Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

very good
1,809 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,809 |  Reviews: 732
Photo of beerphan
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle -> american pint

Pours a clear dark copper with a small wispy head that disappears rather quickly leaving behind small puddles of dish suds. Random blotches of lace. Carbonation appears sparse and thin.

Nose: some light malts, toffee, cararmel

Medium body and super sweet. Caramelized caramel candy sweetness dominates along with some chewy biscuit. Some holiday spice is evident, but not bold in any way. A bit of pepper on the sweet malty finish.

Another one i have a few of every year, but never in big numbers. A winter classic.

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Photo of Suds
3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to a colleague for this brew. It's a wonderfully deep chestnut color with a modest head and a malty aroma. The aroma is a bit subtle, yet notably malt-centric. No real hop aroma. The taste is sweet, with a biscuity, toffee-like flavor. Soft, round, and full body. This is a nice, but unremarkable winter ale.

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

Pours a nice amber color and has a great smell. The Summer solstice was a favorite of mine and the winter solstice was a great follow up to the summer seasonal brew. It has lots of subtle flavor and is a great winter brew that I will find every season.

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Photo of eclaycamp
4.04/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into an all-purpose tumbler. First thing I notice with the beer is the clarity - I can basically see right through it. Color is amber, pretty much a straight up burnt orange. Slightly off white (eggshell?) head with about a half a finger worth of foam. Smell is malty vanilla with some hints of cinnamon spice. Nice full mouthfeel with some peppery notes on the way down. Has kind of a breakfast, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, finish. Nice caramel malt backbone in this one. Very drinkable and solid beer.

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

What a drinkable winter warmer! Pours a luxurious shade of amber with artfully contrasting head of white. Nose is seductive with caramel and hints of vanilla, with a toasty/biscuity quality as well. On the palate the caramel comes through nicely with a sweet apple to pear fruity quality, and toasty/biscuity character is noted on the palate as well. Nice creamy mouthfeel and toasty finish. A spectacular beer!

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Photo of jbriggs7036
3.42/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Good beer oveall, had on tap at Racer's Cafe, a little hole in the wall bar that doesn't sell food and has three TV's, you'd never expect this place to have such an awesome selection.

A- Dark brown with a head that quickly disipates.

S- I and my wife both agreed that there was no all....crazy I know

T- Warming, malty-caramel....sweeter than I was expecting, but very tasty

M- Malty/creamy

D- Easy goes down

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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 DoubleJ
3.45/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The winter solstice is two weeks away, however I cannot wait any longer to drink this beer. On to the beer:

Light reddish hue which steers into pale orange. The head forms low on top, showing decent head retention and lace. The nose is low on firepower, but does have some resemblance of the traditional winter warmer. Spruce, gingerbread, pudding...yeah.

The malt level seems low per style....the spices are doing the work. Among the notes are Christmas pudding, figs, and spruce. Light-medium bodied with a creamish textue, good drinking.

For those looking for a more laid back winter seasonal, Anderson Valley has it here.

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

Look - Rich copper color, clear, with good carbonation. About a finger's worth of khaki-colored foam that dissipates slowly.

Smell - Slightly malty with hints of spices. Hops are subtle

Taste and Mouthfeel - Intense sweetness at the beginning that just makes me think of childhood caramel candies. Fairly smooth middle and again a sweet malty finish. Texture is pretty well-balanced but leans toward the creamy side.

Drinkability - Very nice ale that stays true to the style. Easy to drink and not too filling.

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

A: Poured a crystal clear Christmas red, witch about a 4 + finger head and enough carbonation to blow up a hot air balloon.

S: Cozy, sweet, candy-like nose, with tons of holiday goody spices.

T: Medium bodied brew, with well tempered sweetness, and a bit of pleasant yeastiness on the finish. Very lager-like.

M: Much thicker than I expected. The lacing is very generous and my glass now looks like it went through a car wash.

D: A great Christmas brew from a brewery that usually doesn't fail.

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

Quite a hearty amber ale. Very nice lacing, decent head. Deep amber color. A little bit of hops on the nose.

Nice, solid malt backbone. Hops presence quickly fades into Christmas spices. Christmas spices aren't overdone which will prevent it from being cloying.

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Photo of bs870621345
4.67/5  rDev +21%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up on a recommendation from a manager at a random store I stopped into.

Pours an amber color with half inch of head. Spotty lacing, but good looking.

Smells like caramel, butterscotch, spice, and raisin like fruits.

Taste is like smell. Very sweet, but not cloying. Nice amount of fruit and spice flavors mixed into the sweetness. A great taste.

Mouthfeel is nice, not sticky and carbonated enough to keep the beer with a great mouthfeel.

Drinkability is high, no hints of alcohol and extremely inviting.

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

That's a good lookin beer. Clear caramel/amber body with an off white head.

Aromas are enjoyable, if not bold. Really get me in the mood for a hearty, malty, enjoyable winter warmer. Brown sugar, burgamont orange, dark cherry, and caramel.

Flavors are in much the same vein. Butterscotch, caramel and brown sugar malty sweetness are tempered by an intriguing fruity character. The fruit is really what I find myself most attracted to, not sure what exactly it is or where it came from, but I really enjoy it. Reminds me of the Leopold Brothers Orange Liqueur and dark, less sweet, cherries.

The mouthfeel is where I find myself conflicted. My gut says it is too thin. The flavors would really be showcased if the body was a bit richer, more creamy. But, one of the reasons I really like this beer is that it is malty and warming without being syrupy or overbearing. A fuller body may make it a better beer, but a better beer I only want one bottle of. As it stands, I'd be happy with 2 or 3.

Anderson Valley makes several very good beers. With their change in ownership, change in local distribution, and change in pricing (now $9.99 a 6pk, from $11.99), AV is back and it means business. If they keep churning out brews this good, they may become a real player here in Colorado.

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Photo of DaveBlack
3.94/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Really nice pour. Deep amber color with a billowy off-white head (maybe 3 fingers) with good retention, but not much lacing.

S: Mostly malt with a slight tang of spices. Overall really light on the nose. I wish it had more, because it's the only area where this beer falls flat.

T: Really caramelly and sweet. Almost a banana flavor coming through on the finish. It reminds me of a wheat beer because of the banana/clove flavor, but (in my opinion) better than most wheat beers.

M: Surprisingly for a winter ale it is not that heavy or sticky. Not a whole lot of carbonation, but it still manages to feel fairly light, yet filling.

D: A really drinkable beer. Every sip makes me a little bit more fond of this beer. Great seasonal, definitely worth a look.

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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 fourplayed
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap to 16oz glass. Clean dark red-amber. tender did not pour with much of a head.

Smells are lite and you need to dig in a bit to get the mild sweet fruit esters and some malty and spice notes.

Taste if caramel malts, fruity esters and honey, a nice sweet tone overall.

Lite mouthfeel, carbonation is good, some bitter hop dryness in the finish. 6.9% alcohol very well hidden.

Overall a nice brew with malts and sweet notes up front that could go down easy after 2 or 3 pours. If you like the malts and some mild sweet fruits you'll like this. I wouldn't turn one down!

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Photo of scottfrie
3.49/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into snifter. 2010 bottling.

A: Pours a clear dark red color under a billowing light tan head that took its time fading into a rocky film that left great lacing down the glass.
S: Not particularly smelly. Very faint notes of sweet fruits and maybe a touch of malt and warm alcohol vapor. I wish this had more of an odor to it.
T: Big rich malt flavor with notes of caramel, banana, pepper, cream, orange juice, bread crust and apple sauce. Aftertaste is full of orange and cream. Not picking up much spice; maybe some slight cinnamon.
M: Disappointingly medium body and thin mouthfeel, especially in the finish. It's not quite watery, but it could use some thickening up. Carbonation is smooth and even, and the alcohol is well hidden.
D: This beer was underwhelming. I thought I remembered it being better in past years, but my palate has changed a lot in a year. What is there is good but I want more of it: more scent, more spice, and more body. I like this beer, but I'm liking other winter warmers more this year.

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

A-Pours cherrywood red with less than 1/4 inch of head. Leaves almost no lacing.

S-Remember those chewy "circus peanut" candies? Smells like that. Cotton candy, fruitcake, vanilla.

T/M-A very unique presentation of flavors that I'm enjoying more with each sip. Toffee and cotton candy flavors up front, but they soon fade into a burnt sugar and vanilla melange. The back palate has wonderful traces of peach preserves and vanilla bean, with a slight grassy bitterness to round things out. A really well made beer.

D-I'll be drinking a lot of this before the winter's through.

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Photo of Pencible
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: This poured a clear dark copper with some light tan head.
S: It smelled like lemon hops and bready yeast, with some light barley and cinnamon and vanilla and dried orange peel.
T: It tasted like toffee and biscuit, with honey and some vanilla and orange and a bit of cinnamon. It had a mellow bittersweet aftertaste that was wet and clean.
M: It was watery with moderate carbonation. Thin but not bad.
D: This was a tasty winter warmer that was super easy to drink. No huge flavors, but well integrated and balanced, with light body and well hidden alcohol. Quite enjoyable for the colder months.

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Photo of jsh420
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours amber red with a 1 finger head that left no lacing

smells of fruity caramel pale malts

taste is just like the nose - caramel malt and some fruity hops - a very mild beer

mouthfeel is medium body with plenty of carbonation to give it a crisp bite

drinkabiltiy os so so - i just picked up a single and doubt i would ever buy a full sixer of this brew

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Photo of kbuff13
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber color. Little head didnt last long.

Smells sweet and malty, very little hop presence.

Taste is good, you get a sweet caramel flavor hints of vanilla and some spices, clove. Nice mouthfeel. Coats the mouth and tongue nicely. I would definitely buy again.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.37/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Good brown beer, lots of red running through it, not much head. Aroma, some spice, wood, lesser hop bitterness detectable.

Definitely a winter warmer type of feel to it, robust, but lacking viscosity to be huge. Isn't trying to go there. Good amount of toasting, roasting and hop underpinnings. Toffee, some Christmas/Thanksgiving spicing. Lots of bitterness for not being a thick beer and one of this color (certainly none of it is mutually exclusive).

This is a pretty unique beer, not really for me, but it is respectable.

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Photo of californiakulak
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had this beer on tap at Eureka Burger in Fresno.

A. Poured a clear brownish, red color. Thin head that didn't last long.

S. Lots of spices. Sweet malt. Christmas cookies. Vanilla. I don't think that I smelled any hops at all though.

T. Sweet and spicey. Bready malt taste. Clove, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

M. Thick and syrup like sensation. Good carbonation and nice sweet aftertaste.

D. Because of the overwhelming spice profile of this beer I think that one pint at time will be plenty. But I did enjoy the one.

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Photo of SpdKilz
3.34/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours with a dark brown/slightly reddish hue into my SA Perfect Pint. About a finger of head is achieved with a moderate pour that dissipates quickly leaving little lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell - Honestly...I am not getting much of anything. Just a hint of caramel malts and spices. But as stated...not much.

Taste - Well that's an odd flavor. The initial sip is an immediate throwback to when I was a child and would steal butterscotch candies from my grandmothers pantry. An interesting flavor to say the least. There are definite spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon...but there is mostly just an overpowering butterscotch flavor that lingers well after I have taken a sip.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, relatively creamy, moderate carbonation.

Drinkability - For almost 7%, yes it is. For the taste, not so much. This really struck out as a winter warmer for me. I really don't get a lot of the spices, and I know I keep going back to it, but there is just an overwhelming butterscotch flavor that is really off putting after drinking half of this. I do not think I will pick this up in the future unless someone talks me into giving it another try.

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Photo of trevorjn06
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber/mahogany color with about an inch of creamy tan head that quickly recedes to a frothy layer on the surface and leaves some lacing on the glass.

Aroma is sweet malts, dark caramels, nuttiness, mild spices and hints of earthiness.

Taste is rich malt sweetness with caramel and some dark fruit flavors. This overall malty beer has a nice hop bitterness balancing it out just enough so that it is not cloying. It begins with a creamy and rich nutty/caramely flavor and moves into caramel with hints of dark fruit and chocolate. Toward the finish a bit of bitterness comes in to balance the sweetness. The finish leaves bready malt, caramel and some soft mineral notes on the tongue.

Mouthfeel is medium/thick with low carbonation and a nice mouth-coating feeling.

Overall this is a good beer, it is strong and rich yet drinkable. I would drink this again.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,809 ratings.
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