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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

1,629 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,629
Reviews: 714
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: 1,629 | Reviews: 714 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of nrpellegrini
3.88/5  rDev 0%
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
3.76/5  rDev -3.1%
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
3.99/5  rDev +2.8%
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
2.62/5  rDev -32.5%
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
3.66/5  rDev -5.7%
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
2.35/5  rDev -39.4%
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
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
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
3.21/5  rDev -17.3%
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
4.23/5  rDev +9%
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
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
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
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
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
3.88/5  rDev 0%
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.

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

2007 version 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Amber with hints of orange and yellow through the body. Frothy head dissipates quickly than I wanted with little retention, though it has a bit of staying power above the glass.

Smell: Lots of balanced spice and creaminess, bread, dough, toasted nuts. A bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, caramel and vanilla. Not as much roasted malt as I imagined, which is actually nice and lets the sweeter and spicier side of the brew come out quite well, yet the citrus from the hops are coming in enough so there's not so much to overwhelm the senses in sweetness.

Taste: I like how at near 7% ABV this beer masks the alcohol extremely well, as there's hardly a hint of it. I think that's due to the balance of all the flavors from the malt and the subtle spices working their magic. Cookie dough, bread, nutmeg, slight vanilla, cream, banana, dark berries, caramel, and finishing with a subtle burst of citrus from the hops to provide a long and fairly complex finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and creamy without being overbearing or cloying.

Drinkability: A good winter warmer and one that I'll be coming back to. Enough complexity without overdoing it, and unlike the brewery says on their website, this should be consumed at a warmer temperature from the start, since so much more comes through when it warms.

Photo of animal69
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

i saw "solar powered brewery" and figured i'd do one for the environment ; pours a med. hazy copper-brown color w/ all manner of particles floating around, a thin, off-white head which dissipates quickly leaving a little bit of lacing in my pint ; not a powerful smell, caramel malts and citrus hops up front w/ notes of vanilla and spice throughout ; a sweet taste loaded w/ darker malts and spices, i'd guess they used everything on the shelf in this one, vanilla, caramel, some ginger/cinnamonish spices, honey/maple, not unpleasant at all however ; a surprisingly light beer, though the sweetness makes it appear thicker, good co2 as well ; not a bad beer, though they get a bit cloying after awhile...

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

poured from 12oz. bottle into a dimpled mug

A: This is a gorgeous beer, rich & inviting, it looks like melted toffee or caramel, and has a huge fluffy off-white head that leaves a decent amount of lacing along the walls of the mug.

S: This beer smells like winter, roasted winter, lol. The aroma of roasted beans and baking bread are nearly overwhelming, with just the right hint of nuttiness and pine needles.

T/M: Very sweet, not as nutty or roasted as the smell would indicate. Cookies and shortbread dominate, coupled with butterscotch and maybe a smidgen of maple syrup, and the only bitterness comes in the form of a well-balanced toasted finish. Perfectly carbonated with a slick mouthfeel and a lingering almost cloying finish.

D: The overall sweetness might turn some off, but if a semi-spiced nutty ESB-styled ale is your bag, you'll love this.

Photo of BeerSox
3.32/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into nonic

Deep slightly hazy copper hue with a one finger light tan head that slowly settles to a thin cap. The lacing isn't that sticky.

The aroma is very malty and sugary, with a strong caramel overtone. Some of the alcohol also pokes through. A little bit of spice is also in there.

Very sugary flavor, but also thin bodied. This gives it the feel like it's soda more than a beer. It's overall malty, not much hop flavor in there.

I found this one to be somewhat average, with the flavors being pretty one-sided, and the alcohol to be somewhat harsh for its amount. It's a little on the sweet side too.

Photo of dudeandhisrug
3.33/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I received this beer in a sampler from Xmas. I was excited to try my first taste from Anderson Valley but unfortunately was disappointed. This was an average brew. The color and smell were above average but the taste and overall drinkability lacked what I was looking for on a cold January evening. I will definately try Anderson Valley again because I only hear positive things from this progressive brewery.

Photo of theformula
3.77/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer #13 in my 366 Days of Beer Quest, tasted on 1/13 @ Capital Ale House in Richmond.

A: Poured a dark copper body into a pint glass. A smallish, dense off-white head has decent retention, nice lacing around the glass.

S: Great aroma. Rich, ripe fruits like cherry and apple are at the forefront. Dark roasted malts give off some grain, caramel and black pepper spice.

M: Light body, crisp carbonation. A little hard and thin yet easy drinking.

T: Where's the fruit? Sounds like an odd mantra, but I'm missing a lot of the great fruit character that the aroma promised. Most of what comes through is the black pepper spice, lightly smoked, bready malts and a subtle oak/wood note as well.

D: A tasty W.W., and a little different than what I was expecting. I wish the fruit was stronger in the taste, as the body was a bit bitter and one dimensional. Tasty enough though and a welcome beverage to ward off the chill. Recommended.

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

I've enjoyed this winter offering for a number of years. It's subtle, lower abv for a winter brew, and a little different. I've always liked the mild hazlenut flavor in front of a warm fire. Pours amber with a fluffy head that fades to a ring. Smells fruitcake like with mixed fruit, winter spices, hazlenut, and cream. Taste is similar. Very creamy, lightly spicy, and nice hazlenut flavors throughout. Creamy and easy to drink. Recommended for something a little different.

Photo of Slynger
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a color on the light side of copper with just a slight haze. A small off-white head quickly slips down to leave some nice lacing around the rim of my glass.
Nice smell to this one. Sweet and spicy. The upfront sweetness consists of caramel malts and brown sugar followed by some spiced cinnamon and sugar spiced apples. Very nice.
There is a nice medium body to this brew that is both buttery and creamy, but the taste does not quite deliver what the nose suggested. Sweet caramel malts and honey flavors along with some cinnamon, ginger, and other light winter spices. Where's the fruit?
I really think this one could have been great. Some sweet red and tart green apples would have really fit in nicely. Instead the flavor slips closer to average.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,629 ratings.