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: 1,807
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.

 911 characters

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.

 1,303 characters

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

 1,231 characters

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!

 211 characters

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.

 325 characters

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.

 299 characters

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.

 373 characters

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

 1,431 characters

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.

 206 characters

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.

 562 characters

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.

 241 characters

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.

 594 characters

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.

 325 characters

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

 1,175 characters

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.

 323 characters

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

Winter warmer is sort of a strange style because (at least to my knowledge) there is no real standard for what one of these should taste like. That being said I've tried a few winter ales lately (Great Divide - Hibernation and Avery Brewing - Old Jubilation to name a few) and I have to say I really like them all - the Winter Seasonal is no exception. The overall taste is very mellow, no real spicyness to speak of - lots of vanilla/caramel notes. A nice winter ale no doubt. I had mine from a can - I wonder if the bottle is any better? Anderson Valley is a highly under-rated brewery - always love their beers

 618 characters

Photo of crisis1290
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not bad. A reddish / brownish color on the pour. Malty and spice aroma fills the air. Hints of cinnamon, sweet vanilla and some other spices are very apparent. A nice tasting beer but I have had better from this brewery. This one would be reordered if need be. Perfect seasonal beer for sure ! Nice job Anderson Valley !

 320 characters

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.

★ 462 characters

 514 characters

Photo of alarmclock314
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle, no bottle date. Pours dark gold with a medium sized off-white head. Smells of malt, cinnamon, vanilla, and licorice; moderate intensity. The taste follows exactly with licorice and cinnamon in the aftertaste. Slight sweetness. Average carbonation and thicker body, staying true to the style. Overall, it's a solid Winter Warmer and the licorice is a unique touch.

 382 characters

Photo of PA-hunter
3.96/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured 12 oz can into snifter glass. 6.9% abv

Appearance- Pours a apple cider-like red brown with two finger cream head. Opaque

Smell- Fresh crackery malt, dark fruit, molasses, vanilla.

Taste- A sweet bready malt with notes of caramel and cream. Some vanilla in there too. The fruit notes range from apple to prune. Ends slightly toasted in taste, still retaining bits of vanilla mixed with grain.

Mouthfeel- Medium heavy in body with active carbonation.

Overall- A complex Winter style beer that is reminiscent of a cream ale in style. The vanilla flavors blend nicely with the sweet caramel malts of this beer. Superb.

 626 characters

Photo of StevenMilligan
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L: Deep muddy brown, with a reddish rust tint when held to light. Minimal head, but surprisingly clingy lacing.

S: Smell is superb. It really smells a lot like apple cider to me, then the vanilla bean takes shape with a little red fruit to follow.

T: Canned apple pie filling comes to mind me this brew first gushes over my tongue. It's followed by allspice and again that cherry-ish red fruit that I picked up in the nose.

F: Body is slightly above medium.

O: Maybe I'm just excited for the season (Oktoberfest/pumpkin beers don't really get me too excited), but this is a fantastic winter warmer and will be stocking my fridge again before Florida heats up again.

 669 characters

Photo of MattSlem
3.87/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

They should rename this beer to Winter Churro Ale. I get huge bourbon vanilla and cinnamon flavors, with a slight doughy-breadiness. I like it quite a bit, I just wish it weren't so artificial.

 195 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.21/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle. Sampled on April 22, 2015. That may be a month after Spring began on the calendar but I had two inches of snow in my back yard 10 days ago.

A handsome looking medium amber-reddish colored pour with a off-white head that lingers.

The smell is luscious with its sweet malts, nutmeg, black licorice, allspice, and currant notes. Hops seem to be in the background but add a cleanliness to it all.

The body was medium to better than medium.

The taste is a nice sweet caramel malt flavor with some o the same spices pick up on the nose. A mild hop bite to finish. In some respects I liken this to an Abbey Dubbel without the clove.

 660 characters

Photo of EMV
4.06/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a tulip glass.

L: Pours a clear deep copper with minimal white head.

S: Sweet vanilla bean on the nose, malts, and spices. Cinnamon and sugar.

T/F: Definitely on the sweet side... with a strong vanilla and caramel presence, somewhat reminiscent of cream soda. Moderately carbonated and smooth. Strong malt backbone and dry at the finish. Cloves and cinnamon in the background. No significant hops.

O: A nice winter warmer from Anderson Valley. A little sweet and vanilla-ish, but there's enough going on with the flavor to keep it interesting. Best served at cellar temperature. Great on a cold winter night.

 649 characters

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

Got as part of a build-your-own 6-pack at Kroger a month ago. Have no clue how old it is.

Appearance - 4/5
Beautiful, medium-dark red-orange-brown color, fairly clear (although dark, so not a ton of light comes through). Very tiny particles can be seen throughout the beer. A half finger of light beige head which dissipates down to a relatively thin layer. Extremely minimal carbonation can be seen rising up the beer.

Smell - 4/5
Delicious spices, vanilla, cinnamon, licorice. A little bit of booziness as well. Got a whiff of "Big Red" gum smell (spicy cinnamon gum).

Taste - 4.25/5
Delicious mellow vanilla/chocolate taste (yes, both), the spices are lighter in the taste than the smell, but still present. Medium-dark malt flavor. An almost bourbon-like booziness. Overall there is a great coherence to the taste which I don't know how to describe. It's hard to describe all the flavors I taste, becuase there is really one homogenous yet very complex flavor present. Great taste, very happily surprised.

Mouthfeel - 4.25/5
Medium-full in body. Smooth and creamy yet with a nice medium-light intensity carbonation kick.

Overall - 4.25/5
Overall this was a fantastic beer. Glad to have randomly tried this, would have otherwise missed out on a great beer.

 1,265 characters

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