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: 1,804
Photo of tmoneyba
3.45/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured dark brown color with an average frothy off-white head that mostly lasted with fair lacing. Good complex malt and fruit aroma. Medium body with a creamy texture. Light sweet flavor with a small complex finish that was short in duration.

Average drinkable beer.

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Photo of MiScusi
3.42/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle.

A- Translucent brown on initial inspection, but a clear orange/red as you hold up to the light. 2 finger off-white fluffy and slightly creamy head with an aggressive pour. Settles to a thin cap and remains for a long time. Streams of rising bubbles throughout.

S- Sweet malts, caramel, toasted malt.

T- Sweet on the front and very faint hops on the back. A little vanilla at first and as it warms a lot of vanilla. The taste becomes kind of bland to me after the first few sips which are really good.

M- Semi-chewy mouthfeel, carbonation isn't so high, but still enough to tickle the palate.

D- After about 1/2 of my bottle I just got bored with this beer. It started out great, but didn't keep my interest at all. While this isn't a bad beer, there are winter warmers I much prefer.

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Photo of jbriggs7036
3.42/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Good beer oveall, had on tap at Racer's Cafe, a little hole in the wall bar that doesn't sell food and has three TV's, you'd never expect this place to have such an awesome selection.

A- Dark brown with a head that quickly disipates.

S- I and my wife both agreed that there was no all....crazy I know

T- Warming, malty-caramel....sweeter than I was expecting, but very tasty

M- Malty/creamy

D- Easy goes down

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.42/5  rDev -11.4%
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 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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Photo of ArrogantB
3.41/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber color, not much head at all.Smells quite malty and alcoholic but doesn't really impress me much.Tastes like caramel, cream soda, nuts, malts, a bit of alcohol easily fits what I know of the style. Overall, not bad but not one I feel a need to revisit.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Poured a brilliantly clear medium sunset orange with a scarce film covering that was beach sand in color. A vibrantly strong initial carbonation that saw large macro bubbles clinging to the side of the glass quickly diminished to a light-medium showing.

S: fresh apple skins against a lightly toasted and dry munich malting. Theres a light underlying note of dry pear fruitiness followed by a light dry floral hopping.

T: The flavor was rather simple overall starting with a decent fruitiness of tart cranberries and apples with a dry munich malting. A dry floral hopping, rather pungent in nature, was also detected and Im guessing was contributed by Columbus hops. Overall was malty with a light sour fruitiness, simple in execution and rather safe.

M: fizzy, very active while a increasingly tartness grows as it sits on the tongue. The carbonation provided a nice tingly sensation especially on the tip of the tongue while a dry sour fruitiness lingers and was left after the swallow on the back.

D: Didn't find the flavoring all that intriquing or enough to hold my attention beyond the first few sips. A drink that quickly gets mundane and cant imagine drinking or enjoying this in multiples.

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Photo of jsh420
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours amber red with a 1 finger head that left no lacing

smells of fruity caramel pale malts

taste is just like the nose - caramel malt and some fruity hops - a very mild beer

mouthfeel is medium body with plenty of carbonation to give it a crisp bite

drinkabiltiy os so so - i just picked up a single and doubt i would ever buy a full sixer of this brew

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Photo of eatdrinknbmerry
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 12-oz bottle.

Head: nice and foamy. about 3/4" thick.

A: dark brown, caramelish.

S: slight smell of vanilla.

T: can totally taste a vanilla/creme soda within it.

M: feels good, not so thick. goes down smooth.

D: b/c of the vanilla taste to it, I don't think I can drink more than 2 of these.

Overall: a good themed beer that's strong on flavor, but can be rich. I might drink this again. I'd stick to AV's regular beer like the IPA or PA.

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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.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Breezed out of a 12 oz. brown 2003 bottle to a huge dark tan cake blanket with lattice lace throughout. Dark brown orange pour. Scant carbonation bubbles slipping up.

Deep scents of apricot juice, blackberries and peaches in syrup.

Mature dry malts front the flavor followed by some sugary butter like those caramel candies that are in those yellow crispy plastic wrappers. Almost like a cherry Jolly Rancher candy but not nearly as sour. Creamy, buttery nutmeg aftertaste. Decent bready chewy feel that makes itself known.

Last swigs: Can’t drink these all night, but a top quality spicy, lip smackin' winter brew, IMHO. Leave one of these out for Santa.

Beer is good. Happy seasonal beering.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.39/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

(perhaps an old can - wouldn't put it past that store... poured into a fat tulip)

L: deep reddish orange liquid with a mild-medium haze - actually, quite cloudy once all poured in... fizz fest on the foam - very very thin crackly collar... honestly, it looks like shit - or more specifically, fermented piss mixed with Boones Farm

S: rich depth of medium-dark caramel, hint of dried cherry... no overt hop or booze aromas

T: tastes very much like it smells... semi-dry finish with a light end wash of subtle phenolic-type spice and flowery fusel - mellow degree, balanced nicely, tailing off the malt... the malt/caramel flavor is great, along with some of the fruity outer tones, but the taste sort of crumbles on the back end like a rusty old clunker

L: medium-bodied, but flabby... dextrinous viscosity and texture frayed... watery heat flickers in the finish... not a total disaster, but it does flow like a old forgotten bottle of extract brew

O: this one's stumping me - seems old - there's a date smear-stamped on the bottom of the can, and I hate to think that it actually does say 2011... could definitely tell though there's some fine flavor in its past, and at least it'll encourage me to seek out a fresher example

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Photo of deaconoflove
3.39/5  rDev -12.2%
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 tillmac62
3.39/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours medium amber with a frothy head that laces and lingers well. Light nose of spice and caramel malt. Light body with medium carbonation. The taste is not complex, mostly a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. Balancing the spice with a bit of caramel sweetness would improve this one. Crisp finish with a lingering spice bitterness aftertaste.

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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 Reidrover
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ok bought in the 12 oz brown bottle..GoldMedal Winner apparently.
Nice enough beer poured into the pint glassdark amber/ruby red beer..slight haziness..nice creamy off white head.
Good aroma mostly malts though the spices do peek through.
The taste though while above average is not that good..its mostly maltiness with as liquorice style ends fast to..then theres an alkoholic warmth in the throat.
IT is as it says very creamy and smooth on the front of the palate..somewhat dry on the back..then the alcoholic aftertaste.
Its a drinkable ale..ok but sort of lightweight despite the alcohol volume..not very exciting.

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Photo of
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle.

Crystal clear, amber colored liquid. Large, rocky, ivory colored head.

Aroma included caramel and pine. I was not able to pick up much in the way of spices.

Fairly strong hop flavor - grassy and floral. Malt was bread like through most of the taste, and got slightly sweet in the aftertaste. Well balanced by the hops, spices and alcohol. Alcohol flavor/presence seemed fairly strong for ABV of beer. I can't define the spices, but they showed up near the finish and combined with the alcohol to give this beer a rather "zippy" ending.

Medium to heavy in body. Carbonation seems low. Coating, but very smooth. ABV warms you up pretty well.

Hard to explain overall impression. It seems like a malt bomb, based on the texture/mouthfeel, but the taste is quite well balanced by the hops, spices and alcohol. Not to my liking.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.37/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Good brown beer, lots of red running through it, not much head. Aroma, some spice, wood, lesser hop bitterness detectable.

Definitely a winter warmer type of feel to it, robust, but lacking viscosity to be huge. Isn't trying to go there. Good amount of toasting, roasting and hop underpinnings. Toffee, some Christmas/Thanksgiving spicing. Lots of bitterness for not being a thick beer and one of this color (certainly none of it is mutually exclusive).

This is a pretty unique beer, not really for me, but it is respectable.

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Photo of applestash
3.37/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into a RR tulip, beautiful creamy head leaving thick lacing atop a gorgeous bright mahogany brew.

i didn't get much in the way of aromatics with this one, some very subdued cherry and burnt sugar malt character.

taste is bracing; sweet, dark cherry with some booze heat and bitter hops up front. what makes this unique for the style is the creaminess--not unlike AV's "cerveca crema," that works really well in this style, leaving a deep, sweet, redolent finish evocative of the holidays. As it warms, more of the hops' complexity comes through and it becomes earthier and more full flavored, a welcome turn from the cream-soda like flavor.

the mouthfeel is marked by its soft creaminess, slightly dry.

overall, a very well crafted winter warmer that manages to be unique while remaining balanced. The creamy flavor holds me back from really loving it.

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Photo of wowbagger
3.36/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light red, very pretty with thin white head but good retention. Some fruit aroma but overall not much.

It has a slight bite, which I didn't expect, like crunching into an apple. Some cherry flavor and some spice, sweet and nice on the tongue, very pleasant.

It's a hard beer for me to describe, is there a 'dessert beer' category? It's like a syrupy red ale. I enjoyed it, certainly worth the bottle, though too sweet for me to want too much more.

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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 rowew
3.35/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12 oz longneck, lots of information about the beer and ABV, but no date.

Appearance: Copper color, large head just towards a tan color. Decent retention, a bit of lacing.

Smell: Dark fruit and some spices, but I'm having a hard time identifying specifics.

Taste: Hmm.. I have mixed feelings about this one. It definitely has some interesting flavor - almost like a fruitcake. Sweet bread and some dark fruits. Despite the interesting flavors I feel it finishes a bit too cloyingly sweet.

Overall impression: Not my favorite winter seasonal, but its got some interesting flavors and is worth a try if you get the chance.

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Photo of SpdKilz
3.34/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours with a dark brown/slightly reddish hue into my SA Perfect Pint. About a finger of head is achieved with a moderate pour that dissipates quickly leaving little lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell - Honestly...I am not getting much of anything. Just a hint of caramel malts and spices. But as stated...not much.

Taste - Well that's an odd flavor. The initial sip is an immediate throwback to when I was a child and would steal butterscotch candies from my grandmothers pantry. An interesting flavor to say the least. There are definite spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon...but there is mostly just an overpowering butterscotch flavor that lingers well after I have taken a sip.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, relatively creamy, moderate carbonation.

Drinkability - For almost 7%, yes it is. For the taste, not so much. This really struck out as a winter warmer for me. I really don't get a lot of the spices, and I know I keep going back to it, but there is just an overwhelming butterscotch flavor that is really off putting after drinking half of this. I do not think I will pick this up in the future unless someone talks me into giving it another try.

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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.

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Photo of dudeandhisrug
3.33/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I received this beer in a sampler from Xmas. I was excited to try my first taste from Anderson Valley but unfortunately was disappointed. This was an average brew. The color and smell were above average but the taste and overall drinkability lacked what I was looking for on a cold January evening. I will definately try Anderson Valley again because I only hear positive things from this progressive brewery.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,804 ratings.
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