It is admittedly a little early in the season — we’ve had record heat this week — for a beer this Christmasy, but soldier on we must as holiday brews start arriving in force.
Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale fits its name well, an amber lager that’s loaded to the gills with hot cocoa, caramel, and gingerbread notes. It seems like you might burst out into a carol after you swallow the first sip, but the finish comes next and it’s not right at all. Bitter, but almost metallic. Perhaps burnt, even. That can work with the sweet flavors going on here (think brownie edges), but the tone isn’t right. The end result is a beer with a big aftertaste that makes one think more of New Year’s resolutions than opening presents.
6.9% alcohol by volume (doesn’t taste it, though). Available in November 2010.
B- / $10 per six-pack / avbc.com