetness out. Not sure if it lost some aroma and tastes in the aging process (tasted 2002 vintage on 6/29/04). Not bad but then again, nothing special stood out.

Notes from 6/29/04

Photo of jim1904
3.18/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz into a pint. Slightly above cellar temp, I'd say about 58 degrees.

A - Copper-amber, a nice color. Jewel clear. Moderate head that disappears rapidly leaving behind almost zero lacing. Great color, disappointing head.

S - Corny, but in a good way. Malty and corny, with a faint whiff of spices that are not altogether wintery. Brown sugar is the most apparent, with a bit of allspice tinge.

T - The spices here are front and center, forming a series of flourishes against a malt backdrop. Strong amber malt notes are accompanied by the same spices in the nose... brown sugar is strong here, with hints of cinnamon and cardamom with a bit of clove. The disappointing thing is how fleeting they are. They rush on strongly in the front of the party, leaving a quinine-like finish that is not terrible, but certainly is jarring after a pleasantly strong spice foretaste.

M - Carbonation is strong, but works well. Body is light, bubbles are stinging. I might have preferred a slightly heavier, flatter body for a winter warmer, but this isn't bad.

D - Drinkable for a 6.9% ale... which is not what I'm sure I want out of a winter warmer. I'm in fairly sultry Southern California right now, but I'm trying to picture myself enjoying this on a cold wintery day, and it doesn't really work. Maybe if the spices were a bit stronger.

At the end of the day, this is a pretty good beer that doesn't live so much up to the style but is rather enjoyable when judged on its own merits.

Photo of djeffbee
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle from Winter Beer Swap 2008. Typical sexy Anderson Valley labels..

A - nice deep amber body, with a thin off white head.

S - it takes a good whiff to smell the dark caramel malts, with no real hop armoma noticeable.

T - Sweet, malty body, hop bitterness is balanced nicely, the finish falls off just a bit.

M - Smooth, pleasant, low carbonation.

D - Goes down easy, you really never see the 6.9 coming.

I enjoyed this, would def have another. Could prolly see purchasing a couple sixers more of this..

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

On-tap at the Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours brown with a full light tan head, nice lacing and retention, all around good looking beer.

S: On the milder side, but it has nice spice notes, some cinnamon.

T: Taste a lot like a gingerbread cookie on the first sip. Lots of dark bread and cake batter, spices are mild.

M: Medium-bodied, does not feel almost 7%, off-dry finish.

D: A real nice beer from Anderson Valley, I like it a lot more than the Summer Solstice, one of the best western winter beers.

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

Poured a clear golden brown color with a nice off white head that fades but laces nicely. Smells of fresh hops. Taste has a fruity hop bite but its very crisp and refreshing. Some good hop spices too, and finishes with a sweet malt flavor. No bad aftertaste from this beer goes down easy, very drinkable. Try it, one of the better winter beers.

Photo of jslot38
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Winter Solstice is a winter beer staple for me and my friends.

2008 Edition, Bottle to Tulip GuldenDraak Chalice.

Appearance: Strong pour produced a nice large, creamy, frothy off white head. The body colour is a nice light mahogany with cherry wood tones. Mild, sudsy lacing.

Smell: Very grainy, a bit resiny. A mild spiced note. Biscuit and bread. Doesn't overwhelm.

Taste: Mild notes of vanilla and spices, not overwhelming again, but stronger than in the smell. Biscuit malt and bread round out the flavor. Very basic ale, with a nice note of spices and vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Strong carbonation up front. Doesn't hold the tongue long. Not at all dry.

Drinkability: At 6.9% ABV you don't feel it all. Ok... maybe you would feel it after a few. But you certainly don't taste it.

A well done beer. Lends itself to a few, because Anderson Valley keeps it simple - not overpowering in the spice or vanilla, but they are there and well done.

Photo of bifrostguard
3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Clear, bright amber color with a off white head that quickly dissipates.

S - Very mild. Caramel malt and some spice. On the first whiff, I couldn't smell anything at all.

T - Also mild. Caramel malt, clove, nutmeg and a slight hop presence in the finish. Very slight.

M - Thin but enjoyable.

D - Mild and smooth. This is on the light end of the winter seasonal beers. I might like to come back to this one.

Photo of jwinship83
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- murky amber or light brown with occasional carbonation bubbles and a small tan head.

S- very spicy. reminds me of a trippel. lots of caramel.

T- mmmm caramel! thats about all i can taste, which isnt a bad thing. didnt notice any hops. maybe a touch of toffee.

M- light and well carbonated

D- i enjoyed the strong yet not over the top caramel taste of this. im sure i could handle a couple of these. the alcohol is well hidden. cant wait to try this one fresh!

Photo of maximum12
2.73/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to swnicholoson for throwing this into an excellent trade this spring!

I have never had a beer that smells like ass before. Interesting. It made me think about a drain-pour before the glass touched my virgin lips. Another first. This is the first time the smell of a brew has interfered with my enjoyment of said liquid.

Thank Zeus, the taste is nothing like the smell (although my wife recoiled in horror & poured her half into my pint glass). Taste very spicy, like cadmun & cinnamon & apple tizzy poured into a beer-like substance. Not something I want every day, but pleasant enough. I think a roaring fire & bearskin rug would make it better.

Hard to drink much of it, though. I can see why it's a 'winter warmer' as my belly is warming already. Huh. Not quite sure what to think of this one.

Photo of treyrab
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Figured I would try this one to close out the summer season...Poured into a pint glass...

A: Hazy copper with a one finger head that goes to a quick disk or foam. This one does not lace very well. Not a great looking beer, looks more like one of my homebrews.

S: The smell has tons of caramel and munich malt, as well as a hint of spice, but not so much for a winter warmer.

T: Wow is this sweet! This reminds me of drinking Cream Soda. Tons of caramel and vanilla in the flavor, and not much spice for a winter beer. This has a very strange finish of vanilla, perhaps from a vanilla extract.

Overall, this is a great attempt at a beer, though it has a strange finish. Give it a try if you're in the mood for something sweet.

Photo of ibashmuck
2.42/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Purchased as part of "build-your-own-six-pack" at local grocer. Medium head on an orange/amber/copper body. There's some sort of nasty funk in the smell...overpowers everything else. Slightly bitter, a touch sweet, maybe maple syrup. Too fizzy. The funk and fizziness were big turnoffs. May have to try another to see if that funk was a fluke.

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. A murky, caramel candy chew colored beer is dispensed. A slightly tanned, frothy and dense head forms on top of the beer. Nice.

Pleasant smell. Caramel, biscuit, even some spisiness like cinnamon, nutmeg, and even some juniper. Its weird to be drinking a Christmas type beer in the middle of July. Its good nonetheless.

More caramel and biscuit flavors with seasonal flavors as well. More of the typical juniper and cinammon spice.

I was very pleased with this. I didnt know what to expect since this beer is out of season, but it was a good beer. Nearly full bodied with perfect carbonation. Slightly slick on the tongue. I could have bought a case for $20 but had never had this before. I certainly would jump at the chance now!

Photo of dbalsock
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

App: Pours a dark amber/maroon with a fluffy and thick vanilla head. There's some lacing. The head is the best part, with it's hugeness and it's dense yet cloud-like appearance.

Smell: Alcohol, cherries and prunes all come out immediately with a hint of biscuit and no apparent hops for me.

Taste: Heavy biscuit with a fruit and hoppy aftertaste. The alcohol is present and mixes with some not so intense hop and strawberries on the swallow. It has a lot going on but seems to miss a final dimension that would tie it all together.

Mouthfeel: Thin, with ample carbonation and a slight bitterness that seems out of place. It's a little off in this department and could use more substance.

Drinkability: It's very quaffable for almost 7%, and goes down smooth. Despite all the fruity and sweet tastes, it's not cloying and I could easily have a couple pints in a row.

Photo of shirfan
3.48/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark and clear copper-brown, average head.

Smells like a holiday fruitcake with cinnamon and nutmeg in the background.

Taste is on the malty side, caramel flavor leads the way with something like candied pineapple behind it. Possibly some Marris Otter in here. Spices are strong but not overpowering with cinnamon being the major player.

High carbonation and a slightly alcoholic feel on the tongue deduct score from mouthfeel.

Drinkability is not bad for a winter warmer -- a good solid example without being memorable.

Photo of illidurit
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a nonic. Two fingers of head atop an extremely hazy body that's a little too light in color for the style.

Smells like apple pie beer, if that makes any sense. Lots of brown sugar/cinnamon sprinkled on a fruity base. Interesting but off-putting.

Tastes a lot like brown sugar with some caramel. Cinnamon is obvious, and again there's a chewy dark fruitiness.

Carbonation is way over the top, and to complicate things, the body is too light. This makes for poor mouthfeel and drinkability.

Photo of DavidSeanNJ
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- Nice dark ruby brown color, 2 finger creamy off white head. Very pleasing to the eye.

S- Smell was mostly of caramel followed by some fruits (apples, strawberry?- cant put my finger on it)

T- Caramel really comes through with some spice, but nothing overwpowering. "Jellylike" finish from the fruit flavors- Well balanced.

M- Mouthfeel was medium bodied. A little sticky from the sweetness.

D- A little too sweet to drink a few of these. Enjoyable and an excellent winter warmer.

Photo of baldycmu
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours an orangey/amber hazy color with limited tan head. Lacing is limited
S-Not much here, notes of caramel and winter spice, but you need to work to pick it out
T-An average winter warmer with notes of caramel clove, maybe nutmeg. The finish is slightly bready with a touch of hop flavor and is the best thing about it.
M/D- Smooth for a winter with limited alcohol taste for the 6.9%.

Not a bad beer, and certainly worth drinking once in a while.

Photo of prototypic
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: It's a bit hazy and brown to dark amber in color. Head is slightly off white and about two fingers deep. Very good retention and solid lacing.

Smell: Caramel-toffee malts shine initially. Sweet and malty. Secondary scents are dark fruit (nice plum aroma) and toasted nut. Cinnamon and slight nutmeg spices emerge. A little yeasty smelling. Hops are faint.

Taste: Caramel malts are sweet and really give it a nice base. Plum and spice flavors are very good and blend well. Toasted nut taste is present but not as apparent here. Slightly yeasty, but far from offensive. Hops emerge toward the end, but are barely noticeable.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's light bodied and very well carbonated. Extremely smooth and drinkable. ABV really lends itself to good drinkability. I'm really impressed with this beer. Certainly recommended.

Photo of csmiley
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Pours copper in color. With some effort I got a head that was just shy of half inch. Retention was good. Lacing was average.

S - Caramel and bread are first to come through on the nose. There is some spice in the background but it is mild. Smells like it could be cinnamon. Alcohol is present but so far in the background that it just becomes really hard pick up.

T - Caramel is the primary flavor that I'm getting. Mid taste is made up of spices (cinnamon and honey) and fresh cooked bread. There is a very small amount of hop bitterness on the end. Complexities start to show up as it warms giving it a much better balance of flavors.

M - Light bodied with good carbonation. Could be too light bodied for a 6.9% Winter Warmer.

D - It does go down very easy so the drinkability will get a good score. I've had this several times and I'll end up getting it again.

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

Actual (and funny) quote from the GF...
"It tastes like a candle. A Yankee candle"

This one pours a slightly hazy copper with red highlights.

Hard to pick out the aroma, even warming up it's rather mild.
A bit of sour apple, caramel apple. Then as it warms up, a wave of vanilla hits and doesn't relent. Vanilla galore! (maybe thats the candle the misses tasted?)

Sweet bread, cinnamon, allspice. Fruity esters. Very very smooth. Great mouthfeel. Not overly malty or anything, a real good drinker.

Aftertaste is great, makes me want another.

In all a very good winter warmer. Not killer alcohol, but it warms me up anyway. Smooth and just the right sweetness.

Photo of mountdew1
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into imperial pint glass. Color was a dark reddish brown that was basically translucent. Head was nonexistent, leaving just a thin layer which clung nicely to the sides. Smelled slightly malty with a hint of spice. Taste was slighty fruity sweet along with some sweet brown bread flavors. Felt outstanding in the mouth. Came through very smooth, clung just enough to everything. Very easy to drink, alcohol was well hidden.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,562 ratings.