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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

1,549 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,549
Reviews: 691
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.18%
Wants: 58
Gots: 122 | 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: 1,549 | Reviews: 691 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Callenak
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 release - 12oz bottle.

Poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark amber color with a nice beige head.

The nose is malt and raisins. A great fruit presence to it and a little spice.

A great caramel taste to it. The raisin is more toned down and replaced with vanilla and spices. Definitely taste like a winter beer. I was shocked to see that this beer was 6.9% alcohol too. I didn't pick up on it at all.

Not an amazing beer but a very drinkable one. I wouldn't mind having a case of this lying around to get through the cold winter.

Photo of CWiggins
2.98/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I picked this one up at Sam's in Durham while looking for several things to try. Having been impressed with Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice this past season, I thought this would be worth a shot.

The color is a nice, deep amber/red. Poured rapidly into a pint glass, very little head formed, although some bubbles remained around the liquid's rim the entire session (about 40 minutes). I found the aroma to be quite nice; it was very clean, with hints of caramel, sweet fruits, and vanilla. The flavor was a little disappointing. It begins with a pleasant spicyness, but finishes with a bland malt/alcohol character that left me wondering what the intent was. I wanted the winter spices to last longer, perhaps throughout the aftertaste, but all I received was this medium-dark malt thing. The mouthfeel is fine: it's not too sticky and goes down just right.

It seems everything is great about this beer except the flavor! I doubt I'll seek this one out again, especially since there are so many other winter warmers to try.

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

My first review of any beer. I just tried this up against Anchor's Christmas Ale and found it to be more rounded and mature in both appearance and taste although less robust in general character (Anchor quite nice and I will review that soon). It's a fairly deep amber ale with a relatively small head (considering the thin pilsener style glass I'm using). The taste is balanced, pleasantly sweetly spicy with some room to further mature (but not nearly to the same extent as the Anchor), but drinkable now and in vast quantities if that is your aim. Its aroma matches its clean appearance with the sweet spice hint although I'm at a loss to precisely identify the constituents added to this fine beer. I'm not sure about the "mouthfeel" category in general as most quality beers seem silky to me and the Anderson Valley Winter Solstice 2006 is no different. My inclination is to only highlight mouthfeel when I notice something unusual one way or the other, and this beer has the "right" feel. Overall a particularly enjoyable beer that doesn't beat you over the head with hops like another seasonal ale I tried yesterday. The Winter Solstice is very, sweetly, good - I intend to buy a case! Hope this helps.

Photo of Westsidethreat
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark copper with amber highlights. Head is medium beige and falling quick

S: Tutty fruity bubblegum, vanilla, subtle caramel and dark fruits

T: A very trademark flavor the two solstice beers have achieved (summer and winter). Its this mixture of vanilla, caramel, angel food cake and nutmeg. Very sweet, rounded and affectionately seasoned. Finishes with some fruit; cherry, raspberry and blueberry. Aftertaste is more of the traditional sweetness that goes along with this beer but with a grainy profile

M: Medium body, a bit hard and spritzy at times.

D: I look forward to this beer every winter, but I can't drink too much of it. It can get seriously too sweet after a period of time.

Photo of oberon
3.15/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I have waited quite awhile to try this beer but I was pretty let down flavor-wise anyways.Poured a deep rich aber with a tight well formed almond one finger head that settled nicely into a creamy mass.Xmas aromas going on I picked up some vanilla and caramel with lighter notes of cinnamon and brown sugar,I honestly thought I was drinking a sharp cream soda just way to much vanilla-like flavors it overpowered any other flavor really from coming thru.It got to be cloying half way thru and my wife finished it.wow this beer has everything going for it except flavor in my opinion and is way to pricey,I will not seek this out again.

Photo of sabrills70
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle with 2006 on the neck label. Pours a deep copper color with red hues, a 1 finger head, OK longevity and good lace. Nice malt and caramel aromas mixed with a bit of spicyness. Big malt and caramel flavors mixed with an odd, not bad, but an odd spice I can't quite put my finger on. It wants to cry out cinnamon and nutmeg etc but its not quite there. Finishes with a somewhat surprising hop flavor. A nice seasonal but not one I can drink a bunch of at one sitting.

Photo of
3.38/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle.

Crystal clear, amber colored liquid. Large, rocky, ivory colored head.

Aroma included caramel and pine. I was not able to pick up much in the way of spices.

Fairly strong hop flavor - grassy and floral. Malt was bread like through most of the taste, and got slightly sweet in the aftertaste. Well balanced by the hops, spices and alcohol. Alcohol flavor/presence seemed fairly strong for ABV of beer. I can't define the spices, but they showed up near the finish and combined with the alcohol to give this beer a rather "zippy" ending.

Medium to heavy in body. Carbonation seems low. Coating, but very smooth. ABV warms you up pretty well.

Hard to explain overall impression. It seems like a malt bomb, based on the texture/mouthfeel, but the taste is quite well balanced by the hops, spices and alcohol. Not to my liking.

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.45/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

served into pint glass from a 12oz. brown bottle crimp on cap.

Clear,deep amber color,thick off-white head,lacing the glass.
Moderate aroma,very complex spicey aromas up front. Fruity,carmelly,hints of chocolate also in the aroma. A very soft pleasing quality to the aroma.Would have been a 5 if the aroma was a bit more intense.
Taste was a very complex spiceness,very fruity,candy-like,nutty,hints of vanallia,the flavor explodes on the palate.A fruity tartness in the smooth, pleasing finish.
Medium body,very drinkable,due to the intruging taste.Wish I had more than 1 bottle of this beer.
One of the best winter beers I've had. A good beer to start up a conversation at a party,with all the different flavors. A hard beer to totaly describe from one bottle. A great winter beer,would highly recommend this one. I will be picking more of this beer up before it's all gone.

Photo of drinknewbelgium
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

poured with a small head smells of malty sweetness in my nose tastes of sweet malts holiday spices with little hop character a little watery in the mouth but i could have a few

not strong spiced honestly i couldnt help but think of cream soda when i was drinking this

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.05/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Anderson Valley- Winter Solstice

Appearance- Dark brown with a 2 finger thick sticky head.
Smell- Vanilla, Brown sugar, Caramel, Malt.
Taste- Big vanilla caramel flavor with hints of brown sugar and cke batter. Like a cream soda (other reviewers said this too)
Mouthfeel- Sweet with a mild flavor.

Overall- A decent tasting beer but I was expecting more. I could, if I had no choice, drink this all night but I'd prefer something stronger and with more flavor.

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

Poured a cloudy medium amber with a half finger head that disappeared quickly to a ring of lacing...only a little bit sticky.
Aromas are sweet amber malt and brown sugar with just a touch of buttery caramel.
Immediate impression on the taste was one of Vanilla...very very vanilla. I get a hint of citrus hops but predominately I get brown sugar and vanilla. Warming I get more buttery caramel and butterscotch.
This is good and sweet but sort of one dimensional...not quite complex enough. My impression, again, is mostly vanilla. Sort of like drinking a cream soda

Photo of Pooba001
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 edition of this beer pours a nice light mahogany color with more than a finger of head that doesn't quickly disappear. Carbonation looks nice. Smells like toffee, caramel, spice and fruit. Not very bold, but nice.

Taste starts with a big chewy malt sweetness, there's a citrus zest and some wintery spices here too. Not a big, bold Winter Warmer like I really prefer, but its good. Also nice is that I picked the right time to drink this beer, late October-November. Maybe I should call it a "Late Fall Warmer", that seems more fitting.

Mouthfeel is quite nice, could be a little thicker. Drinkability is high for the style, I wish I had a couple more on hand. Like I said above, stylistically this isn't an excellent beer, but I do enjoy it. I'll defintely go through a couple 6 packs of this in season.

Photo of TheBungyo
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice candy brown color with a nice looking little head. Nose is candy caramel and brown sugar. I also pick up a medicinal note that reminds me of something I used to take as a kid. Funny how those smells/tastes stay with you.
This is super smooth ... more caramel and brown sugar, that medicine taste and a kiss of hops. I'm not wild about this but it's ok.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from 2004. Pours a dark amber/brown. Some lacing around the perimeter of the glass. Whatever head there was quickly dissipates. Smell reminds me of an old english ale. Plenty of floating sediment suspended in the drink. Smell is quite welcoming. Still some decent carbonization given the age. Taste is close to an english ale. Very solid brew for the age and price. Glad I have more of these left. Solid offering. This brewery is starting to grow on me.

Photo of gonzo138
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 edition

A- pours a deep clear reddish color, whitish cream colored head that retained decently

S- sweet malts and a bit fruity, cant quite place what the fruity smell is, its kind of tangy and a little sour, but its very enjoyable

T- sweet and at the same time very sharp, and the unknown fruity taste is there as well

M- nicely carbonated, stimulates tip of tounge, medium body

D- goes down easily, nice warm feeling, very nice, my first winter warmer and i did enjoy it

Photo of oelergud
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Maple translucent body with a ruby tint. Light brown head of tiny to small bubbles. Retention and lace are decent.
Scents of caramel. brown sugar and spice. Very malty and inviting. Very faint grass and hop character and maybe some walnut.
Strong malt base and caramel. Definitely some walnut flavor. Malty aftertaste with abit of hops.
Full and somewhat thick body. Some coating.
Good drinkability and a very good winter warmer.


Photo of jmz62565
4.45/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This pours a dark mahogony with a medium tan head. A nice looking beer with the look of a hardy thick warmer. The smell is very strong with sweet malt.carmel, and a chewy nuttiness. The taste is really great with vanilla,carmel, sweet malt, and hops. A really nice mixture that makes the m/f medium,not "sticky', and very well balanced. The flavors of this beer are incredible, good luck finding a winter warmer that tastes as good as this and hides the alcohol. Here's wishing for a long winter.

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

A - Pours a cloudy dark amber color, nice carbonation, tiny head, some lacing afterwards.

S - Scents of malts, some kinda fruit, slight spicyness.

T - The taste is sweet and malty, has a nice dry finish.

M - Medium body.

D - Drinkable. This is a nice brew from AV, quenches the thirst pretty well.

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

2004 vintage bottle drank on July, 6, 2006. Nummy in my tummy.

Pours a nice, rich, reddish copper color with noticeable yeast within though not enough to be considered cloudy. Big tan head drops to thick film then slowly dissipates to nothing, leaving no lace.
Smell is rich, very involving, had to work hard to pick out the various notes here the balance was so good and it all just blended together. Found yeast, malt, hops, spice (I can't define further), apple cider and an oak/peat/earth mixture that gave a nice whiskey thought in my noggin.
Taste is very much along the lines of the smell, a very good thing. A malt/hop/yeast blend that was great followed by an alcohol bloom (oak flavored and not too strong) with a cider/spice/peat mixture that flowed into the aftertaste nicely.
A medium/full bodied brew with light effervescence but a slightly watery finish. Very unexpected and out of character.
Sipped this for almost 45 minutes and, as I write this review another 15 minutes have passed and the alcohol is noticeable in my system. Mind you, I'm 250 lbs and 1 brew is normally not felt unless it's a big Belgian. I expect the ABV is a might higher than the 6.9% listed.

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

A - Deep brown, slightly darker than iced tea. Beige head of small bubbles. Was 1/2 inch but fell away quickly to ring around glass.

S - Strong malt presence. Definite fruit in there too, but not sure if it's dark fruit like raisins or something citrusy.

T - Sweet malt taste that fades to the slightest bitterness. No hops are really apparent, nor is the alcohol. Almost spicy somehow. By the end I could definitely taste maple syrup!

M - Low carbonation so it was nice and smooth all the way. Finished a little dry.

D - In one word, Awesome. I'm sorry this is only a seasonal because I would drink it any day of the year. It's a great mix of an amber ale and a winter warmer. Easy drinking and thirst quenching.

Photo of brentk56
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a respectable tan head that leaves some spots of lacing

Smell: Rich caramel aroma with strong vanilla notes; also has some tropical fruit

Taste: Starts out with a rich caramel and vanilla flavor; after the swallow, some nice balancing hop flavors cut into the sweetness and also provide a seasonal spice flavor (cinnamon and nutmeg)

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Extremely well-balanced and flavorful; one of the better winter warmers I have encountered

Photo of scruffwhor
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 release.

Appearance- Pours a half and half head with mild retention. A little lacing witnessed after taking a sip of the beer. Color is a deep, rich, copper, early morning sunrise.

Smell- Pretty sweet. Mix of light to heavy fruits like strawberries and prunes. With some general toasted malts.

Taste- A holiday spicey, fruit cake of malts and sugars. I'd say about 20% of the flavor profile is hoppy bitterness. I can't get specific on its taste. The malty sweetness takes center stage with a mix of cinnamon, ginger, and carmalized peaches.

Mouthfeel- Sweet and syrupy. Something to drink after the X-mas dinner has been eaten and the family is opening their presents.

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

2005 vintage

pour: 12oz bottle to wide mouth wine glass. This beautiful red/brown beer produced absolutely no head but had very visible and active medium to small carbonation streams throughout the glass.

nose: floral hints but dominated by a very, very strong blueberry scent that was making me drool from a foot and a half away.

mouth: The taste is floral and malty, embodying the entire tongue with sweetness and some hopiness in the back, giving the sweet a bitte balance.

Very good.

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

Picked up a couple of bottles at AJ's right before Christmas for $1.99 a bottle. This is the 2005 version.

Beer poured an amber-orange color with an OK head that went away pretty quickly. Nose is malty and i am picking up something sweet in there. This beer stands different in it's taste. Definitely malty but it has what i believe to be a vanilla spice added with a slight dry hopped finish. Mouthfeel improves as i progress through the bottle. It definitly gets creamier. Overall drinkability is good. This is not quite as good as the 2004 draft version but it is definitely worth a shot!

Photo of Stubbie1
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2005. Deep red in color, thin white head on top. Fades fast but laces well. Hint of vanilla on the nose with spice. Flavor is nice nothing overpowering malt with the vanilla wave and spice and a light crisp finish. Not bad nothing overpowering but enjoyable

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 1,549 ratings.