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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,323 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1323
Reviews: 672
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.18%

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: 1,323 | Reviews: 672 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Gusler


3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Release (2003)
The color as it sets in the glass a translucent deep mahogany color with an elephantine sized head that is bubbly in texture and the color a winsome light tan with the lace a thick and concealing curtain upon the glass. Nose is sweet malt, hints of the hop flower, buttery with a bit of tartness to back it up; start is lightly sweet and the top middling in its feel to the palate. Finish is good-humored in its acidity, the hops unexcessive in their spicy bite, sweet and dry aftertaste, once again a fine drinkable beer and one I look forward to each Fall & Winter.

Release (2002)
Deep copper in color, the head is modest in size, frothy in texture, light tan in color but dissipates quite quickly leaving behind a fine clinging sheet of lace. The nose has a sweet start, buttery and nice underlying malt tones, with the start malt and sweet, the top skimpy in feel. Hops candid in their spicy bite with the carbonation moderate and the aftertaste dry, and a decent drinking beer, quite refreshing.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2003 21:15:53 | More by Gusler
Photo of JohnGalt1


2.68/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz from the Boise Coop for $1.50/bottle poured into a shaker pint. Listening to Renaissance Worldwide Singapore "David Morales Mix".

Sweet cherry juice and crystal clear. Sticky lite tan head.

Malty aroma with vanilla and butter undertones. No real hops ... sorta overpowered by the spices.

I really hate saying this, but it reminds me of a vanilla cream soda .... and not the soda-shoppe kind, more like the artificial bottled kind.

This is a tough review for me to write. I love the Boont amber (almost certainly my favorite amber ale). But this one is going to take a hit. I know from my notebook reviews, I am hyper-critical of diacetyl; and I am only getting a little butter from this beer, but combined with the vanilla ... wow ... The diacetyl is hyper accentuated. I think they should move away from the spices (at least the vanilla) and balance more with a low but still solid flavoring of citrus hops.

Sorry. I will buy this brew again, mainly for comparison ... but I will probably wait a year or two.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2007 10:38:57 | More by JohnGalt1
Photo of smakawhat


4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
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!

Serving type: can

10-30-2011 21:59:31 | More by smakawhat
Photo of Georgiabeer


4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've enjoyed this winter offering for a number of years. It's subtle, lower abv for a winter brew, and a little different. I've always liked the mild hazlenut flavor in front of a warm fire. Pours amber with a fluffy head that fades to a ring. Smells fruitcake like with mixed fruit, winter spices, hazlenut, and cream. Taste is similar. Very creamy, lightly spicy, and nice hazlenut flavors throughout. Creamy and easy to drink. Recommended for something a little different.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2008 02:49:46 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of superspak


4/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

Serving type: can

03-19-2012 01:18:28 | More by superspak
Photo of dbrauneis

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2012 01:19:19 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of ccrida


4.55/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz. bottle (2008) poured into a nonic pint, Winter Solstice is a murky amber, large, dense creamy light kahaki head with long last but no lace.

Smell is bright, sweet fruity malt smell even at fridge temp when served. Once I had a taste and thought of cream soda, it was all I smelled. Very unique and tasty.

Taste is great, and instantly recognizable - cream soda. There's also light touches of caramel, cinnamon and oranges, but it's really predominantly cream soda, which I'm really loving.

Mouthfeel is super creamy, medium light body, again, very much like a craft soda.

Drinkability is super high, if you like cream soda, which I do. Normally I'd knock a beer for being one dimensional, and so un beer like, but this is just so fantastic, I've got nothing but love for it. The 6.9% is dangerously undetectable, and the beer is a decent value and readily available.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2009 02:14:15 | More by ccrida
Photo of dirtylou


4.15/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pint, on tap at Maduro, 3$ during happy hour

appearance: dark garnet body, fairly clear appearance, creamy beige head with pretty decent lacing

smell: cream soda, vanilla, graham crackers, light spiced alcohol, caramel...nice inviting aromas

taste: I remember having this a few years ago and liking it and was glad to see that I still did...cream soda with vanilla ice cream, vanilla bean, medium caramel malts, root beer...very tasty

mouthfeel: super smooth and creamy

drinkability: very drinkable

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2007 02:41:11 | More by dirtylou
Photo of beertunes


4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into straight pint glass. Poured with almost no head and left minimal lacing. A beautiful, opaque deep brown with a slight orangeish tint. The spice tones are not very pronounced in the aroma. The flavors match the aroma closely, but with a more noticeable presence. The body is a little thin for the style but still satisfying. A very drinkable beer, this is among my favorites of this style. Another fine job from a brewery that seldom disappoints.

Serving type: growler

01-06-2009 20:38:52 | More by beertunes
Photo of Dogbrick


3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2002 Bottle: This beer is a ruddy brownish-amber with a medium light tan head. Decent lacing. Aroma is lightly spiced with cinnamon, along with a little vanilla, malt and caramel. Fairly rich body with a nice spiced blend. Flavors of nutmeg, malt, caramel and even a little bit of hops. The finish is a little sharper than I would have liked but overall this is a good beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-18-2003 13:37:40 | More by Dogbrick
Photo of OWSLEY069


4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clean copper/ amber color, with a light tan head. In the aroma, just like an orange creamsickle. In the taste, corriander and a nice sweet orange sweetness. A smooth, medium body mouthfeel and a semi-dry orange citrus and spice aftertaste. Fantastic flavor, not big and very nice.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2007 16:54:01 | More by OWSLEY069
Photo of avalon07

South Carolina

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

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a copper color and a clear consistency. There was a half inch of long-lasting, creamy head and decent lacing.

S: A very sweet, malty aroma.

T: Tasted of caramel, malt and fruit. Very sweet and bold - much more so than other winter warmers. Has a nice toasty feel to it.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a slightly slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: In my opinion, a drinkable beer, though I have a feeling this one will not appeal to everyone.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2009 13:30:37 | More by avalon07
Photo of Bitterbill


4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from 12oz bottle a clear amber with a smallish head of foam
that shrinks quickly and leaves completely for I finish my session.

The smell is a nice mix of sweet malt and some spices.

The taste has a strong caramel malt, roasted malt and bread flavour to it and it's quite thick in body. Dang, this is a great tasting Winter Warmer. After the first sip, I thought the sweetness was starting to be a bit much but then there's an underlying presence of hop bitterness that tames the sweetness nicely. A few more sips in and I'm getting some spice, maybe cinnamon and nutmeg? Very good stuff! Oh, and there's a tad bit of warming as it goes down...

Bottom line: A very good example of the style indeed. I see it as a must try.

Thanks to Wasatch for this sample!

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2007 23:36:15 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of largadeer


3.05/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark amber, slightly hazy, with a moderate head.

Smell: Sweet, cotton candy-like aroma; notes of vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Taste: Just as sweet as the aroma implies, but with balancing bitterness. Vanilla, caramel and butterscotch flavors are prevalent. Very little hop character; it tastes like spices are used as a substitute for hops rather than an accent. Sweetness continues throughout the aftertaste, with the slightest of hop bitterness coming out at the end.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy on the palate with moderate carbonation.

Notes: I can understand why this has mixed reviews - it's extremely sweet and spicy. Not bad, but not really to my liking.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2007 04:53:05 | More by largadeer
Photo of twiggamortis420


4.65/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark honey color with a creamy beige head. Average retention and some decent lacing.

A balanced myriad of scents in this beer. Fruity notes (apples, strawberries) blend nicely with a grainy smell and sweet caramel maltiness.

Mmmmm, has zesty, spicy, fruity and creamy flavors. Caramel, floral hops and yeasty fruit esters are all quite noticeable. Sooo smooth and drinkable - wow! A sixer of these could seriously disappear in about 30 minutes. Another stellar beer from AV.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2009 04:49:11 | More by twiggamortis420
Photo of RoyalT


3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This beer is just gorgeous. It is bright, ruby brown in color with a full, thick, retentive head.

Smell – The dark, Winter Warmer malts give this one a nice aroma. I can also pick up some good, fruity sugars and a light hop compliment.

Taste – The malt and light hop mix turn nutty at the taste. The fruits are there, albeit very light, but it’s this nutty flavor that seemed to come out of nowhere that is dominating the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel – This light to medium-bodied ale was a bit thin for the flavors.

Drinkability – This wasn’t a bad offering by Anderson Valley, it was just a little off and a bit light in the ass.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2004 15:42:09 | More by RoyalT
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!

Serving type: growler

12-26-2009 21:28:32 | More by DrDemento456
Photo of ZAP


4.78/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite beers and my favorite winter beer, but after two years of tasting this I feel compelled to lower my ratings slightly..

-Heavy caramel flavor...sweet pleasant aroma...tastes and smells like a caramel apple...awesome seasonal...minimal hop balance...this is a great winter beer with an octoberfest feel...nice sweet and tasty..I love it..hops don't overwhelm but balance from keeping too sweet..very nice malty aftertaste...my kind of seasonal...wish I had a keg of this...

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2003 21:13:14 | More by ZAP
Photo of scruffwhor


3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 release.

Appearance- Pours a half and half head with mild retention. A little lacing witnessed after taking a sip of the beer. Color is a deep, rich, copper, early morning sunrise.

Smell- Pretty sweet. Mix of light to heavy fruits like strawberries and prunes. With some general toasted malts.

Taste- A holiday spicey, fruit cake of malts and sugars. I'd say about 20% of the flavor profile is hoppy bitterness. I can't get specific on its taste. The malty sweetness takes center stage with a mix of cinnamon, ginger, and carmalized peaches.

Mouthfeel- Sweet and syrupy. Something to drink after the X-mas dinner has been eaten and the family is opening their presents.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2006 03:12:02 | More by scruffwhor
Photo of tone77


3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks go out to woodychandler for yet another canned beer. Poured from a 12 oz. can. Has a dark brown color with a 1 inch head. Smell is of spices, some malts. Taste is caramel malts and spices, somewhat on the sweet side. Feels full bodied in the mouth and overall is an enjoyable beer.

Serving type: can

12-07-2011 16:22:21 | More by tone77
Photo of flagmantho


3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz can into a pint glass.

Appearance: medium amber-brown hue with just a hint of haze. Head is a thick finger of frothy tan foam. Nice.

Smell: nutty, biscuity malt aroma with some spiciness present. I'm getting nutmeg and maybe a touch of cinnamon. Not bad, but a bit too biscuity for me.

Taste: nutty crystal malt flavor with a hint of the aforementioned spices present. There's a biscuity quality to the malt here, too, but I feel like it actually adds more to the overall character than it detracts. A balanced and tasty winter brew.

Mouthfeel: medium-light body with a good level of creaminess. Just right for such a malty experience.

Overall: I am surprisingly pleased with this winter warmer. The weather outside is frightful, and this beer is quite delightful.

Serving type: can

11-20-2011 22:49:10 | More by flagmantho
Photo of LiquidAmber


3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a medium red-orange amber, lively carbonation with a two finger light tan head that dissipated fairly quickly leaving light lacing. Looked nice. Pleasant aroma of seasonal spices, light fruit and caramel malt. Unusual flavor of sweet malt, light fruit dominated by apple, vanilla, undifferentiated seasonal spices, and a slight eathiness sweet but not cloying. Light to medium bodied with decent carbonation. Flavor is somewhat mild, but the elements work together well and the moderate vanilla makes it a bit unusual. I enjoyed this take on a winter warmer and will buy it again.

Serving type: can

02-05-2012 03:51:12 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of TheLongBeachBum


3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-13-2003 22:27:51 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of cokes


4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'll stick with most of what I listed for the 2002 below. Not quite the "wow" aroma I had remembered, though still attractive. Still very gingerbready, but overall spicing is a but more muted (and to its benefit). Solidly caramelized.Cinnamon (and perhaps ginger) appear as it warms. Light orange-rind bitterness. Mouthfeel seems improved and checks in at medium. A nice winter quaffer that doesn't go overboard in any direction. (Mouthfeel and drinkability rating are raised, aroma lowered)

2002 release.
Deep copper bodied with a compacted beige head that fades to form islands of lace.
Rich malty aroma of gingerbread. Lightly spiced with plenty of subtle vanilla sweetness. Absolutely lovely.
Not as big, brawny or complex as I remember, but still a nice one. Taste is gingerbread cookies, all the way. Possibly ones that are ever so slightly burnt. Light cinnamon and vanilla toppings. A husky grain enters just prior to the hops. The hops also seem less assertive than past edition. Lightly citric, and sort of raw. Ends with just a hint of prickly alcohol.
Sort of lifeless in the mouth. It fails to have the heft of a winter warmer, and does not have any liveliness either. Doesn't leave much of an impression. Thinner than years past?
However, it is quite drinkable, and a decent winter seasonal

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2002 20:31:52 | More by cokes
Photo of nickfl


3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Two and a half fingers of tan head on top of an amber brown body with excellent clarity. The foam settles slowly and leaves nice, thick lace in it place.

S - A light aroma of caramel malt with some toffee. Some peppery spice notes and a hint of yeasty fruit.

T - Some light caramel up front with a huge note of buttery toffee. Some spice cake flavors in the middle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Finishes with lingering spice and brown malt flavors as well as light, balancing hop bitterness.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - Thick and rich malt character dominates this beer's character and helps to spread out and spicy flavors and keep the beer drinkable. The aroma is somewhat subdued, but the flavor is full of rich toffee and malt that provides an excellent background for the mellow spice and yeast notes. Overall, this is a very nice example of a style that can be, and too often is, ruined by excessive specialty grain character and spice.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2010 07:33:01 | More by nickfl
Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,323 ratings.