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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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very good
719 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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 719 | Ratings: 1,766
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 nsabo
2.24/5  rDev -42%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

The smell is awesome - cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and everything nice. Pretty stoked to sip it!
Hmm, tastes way too sweet. I don't drink soda, but this tastes like what I remember a cream soda tasted like. I've heard nothing but praise for this brewery and believe what I hear, but this still tastes like artificial flavors were added. Very faint piney hops, vanilla, white wine that’s been sitting out uncorked for a while, and honey.
Definitely a dessert beer, but even then, this is way too sweet for me.

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Photo of treedoctor5002
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber color with a smaller than normal head that goes away after a while.

Smell is spicey and malty.

Taste is wonderful. Very smooth. Delicate spices like vanilla and cinnamon complement the malt but don't overpower it.

Mouthfeel is medium to light. Not a whole lot of carbonation after a while.

Extremely drinkable for a spiced beer. Very well balanced. Would go great with some ginger snaps or windmill cookies.
You should definitely try this beer.

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Photo of ficknish
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark amber. Light bubbles. Good head.

S - Caramel. Toasty malts. Spices. Bread. Raisins. Vanilla.

T - Marshmallow. Vanilla. Toffee. Strong bitter hops. Spices.

M - Tingly. Bitter. Medium body.

O - Loving this beer. Sweet body with homey flavors of vanilla, bread, and spices. Sweetness was well balanced with hop bitterness. Will drink again.

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Photo of LibraryTom
2.86/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2


Pours a nice deep amber orange.

All cream soda.

One dimensional sweet malt, with not enough spice or hop to balance it out. Almost no perceptible bittering component.

It is rich and overly done, and it is hard to drink more than a few ounces for me. Overall, eh, on a beer I am never that into.

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Photo of Muddybuddy
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(2005 Edition consumed on Jan. 2, 2006)
Appearance: Very clear auburn color. Free of debris and sediment even when the whole bottle was poured. No yeast sediment visible in the bottle, leading me to believe that this may not be bottle conditioned. When pouring, I found it almost overcarbonated and had to slow my hand. A nice creamy off white head forms and will remain on the top for at least 5 minutes, if not more.

Smell: Almost no perceptible hops odor, but it is very low in the background and appears more as the beer starts to warm. It is pleasant and somewhat bright when it finally hits your nose. There is also a smell that reminds me of oatmeal.

Taste: This has a most unusual taste compared with most of the other winter warmers I have tried. There is a dark richness that comes alive and I am hard pressed to name it. There are some notes of chocolate and cherries and possibly even a dark blackberryish thing in there too. This may sound suprising, but it also was quite smooth and had no apparent breaks in the flavor. There is a certain cloying sweetness that reminds me of a honey or maybe lavender.

Mouthfeel: In spite of the apparent good carbonation, there is a velvety feel to this one and it is quite slick on the tongue. I can't seem to find a way to keep this one in my mouth for too long though, as I love the way it feels going down.

Drinkability: I have no idea about the alcohol content of this one but the flavor makes me want to drink more and more. Very good overall.

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Photo of tangentrider
3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Red-brown beer with an off-white head; reddish highlights when held to the light

S- Malty with an undertone of spice.

T- First is warmth, followed by malt, a touch of molasses, possibly dried fruit, and spice.

MF- Smooth, with nice carbonation.

D- Interesting beer, which I realize is a rather non-descript statement, but honestly, I'll probably have it again just to figure it out.

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Photo of dukew456
3.49/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz glass into a Miller High Life pint glass

Small, light brown head, with almost no retention as I drank this. Medium amber in color, a little bit lighter than traditional winter warmers maybe?

Smell is a a fruity, toffee-like malt attack, no hops in then nose, but surprisinglg appetizing. This smells like fruitcake to me, and that is a good thing.

Taste is much like the smell, almost extremely sweet. Candied fruits, spice, and most of all toffee/caramel dominate, with no hops that I can detect.

Mouthfeel is a little thin for what I think a winter warmer should be, but still plays pretty well to the sweetness.

This beer is a little bit of an enigma to me. I like the smell and what it reminds me of, but the follow up taste is not very pleasant. However, I could see myself drinking a few of these, as its relatively thin mouthfeel doesn't give you the feeling of being overly full. Worth a shot.

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Photo of brewbattles
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

We did a blind taste test between this and 4 other Winter Seasonals to objectively determine which one was best. They beers were: Deschutes Jubelale, Anderson Valley Boont Winter Solstice, Big Sky Powder Hound, Alaskan Winter Ale, and Redhook Winterhook. Check it out:


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Photo of DrewS
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My overall impression of this beer is one of unimpression. Poured out a reddish orange and brown with a decent head. Sweet malt on the nose, like cotton candy. Kind of reminded me of the dried malt extract I use in homebrewing. The taste was primarily of carmel like sweet malt which was a bit cloying IMO. There is a tinge of hop bitterness as the malt fades. Besides the intense malt flavor this beer is somewhat thin. Mouthfeel plays a redemptive role with a creamy smoothness. Slight aftertaste. Not the best of the seasonals and a disappointment for me. Maybe I just wasn't into it, but I expect better things from Anderson Valley.

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Photo of Guzzler78
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a medium amber color. A light tan head that is small. Some spotty lacing, that doesn't stick around too long.
Smell of sweet malts, vanilla, slight spice, fruity-getting some banana.
Tastes sweet, not much hops, some clove and nutmeg, not much spice for a winter ale.
Thin mouthfeel, could of used some more carbonation.
A decent winter warmer, a bit mild compared to other winter seasonal ales.

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Photo of spencerw
3.3/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - This brew poured an orange, brownish in color with a 1 inch foam head that lingered for a minute or two. It appearance was very dense.

S - Sweet edge of moderately spicy. It has a citrus, caramel tone that is very obvious. Very malty.

T - The taste was darn good however very sweet and malty. It tasted like a sweet caramel, much stronger than the smell. Very little hop tone yet a sliver of a kick mid drift.

M - Full body, thick, filling yet smooth and fairly refreshing.

D - Not sure this is a beer I would session with. It's a little t sweet and filling for me. It's a good beer, but nothing I'll run around trying to find again.

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Photo of iguenard
3.96/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

( 34/50, 6.9% alc/vol, Home, right after work) Amber color, opaque and red with a thin yellow flame at its bottom. The service head dissappears rather quickly, and no aparent carbonation to maintain it. Delicious nose of paprika, cloves, eggnog and cinnamon. Love the spice arrangement in this one. Has a real sense of togetherness, harmony in it's design. Starts off a little bit off. Cranberry and cherries mix with strong cloves, cinnamon and what tastes like carrots. Lasts a long time, extends in spice and what I can only refer to as turkey stuffing. Definite pommegrenate bitterness in the finish. Belgian feel and christmas spice, with tart acidity in the end giving it character. Low alcoholic feel, and a tad cloying spice as it extends a little too long. Nice, warm feeling christmas beer. Not too heavy for a spiced beer, yet thick enough to go with these strong spiced christmas dishes.

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

Day 3, beer 3/365

A: An orangey to light copper color. Nice lace down the glass the whole way

S: Not much smell to it, a little bit of a sweet smell

T: This REALLY hit the spot as far as taste goes. To me the first thing that hits you is a butterscotch taste, and as soon as it hits your throat to me you get a strong "cream soda" type of flavor, but its not overpowering. Just right.

Summary: Overall this has been on of my favorite seasonal ales without a doubt. I would have to say my favorite Christmas ale for sure (admittedly I have not had many up to this point)

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

A - Pours a deep amber with a dense head that settles down to around half a finger in my glass. A little lacing tries to cling to the glass as you drink but very little actually hangs around very long. Beer is almost completely tranparent.
S - Smell is lightly malty with a hint of spice.
T - Taste is lightly hoppy with a nice balance of malt. A very small amount of spice is detectable. The beer finishes a touch smokey.
M - The malt content gives this beer a bit of weight on the tongue.
D - Very drinkable, well balanced. Although the smokey flavor is not my favorite finish, in this beer it's so light that it doesn't bother me.

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Photo of aleyeast
2.58/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I have long been a fan of this winter seasonal and would venture a guess that five years ago or so, it was in the top of my list for must haves in the winter. Lately, at least the last two years, this beer has been dominated by vanilla which I don't personally find attractive in the beer. To me, vanilla is a flavoring, not a spice. It definitely feels creamy to drink, but that may be the vanilla flavor lending that sensation. Overall, the beer is well made and consistent, but I feel the key to good spiced beer is balance and moderation. I also believe this recipe has changed over the years.

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Photo of drinknewbelgium
3.55/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

poured with a small head smells of malty sweetness in my nose tastes of sweet malts holiday spices with little hop character a little watery in the mouth but i could have a few

not strong spiced honestly i couldnt help but think of cream soda when i was drinking this

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Photo of Gouxman
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of my personal favorite Winter Seasonal. If only the price wasn't so high I would definitely drink more of these.

A smooth and creamy, medium-bodied winter ale. This seasonal beer has flavors of vanilla, caramel, cocoa, and toffee, with faint hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. An easy drinking beer with a subtle sweet and smooth finish.

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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 smell...at 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 rrwiltse
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yum! 2005 vintage from a bottle. This is one of the best Winter beers out there. Caramely, malty aroma; nice caramel taste. Supposedly brewed with seasonal spices, but none of them are individually detectable, but meld together to create a unique, fantastic brew. Worth a case or more!

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Photo of EmilNoldSinclair
3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My first winter warmer...and a very pleasant experience at that! It was initially difficult to get a head off of it, even with a hard pour, though it eventually came through. Decent retention, but minimal lacing. Dark reddish translucent color. I couldn't pick the flavor out on this one: it was sweet, with a bit of licorice, chocolate, coffee, doughy, and perhaps some other spices I couldn't pick out... Very little hops: hardly bitter at all. It was very smooth going down and had good carbonation. Overall a fairly good beer!

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Photo of hyprlt
3.46/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a mason jar.

A: very nice, clear light ruby brown color. yellowish slight head that did not linger.

S: light possibly vanilla scent. not very aromoatic

T: very vanilla, almost brown sugary at first. without a doubt the first sip was great. the rest was good.

M: good carbonation, great body. not overly thick. seems to match its color in that respect.

O: haven't had a lot of vanilla flavor in beers, so I was excited. drinking an entire one in a sipping mode is not that easy however. still recommended.

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

Bomber bottle --> big wine glass.

A - pours a nice mahogany brown, very clear. Very little head that dissipates quickly. No lacing to speak of.

S - Sweet molasses, hazelnuts, some faint orange juice.

T - Great big wave of sweetness.. more molasses, carmel. Hazelnuts and spices (not-hot cinnamon, nutmeg) ride over top of this and hit in the middle. Finishes out with a bit of bitterness. Aftertaste is of more nuts and some kind of sweetness... almost tastes like circus peanuts.

M - Not very carbonated, I guess that's okay. Pretty thick otherwise, the sweetness hangs around for awhile.

D - One bomber is plenty enough for a beer as sweet as this. Good beer and well-made, but not overwhelming. Looking forward to trying some other AV beers..

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Photo of Flux
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Winter solstice- Anderson valley- can from fridge poured into pint glass.

A-Brown to amber. Clear. Foamy white to off-white head. Tight bubbles and definite lacing.

S- warm, very low hops, sweet maltyness. Bread-like/ sugar cookie/ toast/ slightly nutty characters, maybe some vanilla. Minimal esters.

T- sweet and malty up front. Reminds me of fig newtons, so I do get faint amounts of fig/ raisins. Nothing that really screams “holiday” i.e. spices. It’s really mellow and balanced as far as the hops aren’t too overwhelming for this delicate beer.

M- medium carbonation. smooth.

O- I really enjoy this beer but it’s kind of a mystery as well. Don’t know if there was anything other than malts, hops and yeast added to this beer but it has a fantastic warmth to it that does well for the season. I can admire a simple holiday beer that isn’t bombarded with ginger, pie spices, or other stuff.

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

A candy-coated malty brew.

A: A nice, dark amber.

S: Sweat chocolate, when cold. As it warms, cream soda aroma grows.

T: Matches the smell, with chocolate being stronger than the cream soda taste when its cold, but the cream soda building as it warms. No real hop presence.

M: Medium.

Overall, a candy store in a bottle. A very good additional to any holiday beer tasting session.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,766 ratings.
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