Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
87
very good
716 Reviews
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
716
Ratings:
1,763
Avg:
3.86
pDev:
21.76%
 
 
Wants:
70
Gots:
238
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 716 | Ratings: 1,763
Photo of leokbelo
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber haze into a pint glass. 2 inch creamy head, fades into a nice lacing till the end.
Sweet, fruity, caramel toffee on the nose. Very inviting.
Delicious malt sweetness on the tongue, extremely tasty! Nutmegs, cloves, again caramel and a hint of cinnamon. Hops are present, to bring it to balance.
This beer is so smooth, it's insane!
Extremely drinkable, Highly recommended!
Wow, what an amazing Winter Warmer!

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Photo of biegaman
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled off tap at Coles, in Buffalo.
Nice presentation, served in a wide mouthed tulip glass. An icy, glossed over bronze colour. Very thin head that parts to the outside and sort of slumbers to the sides of the glass. An alluring aroma, warming and welcoming. Gentle, melodious spices. A great deal of caramel malt with softened vanilla notes. Very nice drinkability, quite enjoyable! Smooth carbonation with a mellow, warming aftertaste. Savoury, ripe flavours. Again a light note of reserved, timid spices that blend well with a generous base of sticky, toasty malt. A more than pleasant winter warmer, promising first impression of this brewer, and overall - greatly enjoyed!

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Photo of doerickson
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy iced-tea coloring with an enormous rocky cream-colored head. Aromas of cotton candy and almost eggnog-like sweetness and some spiciness and fruitiness. Medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel. As for the flavor...it took me a few minutes to place it, but this brew has a lot of the characteristics of cream soda--the essences though, not so much the sweetness. Definite vanilla overtones, very subtle nutmeg flavor. Medium-length finish, pretty dry. Very drinkable. A unique and tasty brew.

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Photo of jcdiflorio
4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

served into pint glass from a 12oz. brown bottle crimp on cap.

Clear,deep amber color,thick off-white head,lacing the glass.
Moderate aroma,very complex spicey aromas up front. Fruity,carmelly,hints of chocolate also in the aroma. A very soft pleasing quality to the aroma.Would have been a 5 if the aroma was a bit more intense.
Taste was a very complex spiceness,very fruity,candy-like,nutty,hints of vanallia,the flavor explodes on the palate.A fruity tartness in the smooth, pleasing finish.
Medium body,very drinkable,due to the intruging taste.Wish I had more than 1 bottle of this beer.
One of the best winter beers I've had. A good beer to start up a conversation at a party,with all the different flavors. A hard beer to totaly describe from one bottle. A great winter beer,would highly recommend this one. I will be picking more of this beer up before it's all gone.

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Photo of dsa7783
4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First ever brew from Anderson Valley and I am very impressed. For a winter warmer this hits the nail directly on the head. This is everything a winter warmer should be. A near perfect rendition of the style. Nice burgundy red appearance with slight frothy head. Leads to a caramel and bready smell. Taste strongly compliments the aroma. Brown sugar like sweetness leaves a malty and bready finish that lingers on the palate. Def recommended.

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Photo of sinistrsam
4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a complete sleeper for me; In my wildest dreams I wouldn't have thought this beer was as interesting and tasty as it was. It poured a dark brown with a small tan head, and left moderate lacing on the glass. It had a rich, sweet nose, caramel and dark sugars, possibly dark fruits. Most definitely dark malts, and some mild spices.
The taste was quite sweet, with plenty of fruit and spice, caramel and chocolate, very smooth and very creamy. I was expecting a bitter spicy seasonal, but I got a creamy chocolate caramel brew that really suprised me. The aftertaste was as smooth as a milk stout, with milk chocolate taste lingering for several minutes. Hats off to Anderson Valley on this one; possibly the best seasonal I've had all year.

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Photo of Stunner97
4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance- brown to amber with bit of cloudiness, white lacing stays along the top of the beer through out drinking, low carbonation

Smell- very nice nose of malt spice and slight hop, inviting

Taste- beautiful balance of malt, spice, and hop, just purely beautiful balance

Mouthfeel- smooth and refreshing feel

Drinkability/overall- overall this is far and away the best winter warmer i have ever tasted, its just so tasty, the balance is superb, has spice and malt and some hop but all so perfectly balanced, usually im far from winter warmer guy but this is the cream of the crop to me and the one to seek out

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Photo of dpool
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Cherry wood color with a nice head

Smell: Smells like the holidays; cinnamon and nutmeg

Taste: Great taste, soft with a hint of sweetness

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and makes your pallate want more

Drinkability: I would drink this beer all year round if it was available and its light enough to have a few.

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Photo of jmbranum
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

At first I was a bit disappointed as winter warmers are often very heavily spiced --- something which the label guaranteed --- and this beer was immediately spicy. At best I thought it was better than average amber.

But then I changed my mind. This beer needs a little time to sit in the glass and warm up for it to shine. The flavors are still subtle but they are there: caramel and malt, winter spices. Mouthfeel is fairly light but kinda silky too (as the label also promised... oh wait am I being susceptible to the label's verbiage? Oh well, it is working.) Maybe a tinge of maple, definitely more maple.

Aroma was subtle at first but also seems to build in a caramelish direction.

Overall, I would drink it again but I'll let it rest in the glass a bit before sipping. I do think I prefer the more assertively spiced holiday beers though.

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Photo of wailingwench
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 bottle. A REAL winter brew, not like someting else that has a cabin with a wreath on it in the snow covered mountains.

Eye Candy: Ruddy brown with a minimal off white fizzy head. Excellent retention and lacing. Carbonation vanished quickly. Looks syrupy.

The Nose Knows: Cinnamon spices early that rapidy give way to creamy vanilla and caramel. As it warmed toasted malts emerged from under the "snowy blanket." Slight pine hop aroma detected.

Tongueland: Rich body with medium m/f. Blended spices that finish with a mild caramel undercut with creamy vanilla. ABV is undetectable.

Bender Factor: Almost to good. I see why this a a gold medal winner. At 6.9 % ABV, a good brew to put down while wrapping presents, putting up lights, or shoveling th driveway.

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Photo of orfeu
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Obscure amber with a modest, dusky sand colored head. Slow rising carbonation. Looks "heavy" for some reason. Nutmeg and cinnamon scents lurk behind a pleasantly surprising west coast citrus blossom aroma. Some sugary malt comes forward in the smell, too. Nice mixture of scents! Vanilla and caramel take front stage in the taste, with some spicy nasturtium-esque floral hop flavors that weave back and forth between citrus and spice. Cheerfully light-to-medium body, just a tad slippery but overall smooth mouthfeel. This is an eminently quaffable beer, any time of year. Label claims that this one is a gold medal winner of some sort, and I'm inclined to agree with whoever judged that competition. Easily one of my favorite winter seasonals!

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Photo of beernut7
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is one of the more enjoyable winter ales on the market. Pours a deep brown with a light lace rimming the glass. The aroma is very much of tootsie roll chocolate. The flavor is lightly roasted with a distinct caramel and bold flavor very much that of a snicker’s bar. An obvious bitterness, very distinguishable from the other flavors, balances out the sweet candy-like malt characters. Very large on flavor and uniqueness.

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Photo of pheurton
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

my favorite from anderson valley....a dark reddish brown with a nice fluffy white head. aroma is enticingly spicy....carmel malts dominate the taste, with a hint of nutmeg. hops come in at the end to balance assertively, without being over the top as so many PNW beers can be. a truly unique brew that is at the top of my winter seasonals must have list.

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Photo of PorterLambic
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage bottle drank on July, 6, 2006. Nummy in my tummy.

Pours a nice, rich, reddish copper color with noticeable yeast within though not enough to be considered cloudy. Big tan head drops to thick film then slowly dissipates to nothing, leaving no lace.
Smell is rich, very involving, had to work hard to pick out the various notes here the balance was so good and it all just blended together. Found yeast, malt, hops, spice (I can't define further), apple cider and an oak/peat/earth mixture that gave a nice whiskey thought in my noggin.
Taste is very much along the lines of the smell, a very good thing. A malt/hop/yeast blend that was great followed by an alcohol bloom (oak flavored and not too strong) with a cider/spice/peat mixture that flowed into the aftertaste nicely.
A medium/full bodied brew with light effervescence but a slightly watery finish. Very unexpected and out of character.
Sipped this for almost 45 minutes and, as I write this review another 15 minutes have passed and the alcohol is noticeable in my system. Mind you, I'm 250 lbs and 1 brew is normally not felt unless it's a big Belgian. I expect the ABV is a might higher than the 6.9% listed.

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Photo of marshrat63
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Timber Cove Inn. Nice head with spicy nutmeg aroma. similar to other winter brews but the Winter Solstice had a wonderful cocoa finish that made the drinking experience seem like eating dessert without any annoying overt sweetness. Also had one with a cheese burger and found it held up well with a meal.

I look forward to trying it out of the bottle as it's not on tap around home.

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Photo of jmz62565
4.44/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This pours a dark mahogony with a medium tan head. A nice looking beer with the look of a hardy thick warmer. The smell is very strong with sweet malt.carmel, and a chewy nuttiness. The taste is really great with vanilla,carmel, sweet malt, and hops. A really nice mixture that makes the m/f medium,not "sticky', and very well balanced. The flavors of this beer are incredible, good luck finding a winter warmer that tastes as good as this and hides the alcohol. Here's wishing for a long winter.

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Photo of mjc410
4.44/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The pour into my Fuller's nonic raises a modest half finger light tan head that falls pretty quickly to surface lacing. Glass lacing is resilient. The body is a murky but translucent brown with amber highlights. The nose is warm and toasty, with notes of brown sugar, cream, butter, bread, and vanilla. The taste is almost unique to me, with the only similar beer in my experience being AV's other beer Summer Solstice. It has a sweet, grainy, almost dessert-like character to it. At a loss of words to describe the flavor, I saw another reviewer describe it as "chocolate cake." I would agree with this to a certain extent, but also add in vanilla, caramel, and other flavors that defy description. The mouth is just right in terms of heaviness, but I think a little less carbonation would make this more enjoyable. Still, ever since I first had this on draft at McGrath's in Harrisburg, PA, I've been a fan, and I can say that this is one of the best tasting beers I've ever had.

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Photo of dmarch
4.44/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amber in color and actually some pink hues. Pretty sweet. Lots of fruity character along with some caramel. A very slight piney hop character as well, but the fruitiness just blows me away. I think this is one of the best Anderson Valley beers I've had. Very flavorfull, yet not overpowering.

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Photo of droomyster
4.44/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark bronze with two fingers of white head with good retention. Aromas are malty and spicy (cinnamon, maybe nutmeg), reminiscent of a mulled cider or an herbal nighttime tea. Flavors are complex, predominantly malty: a touch of molasses and holiday spices backed by a black tea and earthy bitterness. The heavy spicing runs the risk of palate fatigue, making its drinkability good but not great. Overall, an excellent beer; my wife told me to mention that for once, she agrees with my judgment.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Auburn color with a nice light brown head and good carbonation. Light spice hop aroma with a nice toasty malt balance. Nicely balanced malt and hop flavors with little to no true spice or vanilla character. Medium bodied with a nice balanced finish.

Not much vanilla compared to prior years I've tasted that were sickeningly vanilla-laden.

Per Label: "Seasonal Spicing"

2006 Edition
Tasted: 02/25/07

($1.99 / 12 oz.)

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Photo of guinnessdoc
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Deep brown, slightly darker than iced tea. Beige head of small bubbles. Was 1/2 inch but fell away quickly to ring around glass.

S - Strong malt presence. Definite fruit in there too, but not sure if it's dark fruit like raisins or something citrusy.

T - Sweet malt taste that fades to the slightest bitterness. No hops are really apparent, nor is the alcohol. Almost spicy somehow. By the end I could definitely taste maple syrup!

M - Low carbonation so it was nice and smooth all the way. Finished a little dry.

D - In one word, Awesome. I'm sorry this is only a seasonal because I would drink it any day of the year. It's a great mix of an amber ale and a winter warmer. Easy drinking and thirst quenching.

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Photo of djkman
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Had this beer 2013. Great taste. Drinkable as in you can have more than 1 without getting filled up or booozy.
Then none for 2 years.
Then this year my local total wine in hackensack has it!
bought 2 six packs.
same greate taste. same recipie.
during the holiday season, i enjoy smutty nose winter ale and have had sam adams winter ale on tap.
in my subjective opinion, this beats both.
not having it for 2 years may have something do with it But boy I am enjoying it!

and that's my review.

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Photo of drew37
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

An amazing winter warmer. Pours a dark amber/light brown color. Tastes of vanilla and cherry with other hints as well. Originally sampled at a beer tasting event and have been very happy with it. Will look to buy more this winter. Overall, very happy with this beer and Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Their amber is great as well.

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Photo of clabaugh
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with a fluffy, bubbly beige colored head. Retains less than lustily, with the head giving way to a thin, creamy froth. Laces respectably.

Smell: Sweet-smelling baked malts predominate in the aroma. Pastry-like in the nose. Soft vanilla tones, hints of diacetyl, and sugarplum.

Taste: Deliciously sweet malts and spices. Vanilla, honey, macadamia nut, butterscotch, and buttery malts elegantly mixed. Some tasty fruit flavors as well; plum, or date perhaps.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and creamy, with a gentle tingle. Soft and sumptuous on the palate. Well done.

Drinkability: Highly drinkable. Exceedingly fine flavor, pleasantly warming, and not at all filling. Simply a great beer.

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Photo of RedBaron
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Um...wow! This 2002 bottled version was purchased from my local beer shop for $2.19/12oz. bottle. What a find.

The beer poured vigorously with a dense rocky head which faded somewhat, but left a nice dash of Brussel's lace down the side. The color was of an unfiltered, dark orangey variety, and had the unmistakable look of a California craft ale.

The smell was of feverish malt blendings, nice aromatic hops and several spices throughout (banana and licorice, perhaps?).

The taste was of a high concentration of malts and hops, plus the aforementioned spices both up front and in the finish (though the finish parted on the dry-ish side).

The mouthfeel, though full-bodied, isn't too cloying for a winter beer, and really doesn't appear to high in alcohol content, either. Actually it's quite drinkable, although it's still one to savor.

The beers of the west coast, from San Francisco to Seattle, like to emphasize a great blending of malts and yeast (infused with a [email protected] of hops) for their beers, particularly winter beers, but the fact of this beer is that it has mellowed into a nicely quaffable ale. I'm sure that it may have been a bit 'green' when first released, but after a couple of years maturing in the bottle, it has found a stride that I find quite appealing.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 716 ratings.
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