Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
California, United States
avbc.com

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:
730
Ratings:
1,805
Avg:
3.86
pDev:
13.99%
 
 
Wants:
71
Gots:
255
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 730 | Ratings: 1,805
Photo of BitteBier
3.67/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The color is a rich amber, characterized by more brown than orange. Quite hazy with minimal head or lacing. Nose is sweet and malty--reminiscent of a Scotch ale--with a touch of floral hops. A crush of Scotchy malts and light hops at the start with less interesting grain flavors taking over subsequently. The finish is pleasantly warm. The mouthfeel is quite nice as well--cleaner and less syrupy than the taste led me to expect. This one grew on me as the glass emptied.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.52/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - pours with a small to medium head, off-white in color, about a finger's worth. Amber-orange color, good clarity when viewed straight on, but looks hazy from an angle.

Aroma - sweet and mildly spicy, with an initial burst of peppery yeast. Settles down to a malty nose with orange accents.

Taste - yummy malt base combined with some Christmassy spices and a cool hint of orange or other such citrus. Smooth transition into a mellow hop element. Finishes with a nice non-biting grapefruit sourness. Some increased alcohol presence as it warms, very warming in February...

Mouthfeel - smooth as silk, decent body without overdoing it. Superb balance of weight, feel, carbonation, and residual feeling.

Drinkability - A great beer by Anderson Valley, no surprise there. A pleasure to drink, very enjoyable and re-orderable despite it's nearly 7% abv rating.

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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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Photo of Crosling
3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a beautiful reddish orange hue. Nice white head that laced up pretty well.

Very aromatic. Loads of caramel, apple, wild fruit, brown sugar and nice tropical scents. It almost smells like candy...Those hard bright apples candies coated with caramel. Smells very very nice!

Duh! What a flop! A beer with such potential until you take a sip! There are some very nice flavors going on here but just not enough of anything. Some caramel, grapefruits, sweet malty sugars and nutmeg. Lousy finish.

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Photo of kunzbrew
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This brew pours a hazy amber color with medium sized cream head that dwindles fast, leaving behind a moderate lace.

The sweet smell of citrus hits the nose along with a low hop aroma. An earthy musty smell is also present.

The strong citrus aroma come through strong in flavor the back of your throat feels the sweetness. The hop flavor is lacky but that is ok.

This is a easy drinking brew but nothing to write to mom about.

Prost

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Photo of PSUDREW
2.93/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Well, a good try here. Pours a dark copper color, and, had little head, and even less lace going down.

It had faint smells. really, and not much, IMO. That cap was a pain in my ass to get off. Sigh, but back to business. It had a nice mix of vanilla and spice to much, but nothing too potent, more of an after though. The dominant malt is a nice touch and it goes through and through, but the hop is there, as a subtle compilent to it all.

Nice brew they got here, and it is a nice thing to go the distance with, more of something to get and share tehn get and savor in your dark corner

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Photo of Beervis
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a great spiced winter beer!

Pours a deep amber, with a thin white head. Smell is fruity, with hints of spice. It drinks very smooth with a nice warming sensation going down, Mild bitterness on the finish, with very little aftertaste.

Very drinkable!

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Photo of JackTheRipper
4.28/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had to let this glass of beer breathe for a few minutes before drinking it, more below.

Appearance: Pours a deep reddish amber color with a nice tan head. Nice lacing on the glass.

Smell: Kinda spicy, kinda fruity, a bit of cinnamon in the nose.

Taste: Poured into the glass, took a nice smell, and then a sip, tasted very tinny and metallic at first. After a few minutes of table time, the metallic taste went away. Strange, never had a beer do that to me before. Now the taste is much better. Ginger, cinnamon, honey. Very malty taste with no real hop bitterness up front. Finishes with just a hint of bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, good carbonation, subdued alcohol feel. Not as dry as some of the other beers I've been tasting.

Drinkability: For a seasonal/Christmas Ale, this is a wonderful brew. Very welcome on a cold day.

Note: the cap on this bottle broke my bottle opener! Thank goodness I had a backup. This bottle had some good beer inside, but made me work for it.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep amber color and sported a sturdy off-white head. No lace left behind. The aroma was heavily in favor of sweet, malty goodness - lots of caramel malt and molasses with a definite spiciness in the nose.
The taste bore the flavors of caramel, some fruit, and toasty malt. Definitely one for those fans of a solidly malt-laden brew. Winter Solstice also had some citrus flavor and finished with a tasty vanilla-laced spicy bite. The feel was medium-bodied, smooth and clean.
This was a pretty good brew, one of the better offerings from Anderson Valley. Even at nearly 7% ABV, it's very easy to drink and made for a fine after dinner relaxer.

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Photo of jtfest
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A very pleasant brew. I probably wouldn't have purchased it for myself, but I received it as a Christmas present -- and I'm glad that I tried it. Beautiful color, pleasing malty smell, and a well balanced taste -- though it had a slightly sweet, molasses-y after taste that lowered its drinkability for me. Overall, though, I enjoyed the experience.

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The dark copper body was slightly hazed and a bit murky looking but of a lovely reddish hue. The two finger cream head was highly retentive and left a thin sheet for lacing duty, which was slightly sticky.

The nose of malt and spice has a distinctly floral character to it and this is echoed in the flavor which gives distinct malt and spice notes whilst impressing of floral hop notes.

The medium body is smooth and silky and provides good drinkability. This is a very nice winter seasonal indeed.

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Photo of Dmann
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was a good seasonal beer but by far the best. It poured a nice ruby reddish color with a very small head that left slight lace down the glass. The smell was faint, but was I could detect was a very pronounced spice scent with hints of malt as well. If you are a malt lover you will love this beer for sure, as that is the dominant flavor. There is also a light spice to it and some kind of slight citrus flavor as well, perhaps grapefruit. Also, despite being 6.9% they are very easy to drink. So grab a six'er and enjoy!

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Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.23/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A bright amber hue, with a thick off-white head delicately resting on top of the pint glass. Tough to detect, although appears to be some hop aroma beneath the gigantic head. Up front, rather fluffy, some honey and a bit of slick buttery feeling. Some sweet malts make it through, has a little warming feel. Winter spices are tucked away, very clean, a sweet malty finish. The flavors never gave way, and were masked, a real disappointment from an otherwise decent brewery.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color is a nice amber, with a thick, foamy white head. The smell is a nice mix of hops and malt. The taste is a fairly strong sweet malt with a bit of citrus hop taste to keep it from going overboard. Mouthfeel is smooth. Drinkability-wise, could definitely have a few.

Quite a good old ale. The malt is bold, and the hops provide a good balance. Delicious, and certainly one I'll have in the future.

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Photo of crookedhalo
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2003 version. Pours a slightly hazy orangy copper color with a nice light tan head. Orange zest, vanilla, cocoa and malt dominate the aroma. Tastes rather vanillaey, with some orange and cocoa in the background. Almost comes across as a malt laden Creamsicle. Orange and vanilla, malt, cocoa; no hops noticable. Seems rather an odd beer. Silky mouthfeel. Enjoyable, but dissident.

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Photo of Admiraldinty
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm of two minds concerning this beer. On the one hand, it is rather unique, but on the other hand, it just doesn't do much for me. Pours a dark amber with a decent light tan head. Aroma is malty, some hops and a unique piney smell. Mouthfeel is rather flat. Starts with malt and vanilla and moves to pine and hops. Not too much of an aftertaste strangely enough. Don't know if I'll come back to this again.

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Photo of Globetrotter
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003 edition, hand-delivered from the U.S. to Moscow as part of a marvelous collection of winter brews that is making me pretty darn homesick. Poured a beautiful cloudy dark copper under a quite creamy off-white with orange tint 1.5 finger head with nice retention and good lace. The nose is fresh and spicey - definitely vanilla. The mouth is fairly flat and pretty light. The opening is dominated by malt and vanilla, followed by subdued hops. The dominant impression is vanilla ice cream throughout, leaving a very smooth impression. Lip-smacking good as dessert, this is not where I would go to make hopheads happy.

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

Overall, a good brew. Smell, while initially tinny changed as the beer warmed. It became much fuller, with the spices becoming more evident. Nice strong malt presence with cinnamon? perhaps..very pleasing. Taste was similar to smell...very malty and full-bodied, alcohol presence notable on the finish. Mouthfeel was rich, dessert like...well balanced..slight dryness also in the finish..reminded me that hops and alcohol were present. Very drinkable for the abv. ANderson does a nice job with their brews. I am glad they are available on the east coast.

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Photo of tenorvoice0739
4.92/5  rDev +27.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

O.K.!

This is definately a "Best in Show" type beer. Across the style categories, this brew is a Platinum award beer. The 2003 edition has been the best so far. It seems that Anderson Valley is paying close attention to the proportions of additives and truely working towards perfection of this important seasonal beer. What I mean is that over the years the beer has ebbed and flowed with many of its characteristics. Last year's version contained an overt vanilla signature that has receeded in this years glass. In this edition I sense more of the pleasant winter spices that are married to, and not in opposition of, the very sweet caramel malt.

This beer is not a rougue interpretation of style, but everything about it says "winter beer". Low carbonation, sweet, toasty malt, and a warming spirit finish contribute to it's adhearance to style and its distinction.

This beer is an example of a brewer's journey towards "getting it right". I have always judged winter ales in their unique addidtives. Many brewers can fail miserably and produce a beer that tastes like a Christmas tree. Balance is where Winter Solstice wins out.

This popular beer will be gone by January so drink up quickly.

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Photo of alexgash
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pleasantly surprised to see this at the State store. Pours a rich amber with a light tan head. Smell contains trace malts, cinnamon and vanilla, along with some sprucy hops. Not too big though. Taste starts with some modest toasted malts with not much sweetness at all. Tangy, citrusy hops follow with a spicy vanilla backing. Finish is bitter with plenty of vanilla and some alcohol. I was hoping for better (it's no Jubelale), but it's not bad.

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Photo of Winter
4.28/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2003 release. Pours a hazy copper with a yellowish tan head. Aroma is rich in malt and spices, but could be a little stronger. Medium-bodied and creamy mouthfeel. Malty front gives way to a rewarding burst of flavor. Sweet spices, vanilla and cream all come forth. Some cinnamon perhaps also near the finish. I wish I knew what blend of unique spices they employ for this brew. The wicked combination results in something that I've never quite tasted before and is really intriguing. One of the most unique tasting and flavorful winter brews I've sampled in quite some time.

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

12oz. bottle. 2003 vintage.

Have they changed the recipe? I like this ale this year much more than I have in the past. The flavors seem to blend together better this year than in past years.

Pours a hazy copper. Not much of a head but decent lacing. The scents are sweet malts. Light caramel and crisp fruit and hop bite. I notice some mild floral qualities that help hold the aromas together.

The flavors blend together very nicely. Chewy and malty. A nice caramel gives this ale some sweetness. Heavy cream and vanilla. A few spices and some pepper. Even a slight peppermint stick for a fresh flavor. Hop bite is there but not harsh. Fruity and floral. There is a nice robust finish. The pepper returns with an oakiness. These final flavors make the holiday taste of the ale appear.

Mouthfeel is a tad slick. It is medium bodied and a touch syrupy. A very easy to drink ale. It is also smooth and velvety. I think this has evolved in to an excellent holiday sipping ale. My favorite year so far for this ale.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer arrived at the table with a huge head which lasted from first sip to the last drop. The amber brown beer had an aroma of malt and spice along with sweet fruit. The flavor is sweet almost syrupy cheery as it warms with other fruits and spices. The balance between sweet and the dry finish is well done.

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Photo of Darkale
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Coppery-brown color, clear, with a tan head that is thin but resilient.

Slightly chewy in the mouth. Taste is bready and slightly caramelish, with hint of metal and smoke in the end. A bit of fruit, too.

Not my favorite winter beer, from a brewery that is also not my favorite. But, there are many who are fond of it, and I confess that I can't quite put my finger on exactly which part of this beer turns me off. Certainly worth a try.

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Photo of nomad
4.26/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 edition, aged 1 year, drank in 2003

Poured a very murky and browned umber color, not very attractive. It had no head or lace, and looked like it had gone toward flat.

Smelled of big piney scents, raisins, caramel, and grapefruit swirling about in a dance. Gave off fruity and yeasty esters similar to belgian ales, and soft woody scents came on with opening - these were unique and intriguing. Tasted of complex fruit and wood flavors, thin but layered, creating a blend of cherry, red apples, toffee, and cedar. The toasty malt has been greatly softened and the hops are majorly toned down, basically becoming ghosts of hop cone flavors and moderate-to-high alpha bitterness. This beer also had small nips of spicy cinammon, often tingling after the swallow in my throat. The creamy finish is soft and short, giving a nice cap to the drink.

Fairly thin mouthfeel, somewhat because of the aging’s depletion of the carbonation. I think I caught this beer before it would start diminishing; in other words, age it not a whole year, but maybe just a couple months.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,805 ratings.
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