Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

BA SCORE
87
very good
1,807 Ratings
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
California, United States
avbc.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
730
Ratings:
1,807
Avg:
3.86
pDev:
13.99%
 
 
Wants:
71
Gots:
255
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 730 | Ratings: 1,807
Photo of DogFood11
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Beautiful red to cherry in color and transparent, Forms an impressive head but it fades rather quickly into a solid off white cap.

Cherries grab my attention right off the bat. Caramel is the backbone and just a mere touch of quick zipped hop twinge. Toasted bread fits this beer perfectly. just a touch of spices, little cinnamon but for a warmer overall this one has a different focus.

Chewy mouthfeel which attempts to clean up nicely with the twinge but in the end this is fairly rich. Carbonation is perfect. super fine and balancing.

Notes: This is one unique son of a bitch! The toasted flavor really comes through even more as it warms. Alcohol is fairly well hidden although my belly says otherwise.

 718 characters

Photo of battlekow
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm reviewing three winter warmers that we just got in at the store: this, Avery Old Jubilation, and Great Lakes Christmas Ale.

Winter Solstice falls somewhere between the other two in color, being a cloudy caramel with a thin beige head. Smells quite fruity, like alcoholic fruit snacks. I really like the way Winter Solstice tastes, like spiced and candied fruit. Strong notes of cherry syrup. There are some floral hops in there, as well. I'm surprised I like such a sweet beer, but I'm not arguing.

 505 characters

Photo of jakester
4.29/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this as a single at UJ's on the Manatawny . This is the 2004 model. I drank it in a pilsner glass.

Pours a very hazy brownish red with a one finger head of beige colored foam. Head falls to islands and a ring, with minimal lacing.

Aroma is very fruity and spicy, with notes of cherries, grapes, dates, cinammon, nutmeg, and black pepper. Not much is the way of hop smell, but the malt is dark and rich, like dark brown sugar.

Flavor is dark cherries, raisins, plums, and spices like above. There is also some spice here I can't identify. Don't really taste hops, except for very low bitterness. Aftertaste is fruity, spicy, and luscious. Mouthfeel is pretty full bodied with soft to medium carbonation. There is a lingering richness to this beer that is really enticing.

This has aged extremely well. It is a perfect winter seasonal, well designed and well built. Spicy, fruity, malty, full bodied, and very complex. Highly recommended.

 955 characters

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

2005, 12 oz bottle.

Appearance: Light tan and red color with a creamy tan head. Wide open and sticky lacing rings the top of the glass as the beer is consumed.

Smell: Sweet malty nose with a spicy and earthy hop scent. Some pine in the hop aroma and a bit of caramel rounding out the smell.

Taste: Bold sweetness opens up with lots of delectable candied fruit flavor. There's caramel, toffee, and brown sugar feeding the sweet flavors. Strawberry, cherry, fig, plum, and date. Syrupy and sweet and moderately spiced with holiday spices. Cinnamon, orange peel, clove, candy sugar, and ginger. Very sweet from beginning to end but there is no cloying. The hop flavor is not readily apparent but after a few sips I notice the hop bitterness is actually a quick burst right up front that is then overcome by the fruit-spice-sweet combo. The pine character of the hops also shows up slightly in the aftertaste. As the beer warms the hop flavor shows up much more than when chilled. It is earthy and balances well with the sweet maltiness.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, rich, and syrupy. A bit sticky but right for the style.

Drinkability: Rich in fruit and spice, this is what I love about winter warmers. It is almost like a liquid fruit cake (in the best possible sense). Complex and sweet and truly warming. All around very pleasant and one that I will enjoy this winter.

 1,380 characters

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

2004 bottle

Pours a beautiful Reddish Brown. Clear as day. Thin head of small bubbles. Smell is of chocolate candy cordials. Like smelling the inside of a chocolate covered cherry.

Body is light. Chocolate with a light cherry cough syrup flavor. Malt, no sign of hops. Little to no aftertaste, slightly bitter.

OK, but tastes a bit artificial. A nice change, but not something I would drink more than once a week or so.

 430 characters

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

2004 bottle. Fruity spicey aroma, average appearance, good spice and fruity taste that finishes with orange and sediment of tastey and satisfying: Vanilla,nutmeg, cinammon, banana, other fruit melange, carmel. Medium body. A very nice beverage from a consistently good brewer.

 276 characters

Photo of ncbrewerbun
3.33/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From a brown long-neck bottle with 2004 prominently displayed as the year. Picked up this six-pack in Louisville. It was marked down to move, so I was a little hesitant.

Beer poured a hazy amber, bronze color, but when held up to the light there were definite ruby tones. Had a small light tan head that dissipated rather quickly to a small ring of bubble around the edge (a bit of a stretch to call it lacing).

Aroma was one of malts, toastiness, breadiness and some vanilla, with a hint of the alcohol. I also pick up some oxidation -- wet cardboard -- characteristics.

The balance of this beer is certainly favoring the malts. The toastiness comes through nicely in the flavor along with some caramel...and there is some hop bitterness in the aftertaste.

Overall, a nice beer that probably was done no favors by the store as they kept it around. I would likely think much more highly of this beer if I were having it last December vs. August, 2005.

 964 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 - cellared for almost 4 years... lost at the back of the cabinet.

The appearance remains the same... it's a clear reddish brown with a creamy off-white head. The nose is similar as well; malty with caramel and a hint of vanilla, as well as some yeasty fruitiness. It seems to have lost a bit of carbonation, but it's always been a smooth, delicately carbonated and malty beer. In the flavor, the maltiness seems to have dwindled a bit, but its orange-like citrus flavor remains along with some spicy hops. The bitterness has softened, and it's remarkably drinkable! You could easily quaff a pint or two of this before the strength of the alcohol snuck up on you. That's not to say that it's improved, however. This is a beer best enjoyed fresh!!! (Note: I've kept the numbers the same for this beer because I don't want to bring its ratings down, but when scored properly I only came up with a 4.15).

 908 characters

Photo of donchata
4.7/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a very smooth beer with exceptional color, body, fruity tones and quiet kick that will put you at ease as you gaze in wonderment at your Christmas tree. Serve ice cold or room temperature this beer isn't picky about climate. One of the best winter's available.

 268 characters

Photo of Star80
3.71/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004. Glad I found this forgotten in the back of my stash. Pours out an impressive ruby hued copperish color. Head settles to a light beige covering. Smells a bit vinous almost like a barley wine; dark ripe fruits, some spice, and vanilla. After a sip I detect more of a sugar cookie-like taste, and some caramel malts. There is some bitter hop but not much which could be due to the age of the beer. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. This is a decent winter warmer and I will probably buy another six-pack next year.

 519 characters

Photo of weeare138
4.29/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an '03 version.

Appears amber with about an inch off white head that fades. Barely any lacing as it goes down. Lots of tiny bubbles exploding up the sides of the glass.
The smell is amazing. Lots of vanilla, maple, caramel, and oak notes present within the nose. No traces of hops are detected.
Tastes really, really good. It truley tastes like liquid caramel malts with vanilla cream. You don't find too many beers like this that can please you and go down smooth like this. This is like dessert. I'd rather have this than a DQ blizzard any day.
For the age, the carbonation seems outright perfect. Nice chewiness that lingers. Welcome to candy land! I wish I had an endless supply of this stuff.

Finger licking good!!

 737 characters

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

Rich, dark orange-copper with the slightest blush of red. The head is equal parts pale orange, butter yellow and ecru. Arching streamers of thick lace are beginning to appear on the upper reaches of the glass as the dense crown of foam takes its leave slooowly.

The aroma is weaker than it should be, which is a damn shame since what's evident is quite nice. Maltysweet with light butterscotch and a healthy dash of orange zest. I don't pick up much in the way of spice, there's just not enough power to really get a handle on things.

With a bigger body, this beer would really shine. The flavor is wonderful, but gets short shrift from a too thin mouthfeel (for the style). While slightly undermalted, it still manages to pull off a sweetish, buttery caramel, butterscotchy, light brown sugary, orangey vibe that deserves a better delivery vehicle than it has been given.

I especially like the orange liqueur character; a comparison that would be even more apt if the mouthfeel had a slightly syrupiness. Winter warmers, in my mind at least, should be more full and luxuriant in the mouth than this. I still don't appreciate much spice, but the flavor profile is fine without it. What is there to say about the body that hasn't already been said? Bigger please.

Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale is close to great beer. Unfortunately, the too light body is more appropriate for a beer called Summer Solstice (which is pretty close to when I'm drinking it!). Suggestion to the good folks at Anderson Valley: bulk this sucker up and it'll turn some heads.

 1,561 characters

Photo of maek228
4.19/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was nine dollars for a sixer. It is the a 2004 bottle and apparently it's won a gold medal.

Appearance: Copper brown with a dark amber hue. Thin, lacey head with minimal cling. Beer appears to be murkey and thick

Smell: Truly exceptional. This beer has a big smell that filled my nose. The upfront and most powerful scent is the smeet malts, then theres hints of caramel/toffee and mixed fruit.

Taste: First off, this beer claims to be a winte ale. Does it taste like a winter ale? Yes, it definitly does. The taste is immodest, strong, and bold. Spicey cloying maltiness is the most prevalent flavor. This flavor is there from start to finish. There is a nice hop kick at the end of it.

Mouthfeel: Thick maltiness that sticks in your mouth.

Drinkability: This is a gritty ale that doesn't let up, which makes me want more.

 847 characters

Photo of rastaman
3.2/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle. Barley wine style ale. Sweet raisin and syrup, piney hops, spicy. A bit too sticky for me, but its not bad at all. It does have flavour and body as it should, and as with most Anderson Valley beers i've had, its pretty solid and well made, yeah, not bad in the end.

 273 characters

Photo of BurghBrewPSU
3.54/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a magnificent ruby red color. I could just stare at this beer, and be completely happy. However, I had to try it. Smelled of faint spices. At first taste, caramel and spices blend together for a most delightful taste. After a few drinks, a hint of berries can emerge above the caramel. Overall a very pleasing beer, perfect to warm you up on a nice cold winter day.

 371 characters

Photo of WesWes
3.87/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a fine malty scent that boasts of pale, crystal, and bisquit malts. It has an earthy/breadlike aroma that is quite pleasant. The taste is decent. It has a pretty complex palate of malts along with a bitter hop finish. It is a bit piney and warm on the way down. The mouthfeel is decent as well. It is a medium/full bodied brew with good carbonation. This is an above average winter warmer that could use more body and a little less carbonation.

 570 characters

Photo of GClarkage
3.77/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

02/03/05- Purchased at Beverages and More in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 22oz bomber poured into my 24 oz glass mug.

Appearance- Dark amber pour, almost brown. Large foamy head that maintains it's girth for a bit. Next to no lace though.

Smell- Heavy roasted and toasted caramel malts. Maybe a bit of hoppyness and maybe a slight bit of fruit.

Taste- About the most caramel I have tasted in a beer. It's like popping those Kraft caramels with a little bit of alcohol on the side. Well, maybe a roasted carmel on the campfire kinda taste. A bit of hop pleasure wayyyy in the background. Maybe a bit of brown sugar along with the caramel.

Mouthfeel- Moderately carbonated and a bit chewy and thick.

Drinkability- Very very interesting. Would be a good beer to go along with a caramel apple at the summer fair. Pretty rich for a beer. Like a ultra sweet brown ale. Not bad. Different for sure. Would give it a try again.

 935 characters

Photo of karst
4.58/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A near perfect looking under a big persistent head your going to wait on unless you have a tall pint glass for the 12 oz. of deep copper clear colored nector to erupt . Caramelized malt, Citris and a little alcoholic aroma are pulling you in. (one reviewer noted it was sensed by a friend accross the table!). I did not find the mouth feel chewy (reviewer drinking tap) but it is medium and more pleasing as it warms.

This seasonal ale was so good I started to think of the best flavored beers I have tasted. Its strong sweet malt taste (reminding me of aromas near the end of my 3 hours stiring mash just a few nights ago).This strong pleasing taste was well balanced with hops and it easily cloaked its nearly 7% ABV even at the end. You will want to drink more as your glass drops to the bottom. Toward the bottom half - the 360° panorama of laced "creatures" adhered, with their ropey lace shapes changing each time I tilted the large bell shaped weissbeir container.

Only worries about this refined Anderson Valley Ale is improving its mouthfeel and providing bigger bottles because your going to want to share it and everyone is going to want a second glass.

 1,173 characters

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

12 ouncer, 2004 edition. Pours almond, clear, minimal off white head and a dearth of lacing after its sitting in the glass for a few minutes. Nose is a warm whiff of maple. This is a medium bodied brew. Slight spicing noted. Nice clean malty body. 6.9% fairly well hidden under layers of malt and some grainy/gritty hops, which come in late. Notes of smoke and rum also picked up as it warms. Pleasant winter warmer, one I would definitely pick up again.

 454 characters

Photo of goindownsouth
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very, very fine brew, and something of a surprise, in my book. This winter warmer presented before me with a respectable head and a deep and rich dark amber hue. The aroma was of smooth roasted sweetness with some residual hints of fruit and spice (cherry?). The flavor followed suit and this brew clings to the tongue with above-average mouthfeel. All in all, a solid offering by the Boonville crew, and one I will be tasting again, soon.

Prosit!

 452 characters

Photo of whartontallboy
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very deep clear copper color. Head disappears almost instantly. The smell is malty with dominant aromas of caramel with what may be some fruit struggling to find my nose. I had several pints of this on tap a few weeks ago, and the caramel scent was so pronounce that my friend sitting next to me at the bar smelled it wafting out of my glass. The caramel taste is all over the flavor as well, but there's also some hops and spice in the finish. Mouthfeel has a nice chewy thing going on before leaving you with a pleasant caramel aftertaste. Overall an extremely drinkable winter warmer, but I'd recommend seeking it out on tap. This bottled version is nice, but not as good as I remember the brew I couldn't stop sucking down a few weeks ago.

 751 characters

Photo of Bierguy5
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Pours a light mohogany cloudy liquid. Thin white creamy head, which disappeared very quickly. Smells like caramel, and also fruity, particularly darker fruits. Spicy smells as well. Sweet caramel flavor, big and juicy malt. Very smooth, and fruity at the end. Slight herbal bitterness. Medium body, moderate carbonation. Slightly warming. Very nice winter ale.

 375 characters

Photo of Crotor
3.59/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep and clear auburn with one finger of off-white head, but with poor retention.

There's a strong caramel element to the aroma, along with some esters (berries?)

The flavor is exceptionally well incorporated and surprisingly mild for a spiced ale. There's a big caramel malt sweetness backed by a wee bit of winter spices and barely noticable bittering hops, and a blink-and-you-miss-it hint of warming alcohol.

With a medium body and mild flavors, this is a quite drinkable winter ale. It's only failing may be that it's a bit too mild to garner long-term interest.

 584 characters

Photo of krberg
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2K4
Pours with a big CO2 rush. Forms a dense, slightly off-white, head on top of a cream-soda body.

I can only smell the gentle ale fruitiness. No hops to speak of.

What is that taste? Cherry? Cotton Candy? Whatever it is, I can't place it. There is a slight bitterness that fades into nice malt and whatever-that-flavor-is. It does slightly resemble soda, but not in the bad syrupy way, more the refreshing well crafted way.

Full and creamy with very little CO2 bite. Satisfying.

Its been only a few minutes and I'm more than halfway through my sample. Pretty damn drinkable.

Overall a nice drinkable winter warmer. Very refreshing!

 650 characters

Photo of oracle
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served in a Birra Moretti glass.

Beer poured a clear medium copper color with generous bubbly head. The head show good retention and left generous lacing down the side of the glass.

Smell was sweet, with carmelized malts coming to the front right away. Hints of apple in the nose as well.

Taste was quite good. Starts sweet, with a mixture of carmel malts, apples and spices. Slightly yeasty and bready in the middle with a sharp hop bite in the finish.

This beer is full bodied and chewy in the mouth. Makes a great beer to have with a hearty chicken or beef dish.

 591 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.

    Subscribe