As great as it can be to drink seasonally, sometimes you want brewers to think beyond the obvious. Instead of your traditional wintertime stout or porter, the craft beer elder statesmen at Anderson Valley Brewing Company (est. 1987) like to seasonally rotate their core ale across various styles. Enter Chai Solstice, which adds a dose of spice to an amber ale, making this beer enjoyable whenever and however you want.
Appearance and Aroma
Chai Solstice looks like a proper amber ale—it’s a nice, honey shade of golden-brown with very little head. At first glance, nothing indicates anything out of the ordinary happening in the glass. That’s decidedly not the case at first sniff. Close your eyes, and it’s a chai latte: cinnamon, maybe some clove, and a faint bit of vanilla. As opposed to beer styles that usually feature chai spices (stouts and maybe porters), the blank slatedness of an amber ale allows the added spices to shine.
I haven’t come across many beers that makes me think, 'Hmm, I’d drink this with a cookie.'”
I haven’t come across many beers that makes me think, “Hmm, I’d drink this with a cookie.” But I immediately had a craving for some warm chocolate chip ones after the first sips of Chai Solstice. This ale offers some sweet complimentary flavors in quick, intense bursts. Cinnamon arrives first, backed up most prominently by cardamon and a touch of malt. You can get that sensation again and again because this beer drinks clean—the aftertaste is barely there and it lingers for less time than the average Instagram story.
Beers that juxtapose style and flavor in unconventional ways can be hit or miss (looking at you, coffee IPAs). But Chai Solstice feels like a better application of these familiar spices than the darker alternatives.