Beer Review: Anderson Valley’s Summer Solstice


I’ve said before that I’m a huge fan of this beer, and of Anderson Valley in general. In fact, I’d probably say that the Summer Solstice is my favorite summer beer. Normally that would be the highest praise someone could give a beer, since most people drink the majority of their beer in the summer. But since I’m a notorious booze-bag, it falls into the category of “pretty solid compliment.”

From AVBC:

Smooth.  Our Summer Solstice Seasonal Ale is a slightly sweet, malty session beer with a creamy mouth feel and clean finish.  With hints of caramel in the nose and a touch of spice, it’s become affectionately known as “cream soda for adults”. The unique flavors and superior drinkability make for the ultimate refreshment on a hot summer day.

ALC/VOL: 5%
BITTERNESS: 6 IBU
MALTS: Pale Two-Row, Crystal (40L and 80L)
HOPS: Bravo

Your Beer Advocate scores come in at 83 (public) and 85 (bros), respectively. That’s about I’d expect from BA on a pretty well-tread style. As far as cream ales, go I’d hold this up as the standard-bearer for the style. I enjoy the Sixpoint Sweet Action, but I find that AVBC’s definition of a “cream soda for adults” is what I’m looking for when I pick up a cream ale.

Appearance: Dark amber/copper in color with an off-white head of about an inch that fades quickly with minimal lacing. The beer is nice and clear.

Smell: Caramel and toffee are the predominant smells with a little hint of fruitiness that is almost like apples. A little bready, too.

Taste: Creamy and sweet without being too sweet. There’s the breadiness, caramel and toffee that I mentioned in the smell. The hops take a backseat here, but they keep the beer from being too sweet. Vanilla, too. I almost forgot the vanilla. It’s probably my favorite aspect of the taste and what I feel separates the Summer Solstice from other cream ales.

Mouthfeel: Creamy in the best way. Not viscous and not thin. Just the right amount of carbonation. It coats your tongue slightly leaving the little hint of vanilla sweet behind. Clean finish.

Final Verdict: 4.5 out of 5. Buy (a lot of) it.

Summer is a time of a lot of pale ales, light lagers, and maybe a few IPAs. The summer ales dominate the shelves and by the time the Octoberfest beers start hitting shelves in August (August! REALLY?!), I’m about ready to move on. My only regret with the fleeting Summer is the slow disappearance of the bright orange cans of Summer Solstice. I’d recommend dropping your hard-earned scratch to go grab this beer. It’s a welcome change. Because even if all you’re drinking is craft brews, if you’re drinking the same ones or the same styles you can get burnt-out on them. Not everything in the summer needs to be lemon-flavored, after all.

Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice

Anderson Valley’s Summer Solstice

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