Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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very good
718 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: 718 | Ratings: 1,764
Photo of pkalix
4.75/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

beautiful honey-toffee color, minimal head, but a thick tan layer and a nice cover on the sides.
smells very sweet with honey and toffee on the top.
taste reminds me of an english type of brew, with the typical english malts. i actually really like this. another good, long draught to determine whether i can consciously give this a five! alright, i'm not even buzzed yet and this stuff is AWESOME!! if it were a 4.9% brew i'd knock it down a bit, but at 6.9% this is very nice. slight bitterness on the side of the tongue, but an overall subtle sweetness and this really satisfies. i'd honestly give this a 98 or 99 for the taste, but since i cannot, i'm giving it a 5. 4.5 for appearance and smell as i really like the thickness on the sides and the smell promises happiness before the first quaff. i am very impressed with this, especially since it's all gone on sale at Total Wine because, i suppose, we're done with the 'seasonals' . . . .

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.52/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a red 355 ml can. Pours out a hazed nutty amber hue, two fingers of spongy light beige head that settle to a thick cap.

Caramel malt on the nose, a bit of chocolate, along with some nutmeg, coriander, citrus rind, and a bit of a cidery character.

Caramel and some sweet chocolate up front in the flavour, spices are milder on the finish, some nuttiness.

Medium-bodied mouthfeel, texture is a bit thin yet sticky, with medium carbonation that is able to hold it all together at least.

Mild in terms for the style, some malty goodness going on, an easy drinker for a Winter Warmer.

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Photo of ItsTheLimit
4.31/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Perfect beer for a cold night, especially if stouts and other traditionally heavier beers aren't your thing.

Hazy copper color with a thin tight head. White-ish lacing with nice head retention.

Smells of sweet malt, caramel, black licorice, and coriander.

This beer tastes delicious. Warming quality from some alcohol but very balanced. Sweet malt up front with dried fruit, nutmeg, caramel and other spices.

Smooth, creamy mouthfeel makes this an easy drinker, but will definitely warm you up. Nice alcohol heat will make this a great evening-sipper near a fireplace. Really liking this beer.

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Photo of PatrickBeebe
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a shaker pint. Deep amber, creamy head. Smells of spice and toffee and vanilla. Creamy texture, lots of earthy, holiday spice. Not as good as I remember from a few years ago, yet still very solid.

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Photo of phishsihq
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This seasonal release from Anderson Valley pours a clear amber with a touch of orange noticeable as well. A khaki colored head fades quickly but leaves a decent lace. Spice on the nose provides hints of orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, and citrus. Rich malt flavors and a touch of vanilla lead into flavors that include orange, amaretto, caramel, nutmeg, and spices. The citrus hops help balance out the sweetness and mellow the spices to not overpower the palate. Medium-light mouthfeel, Winter Solstice is moderately carbonated. Perfect for a cold winter night!

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Photo of constantine_272
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark copper. A bit hazy. Light brown thin foam. Visibly more bubbly than a lot of other beer.

S: Smell isn't that great. First impression was alcohol. A second trust smelling revealed caramel and chocolate, but still alcohol.

T: I had low expectations after smelling the beer first; I expected a strong alcohol heavy taste. I was wrong. First taste I get is a tang of mild hops, then softening to caramel, and continuing to soften to a sweet and rich chocolate. I didn't expect the chocolate. Either based on the color. A final flavor or sweet red raspberry lingers on the back of the tongue on the finish.

M: Finishes with a bit of a salty feeling. Taste lingers bit longer than I would like.

O: Sweet and flavorful. The diverse flavors work we'll together and create a depth of flavor that seems to change with each sip. It's fascinating to drink, the sum of its parts is greater than its parts individually. Despite minor imperfections, still a truly top notch beverage. I got this in a sampler pack so I sadly only got one; I may need to look for a six pack of this next winter.

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Photo of jucifer1818
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark amber in color, with a clean clear appearance, but a very quick forming and quick disappearing head.

s: for a holiday beer, this beer needs a lot more "oomph" for its smell. You can get a hint of some nice spice and caramel malt smells, but it isn't strong enough to really define the beer. The best part of this beer its its distinctly belgany yeast smell, which is quite nice, but it needs more definition to have the winter smell to it

T: again, this beer is dominated by the mellow bengany tastes. IT really tasted like a Belgian amber ale, with little to no hops in the flavor (which is dominated by the benganly flavors). It has some hops in the after taste, and the body has some light beady malty flavors mixed in to it. Overall Its a nice beer. For almost 7%, you can taste none of it, and its quite easy to drink.

mouthfeel: This bee has a slick,, light (very light) syrupy feeling in the mouthfeel, with a nice bit of prickliness from the yeast flavors/carbonation.

Overall: This is not a bad beer. Its not the best holiday beer I've had, but it occupies a unique nitch in-between heavier ABV and spiced holiday brews. Its almost more of a session holiday brew, something to have 2-4 of at dinner, which I assure you, would make you quite drunk.
for what it is, I think it easily deserves a 4/5

I feel that this is a great beer to go hafsies on with a friend, have a nice large meal with (like, for ex, Thanksgiving) and have a truely fantastic night of drunkniness and excellent food.
just my 2 cents


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Photo of chanokokoro
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. can in stemmed English ale glass

Pours a maple syrup-colored amber capped with an off-white billowing head. Excellent retention with plenty of lacing. Big caramel aroma rounded out by plums and notes of brandy. Toffee, black cherries, plum and various stone fruit notes. Biscuity notes midpalate Finishes with caramel covered black cherries. Medium body, smooth, silky mouthfeel; moderate carbonation. Wonderful winter warmer, one of the best available.

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Photo of Huffs
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a Sam Adams glass, developed a nice tan head which lasted and laced well. Appearance was a hazy amber red color. Aroma was mild and somewhat malty and fruity. Taste was strong of caramel with hints of spice an vanilla. Mouthfeel was creamy and had a clinging effect to the tough. Aftertaste was lasting and sweet.

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Photo of chinchill
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz can served at about 42F in a snifter. Poured out clear but dark, reddish amber with a moderate size, beige head. The head, unfortunately, dies too quickly but not completely, and decent lacing is left on the glass.

The smell of this beer was a spicy and malty mix that hinted of spiced cider.
The taste largely followed, with spices and malts clearly present, but it also has some nice baked bread tones and a good bit of chocolate. Apple is only faintly hinted, and the sweet aroma arises from a brew that has good sweet/bitter balance.

The mouthfeel was very good in terms of carbonation (medium) and had a nice, if delicate, touch of dryness in the finish, but it seemed a little too thin.

Overall: a pleasant and distinct brew that improved with warming. (near 4)

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Photo of FosterJM
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

1713th Review on BA
Bottle to red solo cup

Shared with bgrider85 on beer geek radio finals

App- It was a bit darker than I thought. Even from a top level view since I couldnt see it, looked a bit lighter on the edges to me. The head was a bit bubbly and fast receding. Maybe a touch of cling to it.

Smell- Had a lot going on in this one. More of a chocolate, malty, graham cracker, dark fruit aroma. On the show I called it a dubbel aroma with some yeasty notes mixed in.

Taste- I enjoyed this beer. Much more chocolate forward than a spicy regular winter warmer. A touch on the malty side but pretty balanced. The yeast and malts created a nice flavor profile on which to play off of on this one. A good amount of that 6.9 is hidden and dont get really any boozy notes.

Mouth- A bit of a lighter medium and semi bubbly body with a fairly soft and balanced carbonation flavor behind it. The residual flavors are a bit of the less harsh dubbel with more chocolate.

Drink- One of the better winter warmers out there. Big thanks to the Beer Geek Radio guys for having me on the show.

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Photo of ichorNet
4.24/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Clear as day orange-tinted gold/brown/rusty copper with solid retentive head and pretty consistent, impressive lacing

Scent: Fruity esters, rum cake, some ethanol heat, figs, bready and caramel maltiness, some light spiciness perhaps. Nicely complex and interesting

Taste: A veritable malt-bouquet; deep and rich flavors ranging from biscuity to almost-chocolatey; fruity, nutty and earthy; very round and enjoyable

Mouthfeel: Light-medium carbonation brings out some of the flavors and allows the beer to approach a satisfying finish complete with warming alcohol

Drinkability: Pretty great. Nothing is too heavy and all the flavors you expect for the season are accounted for

Overall: AV Winter Solstice is like a ramped-up version of the Summer version; a more warming, maltier and thicker affair nevertheless affected by some very similar flavors and tones. There are definite positives to this, including the complexity of flavors being offered, and it drinks as expected of a stronger ale for the Winter months.

Read full review @

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

A cold can is poured into a pint glass.

The beer is quite foamy, with a nice cascading head that is changing into liquid. Within the liquid, lots of clinging carbonation can be seen, as well as a decent amount of rising bubbles. Decent lacing is left behind.

The beer has a pleasant aroma. In the nose, there seems to be a good amount of spices layered over a strong malt base.

Like the nose suggests, this is a malty, spiced brew. I can taste brown sugar, cinnamon, and a slight toffee flavor. It is a velvety sweetness. Some alcohol can be detected, although it isn't out of place in the overall flavor.

This is a heavier beer, with plenty of carbonation. The alcohol provides a nice warming sensation. The high amount of malt does leave my mouth a little sticky.

This is a nice winter warmer. It certainly meets my needs on a snowy night like tonight. I can see myself enjoying a few of these in an evening...good thing I have one more can down in the cellar.

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Photo of RickS95
4.52/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

It's a nice looking pour. Dirty brown with an offtan head up top. The beer is dark enough (mahogany) that you can't see through it, but you can still see what I can only describe as a richness. The head cascades to a couple fingers thick before giving way to half a finger where it stays for the duration. It's got a soapy look and has nice lacing.

Smell is muted a bit, possibly because my fridge is too cold. Even after warming, the nose struggles to find anything. What's there is all malt, mostly caramel it seems.

The taste, OMG. It's got some spices and some fruits, and again, a malty base. Not much hoppiness, but that taste is pretty outstanding. Cinnamon, caramel, dark, rich, ripe fruits.

Mouthfeel is about as good as it gets. I really don't know how you'd improve. It's spicy and sweet, earthy and full-bodied. Alcohol is only noticeable enough to let you know it's a beer. There's almost no bitterness, just the faintest bit in the finish, but everything else works so well together it's not really needed.

Overall, it's a hell of a good beer. Best beer I've ever had out of a can. Goes down extremely easily...making you beg for another sip. Possibly my new favorite Christmas beer.

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

Had this beer at a "gourmet" burger joint. Ordered it after asking for a good brown ale and having the waitress suggest it. Surprisingly smooth and somewhat sweet. Moderately strong. After 2 pints I felt pretty jolly. Will order it again if it's still around.

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

On tap at Capone's in Coeur d'Alene. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a nut brown color, clear with a small off-white head.

Smell is sweet and candy like.

Taste is a caramel flavor with a smokey mildly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is medium and slightly cloying.

A very drinkable winter seasonal. It is warming. My wife even liked it and she does not like beer.

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

an opaque amber pour with 2 fingers of off-white head, patchy lacing, good retention.
smells of chocolate, raisins, dates, fig, cinnamon. the flavor is very sweet up front with lots of raisin notes, caramel, fig.. subtle nutty notes as well. very sweet, very tasty!
medium body leaning towards full.. nicely carbonated, rich and creamy.

a surprisingly great beer and for only $4 a bomber. very filling, great for the winter months.

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Photo of Hex92
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is another one of those beers that I think ends up being better than the sum of its parts. I don't think its amazing in any category. It doesn't look like much. Nice head and lacing, but its not a dark beer and a little murky.

Smells a bit like raisons.

This beer is smooth. Goes down real easy. This beer is a good one to sit down and drink several in a row. I only got one as a mixed sixer. I would definitely pick up a six pack so I could knock back a few in a row next year.

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

12 oz.

Pours a rosey amber with a an off-white head about half an inch, slow dissipation.

Figs, cinnamon and cloves in the nose.

Caramel, cinnamon, a hint of vanilla and some cherry and almond sweetness. A bit of hop character later in the taste.

Medium body with tingly carbonation on the roof of the mouth.

This is a pretty good ale and, considering I don't normally care for winter warmers, a really nice beer to have in that style to me. I like it more than most of WWs I've had and would probably have it again.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours medium amber with a little haze and an off-white head. retention to a ring. No lace.

Some light spice, lots of woody vanilla and cream, some sweet fruit and strong sweet caramel. The cream/vanilla dominates.

Creamy caramel malt, with nice sweetness and a touch of vanilla again. Caramel, some mild bitterness, some mild fruit. Beer clears to maltiness that is a bit nutty and very smooth.

Medium body, mild carbonation.

A bit richer version of the summer brew. Cream ale with some intensity and caramel. Barely spiced. Very drinkable, but I wonder how I'd do with a 6 of this...A couple might be enough.

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Photo of MadScientist
2.58/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Light copper, good clarity and a very thin, off-white head

S: Moderately-strong caramel malt with moderate light-fruit aromas of peaches and apples. There is a pipe tobacco like aroma, with a bit of vanilla. I don't smell any spice although that be in line with a winter warmer as apposed to a Christmas Ale. There isn't any hops though maybe a light earthiness that is caught up with the tobacco.

T: It tastes only slightly better than the smell with the pipe tobacco up from mixed with a moderate sweetness. There is a light raisin and apricot type of fruitiness. The hops bitterness is pretty mild leaving the balance is slightly sweet. The finish is of a slight citrus peel flavor.

M: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: An uninspiring beer that I would not recommend. It kind of comes off like a homebrew made from old extract having that extract twang mixed with poor fermentation temperature control fruitiness.

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

This beer has some character. It's got a sort of caramel apple thing going on. The flavor is very full and it definitely stands out from the others in its category. A chewy mouth but also plenty of bubbles. I wouldn't say it's an easy drinker - much like its summer counterpart AV goes for full-bodied and unique over supreme drinkability - but it's well worth getting a six pack during the season.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up a can of Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale last week for $1.79 at The Lager Mill. I've had pretty good history with Anderson Valley and since it will be the Winter Solstice in a little bit I decided to give this beer a try tonight, so lets see how it goes. No visible canning date. Poured from a 12oz can into an imperial pint glass.

A- The can has that typical Anderson Valley look to it with a slight winter theme to it, not too bad. It poured a muddy caramel color that took on a some amber hues when held to the light with a finger and a half of light tan head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and left a little bit of lacing. This is a nice looking beer, but I would have liked a little more head.

S- The aroma starts off with loads of malts that have a higher amount of medium sweetness and impart some brown bread, caramel, brown sugar, and some lightly toasted malt aromas. After that comes a nice dark fruit aroma followed by a medium amount of spices with nutmeg and allspice seeming to stick out the most. The aroma was nice with a good amount of spices but it could have a little more complexity to it.

T- The taste seems to be fairly similar to the aroma and it starts of with loads of malts that have a medium amount of sweetness and impart some caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and lightly toasted malt flavors. After that comes a really light amount of dark fruits that barely sticks out and is followed by some lighter spices with nutmeg sticking out the most. On the finish I get a light amount of earthy hops that impart a pretty light amount of bitterness with a sweet and malty aftertaste. The taste was nice, I liked the balance but I could have gone for just a little more spices.

M- Pretty smooth, very creamy, on the slightly fuller side of being medium bodied with a slightly higher amount of medium carbonation that was just a little prickly. The mouthfeel was nice, but I could have gone without the prickly carbonation.

Overall I thought this was a nice beer and an above average example of a Winter Warmer, it had pretty good balance between the malts and spices and didn't get to carried away with either of them. This beer had good drinkability, it was pretty smooth and the flavors did a decent job at holding my attention, I could drink a couple of these but after that the thickness might become too much. What I liked the most about this beer was how well rounded it was, it really didn't have any weak points. What I liked the least about this beer was that the spices didn't shine through a little more, I think that would take this beer to the next level. I would buy some more when it's released next year, but I don't think I'll be rushing to the store and clearing them out of Winter Solstice, but I do recommend giving this beer a try, I think it would appeal to a wide range of people. All in all I thought this was a nice beer, It's not my favorite Winter Warmer but it was still a nice beer that enjoyed drinking. This was another solid beer from Anderson Valley, good work guys.

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

Bottle poured into a nonic pint.

A- A sloppy pour created a 2-1/2 finger tan head. The clean, amber body showed moderate-heavy carbonation. The head sustained at about 1/2 finger and left nice, foamy rings about the glass.

S- I got a decent shot of spice at the pour. Sweet malts, caramel-like, dominate. A little muted at first. Malts suggest Hawaiian bread and gain strength with time. Light hops seem pretty fresh, maybe noble variety?

T- really nice and malty. Lots of caramel and brown sugar, some residual sweetness going on. Light spice. Taking a stab, I'll guess cinnamon, something like clove-like, maybe some ginger.

M- Moderate-heavy carbonation. Slight warming, almost in "stomach feel." A little bite from hops and carbonation. Fairly full bodied.

O- A robust, malty ale, great for cold weather drinking. Nice to have spicing dialed down, allowing traditional ingredients to shine.

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Photo of mooseo
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into snifter.

A - Muddy amber-brown with a medium white head.

S - Fresh baked bread, caramel, toasted grain and light floral hops. Subtle but nice.

T - Toasted bready malt, nuts, brown sugar, and light earthy hops. Hints of vanilla cream and nutmeg in the finish.

M - Extremely soft, smooth and creamy. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

O - Love the mouthfeel on this one. Lots of sweetness but the hops lend some balance. A pretty good, drinkable winter ale.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,764 ratings.
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