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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

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BA SCORE
87
very good

1,322 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1322
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: 1,322 | Reviews: 672 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Zraly
Zraly

Virginia

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

O.

This winter ale is a bit darker than some of the other seasonals that I have had thus far. The head is super creamy and is touched by a slight tan color. The initial smell was that of berry-fruit.

The first taste is just blissful...a rich butterscotch and caramel flavor just takes control of the mouth. There is a sweet yet smooth nuance of smooth milk chocolate and brown sugar. There is a toasty bread note that finishes off the flavor in the mouth. Nutmeg and cinnamon round out the flavor. This is a dream come true for my love of malty goodness. The hops are rather subtle, but this beer is about composition, not piecemealed flavors. Be one with this beer.

If you like Sierra Nevada and prefer your winter brews to place emphasis on the hops, this one might not be for you. However, in terms of quality, this is the malt counterpart to the Celebration Ale.

Edit December 2006

I recently had this on tap at Capital Ale in Richmond. It was so smooth and enjoyable, relaxing and warm. My interpretation of this beer remains the same; it is of exceptional, consistent quality. Perfect for a cool night and good company.

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2002 18:05:19 | More by Zraly
Photo of Longstaff
Longstaff

Massachusetts

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

Had this on tap at Redbones - don't know if it is the same beer it was just called Anderson Winter Ale on the board an my impression seems to be somewhat different than other reviews here. Aroma much like eggnog. Tasted like vanilla ice cream at first, then turned to bubble gum flavors. Finished somewhat dry and not as sweet as the flavor suggests. Medium mouthfeel. A nice desert beer that is unlike any other beer I have ever had. I would have had another - or two - if I didn't have to drive.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2002 07:51:13 | More by Longstaff
Photo of PatandDavid
PatandDavid

Massachusetts

2.65/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Had this on tap at Redbones...My first thought was, wow this tastes like caramel candy. After about a fourth of the glass, I wondered where the taste went. It pours a nice amber color, no head, no lace either. The overwhelming taste of caramel that first appealed to me quickly vanished. It wasn't particularly hoppy, malt taste was there, not omnipresent though...I've never had a beer where the flavor went so quickly, I don't think my taste buds were overwhelmed, but maybe so. After each sip, there was a wee whisp of caramel, but not like at the first few sips. While it wasn't a bad tasting beer, I had no urge to get another. The flavor just didn't last.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2002 02:27:17 | More by PatandDavid
Photo of MJR
MJR

Missouri

3.33/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2002 Vintage.

Appearance: Reddish-amber crystal-clear body, with a creamy, light tan head that doesn't stick around for long.

Smell: Winter spices, a touch of caramel, a hint of fruit, and alcohol.

Taste: Lots of caramel/butterscotch with fruity spices. Finishes with a faint licorice note, along with perhaps a hint of pine or spruce. No hop aroma or flavor to speak of. Quite one-dimensional and uncomplex.

Mouthfeel: A bit thin for a winter seasonal. Has a decent, oily mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Not bad...but for winter warmers, you can do a lot better. Decidedly average.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2002 14:10:22 | More by MJR
Photo of LarryV
LarryV

Massachusetts

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

Pours with a nice frothy head that lasts a long time. A deep, reddish amber hue with little carbonation. Smell is very mellow, malty. Taste is mostly malty with very subdued hops, fairly well balanced, but very sweet. The sweetness limits the drinkability imho, I could only drink one of these at a time. I thin a little more hoppiness would balance it a bit more and give it more character. Without the hoppiness to balance the malt, I found it a bit one dimensional. A nice beer, but there's better winter beers to be had.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2002 17:10:40 | More by LarryV
Photo of johnrobe
johnrobe

Tennessee

3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

2002 edition. Medium dark brownish amber with a cream colored head that shrinks to just a cap. Hefty malt aroma, very sweet smelling...like marshmallows. The taste is all malt and pretty sweet but there is a good deal of complexity within those confines. Flavors of milk chocolate, cloves, malted milk balls, and vanilla. I feel that a bit more hops would have made this a better brew. I like it but it's a bit too sweet and definitely not a brew I'd want more than one of at a time. Save it for after dinner.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2002 21:38:04 | More by johnrobe
Photo of DrewS
DrewS

Virginia

3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My overall impression of this beer is one of unimpression. Poured out a reddish orange and brown with a decent head. Sweet malt on the nose, like cotton candy. Kind of reminded me of the dried malt extract I use in homebrewing. The taste was primarily of carmel like sweet malt which was a bit cloying IMO. There is a tinge of hop bitterness as the malt fades. Besides the intense malt flavor this beer is somewhat thin. Mouthfeel plays a redemptive role with a creamy smoothness. Slight aftertaste. Not the best of the seasonals and a disappointment for me. Maybe I just wasn't into it, but I expect better things from Anderson Valley.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2002 14:32:20 | More by DrewS
Photo of Brent
Brent

Kentucky

3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

For a fairly high abv strong ale style, this beer keeps on the kid gloves. The aroma and flavor are both quite soft. Malt with a little milk chocolate in the nose. The flavor is a cottony sweet malt - a touch of caramel and hazelnut. Finish is very clean. I'm probably rating this beer a little low just because I expect a strong ale to have a little more clout in the flavor department. As a fireside sipper, this needed more horsepower.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2002 20:32:49 | More by Brent
Photo of aaronh
aaronh

Pennsylvania

3.15/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This deep amber beer with orange-red highlights pours with an attractive white head the displays decent retention. The aromas are a little of spice and a little of hops, pleasant but not assertive enough to pick out individual traits. The taste was like a normal pale ale that had some spice added to it somewhere along the line. The beer displayed a normal light ale feel on the tongue, but left an unpleasant bitterness clinging to my mouth on the finish. The poor finishing characteristics and the high ABV result in a beer I'm glad I tried, but of which I didn't buy a sixer. My third offering from Anderson Valley was definitely not a "charm".

Serving type: on-tap

11-23-2002 19:30:42 | More by aaronh
Photo of DarthMalt
DarthMalt

Virginia

4.68/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"It's the most -- wonderful -- non-Reinheinstegebot -- tiiiime -- of the year!"

Yeah, Baby! Cuddle up in front of the fireplace with your Honey for this one.

Super, crystal-brown amber with crinkling crystal-brown head to match. FABULOUS NOSE!!!!! The smell of love in Winter.

Taste follows through stunningly on all expectations--great malt, adequate hop balance (almost like a doppel-Oktoberfest, if such a thing existed) and spices????????????

Okay... the label ingredients read, "seasonal spicing" and the website reads, "our private blend of holiday spice." Could'a fooled me! Spices usually throw the baby out with the bath water for me, but in Anderson Valley's case, they wield as exquisitely as Rogue does for Hazelnut Brown Nectar--a master stroke, if ever there was one.

God Bless Winter, America, Manifest Destiny, and the lack of purity laws when it comes to making a beer such as this.

Happy Holidays!

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2002 14:46:12 | More by DarthMalt
Photo of putnam
putnam

Michigan

2.78/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Looks nice with a rosy golden amber color.
The aromas are of polished, caramelized grain, vanilla and those chewy, peach-colored, peanut-shaped candies.
The flavors seem artificial. This is the closest thing to drinking a cream soda I can think of. Dry, with some assertion of bitter hops on the finish, but they are only there to clean up a laboratory sweetness. I may be naiive, but why did they have to combine soda pop and beer? The finish is hollow. Reminds me of a three-musketeers bar. All fluff.
Probably a shrewd choice to have in a brewer's portfolio. Somthing pop-like for the masses so that they keep the masses interested in the brand.
This is a great brewery otherwise.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2002 14:17:39 | More by putnam
Photo of cokes
cokes

Wisconsin

4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003.
I'll stick with most of what I listed for the 2002 below. Not quite the "wow" aroma I had remembered, though still attractive. Still very gingerbready, but overall spicing is a but more muted (and to its benefit). Solidly caramelized.Cinnamon (and perhaps ginger) appear as it warms. Light orange-rind bitterness. Mouthfeel seems improved and checks in at medium. A nice winter quaffer that doesn't go overboard in any direction. (Mouthfeel and drinkability rating are raised, aroma lowered)

2002 release.
Deep copper bodied with a compacted beige head that fades to form islands of lace.
Rich malty aroma of gingerbread. Lightly spiced with plenty of subtle vanilla sweetness. Absolutely lovely.
Not as big, brawny or complex as I remember, but still a nice one. Taste is gingerbread cookies, all the way. Possibly ones that are ever so slightly burnt. Light cinnamon and vanilla toppings. A husky grain enters just prior to the hops. The hops also seem less assertive than past edition. Lightly citric, and sort of raw. Ends with just a hint of prickly alcohol.
Sort of lifeless in the mouth. It fails to have the heft of a winter warmer, and does not have any liveliness either. Doesn't leave much of an impression. Thinner than years past?
However, it is quite drinkable, and a decent winter seasonal

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2002 20:31:52 | More by cokes
Photo of ADR
ADR

Pennsylvania

3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2002 edition...

Clear and bright dark red-brown color, yellow head of medium duration -- settles to an 1/8 of an inch. Deep aroma, some ginger and cinnamon sense. Nice body but not overly heavy. Flavor starts malty with some sense of cherry and chewiness and flips into a citrus rind and gravelly mode as the impressive hopping asserts itself. Good balance, maybe a little too raw in that the hops are aggressive. A little more variety and interest in the malt profile would have suited me better.

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2002 12:03:01 | More by ADR
Photo of proc
proc

Michigan

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

Nice presentation, dark cararmel/copper in color, somewhat of a light fruit taste appears with a slight hop finish. I enjoyed this. Nice ABV kick start and although I don't like to use an overused term, it is smooth. There is something soothing and relaxing about a sipping a winter ale, and this one didn't disappoint.

Serving type: bottle

10-03-2002 10:23:07 | More by proc
Photo of pheurton
pheurton

Pennsylvania

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

my favorite from anderson valley....a dark reddish brown with a nice fluffy white head. aroma is enticingly spicy....carmel malts dominate the taste, with a hint of nutmeg. hops come in at the end to balance assertively, without being over the top as so many PNW beers can be. a truly unique brew that is at the top of my winter seasonals must have list.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2002 09:54:12 | More by pheurton
Photo of StevieW
StevieW

Florida

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

I carried this bottle back from my california vacation, I was worried about it's freshness. It seems to have held up. Color I would call more brown than amber, thin head faded fast. Noticable hop smell initially, then as it warms, more spices are very noticable. Faint nutmeg, cinnamon, make a distinct sweet smell. Taste is much the same, hops to start, then lots of unique spices, maybe vanilla, hazelnut, very sublte, though not overly spicy. Very balanced taste and feel. A little thinner on the feel than expected but I found it very drinkable and tasty. I was surprised to see it listed where it is, and not with other seasonals like the Harpoon Winter Warmer, or the SA Celebration Ale, which is the best of the seasonals, IMO.

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2002 19:09:56 | More by StevieW
Photo of Andy
Andy

Massachusetts

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

Thick light tan head. Reddish amber color. Deep creamy nose, some yeast sharpness. Mix of light spices and hazelnut in aroma and flavor.

Serving type: bottle

05-16-2002 20:03:52 | More by Andy
Photo of jackndan
jackndan

Illinois

3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Winter Solstice: Deep amber color with a pale tan head, and very nice Belgian lace. Has a spicy malt flavor throughout, with a long lasting smooth finish. Very good beer, with a nice warming alcohol character. This is a very good winter brew and I'll look for it closer to the season next time, although this one held up very well.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2002 19:39:12 | More by jackndan
Photo of Bighuge
Bighuge

Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

There's a sweet smell here. Not malty sweet, but similar to rock candy sweet. Beautiful deep red hue. Very unique beer. Sweet taste. A good sweet taste. I'm likening it to cherry and brown sugar. Maybe a titch of hazelnut. Very super brew.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2002 16:24:44 | More by Bighuge
Photo of joe
joe

Massachusetts

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

INCREDIBLE HAZY GOLDEN COLOR. SMELL OF VANILLA AND TOFFEE. BEAUTIFUL MALTY TASTE JUST A UNBELEIVABLE BEER. NEW FAVORITE WINTER BEER.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2001 22:31:10 | More by joe
Photo of Jason
Jason

Massachusetts

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

Presentation: 12 oz brown long-neck bottle with no freshness date though on the neck is the year 2001. Blurb about the beer on the back label.

Appearance: Bright reddish amber hue, light tan head is fluffy and dissipates into a pasty big bubbled lace.

Smell: Fresh dipped caramel apple comes to mind, lots of malt sweetness in the nose with hints of fruit and a mild hop.

Taste: Full and chewy in the mouth with a vague hoppy juicy fruit and sweet dark bread maltiness capture the taste buds attention. Both toasted and roasted flavour flexes within the bold caramel taste. Mildly estery and warming to the body. Tight and clean bite of hop bitterness cuts through some of the malt leaving a spicy trail of flavour into the finish of residual sweetness.

Notes: Top shelf for American Winter brews, balanced for a muscular brew and a must buy for winter seasonals. 6.9% abv.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2001 23:44:26 | More by Jason
Photo of QXSTER1
QXSTER1

Pennsylvania

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

Reddish brown brew with loads of fruity spiciness. Balanced towards sweet, nutty maltiness but with a hops(Cascade?) finish. I get a hint of vanilla as well. A smooth, drinkable ale to toast the cold weather.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2001 13:48:22 | More by QXSTER1
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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,322 ratings.