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: 1,807
Photo of putnam
2.9/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Looks nice with a rosy golden amber color.
The aromas are of polished, caramelized grain, vanilla and those chewy, peach-colored, peanut-shaped candies.
The flavors seem artificial. This is the closest thing to drinking a cream soda I can think of. Dry, with some assertion of bitter hops on the finish, but they are only there to clean up a laboratory sweetness. I may be naiive, but why did they have to combine soda pop and beer? The finish is hollow. Reminds me of a three-musketeers bar. All fluff.
Probably a shrewd choice to have in a brewer's portfolio. Somthing pop-like for the masses so that they keep the masses interested in the brand.
This is a great brewery otherwise.

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Photo of degerbah
2.91/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark opaque brown with about an inch of head. The head settels quickly leaving a thin film over the top of the beer. The aroma is slightly fruity with a strong dtrain of vanilla as well. The taste is over-sweet with a bunch of strange flavors added in. It seems like there are a bunch of other items added to the beer to add extra flavor. These merge together in somewhat of a mess. The beer's almost seven percent strength is evident in the mouthfeel as it combines with the excess flavor to hinder the beer's drinkability.

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Photo of PSUDREW
2.93/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Well, a good try here. Pours a dark copper color, and, had little head, and even less lace going down.

It had faint smells. really, and not much, IMO. That cap was a pain in my ass to get off. Sigh, but back to business. It had a nice mix of vanilla and spice to much, but nothing too potent, more of an after though. The dominant malt is a nice touch and it goes through and through, but the hop is there, as a subtle compilent to it all.

Nice brew they got here, and it is a nice thing to go the distance with, more of something to get and share tehn get and savor in your dark corner

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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 4000qtrap
2.95/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Source:/Serving: 20oz. Bottle. No expiration date and not aged.

Smell: Some dark fruit syrup and caramel with a slightly funky, horsey, oak note that leads into low lying black pepper, and clove spice that is muted but on the harsh side. A pinch of cider that adds a depth of flavor and anchors the nose a bit.

Taste: Moderately sweet caramel apple with a cidery edge. Quite caramelly in the middle with a slightly astringent fruit skin bitterness towards the finish. A faint hint of spice. Overall, the flavor isn't as nice as the nose and is pretty mild overall, though it is balanced. Its almost like a slightly sweet and spicier, fruitier amber. Finish is semisweet with toasted caramel notes, but has a earthy/medicinal flavor that tastes a little bit off.

Note: If you don't like your seasonal beers too intense or too spicy this beer would probably be a good option.

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Photo of JamisonM
2.96/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Ruby Red color with tan head quite thick looking head as well.

S: bready sweetness here also dough not the best smell in the world.

T: again bready sweetness here dough I just do not like that smell or taste in a beer.

M: med body med carbonation

Overall: this and fat tire are not my favorite style.

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Photo of jsprain1
2.99/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Reddish brown, just a touch too dark to be called copper. Head does not retain well. No lacing.
S- Malty, a touch of cocoa,ever so faintly spiced.
T- Starts malty, there's a bit of spice in there, but on the whole it's pretty static and nondescript. It's sweet and it finishes with a slightly sour tart flavor, kind of like a tart orange.
M- Underweighted. Carbonation is ok, but it lacks the smoothness I like in a winter warmer.
D- Just not that great of a beer. A bit disappointed. Lacks the body or the flavor profile I would like. Will retry at some point to see if I just caught it late in the season.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.99/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a slightly murky brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a thick cap on top of the beer. Foamy patches of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, fruits, and some slight funky aromas. I think there may be an issue with this beer based on the smell. Taste is much the same with a mild spice finish and a slightly funky flavor that isn't as bad as the smell would indicate. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty average beer as it stands with what seems like a mild infection issue. Even though the funk doesn't come through as much in the taste vs. smell, there is definitely a problem with the can I picked up.

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Photo of NorCalYeti
3/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

taste- bready, sweet, spicy

color- copper-amber

clarity- clear

smell- yeasty

body- medium-light, smooth finish

appearance- off-white head, flat, curious

overall impression- not my style

notes- i want to like these beers so much but i just can't get into them. i've never been into this beer yet i come back every year in hope of it delivering. this review is for a 2008 vintage tasted in 2008

glassware: pint

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Photo of younger35
3/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked up a single of this a couple days ago at my local beer store. Drank from my Deschutes Black Butte Porter pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a dark brownish copper with a one finger soft white foamy head. Leaves a decent cap and collar and a bit of spotty lacing.
Smell- Bits of spicy fruit such as orange peel and cherries. Some caramel/chocolate in the background but the dominate scent here is the vanilla. It’s soft but distinct and noticeable.
Taste- Like the nose the vanilla is the dominating flavor here. It’s a different sort of vanilla than what I’m used too in a beer. It’s not the subtle woody vanilla, but a sweet, almost flavored vanilla. Has a bit of a malt spice as well with some cinnamon and maybe a bit of clove or nutmeg. A bit of bite from the alcohol along with a lingering cherry/vanilla finish.
Mouthfeel- Nice full body with medium carbonation.
Drinkability- Overall not a bad beer but it could use a bit of work. Not near as good as other winter warmers I’ve had. It seems to be a bit artificial (I’m sure it’s not but that’s the only description I can think of). Reading last years reviews it seems that people enjoyed it. Maybe it’s just an off year??

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Photo of Stigs
3.01/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

poured from a growler filled about a week ago...served in a Stone Levitation glass

A - about a finger of light tan head which quickly retreated to a very thin layer of film a little more dense around the inside of the glass. the beer is a strong amber color, quite clear.

S - tough to pikcup much here, faint biscuity and sweetened malt with very faint ginger and cinnamon notes.

T - strong punch of all kinds of sweetness: vanilla, graham cracker, malted milk balls, sweet milk chocolate. grainy biscuit malts underneath it all...complete lake of hops to balance.

M - super creamy but medium bodied and good subtle but active carbonation (might be a product of the growler sitting for a bit).

D - liquid version of a five year olds classroom gingerbread house. hard to finish, glad my girlfriend loves it.

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Photo of callmescraps
3.01/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Time for the winters, even tho it's been in the 70s every day.

Appearance - Deep amber with an inch of tan head. Laces nicely.

Smell - Malt and spice. A real mustiness that is off-putting. Hints of cherry. Dark fruits.

Taste - Sweet cherry maltiness. It's really quite sweet. That is followed by some spiciness. A little nutty. Plenty of toffee. Chocolate? A little bitter on the finish. Caramel or vanilla.

Mouthfeel - Not bad. A tad thin, but glad it's not sticking around.

Drinkability - Not very high.

This beer is just a little sweet for me. It's like a chocolate covered caramel in a bottle, but not in a good way.

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Photo of CWiggins
3.03/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I picked this one up at Sam's in Durham while looking for several things to try. Having been impressed with Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice this past season, I thought this would be worth a shot.

The color is a nice, deep amber/red. Poured rapidly into a pint glass, very little head formed, although some bubbles remained around the liquid's rim the entire session (about 40 minutes). I found the aroma to be quite nice; it was very clean, with hints of caramel, sweet fruits, and vanilla. The flavor was a little disappointing. It begins with a pleasant spicyness, but finishes with a bland malt/alcohol character that left me wondering what the intent was. I wanted the winter spices to last longer, perhaps throughout the aftertaste, but all I received was this medium-dark malt thing. The mouthfeel is fine: it's not too sticky and goes down just right.

It seems everything is great about this beer except the flavor! I doubt I'll seek this one out again, especially since there are so many other winter warmers to try.

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Photo of markman
3.03/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale (2003):

Very inviting pour and color. Deep opaque garnet pour sits under a tight head…very nice. The aroma is very inviting; an easy barleywineish vinous of mix of rum soaked dried fruit, caramel, and vanilla.. Uh oh, this is where the fun ends. I bring it to my lips and WTF? Large apple presence now…over carbonated, and a pit-like aluminum grog taste develops on the tongue as I quaff this strange brew…not at all what I’d expect from the brewers of Hop-Ottin’ IPA and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout. Winter Warmer? It seems to me to be more of someone’s damn experiment gone awry. I’m not picking up any oxidation and their website suggests that it should age well. Not sure what to make of it. I’ll review this as is and revise if necessary…but, as is, there is a significant tannic quality to it that is quite disturbing. I like it in my robust red wines, but I’m not a fan of picking it up in my beer. And props to richdude for the sample.


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Photo of rarbring
3.05/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The beer is clouded brown, a warm off-white head with little lacing but good curtains.

A smell of roasted nuts, bread, buns and spices. "Assorted small candy".

Very sweet, intensely vanilla, muffin batter, caramel and toffee, ginger bread sponge.

Little carbonation, soft and sticky, rather light body, no dryness.

Very christmassy, but owz too sweet.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
3.06/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Anderson Valley- Winter Solstice

Appearance- Dark brown with a 2 finger thick sticky head.
Smell- Vanilla, Brown sugar, Caramel, Malt.
Taste- Big vanilla caramel flavor with hints of brown sugar and cke batter. Like a cream soda (other reviewers said this too)
Mouthfeel- Sweet with a mild flavor.

Overall- A decent tasting beer but I was expecting more. I could, if I had no choice, drink this all night but I'd prefer something stronger and with more flavor.

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Photo of McNealc31
3.06/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Most of the flavors here are familiar with cinnamon and clove, but I'm also picking up some cedar, which is rather interesting. It's more subdued than other winter warmers. Starts off with a bit of fruit before the spices kick in. Almost like a spiced apple cider.

This is good, but I wouldn't put it on the top of my winter warmer list.

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Photo of largadeer
3.06/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark amber, slightly hazy, with a moderate head.

Smell: Sweet, cotton candy-like aroma; notes of vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Taste: Just as sweet as the aroma implies, but with balancing bitterness. Vanilla, caramel and butterscotch flavors are prevalent. Very little hop character; it tastes like spices are used as a substitute for hops rather than an accent. Sweetness continues throughout the aftertaste, with the slightest of hop bitterness coming out at the end.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy on the palate with moderate carbonation.

Notes: I can understand why this has mixed reviews - it's extremely sweet and spicy. Not bad, but not really to my liking.

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Photo of naterock
3.07/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

pours a deep brownish red, thin head but sticky and has patchy lacing.

smell is thin, not much to speak of. malt and some spice. slightly sour.

taste is thin as well. really unremarkable, not even a good style representation in my mind. after a half of a glass, I don't even taste anything in my mouth.

mouth is medium with a bit too much carbonation, drinks easy but I think it drinks too easy for this style. Just ok, but I'd never think of buying this again.

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Photo of VoodooBrew
3.08/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Golden-copper to amber

S: Sweetness. Pretty much just sweetness.

T: I get alot of sweet vanilla extract. Also, is that a hint of diacetyl?

M: Mostly easy and round, with a bitterness that chases through on the finish.

D: Not my cup of tea. A mostly average beer, easily lost among the smattering of holiday seasonal beers out there.

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Photo of mactrail
3.08/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pretty serious vanilla takes over most of the flavor. Quite aromatic with more of the same. Amber color, decent lacing in the glass. Malty but very spicy. Strong cinnamon adds to the excess of flavorings. Rather cloying sweetness conflicts with the bitterness in the aftertaste. Seems to be a taste like butter, along with candied nuts. I have to admit that as off-putting as this at first, your taste buds get used to it. But not enough to drink the whole can.

In the swell new red, blue, and black 12 oz can.

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Photo of MarkQ617
3.08/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is my second offering tasted from Anderson Valley. It's a fairly simple winter warmer, a bit light for my liking given the genre. Not too much spice flavor, not a particularly complex flavor profile. Reddish amber color with plenty of foam. Fairly average, just not what I'd hope for in a warmer.

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Photo of tpd975
3.12/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is one of the brews I had at the Brickskeller on my trip to DC.

A: Dark garnet red color with a medium foamy tan head. Moderate lacing.

S: A real mix of aromas both sweet and spicy. Nice honey brown sugar sweetness with hints of vanilla. Clove, Nutmeg and Cinnamon hide beneath. Fruit notes can also be detected with touches of cherry and peach.

T: This one has a real creamy buttery taste right up front. Then the spices come at you. Nutmeg and Cinnamon are there but the clove kind of dominates. A touch of cherry juice can be detected in the finish.

M: Medium bodied and creamy.

D: Not really.

Overall: I did not enjoy this one at all. It's a malty brew with just too much going on with nothing really complimenting one another. The medicine type qualites of the clove just did not match up with the buttery taste of the brew. The sweet cherry mixed with the other spices is just tooo much. They had good intentions but went a bit over the top with this one. It actually made my stomache ache, and caused me to cut my trip to the Brickskeller a bit short.

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Photo of jim1904
3.13/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz into a pint. Slightly above cellar temp, I'd say about 58 degrees.

A - Copper-amber, a nice color. Jewel clear. Moderate head that disappears rapidly leaving behind almost zero lacing. Great color, disappointing head.

S - Corny, but in a good way. Malty and corny, with a faint whiff of spices that are not altogether wintery. Brown sugar is the most apparent, with a bit of allspice tinge.

T - The spices here are front and center, forming a series of flourishes against a malt backdrop. Strong amber malt notes are accompanied by the same spices in the nose... brown sugar is strong here, with hints of cinnamon and cardamom with a bit of clove. The disappointing thing is how fleeting they are. They rush on strongly in the front of the party, leaving a quinine-like finish that is not terrible, but certainly is jarring after a pleasantly strong spice foretaste.

M - Carbonation is strong, but works well. Body is light, bubbles are stinging. I might have preferred a slightly heavier, flatter body for a winter warmer, but this isn't bad.

D - Drinkable for a 6.9% ale... which is not what I'm sure I want out of a winter warmer. I'm in fairly sultry Southern California right now, but I'm trying to picture myself enjoying this on a cold wintery day, and it doesn't really work. Maybe if the spices were a bit stronger.

At the end of the day, this is a pretty good beer that doesn't live so much up to the style but is rather enjoyable when judged on its own merits.

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Photo of Truh
3.13/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Couldn’t have been any further away from the sun with this one on 11/26/2004. 16-oz. shaker pour at ACPH.

Filmy, cawl of initial chromosomal head. Dark amber to light mahogany hue and fairly clear. Somewhat muted Christmas earthy, floral bouquet of gargled malt, allspice, and hints of clover. Soapy malt taste with some kind of berry involved, maybe the nosey cranberry. Overall, seemingly lacking on the taste front for the style – almost too light for a winter, in my estimation.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,807 ratings.
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