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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

1,638 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,638
Reviews: 716
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 13.92%
Wants: 58
Gots: 173 | 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

Winter Solstice® is our take on the classic style of “winter warmer.” Boasting a deep amber hue and rich mouthfeel, its creamy finish will lift your spirits. Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,638 | Reviews: 716
Photo of BlackBearForge
3.74/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My first Anderson Valley beer, Winter Solstice pours a deep reddish copper, bright and clear with a big white foamy head which leaves some creamy but slippery lacing as it falls.

I don't pick up a lot of aroma but sweetish caramel malts come through.

The flavor is interesting, this may be the most caramel forward beer I've had. Buttery sweet caramel malts with hints of fruity esters, perhaps pear, maybe some golden raisins, a hint of orange and candy corn. The finish dries out just a bit with a faint hint of bitterness and a touch of alcohol.

I think this beer probably comes up a bit short in the mouthfeel, it's on the light side while it seems like it should be firmly medium at least and perhaps a tad watery. It's light, smooth and slick which probably enhances it's drinkability.

Winter Solstice is quite drinkable, it's just not overly memorable. With a bit more dimension in the flavor and a beefed up mouthfeel I think it would be a much better beer. I'm glad I tried it, I feel it may grow on me more as I finish the six pack. You could easily drink several of these with no palate fatigue.

Photo of argock
3.84/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a clear pint glass at Beer Run (Charlottesville, VA) for $5.

A: Plum-colored with short cap of off-white head with a few lace formations.

S: Strong berry-cherry aroma with sweet malt and a light herbal hoppiness. Vanilla is also in there.

T: The fruity, berry character is most prominent with a cherry and light herbal character accented by vanilla.

M: Medium-to-full bodied with low carbonation and a creamy, somewhat chewy feel.

D: A good warmer that is a little too berry sweet but not bad at all with some interesting vanilla and earthy hops flavor.

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

Sticky sweet malt with scents of toffee. Pours an amber brown with a two finger head.

Nuttiness and caramel dominate the maltiness. Toasted notes come through with some light bitterness. Malt is definitely the star with support from a an attempted hop balance. There is a sweet aftertaste along with a warming effect from the alcohol. There is a dry finish that is a little messy; slightly imbalance.

Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated and thin. Drinkability is complex and enjoyable, however I probably wouldn't have more than a couple in a session.

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

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2009 vintage.

A: Deep red body with a two finger head.

S: Sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.

T: Holy crap. The guy at Pizzeria Paradiso was right. This does taste just like a graham cracker. That's pretty much all there is to say.

M: Pretty creamy.

D: A delightful holiday ale. Thumbs up.

Photo of TLove
3.72/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tried as part of a 6 pack taster of winter warmers. I doubt I'll get around to reviewing them all, though.

12 oz bottle to Chimay goblet.

This one was a nice, amber color with a bit of a watery structure, 1 finger head and decent retention and light lacing. Strong hints of nutmeg and licorice. A bit sweet in the mouth, with some hints of citrus and a nice hoppy malt structure. Spices not dominant in this beer, but nicely balanced nonetheless. Finishes well and quite drinkable.

Photo of Lambstrong
4.47/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark copper hue. About a 1/8 thick off-white head that slims down after you let the beer warm up to optimal temperature. Great lacing and the foam sticks more to the edges of the glass then the middle of the beverage.

Aroma: Sweet, liquorish notes dominate.

Taste: Again, liquorish, however, not sure if it anise. Subtle notes of chocolate. There may be a bit of orange in there, but too little to make out completely.

Mouthfeel: silky smooth. The beer gives a nice warmth and carbonation is nicely kept down.

All in all a stellar winter beer. I really liked how the added spices didn't over dominate this beer, as some winter brews tend to go a little overboard.

Photo of spencerw
3.3/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - This brew poured an orange, brownish in color with a 1 inch foam head that lingered for a minute or two. It appearance was very dense.

S - Sweet edge of moderately spicy. It has a citrus, caramel tone that is very obvious. Very malty.

T - The taste was darn good however very sweet and malty. It tasted like a sweet caramel, much stronger than the smell. Very little hop tone yet a sliver of a kick mid drift.

M - Full body, thick, filling yet smooth and fairly refreshing.

D - Not sure this is a beer I would session with. It's a little t sweet and filling for me. It's a good beer, but nothing I'll run around trying to find again.

Photo of noslenwerd
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Day 3, beer 3/365

A: An orangey to light copper color. Nice lace down the glass the whole way

S: Not much smell to it, a little bit of a sweet smell

T: This REALLY hit the spot as far as taste goes. To me the first thing that hits you is a butterscotch taste, and as soon as it hits your throat to me you get a strong "cream soda" type of flavor, but its not overpowering. Just right.

Summary: Overall this has been on of my favorite seasonal ales without a doubt. I would have to say my favorite Christmas ale for sure (admittedly I have not had many up to this point)

Photo of ocelot2500
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dark amber color with a ragged tan head that fades slowly. Plenty of lacing on the glass.

Smells of caramel malt. A sweet butterscotch like smell.

Tastes of the malty sweetness with light spices on top. Again, a butterscotch taste with a bit of a brown sugar flavor. A little caramel as well. The spices are akin to nutmeg. Alcohol comes through to warm as well. Tastes thin though, would like a little more spice and the malts could be bigger.

The mouthfeel is a medium-light and I would like it to be a bit fuller, although the amount of carbonation is appropriate.

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

12 ounce bottle poured into a Piraat glass.

This is a bottle from 2007 I found in my cellar...two years old.

Appearance is a reddish-brown, lightly transparent...with a strong head that slowly descends and sticks well to the sides of the glass.

Smells of cinnamon, bitter chocolate, brown sugar, dark malts, hard candy.

Taste is pretty good after two years. This is one of my favorite winter wamers...and it has stood up pretty well. Tastes of winter spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove), mint, orange peel, some chocolate in the background...malt heavy, for sure...though there is a nice hoppy bitterness within the flavor, as well.

Overall, a great beer...and perfect for the early onslaught of cold temperatures here in Ohio...I am looking forward to this year's batch.

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....

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,638 ratings.