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Anderson Valley Brewing Co. | Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Anderson Valley Brewing
Scott Grossman

‘Tis the season for spiced beers and Anderson Valley Brewing’s Winter Solstice hits the mark — flavorful, yet sessionably drinkable. In an age of excessive adjuncts, Anderson Valley keeps the spice bill noticeable but pleasantly restrained to create a balanced brew.

A look at the beer’s clear copper color and medium head sets some expectations, however the initial nose is a bit confusing. There’s a surprising hoppiness up front that quickly changes to a malty sweetness.

Not Your Average Winter Warmer

Anderson Valley Brewing Winter Solstice
Photo credit: Scott Grossman

Taking a sip of the beer fully develops the sweetness, which increases as the beer warms. Malt provides the backbone for the brew, with hints of dark roast. However sweetness is the most notable flavor component, which melds malt with toffee and caramel flavors, at some points reminiscent of certain Belgian styles.

The predominant sweet elements are complemented by mild bitterness and a bit of a bite. It’s difficult to tell whether these come from the spices or the hops, but I suppose that indicates a well-put-together brew where everything blends seamlessly.

Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice is definitely less aggressive than many Winter Warmers. The spices and hops sit far behind the sweet components, making the beer milder and less bitter than most Winter Warmers.

Sustainable Brewing

Fun fact about Anderson Valley is that it is a 100% solar-powered brewery. It also treats and returns all of its water — except what goes out as beer — to its property. Given the relatively remote location in Mendocino County in northern California, some of this seems like a necessity but at the core reflects a 25-year commitment to sustainability.

While not the most forceful or booziest Winter Warmer out there, Anderson Valley Winter Solstice is perfect for the cool days and chilly nights of northern California. It also pairs well with snowy nights by the fire for beer-lovers in colder climates.

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