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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
87
very good
720 Reviews
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:
720
Ratings:
1,775
Avg:
3.86
pDev:
21.76%
 
 
Wants:
71
Gots:
243
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 720 | Ratings: 1,775
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!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Photo of IceAce
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a redwood brown with a rapidly dissapating collar of foam. Nose is of earthy malt, but only reveals itselt after much coaxing.

The initial taste caused my taste buds to do a double-take as this is a much more complex brew than alluded to by the aroma. Entry provides a seemingly void experience leading to the midtaste...and then the party begins. Earthy grain is experienced first, closely followed by support from the spices...namely vanilla, backed up by cinnamon and nutmeg. The finish closes fast with just a hint of hop and the fading glory of roasted malt.

Mouthfeel is a wee bit slick, most likely owing to the inclusion of vanilla. This is a highly quaffable brew, best paired with roasted meats such as lamb.

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Photo of EPseja
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours rusty copper from the bottle with a very slight haze and a nice inch of head which develops over the moments after the bottle is emptied.

The initial smell is that of fresh, cool West Coast hops and sweet, medium bodied crystal malt. Mingling with that is a decent dose of Holiday spice (orange peel? allspice?).

The taste hits with an immediate sugar-candy and caramel sweetness (no doubt from the crystal malt) and a crisp, floral hoppiness. In the mouth, the alcohol becomes more prevalent, but not in a destracting way -- the hops are powerful enough to counter that. Surprisingly, the spices are subdued enough that they only emerge just prior to, and during the finish. The aftertaste is that of a mild IPA coupled with the seasonal spices.

Aside from a few large bubbles visible in the "corners" of the head, this beer is very finely carbonated, giving a smooth, creamy mouthfeel without filling your stomach with CO2.

This beer is easy to drink, and is warming in precisely the way you'd like a nice winter seasonal to be. This is a "no-bloat" beer that you can drink a few of even with or after a nice sized Holiday meal. This beer is recommended for any Wintertime Celebration, and is sure to become a staple in all mine for years to come.

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Photo of JISurfer
3.72/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was a good beer. Even though the alcohol was almost at 7%, you could hardly tell there was any at all. It was nicely balanced with the fruit/spice and malt taste. The fruit was very present in the smell, smelled like some apples, cherries, and grapes. Spices were of the cinnamon and nutmeg. The color was a nice ruby/amber color with an off white head with a tint of red infused. What more can I say? It's a good beer with refreshing qualities and it;s not that expensive. Definately a repeater for my beer glass.

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Photo of GreatPondBrewer
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 22 oz. bomber. Poured a fine chestnut color with a slightly off-white head. Smell was quite malty and had a fair bit of caramel flavor attached to it. There was not a noticable hop presence. The taste was quite different than the smell would indicate. It was quite fruity and had some serious notes of bubble-gum. Something I would expect to find in a German brewed beer but not something from California. However, on the whole it was quite true to the English style it is interpreting. I was not particularly fond of it, but perhaps on cask it would do a lot better.

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Photo of jonnylieberman
4.23/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my bad-ass snifter!

Good solid one finger head of tiny bubbles. Great deep-orange color. Not so much in the way of lacing.

Good smell. Cherries are dominant. Other fruits as well. Raspberries, pumpkin, sugar.

This really has a cherry-cheesecake like flavor. Very good. Unique, but not in a foreign way. I should add that I've been drinking this stuff for a decade. Serious malt, too. Almost no aromatic hops, but enough bitterness to prevent "cloying."

Spot on mouth feel. Big without being overwhelming.

I love this beer. Yeah, it is candy, but who cares? Holidays are upon us and I get several days off from work!! Yes, I could drink a six-pack--not a problem.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a ruby amber color with a finger of head that fell to ring the beer. The nose was very rich in sweetness wtih a nice hop to balance things out. the beer smelled nice. The flavor had a somewhat creamy flavor to it. Interesting. A nice hop came in later and carried things to the finish. Overall a nice beer. The feel was moderate and silky smooth. Overall, this was a highly drinkable, smooth beer. Nice fora cold evening.

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

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter. It pours a medium red color with one finger of head. Just a little bit of lacing. The smell is fairly hoppy, with some sweet fruit and spices. Nicely balanced aromas. The tase is malty and sweet, with some cherry flavor. A good dose of citrusy hops on the finish, classic Anderson Valley. The body is fairly strong, and the drinkability is good as well. A decent winter seasonal. Thanks to my bro Jack for this one.

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Photo of soulfly967
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It looks pretty good. A nice ruby amber color with a thick off white head that stuck around for a while. The smell was of fruity sugars, caramel, some malt and light hoppiness. The taste was fruity, some spices and a nice touch of alcohol at the end. The mouthfeel was smooth, had nice body and good carbonation. Overall I say that this is a very good winter beer.

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Photo of GreenWBush
2.69/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

2004 release. Heady ruby. The graphic design on the bottle is seasonal and gorgeous: the beer's color is remarkably similar to the outlay of the "themed" elements: foothills covered in snow, hollyberry replacing the hop trellises, the bear-ish creature done up for the season. The giant, rocky head and unbelievably sticky lace are noteworthy but seem on par with this great brewery's offerings.

The nose hints at oaky vanilla and slightly sour banana. The malts are sweet and there is a slight stamp of cascade hops in the mix.

Wow, this is downright awfully done. Natural flavor? All I can taste is a tub of butter and some overzealously gooey malt characteristic.

Pass - this year's is much worse than last.

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Photo of meathookjones
3.41/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a ruby color with a tall off white head. Rings of lace decorate the glass as this is consumed. Aroma is malty and sweet with caramel and a bit of fruits. The nose though is a bit weak overall and leaves something to be desired. The taste has a little more punch to it with malt leading the way over a light earthy hoppiness. Aftertaste ends on a sweet note with a bit of warmth to it. Body is a tad less than medium so it feels a bit thin for the style. Drinkability is pretty good, it has minor faults but is still a fairly tasty offering.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,775 ratings.
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