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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

701 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 701
Hads: 1,682
Avg: 3.86
pDev: 21.76%
Wants: 69
Gots: 195 | 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: 701 | Hads: 1,682
Photo of Jason
4.24/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz brown long-neck bottle with no freshness date though on the neck is the year 2001. Blurb about the beer on the back label.

Appearance: Bright reddish amber hue, light tan head is fluffy and dissipates into a pasty big bubbled lace.

Smell: Fresh dipped caramel apple comes to mind, lots of malt sweetness in the nose with hints of fruit and a mild hop.

Taste: Full and chewy in the mouth with a vague hoppy juicy fruit and sweet dark bread maltiness capture the taste buds attention. Both toasted and roasted flavour flexes within the bold caramel taste. Mildly estery and warming to the body. Tight and clean bite of hop bitterness cuts through some of the malt leaving a spicy trail of flavour into the finish of residual sweetness.

Notes: Top shelf for American Winter brews, balanced for a muscular brew and a must buy for winter seasonals. 6.9% abv.

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Photo of russpowell
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 offering pours an orangey copper with 3+ fingers of sand colored head. Average head retention & lacing

S: Breadyness

T: Cakey with hints of tangerine & honey up front. Dryness, a bit of toffee, berries, cherries, a kiss of herbal hops & caramel all show as this warms. Finishes dry with more caramel, yummy

MF: Medium bodied, a bit chewy & sticky with low carbonation

Drinks very easy, this I could session on! Another winner from an old school California brewery

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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce can into pint glass, no canning date. Pours hazy red-orange color with a nice 1-2 finger dense khaki head with good retention that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Minimal lacing on the glass. Aromas of caramel, biscuit, brown sugar, toasted malt, dark fruit, and light spices. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance. Taste of caramel, toasted malt, toffee, biscuit, molasses, raisin, fig, light chocolate, nutmeg, and herbal spiciness. Lingering notes of caramel, molasses, biscuit, and spices on the finish for a bit. Nice and enjoyable balance of flavors. Medium carbonation and body; with a creamy and slightly slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is well hidden at 6.9% with only a slight warming after the finish. Very smooth to drink as well. Overall this is a very nice and enjoyable winter warmer offering. Plenty of enjoyable and balanced flavors.

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Photo of chinchill
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz can served at about 42F in a snifter. Poured out clear but dark, reddish amber with a moderate size, beige head. The head, unfortunately, dies too quickly but not completely, and decent lacing is left on the glass.

The smell of this beer was a spicy and malty mix that hinted of spiced cider.
The taste largely followed, with spices and malts clearly present, but it also has some nice baked bread tones and a good bit of chocolate. Apple is only faintly hinted, and the sweet aroma arises from a brew that has good sweet/bitter balance.

The mouthfeel was very good in terms of carbonation (medium) and had a nice, if delicate, touch of dryness in the finish, but it seemed a little too thin.

Overall: a pleasant and distinct brew that improved with warming. (near 4)

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Was happy to see this one back in stock at the Sharp Edge, because when I went to order it earlier during Christmas break it was already kicked on tap. So, the bottle I cracked had 2002 on the label, and It poured a great deep ruby brown red that seemed the head wasn't trying to form. I started in on taking a couple small whiffs, and then I inhaled it all. This beer contained a niced mild hop character, yet I could smell some nutmeg and other seasonal spices flowing in the air, all complemented with an amazing aroma of maple syrup. At the first taste an awesome malty sweetness arose to my palate, along with the balancing of the hops. I thought the maple syrup flavor was the most noticeable extra curricular flavoring that stood out to me, and it defintely formed an awesome winter seasonal beer that is in my top five for it's category. The body of this beer was great nice and chewy almost felt like I was eating some pancakes. Great, enjoyable, and different. What can I say Big Tony likes.

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Photo of smcolw
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice two-finger head; very light beige. Slight cloudiness; dark amber color. Nice lace

The smell is closer to fine liquer, very smooth. Vanilla nose with some warming alcohol touches.

Strong Vanilla flavor. Light hop. Something like a vanilla smoothie, but thinner. Decent body, high carbo. The aftertaste is shortlived but here is where the hop shows up.

I love different beers. In that regard, this is a fun beer to try. It doesn't fit into any traditional category easily--it's different from most winter beers in that it has little spiciness (other than the vanilla) to it.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The color took some time to categorize, not quite violet and muddier than red, magenta? Off-white head, and an aroma full of sweetness, soft and candyish. Light texture, but an immediate sensation of syrupy, caramely sweetness. Strong vanilla component, too. Not as spicy as I'd been informed. Dazzling finish, though, which sits and swims in the mouth for as long as it pleases. I held back on high marks, though, for the vanilla candy aspect was just not for me.

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Photo of jwc215
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Wasatch for this one...

Pours slightly clouded/hazed orange-amber with a thin head that becomes a lasting, swirling patch.

The smell is of caramel and juicy fruits.

The taste is of caramel/toffee with warming spiciness (and cinnamon?). A nice fruity hop backing is there, adding depth and balance to the sweet maltiness. Mild alcohol warms, but does not interfere.

Reaches full-bodied. Silky smooth. Malty flavor lingers.

Very drinkable for style. A tasty winter treat!

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a lightly hazy garnet red in color with some decent amounts of amber highlight and light to moderate amounts of carbonation. The beer has a half finger tall dark beige head that reduces to a small thin patch of larger bubbles, a mottled very thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer, and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of caramel and toffee malt sweetness with lighter notes of brown sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. Very light notes of cocoa as it warms.

T: Moderate amounts of malty sweet flavors upfront with notes of caramel, toffee, and brown sugar. Additionally there are some light flavors of nutmeg and vanilla. Very light hints of bitterness that fades quickly. Very light amounts of cocoa as the beer warms.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth and creamy with a light amount of alcohol heat in the finish.

O: The beer is pretty easy to drink and enjoy even though there are a lot of sweet flavors, this beer is not cloying. The combination of malty sweetness and spices is very nice and one of the more enjoyable offerings in the style.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.19/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a clear reddish/brown. One finger head, not a ton of lacing.

S: Very nice aroma, get a lot of brown sugar, molasses, and a nice dose vanilla. Very sweet, and I like it a lot.

T: Similar to the nose but sweeter and a bit maltier. Nice caramel flavor, the vanilla is not as strong as it is on the aroma.

M/D: Medium bodied with a smooth finish. Easy drinking, and while not hot at all from the alcohol, it does leave a slight warming in my stomach.

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Photo of tdm168
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Village Draft House on 11/18/11.

Pours a deep amber with a thin lacing of white heard. The nose has notes of sugary, sweet red apples and caramel malt. The taste is red apples, chewy sugary caramel, and note of something herb-like in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and crisp.

This was a nice little winter warmer though the herb-like quality baffles me a little, and in my opinion it detracts from the overall flavor. Not bad though.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.07/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at Red Rocks in Alexandria, Virginia.

A: This brew appears a bit hazy, but mostly clear, and orange hued. There is a small layer of head that leaves a fair amount of lacing on the glass.

S: Vanilla and malt, with a nutty / spicy aspect as well.

T: The taste outshines the aroma. Winter Solstice has a huge vanilla flavor, which I imagine might turn some folks away. Not me - I love the scent and taste of good vanilla. This beer definitely has a cream soda like aspect to it. Though certainly a departure from what I would expect from a winter warmer brew, I thought this was very tasty and well done. Though the beer had a present sweetness, primarily derived from the vanilla component, I did not find it to be cloying in the least.

M: Smooth and creamy, medium bodied.

D: I would definitely have this again.

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Photo of WesWes
3.87/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a fine malty scent that boasts of pale, crystal, and bisquit malts. It has an earthy/breadlike aroma that is quite pleasant. The taste is decent. It has a pretty complex palate of malts along with a bitter hop finish. It is a bit piney and warm on the way down. The mouthfeel is decent as well. It is a medium/full bodied brew with good carbonation. This is an above average winter warmer that could use more body and a little less carbonation.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.77/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

02/03/05- Purchased at Beverages and More in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 22oz bomber poured into my 24 oz glass mug.

Appearance- Dark amber pour, almost brown. Large foamy head that maintains it's girth for a bit. Next to no lace though.

Smell- Heavy roasted and toasted caramel malts. Maybe a bit of hoppyness and maybe a slight bit of fruit.

Taste- About the most caramel I have tasted in a beer. It's like popping those Kraft caramels with a little bit of alcohol on the side. Well, maybe a roasted carmel on the campfire kinda taste. A bit of hop pleasure wayyyy in the background. Maybe a bit of brown sugar along with the caramel.

Mouthfeel- Moderately carbonated and a bit chewy and thick.

Drinkability- Very very interesting. Would be a good beer to go along with a caramel apple at the summer fair. Pretty rich for a beer. Like a ultra sweet brown ale. Not bad. Different for sure. Would give it a try again.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.09/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My, my, my. I first reviewed this beer in bottle form almost seven years ago. How many beers have been CANsumed by me since then?!? My good CAN Pal, IndiaPaleAle, hooked me up with this one in furtherance of my CANQuest (TM) and I am grateful.

From the CAN: Not much on this brightly colored red, blue and black CAN - "Bahl Hornin' Since 1987"; "Ale with Natural Flavor Added"; "The Legendary Boonville Brewery"; "Solar Powered Brewery".

I really remain surprised when the Crack reveals a CAN filled to the rim. The Glug produced a thick, creamy one-and-a-half fingers of deep-tan head with great retention. Color was a reddish-orangish amber with NE-quality clarity. Nose was a riot of biscuit malt, orange citrus, vanilla, toffee and pine needles. Wow! Mouthfeel was medium and my original review mentioned a taste of Orange Dreamsicle and I have to say, I do not disagree in this iteration. It really had an orange-vanilla flavor up front with the pine coming through on the finish. It was semi-dry which was a nice change of pace after a day of APAs and IPAs. I just realized that it was kind of stupid of me to have opened this today - the Solstice is this Thursday! Perhaps I CAN score another between now and then ... Man, for 6.9, it drank beautifully, but CANversely, I would not want a whole bunch of this beer, either. Finally, I should mention the dense lacing that appeared throughout. It was quite splendiferous.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma has some cocoa and lightly roasted malt, as well as some winter spices that I can't quite identify. The flavor is very similar. The cocoa and dark fruit notes are pretty nice. I also get some brown sugar, cinnamon and caramel malt. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
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!

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Photo of Billolick
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ouncer, 2004 edition. Pours almond, clear, minimal off white head and a dearth of lacing after its sitting in the glass for a few minutes. Nose is a warm whiff of maple. This is a medium bodied brew. Slight spicing noted. Nice clean malty body. 6.9% fairly well hidden under layers of malt and some grainy/gritty hops, which come in late. Notes of smoke and rum also picked up as it warms. Pleasant winter warmer, one I would definitely pick up again.

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Photo of Gavage
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours an amber color with a 1" head that lasts a bit. No lacing develops.

Smell: light toffee and a hint of earthiness is all you can detect.

Taste: bread, toffee, a hint of vanilla, a bit of pepper, and a moderate bitterness creates a nice flavored beer.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Lightly crisp throughout. Aftertaste is short lived.

Drinkability: this beer is not a quick drinking beer, as the flavor profile is one to enjoy. Nice winter beer worth giving a try.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours with a nice tan colored head. It is a deep ruby color. There is an interesting fruity aroma with some notes of cherry and Brandy wafting from the glass. There is a very interesting raisin/ maraschino cherry flavor up front in this beer. A taste in the finish that I can't quite place, almost medicinal in character, faintly reminiscent of cough syrup. Definitely a fruity beer, as this is the predominant flavor.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.45/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The winter solstice is two weeks away, however I cannot wait any longer to drink this beer. On to the beer:

Light reddish hue which steers into pale orange. The head forms low on top, showing decent head retention and lace. The nose is low on firepower, but does have some resemblance of the traditional winter warmer. Spruce, gingerbread, pudding...yeah.

The malt level seems low per style....the spices are doing the work. Among the notes are Christmas pudding, figs, and spruce. Light-medium bodied with a creamish textue, good drinking.

For those looking for a more laid back winter seasonal, Anderson Valley has it here.

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Photo of tempest
3.52/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Clark's Ale House

A very smooth beer, but a touch spicey for me. The beer was dominated by vanilla with a little dry cocoa and cinnamon. Looked pretty and smelled nice enough, but there wasn't enough malt or hops flavor. Easy drinking if you really like vanilla and spice, but I wasn't into it that much.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours brown with a full light tan head, nice lacing and retention, all around good looking beer.

S: On the milder side, but it has nice spice notes, some cinnamon.

T: Taste a lot like a gingerbread cookie on the first sip. Lots of dark bread and cake batter, spices are mild.

M: Medium-bodied, does not feel almost 7%, off-dry finish.

D: A real nice beer from Anderson Valley, I like it a lot more than the Summer Solstice, one of the best western winter beers.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.81/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a large glass mug.

A nice brown body with a slight off white head. No lacing really, head fades quickly.
Smells of caramel malt and roasted grain.
Taste follows the nose through a malty experience. Caramel, brown sugar and honey wheat bread. Just enough bitter hops to balance. Some roasted graininess plays with the hops and the sweet malt.
Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, thick and chewey.
Drinkability is pretty strong. A good brew for the winter months.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 701 ratings.