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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 730 | Ratings: 1,806
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.

 467 characters

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..

 619 characters

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!

 1,178 characters

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!

 969 characters

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

 933 characters

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.

 517 characters

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!

 524 characters

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.

 1,328 characters

Photo of ItsTheLimit
4.31/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Perfect beer for a cold night, especially if stouts and other traditionally heavier beers aren't your thing.

Hazy copper color with a thin tight head. White-ish lacing with nice head retention.

Smells of sweet malt, caramel, black licorice, and coriander.

This beer tastes delicious. Warming quality from some alcohol but very balanced. Sweet malt up front with dried fruit, nutmeg, caramel and other spices.

Smooth, creamy mouthfeel makes this an easy drinker, but will definitely warm you up. Nice alcohol heat will make this a great evening-sipper near a fireplace. Really liking this beer.

 601 characters

Photo of nsabo
2.24/5  rDev -42%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

The smell is awesome - cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and everything nice. Pretty stoked to sip it!
Hmm, tastes way too sweet. I don't drink soda, but this tastes like what I remember a cream soda tasted like. I've heard nothing but praise for this brewery and believe what I hear, but this still tastes like artificial flavors were added. Very faint piney hops, vanilla, white wine that’s been sitting out uncorked for a while, and honey.
Definitely a dessert beer, but even then, this is way too sweet for me.

 507 characters

Photo of treedoctor5002
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber color with a smaller than normal head that goes away after a while.

Smell is spicey and malty.

Taste is wonderful. Very smooth. Delicate spices like vanilla and cinnamon complement the malt but don't overpower it.

Mouthfeel is medium to light. Not a whole lot of carbonation after a while.

Extremely drinkable for a spiced beer. Very well balanced. Would go great with some ginger snaps or windmill cookies.
You should definitely try this beer.

 478 characters

Photo of ficknish
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark amber. Light bubbles. Good head.

S - Caramel. Toasty malts. Spices. Bread. Raisins. Vanilla.

T - Marshmallow. Vanilla. Toffee. Strong bitter hops. Spices.

M - Tingly. Bitter. Medium body.

O - Loving this beer. Sweet body with homey flavors of vanilla, bread, and spices. Sweetness was well balanced with hop bitterness. Will drink again.

 350 characters

Photo of LibraryTom
2.86/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2


Pours a nice deep amber orange.

All cream soda.

One dimensional sweet malt, with not enough spice or hop to balance it out. Almost no perceptible bittering component.

It is rich and overly done, and it is hard to drink more than a few ounces for me. Overall, eh, on a beer I am never that into.

 303 characters

Photo of Muddybuddy
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(2005 Edition consumed on Jan. 2, 2006)
Appearance: Very clear auburn color. Free of debris and sediment even when the whole bottle was poured. No yeast sediment visible in the bottle, leading me to believe that this may not be bottle conditioned. When pouring, I found it almost overcarbonated and had to slow my hand. A nice creamy off white head forms and will remain on the top for at least 5 minutes, if not more.

Smell: Almost no perceptible hops odor, but it is very low in the background and appears more as the beer starts to warm. It is pleasant and somewhat bright when it finally hits your nose. There is also a smell that reminds me of oatmeal.

Taste: This has a most unusual taste compared with most of the other winter warmers I have tried. There is a dark richness that comes alive and I am hard pressed to name it. There are some notes of chocolate and cherries and possibly even a dark blackberryish thing in there too. This may sound suprising, but it also was quite smooth and had no apparent breaks in the flavor. There is a certain cloying sweetness that reminds me of a honey or maybe lavender.

Mouthfeel: In spite of the apparent good carbonation, there is a velvety feel to this one and it is quite slick on the tongue. I can't seem to find a way to keep this one in my mouth for too long though, as I love the way it feels going down.

Drinkability: I have no idea about the alcohol content of this one but the flavor makes me want to drink more and more. Very good overall.

 1,514 characters

Photo of tangentrider
3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Red-brown beer with an off-white head; reddish highlights when held to the light

S- Malty with an undertone of spice.

T- First is warmth, followed by malt, a touch of molasses, possibly dried fruit, and spice.

MF- Smooth, with nice carbonation.

D- Interesting beer, which I realize is a rather non-descript statement, but honestly, I'll probably have it again just to figure it out.

 390 characters

Photo of dukew456
3.49/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz glass into a Miller High Life pint glass

Small, light brown head, with almost no retention as I drank this. Medium amber in color, a little bit lighter than traditional winter warmers maybe?

Smell is a a fruity, toffee-like malt attack, no hops in then nose, but surprisinglg appetizing. This smells like fruitcake to me, and that is a good thing.

Taste is much like the smell, almost extremely sweet. Candied fruits, spice, and most of all toffee/caramel dominate, with no hops that I can detect.

Mouthfeel is a little thin for what I think a winter warmer should be, but still plays pretty well to the sweetness.

This beer is a little bit of an enigma to me. I like the smell and what it reminds me of, but the follow up taste is not very pleasant. However, I could see myself drinking a few of these, as its relatively thin mouthfeel doesn't give you the feeling of being overly full. Worth a shot.

 928 characters

Photo of brewbattles
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

We did a blind taste test between this and 4 other Winter Seasonals to objectively determine which one was best. They beers were: Deschutes Jubelale, Anderson Valley Boont Winter Solstice, Big Sky Powder Hound, Alaskan Winter Ale, and Redhook Winterhook. Check it out:

 297 characters

Photo of DrewS
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My overall impression of this beer is one of unimpression. Poured out a reddish orange and brown with a decent head. Sweet malt on the nose, like cotton candy. Kind of reminded me of the dried malt extract I use in homebrewing. The taste was primarily of carmel like sweet malt which was a bit cloying IMO. There is a tinge of hop bitterness as the malt fades. Besides the intense malt flavor this beer is somewhat thin. Mouthfeel plays a redemptive role with a creamy smoothness. Slight aftertaste. Not the best of the seasonals and a disappointment for me. Maybe I just wasn't into it, but I expect better things from Anderson Valley.

 636 characters

Photo of Guzzler78
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a medium amber color. A light tan head that is small. Some spotty lacing, that doesn't stick around too long.
Smell of sweet malts, vanilla, slight spice, fruity-getting some banana.
Tastes sweet, not much hops, some clove and nutmeg, not much spice for a winter ale.
Thin mouthfeel, could of used some more carbonation.
A decent winter warmer, a bit mild compared to other winter seasonal ales.

 401 characters

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.

 645 characters

Photo of iguenard
3.96/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

( 34/50, 6.9% alc/vol, Home, right after work) Amber color, opaque and red with a thin yellow flame at its bottom. The service head dissappears rather quickly, and no aparent carbonation to maintain it. Delicious nose of paprika, cloves, eggnog and cinnamon. Love the spice arrangement in this one. Has a real sense of togetherness, harmony in it's design. Starts off a little bit off. Cranberry and cherries mix with strong cloves, cinnamon and what tastes like carrots. Lasts a long time, extends in spice and what I can only refer to as turkey stuffing. Definite pommegrenate bitterness in the finish. Belgian feel and christmas spice, with tart acidity in the end giving it character. Low alcoholic feel, and a tad cloying spice as it extends a little too long. Nice, warm feeling christmas beer. Not too heavy for a spiced beer, yet thick enough to go with these strong spiced christmas dishes.

 899 characters

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

Day 3, beer 3/365

A: An orangey to light copper color. Nice lace down the glass the whole way

S: Not much smell to it, a little bit of a sweet smell

T: This REALLY hit the spot as far as taste goes. To me the first thing that hits you is a butterscotch taste, and as soon as it hits your throat to me you get a strong "cream soda" type of flavor, but its not overpowering. Just right.

Summary: Overall this has been on of my favorite seasonal ales without a doubt. I would have to say my favorite Christmas ale for sure (admittedly I have not had many up to this point)

 573 characters

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

A - Pours a deep amber with a dense head that settles down to around half a finger in my glass. A little lacing tries to cling to the glass as you drink but very little actually hangs around very long. Beer is almost completely tranparent.
S - Smell is lightly malty with a hint of spice.
T - Taste is lightly hoppy with a nice balance of malt. A very small amount of spice is detectable. The beer finishes a touch smokey.
M - The malt content gives this beer a bit of weight on the tongue.
D - Very drinkable, well balanced. Although the smokey flavor is not my favorite finish, in this beer it's so light that it doesn't bother me.

 637 characters

Photo of aleyeast
2.58/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I have long been a fan of this winter seasonal and would venture a guess that five years ago or so, it was in the top of my list for must haves in the winter. Lately, at least the last two years, this beer has been dominated by vanilla which I don't personally find attractive in the beer. To me, vanilla is a flavoring, not a spice. It definitely feels creamy to drink, but that may be the vanilla flavor lending that sensation. Overall, the beer is well made and consistent, but I feel the key to good spiced beer is balance and moderation. I also believe this recipe has changed over the years.

 597 characters

Photo of drinknewbelgium
3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

poured with a small head smells of malty sweetness in my nose tastes of sweet malts holiday spices with little hop character a little watery in the mouth but i could have a few

not strong spiced honestly i couldnt help but think of cream soda when i was drinking this

 270 characters

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,806 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.