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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Ratings: 928 |  Reviews: 444
Photo of strangemusic
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours up a deep, dark chocolate hue with winelike ruby highlights, and a nice fluffly toasted marshmallow cap of foam that slowly fades to just a trace.

The aroma is alcoholic, woody and dry, with ripe red fruit, flambe'd banana, hops, candied sugar and medicinal notes.

Taste mirrors the aroma pretty well, lots of alcohol heat in the sip, smoky burnt sugar, hop bitterness, pecan.

The mouthfeel is creamy and soft, and has the right body for the taste, not too thick but with some chewiness.

As for drinkability... definitely a sipper! Though the alcohol doesn't really jump on you. It doesn't feel as "hardcore" as other beers at high ABV that I've tried.

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Photo of yemenmocha
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep brown with off-white head. Nose is musty, dusty woody, with a hint of grandpa-like cologne. Very figgy on taste, sour cherries, and a little chalky. Incredibly long finish and easy drinking as far as barleywines go. Flavors much more rich as it warms to room temperature.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Blurry black cherry that looks more like dark caramel with tangerine accents when not backlit. One smooth pour enabled the entire bottle to fit into the snifter, with a lovely looking crown of khaki colored foam cresting the rim. The suds last impressively long, leaving quite a bit of lace when they eventually melt.

The aroma is underpowered, at least in the early going. It's brown malty, somewhat earthy, and has just a hint of alcohol, although no more than most beer of this ABV. Hopefully, warming will bring something new and different to the party.

Solstice d'hiver is my type of barleywine (dark malty rather than pale malty), but it isn't knocking my socks off. Once the starting chill is lost, it does open up a bit and begin to complexify. The aroma still isn't impressive, however.

Flavors include dark caramel, ripe figs, blackberries, chocolate shavings, bitter black tea leaves and a wee dram of Absolut Citron. I had originally thought this bottle was from winter '08-'09, but now believe it's from this past winter. There's still quite a bit of hop bitterness goin' on.

The mouthfeel barely squeeks out the score seen above. It could be more full and more creamy, but satisfies well enough in the end. Drinking quickly is no trouble at all. On the other hand, drinking 9.8% ale rapidly might lead to serious trouble, depending on the circumstances.

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel Solstice d'hiver is a good North American barleywine that doesn't quite come together well enough to be considered a great North American barleywine. It's still an easy recommendation since a 12 ounce single shouldn't break the bank.

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Photo of kwkdmk
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Photo of Heeenrik
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of akolb
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

20 month old beer. Pours a murky reddish-brown. Aroma of raisins, caramel, slight alcohol. Taste is rich and complex. Chocolate, dark fruits, leather, oak, rum, rich sweet caramel, strong bitterness. Aftertaste with strong alcohol and acrid bitterness. Very dry finish. A decent barleywine, but slightly unbalanced towards the bitter side of things.

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Photo of ThickNStout
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.5oz bottle from Sherlock's (Marietta, GA). 6.49. Bottled early 2012. Served in a Red Brick snifter.

Pours dark chestnut brown with a half finger of pale head. Zero lace.

Smells of toffee, earth, sugar and slightly grassy.

Taste follows the nose with sweet toffee, brown sugar, mild earthy grassy hops, caramel, faint dark fruit and a healthy kick of alcohol burn. A nice blend with the booze present but not distracting.

Creamy medium full body with moderately light carbonation. Long dry bittersweet finish.

A smooth and easily drinkable barleywine. Rich and pleasantly multi-layered. I'll most likely be picking up another bottle or two for the cellar.

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Unibroue tulip from 11.5 ounce bottle. Head is gone quickly and lacing is soapy and slides away also with a quickness. Aroma is toasty, malty, sweet and spicy. Taste is big and bold, caramel, honey, roasted malts and some slight hop bitterness, alcohol is present and warming but its rough edges are rounded by the aging of the beer that the brewery does I'm sure. I also assume that this bottle is from last years batch since I purchased it in November and apparently this one isn't on shelves until December. Unique and delicious beer as expected from this brewery.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 version on tap at Volo's DDC launch - good times. Pours a deep, rich amber toffee with just a thin collar of bubbles. No lacing.

Nose is sweet and caramelly, bread, raisin, toffee, brown sugar.

Certainly, as some others have said, more in line with an English Barleywine, lots of caramel malt with little to no hop presence. Lots of raisin, hints of cherry, hint of peat/earth, brown sugar, nice alcohol warming down the throat. Body is a bit syrupy, pretty sweet brew though not too much so as to stick in the mouth - goes down too easily for the 10% it is.

A touch rough around the edges, a bit too sweet for my liking, but a really well-made brew nonetheless. Enjoyed it, glad I got to try it.

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Photo of rfgetz
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%

Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.5 ounce bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours cloudy very dark reddish brown color with a dense 1 finger light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Good spotty lacing clings to the glass. Aromas of big raisin, prune, molasses, caramel, toast, bread, earth, herbal, and yeast spiciness. Very nice and well balanced aromas with good complexity. Taste of big raisin, prune, toast, roasted malt, molasses, bread, caramel, earth, oak, and herbal spiciness. Fair amount of spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark fruit, caramel, molasses, toast, earth, oak, and herbal spiciness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance of spicy hop flavors with the fruity malt backbone; with good complexity and no cloying sweetness. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very nice creamy, thick, and slightly slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a very nice barleywine. Nice flavor balance and complexity; and extremely smooth to sip on. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 10/2014 served at cellar Temps in a tulip glass.

Appearance: love the bottle art. The crown cap was the twisty off type which surprised me. The beer poured with medium body and had a thick and sticky tan head. The color is murky deep ruby red.

Nose: classic Barleywine Dark fruits and malty backbone. No hops at all.

Taste: There's the hops. Warming alcohol lends to a strong hop bitterness, malty sweetness is just strong enough to do combat with the hops in this beer. Wine like tannins mingle with the hops and create a vinous character. The boozy alcohol presence tastes and feels a lot like a beer that has been aged in spirit Barrels but without the oak character. Slight medicinal note, herbal, unripe plums, baking cherries. There is no hiding the 10.2% ABV, hot and solvent alcohol esters. The mouthfeel is rich and thick like a Barleywine should be.

Overall: Holy crap this beer is still young at 8 months old! Boozy! This one needs some more time in the cellar. It's definitely an American Barleywine and not an English one; the hops are way too strong to be from the UK. It's nice but truly a sipping beer. I'll check in on my other bottle in a year or so and see if things have settled down. The score will probably go up when those hop and boozy alcohol esters are converted and tamed.

Cellar Review:
Same bottling date as above. Served at warmer cellar temps in a tulip.

Mellowed a lot however the booz is still there. Nice tobacco and port wine flavors. very nice beer.

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Photo of biegaman
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Befitting to its name, Solstice d'hiver is suitably dark with its very muffled highlights overcast by a numbed and frosty brown colour that shows no sign of vivacity whatsoever. The whole beer, in fact, seems utterly lifeless, without any bubbles and a surface that is completely desolate and dried up. I'm afraid if I stick my tongue to it it might get stuck.

But the aroma is sure to put one in high spirits! A decadently rich and warming bouquet, replete with burnt sugar and dried citrus, it smells of a rich, holiday potpourri with dried flowers and earthy spices. It could either be put in the bathroom or served for dessert.

Winter - especially in Quebec - is a dreary, formidable, long-drawn out and godforsaken test of one's spirit and will. How appropriate then that Dieu Du Ciel! offers such a robust, rich and sensual beer to help get us through it. The flavour is invigoratingly strong and indulgent: warming enough to substitute a fire and potent enough to start one.

Twigs, resins, dried flowers and tree bark - presumably all the donations of a generous, American hoppiness - impart very earthy tones which add layer to the beer's sweeter, more toffee-ish flavours. Roast almonds and cherry/brandy-centered chocolates show up as well. The dynamics of alcohol-induced esters, however, crave the spotlight and tastes reminiscent of cognac and grand marnier are prominently noted.

The beer, in its first few months (a revisit once it's had some time slumber in the cellar is absolutely necessary, despite that I'm unsure as of yet how positive the results will be), is not too strong so as to be undrinkable, but put it this way: it would beat out hot chocolate after a night of ice skating. Its bitterness is stunted and an earthy, piny resinous rings out.

Solstice d'Hiver might only appeal to those in parts of the world subject to the harsh melancholies of cold, snowy winters for which, in any case, it seems to have been designed. All the same, it makes a convincing case that the darkest, shortest, coldest time of the year can actually be the brightest, longest and warmest if paired with the right food, family and friends and, of course, good drink. Maybe winter ain't so bad after all?

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Photo of fostachild
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

bottled on 09-2010. pours a darkish red/amber color with a little bit of off-white head. retained a bit of lacing.

smell is very alcoholic. also quite hoppy with a little bit of fruit/sweetness to it.

taste had the typical bitterness/sourness, also some fruit. alcohol was again really noticeable. strong, but definitely got smoother as i went on and overall was a good barley wine.

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Photo of dbl_delta
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Undated bottle into pint glass. Pours a cloudy dark brown with a light tan head. Initial impression is a little bitterness, almost immediately replaced by an understated malty caramel sweetness, followed by booze, finishing bitter. (Nice and symmetrical, eh?) Mouthfeel is slightly on the chewy side; carbonation is light. This is a very sippable Barleywine - a real pleasure to drink. Not quite my favorite for the style (that honor falls to Old Guardian as of now), but Solstice D'Hiver is excellent.
Really cool name, too.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep brown with dark caramel hues along the edges. There is very little head, but I do get a thin off-white ring of bubbles along the edges of the glass. Only spotty lacing as it drinks, which is almost non-existent.

S: The nose is caramel, fig, mild toast, bread,some bittering hops, and some booze.

T: It starts out sweet yet biting right up front. I get a good malt base and some caramel, but the hops are also there right away. The sweets and hops stay on the palate through the middle, and as it moves to the finish the alcohol presences take shape. The finish is sweet and coating, but a bit bitter and hot.

M: Medium bodied beer. It's sweet and syrupy up front, but not overly so. It coats the palate but slides off nicely in the finish. The alcohol dries it up as it leaves the palate, and only a wacky mix of sweet, bitter, and alcohol heat remain for a time.

O: Decent beer. I much prefer English Barleywines to American Barleywines, but this one isn't too bad. It has nice balance, but the alcohol percentage isn't well hidden. This beer seems like it would greatly improve with some barrel aging. We shall see.

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Photo of Brolo75
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours a dark reddish-brown with a almost tan colored head, some slight lacing, no head retention, not too many bubbles streaming from the bottom, looks hazy.

A: Burnt brown sugar, caramel, sweet dark fruits like raisins, malty sweetness, overall smells really sweet, picking some up alcohol on the nose.

T: Like the nose, burnt and sweet characteristics, bitterness, it tastes great up until the finish where there is a medicinal like flavor that just doesn't fit, alcohol does come through pretty strong.

M: Medium bodied, low carbonation, smooth, dry finish.

O: I was hoping for more because most of their beers are really good but this does come off a little messy and out of place. It has a strange medicinal taste at the end.

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Photo of DerekMorgan
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of cleverbeername
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

52* bordeaux, bottle

A gorgious dark brown. nice lace with offwhite, light tan head. sustains fairly nice.

S. malt, floral components

T. balance! nice malt and coffe hints, no heat either.

M nice structure, not too rich. The weight and nice acid would make for a great food pairing beer.

D drinks european, i would buy again.

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Photo of BigMike
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of corby112
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark chestnut brown that is completely opaque with slight golden caramel brown edges when held to a light source and a two finger light beige head that slowly fades into a lasting ring.

Lots of earthy hops in the aroma with sweet alcohol and leathery malt. Hints of toffee, brown sugar, caramel and pine needle.

Very hop forward for the style with a lot of dry earthy bitterness that is pretty well balanced by a sweet leathery caramel maltiness and alcohol presence. Slightly creamy medium body with lots of toffee, caramel, brown sugar and dark fruit notes. Hints of fig, apple, raisin and prune. Pretty quaffable considering the high ABV with subtle alcohol heat and a good bit of warmth in the finish.

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Photo of SammyDavisJrJrJr
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks like the label is ment to be notched for dating, but yeah... Into the KBS snifter...

A - Very little tan head, that never accumulates to much more than a thin ring. Attractive mohogany body, very rich.

S - Very mild pine hops present, but really the malt is the focus. Big fruit, sweet esters and tart cherry. Vanilla, cake, alcohol, and a slight medicinal quality. Not a very big aroma, but nice complexity.

T - Oh wow, there are the hops! They really dominate with pine and grapefruit all over my mouth. Alcohol has a bite to it, very warming. Mild sweet dark malt, sweet cherry that builds in intensity, and a sharp finish that reminds me of cold medicine.

M - Big, syrupy, heavy, with a very smooth mouthfeel. Alcohol does tickle the mouth.

D - This beer shows some really good promise for aging. The nose was really good, but the hops seem to overwhelm in the mouth. Very nice fruit flavors and compexity none the less.

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Photo of cbutova
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours out a fairly dark brown with a half finger head that has very little retention. A ring of tan head is left around the sides with very faint clouds atop the beer. Very little lacing sticks around on the glass. The beer itself has a nice color with the brown and red but the head and lacing are a let down here. Right off the bat in this beer I get some caramel and yeast in the aroma. I get a bit of an oxidized/metallic scent too which I find to be pretty common in Barleywines, especially aged ones, as mentioned on the side of the bottle. I really don't pick up hop aroma here but get a very good portion of malts and caramel. The problem here keeps coming back to that oxidized smell but the other elements are nice. Taste is basically the aroma without the metallic element. Lots of malts and caramel flavors. The malts profile is pretty much that of a classic big barleywine. A "stale" flavor, like that of Old Ales, is also present here. There is a tiny yeasty element. In the aftertaste I get a nice dark fruit taste with some cocoa hints, must be some chocolate/dark malt in this one. Alcohol comes into play in the taste and the nose but it is not overdone and I pretty much expect it in Barleywines that aren't overhopped. I do get a hint of earthy hops here but not anything huge. The mouthfeel is what really hit me in this beer. The carbonation combined with the warming from the high ABV make for a very silky, creamy beer. The carbs are medium as is the body, very nice for a Barleywine. A huge coat of cocoa, dark fruit and malts coat the tongue on the way out and for minutes afterward. Drinkability is decent. The taste is good, the price sucks here in the U.S. but not bad up in Canada. The looks and aroma come up short here but the taste and mouthfeel balance this beer out. I will continue to sample DDC beers as they have been very solid so far.

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Photo of cuvtcuv
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of WesMantooth
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Poured into Dogfish Head snifter. Very dark reddish brown. A decent sized tan ring stays around for the whole ride

Aroma - Smells like a typical English barley. Dark fruits, sugar, caramel/toffee. Also fair amount of alcohol. Almost sweet rum like

Taste - Hidden surprise here. Some hops that I did not notice in the smell. Everything else followed suit to the nose. Carmalized sugar, and lots of deep malt flavor stand out along with the alcohol burn that stings the nostrils a bit.

Feel - Very smooth. Despite some hoppyness, it feels much like an English style. I would say medium bodied with a little bite in the follow through.

Overall - Excellent beer. I wasnt expecting it to be an American style, but it is more of a hybrid. I would say it actually may lean toward English. The flavors could be a little more pronounced. I would probably score it a little better as and English version. I think this would age really well though.

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Solstice D'hiver from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!
3.91 out of 5 based on 928 ratings.
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