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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

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

1,458 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,458
Reviews: 680
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 14.18%
Wants: 51
Gots: 86 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: maxpower on 11-18-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,458 | Reviews: 680 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BodiesLexus
4/5  rDev +3.1%

BodiesLexus, Jan 09, 2014
Photo of GreenWBush
2.6/5  rDev -33%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

2004 release. Heady ruby. The graphic design on the bottle is seasonal and gorgeous: the beer's color is remarkably similar to the outlay of the "themed" elements: foothills covered in snow, hollyberry replacing the hop trellises, the bear-ish creature done up for the season. The giant, rocky head and unbelievably sticky lace are noteworthy but seem on par with this great brewery's offerings.

The nose hints at oaky vanilla and slightly sour banana. The malts are sweet and there is a slight stamp of cascade hops in the mix.

Wow, this is downright awfully done. Natural flavor? All I can taste is a tub of butter and some overzealously gooey malt characteristic.

Pass - this year's is much worse than last.

GreenWBush, Dec 11, 2004
Photo of ackeeper
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

ackeeper, May 12, 2014
Photo of SolipsismalCat
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. Reviewed alongside Great Lakes Christmas Ale.

A: Medium dark amber color with two-finger, off-white creamy head that lasted a few minutes. Okay lacing.

S: Mild aroma. Sweet malt. Molasses.

T: Wow, definitely vanilla. Moderately sweet and a very faint bitterness. There are other spice in there too. Good if you like vanilla.

M: Smooth and slightly dry. Goes down warm.

O: I liked the Great Lakes slightly better because I wasn't a huge fan of the vanilla. It wasn't bad, just a little bit too much for my tastes.

SolipsismalCat, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of nhindian
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a New Belgium globe.

$1.89 at Vintage Estate.

A - Pours a ruby brown color, similar to the red bordering the label, but a bit ruddier. There's a good 2-fingered, cream-colored head with moderately long retention, finally diminishing into a thick cap. While hard to see in the darkness of the beer, a steady stream of carbonation gushes from the bottom of the glass. There's some mild lacing, but not much.

S - The smell of this beer is really interesting. It's hard to pinpoint specific aromas, but I'm getting some sweet cherries, apples, mild spices (perhaps cinnamon). There's a strong malt presence here as well. It's nice to see a winter warmer that is more well-rounded rather than relying on spices to get the point across.

T - I was surprised after my first sip as I was not expecting something so flavorful and complex out of this beer. The malts come through at first and leave a nice sweetness, and there's a quick rush of the cherries, apples, plums as well. But what really threw me for a loop was a noticeable chocolate taste as well. This just added a whole new level to the beer for me. Again, the spices are more for supporting tastes rather than being the focus which helps the rest of the beer shine. Relatively long finish completely devoid of alcohol.

M - Mouthfeel is moderately light with decent carbonation. It's a good transition between the sweetness and the spice in this beer.

D - Drinkability is high. This was a real dark horse for me; I bought it a few months ago after a good recommendation, but wasn't in a rush to try it, but it blew me away. The nose is unique and the taste is refreshingly appetizing. This offering is proof that great beer doesn't have to be brewery-only and $15 a bottle.

nhindian, Mar 19, 2011
Photo of tlazaroff
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: This is a great looking beer, it's ruby in color with a nice light tan head that sports mostly large bubbles and leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

S: This is one malty beer; on the nose I get that caramel, with a tad of chocolate and some nice herbal/spice quality to it that I can't identify.

T: Upfront I get all that caramel that came in through the smell. It is followed by a nice toasted oats note and a kind of burnt flavor leads into a dry finish.

M: Seems a bit high on the carbonation and comes with a medium body on the full side. As said before, it finishes dry - nice overall.

D: This drinks nicely, the alcohol is something that I can taste a lithe bit, but it isn't bothersom at all.

tlazaroff, Oct 16, 2011
Photo of mweso2000
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%

mweso2000, Nov 11, 2012
Photo of shirfan
3.48/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark and clear copper-brown, average head.

Smells like a holiday fruitcake with cinnamon and nutmeg in the background.

Taste is on the malty side, caramel flavor leads the way with something like candied pineapple behind it. Possibly some Marris Otter in here. Spices are strong but not overpowering with cinnamon being the major player.

High carbonation and a slightly alcoholic feel on the tongue deduct score from mouthfeel.

Drinkability is not bad for a winter warmer -- a good solid example without being memorable.

shirfan, Apr 28, 2008
Photo of TrojanWheels
4.5/5  rDev +16%

TrojanWheels, Jan 20, 2012
Photo of Beermazter310
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

Beermazter310, Nov 16, 2013
Photo of Peyton5410
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%

Peyton5410, Jan 09, 2013
Photo of IronTom
4/5  rDev +3.1%

IronTom, Aug 18, 2013
Photo of philbertk
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 12 oz.(4.0 / 5.0) Mild lace head. Clear rich dark black cherry red color. Toasted malt spice mild nutmeg hop front. Creamy malty doughy English toasted caramel biscuit rich mild sweet body. Clean mild nutmeg hop finish. Sampled 12/13/2004.
2004 22 oz.(4.0 / 5.0) Rich mild lace head. Clear pretty dark ruby color. Mild toasted malt spice hop front. Doughy English rich toasted black cherry caramel biscuit body. Spicy mild nutmeg hop end. Smooth malty sweet spiciness. Sampled 12/4/2004.
2005 22 oz.(4.0 / 5.0) Mild lacy head. Cloudy rich bright amber orange color. Earthy herbal vanilla hop malt front. Tangy creamy smooth mild nutmeg dry sweet toasted caramel biscuit English body. Mild hot Winter Spice hop end. Sampled 11/17/2005.
2005 12 oz.(4.25 / 5.0) Mild lace head. Hazy rich dark amber red color. Malty English mild floral hop coriander spice front. Creamy sweet smooth malty English biscuit cherry toffee fruit nutmeg body. Spicy wheat hop clean end. Sampled 5/13/2006.
2006 22 oz.(4.5 /5.0) Foamy lacy head. Slightly hazy bright cherry amber color. Mellow spicy English hop coriander front. Rich cherry biscuit English malty body. Clean mild hop spice malty very tasty end. Sampled 11/15/2006.
2006 12 oz.(4.25 / 5.0) Foamy lacy head. Clear bright cherry amber color. Vanilla hop front. Smooth cloying mild butter caramel vanilla breadfruit body. English smooth cloying smooth mild hop spice creamy mellow end. Sampled 2/19/2007.
2007 22 oz.(4.25 / 5.0) $3.99 Each. Foamy lacy off white head. Clear ruby amber color. Malty toffee cherry mild hop front. Mild creamy sweet buttery biscuit vanilla toffee mild cherry ester malty body. Smooth mild hop cloying malt end. Sampled 10/24/2007
2007 12 oz.(4.25 / 5.0) 6-Pack $9.99. Tight rich lacy off white head. Clear thin dark amber red color. Rich toasted toffee cherry mild hop malt spice front. Cloying mild creamy sweet toffee biscuit English body. Malt spice mild hop end. Sampled 10/26/2007
2008 12 oz.-6.90% ABV-35 IBU's? (4.25 / 5.0) Rich lacy off white tan head. Clear ruby red color. Malty toffee English hop front. Malty mild sweet toasted toffee doughy biscuit chewy malt spice body. Smooth easy toffee mild hop spice lingering malt spice end. Sampled 3/27/2009. 6-Pack-$11.99.
Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale--Ale Brewed With Natural Flavors--2008 22 oz.6.90% ABV--35 IBU's? (4.25 / 5.0) Lacy off white head. Clear rich dark ruby color. Mild hop vanilla toasted caramel fruit front. Mild creamy English toffee biscuit malty body. Smooth mild hop toasted Winter spice hint end. Tasty when warm. Smooth. Sampled 11/16/2008. $4.99 Each.
2009 12 oz.-6.90% ABV--6 IBU's. (4.25 / 5.0) Winter Ale--English. Big thin rich mild lace head. Clear thin bright amber red color. Malty vanilla mild hop front. Creamy smooth malty mild toffee caramel mild Winter spice vanilla body. Rich lingering malt mild hop spice end. Mellow sentimental Winter favorite. Stated IBU's on Web Page seem low. Sampled 10/23/2009 & 12/25/2009. $10.99 / 6-Pack.

2010--22 oz.-6.90% ABV. 6 IBU's. (3.75 / 5.0) Rich dense lacy off white head. Clear bright dark ruby rich red color. Soft toffee black cherry mild hop front. Malty doughy creamy mild sweet soft toffee sweetbread English malt body without the stank. Cloying smooth mild hop soft malt spice end. Malty English-Style Winter Ale. Sampled 10/10/1910. Purchased for $3.99 @ Ken's Market--Phinney Ridge, Seattle, WA USA on 10/6/2010.

philbertk, Oct 11, 2010
Photo of kayrex
4/5  rDev +3.1%

kayrex, Dec 16, 2011
Photo of Chaz
4.18/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby-amber in color, with good (moderate) visible carbonation. Nose offers loads of sweet malt, a trace of hop bitterness, and a bit of diacetyl (but not out of style). A full off-white head of medium duration, comprised of small, tight bubbles allows some respectable lace to prsent itself. Mouthfeel is quite smooth and creamy, and body is medium-full. Toffee and light candy flavors dominate, sweet yet tangy, but with a rather dry finish and only a residual hop bitterness. I was once told that this is brewed using Belgian Candy Sugar (and the label reads "ale brewed with natural flavor") so who knows? The website doesn't give away any secrets, either. Nor does the beer provide any evidence of its ample strength; the 6.8% here drinks so easily and smoothly that you'll swear it's an ordinary beer, but it's not. The alcohol really sneaks up on you after a couple.

Chaz, Jan 08, 2007
Photo of Truh
3.13/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Couldn’t have been any further away from the sun with this one on 11/26/2004. 16-oz. shaker pour at ACPH.

Filmy, cawl of initial chromosomal head. Dark amber to light mahogany hue and fairly clear. Somewhat muted Christmas earthy, floral bouquet of gargled malt, allspice, and hints of clover. Soapy malt taste with some kind of berry involved, maybe the nosey cranberry. Overall, seemingly lacking on the taste front for the style – almost too light for a winter, in my estimation.

Truh, Nov 29, 2004
Photo of VikeMan
3/5  rDev -22.7%

VikeMan, Dec 21, 2011
Photo of BrewMaster
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005, 12 oz bottle.

Appearance: Light tan and red color with a creamy tan head. Wide open and sticky lacing rings the top of the glass as the beer is consumed.

Smell: Sweet malty nose with a spicy and earthy hop scent. Some pine in the hop aroma and a bit of caramel rounding out the smell.

Taste: Bold sweetness opens up with lots of delectable candied fruit flavor. There's caramel, toffee, and brown sugar feeding the sweet flavors. Strawberry, cherry, fig, plum, and date. Syrupy and sweet and moderately spiced with holiday spices. Cinnamon, orange peel, clove, candy sugar, and ginger. Very sweet from beginning to end but there is no cloying. The hop flavor is not readily apparent but after a few sips I notice the hop bitterness is actually a quick burst right up front that is then overcome by the fruit-spice-sweet combo. The pine character of the hops also shows up slightly in the aftertaste. As the beer warms the hop flavor shows up much more than when chilled. It is earthy and balances well with the sweet maltiness.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, rich, and syrupy. A bit sticky but right for the style.

Drinkability: Rich in fruit and spice, this is what I love about winter warmers. It is almost like a liquid fruit cake (in the best possible sense). Complex and sweet and truly warming. All around very pleasant and one that I will enjoy this winter.

BrewMaster, Nov 02, 2005
Photo of taylor714914
3.76/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

A nice winter warmer from these guys. Smells of toffee, bready malts and fresh honey biscuits.

Taste is spot on with the nose, along with caramel and some dates. Sweet and thick in the mouthfeel, but surprisingly I don't get much spice, which I expected from a winter warmer.

Mouthfeel was outstanding. Overall this is a beer I could sit down and drink a few of

taylor714914, Nov 27, 2013
Photo of jackorain
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
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

jackorain, Jan 09, 2009
Photo of sjrodriguez
3/5  rDev -22.7%

sjrodriguez, Aug 13, 2014
Photo of shockrocker65
4.75/5  rDev +22.4%

shockrocker65, Nov 23, 2012
Photo of malcontent
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Attractive mahogany color with little head but nice enough lacing.

Good malt characteristics with berry notes and a spice/hop background.

With hardly any hop characteristic on first taste, this is a beer almost entirely driven by malt and spices. There are almost some wine/tannic qualities about it, especially in the finish. A slight sweetness on the front of the palate with a hop bitterness about it in the finish. The spicy hints are intertwined with some decent bready flavors; remeniscent of a Belgian dark ale.

The taste doesn't "wow" me and while the mouthfeel is nice enough I just can't see myself going out of my way to buy this again.

malcontent, Dec 27, 2006
Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was the 2007 edition, enjoyed one night after this years' winter soltice. Poured amber with a light brown half finger head. Smelled of yeast. Taste was hoppy, warm yet snappy slight citrus wheat-beer like presence with fruit rind and spice, maybe coriander. The bitterness was well balanced with a malty finish. Overall, I could have used a few more of these, thanks Jan and Cheryl.

ThatWineGuy, Dec 27, 2007
Photo of tmm313
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

tmm313, Nov 14, 2012
Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 1,458 ratings.