Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale
1,810 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,810 |  Reviews: 732
Photo of CuriousMonk
3.42/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into dimpled mug. Pours a medium dark brown with small tan head. Aroma is malty sweet and caramel. Flavor is darn close to a malted milk shake at the start then fades into some spices, a blend I can't exactly identify but I'd guess nutmeg and cinnamon to start. Vanilla is evident throughout with some caramel and quite a bit of malt. Finish has a short sweetness fading to a lingering spiciness and hoppiness. No evident alcohol though strong enough to be a warmer. A kind of odd mixture here but still quite pleasant overall. Could have been a better brew IMO.

 586 characters

Photo of kaybort
4.23/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really enjoyed this beer. Poured a bright amber color. Very clear and lively looking. It had a sweet floral smell, which I didn't expect in a winter beer. Very crisp and carbonated to the taste. Also noticed a strong yeast taste, which wasn't bad. Very mild aftertaste. Overall it's a balanced beer. Tasted very fresh. Goes down easy.

 336 characters

Photo of Boitnott
3.82/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was poured from a bottle into a large snifter. It has a deep red, amber color with a nice cream colored head on top that is about a finger deep. The lacing is moderate but does not remain throughout the entire beer.

The aroma is of strong spices which I cannot put my finger on, maybe nutmeg. Overall it smells very enjoyable and made look forward to the first sip. The nose tastes mostly of malt with little hop presence. There is an underlying sweetness that persists and becomes even more so in the finish. The spices balance well with the amber malts but I do feel that the sweetness is a bit overpowering in the finish. I would expect the malts and spices to dominate here but that sweetness takes over, which is really a downfall in my opinion.

The carbonation goes well with the rest of the beer, and it finishes smooth with a medium body. The higher ABV does not goes as well as I would have thought. I have winter warmers this year that stayed lower on the ABV and made excellent beers. Overall it is still enjoyable but perhaps too sweet for my taste.

 1,070 characters

Photo of aepb1
4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Amber body with an off-white head

S- Caramel apple, fruity

T- Fruity, caramel and some hops finish this off. It's nice and warm

M- Medium to full-bodied with good carbonation

D- great taste and a great example of the style especially with the warming from such a relatively low ABV

 288 characters

Photo of womencantsail
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The pour is a slightly hazy amber color with two fingers of creamy khaki colored head.

S: Not the most impressive nose, but quite a bit of spice. Seems to be some orange peel, nutmeg, and cinnamon sugar. Molasses and creamy caramel provide sweetness.

T: The flavor is wonderfully creamy and sweet. Lots of caramel and almost sugar cookie flavor. Some nice toasty character to it and some dark fruits. A definite spiciness and not as much citrus as on the nose.

M: The body is medium with a smooth and creamy carbonation.

D: Another solid beer from Anderson Valley. A very underrated winter seasonal that is worth picking up a sixer of.

 642 characters

Photo of regulatrss
3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark amber in color. Nice one finger head.

S: Very nice sweet malty aroma.

T: Delicious. Sweet, malty, with a bit of spicyness. Maybe even a note of citrus as well. Not a lot of bitterness at all. Nice balance.

M: Full bodied. Leaves a nice feel as it finishes. The malty linger on the tongue a bit.

D: Very drinkable. 6.9 is a little on the hefty side for me, but you do not really realize it when drinking it. No alcohol burn at all.

Overall: very good beer. Definitely a beer that I will order and drink again.

 522 characters

Photo of mjyoung
3.97/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a a reddish amber color, with minimal head and lacing.

S: The aroma is a little on the weak side, but fantastic, with a nice malted butterscotch tone carrying the day with a hint of spiced orange.

T: The taste follows up the nose nicely, dominated by that same malted butterscotch and some caramel. The citrus notes and spices come through a little bit stronger on the taste.

M: The carbonation is right, but it just feels a little bit on the thin side for what I was expecting. The taste makes me think winter, but the body makes me think of a much warmer time. In this case heavier = better.

D: I like it. The taste is nice, complex without being overwhelming and the smell hits the spot right now. The mouthfeel detracts a bit from the overall enjoyment, but this is still a seasonal I'd pick up every year.

 824 characters

Photo of kflorence
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a deep amber in color with an inch of frothy foam that dissipates over a few minutes into a thin layer that lines the top of the beer. Lots of lacing as you drink, very little carbonation.

S: Wow, this thing smells like candy and fresh baked cookies. Lots of cloying sweet malts and dark fruits with a subtle hint of hops. Caramel, molasses, vanilla, brown sugar, nuts... it's all in there. This is a great example of what a winter warmer should smell like.

T: Much like the smell, this is an overpoweringly sweet dessert beer, and for a winter warmer, I simply cannot get enough. I'm a big fan of malts, and this is probably one of the maltiest beers I've ever had. Lots of caramel and malt up front followed by walnuts, cherries, oranges, apricots and spice (cinnamon? or maybe nutmeg)... The backend has a very subtle hint of floral hops, which is followed by a more definite sweet malt characteristic in the aftertaste. I would say almost a bit like a fruity black tea in the finish with some kind of sweet, praline flavor coating the tongue. The 6.9% ABV is masked well.

M: A very solid medium bodied mouthfeel for this one. A bit of chewiness and syrup in there, but not too much. The carbonation is low, so it just kinda slides down the back of your throat. I wouldn't quite call it creamy, but it's getting there.

D: A very solid beer by any means, and a pretty good example of a winter warmer (though perhaps a bit more flavorful and bit less alcohol than usual). This thing tastes tremendously good, but it is very sweet and sits heavy in the stomach. I don't think I would drink more than two of these. I definitely get the feeling of the holidays when I drink this, so I think it accomplished what it set out for. I would probably seek this out again over the holidays, but that is definitely the extent of its fridge life.

 1,848 characters

Photo of LPC19
4.62/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A delicious winter beer that is nearly a holy grail in the Midwest.

Good, sweet aroma, with strong sugar, molasses, and vanilla scents.

Great balance in the taste, with a subtle malt, accompanied by hints of spice and especially vanilla. Has a nice carmel base that is mild-bodied and underscores the added spices well.

 322 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
4.19/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a clear reddish/brown. One finger head, not a ton of lacing.

S: Very nice aroma, get a lot of brown sugar, molasses, and a nice dose vanilla. Very sweet, and I like it a lot.

T: Similar to the nose but sweeter and a bit maltier. Nice caramel flavor, the vanilla is not as strong as it is on the aroma.

M/D: Medium bodied with a smooth finish. Easy drinking, and while not hot at all from the alcohol, it does leave a slight warming in my stomach.

 460 characters

Photo of beergod1
4.01/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an amber red with a think white head. Has a sweet malt aroma a little citrusy/spice and maybe some vanilla. It's delicious. Flavor is creamy, with slight spice and orange zest? The finish has a very light crisp bite. Very refreshing. Some slight different tastes for a Christmas Brew, But well done.

 305 characters

Photo of dwilson01
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from bottle into my arrogant bastard pint glass, a nece creamy white head tops the brew, dissipates unevenly leaving thick lacing on the bottle. The body color is a wooded orange color, between a pale ale and unfiltered amber to my eyes.

The smell is very multifaceted, I pick up cinnamon and nutmeg as well as a wooded pine-alder scent. The hops come through subtley as a sweet refreshing tingle on the nostrils.

The flavor is solid, the malts are very present in a maple syrup type of taste combined with some sweet tea bread. I like the spice combo that they threw in here it really gives me a winter feel to the brew.

The mouthfeel is perfect, thick and creamy like something you would sit down in front of the fireplace and sip on.

Definitely drinkable, more of a sipping type of beer for me though

 814 characters

Photo of BretSikkink
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Orange-copper color with a frothy off-white head that has good retention and great lacing. Nice appearance overall, with its ruddy reddish highlights seeming to reflect the flushed cheeks of those itching to consume a winter warmer on the longest night of the year. While I missed the mark by a couple of weeks on the late end, I still enjoyed a pleasantly malty aroma with sweetness coming from multiple angles: toffee, butterscotch, pralines and caramel. Spiced? A touch...

Everything about this one is airy, sweet lightness. The mouthfeel and body are far too insubstantial for the winter warmer style really, but the diacetyl-laced butterscotch and praline maltiness alongside a lightly fruity hop presence, and moderate spicing is a pretty solid combination.

This recipe is about 15% short on non-water ingredients. A bit more full, lush, creamy, luxuriant - whatever you want to call it, Winter Solstice is almost there. Good drinking.

 944 characters

Photo of BB1313
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. Pours a beautiful burgundy w/ nice foamy head and nice lacing. I smell malts, grains, faint hops and spices. There's a nice nuttiness to it. There's also a slight amount of toffee and caramel, giving it a nice sweetness. The taste is very bold and balanced. Smooth, rich, and creamy mouthfeel; carbonated perfectly. Drinkability is good, alcohol is unnoticeable.. nice brew!

This beer isn't in your face, it's more subtle and tasty. This isn't a cinnamon bomb by any means. It doesn't exactly taste like Christmas, but it tastes good.

 582 characters

Photo of arboristfish
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a glowing copper to light amber color, with a white head. The aroma is fruity, with hints of holiday spices. The flavor reminds me of the holidays. Very sweet and fruity. The mouthfeel is medium to medium light, and is very drinkable.

 250 characters

Photo of mastodonj
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

a - a dark oak color, the color of iced tea is the best description
....with nice but short-lived lacing and a short finely-bubbled head
s - not a lot of aroma but a nice slightly hoppy smell
t - the malty caramel comes through just enough then the 6.9% ABV bite gets you in the back of the throat
m - excellent creamy feel
d - a great beer for celebrating the solstice but probably not
going to crave more than a couple

 422 characters

Photo of deaconoflove
3.39/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ap. Pours with virtually no head. Very bright clear coppery brown. Nice color, but no head and no lacing...
Sm. Light malt and spices.
Ta. Sweet and caramelly up front before a slightly tart and bitterness followed by a sweet finigh...and then some bitter mixed with the sweet. Interesting.
Mf. Medium body with some sticky sweet coating -but in a nice way. Stays with you.
Dr. Good winter evening brew, but one will do for me.

 427 characters

Photo of bbb099
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 Oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Nice tan head with moderate amount of lacing. Deep, clear burgundy color.

S - Has a sweet malty scent of vanilla and toffee.

T - Flavor mostly comprised of malt with notes of honey and vanilla. Quite creamy. Has a slight bite of alcohol to it.

M - Medium bodied. Maybe a little watery but doesn't detract much from the taste.

D - Good, easy to drink, but not great. Could use a little more spices to enhance the flavor.

 470 characters

Photo of hoppyhampy
3.62/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Bottled on Nov. 23rd. Pours a reddish orange with one finger of foam. Average lacing. Very sweet nose. Apple and spice. Some clove, brown sugar, and milk chocolate. Full bodied and creamy. Little carbonation. Almost like drinking the vanilla ice cream left on the plate after eating an apple pie. As yummy as this is, nearly all classic beer characteristics are absent here. No hop bitterness and the sugary sweetness instead of malty sweetness. It has a definite cider-like quality. Lots of apple on the finish with a touch of roasted malt to give it some coffee-like notes. It doesn't go down too heavy but I still don't think I could drink very much of this. Still a great winter seasonal. As much flavor as you could want out of a beer even if the flavors are sweeter than usual.

 821 characters

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.07/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at Red Rocks in Alexandria, Virginia.

A: This brew appears a bit hazy, but mostly clear, and orange hued. There is a small layer of head that leaves a fair amount of lacing on the glass.

S: Vanilla and malt, with a nutty / spicy aspect as well.

T: The taste outshines the aroma. Winter Solstice has a huge vanilla flavor, which I imagine might turn some folks away. Not me - I love the scent and taste of good vanilla. This beer definitely has a cream soda like aspect to it. Though certainly a departure from what I would expect from a winter warmer brew, I thought this was very tasty and well done. Though the beer had a present sweetness, primarily derived from the vanilla component, I did not find it to be cloying in the least.

M: Smooth and creamy, medium bodied.

D: I would definitely have this again.

 824 characters

Photo of slatetupelo
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poors a dark copper/amber and leaves behind a really thin lacing. Not much carbonation.

T - Malts with a little sweetness, a little spice and not very bitter at all. Really good tasting beer.

D - I'll be looking for this beer every winter from now on, it'll be a staple along with Celebration Ale.

 303 characters

Photo of JayS2629
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Deep brown amber with sticky off white head that leaves great sea foam walls of lace.

S- Bread, toffee, faint banana and vanilla. Pleasant nose, but faint.

T- Delicious and balanced. Sweet caramels, toffee, honey, and fruity qualities. Gingerbread, nutmeg and clove with a sweet banana finish.

M- Light, slightly carbonated. Very well balanced. Sweet but not cloying. Clean.

D- Very easy to drink. Nice sweetness, not over done with spices. Very well balanced and light and refreshing.

 493 characters

Photo of Gavage
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours an amber color with a 1" head that lasts a bit. No lacing develops.

Smell: light toffee and a hint of earthiness is all you can detect.

Taste: bread, toffee, a hint of vanilla, a bit of pepper, and a moderate bitterness creates a nice flavored beer.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Lightly crisp throughout. Aftertaste is short lived.

Drinkability: this beer is not a quick drinking beer, as the flavor profile is one to enjoy. Nice winter beer worth giving a try.

 480 characters

Photo of Phelps
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep burgundy, slightly hazed. A one-finger head of sticky light tan quickly becomes a sticky ring, leaving behind full walls of lace.

Smells like bread pudding. Caramel, lots of raisins and bubble gum mix about.

The flavor is similar: raisins, rum, bread, clove, maple, honeydew and a light toast quality before a mildly sweet finish.

Light carbonation tickles the tongue and grants the beer a small amount of fizziness. The medium-light body is smooth, but a little light for me.

Winter Solstice isn't bad, but it's not great. The sweetness keep me interested, but I desire a little more spicy complexity.

 623 characters

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

3.5 A: Clear orange amber color. One finger of beige creamy/frothy hybrid head that falls super fast and leaves no lacing.

3.0 S: Caramel, toasty, and nutty malts. Slightly grainy. Spices lightly with nutmeg, cinnamon, and maybe some brown sugar. Not bad, just a bit too weak.

4.5 T: Holy camouflage! I thought this was going to be a weak tasting, sad excuse of a beer. The nose turned out to be deceptive. Deceptive indeed. Vibrant is the word I would use for the taste. Rich caramel, toasty and biscuity malts, and some nuttiness and toffee to round it out. The malts, however, aren't doing nearly as much as the spices. This is where the beer shines. Loads of nutmeg and cinnamon, with clove and gingerbread next, and finished with pepper and clove.

3.5 M: Lighter medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Reasonably creamy for how light the body is. Smooth enough. I really wish the body was thicker. I feel like that would have been great for the beer and probably would have pushed up the other categories as well.

4.0 D: A good beer masquerading as a bad one. The appearance offers not much to look at while the aroma barely shows up at the party. The taste, however, is wonderfully spiced and a great holiday ale. The mouthfeel could be a bit thicker, but otherwise good overall.

 1,319 characters

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 1,810 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

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