Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

BA SCORE
87
very good
730 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:
730
Ratings:
1,806
Avg:
3.86
pDev:
13.99%
 
 
Wants:
71
Gots:
255
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 730 | Ratings: 1,806
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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Photo of gentlebubbles
2.7/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

on tap at Redbone's

Luminous honey-gold, served with barely any head, just cream-colored foam skimming across the surface. Syrupy scent. Cinnamon spice mingles with the malt. Lingering syrupy body and a weird medicinal aftertaste that refuses to leave like an unwanted guest.

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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.

Cheers…

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

Pours a an amber-red color. Not much of a hop aroma which I was expecting. Nevertheless the taste is superb. Has a strong malty presence with obvious use of lots of caramel malts. Almost has a candy apple taste (subtle but there). The hop bitterness is noticeable yet does not take precedence like other winter seasonal ales. Overall, the balance is perfect. One of the best winter seasonals I have tried. I highly recommend it.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This beer is just gorgeous. It is bright, ruby brown in color with a full, thick, retentive head.

Smell – The dark, Winter Warmer malts give this one a nice aroma. I can also pick up some good, fruity sugars and a light hop compliment.

Taste – The malt and light hop mix turn nutty at the taste. The fruits are there, albeit very light, but it’s this nutty flavor that seemed to come out of nowhere that is dominating the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel – This light to medium-bodied ale was a bit thin for the flavors.

Drinkability – This wasn’t a bad offering by Anderson Valley, it was just a little off and a bit light in the ass.

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Photo of noob
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On draft at Redbones as part of the NW Brewers Fest, keg just tapped.

Beautiful tawny, amber color with thick tan head. Right away I smelling vanilla and am digging it. Upfront it had an intense, "vanilla coke" taste that really over powered the whole taste of the beer. Also detected were hints of ginger? and nutmeg?

All in all not a bad beer, but not one I would have more than once a night or season for that matter.

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Photo of wailingwench
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 bottle. A REAL winter brew, not like someting else that has a cabin with a wreath on it in the snow covered mountains.

Eye Candy: Ruddy brown with a minimal off white fizzy head. Excellent retention and lacing. Carbonation vanished quickly. Looks syrupy.

The Nose Knows: Cinnamon spices early that rapidy give way to creamy vanilla and caramel. As it warmed toasted malts emerged from under the "snowy blanket." Slight pine hop aroma detected.

Tongueland: Rich body with medium m/f. Blended spices that finish with a mild caramel undercut with creamy vanilla. ABV is undetectable.

Bender Factor: Almost to good. I see why this a a gold medal winner. At 6.9 % ABV, a good brew to put down while wrapping presents, putting up lights, or shoveling th driveway.

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Photo of benmiliron
3.99/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Paid $6.79 for a six pack.

Dark reddish brown color. Not much head. Smells very nice, spiced/honey. taste is very good for a holiday/xmas beer. Not the over-the-top ginger or cinnamon you get sometimes. This is more subtly spiced. Very low final gravity, smooth drinking - like an english ale almost.

Overall a very good session beer.

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Photo of chilidog
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I must say, we don't get much if any, Anderson Valley around my area. I picked this Winter Warmer up at my area craft store, The Andersons. More of a novelty & not sure what to expect.
The beer poured a deep ruby red with a half-inch tan head that laced well though faded quickly. The aroma was sweet malted caramel over fruit. The taste carries that sweet fruited base though complex other notes.This brew aided with a spice, vanilla syrup thats hinted with toasted roasted malt and a wooded finish. A full bodied brew with a 6.9% warming trend to the body. A fine winter brew I must say.

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

One of my all time favorite winter seasonals. Quite unlike anything else out there. Pours a murky reddish amber with a nice head that dissipates to about a finger with some nice lace. Taste is top notch. Fruity, spicy, with some fruity syrupy goodness that adds just the right amount of sweetness. The balance of fruits and spices combined with a dry maltiness makes this beer a phenominal holiday treat. Don't like Anderson Valley's high price tag scare you away, its definitely worth grabbing some of this.

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Photo of Mitchster
3.59/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2003 edition.

Pours out to a semi-hazy dark caramel, forming a substantial whipped light tan head which peaks out of the glass about 1 1/5"...Carbonation is strong, eminating a solid "Psssht" when relieving the cap. Great retention and no lacing. Aroma is of dry and dusty pale malts with roasted barley, a hint of metals and fusels, a touch of cloves and perhaps ginger. Mouthfeel is light and flittery upon the tongue with a medium body. Taste begins with a touch of herbal hops, followed by a kick of raisins, roasted barley astringency, potent toast and biscuit, a touch of vanilla and unfortunately a metallic tinge midway through. Touch of sourness before the semi-dry, very toasty, and very woody finish. Alcohol is peppery towards the end and in the aftertaste.

This is a decent Winter Seasonal Ale, but it does very little for me. The carbonation is out of character for the style, but this was also brewed in 2003. Good enough in most respects, but kinda like a higher alcohol brown ale.

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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 beerluvr
4.07/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 version.
Emerges from the bottle with a quickly receding, large bubbled khacki-colored head that fell upon clear deep garnet liquid. The nose is predominately malty, with a light spiciness I couldn't quite put my finger on, and vague cherry notes. The taste is malty-licious with some background brown sugariness and candied frutiness paired with a subtle hop backbone. Finishes slightly dry with a latent warming alcoholic twang. A good and well made Winter warmer!

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Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a near clear reddish brown brew.

Smell is mostly malt and spices. Very sweet smelling, the fruit is there but not real strong.

Taste is shockingly sweet! This is a MALT BOMB, not the bit you get in most brews, almost like a Sammiclaus. A bit of hop bitterness is there but this just screams MALT!

Fairly thick.

Drinkable? Good question, it is a unique brew. Not something I would drink often but a good beer to show the flavor of malt.

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Photo of HappyHourHero
3.82/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2001 (~2.5 yo)

Poured a decent cream colored head that faded to a film leaving a ring of head around the edges. The beer is caramel amber in color with fine bubbles rising slowly through the middle. The aroma is a mild mix of tangy apples, toffee, and malt balls. The mouthfeel is creamy smooth and the finish is pretty clean. Malty caramel offset by some kind of hoppy flavor that I can't quite pinpoint. With over two years of aging this beer definitely leans in the malt direction. Overall a mild, easy drinking beer with a nice blend of flavor and aroma.

2004

In your face malt aroma is gone, replaced by a soft creamy licorice and caramel smell. Moderately malty flavor if pretty one sided. Nothing is really bad about the beer, flavor just isn't up my alley.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,806 ratings.
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