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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

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Reviews: 720 | Ratings: 1,773
Photo of djeffbee
3.56/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle from Winter Beer Swap 2008. Typical sexy Anderson Valley labels..

A - nice deep amber body, with a thin off white head.

S - it takes a good whiff to smell the dark caramel malts, with no real hop armoma noticeable.

T - Sweet, malty body, hop bitterness is balanced nicely, the finish falls off just a bit.

M - Smooth, pleasant, low carbonation.

D - Goes down easy, you really never see the 6.9 coming.

I enjoyed this, would def have another. Could prolly see purchasing a couple sixers more of this..

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Photo of kohoutek
2.95/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2005 bottling.

Appearance: a nice medium amber color, obviously filtered. The head started rich with texture but was almost gone after 30 seconds. Some slight lacing remained for half of the beer. The second half had none.

Aroma: a very slight noble hop presence. It quickly diminished with the head. Aroma of caramel, vanilla, some estery fruitiness.*

Flavor: graham cracker, vanilla, caramel, biscuity malt with banana ester laffy taffy.*

Mouthfeel: the filtering, club soda carbonation and addition of natural flavors (as stated on the bottle)* make this a dissapointing experience. I am curious how a 6.9% beer with high carbonation can have no head?

I used to return to this beer annually. I always craved its malty richness and unique, medium toast.

Boy has it changed! Almost a soda pop experience.

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Photo of AlexanderSelby
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A handsome amber and fine head. Smell is slightly spicy, with a touch of hot toddy-esq booziness. Honey on the nose and a bit of potpourri. Taste is much mellower. Carmel malts are predominate here and a touch of honey. Alcohol is hardly apparent, and neither are the hops.

Great, malty brew that will always please, regardless of the season, but a bit touch to drink a few of.

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Photo of dawg
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this last one into a stout glass. Had my first in a bottle in a local bar this year. Both were very good.

Pours well. Rich creamy balsa head which sticks around for awhile releasing aroma of fruits and spices. Smells like an exceptional seasonal with, perhaps anise, dark friuts, nuts, cinnamon. Aroma changes as head reduces.

Tastes much like molasses, cherries, spices (perhaps a minor pine taste) and finishes off with an almost candy-like smoothness. Mouthfeel is also creamy with the carbonation expanding the ale as it flows by the toung. Swishing around amplifies this affect. Very pleasant. Some brief traces of alcohol that diminish as the ale expands releasing the spices.

Very easy to enjoy.

As a side note, I've convinced alot of macro beer drinkers to taste this one. Each and every one (many who always refuse to drink "dark beer") enjoy the drinkability.

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Photo of jonnylieberman
4.23/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my bad-ass snifter!

Good solid one finger head of tiny bubbles. Great deep-orange color. Not so much in the way of lacing.

Good smell. Cherries are dominant. Other fruits as well. Raspberries, pumpkin, sugar.

This really has a cherry-cheesecake like flavor. Very good. Unique, but not in a foreign way. I should add that I've been drinking this stuff for a decade. Serious malt, too. Almost no aromatic hops, but enough bitterness to prevent "cloying."

Spot on mouth feel. Big without being overwhelming.

I love this beer. Yeah, it is candy, but who cares? Holidays are upon us and I get several days off from work!! Yes, I could drink a six-pack--not a problem.

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Photo of callmeclemens
3.24/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A nice sipping beer for a winter night.

Had last night from the bottle.

Smells mostly of caramel with a hint of florals, or perhaps just a subtle fruit. Taste genenrally the same, not to dark not to heavy. A nice caramel malted, slightly fruity brew.

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Photo of ely2000k
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Looks festive, deep amber color, a small head that dissipates quickly, but the beer looks really good overall.

S- Smell of vanilla, cloves, faint cranberry and citrus. Love the smell. Perfect for the style.

T- Sweet, nutty vanilla taste and some toffee flavors. I think the taste is pretty much exactly what I am looking for from a winter warmer.

M- Very mellow, good carbonation. No complaints.

O- I honestly think this is one of the better winter warmers I have had. The whole beer is spot on, and is what this style should be about.

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Photo of Bounty628
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed as a winter warmer ale, Winter Solstice packs a very pleasant 6.9% ABV in each bottle which allows this offering to both provide a nice quantity of alcohol but not be pushed into the Imperial category thereby scaring off some drinkers. The alcohol though at 6.9% is balanced throughout the offering not pushing away the other flavors in the beer that make this beer a solid pour.

Poured from a bottle, Winter Solstice pours brown with ruby highlights accentuated throughout the pour. The head on the pour is rather thin and beige and does not hold its own much after the pour. The pour comes off nice and smooth and there is a minimal amount of carbonation noted in the glass once poured from the bottle. Based upon the minimal amount of head in the pour, there is not a noted amount of lacing left along the glass during the drinking of Winter Solstice.

The aroma of this beer blends some rich and dark fruit notes to a sweet and almost vanilla complexity. You get some dried fruits like cherries up front and then comes in the smooth and warm vanilla nature matched nicely to some holiday spices. The balance in the nose really is remarkable as one component does not shine through more than any other and the symbiotic relationship at play here works ideally.

As one could imagine given the pleasant aroma at work in this offering, the taste has an appealing complexity to it that serves this offering quite well. The malts come through in much greater detail in the taste of this beer and they work off of the sweetness that is within the offering quite nicely. This ale is neither too malted or too sweet and truly is a fine creation for a winter warmer style. Though the spices in the nose do not come through as much in the taste as one might have expected, there is still that warm, holiday feel to this offering. There is also a certain element of tartness to this ale that is expected and matched to the dried cherry undertones recognized in the nose.

Winter warmers tend to across the board have a very smooth and mild mouthfeel and Winter Solstice is no different. Even though this offering is an ale, there is the impression of a creaminess that works its way across the palate during the offering thanks in part to the warming vanilla highlights accentuated in the offering. The mild carbonation in this offering is not a fault of the beer as it allows the beer to sort of be forced across the mouth rather than have the carbonation do all the heavy lifting. This is a very easy to drink winter warmer that is solid from start to finish.

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Photo of notsoprobeer
2.25/5  rDev -41.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

It's a gorgeous reddish orange color with an off-white head that dissipated fairly quickly. No lacing. Not very strong in the aroma department, I did pick up some malts, but no hops or spices. Flavor of alcohol, caramel malts, and some faint notes of brown sugar and vanilla. Light to medium bodied. The taste of alcohol is very strong in the finish and it lingers along with some sweetness.

I didn't like this beer because of the alcohol. It was the primary flavor I tasted, was present in the finish--and it lingered. Everyone seems to love this beer but me. But it is what it is.

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Photo of dali27
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Deep reddish-brown color with active carbonation that provides a bubbly thin tan head. Moderate lacing.

S: Malty goodness. Sweet smelling.

T: Sweet caramel and butterscotch all the way through. I like sweet tasting things so this one's for me. Also tasting the fruit flavors coming through. Apple, cherry and maybe slight citrus. Really though, what shines through is the buttery smoothness of this beer.

M: Thinner than what I expecting from a winter ale. More along the lines of an amber ale.

O: I've had this bottle for some time now (a few months, which is longer than beer normally lasts in my house. What's cellaring again?) and I haven't been overly excited to try it. When I finally did, I got a nice sweet surprise on a cold spring night, and something I would definately buy again.

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Photo of ZorroZ
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Serving type: can poured into glass
Appearance: Beautiful, medium chestnut colour. Upon pouring, forms an incredibly rich, foamy head, albeit one that dissipates quickly.
Smell: Not much of a smell, surprisingly, considering what came next
Taste: Oh, WOW. Nicely malty, with little hops bite, but a lovely overall taste that almost disguises the fairly high ABV.. Just a little bit of the taste remains on the back of the tongue after a sip.
Overall: I'm *really* enjoying this six pack!

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Photo of fragilehearted
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brought this back from California on a recent visit. Bottle into an oversized snifter. Shared w/ kimmiebelle!

A - reddish brown, clear. Normal head, not a ton of lacing.

S - brown sugar...well, molasses, toffee, cloves, nutty, vanilla, malty...really sweet. So sweet that it would almost be annoying...yet it's not.

T - follows the nose, but even sweeter than it smelled. Not overly syrupy, though. Malty aftertaste.

M - carbonation is medium / fine, body is medium. Finish is also smooth..kinda festive spicy sweet finish. Like I drank a really sweet Christmas cookie or something. Alcohol is well-hidden.

D - super. delicious, and the ABV is just enough to be a little strong/warming, but not so much that you'd think you couldn't have a few. Wish I'd brought more than one bottle back! Really solid brew.

This almost kind of reminds me of more like...a cross b/t a Winter Warmer & an Imperial Nut Brown or something. I am NOT complaining. I know this style varies a bit, just my thoughts. It is a bit rich, but somehow it works.

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Photo of ZBerkeleyan
4.62/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured it out of a bottle, and it created a thick and frothy tan head. Nice layer of lacing when I tipped the glass. Dark red-brown color, a little light shone though. Only a few bubbles were apparent.

The nose in this one has got loads of caramel, and some other flavors playing around in the background as well, though none so immediately apparent as the caramel.

Taste is malty and sweet, but not overly sweet so as to be cloying. Very tasty! This beer went equally well with a dinner and a dessert.

This beer goes down smooth, and it is not too heavy or sticky in its consistency. Not a lot of bubbles, but it doesn't taste old or flat either.

Overall a tasty, enjoyable, excellent beer. It is sweet but subtle enough to pair well with all sorts of food. Or have it on its own. Just have it!

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Photo of loving44
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this one on tap at Naja's Place in Redondo Beach

The appearance of this beer was good... dark amber with a nice head that settled quickly. Very little lacing.

The smell was faint but was spicy with hints of vanilla

Taste was good... pretty average holiday spice.

Mouthfeel was a bit too watery for me... a little weak.

This one was pretty drinkable due to it's light mouthfeel... could make a good session brew.

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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 cracker
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a an amber-red color. Not much of a hop aroma which I was expecting. Nevertheless the taste is superb. Has a strong malty presence with obvious use of lots of caramel malts. Almost has a candy apple taste (subtle but there). The hop bitterness is noticeable yet does not take precedence like other winter seasonal ales. Overall, the balance is perfect. One of the best winter seasonals I have tried. I highly recommend it.

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Photo of M_J_Z
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%

Had this on draft last night at The Hourglass Brewery in Longwood, Florida.

I enjoyed it, but it's missing the crispness/bite that make others of the style really good. (For example, Cigar City's Winter Warmer.) Granted, CC'S WW has a higher ABV, but it's the same style as Anderson Valley's. AV's version also seemed a little thin, though it wasn't watery or anything.

This could use a little more "punch," but its very drinkable. Not quite a 4-star beer, IMO, but I'm thinking it's somewhere in the 3.5-3.75 range. I would order it again.

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Photo of Kiwano
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured the bottle into a glass. It was cold from the fridge so it got better over time as it became.

A - Light brown. Not much of a head and small bubbles visible

S - Smelled good. A tiny bit yeasty?

T - Started off small hint of yeast but probably because it hadn't warmed to room temperature yet. As it warmed it the malt came through more. With a tiny bit of sweetness.

M - Light fizziness throughout

D - Tastes like a darker beer but without any heaviness.

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Photo of carolinahophead
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had to review this beer during Christmas.
A: The beer beer poured a light sunset brown like a clear to partly cloudy winter night. Even a nice snowy head out of a can.
S: A malt lovers dream here with winter spice, let this brew warm up and the aromas come alive.
T: How about vanilla and a malt smoothie ....
A winter warmer to enjoy here with friends.
Maybe a little cinnamon and allspice . Close your eyes and think of fruitcake.
M: A medium mouthfeel with good carbonation and nice finish .
O: A big fan here of AVBC .... Beer geeks a must here for sure . Fun to drink and nice conversation brew as well..

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Photo of thebarnesbomb
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Comes in 120z. bottle, poured a 1" slightly brownish head.

A- Head lowers quickly and leaves little lace as it goes down. Has a great color to it, a dark amber with some orange around the edges, a really great looking beer.

S- Aroma is mostly of sweet caramel malt, the sweetness is not overpowering though, just prominent. Some citrus hop scent is there as well, a really good aroma to it.

T- The taste is really exceptional, it's the first '5' I've given in fact. I love the taste of this, a little on the sweet malty side, but that's what I like about it. The hops are there to to add a slight bitterness, so it makes it just right. You'd never guess it was 6.9% abv.

M- The mouthfeel is good too, with a little more carbonation than I would've expected. There is a good thickness to it, not chewy like a stout, but a really great mouthfeel to it.

D- Drinkability is really great. The only reason I wouldn't make it a 5 also is because of the high ABV, but otherwise, I just love this beer and would keep drinking it one after another. It's not really filling, which I find to be a good thing. This is a fantastic beer, people, get it before the season's out!

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Photo of HopsYeast
4.29/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

a-pours with a 1/2 finger pale white head that quickly dissapates leaving behind average lacing. has a rusted copper color that is very cloudy.

s-there is an upfront aroma of cherries and other dark fruits with a very small hint of anise. brown sugar, caramel, and orange peels. it has a very sweet yet warm aroma that is very inviting. it smells much like a very good piece of biscotti.

t-sweet cherries again and then a medium does of malt. there are also spices present like sweet cinnamon, and maybe even clove. its a wonderfully tasty beer and the sweetness is not overpowering at all.

m-mouthfeel is excellent. this is a superb example of an easy drinking yet full bodies beer. carbonation is at a very low level but still present, leaves almost no trace on your palate. perfect.

o-take the smell, taste, and mouthfeel, combine them, and you got yourself a pretty damn good beer. this is superb. easy to drink, tasty, not overwhemling, and just damn good!

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Photo of BeerLover48Fan
4.97/5  rDev +28.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is an interesting and worthwhile winter warmer to seek out. It pours a deep amberish brown color with little if any head, and forget about lacing or retention. The smell is caramel and cola syrup, perhaps a bit of cherry in there too. This is a medium bodied ale with very little carbonation and bordering on a syrupy full body. The taste is complex. There are plenty of caramel notes when the beer is cold, but as it settles, there is an unmistakable vanilla flavor, nutmeg, maybe some allspice flavor that begins to emerge. There is a spicy bite in there towards the end, and you will find a discernible aftertaste. This is a relatively flat, spicy, sweet, syrupy ale that pleases the palate. Worth seeking out. . If you are in the Burlington County NJ area Red White and Brew at 33 High Street in Mount Holly is where you will find this beer, Stop in and see Stacey and the staff and browse their Micro and Seasonal selection

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Photo of gthornton
3.86/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: 1/2 inch thick head - clings to glass; dark brown/amber hue.

S: Caramel, raisins.

T: Well balanced sweetness from caramel, butterscotch, raisin

M: This might be my favorite part; creamy, and a light tickle of carbonation.

D: I can feel the alcohol in this brew, yet it is very drinkable. The raisin becomes more apparent in the bouquet as the beer warms up, but that process likely won't happen long, because each sip/gulp begs for another soon after.

- I recommend you grab this seasonal before its too late.

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Photo of mitchfor3
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle. 2005 release.

Nice looking amber color with a bubbly head. Smell is strongly of malts and a hint of alcohol (this weighs in at almost 7%).

This is a really nice changeup from a lot of the winter brews I've been sampling this season - malt dominated, one of the chewiest bodies I've ever experienced. The balance is saved by some spiciness in the aftertaste. This beer has a pronounced warming effect.

Really unique and delicious winter seasonal. Definitely recommended!

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Photo of berebrando
4.14/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I purchased this beer today from Holiday Liqueur in Escondido. It was the first six pack of Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice I've seen since last winter. I am currently drinking from my preferred glassware, a broad, rounded Snifter.

Appearance: The beer poured beautifully with a robust brown-tinted head. At first, it looked like a brown beer as well, however, as I held it to the light, and as the head dissipated, the beer developed a rosy cranberry color - it was unexpected, surprising and very appealing.

Smell: when I smelled the beer, I could detect some sort of fraint berry or fruitiness. The smell was somewhat soft and inconspicuous.

Taste: Given the berry color, I expected something fruity. The first taste revealed a deliciously creamy beer. I love the taste of this beer. The aftertaste has a very slight fruitiness to it, but it is not strong or overdone.

Mouthfeel: The creamy beer dances on my tongue and into my stomach - it is easy to drink and delicious. Very smooth, easy to drink and perfect for the cold winter weather in Julian, CA.

Drinkability: Really? This beer is excellent! One of my favorite winter warmers this winter.

I don't know how they do it up there in Anderson Valley, but I absolutely love just about every beer they produce. This beer is no exception. Great beer - go buy it.

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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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