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

1,396 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,396
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: 1,396 | Reviews: 675 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Dmann
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%

This was a good seasonal beer but by far the best. It poured a nice ruby reddish color with a very small head that left slight lace down the glass. The smell was faint, but was I could detect was a very pronounced spice scent with hints of malt as well. If you are a malt lover you will love this beer for sure, as that is the dominant flavor. There is also a light spice to it and some kind of slight citrus flavor as well, perhaps grapefruit. Also, despite being 6.9% they are very easy to drink. So grab a six'er and enjoy!

Dmann, Dec 23, 2003
Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.25/5  rDev -16.2%

A bright amber hue, with a thick off-white head delicately resting on top of the pint glass. Tough to detect, although appears to be some hop aroma beneath the gigantic head. Up front, rather fluffy, some honey and a bit of slick buttery feeling. Some sweet malts make it through, has a little warming feel. Winter spices are tucked away, very clean, a sweet malty finish. The flavors never gave way, and were masked, a real disappointment from an otherwise decent brewery.

GeoffRizzo, Dec 23, 2003
Photo of beergeek279
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color is a nice amber, with a thick, foamy white head. The smell is a nice mix of hops and malt. The taste is a fairly strong sweet malt with a bit of citrus hop taste to keep it from going overboard. Mouthfeel is smooth. Drinkability-wise, could definitely have a few.

Quite a good old ale. The malt is bold, and the hops provide a good balance. Delicious, and certainly one I'll have in the future.

beergeek279, Dec 16, 2003
Photo of crookedhalo
3.68/5  rDev -5.2%

2003 version. Pours a slightly hazy orangy copper color with a nice light tan head. Orange zest, vanilla, cocoa and malt dominate the aroma. Tastes rather vanillaey, with some orange and cocoa in the background. Almost comes across as a malt laden Creamsicle. Orange and vanilla, malt, cocoa; no hops noticable. Seems rather an odd beer. Silky mouthfeel. Enjoyable, but dissident.

crookedhalo, Dec 15, 2003
Photo of Admiraldinty
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%

I'm of two minds concerning this beer. On the one hand, it is rather unique, but on the other hand, it just doesn't do much for me. Pours a dark amber with a decent light tan head. Aroma is malty, some hops and a unique piney smell. Mouthfeel is rather flat. Starts with malt and vanilla and moves to pine and hops. Not too much of an aftertaste strangely enough. Don't know if I'll come back to this again.

Admiraldinty, Dec 15, 2003
Photo of Globetrotter
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%

2003 edition, hand-delivered from the U.S. to Moscow as part of a marvelous collection of winter brews that is making me pretty darn homesick. Poured a beautiful cloudy dark copper under a quite creamy off-white with orange tint 1.5 finger head with nice retention and good lace. The nose is fresh and spicey - definitely vanilla. The mouth is fairly flat and pretty light. The opening is dominated by malt and vanilla, followed by subdued hops. The dominant impression is vanilla ice cream throughout, leaving a very smooth impression. Lip-smacking good as dessert, this is not where I would go to make hopheads happy.

Globetrotter, Dec 14, 2003
Photo of edchicma
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%

Overall, a good brew. Smell, while initially tinny changed as the beer warmed. It became much fuller, with the spices becoming more evident. Nice strong malt presence with cinnamon? perhaps..very pleasing. Taste was similar to smell...very malty and full-bodied, alcohol presence notable on the finish. Mouthfeel was rich, dessert like...well balanced..slight dryness also in the finish..reminded me that hops and alcohol were present. Very drinkable for the abv. ANderson does a nice job with their brews. I am glad they are available on the east coast.

edchicma, Dec 13, 2003
Photo of tenorvoice0739
4.93/5  rDev +27.1%


This is definately a "Best in Show" type beer. Across the style categories, this brew is a Platinum award beer. The 2003 edition has been the best so far. It seems that Anderson Valley is paying close attention to the proportions of additives and truely working towards perfection of this important seasonal beer. What I mean is that over the years the beer has ebbed and flowed with many of its characteristics. Last year's version contained an overt vanilla signature that has receeded in this years glass. In this edition I sense more of the pleasant winter spices that are married to, and not in opposition of, the very sweet caramel malt.

This beer is not a rougue interpretation of style, but everything about it says "winter beer". Low carbonation, sweet, toasty malt, and a warming spirit finish contribute to it's adhearance to style and its distinction.

This beer is an example of a brewer's journey towards "getting it right". I have always judged winter ales in their unique addidtives. Many brewers can fail miserably and produce a beer that tastes like a Christmas tree. Balance is where Winter Solstice wins out.

This popular beer will be gone by January so drink up quickly.

tenorvoice0739, Dec 06, 2003
Photo of alexgash
3.53/5  rDev -9%

Pleasantly surprised to see this at the State store. Pours a rich amber with a light tan head. Smell contains trace malts, cinnamon and vanilla, along with some sprucy hops. Not too big though. Taste starts with some modest toasted malts with not much sweetness at all. Tangy, citrusy hops follow with a spicy vanilla backing. Finish is bitter with plenty of vanilla and some alcohol. I was hoping for better (it's no Jubelale), but it's not bad.

alexgash, Dec 05, 2003
Photo of Winter
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%

2003 release. Pours a hazy copper with a yellowish tan head. Aroma is rich in malt and spices, but could be a little stronger. Medium-bodied and creamy mouthfeel. Malty front gives way to a rewarding burst of flavor. Sweet spices, vanilla and cream all come forth. Some cinnamon perhaps also near the finish. I wish I knew what blend of unique spices they employ for this brew. The wicked combination results in something that I've never quite tasted before and is really intriguing. One of the most unique tasting and flavorful winter brews I've sampled in quite some time.

Winter, Dec 01, 2003
Photo of Rumrunner
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%

12oz. bottle. 2003 vintage.

Have they changed the recipe? I like this ale this year much more than I have in the past. The flavors seem to blend together better this year than in past years.

Pours a hazy copper. Not much of a head but decent lacing. The scents are sweet malts. Light caramel and crisp fruit and hop bite. I notice some mild floral qualities that help hold the aromas together.

The flavors blend together very nicely. Chewy and malty. A nice caramel gives this ale some sweetness. Heavy cream and vanilla. A few spices and some pepper. Even a slight peppermint stick for a fresh flavor. Hop bite is there but not harsh. Fruity and floral. There is a nice robust finish. The pepper returns with an oakiness. These final flavors make the holiday taste of the ale appear.

Mouthfeel is a tad slick. It is medium bodied and a touch syrupy. A very easy to drink ale. It is also smooth and velvety. I think this has evolved in to an excellent holiday sipping ale. My favorite year so far for this ale.

Rumrunner, Nov 25, 2003
Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.53/5  rDev -9%

The beer arrived at the table with a huge head which lasted from first sip to the last drop. The amber brown beer had an aroma of malt and spice along with sweet fruit. The flavor is sweet almost syrupy cheery as it warms with other fruits and spices. The balance between sweet and the dry finish is well done.

GCBrewingCo, Nov 25, 2003
Photo of Darkale
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%

Coppery-brown color, clear, with a tan head that is thin but resilient.

Slightly chewy in the mouth. Taste is bready and slightly caramelish, with hint of metal and smoke in the end. A bit of fruit, too.

Not my favorite winter beer, from a brewery that is also not my favorite. But, there are many who are fond of it, and I confess that I can't quite put my finger on exactly which part of this beer turns me off. Certainly worth a try.

Darkale, Nov 24, 2003
Photo of nomad
4.28/5  rDev +10.3%

2002 edition, aged 1 year, drank in 2003

Poured a very murky and browned umber color, not very attractive. It had no head or lace, and looked like it had gone toward flat.

Smelled of big piney scents, raisins, caramel, and grapefruit swirling about in a dance. Gave off fruity and yeasty esters similar to belgian ales, and soft woody scents came on with opening - these were unique and intriguing. Tasted of complex fruit and wood flavors, thin but layered, creating a blend of cherry, red apples, toffee, and cedar. The toasty malt has been greatly softened and the hops are majorly toned down, basically becoming ghosts of hop cone flavors and moderate-to-high alpha bitterness. This beer also had small nips of spicy cinammon, often tingling after the swallow in my throat. The creamy finish is soft and short, giving a nice cap to the drink.

Fairly thin mouthfeel, somewhat because of the aging’s depletion of the carbonation. I think I caught this beer before it would start diminishing; in other words, age it not a whole year, but maybe just a couple months.

nomad, Nov 22, 2003
Photo of HossMcGraw
4.18/5  rDev +7.7%

A big surprise for me. I was a little disappointed with Anderson Valley's Oatmeal Stout, but this one's a keeper. I commited the mortal sin of drinking this out of the bottle, so appearance and aroma get the benefit of the doubt. The taste is wonderful. I've never experienced a taste in beer like this before. It's basically the equivalent of a cinnamon roll with vanilla icing. Really great stuff. The drinkability suffers because of a thin mouthfeel and lack of any detectable carbonation. I'm still gonna be buying this one again.

HossMcGraw, Nov 20, 2003
Photo of Reidrover
3.35/5  rDev -13.7%

Ok bought in the 12 oz brown bottle..GoldMedal Winner apparently.
Nice enough beer poured into the pint glassdark amber/ruby red beer..slight haziness..nice creamy off white head.
Good aroma mostly malts though the spices do peek through.
The taste though while above average is not that good..its mostly maltiness with as liquorice style bitterness..it ends fast to..then theres an alkoholic warmth in the throat.
IT is as it says very creamy and smooth on the front of the palate..somewhat dry on the back..then the alcoholic aftertaste.
Its a drinkable ale..ok but sort of lightweight despite the alcohol volume..not very exciting.

Reidrover, Nov 19, 2003
Photo of rkhaze
3.88/5  rDev 0%

2003 release. Pours a red/amber with a beautiful large, dense creamy tan head. Malt, caramel, spices and an under-ripe pineapple fruitiness in the nose.
Sweet, malty,creamy orange toffee taste with a hint of vanilla and some nuttiness. Lightly tangy and tart with a mild hop spiciness.
Medium bodied with tongue tingling carbonation.
Kind of subtle for a Winter Ale but another fine product from AVB nonetheless.

rkhaze, Nov 19, 2003
Photo of dmarch
4.45/5  rDev +14.7%

Amber in color and actually some pink hues. Pretty sweet. Lots of fruity character along with some caramel. A very slight piney hop character as well, but the fruitiness just blows me away. I think this is one of the best Anderson Valley beers I've had. Very flavorfull, yet not overpowering.

dmarch, Nov 15, 2003
Photo of Gusler
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%

Release (2003)
The color as it sets in the glass a translucent deep mahogany color with an elephantine sized head that is bubbly in texture and the color a winsome light tan with the lace a thick and concealing curtain upon the glass. Nose is sweet malt, hints of the hop flower, buttery with a bit of tartness to back it up; start is lightly sweet and the top middling in its feel to the palate. Finish is good-humored in its acidity, the hops unexcessive in their spicy bite, sweet and dry aftertaste, once again a fine drinkable beer and one I look forward to each Fall & Winter.

Release (2002)
Deep copper in color, the head is modest in size, frothy in texture, light tan in color but dissipates quite quickly leaving behind a fine clinging sheet of lace. The nose has a sweet start, buttery and nice underlying malt tones, with the start malt and sweet, the top skimpy in feel. Hops candid in their spicy bite with the carbonation moderate and the aftertaste dry, and a decent drinking beer, quite refreshing.

Gusler, Nov 08, 2003
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%

This beer pours with a nice tan colored head. It is a deep ruby color. There is an interesting fruity aroma with some notes of cherry and Brandy wafting from the glass. There is a very interesting raisin/ maraschino cherry flavor up front in this beer. A taste in the finish that I can't quite place, almost medicinal in character, faintly reminiscent of cough syrup. Definitely a fruity beer, as this is the predominant flavor.

Gueuzedude, Oct 27, 2003
Photo of Mustard
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%

Presentation: 12oz. brown bottle; no "best before" or "bottled on" warning; no ABV %; purchased as part of a ten brew pack of "Winter Beer" (vel sim.) for $14.99 from the Cost Plus down on Santa Monica and Westwood.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, ruddy copper; crystal clear; thick, fat, off-white head; a healthy d-cup's worth of lace; very good head retention.

Aroma: Strongly of toffee, caramel and sweet malt; discernibly spicy; hints of earthy type hops.

Taste: Phenolic; firm, blunt toffee malt profile upfront and throughout; just enough bitterness in the finish to balance things out; fairly peppery with notes of coriander and nutmeg; thick, almost foamy, mouthfeel.

Notes: A tad disappointing; decently tasty, to be sure, but somehow I feel as though the whole thing doesn't quite work as well as it should.

Mustard, Oct 10, 2003
Photo of Elemental
3.45/5  rDev -11.1%

I thought this was an ok winter seasonal but didn't seem to hold up to the some quality that I expect from Anderson Valley, although I would like to try it again to make sure.

Ok color that is a reddish brown with a thin sheet of foam that quickly disapates. The smell with slightly spicy and slightly hoppy but not much in the way of malt aroma. The taste was alright but was a little to sweet and not well balanced. Lacking in the malt. The hops were fine as well as the spice taste. I might give this one another try when I get a chance.

Elemental, Oct 03, 2003
Photo of jdhilt
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%

Poured with a small white head that stays, leaving no lace. Almost little carbonation. Clear ruby color. Nose is malt and spices. Starts with an sweet and slightly spice taste, finishes with a spice that I can't identify. Medium bodied. Unknown brew date but it tastes fresh.

jdhilt, Sep 11, 2003
Photo of hotstuff
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%

Dayton, OH AleFest:The appearance of this beer consisted of a small sized tan head with fine-small sized bubbles that quickly dissipated.The body was clear and uncarbonated.This beer's hue was amber and it had a malty and spicy nose.It had a sweet and a light bitter flavor to it and the palate was light-medium bodied and smooth.This beer left good lacing on the sides of my glass.

hotstuff, Aug 27, 2003
Photo of taez555
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%

2002 vintage

This beer poured a creamy white head with a dark brown/reddish but very translucently clear body. It makes sence if you look at it. :-)

The nose was a very inviting sweet malty smell. Alcohol, soft touches of spice, soft fruit, hard fruit candy.

This beer starts very sweet and malty with a beautiful mix of spices, toffee, hard fruity candy, corriander and some earthy woody hops. What catches you off guard though is the ending. It ends with an attack of hop bitterness. Grapefruit, citrus peel. Honestly it's like thetaste after you eat a grapefruit. That tart sort of dry bitterness.

Overall it's a really nice beer. Not quite what I was expecting from a winter beer. It's like a winter beer crossed with a toned down, but seriously, citrus IPA.

taez555, Aug 25, 2003
Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,396 ratings.