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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

1,608 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,608
Reviews: 701
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 13.92%
Wants: 57
Gots: 154 | FT: 2
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

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,608 | Reviews: 701 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of trevorjn06
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

Photo of Act25
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a large pint glass.

A: The beer is a beautiful, deep reddish brown color, with a stiff off-white head that fades quickly but leaves a massive arcs of spotty lace on the glass. Beautiful red color.

S: The aroma is too faint. It contains caramelized malts, fruit, (Apple?), nuts, some spices and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out creamy sweet almost like a cream ale - may taste against Sweet Action from Sixpoint - with flavors of caramel, spices and fall fruit. Not muscly enough and the back half is sweet. The hops presence is mild, and provides some balance. The after-taste is bready, crackery, and slightly sweet - like jam laden crackers with sweet tea.

M: Crisp and smooth, thinner body than expected, but lots of carbonation, finish is slightly sticky, almost cola or cream soda like. Needs more body. Orange or fruit liquor like

D: A bit too sweet for me. Definitely feels more right as it warms. becomes more after dinner cointreau, grand marnier like.

Widmer Brrrr and Sierra Celebration over top this one, but these beers are each distinct and a treat.

Photo of TheRealBigC
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer has some character. It's got a sort of caramel apple thing going on. The flavor is very full and it definitely stands out from the others in its category. A chewy mouth but also plenty of bubbles. I wouldn't say it's an easy drinker - much like its summer counterpart AV goes for full-bodied and unique over supreme drinkability - but it's well worth getting a six pack during the season.

Photo of BigBry
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of dbalsock
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

App: Pours a dark amber/maroon with a fluffy and thick vanilla head. There's some lacing. The head is the best part, with it's hugeness and it's dense yet cloud-like appearance.

Smell: Alcohol, cherries and prunes all come out immediately with a hint of biscuit and no apparent hops for me.

Taste: Heavy biscuit with a fruit and hoppy aftertaste. The alcohol is present and mixes with some not so intense hop and strawberries on the swallow. It has a lot going on but seems to miss a final dimension that would tie it all together.

Mouthfeel: Thin, with ample carbonation and a slight bitterness that seems out of place. It's a little off in this department and could use more substance.

Drinkability: It's very quaffable for almost 7%, and goes down smooth. Despite all the fruity and sweet tastes, it's not cloying and I could easily have a couple pints in a row.

Photo of Antg8989
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of jackorain
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brigth amber reddish hue. Crystal clear. Topped with a think, firm 1 inch tall head. Head fell very slowly and left no lacing but a scant 1/8 inch collar leading up from the nice consistnet coating on the liquid.

sweet caramel, hint of fruity hops. not a lot here but definitely smells sweet.

Big sweet bready malt (like an all grain dinner bread or roll), dried tropical fruit, molasses. Mild spicy bitterness in the middle followed by more sweet caramel malt.

This baby is firm and chewy with a very full body. Creamy,creamy creamy carbonation. really nice mouthfeel here.

From a drinkability standpoint, I'd have to say that I could only have one of these at a sitting. I would persue it again but, again, only one.

Thanks For Reading

Photo of yourefragile
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown, amber color (thought not entirely opaque) with a medium sized foamy tan head that leaves nice lacing down the glass.
S: Very rich, lots of malty sweetness. Notes of cinnamon, vanilla, some fruityness, etc
T/M: Very creamy, full bodied, with strong roasted malty taste with some slight bitterness for balance. There are a lot of flavors and spices in here, though strongest seems to be the sweetness/vanilla flavors.
D: I can't say I'm particularly crazy about the taste of this beer, but I love the appearance and aromas and has a very pleasant mouthfeel. As a result, I usually find myself ordering this when I find it on tap.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a warm deep brown with a hint of red and a crystal clear body with a nice thin oatmeal colored head. It has a nice gentle carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The smell of slightly sweet of toasted malt and cider with a nice green hop hint in the background is subtle.

T- This beer has a nice smooth malt taste of pale malt with some hints of toasted malt blended it. A hint of biscuit malt is in the background. The finish has a nice gentle hop bitterness with a hint of sweet cider or a very faint cinnamon with a hint of alcohol, but that is very faint.

M-This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with some fizz that makes it seem more full. No real alcohol warmth or astringency.

D- This beer has some nice subtle flavors that give it some complexity and it has some unique taste that is nice.

Photo of Boitnott
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was poured from a bottle into a large snifter. It has a deep red, amber color with a nice cream colored head on top that is about a finger deep. The lacing is moderate but does not remain throughout the entire beer.

The aroma is of strong spices which I cannot put my finger on, maybe nutmeg. Overall it smells very enjoyable and made look forward to the first sip. The nose tastes mostly of malt with little hop presence. There is an underlying sweetness that persists and becomes even more so in the finish. The spices balance well with the amber malts but I do feel that the sweetness is a bit overpowering in the finish. I would expect the malts and spices to dominate here but that sweetness takes over, which is really a downfall in my opinion.

The carbonation goes well with the rest of the beer, and it finishes smooth with a medium body. The higher ABV does not goes as well as I would have thought. I have winter warmers this year that stayed lower on the ABV and made excellent beers. Overall it is still enjoyable but perhaps too sweet for my taste.

Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle. 2004 edition.

Pours a hazy copper borwn with a light brown head that disappears. No lacing to mention.

Aroma of piney hops, period. Smells like a DIPA.

Nice sweet piney hop flavor upfront followed by a taste of caramel malt. Washes away slightly sweet and quite clean.

Nice creamy texture, it just slides down with ease.

Nice drinkable beer. Winter warmer is a pretty generic label nowadays, so I guess that this fits within the style....

Photo of HappyHourHero
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2001 (~2.5 yo)

Poured a decent cream colored head that faded to a film leaving a ring of head around the edges. The beer is caramel amber in color with fine bubbles rising slowly through the middle. The aroma is a mild mix of tangy apples, toffee, and malt balls. The mouthfeel is creamy smooth and the finish is pretty clean. Malty caramel offset by some kind of hoppy flavor that I can't quite pinpoint. With over two years of aging this beer definitely leans in the malt direction. Overall a mild, easy drinking beer with a nice blend of flavor and aroma.


In your face malt aroma is gone, replaced by a soft creamy licorice and caramel smell. Moderately malty flavor if pretty one sided. Nothing is really bad about the beer, flavor just isn't up my alley.

Photo of Slynger
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a color on the light side of copper with just a slight haze. A small off-white head quickly slips down to leave some nice lacing around the rim of my glass.
Nice smell to this one. Sweet and spicy. The upfront sweetness consists of caramel malts and brown sugar followed by some spiced cinnamon and sugar spiced apples. Very nice.
There is a nice medium body to this brew that is both buttery and creamy, but the taste does not quite deliver what the nose suggested. Sweet caramel malts and honey flavors along with some cinnamon, ginger, and other light winter spices. Where's the fruit?
I really think this one could have been great. Some sweet red and tart green apples would have really fit in nicely. Instead the flavor slips closer to average.

Photo of Scrapss
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a cheater pint.

A: Beautiful deep ruddy copper and very clear. Thick two finger head subsides quickly into a very delicate ring. no chill haze, moderate carbonation with wispy lacing, looks like caul fat clinging to the glass.

S: nice malty presence. Some cinnamon notes and raisin and figs, like a cinnamon raisin bagel.

T: follows nose plus some caramel or toffee like notes. Smoooth on initial uptake. More malt notes come out on swallow.

M: Velvety smooth on finish with that characteristic bagel notes peeking up. spicy on side of tongue with the perfect carbonation. Very pleasant.

O: this is probably the best of the winter warmers, imo. The spices do not overtly dominate and punch you in the craw. It really is very well balanced and quite malty without being obnoxiously spiced. A go to in winter for sure.

Photo of mltobin
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a sixer when passing through Maryland.

Appearance is a dark amber and small head, little lacing. Smell contains dried fruits, cinnamon, bark. The taste of this winter ale is sweet, mild spice, malts too. MF is medium with a syrup texture. It is a nice winter ale and pairs well with some pie.

Photo of drpimento
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Served this beer at a good temperature, with a small, cream colored, very creamy head and lots of fine lace. Color is a clear honey amber with some tiny bubble trails. Aroma is malt, spice, caramel, toffee, moist cake. Flavor is like nose, malt sweetness on top though not overdone, spice next, marshmallow and cake. Body is full, lush, but carbonation is definitely on the flat side and with such a malty, spicey, cloying beer as this, not an asset. Finish is like flavor, surprisingly subdued, rather short and has a little alcohol warmth. Good stuff, wish it wa bit more active with carbonation to balance everthing.

Photo of MrOH
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Muddy burnt sienna with a small white head.

Caramel, toffee, baking dark bread, some appley esters. Quite inviting.

Lots of deep malts, toffee, a touch of citrus, light spicing, and then the apple character lifts it up, and the spice lingers cleanly.

Big bodied with low carbonation but fairly clean feeling.

A very nice winter seasonal that isn't overdone in any fashion, very drinkable despite the heavier body, abv, and big maltiness.

Photo of fourplayed
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
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!

Photo of JayQue
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice winter warmer. Looks good. Translucent dark amber color with a big cream color head. Mild malty aroma with a hint of fruit and vanilla.

Tastes good: malty, slightly sweet with some fruit and vanilla thrown in.

Mouthfeel is a hair thin but the beer is so incredibly smooth, it doesn't make a difference. Alcohol is flat out not noticable.

Drinkability is very good. If I didn't know the abv, I would call this an outstanding session beer.

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

$1.25, for 12 fl.oz. of a 6.9% ABV beer from Anderson Valley – well I figured it was well worth a shot. They have not let me down in the past, and even if they did this time it was only a single – which I prefer anyway before investing in 6-Packs.

The neck label says “The Legendary Boonville 2002 Beer”, so using my legendary Colombo skills it’s obvious that this beer is from last year.

Large off-white bier-kopf is readily formed as the beer is poured into a UK Half Pint Glass. It crustaceous form has staying power, and laces well as the beer is drunk. The body of the beer is a Pearlescent light walnut brown with a reddish-orange tinge. The clarity is high, and this beer looks rather good.

Initial aromas are to be savored. Lovely fruit soaked malts and dark fruits mixed with a warm honey basted pancake odor.

A slightly warm, almost fuzzy feeling at first. The beer sits in the mouth with ease, and has a feeling akin to that of getting into a warm bed on a cold winters night. Sweet, fruity beginnings immediately relax me and confirm yet again that I have picked up another decent offering from the Anderson Valley Brewing Company. AVBC rarely disappoint. Hmm, this is rather pleasant and grows on you. The middle is reminiscent of a chocolate covered caramel whole-wheat biscuit with raisins and currants. Bitterness comes short in the end mixed with a soft fruit ending. The bitterness is punctuating – but always mild. Quite strange and hard to explain overall. Maybe if I say that it reminds me of a partially aged, weaker than usual barleywine.

I like it – takes a little bit of getting used – but I like it.
I will certainly invest in a 6-Pack if I see one.

Photo of HardTarget
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle Inspection: abv 6.9%, “ale brewed with natural flavors”, not very descriptive. 2004 printed on the neck label. Thanks to Rick and Betty for the sample.

Aroma: A slightly vegetal, mostly celery aroma that I’ve come to associate with Anderson Valley brews, maybe it’s the house yeast. There are some slight citric sweet notes as well.

Appearance: Clear amber glass with a good tanish head that laced like a champ.

Flavor: Dark cherry leads a sweet balance that had an easy mellow flavor. There is some vanilla and a bit of butter in the taste as well. That celery/cherry taste runs through it like a ribbon.

Mouthfeel: Creamy mouthfeel, good carbonation and a fairly dry finish.

Overall Impression: A great winter session beer. The abv is a little high for an extended tasting, but the flavor is easy going and could provide a fair amount of entertainment.

Photo of farrago
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Little over a finger’s worth of eggshell white to brown foam, fairly dense with decent retention, the few larger bubbles scattered, not much lacing, more of a thin sheet which slides effortlessly down the glass sides. Filmy liquid, lots of aggressive bubbles floating throughout, orange base with brown mixed in, more yellow around the edges, captures light to create a healthy glow. There’s vanilla, clove and caramel in the nose but a lot of the time the peat moss, grains and wet iron notes rise above, light smattering of peach to apricot fruit scents, more textural fullness than aromatics. Full-bodied, sufficient carbonation to create a slow lift, not leaden. Not especially sweet but there’s date, clove, fruitcake to caramel elements, some orange peel and peach, pear too. More scone or biscuit than bread or dough, Not as herbaceous here as in the nose yet the earthy, metallic nuance persists. Root beer and vanilla appear as it warms. Rich finish, no loss of body, maybe contributes to a general sense of booziness albeit without any burn. Strikes you as a food beer, needs accompaniment. Not something you’d want more than a couple of in a single sitting.

Photo of barczar
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy dark copper color with a solid half inch beige head that dissipates slowly leaving sheets of lacing.

Caramel, brown sugar and cinnamon comprise the aroma initially. Notes of allspice, toasted malt, and dark fruit emerge. Aroma is initially subtle.

Flavor is an overload of malted milk balls, with currants , cinnamon, and chocolate surfacing mid palate and lingering into the slightly dry finish.

Body is a touch on the heavy side, with moderate carbonation and slight alcohol warmth.

Overall, I'm amazed at how closely the flavor resembles malted milk balls. There's a fruitiness that follows, so it's a little different. Not am overly spicy seasonal, which I appreciate.

Photo of colts9016
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A beautiful deep copper color with a reddish hue. There was a one finger head but it diminished to an eighth white ring around the glass. There is a couple bubbles forming from the bottom of the glass. The clarity of the beer is very clear, showcasing a beautiful reddish hue in the beer.

Nose: A toasted malt with a resin, phenols and citrus. There hints of esters, spice, caramel, and molasses.

Taste: A nice toasted malt complex with toffee, caramel, resins, and molasses. There notes of esters, citrus, vanilla, bananas, and phenols.

Overall: There is a nice creamy/warming mouth feel. The finish is bitter but pleasant. The finish want to sip it again and again. The beer isn't too bad there seem to be a sour note in the beer after I have tried a couple of sips.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rich, dark orange-copper with the slightest blush of red. The head is equal parts pale orange, butter yellow and ecru. Arching streamers of thick lace are beginning to appear on the upper reaches of the glass as the dense crown of foam takes its leave slooowly.

The aroma is weaker than it should be, which is a damn shame since what's evident is quite nice. Maltysweet with light butterscotch and a healthy dash of orange zest. I don't pick up much in the way of spice, there's just not enough power to really get a handle on things.

With a bigger body, this beer would really shine. The flavor is wonderful, but gets short shrift from a too thin mouthfeel (for the style). While slightly undermalted, it still manages to pull off a sweetish, buttery caramel, butterscotchy, light brown sugary, orangey vibe that deserves a better delivery vehicle than it has been given.

I especially like the orange liqueur character; a comparison that would be even more apt if the mouthfeel had a slightly syrupiness. Winter warmers, in my mind at least, should be more full and luxuriant in the mouth than this. I still don't appreciate much spice, but the flavor profile is fine without it. What is there to say about the body that hasn't already been said? Bigger please.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale is close to great beer. Unfortunately, the too light body is more appropriate for a beer called Summer Solstice (which is pretty close to when I'm drinking it!). Suggestion to the good folks at Anderson Valley: bulk this sucker up and it'll turn some heads.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,608 ratings.