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

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Reviews: 730 | Ratings: 1,803
Photo of Franchise
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a cloudy orange/grey weird but that is what it looked like and leaves a very small white head. The nose of this brew is nice, sweet vanilla, citrus, herbal notes (pine as well). The taste is so smooth you could almost chug it cause of the small amount of carbonation, the malt presence is done to perfection the caramel flavor in this brew bounces around your palate for a few minutes then is subdued by just a touch of bitter and winter spices to round out the finish.

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Photo of germaniac
3.48/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark amber, splashed thru with brown highlights. Smells like piney hops, with vanilla and sweet malt overtones. Piney hops again in the taste, brown sugar fading into malty sweetness.Drinkable, but defintely a brew worthy of lower temperatures. Anderson valley has a winner in their Solstice beers

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Photo of sweethome
3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pour is crimson with tan head. A nice deep color here.

Very sweet nose with a nuts present and a little piney hop in back.

Right off, I like the mouthfeel...rather full and satisfying. Quite sweet, candy sugar, a hint of cinammon, and candied nuts. A flavorful winter warmer. The alcohol is just of the level to provide a bit of a warming feeling.

There is an astringency that develops in the midmouth, but it still leaves a lingering sweetness - a bit too much sweetness for my liking on that finish.

Still a flavorful beer for the season. I'd put this just a step below my favorite strong winter ales.

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Photo of dawg
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this last one into a stout glass. Had my first in a bottle in a local bar this year. Both were very good.

Pours well. Rich creamy balsa head which sticks around for awhile releasing aroma of fruits and spices. Smells like an exceptional seasonal with, perhaps anise, dark friuts, nuts, cinnamon. Aroma changes as head reduces.

Tastes much like molasses, cherries, spices (perhaps a minor pine taste) and finishes off with an almost candy-like smoothness. Mouthfeel is also creamy with the carbonation expanding the ale as it flows by the toung. Swishing around amplifies this affect. Very pleasant. Some brief traces of alcohol that diminish as the ale expands releasing the spices.

Very easy to enjoy.

As a side note, I've convinced alot of macro beer drinkers to taste this one. Each and every one (many who always refuse to drink "dark beer") enjoy the drinkability.

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Photo of jaluria
3.35/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a roasted amber color with a decent head that falls slowly and leaves behind some lacing. Aromas of vanilla, roasted nuts, and caramel seem to come out. The taste is an intense burst of sweetness with varying levels of flavors that include vanilla and caramel. The smoked flavor of this beer takes away from the texture and flavor, in my opinion. The smoked flavor is too strong leaving an unappealing taste in my mouth. I think the different flavors would work well in a beer, but not together. The drinkability takes a hit as well.

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

2005 edition

Pours a brilliantly clear dark russet - crimson hue with a loose 1/2" head that audible as it dissipates.

I can smell it clear as day from my pint glass 3 ft. away. Very sweet dark roasted malts with great amounts of vanilla. I swear this smells just like 'Sugar Babies' candy.

Sugary sweet dark roasted malts with strong vanilla that carried straight through the scent. There's a slight spiciness that reminds me of nutmeg, but more resembles those warm candied almonds you get from the mall - maybe a hint of cinnamon, but it's hard to tell. Very faint hop presence, which adds no flavor but a hint of dryness towards the finish.

Mouthfeel is very smooth and medium bodied. Fine carbonation at a minimal level.

Drinkability is good. I let mine warm to 55F and it's just fine.

Overall a very sweet winter seasonal whose main flavor component is vanilla. I usually but a 6 pack and give a few away, and that suits me until next year. Very well crafted and no faults found here - not my bag though.

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Photo of assurbanipaul
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber with a thick fluffy head. Aroma is pale malt and some astringent lemony floral element.

Taste is honey-sweet and malty. Not just honey to sweeten but actual honey flavors, along with some mild spices and fruit, some dry orange rind. Some butter toffee, some apple pie, very light hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium and very smooth, never cloying. A little light for a winter warmer but very good for a spiced ale. Keeping its spices mild makes its drinkability very high. I could session this.

2005 vintage

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Photo of kohoutek
2.95/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2005 bottling.

Appearance: a nice medium amber color, obviously filtered. The head started rich with texture but was almost gone after 30 seconds. Some slight lacing remained for half of the beer. The second half had none.

Aroma: a very slight noble hop presence. It quickly diminished with the head. Aroma of caramel, vanilla, some estery fruitiness.*

Flavor: graham cracker, vanilla, caramel, biscuity malt with banana ester laffy taffy.*

Mouthfeel: the filtering, club soda carbonation and addition of natural flavors (as stated on the bottle)* make this a dissapointing experience. I am curious how a 6.9% beer with high carbonation can have no head?

I used to return to this beer annually. I always craved its malty richness and unique, medium toast.

Boy has it changed! Almost a soda pop experience.

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

2005 edition from a bottle.

Appearance - deep ruby, clear. Nice little beige head that pours big and bubbly but quickly settles down into a calm foam on the top. Nice Brussels lace all the way down.

Smell - not too much aroma, some spice, hard to place. Vanilla smell, green apples. Malt and spice dominate. Hint of hops in the background - maybe Fuggles or Goldings?

Taste - wow. Malty sweetness followed by some amazing spice flavors, predominantly vanilla, apples, cinnammon. Sweet flavors all over the tongue, mild bitterness and hop flavor. Malt overcomes whatever hops are in there. Malt is a perfect vehicle for whatever spices are in here. They should make some pies with this flavor. Alcohol masked completely.

Mouthfeel - medium thickness. Moderate carbonation. A little chewy and sticks to your tongue.

Drinkability - a winter seasonal I will buy again and again. I will look forward to this every year. Would probably fill you up after two.

Overall - I love winter warmers, but don't usually enjoy the spiced versions such as Anchor's Our Special Ale. Winter Solistice is an exception, however. The spices here are not overwhelming and perfectly balanced for my taste. Malt dominates and carries the spices perfectly. Highly recommended.

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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.

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Photo of RoBotGod
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of my favorite winter beers. What I like about this one is it’s a little different style then the others. I’m not over whelmed with spice and nutmeg. Instead I get more of a berry flavor to it, with a heavy amber inset. The berry flavor reminds me of Capitan Crunch-Crunch berries mmmm. Haven’t had a bad beer from Anderson yet.

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Photo of sinistrsam
4.4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a complete sleeper for me; In my wildest dreams I wouldn't have thought this beer was as interesting and tasty as it was. It poured a dark brown with a small tan head, and left moderate lacing on the glass. It had a rich, sweet nose, caramel and dark sugars, possibly dark fruits. Most definitely dark malts, and some mild spices.
The taste was quite sweet, with plenty of fruit and spice, caramel and chocolate, very smooth and very creamy. I was expecting a bitter spicy seasonal, but I got a creamy chocolate caramel brew that really suprised me. The aftertaste was as smooth as a milk stout, with milk chocolate taste lingering for several minutes. Hats off to Anderson Valley on this one; possibly the best seasonal I've had all year.

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Photo of WMBierguy
2.63/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I normally like special winter ales, but I just couldn't get into this one. The spices use in this holiday brew were too strong. The end result was an ale that tasted as if it were brewed with potpourri. Not a very drinkable beer, and I won't be getting this again.

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Photo of Naes
3.31/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This ale is brown/dark amber in color and has a small off-white head.
The aroma is not much to speak of, but has a slight amount of spice and hops.
Its flavor has some spice, cinnamon, a slight alcohol presence and some caramel malt.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied and moderately carbonated.

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Photo of SteveO1231
4.68/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Grabbed a bomber from BevMo!

Looks awesome! Pours a very nice dark ruby red with a diesel layer of tan bubbles floating on top of the brew. Nice carbonation.

Has a vanilla smell to it, kind of like a cream soda.

Nice roasted caramel sweetness, large vanilla flavor with a little spiciness and faint hoppiness.

This beer is very crisp and clean, very balanced and drinkable, a little sweet but a good dessert beer.

I really enjoyed this one.


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Photo of Brian700
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a pale copperish color with a small head that fizzled out to a ring around my glass.

The aroma was malty with a spicey hop addition.

The flavor was well balanced between its malt and spicey hop addition. Caramel notes and mild bitterness.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied with medium/moderate carbonation.

This was my first brew from Anderson Valley and I liked it a lot. Can't wait to try a few of the other ones.

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Photo of RootedFool
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pint is filled to the brim, no head. An ashy ring of foam surrounds the rim of the brew's surface. The color is translucent, effervescent copper. Smell: Maraschino cherries, wheat crackers, orange zest, candy corn. Taste: Opens with a jab of fruit punch, lots of apple and a splash of pineapple. The middle brings out some sharp yeasty notes, much like sourdough. The finish is slightly dry, and pulls the breadiness into the fruit with ease. I with the mouthfeel had a bit more weight to it -- as it, it's very slick.

This is better than I remember it from the bottle last year, and the year before.

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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!

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

Bottle Inspection: abv 6.9%, “ale brewed with natural flavors”, not very descriptive. 2004 printed on the neck label. Thanks to Rick and Betty for the sample.

Aroma: A slightly vegetal, mostly celery aroma that I’ve come to associate with Anderson Valley brews, maybe it’s the house yeast. There are some slight citric sweet notes as well.

Appearance: Clear amber glass with a good tanish head that laced like a champ.

Flavor: Dark cherry leads a sweet balance that had an easy mellow flavor. There is some vanilla and a bit of butter in the taste as well. That celery/cherry taste runs through it like a ribbon.

Mouthfeel: Creamy mouthfeel, good carbonation and a fairly dry finish.

Overall Impression: A great winter session beer. The abv is a little high for an extended tasting, but the flavor is easy going and could provide a fair amount of entertainment.

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Photo of pjwilson
3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

had this bad boy on tap. it's hard to compare this beer to others; it's sort of in a league of it's own, at least on tap. It's a very full, rich beer, very, very sweet. I thought it tasted like pure candy, like you were sucking a caramal pop. It poured a nice light amber brown and I wasn't smelling much. Get this on tap if you see, just be prepared that it is so sweet it's like a desert beer or something. I couldn't have more than one, that's for sure.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.82/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a warm deep brown with a hint of red and a crystal clear body with a nice thin oatmeal colored head. It has a nice gentle carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The smell of slightly sweet of toasted malt and cider with a nice green hop hint in the background is subtle.

T- This beer has a nice smooth malt taste of pale malt with some hints of toasted malt blended it. A hint of biscuit malt is in the background. The finish has a nice gentle hop bitterness with a hint of sweet cider or a very faint cinnamon with a hint of alcohol, but that is very faint.

M-This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with some fizz that makes it seem more full. No real alcohol warmth or astringency.

D- This beer has some nice subtle flavors that give it some complexity and it has some unique taste that is nice.

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Photo of loving44
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this one on tap at Naja's Place in Redondo Beach

The appearance of this beer was good... dark amber with a nice head that settled quickly. Very little lacing.

The smell was faint but was spicy with hints of vanilla

Taste was good... pretty average holiday spice.

Mouthfeel was a bit too watery for me... a little weak.

This one was pretty drinkable due to it's light mouthfeel... could make a good session brew.

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Photo of macpapi
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This Winter seasonal pours a medium amber color with a small white head. Little bubble activity is present, despite its clarity.

Smells mainly of malt and spice. Not overly strong. Fruit--plum and cherries--is also present. Overall the aroma is well-balanced, if not overwhelming.

Tastes very nice. Malty up front with a bit of hop bitterness. Followed by a pleasantly notable balanced presence of spice and fruit. Quite different from other winters in sweetness being as strong as spice. Warmth of alcohol is there but not threatening in any way.

In the mouth, this beer is surpsisingly light and carbonated. But the kick of alcohol makes it pretty substantial.

Overall this is a highly drinkable, surprisingly sweet but potent winter ale. Could be a good session brew for this time of year. A fine effort by Anderson Valley Brewing Company.

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Photo of WetCoaster
1.89/5  rDev -51%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

*2005 edition

Well, usually I go through the whole process, but this beer was so shockingly bad I'm not going to bother. It looks pretty good, a deep amber, decent head, but slides down the hill after that. Smells like malted vanilla. It tastes like a weak, thin red ale with about four tablespoons of artificial vanilla flavoring dumped in. Cloyingly sweet, bland, thin, one-dimensional mess. I cannot believe this came out of Anderson Valley. I love you guys, but you're KILLING me with this one. Two words -- drain pour.

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Photo of RedHaze
3.62/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes 16Nov05:

Pours a clear dark amber color with a thick off-white head that fades quickly, and leaves behind just a little lacing.

Smell; a little nutmeg, caramel, cherries. Very fruity and spicy smell.

Taste; lots of spiced fruits, partuclary cherries. There's some caramel, and just a litlle bit of a hop twang in the finish. Gets a little to sweet when it gets closer to room temp. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with just enough carbonation.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,803 ratings.
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