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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: 431 | Ratings: 900
Photo of beermanbrian
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brown color with some faint red tint. Off white short head that drops to a significant halo that leaves rings around the glass.

First smell impression is candied sugar with some fruityness. On second approach ther is some spice and alcohol burn.

First taste is again sweetness but there is a nice pepper finish. Second try on the taste brings forth more of a caramel malt with some burnt notes. This one is ever changing and tough to get a handle on. Lots of interesting flavors floating around and the 9.8% lets you know that it is there.

Mouth is a little full with the heavy sweetness. Not what I would call a real drinkable beer but I never rate drinkability on how many I think I could down in a sitting, preferring to think of it as more of an overall impression and if I would want another one. For this beer it's a definate yes as long as the weather stays cool. A great sipper on a cold winter night.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Solstice D'hiver seemed an appropriate choice since A.) Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel has recently announced it presence on my beer radar with authority with the sterling Rigor Mortis, and B.) the winter solstice arrives tomorrow, with the first coupling of the solstice with a lunar eclipse in nearly 500 years. It seems almost out of my hands that I should have come across this, then, at the great Sun Singer in Champaign, IL.

A thin finger of caramel-drizzled tan foam tops a deep amber body; little lacing on the pint glass. Decent but timid nose, with roasted malt, a nice amount of fruit particularly fig, raisin, and berry, and some chocolate. A more robust nose, especially for an American Barleywine, would do Solstice D'hiver wonders.

The taste, however, recovers considerable promise. It's very malty, somewhat fruity, and nicely hopped--more like an English barleywine in the hops and mouthfeel. As it warms, the second half brings forth the dried fruit in greater prominence and, combined with the dark chocolate and roasted caramel malt flavors, this brew is really delicious. The fig and raisin truly shine.

The mouthfeel is good, providing a nice texture. It's surely not a big, beefy American barleywine in terms of hop content and texture, although some hop bitterness certainly emerges with Solstice. However, it is a good, well-rounded barleywine that is well worth a go, especially at $4.99 a pop--definitely worth the price.

I am glad to have another of these on hand for the eclipse/solstice that shall come very late tonight. Well done from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel, a really good barleywine that may not be in the upper echelon of American Barleywines but, nonetheless, is good, delicious, and more than worthy from this excellent Canadian brewery.

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Photo of Zorro
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A clear brown colored beer with a slight reddish tinge. No real head formation.

Smells strongly of chocolate and brown sugar. Scent of grape in here, there is a bit of vanilla too, almost suggesting a brandy barrel or one from whiskey. Alcohol is strong here and there are slight tobacco and cherry scents.

Starts out sweet and malty with a strong soda cracker flavor and no clear aftertaste at the start. Alcohol can certainly be felt though. Mildly sweet, this is quite tame flavored. Fruity flavor, mostly vanilla and cherry. Mildly bitter but is actually more woody than bitter.

Mouthfeel is full but not excessive.

Very drinkable. Despite a considerable amount of alcohol this is quite drinkable though a real chest warmer.

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Photo of saintwarrick
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew pours a very dirty and cloudy dark red with a thin lacy head off-white head. Aroma is top notch, bourbon, caramel and brown sugar with a little of that boozy quality all the good barley wines have. Taste follows the same, slightly sweet and boozy but is still nicely balanced. A very nice American barley wine all around.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Random buy based on the label and the name... I know!

A: in a berleywine, you've gotta do something to impress me. There's so much range in this genre (?) of beer that a dark ruby-brown ale with a thin tan head doesn't mean much to me.

S: nice smelling - some sweets like caramel and toffee, and some sharper hops beneath

T: gets better than it smells - warm and spiced, some bitters, some sugars, some malts and some hops - a very complex and nicely balanced brew

M: syrup up front turns astringent and savory

O: what a delightful beer - a very warming drink for the winter holidays. Well-crafted and interesting. It is a haunting beer that comes to mind quickly when I want to drink a really good beer.

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Photo of Giggy
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with red highlights. Little to no head.

S: Caramel, dark fruits, vanilla, sharpness of alcohol

T: Sweet roasted malts, dark sugars, malty, bitter at the end of the swallow

M: Full, thick, creamy, and tingly

O: Sip slowly! Alcohol is strong on this one. Looking forward to trying others from this brewery. Nice to know Canada Brews more than Molson & Labbats.

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Photo of Derek
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cellared from last year. Perfect day for this one! :D

A: Copper-chestnut with a tan head, thin ring of retention, nice leg/lace. Impressive for its strength.

S: Alcohol, sherry?, dark fruit (raisins, prunes, figs), candied fruit, brown sugar, caramel, orange rind. Really more of an English aroma.

T: Raisins, figs, nectarine, dark caramel, brown sugar, burnt toffee, candied fruit, orange rind, good bitterness, slight alcohol warmth, though considering its strength, it's well-hidden.

M: Light residual sweetness has a warming (slightly drying) alcohol finish.

D: A very pleasant sipper.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've never seen this one around my area so a big THANK YOU to Patrick for generously sending this 2009 bottle to try.

A - Pours an opaque raisin, orange, brown sugar color. Minimal head, and initially has an off white fluffy head.

S - Smells very Belgian in character. Has deep layers of toffee and barley aroma, strong toffee caramel with a balancing of vanilla, brown sugar, figs, prunes, and mild nutmeg. Smells a little estery, nutty, and a little maple syrup buried way down there.

T - Wow! Taste is every bit as complex as the aroma suggests. The taste matches the nose in almost every way with layer after layer of taste hitting the tongue. If I didn't read the label first, I would call this a Belgian/English Strong Ale. It doesn't present itself as a Barley Wine, especially an American style which I beg to differ with its classification, the Belgian yeast is very noticeable. Toffee & caramel immediately emerge before settling in to a maple syrup/brown sugar blend intertwined with plumbs, figs, and mild amounts of prune. (a.k.a. - "dark fruit") The hop bitterness seems to provide added support of the malts. There's also an oakey and and a little smokiness lending itself to the overall flavor.

M - Finishes dry and leaves a bittersweet and crisp coating in the mouth. Is a little medicinal in taste. Medium heavy in body, not syrupy or sticky (like I expected). Early in the bottle there's a noticeable ABV warming but midway through my throat and palette adjusted and it wasn't as noticeable.

D - The alcohol presence drives drinkability down a little bit, however, well brewed and interesting. I would like another one of these because I'm savoring every sip.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours murky brown with a small off-white thick head. Dissipates into rich lacings.

S: Sweet malt, roasted caramell. Dark dried fruit. Faint chocolate.

T: Sweet roasted caramell malt, acctually malt galore! Dark dried fruits.

M: Fullbodied and lowcarbonated (GREAT!). Aftertaste is rather short and holds mostly sweetness.

D: This is a very nice Barleywine. I love this brewery! Still I've not tasted a beer that wasn't great from them.
In Sweden - this is marketed as a X-mas beer. I feel that's quite unfair - this is a much better product than any X-maxbeer. My only regret is that I didn't buy a whole case and put it in my beercellar...

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Photo of StrangeBrewer76
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I found this bottle in a recent haul and noticed only an hour ago as I put it in the fridge to chill that the bottling date is '02. I can hardly wait. I would cellar it and save it for a special occasion but I know where I can get more!

It appears bottle brown in the glass but to the light it is a clear blood-ruby color. The thin layer of head sits like a crown in this glass.

First whiff is very vanilla extract; like when making cookies as a child and I am equally excited to experience this delight. Like the label says, I also get the idea of red fruits like cherry raspberry and strawberry in the nose.

It takes a few sips to even understand what the taste is saying to me. There is a very dry, rye quality that appears first, fully supported by a decent caramel toasty malt flavor and pure alcohol. Not boozy but a very clean tasting alcohol. There is nothing fancy about this batch. It really deserves the name barleywine.

Mouthfeel is light to medium in body and the light carbonation that makes a nice creamy foam at first sip makes this very pleasant on the tongue. From creamy to dry to alcohol rinsed, this liquid moves along nicely.

Drinkability here is a split decision depending on how you mean it. I have no problem passing this through my mouth and throat but at 9.8% and 7 years old, a few sips in I'm really feeling it.

I will definitely get this one again, provided I can find it of a similar vintage.

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Photo of CMW
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark red color with a soapy off white head. The head disappears quickly a leaves just a slight film.

S - Smells of malt, yeast, and some sweet fruits. There are also some nice caramel nodes mixed with nutmeg and cinnamon.

T - Caramel malts are plentiful and are the first thing I notice. The fruits a spices appear in the middle but are quickly pushed to the back due to some heavy citrus hops. These hops carry through to the finish. In the aftertaste the spices seem to linger on the tongue.

M - Medium bodied but with very little carbonation.

D - I do love American Barleywines and this is a great example of the style. The alcohol is barely noticeable despite being almost 10%. Very easy to drink and we definitely buy another.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.21/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a opaque, muddled, toffee brown coloring with no head. Aromas of booze first and foremost, with a rich, solid follow of toffee, caramel, molasses, vanilla, apple, date, raisins, brown sugar,and earthy notes. Very rich, but balanced. Flavors are rich and creamy smooth forward, heavy on apple, caramel, toffee, date, raisins, and woody and earthy highlights. Very layered and dynamic palate, with lots of earthy characteristics providing depth to the flavor profiles. Smooth, rich, creamy body, with a slow building warmth as you drink. The aftertaste is more of the old world fruit characteristics, with a boozy component, and subtle vanilla highlights. Smooth, rich, slow finish, with a solid boozy and richly sweet linger. Very solid representation of the style.

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Photo of Goldorak
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Sampled their 2004 version on tap, this one is listed as 9% ABV.

Appearance: Very dark, but with blood red hues when you bring it to the light. Clingy lacing.

Smell: Very, very sweet smell, like cloverleaf honey with a hoppy twist. Impressive.

Taste: Honey sweet, creamy and full. A nice alcohol bite with a strong bitter and malty aftertaste that seems to last and last. Great, great stuff.

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Photo of ronniebruner
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Upon first pour you notice a wonderful aroma of barley and sugar. The beer pours a honey cream color with a decent amount of head and minimal carbonation. The high ABV is countered by a sugary sweet note of citrus fruit, followed by a nice aftertaste that leaves a warm tinge on the tongue. A very good brew indeed.

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Photo of WesWes
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark amber, almost brown color with a 1/4" offwhite head slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a wonderful burnt toffee aroma that's warming yet sweet and inviting. The taste is good. It has a nice hop bite that's complimented by a really awesome toffee flavor. It goes down smooth and finishes warm and earthy. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good drinking barleywine. I love the hop and malt character; well done!

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Photo of AWolfAtTheDoor
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This appeared at my local Bevmo about 1.5 years ago, so I bought out all the bottles (maybe half a dozen). Just drank my last one.

Dark mahogany, with some clumpy yeast sediment. Yum. Lack luster lacing.

Smells great. Alcohol definitely present. Bready, carmelly.

More carmel and bread with a warming alcohol presence. Something else that I can't quite put my finger on? Vanilla? Special B? Interesting and yummy.

Thick barleywine mouthfeel at it's finest.

Overall a delicious beer from the best microbrew in Canada.

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Photo of chuckbeaster
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

one of my favorite barleywines.

A: very dark brown, but when held to light it has a dark ruby red color. not much head, about one finger of tan head, but great retention and lacing.

S: this is the one area where the beer lacked. a little bit of burnt sugar and raisin/fig covering up the slight smell of booze.

T: in my opinion the balance between malts and hops is near perfect. it definitely has a bitter finish, but not overbearing at all. Up front is a good bit of malts, almost no alcohol and some bready notes. next comes a little bit of cherry and caramel, and its finished by a slightest taste of spice and a mild bitter taste that lingers for a good bit. almost no alcohol in the taste, you only recognize it by the heat in the gut and the buzz in the mind!

M: the mouthfeel is also exceptional, i'd say medium, but close to the medium-heavy side. imo, it's a little less heavy than a lot of barleywines. great carbonation for a barleywine as well. it's fairly dry, but not too much.

overall: wow, grab this beer! i'm not sure when this was bottled, but i was told it "had some age to it". the bottle has 1 and 0 marked out of 0-9, 0-9) i've been told in Canada thats a date, but in the US (where i am) it's just a batch number. So i don't know if this is batch 10 or if this is from the first batch. I know they only brew it once a year, so i don't think they are up to batch 10, but who knows? ( can someone clarify?) i recently spent a good bit of time drinking belgian ales, and have been branching out to barleywines lately. So far, this is by far my favorite. The mouthfeel almost reminded me of a belgium, but with a little less carbination. the hops in the finish rounded out the fairly strong malts up front. A+ beer in my book!

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Photo of jellikit
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Amber. Thin head. Clear.
Smell: light caramel. Light cherry. Caramel.
Taste: dates, raisin. Cherry. Light alcohol.
Mouthfeel: medium carbonation. Big body. Sweet.
Overall: Great beer. Well balanced. Was waiting for more hops, but I guess I'm used to NW Barleywine. Tasty. Will buy again.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I believe that the label reads this is best by 2011?

Pours quite dark brown and fairly foggy with a thick crème head that's going nowhere. Nose is quite fruit toned. Apricots, perfume, floral edges. If you really focus on the fragrance, that apricot shows through beautifully. Flavor is a bit boozy. Grainy malts. Subdued fruits, figs, but the alcohol is present. Feel is smooth on liquid, appropriately lower on carbonation. This is still young. I say give it three or four more years and this is going to be golden. Lots of potential, but not at its peak right now.

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Photo of Boto
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Draught @ Eulogy: This one pours a clear dark brown color. There was a small off white head that left lots of lacing. Good nose. Lots of caramel malts, some earthiness, perhaps some dark fruits and faint spices. The taste is very good. Some sweetness, dark fruits, malts, spices, as well as a touch of roastiness and smoke.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours from the less than 12oz bottle into a La FinDu Monde oversized snifter. The beer looks beautiful; ruddy brown with purple and amber highlights. Topped with a creamy and dense, light caramel colored head of about one finger in size, and the foam sticks around for quite a while leaving specks of lacing.

Aroma is of pineapple, deep caramel malts, brown sugar, alcohol, and subtle hoppiness.

Very gentle flavor profile that is creamy and soothing. Alcohol, herbal and earthy hops, low-ish bitterness, dried figs and raisins. The earthy hops seem to leave a lingering flavor in the mouth. I once made a tea with some Kent Goldings and this tastes like that, with alcohol and caramel, breadiness mixed in.

A nice beer for sure. The alcohol provides a warming effect and makes this one a sure sipper. Very well balanced, chewy, hot at times, but still a very nice beer. Alcohol is certainly noticeable, which provides about the only drawback. Nowhere near an American Barleywine, but spot on for English version.

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Photo of zeff80
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a cloudy, dark brown color with a pillowy, off-white, small head. It left soapy lace residue on the glass.

S - It smelled of raisin, sweet caramel malt and some subtle floral notes.

T - It tasted very sweet. The raisin detected in the aroma was very mild. It had a light caramel flavor with some roasted qualities.

M - It sticky and a a little chewy. A medium to full bodied barleywine.

D - This smelled great and tasted pretty good, too. It is certainly worth picking up.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This bottle was part of my winnings from the 08' Pigskin and Porter Fantasy Football league, sent to me courtesy of shrlsu. Thanks Stephen.

At its core, Solstice D'hiver is a mahoganey brown. Moving out from the center, the body becomes progressively lighter and turns into a ruby hue. Next in line is a russet or rust color followed by a dull orange. Only a tiny off-white head here, and it disappears right away, leaving no lacing behind.

There's a lot going on in the aroma. Some roasted character is followed by some caramel. Pretty pronounced fruitiness in the nose that is reminscent of grapes, among others. A bitter hop aroma is pretty noticeable also. Without really knowing beforehand, the aroma is cetainly enough to tell me that this one is an American Barleywine.

The flavor is as complex and pleasing as the aroma. The first flavor I notice is a dark yet sweet fruit flavor. Next is the big, bold malt backbone that has roasted, caramel and some chocolate flavor to it. The finish is considerably bitter and piney, with a warmer effect. Pretty good overall.

Medium bodied and medium carbonated. Probably a little lighter than I would have expected.

Pretty drinkable for a beer that is creeping up on 10%ABV. Overall, Solstice D'hiver is a very good American Barleywine.

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Photo of Schreibeers
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: average +. nice dark brown color with some deep red highlights. No head, no lacing.

S: This beer does smell nice. Smooth comes to mind as I am confronted with a round smooth maltiness mixed with just the right amount of booze and some slight bitter sweetness. Overall very nice.

T: Good. At first I am confronted with some sweetness, round and effervescent with some booze leaking through all the time. Some bitterness seems to be apparent, but booze and caramel malts seems to take the main stage. As with most barley wines this beer continues to get better as it goes.

M: medium body. Has some staying power and some nice complexity as the flavors continue to ask me to just try one more sip

D: Compared to other barelywines, seems well balanced and quite enjoyable. I like this beer and highly recommend picking this up if you do see it.

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Photo of GPHarris
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25


A - poured a one finger thick tan head into a snifter that left good lacing and sheeting throughout. The body was a dark, ruddy brown.
S - cinnamon, chocolate, toffee, booze, raisins.
T - same as above with the booze and raisins dominating.
M - creamy and slick.
O - nice and complex, very drinkable.

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Solstice D'hiver from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!
3.91 out of 5 based on 900 ratings.
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