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

1,397 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,397
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: 1,397 | Reviews: 675 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

That's a good lookin beer. Clear caramel/amber body with an off white head.

Aromas are enjoyable, if not bold. Really get me in the mood for a hearty, malty, enjoyable winter warmer. Brown sugar, burgamont orange, dark cherry, and caramel.

Flavors are in much the same vein. Butterscotch, caramel and brown sugar malty sweetness are tempered by an intriguing fruity character. The fruit is really what I find myself most attracted to, not sure what exactly it is or where it came from, but I really enjoy it. Reminds me of the Leopold Brothers Orange Liqueur and dark, less sweet, cherries.

The mouthfeel is where I find myself conflicted. My gut says it is too thin. The flavors would really be showcased if the body was a bit richer, more creamy. But, one of the reasons I really like this beer is that it is malty and warming without being syrupy or overbearing. A fuller body may make it a better beer, but a better beer I only want one bottle of. As it stands, I'd be happy with 2 or 3.

Anderson Valley makes several very good beers. With their change in ownership, change in local distribution, and change in pricing (now $9.99 a 6pk, from $11.99), AV is back and it means business. If they keep churning out brews this good, they may become a real player here in Colorado.

BradLikesBrew, Nov 25, 2010
Photo of DaveBlack
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Really nice pour. Deep amber color with a billowy off-white head (maybe 3 fingers) with good retention, but not much lacing.

S: Mostly malt with a slight tang of spices. Overall really light on the nose. I wish it had more, because it's the only area where this beer falls flat.

T: Really caramelly and sweet. Almost a banana flavor coming through on the finish. It reminds me of a wheat beer because of the banana/clove flavor, but (in my opinion) better than most wheat beers.

M: Surprisingly for a winter ale it is not that heavy or sticky. Not a whole lot of carbonation, but it still manages to feel fairly light, yet filling.

D: A really drinkable beer. Every sip makes me a little bit more fond of this beer. Great seasonal, definitely worth a look.

DaveBlack, Nov 23, 2010
Photo of callmeclemens
3.2/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A nice sipping beer for a winter night.

Had last night from the bottle.

Smells mostly of caramel with a hint of florals, or perhaps just a subtle fruit. Taste genenrally the same, not to dark not to heavy. A nice caramel malted, slightly fruity brew.

callmeclemens, Nov 16, 2010
Photo of fourplayed
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap to 16oz glass. Clean dark red-amber. tender did not pour with much of a head.

Smells are lite and you need to dig in a bit to get the mild sweet fruit esters and some malty and spice notes.

Taste if caramel malts, fruity esters and honey, a nice sweet tone overall.

Lite mouthfeel, carbonation is good, some bitter hop dryness in the finish. 6.9% alcohol very well hidden.

Overall a nice brew with malts and sweet notes up front that could go down easy after 2 or 3 pours. If you like the malts and some mild sweet fruits you'll like this. I wouldn't turn one down!

fourplayed, Nov 12, 2010
Photo of scottfrie
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into snifter. 2010 bottling.

A: Pours a clear dark red color under a billowing light tan head that took its time fading into a rocky film that left great lacing down the glass.
S: Not particularly smelly. Very faint notes of sweet fruits and maybe a touch of malt and warm alcohol vapor. I wish this had more of an odor to it.
T: Big rich malt flavor with notes of caramel, banana, pepper, cream, orange juice, bread crust and apple sauce. Aftertaste is full of orange and cream. Not picking up much spice; maybe some slight cinnamon.
M: Disappointingly medium body and thin mouthfeel, especially in the finish. It's not quite watery, but it could use some thickening up. Carbonation is smooth and even, and the alcohol is well hidden.
D: This beer was underwhelming. I thought I remembered it being better in past years, but my palate has changed a lot in a year. What is there is good but I want more of it: more scent, more spice, and more body. I like this beer, but I'm liking other winter warmers more this year.

scottfrie, Nov 12, 2010
Photo of DaveHS
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours cherrywood red with less than 1/4 inch of head. Leaves almost no lacing.

S-Remember those chewy "circus peanut" candies? Smells like that. Cotton candy, fruitcake, vanilla.

T/M-A very unique presentation of flavors that I'm enjoying more with each sip. Toffee and cotton candy flavors up front, but they soon fade into a burnt sugar and vanilla melange. The back palate has wonderful traces of peach preserves and vanilla bean, with a slight grassy bitterness to round things out. A really well made beer.

D-I'll be drinking a lot of this before the winter's through.

DaveHS, Nov 11, 2010
Photo of Pencible
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: This poured a clear dark copper with some light tan head.
S: It smelled like lemon hops and bready yeast, with some light barley and cinnamon and vanilla and dried orange peel.
T: It tasted like toffee and biscuit, with honey and some vanilla and orange and a bit of cinnamon. It had a mellow bittersweet aftertaste that was wet and clean.
M: It was watery with moderate carbonation. Thin but not bad.
D: This was a tasty winter warmer that was super easy to drink. No huge flavors, but well integrated and balanced, with light body and well hidden alcohol. Quite enjoyable for the colder months.

Pencible, Nov 05, 2010
Photo of jsh420
3.4/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours amber red with a 1 finger head that left no lacing

smells of fruity caramel pale malts

taste is just like the nose - caramel malt and some fruity hops - a very mild beer

mouthfeel is medium body with plenty of carbonation to give it a crisp bite

drinkabiltiy os so so - i just picked up a single and doubt i would ever buy a full sixer of this brew

jsh420, Nov 01, 2010
Photo of kbuff13
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber color. Little head didnt last long.

Smells sweet and malty, very little hop presence.

Taste is good, you get a sweet caramel flavor hints of vanilla and some spices, clove. Nice mouthfeel. Coats the mouth and tongue nicely. I would definitely buy again.

kbuff13, Oct 30, 2010
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.38/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Good brown beer, lots of red running through it, not much head. Aroma, some spice, wood, lesser hop bitterness detectable.

Definitely a winter warmer type of feel to it, robust, but lacking viscosity to be huge. Isn't trying to go there. Good amount of toasting, roasting and hop underpinnings. Toffee, some Christmas/Thanksgiving spicing. Lots of bitterness for not being a thick beer and one of this color (certainly none of it is mutually exclusive).

This is a pretty unique beer, not really for me, but it is respectable.

Beerandraiderfan, Oct 25, 2010
Photo of californiakulak
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had this beer on tap at Eureka Burger in Fresno.

A. Poured a clear brownish, red color. Thin head that didn't last long.

S. Lots of spices. Sweet malt. Christmas cookies. Vanilla. I don't think that I smelled any hops at all though.

T. Sweet and spicey. Bready malt taste. Clove, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

M. Thick and syrup like sensation. Good carbonation and nice sweet aftertaste.

D. Because of the overwhelming spice profile of this beer I think that one pint at time will be plenty. But I did enjoy the one.

californiakulak, Oct 25, 2010
Photo of SpdKilz
3.38/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours with a dark brown/slightly reddish hue into my SA Perfect Pint. About a finger of head is achieved with a moderate pour that dissipates quickly leaving little lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell - Honestly...I am not getting much of anything. Just a hint of caramel malts and spices. But as stated...not much.

Taste - Well that's an odd flavor. The initial sip is an immediate throwback to when I was a child and would steal butterscotch candies from my grandmothers pantry. An interesting flavor to say the least. There are definite spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon...but there is mostly just an overpowering butterscotch flavor that lingers well after I have taken a sip.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, relatively creamy, moderate carbonation.

Drinkability - For almost 7%, yes it is. For the taste, not so much. This really struck out as a winter warmer for me. I really don't get a lot of the spices, and I know I keep going back to it, but there is just an overwhelming butterscotch flavor that is really off putting after drinking half of this. I do not think I will pick this up in the future unless someone talks me into giving it another try.

SpdKilz, Oct 21, 2010
Photo of trevorjn06
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber/mahogany color with about an inch of creamy tan head that quickly recedes to a frothy layer on the surface and leaves some lacing on the glass.

Aroma is sweet malts, dark caramels, nuttiness, mild spices and hints of earthiness.

Taste is rich malt sweetness with caramel and some dark fruit flavors. This overall malty beer has a nice hop bitterness balancing it out just enough so that it is not cloying. It begins with a creamy and rich nutty/caramely flavor and moves into caramel with hints of dark fruit and chocolate. Toward the finish a bit of bitterness comes in to balance the sweetness. The finish leaves bready malt, caramel and some soft mineral notes on the tongue.

Mouthfeel is medium/thick with low carbonation and a nice mouth-coating feeling.

Overall this is a good beer, it is strong and rich yet drinkable. I would drink this again.

trevorjn06, Oct 19, 2010
Photo of philbertk
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 12 oz.(4.0 / 5.0) Mild lace head. Clear rich dark black cherry red color. Toasted malt spice mild nutmeg hop front. Creamy malty doughy English toasted caramel biscuit rich mild sweet body. Clean mild nutmeg hop finish. Sampled 12/13/2004.
2004 22 oz.(4.0 / 5.0) Rich mild lace head. Clear pretty dark ruby color. Mild toasted malt spice hop front. Doughy English rich toasted black cherry caramel biscuit body. Spicy mild nutmeg hop end. Smooth malty sweet spiciness. Sampled 12/4/2004.
2005 22 oz.(4.0 / 5.0) Mild lacy head. Cloudy rich bright amber orange color. Earthy herbal vanilla hop malt front. Tangy creamy smooth mild nutmeg dry sweet toasted caramel biscuit English body. Mild hot Winter Spice hop end. Sampled 11/17/2005.
2005 12 oz.(4.25 / 5.0) Mild lace head. Hazy rich dark amber red color. Malty English mild floral hop coriander spice front. Creamy sweet smooth malty English biscuit cherry toffee fruit nutmeg body. Spicy wheat hop clean end. Sampled 5/13/2006.
2006 22 oz.(4.5 /5.0) Foamy lacy head. Slightly hazy bright cherry amber color. Mellow spicy English hop coriander front. Rich cherry biscuit English malty body. Clean mild hop spice malty very tasty end. Sampled 11/15/2006.
2006 12 oz.(4.25 / 5.0) Foamy lacy head. Clear bright cherry amber color. Vanilla hop front. Smooth cloying mild butter caramel vanilla breadfruit body. English smooth cloying smooth mild hop spice creamy mellow end. Sampled 2/19/2007.
2007 22 oz.(4.25 / 5.0) $3.99 Each. Foamy lacy off white head. Clear ruby amber color. Malty toffee cherry mild hop front. Mild creamy sweet buttery biscuit vanilla toffee mild cherry ester malty body. Smooth mild hop cloying malt end. Sampled 10/24/2007
2007 12 oz.(4.25 / 5.0) 6-Pack $9.99. Tight rich lacy off white head. Clear thin dark amber red color. Rich toasted toffee cherry mild hop malt spice front. Cloying mild creamy sweet toffee biscuit English body. Malt spice mild hop end. Sampled 10/26/2007
2008 12 oz.-6.90% ABV-35 IBU's? (4.25 / 5.0) Rich lacy off white tan head. Clear ruby red color. Malty toffee English hop front. Malty mild sweet toasted toffee doughy biscuit chewy malt spice body. Smooth easy toffee mild hop spice lingering malt spice end. Sampled 3/27/2009. 6-Pack-$11.99.
Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale--Ale Brewed With Natural Flavors--2008 22 oz.6.90% ABV--35 IBU's? (4.25 / 5.0) Lacy off white head. Clear rich dark ruby color. Mild hop vanilla toasted caramel fruit front. Mild creamy English toffee biscuit malty body. Smooth mild hop toasted Winter spice hint end. Tasty when warm. Smooth. Sampled 11/16/2008. $4.99 Each.
2009 12 oz.-6.90% ABV--6 IBU's. (4.25 / 5.0) Winter Ale--English. Big thin rich mild lace head. Clear thin bright amber red color. Malty vanilla mild hop front. Creamy smooth malty mild toffee caramel mild Winter spice vanilla body. Rich lingering malt mild hop spice end. Mellow sentimental Winter favorite. Stated IBU's on Web Page seem low. Sampled 10/23/2009 & 12/25/2009. $10.99 / 6-Pack.

2010--22 oz.-6.90% ABV. 6 IBU's. (3.75 / 5.0) Rich dense lacy off white head. Clear bright dark ruby rich red color. Soft toffee black cherry mild hop front. Malty doughy creamy mild sweet soft toffee sweetbread English malt body without the stank. Cloying smooth mild hop soft malt spice end. Malty English-Style Winter Ale. Sampled 10/10/1910. Purchased for $3.99 @ Ken's Market--Phinney Ridge, Seattle, WA USA on 10/6/2010.

philbertk, Oct 11, 2010
Photo of littlesgtpepper
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had a 6oz taster glass at AVBC.

Poured a deep brownish red color with a slightly tan head which was kind of thick.

Wow! This IS a winter beer. Smells of Christmas spices, cinnamon, nutmug, mild hops.

The taste doesn't disappoint either. There are so many flavors clashing here: caramel, spices, buttered rum, toffee, and a couple others I can't place. Very velvety smooth.

This is a delicious sipper. It pays to drink this slow to appreciate all the layers but I would recommend drinking your lighter beers before this since the flavors are strong and numb the taste buds.

littlesgtpepper, Sep 25, 2010
Photo of apbarwood
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Kind of a sun-burnt coppery color with an off-white head of foam. Falls away in a decent amount of time and leaves a fair amount of lace swirling around the glass. The aroma is fruity with a definite tartness. I smell some cherry and an apple/pear note with a hint of a dry citrus. There's something faint that a can't put my finger on that brings to mind a glass of Chardonnay. I'm going to just attribute that to the combo of apple and pears. The flavor is tart cherry up front and borders on a hard candy cherry flavor, like a Jolly Rancher. There's a bit of malt body there too though it's distant which gives the finish a chocolate covered cherry quality. I still get apples but not as much pear as on the nose. To be precise, there's a distinct apple peel flavor to me which I didn't find appealing. It seems a bit astringent almost like crab apple. I have to say that the finish average overall. I don't find myself wanting to drink more. I would like a bit more malt and some spice to balance out the fruit. I'd be happier if I tasted cooked, spiced apples rather than dry apple peels. Overall not bad but definitely not great. It smelled nice, but I suppose I was expecting a bit more than fruit to show up when I tasted it. Disappointing. As far as the Solstice beers go, Summer is a far better choice in my opinion.

apbarwood, Jun 23, 2010
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a short off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is pretty faint but contains caramelized malts, nuts, some spices and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, spices and a little bit of fruit. Then there's a strong breadiness that comes in from the hearty malt character. However it's not quite as heavy as most in the style which I consider to be a good quality. The hops presence is mild but complementary and provides some balance. The after-taste is slightly bready and slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, this beer is on the lighter side of a style that is usually kind of heavy which makes the beer a bit more poundable than most other winter beers and it also doesn't have as much of the "gingerbread cookie" kind of feel and flavor that other get knocked for. Overall it's a decent beer with flavor and substance.

TheManiacalOne, May 30, 2010
Photo of emmasdad
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice amber-copper color with a thick inch or so of foam resting on top. Nice spicy/nutty aromas, hops, caramel and cinnamon. Flavors of caramel, sweet malt, toffee, some hoppiness, and a host of Christmas-y spices. A very, very good Winter beer, one of my favorites, and one that is unfortunately somewhat difficult to find in Colorado (although certainly worth the effort).

emmasdad, May 25, 2010
Photo of slaintemhor
1.35/5  rDev -65.2%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Tried a bottle of this back in Sept. of '09. The colour was a ruddy amber with a thick head. The aroma was quite funky, and I don't mean that in a good way! There were smells akin to my compost bin,and that can't be good! On the palate, it tastes like my compost bin drippings might taste!! Is this a bad bottle?! I can't imagine that the folks at A.V. Brewing would make something this heinous!

slaintemhor, May 07, 2010
Photo of 4000qtrap
2.95/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Source:/Serving: 20oz. Bottle. No expiration date and not aged.

Smell: Some dark fruit syrup and caramel with a slightly funky, horsey, oak note that leads into low lying black pepper, and clove spice that is muted but on the harsh side. A pinch of cider that adds a depth of flavor and anchors the nose a bit.

Taste: Moderately sweet caramel apple with a cidery edge. Quite caramelly in the middle with a slightly astringent fruit skin bitterness towards the finish. A faint hint of spice. Overall, the flavor isn't as nice as the nose and is pretty mild overall, though it is balanced. Its almost like a slightly sweet and spicier, fruitier amber. Finish is semisweet with toasted caramel notes, but has a earthy/medicinal flavor that tastes a little bit off.

Note: If you don't like your seasonal beers too intense or too spicy this beer would probably be a good option.

4000qtrap, May 04, 2010
Photo of beerwolf77
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my pint glass the beer is brownish amber hued. About two fingers of light tan head recede rather quickly and leave a touch of lace.

The aroma is slightly fruity with hints of oranges, lemons and apples. Traces of malt and spice are present as well. Brown sugar seems to ooze as it warms.

The flavor is rather sweet. Lots of sugar drizzled apples and pears. Smooth malt and a decent amount of spice. Not too strong at all. Just enough flavor to bring you back for another sip.

Medium to light body. Light carbonation.

Overall a nice WW. Not a flavorful blast like most in the style but easy drinking for sure.

beerwolf77, May 04, 2010
Photo of neenerzig
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Spilt a 6 pack of this with my good buddy Passow about 2 months ago or so and realized that I had one of these left in my fridge. Poured it into my pint glass. This beer pours a mainly clear, but slightly hazy amber/orangish color. The tan head is a good inch when poured, settling to a good 1/3 inch and then after a few sips to a nice thick ring lining the inside of the glass. Decent lacing. Aromas of dark fruits and spice are quite apparent along with a hint of vanilla. Has good caramel malt flavor upfront along with the vanilla, dark fruit such as cherry, plum, raisins, and apples. Rounded out with come cinnamon and clove spices for sure. Light hop presence on the back of the tongue, but barely noticeable, you really have to look for it to be aware of its presence. Has a good crisp, smooth and frothy, medium to full bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Easy to drink in the way a well crafted beer should be, but don't try and drink this too quickly, the alcohol creeps up on you and makes its presence known pretty quickly. I really enjoyed this and hope to drink it again.


neenerzig, Mar 10, 2010
Photo of JoePat
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour's a reddish brown with a tan two finger head.
Smells like lemmon zest and mixed berry sprite.
The flavor is like mixed berry sprite also while more citrusy on the nose it is more fruity in taste.
The mouth feel is a little thin but is pretty drinkable.

JoePat, Feb 26, 2010
Photo of ksimons
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-rich brown with about an inch of foam which left a thin layer on top

S-warm bread like malt and citrus fruit, no real spices present

T-low carbonation, a fruity taste but not overly sweet, malty, butterscotch, again not getting much winter warmer spices

M-slight carbonation, very smooth, no real aftertaste, thin body

Very easy to drink, but not the most exciting. With a fuller body, richer malt, and more winter spices this could be a pretty good winter warmer.

ksimons, Feb 14, 2010
Photo of nickfl
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Two and a half fingers of tan head on top of an amber brown body with excellent clarity. The foam settles slowly and leaves nice, thick lace in it place.

S - A light aroma of caramel malt with some toffee. Some peppery spice notes and a hint of yeasty fruit.

T - Some light caramel up front with a huge note of buttery toffee. Some spice cake flavors in the middle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Finishes with lingering spice and brown malt flavors as well as light, balancing hop bitterness.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - Thick and rich malt character dominates this beer's character and helps to spread out and spicy flavors and keep the beer drinkable. The aroma is somewhat subdued, but the flavor is full of rich toffee and malt that provides an excellent background for the mellow spice and yeast notes. Overall, this is a very nice example of a style that can be, and too often is, ruined by excessive specialty grain character and spice.

nickfl, Feb 13, 2010
Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,397 ratings.