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

dark amber with a little off-white head. Aromas of nutty malt and vanilla. Flavors of caramel malt , vanilla, oak, and a little holiday spice. Medium bodied, and a little more subtle than previous year's editions. This one could beg further samples throughout the winter. It might not have a "warming" quality, but it sure does have a mellow, comforting one.

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

2007 winter solstice... reddish amber with an off white head that held pretty well and left georgeous lace. nose had hints of caramel, cocoa and roasted malt. taste was well balanced with a slight hoppy backbone and a nice cocoa finish. medium body and a nice, smooth drink. another great brew from one of my old favorites.

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

I poured this outstanding beer into my tumbler at 50 degrees. The beer was red looking and had a nice beige head. The smell was hoppy and fresh and smelled like vanilla. The tase was smooth and a little sweet but not too much. A littlew buter nut tasting was also evident. This is one of the most interesting brews I have ever drank. You MUST try it and I will certainly buy again.

Photo of tapman
4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Perhaps the best surprise of the winter season 2007.

Appears a dark brown with ruby accents. The color of the beer is dark and there is a degree of unfiltering. The head retention is excellent and pours a 1 1/2 fingers, brown eggshell in color and melts down to a thin film that remains for the duration of the drink. Mouthwateringly beautiful.

Aroma is of chocolate and caramel malts with hints of toffee and brown sugar. The hops are spicy and tangy and are reminiscent of a mixure of different American cascade hybrid hops.

Everything that is in the smell is present in the taste so I don't think I need to write it again. However, also present are notes of licorice, nutmeg, and allspice not found in the nose. Hops are also a bit spicier than in the nose which gives this beer an amber ale character. Also is a bit of astringency in the aftertaste, probably due to high hop resins. Not horrible, but a small price to pay for the high hop and high malt that finds a balance without overpowering each other.

Mouthfel is decent, but there is a sticky dryness in the finish, and not a good, wine-like one. Body is full and the texture is pleasing so I don't mind it too much.

A very delicious and unique beer. Definitely worth a try if your looking for a great winter beer. Not much of a session brew, but what are you going to do.

Photo of dsa7783
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First ever brew from Anderson Valley and I am very impressed. For a winter warmer this hits the nail directly on the head. This is everything a winter warmer should be. A near perfect rendition of the style. Nice burgundy red appearance with slight frothy head. Leads to a caramel and bready smell. Taste strongly compliments the aroma. Brown sugar like sweetness leaves a malty and bready finish that lingers on the palate. Def recommended.

Photo of Atlas1
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the better winter warmers on the market, the Winter Solstice is a fine brew. Had it last year and wasn't disappointed; I imagine this year (2007) will be similar.

Pours a nice amber/brown color with ruby hues on the edges, with a fat creamy slightly off-white head. Thick lace chunks left on the sides of the glass. The nose is malty with a heavy lean toward dark fruit, but nothing really stands out all that much. Maybe banana. With some maple. It's nice; not too strong, but pleasant enough for the drinker to take notice. The taste is rich and malty, with a slight dark fruit presence, along with that banana sensation again. Some vanilla. Faint hop kiss at the end, but nothing worth writing home about. Mouthfeel is smooth and borderline creamy. Not bad.

I like this beer. It's a smooth winter warmer. Sometimes, the style comes across as way too spicy, but this is gentle and unassuming. But it still delivers. It's a hard line to walk, but Anderson Valley has managed to find the right blend for the style. A job well done.

Photo of ffejherb
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 release. 12oz. bottle into pint glass on 12/26/07.

A - Poured a clear ruby red body with mahogany tones and one-finger rocky beige head. Lots of bubbles of active carbonation. Pretty good head retention with spotty lacing.

S - Rich malty nose with sweet caramel, chocolate and bready/toasted malts. Faint herbal hops in the background. Traces of fruit, anise, cinnamon and winter spices. Reminds me of gingerbread cookie dough.

T - Lots of subtle flavors combining here, making for a very tasty winter ale. Starts off a bit spicy with a mix of winter spices, followed by a delicate caramel and chocolate sweetness. Finishes up with a robust, bready malt flavor and some more chocolate and gingerbread.

M - Medium body with an exceptionally smooth, creamy texture. Soft carbonation with a minimal prickle factor. Finish is sweet and smooth on the palate.

D - This is an extremely tasty brew that's easy to drink. Much more subtle than other winter ales I've had. Very nice blend of malts and spices. It will warm you up on a chilly winter evening.

Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was the 2007 edition, enjoyed one night after this years' winter soltice. Poured amber with a light brown half finger head. Smelled of yeast. Taste was hoppy, warm yet snappy slight citrus wheat-beer like presence with fruit rind and spice, maybe coriander. The bitterness was well balanced with a malty finish. Overall, I could have used a few more of these, thanks Jan and Cheryl.

Photo of Risser09
2.75/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a wine glass - 2007 vintage - Poured at cellar temperature

Appearance: this ale pours a transparent brown color with some red highlights. The head reaches one inch in height and has an ivory color. It fades within a minute and leaves no lace on the glass.

Smell: Malty in aroma, with some barely discernable spices. They are cinnamon and allspice. Not much more to say for the aroma.

Taste: Peppery and woody. Cedar and nutmeg are the main flavors. Malt fills up th rest of the flavor profile. No hop presence to speak of. Sweet malt sugar rounds out the finish.

Mouthfeel: Sugary and malty. Not much other flavor. Thin to medium bodied with medium carbonation and not much alcohol presence. Sort of warming.

Drinkability: I generally dislike winter warmers, and I generally dislike this beer. There's not much to really appreciate. It doesn't stand out in any category. I'm not really sure what makes it a Christmas beer. It's not horrible but it's certainly below average. Not my cup of tea....err beer.

Photo of jwc215
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Wasatch for this one...

Pours slightly clouded/hazed orange-amber with a thin head that becomes a lasting, swirling patch.

The smell is of caramel and juicy fruits.

The taste is of caramel/toffee with warming spiciness (and cinnamon?). A nice fruity hop backing is there, adding depth and balance to the sweet maltiness. Mild alcohol warms, but does not interfere.

Reaches full-bodied. Silky smooth. Malty flavor lingers.

Very drinkable for style. A tasty winter treat!

Photo of budgood1
4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours out a deep and dark ruby colour... thin tight head, with some minimal lace. sweet candy aroma...a bit of fruitcake and fig... some vanilla, rose petals, and a hint of choco/caramel. x-mas spice accented vanilla bean, chocolate pudding with plenty of caramel malt and milky way cocoa notes. ghostly cinnamon, nutmeg and anise... sweet, bordering on cloying at times, but with a just enough hopping and alcohol spice to get over the hump to have a flowery, warming, satisfying finish. despite what other reviewers have opined, it seems to me that this holiday treat has a nice, ample, full figured body with a somewhat smooth and velvety mouthfeel to boot. finishes sweet and a bit boozy. drinkability is great for the style because i find myself really enjoying this concoction as it warms a bit, accentuating all the nuances that otherwise i might find annoying in other x-mas/spiced themed ales.

so today is the winter solstice...and i thought that this would be the perfect beer to review. it's obvious that this offering is a holiday spiced x-mas ale of some sort, and not necessarily a true winter warmer or winter ale. nonetheless, i find it to be one the more outstanding representations of a holiday spiced ale.

definitely recommended.

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

A really nice dark red color. I don't take much into the overall of color when it comes to beer but it's attractive the way it let's the light through.
Scents of malt, vanilla and cinnamon waft from the glass underneath a modest head. First few sips are of alcohol and a bit of a creamy vanilla thing but as the chill fades and the beer the winter spiciness of woodsy cinnamon and the tang of cherry show up bringing a standing in front of the fireplace for a few minutes after being out all day in the cold warm feeling. A creamy, fruity & spicey finish.

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

2007 vintage. Pours a copper/brownish color with very little head. Sweet and nicely spiced, not overwhelming. Moderately carbonated. Smooth and easy to drink.

A very nice seasonal ale. I'll definitely pick up another 6 pack before the end of the year!

Photo of yourefragile
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown, amber color (thought not entirely opaque) with a medium sized foamy tan head that leaves nice lacing down the glass.
S: Very rich, lots of malty sweetness. Notes of cinnamon, vanilla, some fruityness, etc
T/M: Very creamy, full bodied, with strong roasted malty taste with some slight bitterness for balance. There are a lot of flavors and spices in here, though strongest seems to be the sweetness/vanilla flavors.
D: I can't say I'm particularly crazy about the taste of this beer, but I love the appearance and aromas and has a very pleasant mouthfeel. As a result, I usually find myself ordering this when I find it on tap.

Photo of OWSLEY069
4.07/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clean copper/ amber color, with a light tan head. In the aroma, just like an orange creamsickle. In the taste, corriander and a nice sweet orange sweetness. A smooth, medium body mouthfeel and a semi-dry orange citrus and spice aftertaste. Fantastic flavor, not big and very nice.

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

12oz bottle purchased at Rocket Market in Spokane for $1.49. No freshness date.

Poured a dark amber color, with a decent sized off-white head. After a couple of minutes the head subsided, leaving spots and streaks of lace, but the head is easily agitated back to life.

The nose is more malty than I expected. Though a hop presence became more notable as the beer warmed up, this is a sweeter example of the style.

This starts out with a caramel sweetness. There's a mild hoppy bitterness in the background, along with an equally mild coriander-ish spiciness. Not a huge flavor bomb, but it's agreeably tasty.

Medium bodied, with a slightly sticky, coating mouthfeel.

Not a bad beer to have a pint of, but it's a little too sweet to have more at a sitting. I tend to prefer my winter warmers more hoppy and/or more spicy than this. People who want a sweeter brew might dig this, however.

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

I was poured a 12 ounce capped bottle into a chilled pint glass at the Tony Roma bar in Kennewick, Washington.

A: It had a brown with ruby tint body. A gentile pour resulted in a slight tightly bubbled tan head that had decent lacing and retention. .

S: It had a fruity sweet malt aroma with crisp spicy hops.

T: The balance between the sweet malts and zesty hops was wonderful. The swig began with a lightly toasted sweet malt and fruit flavor followed by the refreshing zip of hops that included a bit of white pepper spice. .

M: It was light to medium bodied with a sweet front and refreshing back. It was moderately carbonated yet finished dry and clean.

D: Nice winter warmer. It was well balanced, had a clean finish, and had a warming affect. I'll keep this one on my shopping list for winter seasonal brews.

Photo of BeerLover48Fan
4.97/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is an interesting and worthwhile winter warmer to seek out. It pours a deep amberish brown color with little if any head, and forget about lacing or retention. The smell is caramel and cola syrup, perhaps a bit of cherry in there too. This is a medium bodied ale with very little carbonation and bordering on a syrupy full body. The taste is complex. There are plenty of caramel notes when the beer is cold, but as it settles, there is an unmistakable vanilla flavor, nutmeg, maybe some allspice flavor that begins to emerge. There is a spicy bite in there towards the end, and you will find a discernible aftertaste. This is a relatively flat, spicy, sweet, syrupy ale that pleases the palate. Worth seeking out. . If you are in the Burlington County NJ area Red White and Brew at 33 High Street in Mount Holly is where you will find this beer, Stop in and see Stacey and the staff and browse their Micro and Seasonal selection

Photo of tpd975
3.12/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is one of the brews I had at the Brickskeller on my trip to DC.

A: Dark garnet red color with a medium foamy tan head. Moderate lacing.

S: A real mix of aromas both sweet and spicy. Nice honey brown sugar sweetness with hints of vanilla. Clove, Nutmeg and Cinnamon hide beneath. Fruit notes can also be detected with touches of cherry and peach.

T: This one has a real creamy buttery taste right up front. Then the spices come at you. Nutmeg and Cinnamon are there but the clove kind of dominates. A touch of cherry juice can be detected in the finish.

M: Medium bodied and creamy.

D: Not really.

Overall: I did not enjoy this one at all. It's a malty brew with just too much going on with nothing really complimenting one another. The medicine type qualites of the clove just did not match up with the buttery taste of the brew. The sweet cherry mixed with the other spices is just tooo much. They had good intentions but went a bit over the top with this one. It actually made my stomache ache, and caused me to cut my trip to the Brickskeller a bit short.

Photo of largadeer
3.06/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark amber, slightly hazy, with a moderate head.

Smell: Sweet, cotton candy-like aroma; notes of vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Taste: Just as sweet as the aroma implies, but with balancing bitterness. Vanilla, caramel and butterscotch flavors are prevalent. Very little hop character; it tastes like spices are used as a substitute for hops rather than an accent. Sweetness continues throughout the aftertaste, with the slightest of hop bitterness coming out at the end.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy on the palate with moderate carbonation.

Notes: I can understand why this has mixed reviews - it's extremely sweet and spicy. Not bad, but not really to my liking.

Photo of JohnGalt1
2.69/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz from the Boise Coop for $1.50/bottle poured into a shaker pint. Listening to Renaissance Worldwide Singapore "David Morales Mix".

Sweet cherry juice and crystal clear. Sticky lite tan head.

Malty aroma with vanilla and butter undertones. No real hops ... sorta overpowered by the spices.

I really hate saying this, but it reminds me of a vanilla cream soda .... and not the soda-shoppe kind, more like the artificial bottled kind.

This is a tough review for me to write. I love the Boont amber (almost certainly my favorite amber ale). But this one is going to take a hit. I know from my notebook reviews, I am hyper-critical of diacetyl; and I am only getting a little butter from this beer, but combined with the vanilla ... wow ... The diacetyl is hyper accentuated. I think they should move away from the spices (at least the vanilla) and balance more with a low but still solid flavoring of citrus hops.

Sorry. I will buy this brew again, mainly for comparison ... but I will probably wait a year or two.

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

The Winter Solstice pours a nice mid color amber with a quickly disappearing foam head that leaves some webbing on the side of the glass. The aroma of the WS is spicy and definitely malting to the nose. It is not a bad tasting beer but not just my style. It is strongly dominated by the malts with a sweet finish. I like a little hoppiness jumping around. In the mouth it was a little thin for a winter warmer.

Photo of russpowell
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 offering pours an orangey copper with 3+ fingers of sand colored head. Average head retention & lacing

S: Breadyness

T: Cakey with hints of tangerine & honey up front. Dryness, a bit of toffee, berries, cherries, a kiss of herbal hops & caramel all show as this warms. Finishes dry with more caramel, yummy

MF: Medium bodied, a bit chewy & sticky with low carbonation

Drinks very easy, this I could session on! Another winner from an old school California brewery

Photo of albern
3.47/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is an interesting and worthwhile winter warmer to seek out. It pours a deep amberish brown color with little if any head, and forget about lacing or retention. The smell is caramel and cola syrup, perhaps a bit of cherry in there too. This is a medium bodied ale with very little carbonation and bordering on a syrupy full body. The taste is complex. There are plenty of caramel notes when the beer is cold, but as it settles, there is an unmistakable vanilla flavor, nutmeg, maybe some allspice flavor that begins to emerge. There is a spicy bite in there towards the end, and you will find a discernible aftertaste. This is a relatively flat, spicy, sweet, syrupy ale that pleases the palate. Worth seeking out. L'Chaim.

Photo of eatdrinknbmerry
3.4/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 12-oz bottle.

Head: nice and foamy. about 3/4" thick.

A: dark brown, caramelish.

S: slight smell of vanilla.

T: can totally taste a vanilla/creme soda within it.

M: feels good, not so thick. goes down smooth.

D: b/c of the vanilla taste to it, I don't think I can drink more than 2 of these.

Overall: a good themed beer that's strong on flavor, but can be rich. I might drink this again. I'd stick to AV's regular beer like the IPA or PA.

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