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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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very good
720 Reviews
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.90%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Winter Solstice® is our take on the classic style of “winter warmer.” Boasting a deep amber hue and rich mouthfeel, its creamy finish will lift your spirits. Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter.

Added by maxpower on 11-18-2001

For Trade:
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Reviews: 720 | Ratings: 1,773
Photo of DogFood11
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Beautiful red to cherry in color and transparent, Forms an impressive head but it fades rather quickly into a solid off white cap.

Cherries grab my attention right off the bat. Caramel is the backbone and just a mere touch of quick zipped hop twinge. Toasted bread fits this beer perfectly. just a touch of spices, little cinnamon but for a warmer overall this one has a different focus.

Chewy mouthfeel which attempts to clean up nicely with the twinge but in the end this is fairly rich. Carbonation is perfect. super fine and balancing.

Notes: This is one unique son of a bitch! The toasted flavor really comes through even more as it warms. Alcohol is fairly well hidden although my belly says otherwise.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Breezed out of a 12 oz. brown 2003 bottle to a huge dark tan cake blanket with lattice lace throughout. Dark brown orange pour. Scant carbonation bubbles slipping up.

Deep scents of apricot juice, blackberries and peaches in syrup.

Mature dry malts front the flavor followed by some sugary butter like those caramel candies that are in those yellow crispy plastic wrappers. Almost like a cherry Jolly Rancher candy but not nearly as sour. Creamy, buttery nutmeg aftertaste. Decent bready chewy feel that makes itself known.

Last swigs: Can’t drink these all night, but a top quality spicy, lip smackin' winter brew, IMHO. Leave one of these out for Santa.

Beer is good. Happy seasonal beering.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.39/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

(perhaps an old can - wouldn't put it past that store... poured into a fat tulip)

L: deep reddish orange liquid with a mild-medium haze - actually, quite cloudy once all poured in... fizz fest on the foam - very very thin crackly collar... honestly, it looks like shit - or more specifically, fermented piss mixed with Boones Farm

S: rich depth of medium-dark caramel, hint of dried cherry... no overt hop or booze aromas

T: tastes very much like it smells... semi-dry finish with a light end wash of subtle phenolic-type spice and flowery fusel - mellow degree, balanced nicely, tailing off the malt... the malt/caramel flavor is great, along with some of the fruity outer tones, but the taste sort of crumbles on the back end like a rusty old clunker

L: medium-bodied, but flabby... dextrinous viscosity and texture frayed... watery heat flickers in the finish... not a total disaster, but it does flow like a old forgotten bottle of extract brew

O: this one's stumping me - seems old - there's a date smear-stamped on the bottom of the can, and I hate to think that it actually does say 2011... could definitely tell though there's some fine flavor in its past, and at least it'll encourage me to seek out a fresher example

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Photo of deaconoflove
3.39/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ap. Pours with virtually no head. Very bright clear coppery brown. Nice color, but no head and no lacing...
Sm. Light malt and spices.
Ta. Sweet and caramelly up front before a slightly tart and bitterness followed by a sweet finigh...and then some bitter mixed with the sweet. Interesting.
Mf. Medium body with some sticky sweet coating -but in a nice way. Stays with you.
Dr. Good winter evening brew, but one will do for me.

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Photo of tillmac62
3.39/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours medium amber with a frothy head that laces and lingers well. Light nose of spice and caramel malt. Light body with medium carbonation. The taste is not complex, mostly a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. Balancing the spice with a bit of caramel sweetness would improve this one. Crisp finish with a lingering spice bitterness aftertaste.

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Photo of GreatPondBrewer
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 22 oz. bomber. Poured a fine chestnut color with a slightly off-white head. Smell was quite malty and had a fair bit of caramel flavor attached to it. There was not a noticable hop presence. The taste was quite different than the smell would indicate. It was quite fruity and had some serious notes of bubble-gum. Something I would expect to find in a German brewed beer but not something from California. However, on the whole it was quite true to the English style it is interpreting. I was not particularly fond of it, but perhaps on cask it would do a lot better.

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Photo of Reidrover
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ok bought in the 12 oz brown bottle..GoldMedal Winner apparently.
Nice enough beer poured into the pint glassdark amber/ruby red beer..slight haziness..nice creamy off white head.
Good aroma mostly malts though the spices do peek through.
The taste though while above average is not that good..its mostly maltiness with as liquorice style bitterness..it ends fast to..then theres an alkoholic warmth in the throat.
IT is as it says very creamy and smooth on the front of the palate..somewhat dry on the back..then the alcoholic aftertaste.
Its a drinkable ale..ok but sort of lightweight despite the alcohol volume..not very exciting.

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Photo of
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle.

Crystal clear, amber colored liquid. Large, rocky, ivory colored head.

Aroma included caramel and pine. I was not able to pick up much in the way of spices.

Fairly strong hop flavor - grassy and floral. Malt was bread like through most of the taste, and got slightly sweet in the aftertaste. Well balanced by the hops, spices and alcohol. Alcohol flavor/presence seemed fairly strong for ABV of beer. I can't define the spices, but they showed up near the finish and combined with the alcohol to give this beer a rather "zippy" ending.

Medium to heavy in body. Carbonation seems low. Coating, but very smooth. ABV warms you up pretty well.

Hard to explain overall impression. It seems like a malt bomb, based on the texture/mouthfeel, but the taste is quite well balanced by the hops, spices and alcohol. Not to my liking.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.37/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Good brown beer, lots of red running through it, not much head. Aroma, some spice, wood, lesser hop bitterness detectable.

Definitely a winter warmer type of feel to it, robust, but lacking viscosity to be huge. Isn't trying to go there. Good amount of toasting, roasting and hop underpinnings. Toffee, some Christmas/Thanksgiving spicing. Lots of bitterness for not being a thick beer and one of this color (certainly none of it is mutually exclusive).

This is a pretty unique beer, not really for me, but it is respectable.

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Photo of applestash
3.37/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into a RR tulip, beautiful creamy head leaving thick lacing atop a gorgeous bright mahogany brew.

i didn't get much in the way of aromatics with this one, some very subdued cherry and burnt sugar malt character.

taste is bracing; sweet, dark cherry with some booze heat and bitter hops up front. what makes this unique for the style is the creaminess--not unlike AV's "cerveca crema," that works really well in this style, leaving a deep, sweet, redolent finish evocative of the holidays. As it warms, more of the hops' complexity comes through and it becomes earthier and more full flavored, a welcome turn from the cream-soda like flavor.

the mouthfeel is marked by its soft creaminess, slightly dry.

overall, a very well crafted winter warmer that manages to be unique while remaining balanced. The creamy flavor holds me back from really loving it.

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Photo of wowbagger
3.36/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light red, very pretty with thin white head but good retention. Some fruit aroma but overall not much.

It has a slight bite, which I didn't expect, like crunching into an apple. Some cherry flavor and some spice, sweet and nice on the tongue, very pleasant.

It's a hard beer for me to describe, is there a 'dessert beer' category? It's like a syrupy red ale. I enjoyed it, certainly worth the bottle, though too sweet for me to want too much more.

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Photo of jaluria
3.35/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a roasted amber color with a decent head that falls slowly and leaves behind some lacing. Aromas of vanilla, roasted nuts, and caramel seem to come out. The taste is an intense burst of sweetness with varying levels of flavors that include vanilla and caramel. The smoked flavor of this beer takes away from the texture and flavor, in my opinion. The smoked flavor is too strong leaving an unappealing taste in my mouth. I think the different flavors would work well in a beer, but not together. The drinkability takes a hit as well.

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Photo of rowew
3.35/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12 oz longneck, lots of information about the beer and ABV, but no date.

Appearance: Copper color, large head just towards a tan color. Decent retention, a bit of lacing.

Smell: Dark fruit and some spices, but I'm having a hard time identifying specifics.

Taste: Hmm.. I have mixed feelings about this one. It definitely has some interesting flavor - almost like a fruitcake. Sweet bread and some dark fruits. Despite the interesting flavors I feel it finishes a bit too cloyingly sweet.

Overall impression: Not my favorite winter seasonal, but its got some interesting flavors and is worth a try if you get the chance.

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Photo of SpdKilz
3.34/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours with a dark brown/slightly reddish hue into my SA Perfect Pint. About a finger of head is achieved with a moderate pour that dissipates quickly leaving little lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell - Honestly...I am not getting much of anything. Just a hint of caramel malts and spices. But as stated...not much.

Taste - Well that's an odd flavor. The initial sip is an immediate throwback to when I was a child and would steal butterscotch candies from my grandmothers pantry. An interesting flavor to say the least. There are definite spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon...but there is mostly just an overpowering butterscotch flavor that lingers well after I have taken a sip.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, relatively creamy, moderate carbonation.

Drinkability - For almost 7%, yes it is. For the taste, not so much. This really struck out as a winter warmer for me. I really don't get a lot of the spices, and I know I keep going back to it, but there is just an overwhelming butterscotch flavor that is really off putting after drinking half of this. I do not think I will pick this up in the future unless someone talks me into giving it another try.

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Photo of ncbrewerbun
3.33/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From a brown long-neck bottle with 2004 prominently displayed as the year. Picked up this six-pack in Louisville. It was marked down to move, so I was a little hesitant.

Beer poured a hazy amber, bronze color, but when held up to the light there were definite ruby tones. Had a small light tan head that dissipated rather quickly to a small ring of bubble around the edge (a bit of a stretch to call it lacing).

Aroma was one of malts, toastiness, breadiness and some vanilla, with a hint of the alcohol. I also pick up some oxidation -- wet cardboard -- characteristics.

The balance of this beer is certainly favoring the malts. The toastiness comes through nicely in the flavor along with some caramel...and there is some hop bitterness in the aftertaste.

Overall, a nice beer that probably was done no favors by the store as they kept it around. I would likely think much more highly of this beer if I were having it last December vs. August, 2005.

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Photo of dudeandhisrug
3.33/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I received this beer in a sampler from Xmas. I was excited to try my first taste from Anderson Valley but unfortunately was disappointed. This was an average brew. The color and smell were above average but the taste and overall drinkability lacked what I was looking for on a cold January evening. I will definately try Anderson Valley again because I only hear positive things from this progressive brewery.

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Photo of GatorBeerNerd
3.33/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz single purchased for me at Jungle Jim's by my friend during Thanksgiving. Poured into a standard beer glass.

A: Pours a reddish brown that reminds me a bit of stained cherry cabinets. Finger and a half thick head reduces down to a thin haze of bubbles relatively quickly. The bubbles try to leave lacing, but it just doesn't stick.

S: The aroma is extremely faint. There is some roasted malty aromas mixed in with a bit of spicing of some sort.

T: It is a bit sweet from the malt. The spice balances it out pretty well. There is a bit of orange flavor mixed in. Maybe the spicing is orange peel?

M: Amazingly thin. I would almost call it watery. The spicing does add a little bit of interest in the mouth, but it doesn't make up for the thin feel.

D: Its relatively low in ABV. The warming is more from the spice. It goes down pretty easy for the style due to it being so thin.

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Photo of BeerSox
3.32/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into nonic

Deep slightly hazy copper hue with a one finger light tan head that slowly settles to a thin cap. The lacing isn't that sticky.

The aroma is very malty and sugary, with a strong caramel overtone. Some of the alcohol also pokes through. A little bit of spice is also in there.

Very sugary flavor, but also thin bodied. This gives it the feel like it's soda more than a beer. It's overall malty, not much hop flavor in there.

I found this one to be somewhat average, with the flavors being pretty one-sided, and the alcohol to be somewhat harsh for its amount. It's a little on the sweet side too.

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Photo of MJR
3.32/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2002 Vintage.

Appearance: Reddish-amber crystal-clear body, with a creamy, light tan head that doesn't stick around for long.

Smell: Winter spices, a touch of caramel, a hint of fruit, and alcohol.

Taste: Lots of caramel/butterscotch with fruity spices. Finishes with a faint licorice note, along with perhaps a hint of pine or spruce. No hop aroma or flavor to speak of. Quite one-dimensional and uncomplex.

Mouthfeel: A bit thin for a winter seasonal. Has a decent, oily mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Not bad...but for winter warmers, you can do a lot better. Decidedly average.

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Photo of Naes
3.31/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This ale is brown/dark amber in color and has a small off-white head.
The aroma is not much to speak of, but has a slight amount of spice and hops.
Its flavor has some spice, cinnamon, a slight alcohol presence and some caramel malt.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied and moderately carbonated.

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Photo of sacfly
3.31/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2004 bottle

Pours a beautiful Reddish Brown. Clear as day. Thin head of small bubbles. Smell is of chocolate candy cordials. Like smelling the inside of a chocolate covered cherry.

Body is light. Chocolate with a light cherry cough syrup flavor. Malt, no sign of hops. Little to no aftertaste, slightly bitter.

OK, but tastes a bit artificial. A nice change, but not something I would drink more than once a week or so.

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Photo of Floydster
3.31/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle from Hollingshead's during Christmas in July celebration for $1.79

Poured a dark brown color with a thick tannish white head

Smell was a little chocolate and that was about it, but did not taste any of it

Taste was dominated by vanilla malt which added a lot of sweetness to go along with a caramel finish

Pretty heavy stuff though, could not drink more than one or two, but normal for winter beers

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.3/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, no bottled on date, but this is the 2012 winter seasonal release, I'm sure. Poured into a Firestone Walker pint glass.

A - Pours a quarter inch of off-white / khaki colored head that quickly dissolves into a thin layer of foam, bubbling it's way out of existence. Body is a very dark ruby / blood orange / chestnut color.

S - Smell is of winter spice, cinnamon and nutmeg, some earthy, barrel aged oak, cream & vanilla smells come secondary. Bit of alcohol astringency, and some cherry & fermented dark fruit. Cherry vanilla smell is dominant, but doesn't always come off as smelling natural.

T - The beer is light bodied and smooth, with a faint hint of alcohol warmth, and bit of medicinal cherry flavored syrup. Some woody, barrel aged vanilla poking about in there, but it doesn't seem totally genuine, if you ask me. A decent tasting beer, but definitely not the best tasting beer I've ever had. A simple brew.

M - Feel comes off somewhat hot and carbonated. Not a horrible tasting beer, but not one I would recommend sessioning. Fruity, bitter, & dry aftertaste on this beer.

Overall, it isn't a horrible beer, but it is definitely not a beer I will ever consider drinking again. Seems very imbalanced, with a lot of off-putting aspects: too sweet & sugary, with a medicinal artificial cherry vanilla syrup like taste. Underwhelming, for damn sure. My second beer from Anderson Valley Brewing Co., and not one I will be having again any time soon. Looking forward to other endeavors from this brewery.

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale ---3.5/5

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Photo of spencerw
3.3/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - This brew poured an orange, brownish in color with a 1 inch foam head that lingered for a minute or two. It appearance was very dense.

S - Sweet edge of moderately spicy. It has a citrus, caramel tone that is very obvious. Very malty.

T - The taste was darn good however very sweet and malty. It tasted like a sweet caramel, much stronger than the smell. Very little hop tone yet a sliver of a kick mid drift.

M - Full body, thick, filling yet smooth and fairly refreshing.

D - Not sure this is a beer I would session with. It's a little t sweet and filling for me. It's a good beer, but nothing I'll run around trying to find again.

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Photo of vkv822
3.29/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12oz : tulip

Clear, amber red with a foamy, off white head.

Sweet, caramel malts, very light spicy, woodsy hop accents in both the nose and taste.

Medium body, foamy carbonation.

A decent beer overall, but the flavors seem a bit subdued at times, with nothing particularly exciting in this one.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,773 ratings.
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