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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:
1,773
Avg:
3.86
pDev:
21.76%
 
 
Wants:
71
Gots:
242
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 720 | Ratings: 1,773
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours with a nice tan colored head. It is a deep ruby color. There is an interesting fruity aroma with some notes of cherry and Brandy wafting from the glass. There is a very interesting raisin/ maraschino cherry flavor up front in this beer. A taste in the finish that I can't quite place, almost medicinal in character, faintly reminiscent of cough syrup. Definitely a fruity beer, as this is the predominant flavor.

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

Served in a large glass mug.

A nice brown body with a slight off white head. No lacing really, head fades quickly.
Smells of caramel malt and roasted grain.
Taste follows the nose through a malty experience. Caramel, brown sugar and honey wheat bread. Just enough bitter hops to balance. Some roasted graininess plays with the hops and the sweet malt.
Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, thick and chewey.
Drinkability is pretty strong. A good brew for the winter months.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
2.69/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz from the Boise Coop for $1.50/bottle poured into a shaker pint. Listening to Renaissance Worldwide Singapore "David Morales Mix".

Sweet cherry juice and crystal clear. Sticky lite tan head.

Malty aroma with vanilla and butter undertones. No real hops ... sorta overpowered by the spices.

I really hate saying this, but it reminds me of a vanilla cream soda .... and not the soda-shoppe kind, more like the artificial bottled kind.

This is a tough review for me to write. I love the Boont amber (almost certainly my favorite amber ale). But this one is going to take a hit. I know from my notebook reviews, I am hyper-critical of diacetyl; and I am only getting a little butter from this beer, but combined with the vanilla ... wow ... The diacetyl is hyper accentuated. I think they should move away from the spices (at least the vanilla) and balance more with a low but still solid flavoring of citrus hops.

Sorry. I will buy this brew again, mainly for comparison ... but I will probably wait a year or two.

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Photo of biegaman
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled off tap at Coles, in Buffalo.
Nice presentation, served in a wide mouthed tulip glass. An icy, glossed over bronze colour. Very thin head that parts to the outside and sort of slumbers to the sides of the glass. An alluring aroma, warming and welcoming. Gentle, melodious spices. A great deal of caramel malt with softened vanilla notes. Very nice drinkability, quite enjoyable! Smooth carbonation with a mellow, warming aftertaste. Savoury, ripe flavours. Again a light note of reserved, timid spices that blend well with a generous base of sticky, toasty malt. A more than pleasant winter warmer, promising first impression of this brewer, and overall - greatly enjoyed!

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Photo of yourefragile
3.81/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown, amber color (thought not entirely opaque) with a medium sized foamy tan head that leaves nice lacing down the glass.
S: Very rich, lots of malty sweetness. Notes of cinnamon, vanilla, some fruityness, etc
T/M: Very creamy, full bodied, with strong roasted malty taste with some slight bitterness for balance. There are a lot of flavors and spices in here, though strongest seems to be the sweetness/vanilla flavors.
D: I can't say I'm particularly crazy about the taste of this beer, but I love the appearance and aromas and has a very pleasant mouthfeel. As a result, I usually find myself ordering this when I find it on tap.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours brown with a full light tan head, nice lacing and retention, all around good looking beer.

S: On the milder side, but it has nice spice notes, some cinnamon.

T: Taste a lot like a gingerbread cookie on the first sip. Lots of dark bread and cake batter, spices are mild.

M: Medium-bodied, does not feel almost 7%, off-dry finish.

D: A real nice beer from Anderson Valley, I like it a lot more than the Summer Solstice, one of the best western winter beers.

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

Poured from 12oz can into a pint glass.

Appearance: medium amber-brown hue with just a hint of haze. Head is a thick finger of frothy tan foam. Nice.

Smell: nutty, biscuity malt aroma with some spiciness present. I'm getting nutmeg and maybe a touch of cinnamon. Not bad, but a bit too biscuity for me.

Taste: nutty crystal malt flavor with a hint of the aforementioned spices present. There's a biscuity quality to the malt here, too, but I feel like it actually adds more to the overall character than it detracts. A balanced and tasty winter brew.

Mouthfeel: medium-light body with a good level of creaminess. Just right for such a malty experience.

Overall: I am surprisingly pleased with this winter warmer. The weather outside is frightful, and this beer is quite delightful.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Hogan's Hideaway in Rochester, NY.

Pours a medium dark brown, with not much head or lacing.

This one smells pretty good- some brown sugar, caramel, slightly floral aromas.

The taste is similar. It seems liberally spiced- but I can't distinguish all of them. I do catch some brown sugar and cinnamon, along with candied fruit flavors, and caramel malt. There is some slight grassiness as well.

Medium bodied, with a slightly creamy mouthfeel. There is a medium amount of carbonation.

Overall, not too bad. It's nothing to write home about, but it was enjoyable in the moment.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've enjoyed this winter offering for a number of years. It's subtle, lower abv for a winter brew, and a little different. I've always liked the mild hazlenut flavor in front of a warm fire. Pours amber with a fluffy head that fades to a ring. Smells fruitcake like with mixed fruit, winter spices, hazlenut, and cream. Taste is similar. Very creamy, lightly spicy, and nice hazlenut flavors throughout. Creamy and easy to drink. Recommended for something a little different.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.21/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle. Sampled on April 22, 2015. That may be a month after Spring began on the calendar but I had two inches of snow in my back yard 10 days ago.

A handsome looking medium amber-reddish colored pour with a off-white head that lingers.

The smell is luscious with its sweet malts, nutmeg, black licorice, allspice, and currant notes. Hops seem to be in the background but add a cleanliness to it all.

The body was medium to better than medium.

The taste is a nice sweet caramel malt flavor with some o the same spices pick up on the nose. A mild hop bite to finish. In some respects I liken this to an Abbey Dubbel without the clove.

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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 jdhilt
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured with a small white head that stays, leaving no lace. Almost little carbonation. Clear ruby color. Nose is malt and spices. Starts with an sweet and slightly spice taste, finishes with a spice that I can't identify. Medium bodied. Unknown brew date but it tastes fresh.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.23/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It is pretty good for a beer drinker when the only nitpicking is the appearance and smell of the beer. Poured a seethru copper/amber body with minimal head and had a thin aroma of hops and malts. Medium-bodied and creamy, this beer is also smooth and sweet with a chocolate and coffee malt taste bursting when it hit my tongue, and complemented by roasted, maybe toasted, some caramel and toffee malts. It passes excellently over the tongue and finishes with a dry, hoppy backbite that is mellow and complements the malts (also a little spicy but not prickly). Warms the mouth like a winter warmer does w/o having to use alkie burn as a method (at 6.9% they really hit the nail on the head with this one). This is a great beer and I could tip these back anytime during a cold winter night.

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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 rhoadsrage
3.82/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in an American pint glass)

A-This beer pours a warm deep brown with a hint of red and a crystal clear body with a nice thin oatmeal colored head. It has a nice gentle carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The smell of slightly sweet of toasted malt and cider with a nice green hop hint in the background is subtle.

T- This beer has a nice smooth malt taste of pale malt with some hints of toasted malt blended it. A hint of biscuit malt is in the background. The finish has a nice gentle hop bitterness with a hint of sweet cider or a very faint cinnamon with a hint of alcohol, but that is very faint.

M-This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with some fizz that makes it seem more full. No real alcohol warmth or astringency.

D- This beer has some nice subtle flavors that give it some complexity and it has some unique taste that is nice.

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Photo of beertunes
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into straight pint glass. Poured with almost no head and left minimal lacing. A beautiful, opaque deep brown with a slight orangeish tint. The spice tones are not very pronounced in the aroma. The flavors match the aroma closely, but with a more noticeable presence. The body is a little thin for the style but still satisfying. A very drinkable beer, this is among my favorites of this style. Another fine job from a brewery that seldom disappoints.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from 12oz bottle a clear amber with a smallish head of foam
that shrinks quickly and leaves completely for I finish my session.

The smell is a nice mix of sweet malt and some spices.

The taste has a strong caramel malt, roasted malt and bread flavour to it and it's quite thick in body. Dang, this is a great tasting Winter Warmer. After the first sip, I thought the sweetness was starting to be a bit much but then there's an underlying presence of hop bitterness that tames the sweetness nicely. A few more sips in and I'm getting some spice, maybe cinnamon and nutmeg? Very good stuff! Oh, and there's a tad bit of warming as it goes down...

Bottom line: A very good example of the style indeed. I see it as a must try.

Thanks to Wasatch for this sample!

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

A: The ale is an amber color that allows hints of red and orange to come through. The head came in small on pour and quickly disappeared.

S: The aroma is fairly inert when the ale is cold. As it warms, it picks up a dry, somewhat tart cherry scent.

T: The ale's body continues the cherry presence. It is not maraschino, more of a black cherry flavor that has a bit of tartness and a pleasant strong sweetness. The cherry flavor dominates the taste, nothing else emerges spice-wise, but the cherry is not too sweet or too tart.

M: A nice take on the winter warmer style with the black cherry flavor replacing nutmeg and cinnamon.

D: The ale is a nice alternatve to the over-spiced ales that are so prevalent. The moderate abv provides a nice warming sensation that should be perfect for a cold January day.

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Photo of barczar
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy dark copper color with a solid half inch beige head that dissipates slowly leaving sheets of lacing.

Caramel, brown sugar and cinnamon comprise the aroma initially. Notes of allspice, toasted malt, and dark fruit emerge. Aroma is initially subtle.

Flavor is an overload of malted milk balls, with currants , cinnamon, and chocolate surfacing mid palate and lingering into the slightly dry finish.

Body is a touch on the heavy side, with moderate carbonation and slight alcohol warmth.

Overall, I'm amazed at how closely the flavor resembles malted milk balls. There's a fruitiness that follows, so it's a little different. Not am overly spicy seasonal, which I appreciate.

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Photo of Immortale25
3.94/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Haw River Farmhouse Ales teku glass. No freshness date.

A- Pours a rubyish light brown color with a 1/2 inch light tan head that retains well before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a small center patch of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a broken ring behind.

S- Slightly sweet, biscuity malt aroma with a hint of spice.

T- Mildly sweet malt with some spice laying on top. The flavors are pretty laid back for a winter warmer which is a nice change of pace while still accomplishing that candy-like essence.

M- Has the tiniest layer of syrupy residue on the tongue. Medium carbonation and a fullish body.

O- A satisfying winter warmer at an above-average ABV. I would buy this again.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have a "Rivertowne" growler now and I have been meaning to fill it for a while so why not with some Christmas Cheer?

Filled at the Verona Rivertowne for 15.29

A - Red-ish brown like an ornament.
S - I detect cinnamon and ginger bread like malts.
T - Cinnamon and honey dominant but the bread like undertone keeps the beer from falling flat.
M - Creamy and delicious. It's hard to believe it's almost 7% by volume until you near the end of the Growler.
D - Excellent. I would try this in bottle forum next since it kind of seemed watery.

Overall one great Christmas beer. I would consider buying bottles of this for either new years or purchase next year!

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Photo of avalon07
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a copper color and a clear consistency. There was a half inch of long-lasting, creamy head and decent lacing.

S: A very sweet, malty aroma.

T: Tasted of caramel, malt and fruit. Very sweet and bold - much more so than other winter warmers. Has a nice toasty feel to it.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a slightly slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: In my opinion, a drinkable beer, though I have a feeling this one will not appeal to everyone.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.28/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Brown color with red. Thin 1/3" off white head. Aroma was a very minor amount of holiday spice rack, wood and mild hopping that is above average for style aroma wise.

Same with the taste, this packs some hops into a winter warmer, some toffee notes, definitely more bitter than other beers in this genre as well. Caramel is heavier roasted and lesser sugared than most.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Auburn color with a nice light brown head and good carbonation. Light spice hop aroma with a nice toasty malt balance. Nicely balanced malt and hop flavors with little to no true spice or vanilla character. Medium bodied with a nice balanced finish.

Not much vanilla compared to prior years I've tasted that were sickeningly vanilla-laden.

Per Label: "Seasonal Spicing"

2006 Edition
Tasted: 02/25/07

($1.99 / 12 oz.)

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,773 ratings.
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