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Summer Solstice | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

476 Reviews
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Summer SolsticeSummer Solstice

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: Cream Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our Summer Solstice Seasonal Ale is a slightly sweet, malty session beer with a creamy mouth feel and clean finish. With hints of caramel in the nose and a touch of spice, it’s become affectionately known as “cream soda for adults”. The unique flavors and superior drinkability make for the ultimate refreshment on a hot summer day.

Added by xlperro on 05-09-2005

User Reviews
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Reviews: 476 | Ratings: 1,488
Photo of hrbuchanan
3.3/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Bottle has an orange label and is oh-so-summery. The beer is a pretty amber with decent head retention, though it looks a bit cloudy for a beer that's not intended to be "unfiltered".

Smell: Vague smell of honey and malt, but not much there. No noticeable hop aroma, but nothing bad or "off" either.

Taste: Honey is the most prominent flavor. Nice, decently refreshing, though it tastes a bit thick and not super balanced. Not as easy drinking as I would hope from a blonde, but tasty. The flavor might appeal even to non-beer-drinkers.

Feel: Nice and full-bodied. Again, I would expect it to be lighter as a Summer seasonal, but I can't complain. I like it big.

Overall: The first few sips throw me off, but after that I get used to it. Not excited enough to buy it again, but it was nice. Can't complain too much!

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Photo of KYGunner
3.94/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light coppery color smooth and silky, with a tremendously thick and well built head.

There's a sweet barley scent with touches of grain and nut. The aromas are slightly cardboardish but the sour mash, wet grainy, sweet bran scents accent the overall aroma.

The taste is all wrong but seems to be a good wrong. I get vanilla yogurt, slight strawberry, granola bar and sweet candied malts. A bit of caramel and toffee malts finish the taste and I find that this is a truly interesting an flavorful beer.

The feel is slightly summer but seems to be full and creamy and could even translate to a fall edition. I love most Anderson Valley beers but this is truly special.

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Photo of freneticamnesic
4.14/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Poured a reddish orange with a thick head that dissipated quickly

S - Bready malts, toasted sugars

T - caramely malts, lightly roasted sugary bread notes, hints of orange apples; finishes with light floral hops

M - smooth and crisp, just enough carbonation

O - My favourite summer beer so far! This is really well balanced and not overboard on the fruit/citrus notes, while still having an obvious summery, refreshing character.

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Photo of vkv822
3.64/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz : tulip

Lightly hazy, amber-orange-brown with a foamy, very light tan head.

Sweet, caramel, grainy malts with a floral hop backing. Unique without being overdone.

Medium+ body, mild foamy carbonation.

A very well done beer for the style. Pleasant sweet malts, with just enough hops to balance it.

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Photo of minterro
3.62/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Was unaware of this styles existed so I'll do my best from the style description.

A&S: Over-done 3 1/2 finger head (even when poured with ease) and dies to a thin layer fast. Leaves some lacing. Beautifully color to this beer: ruby red and bright orange mixed perfectly. Aroma is extremely sweet & malty. With hints of citrus (oranges), almond milk, and yeast.

T&M: Similar upfront to the smell: very sweet malts (borderline milk stout like outside of the roasty and chocolate flavors). Finishes with lots of breadyness (which I find similar to grain based ambers). Not as clean of a finish as I expected. Lighter then I imagined from the smell. Carbonation has a good presences without being overwhelming and stinging the tongue. Amazingly creamy in texture, medium to full bodied beer.

Overall: I'm very perplexed by this beer. It is both intriguing and ordinary. I would assume this beer wouldn't hit the spot on a warm summer day, but at this same time it has a faint resemblance to a summery beer or at least has that feel to it. In a way it reminds me of Bell's Christmas ale. It's a scottish ale, when normally breweries go with something like a spiced ale for their Christmas brew. I enjoy the change up/ thinking out of the box, but at the same time, if it ain't broke don't fix it. I have been impressed Anderson Valley's beer, and will continue to try their products, even though this wasn't what I expected.

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Photo of BradMacMullin
3.1/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

I wish Beer Advocate had a way for me to remind myself how much I dislike this beer without me skewing the overall grade. Problem is I am a dummy and I keep ordering this beer not realizing it is a Cream Ale, and I hate cream ales. For what it's worth, this beer seems to deliver everything this type of beer should. It's like a melted down carbonated Popsicle, although without the glamor. This review is to remind me to stop ordering this beer!!

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Photo of tdm168
3.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A - light amber with a big, thick, foamy off white head that has great retention

S - cereal grains and caramel

T - apples, corn flakes, toasted caramel,

M - light to medium bodied, smooth, very well carbonated

This is a pretty solid cream ale. It has a bit more body than others I have tried but it is still easily drinkable. The flavor has a bit more depth than I'm used to in this style. I'm used to the simple cereal grains but the caramel malts and fruitiness (from the yeast I suppose) is very welcomed here. This is definitely a beer worth trying. It's also a nice change of pace from the lighter wheat beer offerings that flood the shelves in the summer.

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Photo of Ricklikesmibeer
4.11/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A= pours dark copper with thin light off white head. Clear with a nice amount of bubbles.

S= A complex mix of dark fruit, burnt sugar, and vanilla

T= a sweet blend of caramel, tobacco, warm vanilla while still keeping light and some what crisp with an obvious balance of dryness. Surprisingly refreshing for a sweeter beer.

M= creamy effervescence. Light and refreshing yet not dry.

O= A summer favorite, unlike any other beer cream ale or not. This beer has a profile of its own. While I can understand where some people will dis-like this beer I love its complex flavor profile and superior drinkability.

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Photo of patre_tim
3.91/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Dark Amber, cloudy with lots of fine bubbled carbonation, no head just a little whitish foam with a beige tinge.

S: Crème Brulee, caramel, burnt caramel, apples, phenol qualities, apple candy, light acidic fruity quality.

T: Very light, not hoppy but malty, somewhat water with acidic notes, apples, apple cider, quite dry with little sweetness. Reminds me somewhat of a Kellerbier.

M: Medium somewhat bready body, lots of fine champagne like carbonation.

O: Refreshing beer, a cream ale which is one I’ve had few of. Light and refreshing, great for a hot summer evening. Would pair well with lots of foods as it has very general flavour. I imagine it would go well with apple pie, or light summer sandwiches and salads.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.53/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

Look: Dark caramel color. A cream colored head recedes to a film, with light webby lacing.

Aroma: Sweet caramel and toffee. All malts.

Taste: Just like the aroma, the beer opens with a great sweet caramel, and quickly moves into toffee. It's deliciously much like a candy bar. Maybe only the slightest tang of a hop presence in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Refreshingly light and smooth.

Overall: One of the tastiest beers I've ever had. Reminds me of a Score candy bar.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz can poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a beautiful dark amber/caramel color with a half finger of white head that quickly dissipated into a thin lacing of foam that covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Burnt sugar, caramel, malt, some faint floral notes, like clover of heather.

Taste: Wow! There’s lots of caramel up front. Then there’s the malt and some very subtle hops characteristics. There’s also some spice at the back end, maybe black pepper and ginger. This beer is sweet without being overpowering, crisp without being drying or bitter. This is a very nicely balanced beer.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, with some chewiness that’s not usually present in summer beers, or at least in the summer beers that I’ve had (especially this summer). There’s some nice carbonation present to cleanse the palate, which is good, as the sweetness could, but isn’t, be a bit cloying.

Overall: Damn, this is a really good beer! I love the caramel and spices that this beer possesses, and the creaminess. I’m going to have to have a few more of these this summer! Maybe more than a few!

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Photo of chefjack428
2.06/5  rDev -43.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 1.75

Can, picked up on a very hot day.
The appearance of the beer is the only good thing.
Smells like over sweetened A&W cream soda and stale cereal.
Taste was pretty awful, skunky, overly sweet cream soda flavor and a bit of lemon.
So many people love this stuff, I thought it was horrible. Wish I had my $3 back.

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Photo of redmaw
3.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

I poured this into a pilsner glass, and the color was darker than I expected. It was clear, and a dark amber, almost orange when viewed against a light. The head was white and nice an thick (about an inch). This is easily the most carbonated beer I have had, there is a ton of effervescence, and the head stuck around for a long time. After 20 minutes or more there was still a 1/8" head. There wasn't much to stand out in the smell, some malt and a little hops. Again nothing about the taste really stood out, there was a decent amount of malt flavor, and a little caramel and vanilla, and little to no hops. Initially I thought the taste was very watery, but as the beer warmed up a bit I found the flavor much more satisfying. The mouth feel of this beer was excellent, it was very full and smooth. There was a nice crisp finish that I attribute to the amount of carbonation. Overall this was quite an enjoyable beer with a mild but adequate flavor, great mouth feel, and was quite refreshing.

Disclaimer: This is my first cream ale, and my first review.

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Photo of beergoot
4.09/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Toasted grain notes arise from a solid copper-colored body that is topped with a thick, creamy, long-lasting head. Honey and vanilla taste combined with a deeply rich grain tone; a mild hop bitterness peeks through near the finish. Medium body with softly rich and smooth feel.

The aroma exudes a nice multi-grain and honey scent with the flavors following suit. Definitely a darker color to the body from what I'm familiar with from other cream ales, but still a very malty, very smooth beer. Wonderfully balanced with superb flavoring throughout.

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Photo of ghengisflan
3.66/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Nothing special. No real head on the pour and an average, slightly cloudy brown. The color is appropriate to the flavor.

Smell: A delicious smell of caramel and malt. You can almost taste grain.

Taste: Strong caramel and cream notes.

Mouthfeel: Perfectly creamy.

Overall: Great for a cream ale; this rating is for the genre. While not my favorite style, it's a great example.

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Photo of scottbrew4u
4.04/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours from bottle into my pint glass a clear, amber color with a bubbly off-white head that settles quick to a layer of bubbles.
S: Doughy, caramel, oranges, cracked grains and a faint hop spice.
T: Fresh whole grain bread with marmalade, solid malt backbone with a light toffee sweetness and bits of spice from the hops.
M: Creamy for a light body and some crisp carbonation.
D: A very drinkable beer that goes well with any summer outing. Easy to have a few cold ones of these and not be bored. A delicious cream ale!!

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Photo of The_Blind_Commissioner
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My first taste after drinking a porter was so creamy I was amazed. Such a rich taste, with hints of fruit, particularly orange, among the cream. It could be that I was inferring the taste, as I am quite fond of strawberries and oranges with cream, but I swear that this is the most creamy beer I have had. It is so luxurious, but so sip-able at the same time. It has a slightly nutty taste which reminds me of some of my favorite coffees. Just a really great beer. I am always fond of Anderson Valley. I am not very experienced in creamy beers, but this one stood out among the others I have had. I would say that this is among some of the greatest beers I have had, as I am a stout and porter man, and am quite often disappointed with beers that aren't very dark. This beer stood out. Just a very good beer.

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Photo of JordanPhraczek
3.86/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Straight out of the can freezing cold on a hot day.

A - Good looking can/packaging but they should mention it is a cream ale. nice foam jumping out of the can.

S - Can't really notice anything off the bat even when I got foam on my nose.

T - We are getting somewhere. Glad I drank it out of the can because I feel like the flavors are more concentrated before aeration. cream soda and nutty pecan finish. Sweet but sessionable.

M - When I swish it around my mouth I can feel fine particles but the beer is light, fluffy and refreshing.

O - For the style of cream ale this is downright delicious.

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Photo of MarkQ617
3.31/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Had this poured into a pint glass. Dark, hazy copper appearance. Off-white head with a darker brownish-tint. Lazy bit of lacing down the side of the glass. Somewhat malty nose with just a bit of spice. Flavor has a decent crispness, but the beer is still a bit heavy, which I guess is to be expected from a cream, but maybe not from a summer seasonal. The crispness and clean finish say summer, but the weight really doesn't.

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Photo of Jsteez
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a dimple beer mug.

A-Poured a cloudy copper to medium amber color. A nice creamy off-white 1 finger head hung around for about 3 minutes or so. The head dissipated into a thin creamy surface. Trace lacing left on the glass. This brew would taste good on-tap!

S-Fruity, malty, and some graham cracker crunch.

T-Spicy apricots and caramelized peaches going in. There were also hints of chili mangos as well. The backend had a smooth and creamy feel with a mild pepper and spice. I could taste caramel malt in the front and backend. The aftertaste left a light spicy taste. Tasted quite balanced.

M-My initial thought about this brew is that it would have a heavier mouth-feel. But it was quite light and crisp. Clean feel. Carbonation is on the high side which makes this a great backyard bbq beer. Thirst quenching.

Overall-I'd buy this brew again. It is a solid summer brew that I could easily drink on a hot summer day, it is interesting for its style.

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Photo of KFBR392
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Solid red color. Good amount of lacing on the glass and a solid head on the pour. Good carbonation but overall nothing too crazy.

Smell: A lot of the creamy dairy one would expect. Some aromas of apples, fruit, slight molasses, and taffy. The aroma is certainly not overpowering, you have to dig for it a bite. The bright creamy accents jump out the most.

Taste: One of the better cream ale tastes I've had. So much of the dairy and taffy on the front. The body and finish have many of the same accents which overall are just muted. Yum, the front end keeps you coming back for more.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and buttery.

Overall: An easy drinking summer beer. A good one to give to your non-craft friends. Not as much traditional character as one would hope but overall isn't a bad brew to sip on.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Thanks, Jon. Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a tulip pint glass. Bottle says "natural flavor" was added, but I for the life of me would not be able to know what it is... And neither does their website for that matter.

Pours a dark brownish amber body complete with 2 fingers worth of head that dwindles down to pretty much nothing. Carbonation is not too present. No lacing to speak of. Average body retention and character, but definitely good to see a summer beer taking on a different appearance.

The aroma is very heavy and toasty, almost like whiffing straight into a box of biscuits coated with citrus and vanilla. This took me by surprise, especially as this barely is a combination of flavors that I get in a summer beer. In fact, I'd go as far to say that it smells like S'mores, believe it or not! Cinnamon, wheat, candied cream, and a bit of caramel and milk chocolate are all present here, but it's not a dessert beer by any means. It contains a spiciness that overlaps these flavors, only to bludgeoned by all the caramel and toffee. There's a syrupy sweetness that I've gotten with every AV beer to date, except for their oatmeal stout, which makes it cloying. There's also a candied fruity flavor (I'm going to go with oranges) that persists, and while not pleasant, it's not necessarily horrible. I'm enjoying the variety of flavors, but not the sweetened caramelized backdrop so much.

Right from the start, I can see where this is a cream ale with added spices and citrus notes. The cream is instantly there, and melds itself with the caramel and candied orange notes, only to finish with a bittered, toasted barley flavor combined with brown sugar. Again, this never gets to the point of excessive sweetness (although the syrupiness is ridiculous), but it isn't something that I could down quickly either. As this warms up, there are notes of butterscotch (which makes me wonder if Irish yeast was used), as well as sweetened elements that make this resemble caramelized orange sorbet of sorts. Definitely similar to orange sodas as well, which the brewery seems ready to agree on. The cracked barley finish is a little distracting, and the hop profile is pretty low, but I believe would not have contributed so much to the beer's flavor. Luckily it's pretty thick, as I would hope all beers of this style to be.

Considering the fact that summers in NorCal in the far north (where AV is located) are usually pretty chilly, rainy, and misty, I could see this as a perfectly enjoyable beer to have during the days where the weather becomes mild during the season in the region. While I enjoyed a lot of the sweetened, creamy flavors this has to offer, the bittered, flaky finish, as well as the enormous syrupy, sludgy body, makes this one something that I patiently sipped on. I'd pair it with food in a heartbeat (think fruit-glazed butter fried lamb with sweet potatoes), but on its own, not so much. More of an ambivalent dessert than a quaffable summer beer.

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Photo of caels1991
4.32/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz can into Red Hare Brewery Pint Glass.

App- It's a very simple, true to form beer. Fairly clear through with a great dark gold, copper, and amber color. Slight bit of chill on the glass, but very welcoming. Poured about 1.5 finger creamy off white soap-y head.

Smell- Very soft smell, some hop, malt, and confectionery sweetness. Not too much going on, but nothing to really turn off the drinker.

Taste- Sweetness. This is definitely a great beer, it is a bit on the sweeter end of the scale. Lots of vanilla, honey, sugars, almost reminds me of malty Nougat in drink form. Cannot get enough of this, especially as someone who is a huge fan of sweet, dark, and heavier beers. A great summer beer I would recommend to people who are looking for less hop and more "flavor" out of their lighter and easier Ales.

Mouth- Very crisp, but coating mouthfeel. Feels much the way you would expect based around the taste.

Overall- I have heard people say this is like Cream Soda for adults and I get that. It definitely has a Cream Soda like quality and it comes out strongest in the mouth & taste. The nose is definitely a more "beer-like" aroma, it's not unappealing though if you were to introduce this to someone. All in all, an easy quality drink. If you are looking for something sweeter, something that's a bit more than your typical summer-y Ales, this would be a great starting point.

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Photo of RobertColianni
4.22/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz. can poured into my 40oz. Brandy Snifter.

A: Thin, white, lightly carbonated head; caramelized sugar body; large, but limited bubbles.

S: Creme Brulee, meringue, and whipped cream all come together in one of the most perfectly aromatic beers outside of a chocolate stout.

T: Creamsicle; light, charred sweetness; whipped cream.

M: Very smooth with light carbonation and light maltiness.

OVERALL: This was such a great beer and probably the best Cream Ale I've ever had. Through and through the scents matched up with the taste and the idea behind the scents matched up with the texture. Summer Solstice is a great beer for the warmer months when you want to get away from IPA's/DIPA's for a few days and give your wrecked palate some time off.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.64/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the can, lots of foam on a almost clear, deep amber colored body.
The aroma is caramel and cream.
The taste is nice. A dark summer brew with moderate bitterness balance with some malt sweetness; with vanilla worked in nicely.
The texture is smooth and soft with low carbonation.
It's a lighter ale but with good flavor.

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Summer Solstice from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 476 ratings.