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 tdawgydog
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is has been sitting in the cellar since the holidays. Time to make some room for the summer seasonals.

A - Poured a beautiful dark brown. Carbonation flowed up from the bottom of the glass to build a really nice head. Almost looked like something out of a Guinness commercial.

S - Sweet yet strong. It's difficult to hide the 9+ ABV and it's clearly visible in the nose of this brew.

T - Started off extremely sweet. Hints of chocolate and caramel, but as I got to the bottom of the glass all I could taste was the alcohol. Almost a scotch taste.

D - First part was really enjoyable. It could be that I left this in the cellar too long but I'm not convinced that is the problem. All Dieu Du Ciel beers that I have enjoyed have been really well done. Not that this one is bad, I just wouldn't seek it out again.

M - Again it started out great but went downhill after that. I only had a single bottle so it's neither here nor there.

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Photo of rapidsequence
3.3/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle from Total Wine in NoVA.

Appearance: Very dark, but clear amber. Very thin, wispy off white head with poor retention and just some spots of lacing.

Smell: Cherry and some raisin. Very earthy hops aromas. Caramel malt aroma is a bit steely and slightly burnt. Not real boozy for a big barleywine, not all that interesting either.

Taste: As with the smell, there is quite a cherry presence, and some more dried fruit flavors as well. Hops impart significant bitterness. The estery flavors are a signature of the English ale yeast used. Again, not very boozy tasting.

Mouthfeel: Lacks the heavy, sticky mouthfeel I expected. Carbonation is appropriate. Finish is drier than I'd like.

Overall: This is a decent beer that is better than the sum of its parts. Its actually very easy drinking for the ABV and has some interesting flavor combinations, but it just isnt as good as a really good big barleywine.

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Photo of Naugros
3.32/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Really dark reddish brown or dark copper, if you will. Rose more of a head than I'm used to from barleywines with the remnants of it being a good ring with a top film. That ring leaves some lacing.

Smell: Cocoa, tobacco, oak and dark fruits without the alcoholic bite I usually get in a barleywine's smell. A sweet, malty aroma backs it all up.

Taste: Disappointed that the taste didn't follow the smell so much. Phenols (cloves) seem to take over the flavor and have a hand in lowering the mouthfeel score as well. Get past them and the sweet malts are there as well as the cocoa. I'm thinking that the tobacco I got in the nose was due to the phenolic presence.

Mouthfeel; See above. The cloves get really strong and even engage my gag reflex. Not good. I'm going to let it warm and see if it improves. I waited it did, but just a little.

This brewery has some major hits...Peche Mortel of course and Aphrodite, but this I put in the category with their attempt at an IPA (Corne du Diable)...a miss.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
3.32/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very reluctant 1/8" head which dissipated to a trace. Dark burnt umber color. Almost no smell at all. Not particularly thick bodied for a barleywine, I'd just call it medium. Classic dark beer flavors of chocolate malt, barley, caramel, and coffee. Good but I agree with some other reviewers it's a little harsh, so not great.

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Photo of biglobo8971
3.33/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured from bottle into tulip. This beer has regular distro in my area, never tried it before I received it in a trade.
lools solid, seems particular dark, almost porter ish. No head at all, very slim lacing that clings to outer rim, does not follow down the glass. Very faint in the nose, small hints of sweetness, not much else. Taste is solid, slight malt sweetness, very little hop flavor. The mouthfeel is ok, not spectacular, flavors still resonate longer than it should. Overall, solid beer, not outstanding, just solid.

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Photo of Auror
3.33/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is an old bottle. At least 2 years, probably 3 or more. Batch code has 0 and 8 notched, how I wish DDC made it more clear when the batches were from on US bottles. As a barleywine, I'd expect this to hold up fairly well though.

Poured into my Kate the Great snifter.

Appearance- Pours a dark muddy, reddish-brown. One finger head diminishes quickly to a slight ring. Carbonation bubbles are evident, a good sign considering this bottle's age. Mild lacing.

Smell- Chocolate, fruity malt, strawberry, wood, damp leaves.

Taste- Some malt sweetness upfront reminiscent of cherries. A little bit of a chalky flavor in the middle (oxidation?). Finishes with a tingling, lingering bitterness. Hops might have been prevalent once, but now only the bitterness remains. No alcohol present.

Mouthfeel- Surprisingly sharp carbonation. Medium feel.

Overall- I'm only guessing here, but from reading other reviews this beer has lost a lot of flavor. In exchange for that, the 10% alcohol is just non-existent.

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Photo of Otterburn
3.37/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Barley wine 9,8 % 341ml bottle

Appearance is a dark brow color with no head, low carbonation

Smell's kind of caramel and alcool

Taste is caramel and alcool

mouthfeel is similar the a thin syrop with low carbonation

Drinkability is average. because of the taste and the mouthfeel.

It is not bad, maybe its only the style thats not my favorite.

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Photo of mikehblack
3.38/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours into my snifter a brownish honey color. Some orange on the edges. Very little head and apparent carbonation. Smells of sweet sugars and caramel, bit of alcohol. Taste brings forth some hop bitterness at the front. Continues with those caramel notes. Fairly balanced hop and malt flavors but it's leaving me with desire for more complexity. I can taste the 10.2% but it isn't overwhelming. Medium bodied with pretty good carbonation that wasn't as noticeable on the pour. Overall a decent American barleywine but the depth and balance just isn't quite there for me.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.39/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Big yellow pour and white head 1" on the top. Aroma didn't reveal this to be bretty. Almost more like a pale ale.

Taste seemed over carbonated and plain. A little bit of flowery-ness to it, and the mouthfeel was amazing for being 8%. Yeast flavors weren't pungent, more clean, earthy. I wouldn't recommend someone spending $15 on a bottle of this, no way. No off flavors, but nothing special. Good not great.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.39/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

10.2% ABV confirmed. Acquired for $1.00 in SoCal - probably the best deal I've ever gotten on a beer. 11.5 fl oz brown glass with branded standard pressure cap served into a conical Samuel Smith's pint glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery, which makes some beers I'm a big fan of. Imported by the Shelton Bastards. There are notches in the "1" and "0" slots, but I don't know what date that indicates.

Served after a brief period of rest following its removal from the fridge and allowed to warm further over the course of consumption; I prefer my barleywines just slightly chilled. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a half finger khaki colour head of nice cream and thickness, and average (~2 minute) retention - which isn't actually bad for the high ABV. Body colour is a hazy caramel-amber brown; very typical of a refined barleywine. Nontranslucent. Opaque. No yeast particles are visible, if only because it's opaque. This is definitely unfiltered. No bubble show. It's what I'd expect from a good barleywine; I'm not blown away but I'm looking forward to trying it.

Sm: Rich caramel, toffee, malty sweetness, light toasted malt, grains and sugars, burnt bread crust. Redolent of old brown leather. Some fig fruit and other stonefruit. Raisin. A touch of earthiness - in a good sense. Light vanilla. Candied fruit. A light dark spice. A bit of fennel. Candied green apple. A complex aroma of moderate to fairly high strength. Alcohol's there, but it's well concealed. An evocative aroma that affirms complexity to come, but doesn't come off horribly balanced. I can't wait to find out.

T: Dominant caramel. A bit of toffee. The sweetness is certainly there, but it's well balanced by more refined notes. I'm sure it'd be better with more age, all the same. The sweetness would fade a bit. Light fig and mild candied apple fruit come through, adding pleasant dimensions. Biscuit malt and brown malts aid the body. Some raisin. A bit of lurking alcohol, but I wouldn't call it hot or boozy. Little yeast comes through, if any. Hopping is generic and floral - and certainly minimal. Malts are the star of this show, and as well they should be. The dominant note is redolent of those caramel-apple sticks you'd get at a fair. Light burnt bread crust isn't as deep here as I'd like; it's there in traces but that flavour is the highlight for me. I could do without the fennel/light licorice, but that's just personal taste. A nicely balanced little barleywine, but one that seems like it'd be a lot better with 2-3 years of age on it. Pretty good balance, for the most part.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Thick - like it needs to be for the style. It's got definite presence on the palate, but I wouldn't say it's too heavy. Firm and punchy. Good carbonation. Complements the flavour profile pretty well, and in some ways it seems like it's tailored to it - but the execution doesn't come off incredibly. Solidly done, but not great.

Dr*: It's not a great barleywine, but it's rather solid. I wouldn't pay the full $6.00 import price for it, but I love the $1.00 price tag I paid. I'm glad I picked up 5 others; this is far better stuff than Bigfoot (at least fresh Bigfoot). Another solid brew from Dieu du Ciel, but I did expect a little more given their usual quality. Worth picking up at the right price, but otherwise I wouldn't recommend it to friends. Like it, don't love it. It is quite drinkable for the ABV though. I could have more than one of these in the same night and I wouldn't mind.


Definitely a beer that'd be better with age. 2-5 years for this one methinks.

I regret I was forced to drink this one from a pint glass. By all means, use a snifter or tulip if you've got one. Hell, even a wine glass would be better than a conical pint glass.

*I had to play with the overall score to get the letter grade that was appropriate. This keeps my reviews fair and consistent. Please see my profile for more information.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.41/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

341ml bottle - the label image does a good job of making me feel colder than the climate already does, yeah?

This beer pours a dark, over-steeped black tea colour, with two fingers of puffy beige head, which leaves a consistent pattern of looped lace around the glass as it evenly settles.

It smells of big sugary caramel/toffee malt, mild dark complex fruit, and somewhat acrid booze. The taste is quite strongly stewed butterscotch malt, dark fruit liqueur, and further drying edgy, earthy hops.

The carbonation is moderate, and a bit on the high side for the style, the body pretty hefty, smooth, but noticeable for its lack of stickiness. It finishes mostly in kind - a lingering caramel sweetness, smacked right down by booze and bitter hops. Wow - after reading the product description in French on the side label - looks like I was bang on: alcohol, fruit, and bitter hops - c'est vrai!

I sure don't mind the hops and strength in barleywines, but this one is just too astringently boozy for my liking - probably my own fault, as it was bottled less than 3 months ago. It would be interesting to match this against the new release of my local concern's barleywine - Alley Kat's 2010 Old Deuteronomy. Time may very well tell.

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Photo of thebeers
3.41/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Murky cherry brown with tiny head. Big aroma of fig, raisins, brown sugar and a hint of hops. Syrupy, creamy mouthfeel. Hops prevalent up front in the taste, then some slight cherry sweetness and pronounced bitterness in the aftertaste. I know this is an American barleywine, but the mix isn't doing it for me.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of gunhaver. Pours brown with full tan head lasting a good 60 seconds. The aroma is thick with dark fruity esters that seem a bit musty. They're mixing with roasty malts, some alcohol heat and malt sweetness. The taste is a rich mix of raisins, prunes and cherries. Toward midway mild notes of sweet malts, roasted malts, sweet caramel and mildly herbal spices encroach on the bold fruity esters and move the experience to the finish. Pretty hot and warming overall. It may benefit from additional aging.

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Photo of MPLS
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Gentle pour with an almost black colored body, carbonation noticable but will little attenuation in it's head. Spotty lacing.

S: Fruity, perhaps akin to a little juicy fruit, but also elements of dry fruits, jelly, caramel, hop profile is smaller than the majority of ABs I have tasted.

T: Above average offering but lacks any big or bold flavors to set it apart from other members of its species. The dried fruits are there with a prolonged earthy finish that has a kiss of alcohol.

M: More carbonation than most barleywines, middle weight class body, alcohol warmth.

D: Average offering IMO, best thing about it were it's appearance and hints of elements on the nose that didn't quite have the depth I was looking for.

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Photo of Rizalini
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into my Deschutes tulip glass...

A - Pours a hazy ruby red color with a 1 finger tan head that leaves some slight lacing as it fades.

S - Has a fruity bubblegum aroma, almost like Juicy Fruit.

T/M - Taste matches the smell really well. Slightly sweet fruity, bubblegum flavor. Medium heavy mouthfeel bordering on syrupy.

O - It's a descent barleywine, but nothing extraordinary,

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Photo of kwjd
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours an amber brown colour with thin white head. Not too much lacing. Smells quite boozy, some hops and brown sugar with caramel malt. The flavour is sweet and boozy. I don't remember it quite tasting like this when I had it on tap a year ago, I thought it was much more balanced. I didn't review my first bottle of it, but the 2nd bottle was the same. Maybe I'm just not a fan of this, but way too much booze and the flavour doesn't quite hold up enough. Good carbonation level.

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a 16 oz. snifter.

A- Dark ruby brown with 2 finger tan head and excellent lacing.

S- Tons of malt, dark fruits, leather, tobacco.

T- Sweet amber/roasted malts, get some cocoa near the finish along with a hint of dark fruits. Decent hop finish to balance the malts.

M- Full bodied. Fairly thick and creamy with a semi-dry finish.

O- Taste does not hold up to aroma. It's a good beer but just missing something for me in the taste.

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Photo of coldmeat23
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

Pours a deep, dark, amber color with hints of garnet. A thin, tan, layer of foam sits on top. It lingers for a long time. The lacing is abundant and quite sticky.

Big, sweet, maltiness comes flowing out of the glass, from about 18 inches away. The nose is filled with raisin and fig notes. Light hints of dates and maraschino cherries. Mild touches of spices and nuttiness. Notes of candi sugar sweetness.

Not nearly as sweet as the nose would lead you to believe. This is very earthy. The maltiness is here, but very subdued. A vague sense of dark fruits, but nothing specific. Hints of raw nuts. Mild hops bite in the dry finish.

Medium-to-full bodied, with a mild level of carbonation. Very smooth and slightly creamy.

It's not bad, but I'd rather have John Barleycorn or Arctic Devil or Mirror Mirror etc. Just a touch too dry for my tastes.

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Photo of Yesac
3.47/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Dark brown color. Off-white/khaki head that fades to a neat ring around the glass. Smooth lacing on the glass.

S- Figs, cherries, bourbony booze, sweet molasses, malt.

T- Not as pleasing as the smell. The alcohol and carbonation are not mixing well. The ABV is simply to overbearing and is like rubbing alcohol. The molassas, figs and caramel are lingering but are hard to enjoy because of the ABV burn.

M/D - Medium bodied and low/medium carbonation. Pretty sticky on the palate. This gets hard to drink after it warms. This went downhill quickly.

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Photo of jegross2
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewing the Solstice D'hiver from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel out of Montreal in Canada.
Score: 83

Unknown vintage bottle with the 1 and 0 ticked on the side of the label. Served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 10/16/12.

Appearance: Pours two fingers of beige foamy head that slowly recedes to a thick layer atop the glass. Crazy lacing and retention. The beer is a deep mahogany color with a blood-red halo around the glass. Not quite opaque. 4.5/5

Smell: Vanilla, toffee and malty caramel. Faint, musty hops. Light plum, raisin and pine. Yum! 4/5

Taste: Sadly, the taste does not live up to the inviting appeal of the nose. Malty caramel, faint dark fruit and ample stale hops. There is a hint of vanilla upfront, but it is very very faint. There is a slight nuttiness too. 3/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium-light carbonation. Super malty, slightly creamy. 3.5/5

Overall: Taste is a mediocre, unincorporated mess of flavors and stale hops, but the aroma was nice.

Recommendation: Definitely not worth the price tag.

Pairings: Spicy Pad Thai.

Cost: $5 for a 12 oz bottle.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Shared a bottle of this with my wife, who's a big barleywine fan. Served in my FOBAB mini-pint glass.

A - A half-finger of quick-dissipating light tan foam with excellent lacing. Hazy light brown raisin-y color - I can almost see the logo on the other side of the glass. Pretty much spot-on for a high-gravity barleywine.

S - This is seriously boozy smelling - reminds me a little of brandy, but with a healthy does of burnt caramel, apple, berries. There is just too much alcohol coming out to let the other smells emerge - perhaps this needs another 6 months?

T - The apple flavor is really present - it's almost as if I bit into a caramel-covered gala apple doused in alcohol. There's also a little bit of citrus hoppiness still present. The aftertaste is kind of unpleasant with some sourness to it.

M - Full-bodied, light carbonation, very smooth and creamy, with some alcohol warmth. It's definitely appropriate to the style but nothing out of the ordinary.

D - I've had a few drinks tonight which might have compounded matters a bit, but it's going to be a struggle to get through my 6oz pour. Just way too boozy and sour for me to do anything more than occasionally sip.

Dieu du Ciel is a funny brewery - I love Péché Mortel, but have been somewhat disappointed with their other bottled offerings. I'm hoping their other big guns (Chaman, l'Aphrodisiaque, Déesse Nocturne) that are only on=tap live up to the hype.

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Photo of Hopswagger
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

P: Murky nut brown ale with a rippled wake and minimal lacing.

S: Fruity syrup laced barley, molasses, fruit cake, natural fruit roll ups, cinnamon, brown sugar, earthy hops and booze. Moldy dank esters once warmed.

T/M: Cherry NyQuil upfront with smoldered barley, caramel and orange oil. Spicy booze, wood and herbs cut through the sugary malts. Syrupy feel in a fully carbonated body and finishes with a juice dose of hops that aren't overly bitter.

O: Super sweet and easy drink barley wine. It's decent but really comes off as lack luster. No real problems but its just not great.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

11.5 oz bottle into a Chimay goblet.

A: Pours a dark, murky brown color. There's about two fingers of mocha-colored head. It features an excellent texture and good retention. A LOT of lacing is left behind on the glass. This is pretty attractive in its own way.

S: This seems to have a fairly boozy aroma, primarily. In spite of all the booze, there are other (fairly prevalent) elements - most notably chocolate, raisins, figs, brown sugar, and caramel. I kind of wish it was less boozy and more everything else, to be honest. That doesn't mean it's a bad aroma, just that it could have/should have been better.

T: Immediately, I notice its subtle stout-y elements: there's a slight initial flavor of chocolate, and the finish is faintly roasted. They really add to the archetypal ('Murican) barleywine notes of candy-coated hops and booze admirably. There are also some tangy fruit flavors (think cherries, maybe even apricots) popping up in spurts. It's layered so that the alcoholic flavors die down as more is consumed. Seemingly, it's replaced with a strong, earthy toffee flavor. It still remains a fairly alcoholic ordeal, typical of the style.

M: Rather slender in feel, which doesn't do this beer many favors in terms of decadence. When combined with the fine carbonation and moderately hidden booze, it means this is pretty easy to drink for the style. Still, I can't help but wish this was a bit more substantial feeling.

O: Nice one. It gets somewhat harsh in places - then again, so do most barleywines. Rather, it's a bit harsher than some of the really great examples out there. Still, I can't think of a better aging candidate.

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Photo of GarthTaargus
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a cool looking bottle into a red wine glass. About a seven vertical inch pour into center of glass, producing about a 3/4 inch head. Head settled within two minutes. Bottle had a dating system on it which was not clear to me. Seemed to say '02, but I HIGHLY doubt that is the case.

S: Nice smell of dark fruits and a vague intoxicating liqueur character, also the scent of ripe mangoes. Reminds me of an English Barleywine mixed with a Belgian Quad. Very pleasant and alluring.

T: Chief taste is of burnt sugars. Very English tasting for an American style, but a definite hop presence bridges the Atlantic, stylistically. The drawback is that the alcohol is right in there, and very noticeable. Still tasty, though.

M: Nice enough mouthfeel, although a bit oily with a prickly carbonation.

D: High alcohol dectection hampers drinkability a bit, but overall decent for the style.

Overall a good beer from an intriguing brewery that keeps me trying 'em all.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.5 ounce bottle, 10.2% ABV. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a cloudy reddish/brown color with about a half inch light tan head. The head went away quickly, but there's a good amount of lacing. Aroma is molasses, brown sugar, yeast, bready malt and caramel. It tastes like caramel malt, toffee, brown sugar, bready malt and some plums. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's somewhat coating and creamy with moderate carbonation. I think it's a decent beer overall, but there's nothing really impressive about this. Maybe it would be better if I had aged it longer, so I might buy another bottle to do just that.

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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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