7. Winter Solstice
Anderson Valley Brewing, Boonville, Calif.
Best known for its Boont Amber Ale, this 26-year-old microbrew mainstay has made a legacy out of its smooth, malty brews, its "Bahl Hornin'" Boontling logger speak and its part-bear, part-deer "beer" mascot Barkley. For a brewery that opened at a time when there were only about two dozen others like it, Anderson Valley has managed to keep a good sense of humor about itself over the decade.
Its Winter Solstice, however, is one seriously enjoyable winter warmer. Seriously, if you bring some to a holiday party don't just let the folks who brought that light lager hog all of it. This beer is just a whole lot of warm, roasty malt in a dark amber package. Little bits of toffee, caramel, pecan and pie spice blend together like a holiday dinner as the Munich and Crystal malt works its magic. There are not a whole lot of hops to be had in this one, and those who aren't fans of creamier brown ales or ambers will be woefully disappointed. For the rest of you, just let that 6.9% ABV get you nice and toasty.
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