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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

700 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 700
Hads: 1,679
Avg: 3.86
pDev: 21.76%
Wants: 68
Gots: 194 | 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:
Beer added by: maxpower on 11-18-2001

Winter Solstice® is our take on the classic style of “winter warmer.” Boasting a deep amber hue and rich mouthfeel, its creamy finish will lift your spirits. Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 700 | Hads: 1,679
Photo of chanokokoro
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. can in stemmed English ale glass

Pours a maple syrup-colored amber capped with an off-white billowing head. Excellent retention with plenty of lacing. Big caramel aroma rounded out by plums and notes of brandy. Toffee, black cherries, plum and various stone fruit notes. Biscuity notes midpalate Finishes with caramel covered black cherries. Medium body, smooth, silky mouthfeel; moderate carbonation. Wonderful winter warmer, one of the best available.

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Photo of JosiahS
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

glass: Tulip

Cloudy dark copper color with a 1-2 finger off-white head. It's a little too hazy to see much carbonation. The aroma carries a strong malt backbone, rich with toffee, dates, cocoa nibs, cherry-apple and spices.

Smooth velvety mouthfeel that just can't be beat. The flavors merry so well, spot on with the aroma. Strong, rich malt flavors throughout. Finishes clean, easy and smooth with minimal bitterness.

I picked this beer up in a mix pack but i can see myself going back for a sixer. One of the better winter offerings i've had so far.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass warmed to about 50 degrees. 2005 edition.

A: Deep auburn with ivory head, less than one finger.

S: Caramel, butterscotch maybe? Candy sweetness but there's a deeper rich roasted aroma as well.

T: Almost exceptional...not sugary sweet - complex. The caramel is there with what can best be described as toasted nuts (almonds, walnuts?) Hints of spice too. Others have done a better job describing, all I know is that I enjoy the taste immensely

M: Warm & seductive. Dances on the tongue. Full & lingering flavor.

D: I agree this isn't a session beer...I think of it more as a "savor" beer, like a dessert. A very good winter warmer and one I'm happy to have found.

Oh, man I love this beer...keeping one for later

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Photo of ficknish
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark amber. Light bubbles. Good head.

S - Caramel. Toasty malts. Spices. Bread. Raisins. Vanilla.

T - Marshmallow. Vanilla. Toffee. Strong bitter hops. Spices.

M - Tingly. Bitter. Medium body.

O - Loving this beer. Sweet body with homey flavors of vanilla, bread, and spices. Sweetness was well balanced with hop bitterness. Will drink again.

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Photo of ffejherb
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 release. 12oz. bottle into pint glass on 12/26/07.

A - Poured a clear ruby red body with mahogany tones and one-finger rocky beige head. Lots of bubbles of active carbonation. Pretty good head retention with spotty lacing.

S - Rich malty nose with sweet caramel, chocolate and bready/toasted malts. Faint herbal hops in the background. Traces of fruit, anise, cinnamon and winter spices. Reminds me of gingerbread cookie dough.

T - Lots of subtle flavors combining here, making for a very tasty winter ale. Starts off a bit spicy with a mix of winter spices, followed by a delicate caramel and chocolate sweetness. Finishes up with a robust, bready malt flavor and some more chocolate and gingerbread.

M - Medium body with an exceptionally smooth, creamy texture. Soft carbonation with a minimal prickle factor. Finish is sweet and smooth on the palate.

D - This is an extremely tasty brew that's easy to drink. Much more subtle than other winter ales I've had. Very nice blend of malts and spices. It will warm you up on a chilly winter evening.

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Photo of QXSTER1
4.36/5  rDev +13%
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.

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Photo of tattooedtolley
4.37/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap

Appearance: Reddish amber in color, thin tan head.

Smell: Very sweet smelling, fruit-like, and malty. a bit of hops

Taste: Sweet with plenty of malty goodness, and a bit of hops to balance. For some reason I tasted bubblegum on a few sips. I heard others saying the same thing, but after a few more sips it was easier to pick that apart.

Mouthfeel: Good body to it also fairly crisp and refreshing.

Drinkability: I was satisfied after one, not a session beer for me but I could easily handle another.

I must be honest, I am no big fan of winter ales. I said this to my friend at this particular pub and he insisted that I have one of these on the house. After having this winter ale, I don't think there will be another out there quite like it or one that I like so well.

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Photo of buffettfan
4.37/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of the bomber, into a pint glass.

A- Pours a nice, copper colored, reddish brown. With a nice layer of fluffy head, and some tenacious lacing!
S- Sweet and a little spice. Carmel candy smells, with some vanilla, and winter spices come through. This smells GREAT!
T- Some of the same tastes come through that you can smell. A sort of candy sweet caramel maltiness, with those wintery spicy! There is some vanilla and nutmeg/cinnamon tastes coming through.

M- Warm and inviting! I great winter beer! Not heavy at all, very smooth, and extremely drinkable!!

D- VERY drinkable! I will be buying this one again! Might even be my Christmas evening beer!

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Photo of Gatch
4.37/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Re-review in November of 2011:
Taste of Tops in Tempe, AZ.

A - Deep amber to medium brown in color. Not much of a head (could be due to bartender's pour) and no head retention at all.

S - Candied & dried fruit, sweet malt, caramelized sugar.

T - Sweet malt, wonderful lightly toasted malt finish with sweet, sugary undertones. Syrupy goodness. The alcohol is there but complements the beer.

M - Very slight carbonation that sizzles on the tongue. Smooth & drinkable.

On-tap at Taste of Tops in Tempe, AZ.

A - Copper, rusty, off-white flat head.
S - Sweet malt with some spice.
T - Very sweet, smooth, malty, a slight carbonation, slightly cloying. But very enjoyable.
M/D - Although cloying, a nice sweetness & very drinkable.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 - cellared for almost 4 years... lost at the back of the cabinet.

The appearance remains the same... it's a clear reddish brown with a creamy off-white head. The nose is similar as well; malty with caramel and a hint of vanilla, as well as some yeasty fruitiness. It seems to have lost a bit of carbonation, but it's always been a smooth, delicately carbonated and malty beer. In the flavor, the maltiness seems to have dwindled a bit, but its orange-like citrus flavor remains along with some spicy hops. The bitterness has softened, and it's remarkably drinkable! You could easily quaff a pint or two of this before the strength of the alcohol snuck up on you. That's not to say that it's improved, however. This is a beer best enjoyed fresh!!! (Note: I've kept the numbers the same for this beer because I don't want to bring its ratings down, but when scored properly I only came up with a 4.15).

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Photo of noslenwerd
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Day 3, beer 3/365

A: An orangey to light copper color. Nice lace down the glass the whole way

S: Not much smell to it, a little bit of a sweet smell

T: This REALLY hit the spot as far as taste goes. To me the first thing that hits you is a butterscotch taste, and as soon as it hits your throat to me you get a strong "cream soda" type of flavor, but its not overpowering. Just right.

Summary: Overall this has been on of my favorite seasonal ales without a doubt. I would have to say my favorite Christmas ale for sure (admittedly I have not had many up to this point)

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Photo of leokbelo
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber haze into a pint glass. 2 inch creamy head, fades into a nice lacing till the end.
Sweet, fruity, caramel toffee on the nose. Very inviting.
Delicious malt sweetness on the tongue, extremely tasty! Nutmegs, cloves, again caramel and a hint of cinnamon. Hops are present, to bring it to balance.
This beer is so smooth, it's insane!
Extremely drinkable, Highly recommended!
Wow, what an amazing Winter Warmer!

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Photo of biegaman
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled off tap at Coles, in Buffalo.
Nice presentation, served in a wide mouthed tulip glass. An icy, glossed over bronze colour. Very thin head that parts to the outside and sort of slumbers to the sides of the glass. An alluring aroma, warming and welcoming. Gentle, melodious spices. A great deal of caramel malt with softened vanilla notes. Very nice drinkability, quite enjoyable! Smooth carbonation with a mellow, warming aftertaste. Savoury, ripe flavours. Again a light note of reserved, timid spices that blend well with a generous base of sticky, toasty malt. A more than pleasant winter warmer, promising first impression of this brewer, and overall - greatly enjoyed!

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Photo of doerickson
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy iced-tea coloring with an enormous rocky cream-colored head. Aromas of cotton candy and almost eggnog-like sweetness and some spiciness and fruitiness. Medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel. As for the flavor...it took me a few minutes to place it, but this brew has a lot of the characteristics of cream soda--the essences though, not so much the sweetness. Definite vanilla overtones, very subtle nutmeg flavor. Medium-length finish, pretty dry. Very drinkable. A unique and tasty brew.

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Photo of jcdiflorio
4.4/5  rDev +14%
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.

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Photo of dsa7783
4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First ever brew from Anderson Valley and I am very impressed. For a winter warmer this hits the nail directly on the head. This is everything a winter warmer should be. A near perfect rendition of the style. Nice burgundy red appearance with slight frothy head. Leads to a caramel and bready smell. Taste strongly compliments the aroma. Brown sugar like sweetness leaves a malty and bready finish that lingers on the palate. Def recommended.

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Photo of sinistrsam
4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a complete sleeper for me; In my wildest dreams I wouldn't have thought this beer was as interesting and tasty as it was. It poured a dark brown with a small tan head, and left moderate lacing on the glass. It had a rich, sweet nose, caramel and dark sugars, possibly dark fruits. Most definitely dark malts, and some mild spices.
The taste was quite sweet, with plenty of fruit and spice, caramel and chocolate, very smooth and very creamy. I was expecting a bitter spicy seasonal, but I got a creamy chocolate caramel brew that really suprised me. The aftertaste was as smooth as a milk stout, with milk chocolate taste lingering for several minutes. Hats off to Anderson Valley on this one; possibly the best seasonal I've had all year.

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Photo of Stunner97
4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance- brown to amber with bit of cloudiness, white lacing stays along the top of the beer through out drinking, low carbonation

Smell- very nice nose of malt spice and slight hop, inviting

Taste- beautiful balance of malt, spice, and hop, just purely beautiful balance

Mouthfeel- smooth and refreshing feel

Drinkability/overall- overall this is far and away the best winter warmer i have ever tasted, its just so tasty, the balance is superb, has spice and malt and some hop but all so perfectly balanced, usually im far from winter warmer guy but this is the cream of the crop to me and the one to seek out

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Photo of dpool
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Cherry wood color with a nice head

Smell: Smells like the holidays; cinnamon and nutmeg

Taste: Great taste, soft with a hint of sweetness

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and makes your pallate want more

Drinkability: I would drink this beer all year round if it was available and its light enough to have a few.

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Photo of jmbranum
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

At first I was a bit disappointed as winter warmers are often very heavily spiced --- something which the label guaranteed --- and this beer was immediately spicy. At best I thought it was better than average amber.

But then I changed my mind. This beer needs a little time to sit in the glass and warm up for it to shine. The flavors are still subtle but they are there: caramel and malt, winter spices. Mouthfeel is fairly light but kinda silky too (as the label also promised... oh wait am I being susceptible to the label's verbiage? Oh well, it is working.) Maybe a tinge of maple, definitely more maple.

Aroma was subtle at first but also seems to build in a caramelish direction.

Overall, I would drink it again but I'll let it rest in the glass a bit before sipping. I do think I prefer the more assertively spiced holiday beers though.

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Photo of wailingwench
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 bottle. A REAL winter brew, not like someting else that has a cabin with a wreath on it in the snow covered mountains.

Eye Candy: Ruddy brown with a minimal off white fizzy head. Excellent retention and lacing. Carbonation vanished quickly. Looks syrupy.

The Nose Knows: Cinnamon spices early that rapidy give way to creamy vanilla and caramel. As it warmed toasted malts emerged from under the "snowy blanket." Slight pine hop aroma detected.

Tongueland: Rich body with medium m/f. Blended spices that finish with a mild caramel undercut with creamy vanilla. ABV is undetectable.

Bender Factor: Almost to good. I see why this a a gold medal winner. At 6.9 % ABV, a good brew to put down while wrapping presents, putting up lights, or shoveling th driveway.

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Photo of orfeu
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Obscure amber with a modest, dusky sand colored head. Slow rising carbonation. Looks "heavy" for some reason. Nutmeg and cinnamon scents lurk behind a pleasantly surprising west coast citrus blossom aroma. Some sugary malt comes forward in the smell, too. Nice mixture of scents! Vanilla and caramel take front stage in the taste, with some spicy nasturtium-esque floral hop flavors that weave back and forth between citrus and spice. Cheerfully light-to-medium body, just a tad slippery but overall smooth mouthfeel. This is an eminently quaffable beer, any time of year. Label claims that this one is a gold medal winner of some sort, and I'm inclined to agree with whoever judged that competition. Easily one of my favorite winter seasonals!

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Photo of beernut7
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is one of the more enjoyable winter ales on the market. Pours a deep brown with a light lace rimming the glass. The aroma is very much of tootsie roll chocolate. The flavor is lightly roasted with a distinct caramel and bold flavor very much that of a snicker’s bar. An obvious bitterness, very distinguishable from the other flavors, balances out the sweet candy-like malt characters. Very large on flavor and uniqueness.

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Photo of pheurton
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
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.

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Photo of PorterLambic
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
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.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 700 ratings.