Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

very good
730 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

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Reviews: 730 | Ratings: 1,807
Photo of spursfaninla
3.81/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

do not get me wrong, I think this is a fine beer. it is just not a "great" beer. To me, a 4 or above is a great beer. This is good if you like to drink something alcoholic and can't tell it has alcohol. But, you can't really tell this is beer, mostly. To some, that is great. I like beer though. So, the conflicted feelings about this beer.

This is mild, sweet, and easy to drink. The flavors, as other have said, are of alcoholic cream soda. Now, I like cream soda a lot, so maybe that is why I rated this high.

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Photo of GreatHammerhead
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Look: Copper in color with a two finger off-white head of thick foam. Good head retention.

Smell: Malts with hints of cinnamon and allspice.

Taste: All I really taste are malts but that's not necessarily a bad thing. They are crisp and clean with plenty of malt flavor.

Medium thick chewy mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Finishes crisp and clean.

Overall: A very good malt forward beer.

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Photo of bmeehan
3.94/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This beer has a nice spicy sweetness to it that reminds me of a cider. It's not so sweet that it loses its beer taste, but it's got notes closer to honey than I usually find in a winter ale.

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Photo of allforbetterbeer
3.62/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

From and undated can into a goblet.

Pours with a cloudy "ruddy orange" body under an awesome off-white billowy head.

On the Nose: pineapple, caramel-apple, sugar-crusted holiday bread crust.

The flavor combines some really appealing elements. Pineapple and raisin caramel dominates, with nice (but restrained) notes of oxidation. Fruit-cake and a faint whiff of spice cabinet round things out. Lower bitterness but not too sweet either.

Conclusion: A fruitier version of this style, which is nice. I still prefer maltier iterations (such as Jubelale), but this style is broad enough to incorporate both sides of the spectrum easily. A very good winter beer.

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Photo of bambam2517
3.59/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark ruby/black tea in appearance, very little carbonation or head. No lacing.

Sweet malty and nutty smell, taste backs that up. It's a bit muted, but not bad.

Clean and wet mouthfeel. This is a fair beer, very sessionable, but not memorable. I prefer my winter warmers to crank up the flavor...

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Photo of Bluerabbitbell
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Rose Bowl game at sharp edge. Tried this after an American stout, so it wasn't as enjoyable. Definite toffee notes. Would not be my first choice, but I think it's a good example of this style.

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Photo of drtth
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours out into a Duvel glass a nice clear rich reddish amber color with a 1 1/2" light tan head that recedes slowly leaving some thick, fluffy lacing on the sides of the glass. Sipping leaves some scattered patches of lacing. For most of the beer there’s a ring of foam around the glass and a thin layer of foam on the surface.

The aromas include some caramel and some gentle winter spices such as vanilla and nutmeg and possibly a bit of cinnamon. There's also some some toffee in the mix.

The flavors are much as expected from the nose including some caramel and toffee sweetness accented by the vanilla along with a bit of nutmeg. There’s not much bitterness but what is there seems slightly earthy.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and quite smooth with gentle persistent carbonation. The finish begins as the sweetness fades and the spices fade more slowly. That bit of bitterness emerges to pair with some vanilla and then end things in slightly bitter earthy dryness.

Overall an enjoyable beer that seems well made and ideal for a winter warmer that delivers some nice flavors but doesn’t overwhelm the senses. Glad I’ve got a couple more waiting in the fridge.

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Photo of ordybill
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. The appearance is a clear amber color with a medium sized white head. The aroma is grainy with some malt and spice. The taste is pretty sweet with malt and has a creamy texture with a hint of spices.

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Photo of Griffin2
3.56/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.
L - -Poured a dark amber with a slight white head.
S - Smells of malt and spices.
T - Tastes sweet with maltiness and some spices on the finish.
F - Feels moderately carbonated.
O - Decent winter ale.

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Photo of Maverick-Idaho
1.93/5  rDev -50%
look: 2.75 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours into the glass with a nice head that doesn't last, probably due to low carbonation. Looks red orange in the glass, like the label. Smell is initially like beer, but disappoints with spicy notes. The taste is initially like molasses, but leaves a funny disagreeable aftertaste, probably the fancy spices. The feel on the palate is half flat and definitely not as warm as expected. Overall a disappointment. Would not recommend or ever buy again.

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Photo of ApolloXII
3.69/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

After a case of Jubelale I drank down
Over the last week while friends were in town,
This beer just seems a bit boring
While usually their beers are quite soaring.

I like my winter ales to be darker in style
With a plumb, raisin, date character profile
But the lighter color already let's me know
That as a winter ale, this beer will be only so-so

The aroma gives way to an amber or red
It's just the first thing to comes my head
A sweet malty profile with a hint of ripe berry
A bit of spice as it warms but it only gets wary

The taste has a bit more to offer to me
With wood and cherry, it's all of the tree
But less pronounced than other winter ales
Boldness and creativity is where this beer fails.

But it's still rather nice, with pleasant phenolics
And enough drankability to quench an alcoholic
It's just not enough spice, fruit, fig, yeast, or wood
But not every album by a band is always good.

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Photo of Soneji75
2.75/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Anderson Valley. I am unsure if they use some sort of proprietary malt but most of their offerings taste annoyingly similar. Most of the ones I’ve had, with the exception of the gose, have an overly malty, caramely and sweet feel to them, regardless of the style.

Unfortunately, Winter Solstice is not the exception. It pours a hazy, burnt orange with about an finger of head which dissipates fairly quickly. The thin lacing left behind also disappears quickly leaving nearly nothing but a small ring around the edge of the glass. I am pretty sure I’m supposed to get spices on the nose, but I only get vanilla. And lots of it! There is also some sweet caramely maltness and toffee notes. But mostly vanilla.

This beer is very sweet. It’s all vanilla in the middle front and back. Towards the end I was able to detect some serious brown sugary sweetness to boot, but that’s about it. Reminds me of sweet bread and caramel. The mouthfeel is decent with enough carbonation to make it feel like beer and not a sticky cocktail.

Sadly, as most Anderson Valley beers, this seems muddled and without any real depth. There are so many better examples of this style out there that this seems a bit pointless.

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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 Dzu
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into chalice.
L: Tourbid dark-copper color wti a weak foam head.
S: Tart, caramel.
T: Plums, caramel, dark fruits.
F: Medium body, weak carbonation.
O: Great warmer. Definitely will buy another one again!

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Photo of PhillyB
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Dark amber, tan bubbly head.

Smell: Toffee, caramel, nutmeg.

Taste: Toffee, caramel, nutmeg, slight chocolate.

Feel: Smooth, creamy, but not overpowering.

Overall: This is not just a good winter wamer, but a darn fine brew overall. The flavors of the beer itself are excellent, and the added spices only enhance it.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

5/14....pours reddish amber hue, medium dark, not a lick of foam. Malty nose, breads, toffee, along with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Rich, fruit forward taste, cherry tart. Sugary caramel. Raisin and other fruits throughout. Thicker mouthfeel. Almost a syrup like quality, but creamy. Interesting.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.28/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Brown color with red. Thin 1/3" off white head. Aroma was a very minor amount of holiday spice rack, wood and mild hopping that is above average for style aroma wise.

Same with the taste, this packs some hops into a winter warmer, some toffee notes, definitely more bitter than other beers in this genre as well. Caramel is heavier roasted and lesser sugared than most.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.74/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Type: 12-oz. can
Glass: Clear 14.75-oz. porter/stout glass
From: Trader Joe’s in La Mesa (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $7.99 for a 6-pack
Purchased: Feb. 16, 2016
Consumed: Feb. 16, 2016
Misc.: N/A

OK, I’m a sucker for Winter Warmers and I feel like I haven’t given Anderson Valley a fair shake. Was going to pick up just one can at Trader Joe’s, but saw it was only $7.99 for a 6-pack. Wasn’t feeling like getting a 6-pack of IPAs, so this was next best option.

Poured an amber, auburn, semi-clear color with 1-to-2 fingers of khaki white, fizzy head. Very serene setting underneath. Minimal wet lacing on the sides of the glass. Poor retention on the top. (Sight - 3.25)

Smelled more like a dark amber than a Winter Warmer. Got buttery caramel, sugary toffee, herbal hops, some menthol, dark fruits and plum juice. Very malty. (Smell - 3.50)

Taste was so much better than the nose and completely changed my perception of this beer. Got toffee, sugary caramel, dark fruits, hints of herbal hops, some menthol, toasted rye, creamy vanilla, faint hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, brown sugar and light molasses. (Taste - 3.75)

Medium body. Creamy-to-sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish. (Feel - 4.50)

This was a very interesting beer. I still don’t know if I consider it a Winter Warmer though. Like a mix between a Winter Warmer, Amber and an American Strong Ale. (Overall - 3.75)

3.74 | 84 | B

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Photo of safaricook
3.66/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

the vanilla tastes artificial to me. Otherwise it is a very well crafted beer that would work well with Christmas cookies. It is rather sweet but still drinks easily. Well done but not quite me cup of beer.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.56/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Clear copper body with good carbonation, grayish-tan rocky head that suggests formidable hopping. Nutty, toasty, malt syrup, perfume soap nose. The flavor ranges from fruitcake to sweet raw dough to raisin, with mild baking spices thrown in throughout. Sweet. Nearly flat, medium body that is at once thick, velvety, syrupy, and fluffy.
Tasty for the first few sips before the unchecked malt flavors become cloying and gross. With a sidekick of some bitterness from either an herb, spice, or hops this could have been really tasty, as it was it was a sugar bomb.

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Photo of Jon_Hendricks
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a deep amber color.

Overall: This beer is full of toffee, caramel and licorice aroma. Flavor is similar with some molasses, dark fruit, spices, and some vanilla. Medium bodied. Smooth and sweet finish. Great Christmas ale.

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Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Fitting and proper to drink on the solstice.
Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A hazy brown Amber color with a huge frothy head. This beer has a little age on it so haziness could be protein particles.

Definitely a slight oxidized note. Rich dark cherries and dates. Slightly medicinal. No hops to speak of.

Lots slick thick malt definitely that medicinal cherry flavor and a thin body.

An interesting beer. The taste and aroma don't seem to match with the body. Might work better as an old ale or stronger barleywine, but that might be the age of the beer shining through.

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.87/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours slightly cloudy brown red with a small off white head that dissipates quickly. Smells of winter spices and slight berry. Tastes of chocolate with slight spice and very slight fruitiness. Beer is light bodied, a little overcarbonated, but very smooth. Overall, a very good beer.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Let me start by saying I didn't expect the aroma to be this alluring. The spices are there - cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg - yet are balanced quite well by the caramel malts. And ale esters! I love getting notes of cherry and apricot in these kind of beers. Everything seems to come together in nice harmony. Luckily, the flavor profile holds up to the nose. Difference is, there seems to be a lot more in the way of vanilla notes when it first hits the palate. It's subtly spiced, with gentle traces of cinnamon and ginger around the midtaste. The back end is a little bit estery. This features a good mix of an intense primary flavor (vanilla) and lesser subtleties that are actually quite palpable. It feels creamy and relatively full, inspiring savoring over pure drinkability. Carbonation is mellow, and the finish is just dry enough (and I do mean just) to make this not feel like a chore. Damn, this one is good! The malts are showcased well, the spices aren't bludgeoning, and it's pleasant to sip on. Only real flaw is that I would only want one of these in a session, rather than two or three. Would get again, easily.

3.83/5: A proper approach to the winter warmer

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Photo of ckornmannn
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a can: light mahogany color, clear. Apple and caramel on the nose- a lot of aroma for this style of beer. The right amount of carbonation. Apple, caramel, breadiness, and a bit of astringency taste wise. This really tastes like an alt beer with some evergreen tips added in. I really like it; would buy it again.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,807 ratings.
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