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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

1,397 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
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Ratings: 1,397 | Reviews: 675 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Bounty628
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed as a winter warmer ale, Winter Solstice packs a very pleasant 6.9% ABV in each bottle which allows this offering to both provide a nice quantity of alcohol but not be pushed into the Imperial category thereby scaring off some drinkers. The alcohol though at 6.9% is balanced throughout the offering not pushing away the other flavors in the beer that make this beer a solid pour.

Poured from a bottle, Winter Solstice pours brown with ruby highlights accentuated throughout the pour. The head on the pour is rather thin and beige and does not hold its own much after the pour. The pour comes off nice and smooth and there is a minimal amount of carbonation noted in the glass once poured from the bottle. Based upon the minimal amount of head in the pour, there is not a noted amount of lacing left along the glass during the drinking of Winter Solstice.

The aroma of this beer blends some rich and dark fruit notes to a sweet and almost vanilla complexity. You get some dried fruits like cherries up front and then comes in the smooth and warm vanilla nature matched nicely to some holiday spices. The balance in the nose really is remarkable as one component does not shine through more than any other and the symbiotic relationship at play here works ideally.

As one could imagine given the pleasant aroma at work in this offering, the taste has an appealing complexity to it that serves this offering quite well. The malts come through in much greater detail in the taste of this beer and they work off of the sweetness that is within the offering quite nicely. This ale is neither too malted or too sweet and truly is a fine creation for a winter warmer style. Though the spices in the nose do not come through as much in the taste as one might have expected, there is still that warm, holiday feel to this offering. There is also a certain element of tartness to this ale that is expected and matched to the dried cherry undertones recognized in the nose.

Winter warmers tend to across the board have a very smooth and mild mouthfeel and Winter Solstice is no different. Even though this offering is an ale, there is the impression of a creaminess that works its way across the palate during the offering thanks in part to the warming vanilla highlights accentuated in the offering. The mild carbonation in this offering is not a fault of the beer as it allows the beer to sort of be forced across the mouth rather than have the carbonation do all the heavy lifting. This is a very easy to drink winter warmer that is solid from start to finish.

Bounty628, Jan 31, 2010
Photo of degerbah
2.9/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark opaque brown with about an inch of head. The head settels quickly leaving a thin film over the top of the beer. The aroma is slightly fruity with a strong dtrain of vanilla as well. The taste is over-sweet with a bunch of strange flavors added in. It seems like there are a bunch of other items added to the beer to add extra flavor. These merge together in somewhat of a mess. The beer's almost seven percent strength is evident in the mouthfeel as it combines with the excess flavor to hinder the beer's drinkability.

degerbah, Jan 30, 2010
Photo of sulldaddy
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampling a room temp 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. The brew pours a clear copper hue with fluffy beige head that almost overflows the glass. The head fades to a sturdy surface layer leaving no lattice on the glass. Aroma is toffee and dark fruit (plums) and hits of brown sugar. First sip reveals an average body with mild but fizzy carbonation.
Flavor is sweet malt with brown sugar glazed plums dominant no real hops to be found and no booze hits either. An easy drinking tasty brew. I would buy this again in a 6er if I found it while shopping for beer.

sulldaddy, Jan 23, 2010
Photo of TheMadJack
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Prepared from notes. Beer served in Pint Glass.

A: Clear red-brown. Thin head with full, even lacing. Active, if weak, carbonation.

S: Strawberry, apple, vanilla. Malts have a character like a loaf of wheat bread. Little to no hops presence.

T: Strawberry, green apple, very subtle malts.

M: Clear and smooth, with light fizz.

D: Light and entertaining. Not too challenging, but tasty. Low alcohol rounds out a solidly drinkable beer.

TheMadJack, Jan 21, 2010
Photo of ThaBobfather
4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a translucent ruby/brown color with a great sampling of beigish head.
Smell is well spiced with some toasted qualities, very overwhelming smell spice wise.
Taste is highly complex, we've got the fizzy tastes of spice starts it off and it finishes well with sweet, sweet malts.
Finish is dry but there is so much spice and sweet flavor left over on my palate.
Drinks great with this complex spice flavor that can be tough for some to get through.

ThaBobfather, Jan 19, 2010
Photo of mwa423
4.88/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Pours a beautiful clear red with two fingers of white head that died down to a very sticky lacing.

S - Hefty smell of dried fruit and vanilla, very christmas/holiday like.

T - The taste is a very full flavored with lots of spice, mostly vanilla, and lots of fruit. This is almost more of a fruit beer than a winter warmer. But, I love the taste and will have to pick some of these up in the future.

M/D - Mouthfeel is filling and creamy, very enjoyable. This is a very drinkable beer, but I think that the subtlety and complexity of this beer would be lost after a few.

mwa423, Jan 18, 2010
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's a deep, rich amber color with some red. 1" formiddable head rises and falls with a aged look overall.

Dark caramel maltiness, rather woody, gentle heat, brown sugar, flat cocoa aroma, spicey chili's. yowza.

An aged malty complexity, sweet and smokey, powdered cocoa with some earthy zest and pepper from the hop balance. A medium to full feel and rather slick going down although zippy from the hops and booze.

This one is right on for the season.

GratefulBeerGuy, Jan 16, 2010
Photo of donniecuffs
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an American pint glass; reddish brown with a small white head (less than a finger). Smelled of sour cherry, subtle spice, and malt. The tart cherry certainly came through in the taste; so did caramel, molasses, and candi sugar. Medium-bodied and modestly carbonated. Very tasty and sessionable for a winter warmer.

donniecuffs, Jan 14, 2010
Photo of gthornton
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 1/2 inch thick head - clings to glass; dark brown/amber hue.

S: Caramel, raisins.

T: Well balanced sweetness from caramel, butterscotch, raisin

M: This might be my favorite part; creamy, and a light tickle of carbonation.

D: I can feel the alcohol in this brew, yet it is very drinkable. The raisin becomes more apparent in the bouquet as the beer warms up, but that process likely won't happen long, because each sip/gulp begs for another soon after.

- I recommend you grab this seasonal before its too late.

gthornton, Jan 11, 2010
Photo of horshack7
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A semi dark amber with two fingers of frothy head. The head thins out to about one finger leaving behind a little lacing.

Aroma: Caramel malts and dark sugar. Slight bit of esters with floralness on the tail end. Faint cinnamon and ginger.

Taste: A decent burst of sweetness. Carob and caramel malts. A little bit of bite from the hops but a nice smooth mouthfeel. A nice flurish of butterscotch rounds it out.

Notes: This is a solid beer to be enjoyed anytime. Cheers.

horshack7, Jan 04, 2010
Photo of Stigs
3/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

poured from a growler filled about a week ago...served in a Stone Levitation glass

A - about a finger of light tan head which quickly retreated to a very thin layer of film a little more dense around the inside of the glass. the beer is a strong amber color, quite clear.

S - tough to pikcup much here, faint biscuity and sweetened malt with very faint ginger and cinnamon notes.

T - strong punch of all kinds of sweetness: vanilla, graham cracker, malted milk balls, sweet milk chocolate. grainy biscuit malts underneath it all...complete lake of hops to balance.

M - super creamy but medium bodied and good subtle but active carbonation (might be a product of the growler sitting for a bit).

D - liquid version of a five year olds classroom gingerbread house. hard to finish, glad my girlfriend loves it.

Stigs, Jan 03, 2010
Photo of mckeowbc
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep amber with a dense head that settles down to around half a finger in my glass. A little lacing tries to cling to the glass as you drink but very little actually hangs around very long. Beer is almost completely tranparent.
S - Smell is lightly malty with a hint of spice.
T - Taste is lightly hoppy with a nice balance of malt. A very small amount of spice is detectable. The beer finishes a touch smokey.
M - The malt content gives this beer a bit of weight on the tongue.
D - Very drinkable, well balanced. Although the smokey flavor is not my favorite finish, in this beer it's so light that it doesn't bother me.

mckeowbc, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of bamadog
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a coppery shade blended with a brownish orange hue; starts with a big 2 and 1/2 finger light tan creamy looking head that fades fairly slowly to a thin and uneven skim; body is a little hazy and shows pretty minimal carbonation; spotty and loose washes of lacing hold to the sides where they can.

Smell: A very light toasty graininess and a very faint whiff of sweet malts - the nose is pretty weak though and doesn't give me much at all.

Taste: World apart from the nose as there seems to be a fair amount going on here -- the toasty graininess is definitely present, but it's accompanied by a nice, sweet and smooth carmally maltiness; a very mild spiciness is way in the back and it is like a bit of warm cinnamon.

Mouthfeel: A little thick and creamy; carbonation is very soft and it makes for a very smooth body; mouth is left a little sticky and the gums are actually left a little tingly.

Drinkability: Quite high; great, warm flavors and an enjoyable mouthfeel would make this ideal for a cool winter night, much like tonight; with the moderate ABV, I could get through a couple of these in a sitting with little to no problem.

bamadog, Dec 30, 2009
Photo of DrDemento456
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have a "Rivertowne" growler now and I have been meaning to fill it for a while so why not with some Christmas Cheer?

Filled at the Verona Rivertowne for 15.29

A - Red-ish brown like an ornament.
S - I detect cinnamon and ginger bread like malts.
T - Cinnamon and honey dominant but the bread like undertone keeps the beer from falling flat.
M - Creamy and delicious. It's hard to believe it's almost 7% by volume until you near the end of the Growler.
D - Excellent. I would try this in bottle forum next since it kind of seemed watery.

Overall one great Christmas beer. I would consider buying bottles of this for either new years or purchase next year!

DrDemento456, Dec 26, 2009
Photo of GoalieRon33
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Ruby red, with a brownish tint. Beautiful beer. Invokes a christmas feeling

S- Fresh, spicy smell. Reminds me of cookies, with a sweet smell.

T- Bready, malty, spicy. Again, not to be redundant, but it tastes like a delicious christmas cookie. Christmas spices give a warm flavor. Balanced, with a hoppy finish that adds a certain spice.

M- heavy, slick, easy to drink

D- Thee best winter beer I've had...ever. So easy to drink for such a heavy alcohol content

GoalieRon33, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of Shaw
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

BA thryn gave me a bottle, thanks!

Pours a nice amber/copper in color with a tan head that reduces to a quarter-inch layer in my glass.

It has a light aroma of toasted malt with a hint of spices.

The taste is lightly malty and sweet, with a hint of spices and flavors of caramel. It has a hint of hops, too.

The body is smooth and slick.

Overall this is a pretty good beer. I wish it had a bit more flavor.

Shaw, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of nickd717
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber from the brewery, a year old but apparently no worse for the wear. Maybe this ages well like Anchor Our Special Ale.

Pours a somewhat cloudy amber-brown color with a fairly thick one-finger beige head.

Aroma is pretty nice with caramel, spice, and fruity notes. A little woody even. This could almost pass for -bal aged!

Flavor is good and balanced: caramel malt, toffee, gingerbread, amaretto, wood, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices. More subtle and balanced than most other winter beers.

Medium body with a fairly smooth palate.

Drinkability is really high for the ABV, and for a beer in general. Overall a very solid winter warmer.

nickd717, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of jdense
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle served as nightcap on 2009 edition of Eastern Oregon Twelve Beers of Christmas, poured into Deschutes shaker pint glass.

Amber body, finger and a half white head, nice lacing. Sweet over bready malts in nose, hops in the background. The taste is sweetish, but citrusy hops make presence known on backend. Very smooth mouthfeel and very drinkable. Certainly a good holiday ale interpretation, but after prolific tasting not standing out that much. Worth a second look.

jdense, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of Rayek
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Perfect Pint glass.

A: Deep amber with nice clarity and light carbonation. A small off-white head quickly retreats to a ring at the beer's edge. Leaves spots of lace.

S: Nutty and slightly spicy. Cinnamon, clove and a hint of mint stuck out most. A nutty almond aroma is in the background.

T: Pretty nutty and toasty out of the gate. The spices slowly build with more of the cinnamon and clove from the nose. Bitterness is mild and takes a backseat to the spices. Balance is very nice. The spices linger into the slightly dry finish.

M: The body has a nice heft to it and the carbonation feels just about right.

D: This is a nicely done Winter Warmer. It's a welcome and very drinkable visitor to my glass.

Rayek, Dec 22, 2009
Photo of LibraryTom
2.85/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2


Pours a nice deep amber orange.

All cream soda.

One dimensional sweet malt, with not enough spice or hop to balance it out. Almost no perceptible bittering component.

It is rich and overly done, and it is hard to drink more than a few ounces for me. Overall, eh, on a beer I am never that into.

LibraryTom, Dec 21, 2009
Photo of WanderingFool
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Winter Solstice pours a clear dark copper color with a thin white head on top. The foam fades quickly leaving behind a few spots of lace on the glass. Overall the beer looked 'flat' but has a beautiful color.

The aroma is faint with notes of caramel malt, cinnamon and vanilla with a hint of oak. Each sip of this medium/full bodied beer is smooth and slightly chewy with a mild fizz on the sides of the tongue.

The flavor is a nice combination of caramel malt, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and toasted oats. It reminds me of a glazed oatmeal cookie. It finishes with a touch of oak. Once gone the vanilla and cinnamon linger on the palate.

This is one of those beers that gets better as it warms in the glass. More subtle flavors appear in the aroma and flavor.

WanderingFool, Dec 20, 2009
Photo of FickleBeast
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Pours clear amber with a finger and a half of foam that leaves moderate lacing.

Aroma is a moderate blend of sweetness and some spice. Not overwhelming or aggressive, but rather subtle.

Taste is an initial rush of sweetness followed by a distinct flavor of holiday spices. This has to be one of the first "spiced" beers that I have legitimately enjoyed the way the spices contribute to the beer's flavor. I also pick up some cherries in the flavor.

This beer has a great mouthfeel - smooth and lightly carbonated. Drinkability is excellent! I regret that I only purchased a single of this beer... I'll have to seek out some more.

FickleBeast, Dec 19, 2009
Photo of Jayli
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at BBC in Walpole 12/17

A: This beer pours a nice deep ruby/copper color. A thin film sat on top and disappeared immediately. No lacing to speak of.

S: Nose is of vanilla, caramel malts, and some white chocolate.

T: Taste starts with a slight hint of nutmeg flavoring, some anise, and leads in to a hearty malt taste. Light caramel, toffee, white chocolate, and a true vanilla finish.

M: Medium body, low carbonation, creamy feel with a rich finish.

D: Very tasty, goes down easily, I could enjoy another pint or two of these!

Jayli, Dec 18, 2009
Photo of isualum12
4.7/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This beer is my personal holy grail...A couple weeks ago I was hosting a winter beer tasting event and I sampled this beer incase I wanted to have it at the tasting event. My mind was blown away. I instantly want to try and pair it with some food. Snickerdoodle cookies....I know your laughing right now. Try it, it was pure bliss. Since then I have had it on tap 4 more times and loved every one.

Big creamy smooth head, with a cooper to red body.

Sweet caramel cinnomen malt smell. You can smell the sugars.
Caramel and cinnomen are the two main flavors i walked away with.

Medium body, with a creamy aftertaste.

Flavors are not over the top but are balanced to perfection. I simply loved this paired with the cookie. On a side note this was the top beer of the 8 winter beers I had at the tasting voted on by the 12 friends I had over.

I just bought another 6 today.
Serving type: bottle and tap.

isualum12, Dec 16, 2009
Photo of popery
1.95/5  rDev -49.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I'll go back and try this one again, but this bottle is awful. It's extremely sweet and tastes a bit like a terrible, buttery gingerbread cookie. I'm trying to figure out what people like about it, but there's enormous sweet note in the finish that's turning my stomach. It reminds me of Shiner's terrible Holiday Cheer - there's almost a peach/apricot note in the sweetness. It tastes like there's an ok winter warmer underneath the bizarre sweet fruit notes, but it's a stretch for me to say anything positive here. More than anything, it tastes like a terrible flavored cola, Vanilla Coke or something. Actually, I think that the terrible flavor might be more vanilla than fruit. Either way, it's not to my liking. Hopefully, this is just a funny bottle. I will try it again soon.

popery, Dec 12, 2009
Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,397 ratings.