Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

1,650 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,650
Reviews: 720
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 13.92%
Wants: 60
Gots: 179 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,650 | Reviews: 720
Photo of dawg
4.32/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this last one into a stout glass. Had my first in a bottle in a local bar this year. Both were very good.

Pours well. Rich creamy balsa head which sticks around for awhile releasing aroma of fruits and spices. Smells like an exceptional seasonal with, perhaps anise, dark friuts, nuts, cinnamon. Aroma changes as head reduces.

Tastes much like molasses, cherries, spices (perhaps a minor pine taste) and finishes off with an almost candy-like smoothness. Mouthfeel is also creamy with the carbonation expanding the ale as it flows by the toung. Swishing around amplifies this affect. Very pleasant. Some brief traces of alcohol that diminish as the ale expands releasing the spices.

Very easy to enjoy.

As a side note, I've convinced alot of macro beer drinkers to taste this one. Each and every one (many who always refuse to drink "dark beer") enjoy the drinkability.

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

Poured from the can into a nonic pint glass.

A real nice off caramel very light white head, foamy about a good solid three fingers on the pour. Body is a gorgeous dark ruby and clear garnet with no rising carbonation. Looks real nice love this color.

Nose is a noticeable malt that goes in a very mild grass smelling sense. Slight spices, but mostly just a nice malt sensation.

Taste is a wonderful mix of chocolate and malt and mild spices. I it is almost as if drinking milk chocolate with this big noticeable whipped up chocolate sense. Chocolate angle brings out some mild nut, and I got that warm boozy sense in my stomach. Light spice of nutmeg in the middle. Mouthfeel is perfectly fine nothing to rave about or fault.

Overall I am real impressed with this one. It almost feels like drinking powderer cocoa mix with a slight hint of booze. Not even highly sweet either. Just great!

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

My first review of any beer. I just tried this up against Anchor's Christmas Ale and found it to be more rounded and mature in both appearance and taste although less robust in general character (Anchor quite nice and I will review that soon). It's a fairly deep amber ale with a relatively small head (considering the thin pilsener style glass I'm using). The taste is balanced, pleasantly sweetly spicy with some room to further mature (but not nearly to the same extent as the Anchor), but drinkable now and in vast quantities if that is your aim. Its aroma matches its clean appearance with the sweet spice hint although I'm at a loss to precisely identify the constituents added to this fine beer. I'm not sure about the "mouthfeel" category in general as most quality beers seem silky to me and the Anderson Valley Winter Solstice 2006 is no different. My inclination is to only highlight mouthfeel when I notice something unusual one way or the other, and this beer has the "right" feel. Overall a particularly enjoyable beer that doesn't beat you over the head with hops like another seasonal ale I tried yesterday. The Winter Solstice is very, sweetly, good - I intend to buy a case! Hope this helps.

Photo of ZorroZ
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Serving type: can poured into glass
Appearance: Beautiful, medium chestnut colour. Upon pouring, forms an incredibly rich, foamy head, albeit one that dissipates quickly.
Smell: Not much of a smell, surprisingly, considering what came next
Taste: Oh, WOW. Nicely malty, with little hops bite, but a lovely overall taste that almost disguises the fairly high ABV.. Just a little bit of the taste remains on the back of the tongue after a sip.
Overall: I'm *really* enjoying this six pack!

Photo of bort11
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was in my stocking for Christmas. Thank you Santa!

22 oz bottle, poured into an imperial pint glass. Thick egg-cream colored head, very sticky. Leaves a solid ring on the glass. Color is a dark amber/orange. Quite a bit of bubble activity.

Smell has a toasted malt base, with some orange peel and dark spices in the middle. The orange peel becomes more pronounced in the taste, balanced with some mulling spices and a dark bread malt character.

Mouthfeel is is medium bodied with a crisp carbonation. It is certainly a winter warmer, but is also pretty refreshing too.

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

Had to review this beer during Christmas.
A: The beer beer poured a light sunset brown like a clear to partly cloudy winter night. Even a nice snowy head out of a can.
S: A malt lovers dream here with winter spice, let this brew warm up and the aromas come alive.
T: How about vanilla and a malt smoothie ....
A winter warmer to enjoy here with friends.
Maybe a little cinnamon and allspice . Close your eyes and think of fruitcake.
M: A medium mouthfeel with good carbonation and nice finish .
O: A big fan here of AVBC .... Beer geeks a must here for sure . Fun to drink and nice conversation brew as well..

Photo of chefhatt
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

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

What a drinkable winter warmer! Pours a luxurious shade of amber with artfully contrasting head of white. Nose is seductive with caramel and hints of vanilla, with a toasty/biscuity quality as well. On the palate the caramel comes through nicely with a sweet apple to pear fruity quality, and toasty/biscuity character is noted on the palate as well. Nice creamy mouthfeel and toasty finish. A spectacular beer!

Photo of Luigi
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From old beer notes. Had on tap this past winter at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, IL.

A: Very dark and rich; perhaps a mahogany color with an infusion of a little extra read. The head looks good, and is a slightly-darkened cream color.

S: Excellent nose, with plenty of spices and some citrus; all of this overlays a nice base of buttered toffee and pure creaminess.

T: Much like the smell, though not terribly spicy. Quite sweet and overpowering in malt complexity.

M: Medium-to-full-bodied and very creamy. Not too much noticeable alcohol.

D: Exceedingly drinkable. I'd love to have a keg of this one for by the fire.

Photo of chanokokoro
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

Photo of JosiahS
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

Photo of msubulldog25
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
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

Photo of ficknish
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

Photo of ffejherb
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

Photo of QXSTER1
4.36/5  rDev +12.4%
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.

Photo of tattooedtolley
4.37/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

Photo of buffettfan
4.37/5  rDev +12.6%
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!

Photo of Gatch
4.37/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

2009:
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.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
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).

Photo of noslenwerd
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
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)

Photo of leokbelo
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
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!

Photo of biegaman
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
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!

Photo of doerickson
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
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.

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
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.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,650 ratings.