Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

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very good

1,558 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,558
Reviews: 691
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.18%
Wants: 61
Gots: 125 | 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: 1,558 | Reviews: 691 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of zeff80
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a copper/burgandy color with a one-finger, tan head. It didn't leave much lacing.

S - It smelled of malt, spice and vanilla.

T - It was fairly malty and spicy. It also had a sweet, bready-quality.

M - It was relatively soft and creamy.

D - A pretty good beer. An interesting blend of flavors and tastes.

Photo of brewcrew76
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


A - Pours a deep brown with ruby highlights and a thin off white head with a bit of lacing.

S - Sweet malt, caramel and toffee with hints of vanilla. This smells like a rich, sweet piece of warm melted candy. I am not a big sweets fan but I enjoy this aroma.

T - Sweet, rich caramel and toffee, carmelized sugar, toasted marshmellows and vanilla with just the lightest touch of gingerbread. All the flavors blended together create a cream soda quality. I would imagine this is a candy lovers dream.

M - Full and creamy with light carbonation.

D - This beer has winter written all over it. A very unique tasty beer that is sweet but not cloying but not enjoying sweets or candy I could probably only have 1-2 per sitting.

Photo of BattleRoadBrewer
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at about 38F into a standard pint glass from a 2006 vintage 12 oz amber bottle.

Aroma at the bottle was mild, slightly yeasty.

Pour was attractive, a medium dark brownish amber, somewhat cloudy, with light tan head having fine bubbles and leaving good lacing on the glass.

Aroma in the glass is sweet caramel, mildly spiced.

First taste is vanilla and carmel with a fair malt backbone. No hint of hoppiness, bitterness is perfect for the style.

Mouthfeel is slightly thin, not as filling as expected for a winter beer. Refreshingly light. Very smooth with fine carbonation.

As it warms, vanilla starts to dominate, along with more bitterness, loses its balance.

Drinkability is superb for the style. This is a very smooth, sweet, candy-like, drinkable beer without being at all cloying, heavy, or overspiced. A good, light winter spiced ale.

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

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, beer is an orange-copper color with a robust off-white head. Smell is of dates, grapefruit, juniper and spice. Taste is sweet, with the juniper and spice coming through nicely with a marshmallow like finish. Alcohol is well hidden. Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied with a creamy carbonation. This is a very drinkable beer and definitely fits the profile of a winter warmer.

Photo of dpool
4.43/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Cherry wood color with a nice head

Smell: Smells like the holidays; cinnamon and nutmeg

Taste: Great taste, soft with a hint of sweetness

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and makes your pallate want more

Drinkability: I would drink this beer all year round if it was available and its light enough to have a few.

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

A: Red/brown, beautifully thick and cloudy. Head fades rather quickly.

S: Like Christmas. Wonderful. Is it caramel or ginger bread or graham crackers?

T: Nice. The caremel really comes out but not too much.

M: Full-boddied and creamy.

D: I like this beer. I get it as a gift from a friend in CA every winter and always enjoy it. It's a great beer for a nice cool winter evening or with Christmas dinner.

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

Pours a deep ruby-amber in color, with good (moderate) visible carbonation. Nose offers loads of sweet malt, a trace of hop bitterness, and a bit of diacetyl (but not out of style). A full off-white head of medium duration, comprised of small, tight bubbles allows some respectable lace to prsent itself. Mouthfeel is quite smooth and creamy, and body is medium-full. Toffee and light candy flavors dominate, sweet yet tangy, but with a rather dry finish and only a residual hop bitterness. I was once told that this is brewed using Belgian Candy Sugar (and the label reads "ale brewed with natural flavor") so who knows? The website doesn't give away any secrets, either. Nor does the beer provide any evidence of its ample strength; the 6.8% here drinks so easily and smoothly that you'll swear it's an ordinary beer, but it's not. The alcohol really sneaks up on you after a couple.

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

A: The ale is an amber color that allows hints of red and orange to come through. The head came in small on pour and quickly disappeared.

S: The aroma is fairly inert when the ale is cold. As it warms, it picks up a dry, somewhat tart cherry scent.

T: The ale's body continues the cherry presence. It is not maraschino, more of a black cherry flavor that has a bit of tartness and a pleasant strong sweetness. The cherry flavor dominates the taste, nothing else emerges spice-wise, but the cherry is not too sweet or too tart.

M: A nice take on the winter warmer style with the black cherry flavor replacing nutmeg and cinnamon.

D: The ale is a nice alternatve to the over-spiced ales that are so prevalent. The moderate abv provides a nice warming sensation that should be perfect for a cold January day.

Photo of abcsofbeer
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 2006 batch with no drink by date on the bottle. The color is a reddish amber that is slightly cloudy. It is topped by a very nice 2 finger head, off-white in color, that leaves very nice rings of lace.

The aroma is something that I am going to stick with, cherry sweetroll. I also am detecting sweet caramel malt too.

The taste is nice and sweet malted with very little hop flavor. The flavor is sweet and sour from a nice blend of malts and some grains. I also taste some sweet breadiness too. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and flavorful.
A pretty decent seasonal.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured amber with a huge creamy head that quickly faded leaving some nice lace down the sides. Smell was hoppy with sweet caramel undertones and a slight smell of alcohol. The taste was extremely sweet. Almost tasted like candy. Dry hopped finish, but still very sweet. Overall this is very drinkable, but a bit too sweet to be really drinkable.

Photo of dirtylou
4.15/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pint, on tap at Maduro, 3$ during happy hour

appearance: dark garnet body, fairly clear appearance, creamy beige head with pretty decent lacing

smell: cream soda, vanilla, graham crackers, light spiced alcohol, caramel...nice inviting aromas

taste: I remember having this a few years ago and liking it and was glad to see that I still did...cream soda with vanilla ice cream, vanilla bean, medium caramel malts, root beer...very tasty

mouthfeel: super smooth and creamy

drinkability: very drinkable

Photo of warmstorage
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, states 6.9% ABV, 2006 vintage.

Pours a bright, deep amber into bell pint glass. Big medium dense light tan head leaves significant lacing.

Aroma is vanilla, spice, a little warm alcohol.

Taste is vanilla, toasty wood, and spice, perhaps a little cinnamon. Alcohol is present but far from overwhelming.

Mouth is slightly creamy, and pleasant, a little slick.

It's very, very easy to drink, despite how sweet it is. It's good, not amazing, but a good example of a spiced winter warmer. I'd buy it again.

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

My first winter warmer...and a very pleasant experience at that! It was initially difficult to get a head off of it, even with a hard pour, though it eventually came through. Decent retention, but minimal lacing. Dark reddish translucent color. I couldn't pick the flavor out on this one: it was sweet, with a bit of licorice, chocolate, coffee, doughy, and perhaps some other spices I couldn't pick out... Very little hops: hardly bitter at all. It was very smooth going down and had good carbonation. Overall a fairly good beer!

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

2006 edition.
pours a buitiful amber with a off white head that is very rocky and has sustain.
the aroma is malty but soft hints of hop spice and other spices with a wiff of fruit cake.
the flavor is rich and malty, has a wounderful citrus, this beer has a great mouthfeel it coats the inside of your mouth with carmelized malt like a good winter seasonal should!

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

Attractive mahogany color with little head but nice enough lacing.

Good malt characteristics with berry notes and a spice/hop background.

With hardly any hop characteristic on first taste, this is a beer almost entirely driven by malt and spices. There are almost some wine/tannic qualities about it, especially in the finish. A slight sweetness on the front of the palate with a hop bitterness about it in the finish. The spicy hints are intertwined with some decent bready flavors; remeniscent of a Belgian dark ale.

The taste doesn't "wow" me and while the mouthfeel is nice enough I just can't see myself going out of my way to buy this again.

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

I bought a single of this one just to compare it to the six-pack of 2005's that I had accidentally (but happily) purchased. It wasn't nearly as good as those, but it was okay: Pours a slightly hazy orange-brown with a creamy head that NEVER disappears. The aroma was sweet, but pretty mild with a fairly distinct fruitiness. The fruitiness continues into the palate with a nice raisin flavor. There is also a nice wine-like tanginess here, along with a mild citrusy hoppiness and a touch of toffee roastiness, particularly in the finish.

Nice, but not anywhere near as good as the aged examples, though it did have a nicer hop bite and more enduring head. But the 2005, having more time to mature and develop, was more complex, deeper in flavor and just plain better tastier. I'd highly recommend you go a grab a six-pack, age it for a year and enjoy.

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

Today is December 22, the first day of winter and the solstice, so what better beer to drink. I've been saving on of these for the purpose of doing a review of this beer on this day.

According to the bottle and the Anderson Valley website, this beer had received a lot of accolades so I have high hopes. I let this sit on the counter, from the fridge for half an hour its probably around the right temperature, a big factor in exposing the spices in the winter warmers.

Poured into a pint glass, this beer is a clear amber with some orange highlights. Lots of bubbles rising, though not a very big head, it falls to a cap of foam very quickly.

Smells of hints of spice and a little vanilla, quite caramelly. Nothing huge though.

Tastes of amber malts, a lot of vanilla, a little citrus and a little spice in the finish. There's a very slight hop bitterness as well, just a little nudge at the end. Tasty, though a tad subdued. This almost seems like a spicy variation on the Summer Solstice.

Very nice mouthfeel, its got a wonderful smooth creaminess to it.

This is a pretty drinkable beer, though I doubt its a sessioner. Another solid release from Anderson Valley, its not my favorite winter warmer, but its a good choice.

Photo of orfeu
4.43/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Obscure amber with a modest, dusky sand colored head. Slow rising carbonation. Looks "heavy" for some reason. Nutmeg and cinnamon scents lurk behind a pleasantly surprising west coast citrus blossom aroma. Some sugary malt comes forward in the smell, too. Nice mixture of scents! Vanilla and caramel take front stage in the taste, with some spicy nasturtium-esque floral hop flavors that weave back and forth between citrus and spice. Cheerfully light-to-medium body, just a tad slippery but overall smooth mouthfeel. This is an eminently quaffable beer, any time of year. Label claims that this one is a gold medal winner of some sort, and I'm inclined to agree with whoever judged that competition. Easily one of my favorite winter seasonals!

Photo of MiScusi
3.35/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

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.

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

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.

Photo of aleyeast
2.5/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

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.

Photo of smcolw
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of SixpointJMH
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

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

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.

Photo of tempest
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,558 ratings.