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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,323 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1323
Reviews: 672
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.18%

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: 1,323 | Reviews: 672 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of StoutHunter


3.5/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a can of Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale last week for $1.79 at The Lager Mill. I've had pretty good history with Anderson Valley and since it will be the Winter Solstice in a little bit I decided to give this beer a try tonight, so lets see how it goes. No visible canning date. Poured from a 12oz can into an imperial pint glass.

A- The can has that typical Anderson Valley look to it with a slight winter theme to it, not too bad. It poured a muddy caramel color that took on a some amber hues when held to the light with a finger and a half of light tan head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and left a little bit of lacing. This is a nice looking beer, but I would have liked a little more head.

S- The aroma starts off with loads of malts that have a higher amount of medium sweetness and impart some brown bread, caramel, brown sugar, and some lightly toasted malt aromas. After that comes a nice dark fruit aroma followed by a medium amount of spices with nutmeg and allspice seeming to stick out the most. The aroma was nice with a good amount of spices but it could have a little more complexity to it.

T- The taste seems to be fairly similar to the aroma and it starts of with loads of malts that have a medium amount of sweetness and impart some caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and lightly toasted malt flavors. After that comes a really light amount of dark fruits that barely sticks out and is followed by some lighter spices with nutmeg sticking out the most. On the finish I get a light amount of earthy hops that impart a pretty light amount of bitterness with a sweet and malty aftertaste. The taste was nice, I liked the balance but I could have gone for just a little more spices.

M- Pretty smooth, very creamy, on the slightly fuller side of being medium bodied with a slightly higher amount of medium carbonation that was just a little prickly. The mouthfeel was nice, but I could have gone without the prickly carbonation.

Overall I thought this was a nice beer and an above average example of a Winter Warmer, it had pretty good balance between the malts and spices and didn't get to carried away with either of them. This beer had good drinkability, it was pretty smooth and the flavors did a decent job at holding my attention, I could drink a couple of these but after that the thickness might become too much. What I liked the most about this beer was how well rounded it was, it really didn't have any weak points. What I liked the least about this beer was that the spices didn't shine through a little more, I think that would take this beer to the next level. I would buy some more when it's released next year, but I don't think I'll be rushing to the store and clearing them out of Winter Solstice, but I do recommend giving this beer a try, I think it would appeal to a wide range of people. All in all I thought this was a nice beer, It's not my favorite Winter Warmer but it was still a nice beer that enjoyed drinking. This was another solid beer from Anderson Valley, good work guys.

Serving type: can

12-21-2012 04:48:26 | More by StoutHunter
Photo of GRPunk


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

Bottle poured into a nonic pint.

A- A sloppy pour created a 2-1/2 finger tan head. The clean, amber body showed moderate-heavy carbonation. The head sustained at about 1/2 finger and left nice, foamy rings about the glass.

S- I got a decent shot of spice at the pour. Sweet malts, caramel-like, dominate. A little muted at first. Malts suggest Hawaiian bread and gain strength with time. Light hops seem pretty fresh, maybe noble variety?

T- really nice and malty. Lots of caramel and brown sugar, some residual sweetness going on. Light spice. Taking a stab, I'll guess cinnamon, something like clove-like, maybe some ginger.

M- Moderate-heavy carbonation. Slight warming, almost in "stomach feel." A little bite from hops and carbonation. Fairly full bodied.

O- A robust, malty ale, great for cold weather drinking. Nice to have spicing dialed down, allowing traditional ingredients to shine.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2012 22:06:34 | More by GRPunk
Photo of mooseo


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

12oz bottle into snifter.

A - Muddy amber-brown with a medium white head.

S - Fresh baked bread, caramel, toasted grain and light floral hops. Subtle but nice.

T - Toasted bready malt, nuts, brown sugar, and light earthy hops. Hints of vanilla cream and nutmeg in the finish.

M - Extremely soft, smooth and creamy. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

O - Love the mouthfeel on this one. Lots of sweetness but the hops lend some balance. A pretty good, drinkable winter ale.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2012 00:17:33 | More by mooseo
Photo of barczar


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

Pours a slightly hazy dark copper color with a solid half inch beige head that dissipates slowly leaving sheets of lacing.

Caramel, brown sugar and cinnamon comprise the aroma initially. Notes of allspice, toasted malt, and dark fruit emerge. Aroma is initially subtle.

Flavor is an overload of malted milk balls, with currants , cinnamon, and chocolate surfacing mid palate and lingering into the slightly dry finish.

Body is a touch on the heavy side, with moderate carbonation and slight alcohol warmth.

Overall, I'm amazed at how closely the flavor resembles malted milk balls. There's a fruitiness that follows, so it's a little different. Not am overly spicy seasonal, which I appreciate.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2012 22:41:02 | More by barczar
Photo of chefhatt


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

I poured this beer into a pint glass, it has a copper color body with a strong white 2" white head that is stays around for a while. The smell is like cream soda, vanilla, brown sugar. The taste has a sweet malt start, then a nice sweet cream flavor, also some vanilla in there also. The mouth feel is creamy, smooth and a nice drinker.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2012 20:38:44 | More by chefhatt
Photo of SerialHiker


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

Appearance: Pours a nice mahogoney, the perfect seasonal, fall color…it’s deep in color, but fairly transparent…tons of bubble action in the middle…some head did form, but minimal lasted…a nice looking brew…(3.5/5)

Smell: A nice spiced aroma…black currant, cinnamon, allspice…very warming…sweet cherry candy comes through…nice deep, sweet malt, some piney hops, a smidgen of brown sugar…creamy vanilla…nice…(4/5)

Taste: Wow…a creamy take on the holiday flavor…yes, there is the spice and candy flavor, but the creaminess is undeniable…a balance of sweet malt with earthy hops play conveyor to the spice, sweet and creamy flavors…it’s almost too simple while being effective…no alcohol or astringent flavor what-so-ever…(3.5/5)

Mouthfeel: Light body, it is a little watery…light carbonation, it does bring some fluffiness, but that doesn’t last long…it’s a smooth, smooth drink, that is crisp, but flavorful and leaves only kindness and tenderness on my tongue…after taste is a creamy, sweet spice…no bitterness or alcohol heat to really speak of…does leave my mouth watering for more, which I like…(3.5/5)

Overall: This is one of my favorite takes on the holiday ale I’ve tried in 2012…the creamy factor takes this in a direction that others haven’t, leaving little comparison to other seasonal ales…it may be a touch too creamy (imagine a cream ale versus a root beer), but that risk is rewarded here, as they’ve succeeded in making a very drinkable, unique brew…it’s a very balanced, light beer that is well worth seeking out and bringing to the next holiday party…serve this brew crisp and cold and it will be enjoyed by the micro beer enthusiast and the less adventurous alike…(3.5/5)

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2012 20:28:53 | More by SerialHiker
Photo of thecheapies


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

First Winter Solstice of the year!

Hazy brown-red, like brick red, with a bone-white head that dried out to a stable quarter-inch of foam immovable. I love the way this ale looks!

Brown sugar, vanilla cream soda, cinnamon, graham cracker crusts, and sweet malty roast. Has similar creaminess in the nose to Summer Solstice.

English malts marry medium roast with toffee and brown sugar. Creamy vanilla, light caramel, cinnamon, and stewed apple sweetness; but, there's also a papery note. The finish is sweet, but cleaner than the buttercream opening. Bitterness only plays a supporting role here.

Drinks kind of rich. Smooth and creamy with a low-lying carbonation.

I try to forget about this beer being as tasty and delivering as it is, but it always comes back to smear its goodness in my face. Well done, Anderson Valley. Well done.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2012 05:39:59 | More by thecheapies
Photo of martyl1000


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

On tap at Coppers Tavern, Madison. A nice looking pour in a tulip glass, with a thin off-white head that sticks around.

The sweetness in the aroma is quite nice at first, zucchini bread, cotton candy, ripe Apple. But the spice then shows as a vanilla, potpourri-type spice boil perfume, cloying, to say the least.

In the mouth the malt presents bread, cotton candy, and juicy fruit gum, plus the amorphous spice,which is certain to divide audiences.

Nice semi-chewy mouthful, with a crisp carbonation.

We''ll see what happens as it warms.

Serving type: on-tap

12-11-2012 03:09:46 | More by martyl1000
Photo of kneeland

North Carolina

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

Very nice tasting. It's matly, but not too much. Caramelized, allspice and hints of cinnamon and black licorice. A great, natural ale. I only got one, I wish I got more.

It's a pretty great looking beer too. A crisp, clear copper color, with decent head for most of the glass. And it smells like a good ale should. Definitely brings out the malted hops.

Overall, I will drink this again

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2012 19:23:12 | More by kneeland
Photo of thebrood1987

New Jersey

5/5  rDev +28.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A very malty sweet smell with spices and caramel. It has a rich malty sweetness very tasty with a vanilla bit of orange and cinnammon nutmeg in there all subtle not jumping out too much and some slight bitterness from the hops.

The mouthfeel is amazing on this beer and I also get a slight mineral salty taste I guess from the mineral water they use? Its a very complex tasty beer the whole way down and is very drinkable.

This brewery is one of the best in Calfiornia. This one and their Hop Ottin IPA are some of my favorite beers ever. Very full flavored for sure.

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2012 02:50:37 | More by thebrood1987
Photo of jsanford


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

Pours dark mahogany with a fluffy off-white head that settles to a solid cap. Aromas of cranberries, sweet caramel malt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Definitely "Wintery". Taste is similarly sweet, with notes of cream soda, cranberry, and holiday spices. Reminds me a bit of Highland Cold Mountain. Mouthfeel is smooth, fairly creamy, with a medium-full mouthfeel and low carbonation. Nice Winter beer, probably gonna have a few this year.

Serving type: can

12-05-2012 02:17:17 | More by jsanford
Photo of dbrauneis

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a lightly hazy garnet red in color with some decent amounts of amber highlight and light to moderate amounts of carbonation. The beer has a half finger tall dark beige head that reduces to a small thin patch of larger bubbles, a mottled very thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer, and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of caramel and toffee malt sweetness with lighter notes of brown sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. Very light notes of cocoa as it warms.

T: Moderate amounts of malty sweet flavors upfront with notes of caramel, toffee, and brown sugar. Additionally there are some light flavors of nutmeg and vanilla. Very light hints of bitterness that fades quickly. Very light amounts of cocoa as the beer warms.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth and creamy with a light amount of alcohol heat in the finish.

O: The beer is pretty easy to drink and enjoy even though there are a lot of sweet flavors, this beer is not cloying. The combination of malty sweetness and spices is very nice and one of the more enjoyable offerings in the style.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2012 01:19:19 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of Darkmagus82


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

Served on tap in a pint glass

Appearance – Served a reddish brown color with a thick tan head. The head has a moderate level of retention, fading to give a decent level of lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma was heaviest of sweet and spiced aromas. A malty backbone of a biscuit nature supports sweet tastes of chocolate, caramel and some lighter dark fruit aromas. Mixed with these are aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and a little coriander. A rather nice festive aroma overall.

Taste – The taste begins a little on the sweeter side with a roasted malt flavor mixed with a large dose of caramel sweetness. Up front there are also some lighter notes of the spices detected in the nose. As the taste advances the spice grows stronger as the caramel sweetness fades to some degree. While the caramel fades a sweeter taste remains as the caramel is replaced by some of the darker fruits and a light chocolate taste that were detected in the nose. In the end a rather nicely spiced and sweet flavor is left to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the just above average side in terms of it creaminess and chewiness with a carbonation level that is just below average. The combination of the thickness and the carbonation are quite appropriate for the style and compliment the spice, fruit, and roast flavors of the brew nicely.

Overall – A smooth and tasty winter style brew; balancing nicely the roasted, spice and sweet flavors.

Serving type: on-tap

12-01-2012 00:59:56 | More by Darkmagus82
Photo of Chrispy


4.23/5  rDev +9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a copper red with a little white creamy head that disappears quickly.

Caramel vanilla sweet smell and taste. Holiday spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are coming through as well.

Great mouthfeel, very easy to drink.

Overall it is very nicely balanced with sweetness and spices to where you could easily drink this anytime during the holidays and enjoy it.

Serving type: can

11-28-2012 05:49:24 | More by Chrispy
Photo of biboergosum

Alberta (Canada)

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

12oz can. 'Ale with Natural Flavor Added'. Not really all that promising or inspiring, eh?

This beer pours a clear, medium red brick amber hue, with two fingers of puffy, somewhat chunky beige head, which leaves some streaky hanging lace around the glass as it evenly subsides.

It smells of heavy caramel malt, baker's chocolate, sweet vanilla, indistinct sugary nuts, and a bit of fruity hoppiness. The taste is sweet caramel/toffee malt, brown sugar, more saccharine vanilla, weakened cocoa, a muddled array of savoury holiday spices, though nothing distinct enough to note, and lightly bitter citrusy, earthy hops.

The carbonation is really quite tame, the body a hefty medium weight, flirting with fullness, and dead smooth. It finishes still on the sweet side, the caramel, vanilla, chocolate, and masked spice doing well enough to keep things sane, drinkable, and desirable, as the extra ABV tries to peek in.

An enjoyable, and at the same time confounding winter ale. It tastes good, but it's quite difficult to tell you why, so sweet, cake-ish, and low-key spice it is. 'Tis seasonal, this much I know, and I could easily put back a few more of these in the coming craziness.

Serving type: can

11-28-2012 02:17:37 | More by biboergosum
Photo of 2x10


4.6/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice orange tint with a red hue. Little foam and nice carbonation. Definitely a beer you dont want to drink ice cold cause it takes alot of the flavor away and your left with bubbles.

Great mouthfeel with very little indication of spices. They are there (cinnamon, clove), but very unnoticable.

You can definitely taste the advertised black currant and the finish has a hint of black licorice. I personally hate black licorice, but in this beer, it works really well.

Our opinion is that is winter warmer blows all the Winter beers out of the water. Only downside to us is that it could have a higher abv.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2012 05:40:27 | More by 2x10
Photo of Bung

North Carolina

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

12oz. A fairly clear orange/amber pour. Thinner layer of cream colored head on top.

Aroma, a malty caramel fruitcake. Caramel apple. As it warms the fruit goes away, though it seems to gain some mustiness?

Taste, less fruity. Shortbread cookie. Nice bready malt and large caramel backbone. Some herbal and toasted grainy malt notes to finish. Like a light dopplebock. It is just a tad watery throughout.

Lights side of mid bodied. A nice carbonation, the slight wateryness makes it easy to drink, though less interesting. Worth checking out, I bet better on draft.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2012 02:47:36 | More by Bung
Photo of ZBerkeleyan


4.6/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured it out of a bottle, and it created a thick and frothy tan head. Nice layer of lacing when I tipped the glass. Dark red-brown color, a little light shone though. Only a few bubbles were apparent.

The nose in this one has got loads of caramel, and some other flavors playing around in the background as well, though none so immediately apparent as the caramel.

Taste is malty and sweet, but not overly sweet so as to be cloying. Very tasty! This beer went equally well with a dinner and a dessert.

This beer goes down smooth, and it is not too heavy or sticky in its consistency. Not a lot of bubbles, but it doesn't taste old or flat either.

Overall a tasty, enjoyable, excellent beer. It is sweet but subtle enough to pair well with all sorts of food. Or have it on its own. Just have it!

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2012 04:29:37 | More by ZBerkeleyan
Photo of VeganBrewz


4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear reddish-orange pint with about a finger and a half of slightly tan, somewhat rocky head. Not much lacing, but that's ok.

Smell: Straight out of the can I found this one to be pretty average - some nice malt, definite hoppy aroma, but nothing to write home about. HOWEVER - once it starts to warm up a bit, this beer really starts to walk and talk. Once it had a chance to sit out a bit I was treated to aromas of grain, cocoa and dark chocolate, brown sugar and caramel malt. Hoppy aromas are definetly present though nothing specific stands out.

Taste: Very similar to the smell side of the equation, this beer started off as nice, but more or less average and got better and better as it warmed. Initial hoppy bitterness fades fairly quickly, and some malty sweetness forms a base for dark caramel, toast, hints of dark chocolate and very slight woody/smoky flavors. Very nice.

Mouthfeel: This was pretty nice. A bit of an alcohol tingle on the front of the tongue, with a nice sweet/bitter wash throughout the mouth followed by a slight alcohol aroma on the inward breath. Finishes clean and doesn't linger.

Overall: Seems to be a pretty decent representation of the style. I would definetly buy this again. Hell, if anyone has a recipe for it, I'd homebrew it.

Serving type: can

11-21-2012 19:09:40 | More by VeganBrewz
Photo of Luigi

North Carolina

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

Pours out a rich Amber color with a creamy three finger head. Head retention settles down to a thick blanket a top off the ale, leaving rings with every sip.

The aroma is sweet with caramel, nut meg, cinnamon, toasted bread, and a little booze.

At first taste, a get a sweet mix of caramel, holiday spices, complemented with a little alcohol sweetness, giving it an almost candy like finish. The finish is mildly dry and has a hint of hop spice that will linger.

Full bodied and chewy on the palate. Easy to drink, just take your time.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Has done it again! There has yet to brew from this company that did not exceed my expectations. Cheers to staying warm during the winter months.

Serving type: can

11-21-2012 03:28:49 | More by Luigi
Photo of Chris_Cali_2o9

4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Sam Adams cup

A- Nice copper body with a 3/4" tan head that quickly fades to lacing

S- Berries, sweet bready malts

T- chocolate covered cherries instantly came to mind, ginger bread, frosted oatmeal cookies, caramel, vanilla, all this awesomeness and it never comes off as overbearing or to sweet. If i take a minute between sips i can noticed hints of hoppy bitterness and slit alcohol heat at the back of my tongue, burps have a somewhat metallic twang

M- Somewhat creamy medium bodied, nice carbonation

O- Very nice brew, can't say it would warm me up, but for my palate 6.9% was perfect. So many awesome flavors and never too sweet, i recommend this to all.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2012 23:19:11 | More by Chris_Cali_2o9
Photo of Mora2000


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

The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma has some cocoa and lightly roasted malt, as well as some winter spices that I can't quite identify. The flavor is very similar. The cocoa and dark fruit notes are pretty nice. I also get some brown sugar, cinnamon and caramel malt. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Serving type: can

11-19-2012 04:23:12 | More by Mora2000
Photo of whendeathsleeps


4.53/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Medium amber, two finger off white head, nice retention, nice lacing.

S- Vanilla, caramel, sweet fruits, smells like a fresh baked pastry.

T- Big vanilla taste, brown sugar, malty, a little spice (doesn't overkill like a lot of winter warmers) Comes in at 6.9% ABV though alcohol taste is barely there. Hops are hardly noticeable, but do provide a nice balance in the finish. Tastes like a big hop infused sugar cookie.

M- Medium body, low carbonation, semi-dry finish.

O- One of the best winter warmers I've had, will definitely go to this one again.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2012 01:22:07 | More by whendeathsleeps
Photo of Guden


4.18/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Deep amber with amazing clarity and a few carbonation bubbles. Pours with a large off-white head that fades to one finger that sticks around and leaves lots of thick lace.

S- Gentle spice, vanilla and cinnamon, mix with a lightly fruity and malty backbone.

T- Again I get a grape fruitiness mixing with sweet and biscuity malt, and vanilla.

M- Medium bodied with low carbonation. Could use a touch more body to let it fill the mouth more.

O- An interesting and refreshing brew. I usually refuse to buy a winter seasonal in October, but I'll make an exception for this one.

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2012 21:37:28 | More by Guden
Photo of FLima


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

Deep copper color. Poured a thick head that lingered for a long time.
Delicious aroma of hops and caramel. Low carbonation with tiny bubbles.
Elegant taste, sweet malt with spices and hints of vanila. Mildly bitter and dry, with a smooth butterscotch warm ending. Still hiding the 6.9% alcohol content. Very well balanced. It reminded me of an English old ale.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2012 23:31:05 | More by FLima
Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,323 ratings.