Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1020) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 10, 2013

I poured a 12oz can into a snifter. There was no apparent freshness date. It cost $2.99 ($0.25 per ounce).

Appearance: Beautiful mahogany hue; dark but clear with some carbonation visible. Pours to a fairly large, off-white, foamy head which retains and laces rather well.

Smell: Akin to a Christmas cookie with a mélange of light spices and even some shortbread aroma.

Taste: The thing about winter warmers is they tend to be cliché. Take a fairly strong dark beer base, throw in a bunch of spices and you’ve got a beer suited for the Christmas season and colder months of the year. Of course, cliché doesn’t necessarily mean bad, in fact, in the case of Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale the result is a pretty darn good beer.

I’ll bet the base recipe for this beer is a Scotch Ale as it has a lot of same malty characteristics. Strong notes of toffee, shortbread and a hint of smoky astringency on the backend. Though the added spices and flavors are the stars of the show. It’s difficult to identify any individually, but there are notes of ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and other lightly dry spices. There’s a subtle alcohol component to the palette as well, imparting some sweet vanilla or even rum-like flavor. Little bitterness per se (it is only 6 IBUs after all), but that’s because the seasonings outshine the hops. Definitely an interesting and tasty combination of flavors and exactly what you’d expect out of a beer of the style.

Drinkability: Maybe it’s because I poured it into a snifter, but Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale seems like a bigger, heavier beer than it actually is. Though 6.9% ABV is not exactly light, it has the full body and robustness of an even stronger beer, actually. The taste saturates the palate, making it difficult to drink in more than a sip at a time. Ironically, the mouthfeel itself is on the calmer side, with a fairly smooth texture. There is some minor alcohol warmth on the finish, but it doesn’t seem out of place here. 
Grade: 8/10

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