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Saturday, November 12th 2011

Winter Solstice
(Anderson Valley Brewing Company)

This is a big review for us here at CraftCans.Com, it's the 200th review on the site if you CAN believe that. As this is a special review we decided to take it just a little bit further than the others by having it be a joint review. Russ and Trent will both be cracking open a can of Winter Solstice and sharing their thoughts together in this post. Cheers!

Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice is the brewery's second seasonal canned release, after their Summer Solstice, and their newest canned release to date - having just hit shelves in late October. The brewery also cans their Boont Amber and Hop 'Ottin IPA. Winter Solstice is one of only two Winter Warmers being canned in the US. The other being 21st Amendment's Fireside Chat

From the Anderson Valley site:

"The holidays are a special time in Anderson Valley. The days are darker, weather colder, and foods richer. And Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale is perfect for this time of year. Deep amber in color, with an inviting aroma of spice and nutmeg, it was made for the turkeys, cranberries, hams, and yams of the holidays. Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale evokes a crackling fire, drifting snow, and smells of home. A hint of spice and hop bite to balance out the creamy and smooth mouthfeel, and medium sweetness."

Here we go...


(RP) amber-red in color with a murky sort of appearance. Lots of nice bubble action streaming upwards and forming a thin, yet creamy, head. When held to the light this beer really has some vibrant coloring. Looks good to me!


(TR) deep, richly colored amber.  Moderately aggressive pour results in a very big head that eventually settled down to a finger and a half high.  We’re left with a dense, creamy head the likes of which I most often find with canned beers and rarely from bottles.  There might be some science out there to back up my potentially biased, pro-can observation.


(RP) that first whiff really hits you with some sweetness reminiscent of baking bread, brown sugar, caramel and some dark fruits. I pick up some prunes and raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg as well. As this warms the aroma definitely comes on stronger.


(TR) malty nose that is beyond toasted but short of roasted, like some of those thin, light imported crackers you find in specialty cheese shops.  A very modest hint of spice comes through now and then. Overall the aromas are very reserved. 



(RP) malty and rich with some very interesting flavors hitting the tongue. It's not cloyingly sweet and it some hints of vanilla, orange and just the faintest bit of hops in the finish. Very smooth as far as mouthfeel goes, this is almost creamy in texture. No real spices in this but you almost expect something like cinnamon or cloves to be present. Quite tasty for a style that can vary quite a bit in flavor. Wait a second, this is close to 7%? I didn't expect that based on how easy it was going down! Now comes the warming!


(TR) Amazing!  And how could I not smell what I taste here?  Flavors of spiced pecans and vanilla swirl around and across the tongue. The pour released most of the carbonation and the few remaining bubbles introduce a nice, smooth finish. Mouthfeel is exactly how I like my cold weather beers – full, round, and warming. If I were asked to describe this beer to my less beer-adventurous friends I’d have them imagine the qualities they like in Lienie’s Fireside Nut Brown, multiply those qualities by a couple hundred and you’d have something close to Winter Solstice.   



(RP) A nice addition to the AVBC canned family and definitely a beer that will see some action as the cold weather hits the country. Not overly strong nor too sweet - a solid brew that is certainly worth picking up to share with friends and family this winter. Cheers!


(TR) I really, really like this beer, and it’s a new favorite for me.  As soon as I had my first I knew I had to get more.  I can - and will - visit this one often this winter.  Cheers to AVBC!

Winter Solstice won some hardware at CANFEST 2011!


Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice is the only canned craft beer that has the word "winter" in it's name. The actual Winter Solstice usually takes place on December 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere and on June 20th or 21st in the Southern Hemisphere. This year, in the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice will occur at 5:30am on December 21st. This will mark the point in which the earth's north polar hemisphere is tilted furthest from the sun and in which the shortest day/longest night occurs.


Can Scale:
(See All Rated)
Winter Scale:
(See All Rated)
Winter Solstice
Style: Winter Warmer
Brewery: Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Boonville, California  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: 6
Date: November 12th, 2011

Posted by Russ

Have you had this beer? Thumb it:

Monday, December 6th 2010

Fireside Chat
(21st Amendment Brewery)

Just a few days ago, December 4th, marked the 77th anniversary of the repealing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution with the almighty 21st Amendment! Thus ending the era of prohibition. What better way to mark the occasion than by enjoying 21st Amendment Brewery's latest release!

With this new canned offering, 21st Amendment has again managed to be the first to can a certain style of beer with this Winter Warmer (or Spiced Winter Ale). I have to say that the graphics for this can are great, they really show how far we've come with canned beer in the past 75 years! FDR sitting down with a drink and talking to an elf. Awesome!

From the 21st Amendment site:

"Like FDR's Depression-era radio addresses, which were like a kick in the butt and a hug at the same time, our Fireside Chat is a subtle twist on the traditional seasonal brew. We begin with a rich, dark, English-style ale and then we improvise with spices until we know we have a beer worth sharing with the nation.

Fireside Chat is our early winter seasonal brew available from October through December in six pack cans and on draft. Brewed like a classic, warming Strong Ale but with a subtle blend of hand-selected spices for just the right festive flair."

Here we go...


Pour - dark amber with some nice reddish hues when held to the light. A rather thin off-white head fades to a ring of film rather quickly. Very deep and dark in appearance. Perfect for a winter brew.


Aroma - malty, sweet and sour, light caramel, apples and cloves. Reminds me a bit of warmed red wine and spices. 


Taste - sweet and sour on the tongue sort of like the aroma. It has some bitterness, some black cherry, a bit of apple cider, not a whole lot of those spices maybe just some hints at nutmeg or cloves with a very vinous in the finish. By that I mean it has a dryness on the tongue similar to red wine. At almost 8% its a bit boozy too which is nice as it does a good job with the winter warming bit.


Overall - I really dig this beer as its quite unique. The flavors may not mesh completely perfectly but each sip brings something new and once this warms it really has some complexity. If you've got some red wine loving friends that stray away from beer you might want to share this with them.


Would I buy more of it? - sure. I'm glad it comes in a six-pack and I will look forward to trying more of it next winter (or maybe later this winter as its a long one here in New England). 


Note - Fireside Chat is brewed with assorted spices as well a cocoa nibs. This is the first winter they've released this beer and it will be quickly followed by their other seasonal release, Monk's Blood.


Can Scale:
(See All Rated)
Fireside Chat
Style: Winter Warmer
Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
San Francisco, California  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Pale, Munich, Wheat, Crystal, Aromatic, Chocolate Malt and De-Bittered Black
Hops: Magnum, Goldings
ABV: 7.9%
IBUs: 45
Date: December 6th, 2010

Posted by Russ

Have you had this beer? Thumb it: