Solstice D'hiver | Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!

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Solstice D'hiverSolstice D'hiver

Brewed by:
Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!
Quebec, Canada

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This noble winter beer is brown in colour with flaming red highlights. It has a complex aroma of fruits, alcohol and hops. Its taste is delicately sweet and liquor-like with a hint of burnt caramel. It is a very bitter beer with aromas and flavours reminiscent of red fruit. The aftertaste is accentuated by the wonderful flavour of hops.

Added by Rastacouere on 12-10-2003

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Reviews: 440 | Ratings: 921
Photo of josefnewsong
4.92/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked up a 3 year old vintage...

A - pours a deep dark brownish color with slightly bubbly/creamy off-white head that leaves a good bit of lacing
S - raisins, toffee, alcohol, hints of tobacco, a slight hint of mustiness
T - ohhhh nice. raisins and dark fruits, toffee, slight hints of chocolate, alcohol but not too much, and so much much age and complexity behind it.
M - full bodied and syrupy with a crisp sticky finish
D - dangerously drinkable. enough said.

The age was apparent right off the bat, had that old ale after taste akin to north coast old stock. If it aged a few more years it would be absolutely amazing.

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Photo of jondeelee
4.89/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Solstice d’hiver opens with a rich, sugary, syrupy nose that smells immediately like several beers’ worth of concentrated aroma. The notes center especially around gloopy fruit esters, including fig, date, raisin, prune, and black cherry, with lesser (but still quite potent) orange and nectarine touches. There’s also a heaping dose of molasses and brown sugar, as well as pure vanilla extract to add to the sweetness. All of this is balanced by thick, mealy breads, with rising wheat dough and brown toast crust, spent grain loafs, and a near pumpernickel-rye touch. Some anise and pepper spices linger at the edges, as well as ash. There is an overarching alcoholic vapor, which when combined with the dark fruit esters lends the beer a cognac overtone, but this blends nicely. As a whole, the nose is excellent, being everything that a solid Barleywine should aspire to: excellent balance, superb range, enticing aroma. There’s not a thing about this beer I would so far change.

On the tongue, the first notes are deep, dark sugars, including fig, raisin, prune, plum, and black cherry. These are joined quickly by the aforementioned dark bread combo, here especially leaning toward slightly-burnt toast crust and doughy pumpernickel-rye. A good dose of pine resin and grapefruit rinds adds a bitter hop counter that blends nicely with a touch of tangerine from the malts. Molasses, brown sugar, and vanilla add further sugar flavors, and pepper and anise add a spicy touch. Heavily noticeable is an alcoholic burn, which when combined with the burnt toast crust and ash flavors lends the beer a barrel-aged feel, and imparts a rum-soaked raisin addition to the fruits. If held in the mouth long enough, this alcoholic burn with increase in strength as the sugars die off, until it will eventually come quite close to bourbon. The aftertaste is also a strong bourbon-like burn, with lingering sugars, and lasts for a long time. Mouthfeel is medium to medium-heavy, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is a fantastic Barleywine, and one I would gladly reach for again and again. The fine balance and delicious flavors in here mark a brew crafted by true experts and lovers of the style, and even the heavy alcohol burn is a perfect complement to the dark sugars and ashy notes. I certainly know what I’ll be drinking when the snow comes.

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Photo of wampahoofus
4.85/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a thick dark brown, aproaching the darkness and thickness of a stout. Nice creamy tan head with thick lacing.

Smell is nutty and a bit boozy but well balanced. Bits of carmel and vanilla mixed in.

Taste is a deep strong ale with a powerful malted backbone. Lots of vanilla and a touch of oak. This is a nice treat compared to the hoppy American barley wines that have been popping up.

Mouuthfeel is smooth and creamy. It is a bit like a stout. This is a wonderful take on the beer style.

Ah. After one of these wonderful ales, I could have gone back for more! However the 10% ABV made that hard to do. I will remember this barleywine for its dark, malty, creamy nature. It is well worth it!

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Photo of fudsquat
4.85/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From bottle to a snifter. Red-brown color, minimal head, but carbonated enough to be lively in the glass. I have had severe allergies for years, and my sense of smell is almost gone--taste is also affected so I can't discern many of the subtleties that others can, and I apologise for that. However, I can attest to the fact that this is a true malt bomb that has absolutely no cloying sweetness. Alcohol content is not apparent, but two of these and driving would be a bad idea. As a note of comparison, the absolutely best beer of this type that I have ever had was the original Thomas Hardy's Ale, and this is the most worthy successor I have found. Very similar, but more dry, a good thing.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.77/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

01/30/09- Purchased at Healthy Spirits, in San Francisco, CA.

Presentation- 11.2oz bottle with a date strip on the side of the label. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Deep caramel color with a mahagony tint throughout. Pours with a full one inch plus head, in which a slight rim remains through consumption. Leaves some patches and streaks of sticky lace behind...not far from perfection.

Smell- Smells like an English Barleywine (which it is). Lots of sweet caramel, very reminescent of a JW Lees or Hardy's. Very Old Ale like in the nose with the exception of the infusion of pine and grapefruit hops. Great nose though.

Taste- Though it smells English, it tastes more American. The caramel-vanilla malt is there, but it's backed up by and possible passed up by some strong but smooth woodsy and bitter hops. Very well melded.

Mouthfeel- Exceptionally smooth for a beer of such a hoppy nature...doesn't have that harshness of fusel alcohol burn as others would. Medium to a touch lower carbonation. This is how every American Barleywine should feel IMO. Medium mouthfeel and slightly chewy with a medium lasting bitterness in the aftertaste.

Drinkability- This beer was not far from perfection. Was a bit picky on the appearance, but was basing it on the fact that I have seen a good handful of the same style and abv beer that have looked a bit better. As for the taste...pretty damn good, possibly a bit off style according to the label...but BA has the right style IMO. Damn great beer worth seeking out.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.67/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.5 fl. oz. twist cap

A deep, vibrant and ruby red amber body color with minimal scattered head, bubbly lacing pops up with not much formantion, a flat, heavy look.

The nose is rather spicey with fermented apples, black pepper over caramel and soft ginger notes. Dried smokey wheat in the malt, zesty, herbal undertone's are remarkable.

Sometime's I would rather report on how a beer feels before it's flavor, and this one feels really's lively, belgian-lively with a rather slick and full feel after with massive malty complexity, smokey and sweet, caramel and light brown sugar...very heavy complexity which is exactly how I like it. The malt becomes toned down with by a ton of hop flavor and in all the right ways! not huge bitterness, not fruity and no citrus it's all dry and herbal with a peppery and earthy effect that gives a great balance. Dried grasses in the hoppy aftertaste, very hearty finish after a huge malty smack to your face. The heat flows well with the malt with a tangy effect and not intrusive at all.

A modest abv. for the style which serves this beer very well. $5.55 is a steal for a brew this complex!Huge quoff for such a big beer. Easily my favorite brew this cold season.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.63/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.5oz. bottle poured into a tulip. No bottled date. . . Months & years are available to be notched but are not :/

(A)- Pours thick & a fairly dark amber color that has some ruby red & caramel colored highlights. A good cream colored head formed that looks very thick & foamy. Great retention. Some bits of webbing were left behind that are rather clumpy; some of the thickest lacing I may have ever seen.

(S)- A nice roasted caramel & toffee smell. Bits of vanilla & oak. Just a tiny bit of boozy warmth.

(T)- Very similar to the smell. The caramel is actually more of a burnt character rather than a roasted one. A big bitterness but is balanced very well by the caramel & toffee. Pretty massive stuff. Finishes dry with a fantastic nutty creaminess.

(M)- A good carbonation level. Has a huge body to it not to mention a big bitterness too, but is overall balanced very well by its sweet & creamy finish. One of the thickest feeling barleywines I have had in memory. Great alcohol integration.

(D)- A very good barleywine with a very big/full body to it, particularly in its thick mouthfeel. Bitter, sweet, & creamy all at the same time. I dont know how fresh or aged this is, but based on how this tastes right now, this could continue to age for a very long time. I definitely enjoyed this one very much; a great beer that warmed my bones on a cold weekend night. This will age fantastically!

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Photo of philmath
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First, I have to tell that this was my first Barley Wine ever so my review might be biased (as usual). Second, I drank it on the 7th anniversary of DDC, last year and it was from the 2004 brewing. For the first time of my life, I took some notes...

Appearance : Absolutely crystal clear copper brown
Nose : Cognac-macerated fruit and floral hops
Taste : Juicy cherries and citric hops.

Makes me feel like a young boy eating his first « sucre d'orge » after a long journey playing outside during a snowstorm.

Very drinkable. It was quite interresting! Too bad that this kind of beer isn't very popular in Quebec. I am looking forward for trying another ones of this kind. Sooner than later I hope.

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Photo of xmorgan
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer is interesting, sweet and a decent winter warmer.
It pours a dark brown and has excellent head retention. The sweetness is almost overcome by the alchool taste that lingers in your mouth. The fruitiness that comes out of it is not unpleasent as it is balanced with the body.

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Photo of hoptualBrew
4.52/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle brought back from trip to New Orleans, after a visit to Stein's Market on Magazine Street.

Dark cola brown in appearance with a film layer of cream head on top throughout the sitting. A moderate to heavy dose of spicy floral hops greet the nose along with sweet caramel malts, vanilla, spice, and a warm oak like presence - slightly boozy. Smells amazing & taste gets the same score with a bitter caramel dark chocolate lead off that turns toffee, slight brown sugar, and highly hopped throughout. Solid & fairly complex American Barleywine! Damn, this is good stuff! Couldnt ask for a more spot on body here, with a slight warming out back, but oh so drinkable.

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Photo of duracell
4.52/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poored from a 341mL bottle in an oversized wine glass. Bottled in October 2011.

A - Dark brown, cloudy, with a very thin head disappearing almost instantly. The carbonation doesn't seem to be very abundant.

S - Very gentle smell with dark fruits. I can distinguish raisins, notes of caramel and biscuits, with some herbal and spicy aromas.

T - Wow, what a taste! The first notes confirm the smell, adding a strong note of liquorice, very strong one! The caramel is present, the whole thing makes me think about a candy. After a while spicy notes appear, followed by a strong bitterness which reminds you that you're drinking a beer with a generous amount of hop. According to me, the bitterness might be a bit too present, but at the same time it creates a good balance with the other aromas.

M - In my opinion, the mouthfeel is certainly a great success! Very thick body, liquorous, a perfect carbonation.

O - Just excellent! The only downfall I can find is the bitterness, just slightly too present. But this beer is a great experience you will never regret! I would drink it all night long!

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Photo of putnam
4.52/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

As a boy I remember how the term "barleywine" seemed to promise a level of complexity and compatibility with food that few examples of the style actually seem to deliver. There is usually lots of evidence of barley, but little evidence of the care, risk and patience required to make a gastronomic statement. This is different.

Without knowing, I might suspect there was some slow Belgian yeast involved. The top bloomed rampant and durable before pearly pock marks carried it downward. The aromas a soft with plum, Bosq pears and apple with a breath of salty sea air on the margins.

Oily bitterness tangles with residual sweetness to form an impression of power without getting silly on it. With home made mexican pizzas it is delicious, offering more fruit and spice than an analytical study seems to yield.

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Photo of bitterthebetter
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a murky thick brown with lighter highlights towards the bottom. off white head

rich candied sugar, apples, pine hops, caramel, malts

smooth malt body followed by candied sugars, molasses, caramel, faint raisins, dry and slightly piney hops

pretty light bodied for a barleywine, with solid malt body and sturdy yet balanced hoppy finish. alcohol is super smooth, definitely warms the body and coats the palate

smooth, balanced, layered, nuanced, really long finish with the caramel malt and dry hops dominating and filling the mouth. candied apples and dry malt work together and endure to create a long lasting taste

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Photo of LAp
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.5oz bottle poured into a tulip. Nosing from the bottle presents toffee, caramel, toasted malt, alongside chocolate, and subdued red-fruit with an almost wine-like quality. Pours a murky ruby-amber with an almost-half-finger tan head. Nosing from the glass presents much the same notes as before, with an added sugary, almost candied quality. The palate is dominated by boozy, sugary notes - molasses and brown sugar, reduced dark red fruits (grape and dark cherries with an almost syrupy quality). The mouthfeel is medium-thick, and the truly full body solidifies the force of this big beer's strong palate. Not much carbonation here, which is a good thing, as it would feel out of place in conjunction with the beer's thick quality. Overall, a truly outstanding beer - robust yet nuanced, well-rounded notes with no unfinished edges - a beautiful take on the style.

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Photo of Groulxsome
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Quite a dark copper colour with a little hint of red. A really pretty tan coloured head which slowly gave way to a little lacing.

S: Sweet, caramel, with a some nice banana-like esters.

T: Good balance of strong hops to rich body. It starts fruity, middles out malty, and ends with a big hit of hops and alcohol warmth. Plus, its got that Quebec-beer taste which is wonderful and very close to my heart. Something in the water in Quebec!

M: Full, smooth, and chewy. Again, it's got a nice warmth from the alcohol and a long bitter finish.

O: I've got a giant soft spot for Quebec beers and this is no exception. I think this bottle is fairly fresh, so I'd love to try an older one soon to compare. It's a really good Barleywine and it shows the Quebec sense of balance perfectly.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.49/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Notches on the label: One in between 0 and 1, one in between 3 and 4.

A- Pours a ruby-like brown color with a 1/4 inch light tan head that retains decently before popping away to a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a thin sheet of surface foam. Splotches of lacing adhere to the glass.

S- Sweet but roasty cereal grain malt aroma. A bit biscuity with a surprisingly light alcohol fume. Also detect some rye possibly.

T- More biscuity, semi-sweet malts that are more toasty than roasty. Mild hop bitterness is very delicately balanced with the malt-forward flavor profile. Alcohol is masked superbly well.

M- Very smooth with minimal sharpness and a slick feel. Medium carbonation and a fullish body.

O- With this beer, Dieu du Ciel has become one of my favorite breweries. Between Peche Mortel, Derniere Volonte, Corne du Diable, Route Des Epices and this, I've witnessed only excellence.

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Photo of soulfly1492
4.48/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: Huge, bold flavor. Brown sugar, molasses, some moderate dark fruity esters, raisins are prominent. Very malts, but some mild to moderate hop aroma also.

Appearance: Light to medium brown in color, very hazy. Head is light brown with some patchy dark brown throughout. Good retention and lacing. Looks a bit evil and intmidating in my tulip glass.

Taste: If this isn't full flavor then nothing is. Maybe the strongest beer I've had to date and my favorite styles are American Strong Aleas and Quadrupels (Belgian Strong Dark Ales). Huge malt flavor. Raisins and prunes. Alcohol is noticeable. Some nutty flavor in the aftertaste, mostly walnut. Hops are highly floral. Just a touch of black pepper spice. Some earthy molasses in the aftertaste as well.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body. Feels creamy, but it turns the mouth dry leaving a chalky feeling. Almost numbing the tongue and roof of the mouth. Mild and smooth carbonation. Finishes moderately dry.

Overall: I figured this would be bold, but this is extreme. Great stuff. Never harsh, a flavor-explosion. Lots of sugar as expected, but the bitter hops and spicy alcohol balance nicely.

NOTE: Not sure what I was smoking today, but I actually snapped the top of the bottle of when opening with my stainless Spaten bottle opener. Maybe it was the funky Canadian bottle sizes.

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Photo of avalon07
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a brown color and a murky consistency. There was a small amount of foamy head and some good lacing.

S: A nice aroma of malt, dark fruit, caramel, and hops.

T: Big, complex taste of sweet malt, raisins, caramel, toffee and a hoppy finish. Slightly more robust than typical American Barleywines, but very flavorful.

M: A highly carbonated beer with a smooth finish. A full-bodied, chewy beer.

D: A highly drinkable beer, perfect for a cold winter night.

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured dark black, without much head, and what there was quickly dissipated. A little red translucency.

Smells of dark fruit, raisins and prunes, brown sugar. Intriguing and inviting.

Strong taste of espresso, burnt caramel, dark fruits, cherries, a little sweet at first but with a bitter finish. The sweet and bitter tastes are very nicely balanced, like a somewhat charred Christmas pudding. Alcohol is present, but not overwhelming, it generates a nice warming sensation.

Mouthfeel is tightly carbonated yielding a very cleansing, scrubbing feel and allowing the subtle flavors to come through.

A satisfying brew, more suitable for dessert or a nightcap. This beer grows on me and the alcohol comes through more as it warms up. I liken it to a fine liquor.

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Photo of stephens101
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown with crimson hues and a light tan head that dies quickly. Aroma is brilliant with subtle notes of milk chocolate, spice, dark fruits, vinegar and red licorice. Tastes sweet and oaky with a hint of cherry, grain, vinegar and hops. Complex yet smooth all the way with a light to medium, creamy body and a perfect hint of alcohol warmth.

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Photo of andrewinski1
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into the Dogfish Head snifter. Not a bad head, but this snifter always kills the head retention. Nice dark brown body color. No haze here.

Great smell here. Malt sweetness is indicated, but also emphasized by the notes of spices. Smells like caramel, with maybe some cinnamon? Either way I like it a lot.

The taste is equally delicious. This is a nice slightly sweet beer that finishes with a nice touch of hop bitterness to wonderfully balance the whole thing. The spices work well in the whole experience. A nice touch of vanilla is noted as well.

Decent mouthfeel, perhaps a little more carbonated than I would like ideally, but nothing to deter from the overall great beer.

Quite drinkable for the style because it is tasty, and the alcohol is hidden well. Recommended.

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Photo of almychristopher
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

this beer has aged wonderfully. the crystal clear dark brown color with the off white head that rescindes it's place at the top leaving a bit of lace around edge of the glass. the aroma brings a nice amount of toffee and dark fruit to the party, just complimenting the malt that they started with. the taste is wonderfully fruity with a bit of alcohol warmth at the end. the full body and good carbonation make this a wonderfully drinkable barley wine.

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Photo of mobrado
4.46/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had a bottle of this with some age on it. (I think... It was a dusty one from the bottle shop.) It's not a pretty sight, but I thought it tasted glorious. Not as sweet as Old Ruffian or Old Guardian and somehow bigger and even more robust than Bigfoot. My favorite barleywine so far.

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Photo of templar316
4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours the dark amber of liquid gold in my Selins Grove snifter. No head or lacing on this well aged bottle. It's risen to room temp and the aroma has hit it's peak: butterscotch, oak, muscat grapes, there's a lot of depth. And it dives deep as it rolls across the tongue coating it with the soft echoes of forgotten treasure, winter campfires and lost loves. A beer to savor.

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Photo of Tomas77
4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A gift from Jay. Thanks.

Appearance-Deep mahogany with ruby red highlights. Two finger foam head that sticks to the sides of the glass throughout.Good clarity with a tight dense head.
Aroma-Strong sweet carmel notes up front almost sugar daddy like. This is followed by a burnt sugary orange marmalade aroma. Alcohol is evident but hangs out in the background as to not interfere with all the other nuances going on inside the glass. Later as the beer warms I noticed some cake batter notes to add more complexity.
Flavor-Big carmel malt sweetness with a strong alcohol presense. A spicy hop feeling mid-palate. All three malt/hop/alcohol balance very well. Light fruit flavors(pears especially) from esters maybe, come through later on to linger. Dry finish.

Very good.

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Solstice D'hiver from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!
3.91 out of 5 based on 921 ratings.
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