Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale
Very Good
1,841 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
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Ratings: 1,841 |  Reviews: 736
Photo of mltobin
3.82/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a sixer when passing through Maryland.

Appearance is a dark amber and small head, little lacing. Smell contains dried fruits, cinnamon, bark. The taste of this winter ale is sweet, mild spice, malts too. MF is medium with a syrup texture. It is a nice winter ale and pairs well with some pie.

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Photo of droomyster
4.44/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark bronze with two fingers of white head with good retention. Aromas are malty and spicy (cinnamon, maybe nutmeg), reminiscent of a mulled cider or an herbal nighttime tea. Flavors are complex, predominantly malty: a touch of molasses and holiday spices backed by a black tea and earthy bitterness. The heavy spicing runs the risk of palate fatigue, making its drinkability good but not great. Overall, an excellent beer; my wife told me to mention that for once, she agrees with my judgment.

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Photo of NickMunford
3.68/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber color with little head or retention.
Has a fruity aroma which reminds me of persimmons and pomegranate. There is also a mild malt presence.
The fruit aromas carry through in the flavor, with the addition of some mild hops.
It has a thick mouthfeel with good carbonation.
This is a very pleasant and drinkable beer..

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Photo of PintOHops
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Glass - Tulip

A - Orange, coppery color and just a little on the darker side. It produced a 1-2 finger head that dissipated rather quickly to a thin ring that held throughout the consumption but left no lacing.

S - I get dark fruits like plum and cherry's with a touch of orange zest upfront that's followed by brown sugar and bread. There is a bit of muted but noticeable leafy hop aroma in there as well. As it warmed I got a bit of spice like cinnamon and clove.

T - I get lots of bready malt flavors throughout, I also pick up brown sugar, lightly roasted nuts, and muted cocoa. All the great malt flavors smooth right into black cherry like flavors that almost remind me of some kind of chocolate covered cherry candy without the tartness and sweetness, it's great. I also get plum with a bit of alcohol on the finish, the bitterness is very mild and hop flavors are almost absent and lend an herbal quality to the beer.

M - Smooth and almost creamy texture. It's medium-full bodied with soft crispness.

D - I gotta say this is probably the best Winter Warmer Ive had in a while. I could definitely see myself enjoying a couple of these brews, and although this beer is 6.9% ABV, it's still pretty drinkable to me. I'd probably have this one again sometime, and I would recommend this beer to someone who likes maltier beer. Cheers!

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Photo of JosiahS
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

glass: Tulip

Cloudy dark copper color with a 1-2 finger off-white head. It's a little too hazy to see much carbonation. The aroma carries a strong malt backbone, rich with toffee, dates, cocoa nibs, cherry-apple and spices.

Smooth velvety mouthfeel that just can't be beat. The flavors merry so well, spot on with the aroma. Strong, rich malt flavors throughout. Finishes clean, easy and smooth with minimal bitterness.

I picked this beer up in a mix pack but i can see myself going back for a sixer. One of the better winter offerings i've had so far.

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Photo of oline73
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

Appearance: Pours a clear dark reddish amber with very little off white head.

Smell: Strong smell of caramel with some dark fruit and spices as well.

Taste: Very sweet with a lot of caramel. There are also hints of dark fruit with a bit of bitterness at the end as well as some alcohol. The caramel sweetness dominates the flavor throughout.

Mouthfeel: Smooth with a medium body. There isn't much carbonation here. Seems like it wants to be dry but it never gets there.

Drinkability: I think it could use a bit more carbonation, but the taste is quite good, I really like the caramel flavor. I would drink this again.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 1,841 ratings