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Sweetwater Festive Ale - SweetWater Brewing Company

Sweetwater Festive AleSweetwater Festive Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

566 Ratings
THE BROS
86
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 566
Reviews: 268
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.5%


Brewed by:
SweetWater Brewing Company visit their website
Georgia, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  8.60% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: purplehops on 11-14-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 566 | Reviews: 268 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ectomorph
ectomorph

Tennessee

4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - Pours jet black with a light hint of mahogany when held up to the light. Full finger tan head fades to rings at each sip.

S - Malty molasses and figs. No spice readily available. Surprised.

T - Chocolate, molasses, and nutmeg? Not nutmeg, what is that?? I love this beer. Very faint hop citrus in the back.

M - Medium to big body and rich feel. Nice.

D - Very high, you would never in life guess 8.6%

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2008 22:04:10 | More by ectomorph
Photo of bhalter8
bhalter8

Georgia

4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours extremely dark, close to a stout it appears. The mix of cloves, hops and malts make for nice mixed aroma. The taste this year is far better than last year (2007). Having had this many times over the years I am pleasantly surprised and impressed by this year's version. While distinct in flavor form the previously mentioned mix, it is very drinkable, especially considering the ABV%. Considering I have cellared many of the previous years' version, I especially look forward to seeing how this ages.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2008 22:45:00 | More by bhalter8
Photo of NWFLyer
NWFLyer

Florida

4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass; slim, brown-cream colored head which dissipated fairly quickly. Little to no lacing.

Nose: Rich, full bodied, distinctly malty. Spice is evident, with essence of clove and cocoa. It reminds me of a porter.

Taste: Creamy mouth-feel. Hop bitterness is evident, but not overwhelming. Smooth with a pleasant after-taste. Rich, dark malt and smoke flavors linger on the tongue.

Drinkability: Overall, I was pleasantly impressed by this seasonal offering from Sweetwater Brewing. It is a solid offering from a company which is a steady performer in the craft brewing segment. The rich taste is a departure from other Sweetwater beers that I have tasted. I would recommend this ale to anyone who enjoys a good dark beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2009 08:36:51 | More by NWFLyer
Photo of charlottebeer
charlottebeer

North Carolina

4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had the pleasure of being part of SweetWaters 1st Verticle Tasting ever last night @ Duckworths in Charlotte, NC. We sampled '04,'06,'07,'08,'09. Here is my review of 2004 Festive Ale: Poured wonderfully smooth with light lacing. Deep mahogany rich color. Although it was great to look at, it was better to tast, I didn't waste a second. It was very mild. It aged very well and ended up very well balanced. It reminded me of a well aged barley wine, one that wasn't 12% but rather 8-9%. Very nice!

Continuing my verticle review of Festive Ale...the 2006:
Poured great, light lacing,more cinnamon & Chocholate in the nose than '04. A little more warmth than the 04 as well. Very enjoyable. Very easy to drink. This one was my favorite out of the 5 years we sampled.

2007: Poured more lively, better lacing. There was a noticable difference with the beer being more active on my pallet. Still had that great color, deep mahogany. More people liked it as the best of the night on my end of the table but I'm sticking with the '06, although the 2007 was enjoyable

2008: This was limited in quantities due to there not being any around, but I got a good feel for it. Same pour as '07 but with more chocholate on the nose with noticeably more fruit on the nose. Has held up very well in the bottles, was very fresh tasting. More spices and fruit in the taste.

The 2009:
Great pour, great nose, choclately, spice, cinnamon, very fresh taste. Very enjoyable

Summary: I have done many verticles over the last 15 plus years and had always seemed to be a "dog" in the bunch. Usually one year didn't hold us as well or really went south. The SweeatWater held up VERY WELL and was consistant with it's quality and taste. There were NO DOGS in this pack of great vintage Festive Ales!

Serving type: bottle

10-21-2010 16:02:13 | More by charlottebeer
Photo of deejaydan
deejaydan

Michigan

4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Raj! Got this one, um, one of the BIF's.
Comes in an impressive waxed dipped flip top one liter bottle.

Pours a deep chestnut brown color with ruby highlights. Decent head retention here. Smells and tastes like a Belgian Dubbel. Rum, spices, ripe fruits greet you as you taste this beer. I find this has a fuller body than most belgian dubbels that I've had, and a much more rounded character. Still, it does seem a bit sharp in the mouth to me. The alcohol is blended in nicely too, not noticable at all.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2005 23:12:12 | More by deejaydan
Photo of godlessape
godlessape

Georgia

4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured this into monster size thistle glass.
The body has an intensely dark malevolent ruby brown shade to it, just one degree from midnight. It's topped off with a creamy tan head that diminished rapidly.
Aroma is like burnt brown sugar, with maybe a hint of cinnamon toast.
Taste is both malty and fruity and densely so at that, along with a earthy, almost leathery savoriness There's also a minimal hop sizzle on the tail end that works rather well.
The mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth. The alcohol is well hidden.
Overall a fine brew from a great brewery. Caution: This beer will sneak up on you something fierce.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2013 04:48:29 | More by godlessape
Photo of weeare138
weeare138

Pennsylvania

4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage bottle received in a trade from warriorsoul many moons ago.
Appears a dark brown, nearing black with deep crimson, & purple edges when held to the light. A fluffy, 2 finger light tan head slowly drops into a mild cap that seems to stick around for the entire duration. Scattered lacing sticks to the glass.
Smell is of molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, toasted nuts, caramel, and a touch of cocoa.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a lovely mix that seems to come together nicely in a lowly spicy yet somewhat sweet, molasses & caramel drizzled cashew flavor.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, spritzy, sweet, lip smacking, and nutty. The spicing is enticing enough to make an impression on the palate with just a touch of black grape in the finish.
This is a really good beer. If it was aged on oak, this would strike me as being similar to a nicely aged blend of Zinfandel & Shiraz grapes with a hint of peppery, cinnamon, & sandalwood in the finish.
I'm not sure if this was intended to be aged, or not but it found it's way to the miscellaneous section of the cellar shelves and sat there for a few years. Before I opened this, I just enjoyed a 2003 Anderson Valley Winter Solstice and I was loving it b/c it took on some sherry characteristics. This too was a nice follow up, as it had complex wine notes that I would actually rate higher than many wines.
Damn...I'm glad that I stumbled on this one tonight!

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2008 02:02:17 | More by weeare138
Photo of NCSUdo
NCSUdo

Massachusetts

4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle

A: Dark brown under a very small off white head. No retention and no lace.

S: Nice roasted, toasted, nutty, malty aroma. Maybe a hint of some kind spice and pine. Good aroma.

T: Again, very malty. Roasted, toasted, nutty, hint of caramel, hint of pine and spice, alcohol is slightly apparent and a surprising level of bitterness in the finish (nothing huge, just more than I thought was going to be there).

M/D: Full bodied, smooth, carbonation is low. Drinkability is very good. A tasty beer indeed.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2009 02:46:30 | More by NCSUdo
Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
Kkottonmouthkngz

Massachusetts

4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: this is a beautifully colored beer, with ruby, cranberry hues in the light, transforms to a menacing black as soon as taken away. just about a full fingers worth of tan head, quickly dissipates.
S: not very potent, definitely mild accents of milk chocolate, maybe a little bit of nutmeg or cinnamon.. cant discern a whole lot else individually. even though its not in your face, it is certainly pleasant.
T: here we go, this is tasty. again none of the flavors that im getting are huge like some overly spiced winter beers, theyre just right. nice maltiness, some of those well balanced spices of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a fruitiness that pulls ahead of the little bit of chocolate. this is probably one of the better winter beers ive had this year.
M: the decent hop presence plus the carbonatio level bring this one alive on the palate. its not overly heavy, and i enjoy how the spices stick to the top of my tongue well after ive had my share.
D: enjoying this one all the way through. goes down so easily on this cold snowy winter night.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2011 23:08:25 | More by Kkottonmouthkngz
Photo of bjwilson
bjwilson

Alabama

4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First review.
Wow. This beer really is a mouthful. Pours a big head but dissipates quickly. The smell and taste of coffee mixed with winter spices is upfront. The alcohol is warming, but really packs a punch at the end. Overall, a wonderful warming winter beer. I will be seeking this one out over the holidays.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2012 02:52:26 | More by bjwilson
Photo of IntriqKen
IntriqKen

California

4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 Vintage
This was a total surprise. Definitely not your average winter warmer. I was sort of expecting the typical amber/brown/or red with some spice thrown in and a wintery label but this is an entirely drifferent brew.
Dark amber in the glass with a half finger loose head that melts quickly to a thin ring.
Aroma initially is alcohol with some toasted malt back.
Flavors are toasted amber malt with almost a smokey taste. Dark candied fruits like raisin and plum. Most prominent spice is nutmeg...yeah, definitely nutmeg. Alcohol and light citrus hops on the end that dry and clean the palette.
Alcohol in this one makes for a nice sipper...especially on this cold winter evening.
Thanks to barleywinebrewer for this wonderful winter warmer.

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2007 02:05:42 | More by IntriqKen
Photo of Backer2004
Backer2004

North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this one on tap at the Sweetwater brewing grill at the Atlanta airport. If it was not for a small poster, I wouldn't have even known this was available. Great style to end the holidays with. Poured into a nice goblet, this winter warmer has no faults. Nice spices, easy to consume, and just the right baance of malts makes this probably the best airport beers I can remember

Serving type: on-tap

12-31-2009 00:41:31 | More by Backer2004
Photo of mklinger
mklinger

North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Dogfish Head snifter. It pours an extra deep brown that was almost black. A thin 1/2 finger mocha colored head formed. A nice looking rich brown ale.

Aroma is all full of alcohol and Christmas fruitcake smells. Lots and lots of dark, dried fruits -- raisins, plums, figs, etc with a hint of chocolate. Really rich complex aromas. Like a big old figgy rumball. I really like the aroma. Minimally hops but quite nice.

To me, this tastes like a good Belgian quadruple would taste like if it were fermented with a clean American yeast instead of Belgian Trappist yeast. So it doesn't have the spicy complexity of a Abbey ale, but it has a similar complex malty flavor. There's a bit more chocolate in the flavor than the aroma, and without the complex yeast character, it comes across as a bit more one-dimensional than a Trappist ale, but it's still a very solid, strong Christmas ale.

Very full rich mouthfeel. Nice carbonation in the mouth. Very enjoyable. Out of the 6 or 7 Xmas ales I've had each of the last couple years, this has been probably my favorite. Really nice, easy to drink beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2010 03:19:22 | More by mklinger
Photo of purplehops
purplehops

Maine

4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 batch Bottle # 2600 of 4800.

Festive ale pours a deep ruby brown with an off-white head that is full of carbonation and leaves little to no lacing on the glass. The aroma is malt sweetness with a good dose of nutmeg and mace and just a hint of anise. Taste starts with a bit of a spicy hop bite and then a rush of malt and fruit notes. Flavors of pears and apples blend with malty sweetness and flavors of caramel and allspice. The finish is a luscious balance of spicy hops, caramel and chocolate malts, nutmeg, cinnamon, and the first notes of alcohol making themselves known. Aftertaste is a very long lingering sweetness (but not cloyingly so) with just a hint of alcohol warmth and hop acidity. Mouthfeel is medium body with a very nice smoothness to it and just a touch of acidity.
Overall this has to be one of the best beers that I have had from Sweetwater. A pleasant blend of spices and malts that make for holiday merrymaking anytime you open one. The only down side to this beer is trying to open it. Fifteen minutes with a swiss army knife and you can finally open the plastic and metal swing top coated in hard red wax. There has to be a better way to seal a bottle without buying a corking and caging machine.

Serving type: bottle

08-24-2003 22:27:43 | More by purplehops
Photo of resirob
resirob

Pennsylvania

4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle,
Appearance: Pours a luxurious dark ruby/black with a thick khaki head that settles to a thin ring and leaves almost no lace.

Aroma: Spicy sweet. Spices are up front and bold. Floral hop character is there, too. Malty sweetness floats in and out as I swirl the glass.

Taste: Mmmm. Nice winter brew. Roasted toffee maltiness with a great blend of spices. Tastes like it smells - spicy sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and smooth.

Drinkability: An easy drinking winter brew.

Really got me in the mood for more winter/holiday seasonals. I received 2 bottles courtesy of rajendra82, and I will be cellaring the remaining one for further review in the future (next winter, if I can wait - no promises!). This is the second Sweetwater brew I have sampled, and I must say that I have liked both. It is a shame that Sweetwater is not readily available where I live. This is certainly a brewery that deserves some more exposure.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2003 15:33:36 | More by resirob
Photo of GCBrewingCo
GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass clear deep amber brown with a tan head which rose tall and fell slowly to lace the glass.

The aroma was malty with a nice dark caramel presence and a nice fruit presence. Most notably were spices, namely cinnamon and perhaps a light bit of clove or maybe allspice. Chocolate was also nicely achieved in the aroma.

The flavor was similar to that of a brown ale with chocolate and a nice caramel maltiness. The flavor was fruity with more spice character that was well achieved and added complexity. The chocolate, caramel and spice all had melded into a very well done flavor that was quite alluring.

The finish was dry with a lasting chocolate and light spice impression into the aftertaste. The body was medium and nicely done. Rated as a brown ale with spices, it is a very good beer albeit a slight bit pricey.

2003 Vintage bottle 2675, could not have been above 6% abv in 2003 due to GA laws. 33.8 ounce large swingtop bottle covered with way that made the bottle near impossible to open. I'm very glad I purchased it even though it was about $16 at Sherlocks cold case in Marietta, GA. The price is the only sticking point.

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2005 21:07:17 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of dgallina
dgallina

Georgia

4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Gigantic wax-stoppered 33.8 ounce brown bottle. Dated 2006 and numbered 2381 of 9000.

Pours slightly transparent dark brown with big chunky tan head that recedes to decent lace. Smells malty and heavily spiced with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and pepper. Flavor is dominated by heavily-toasted and somewhat smoky malts (chocolate, caramel, and toasted dark bread). The malts are balanced by dark fruitiness (raisins and plums) edged with christmas spices. Alcohol is not overly apparent, though the beer becomes heady with time. No hop presence to speak of. Gently carbonated and quite creamy medium-heavy body. Fans of malty ales (scotch ales particularly) may like this quite a bit. An unusually nice offering from Sweetwater IMHO.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2006 22:15:23 | More by dgallina
Photo of Viggo
Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Christmas tasting with biegaman and grub. grub contributed this one, 1liter swingtop, 2004 vintage.

Pours a clear red/orange/brown, neat colour, a bit of haze, thick tan head, tons of lace, settles to a thick ring. Smell is very rich, toffee, maples, chocolate, raisins, spices, alcohol is well hidden, smells qreat. Taste is toffee, iron, fruits, dates, spices, touch of chocolate, very rich, cinnamon finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation, very smooth, very enjoyable. Thanks a lot for sharing Russ!

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2007 23:00:20 | More by Viggo
Photo of Bung
Bung

North Carolina

4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Sturdy brown pour with just a little bit of off white head. Retains well and sticks to the glass a little. Aroma has some more roast than other warmers, and some floral hop with the Christmas spice. Taste is like a brown ale spiced with ginger and nutmeg. Light roast, earthy nuttiness and some chocolates. Well carbonated with a mid/light body and mouthfeel. Drinks very well with no alcohol noticed. A nice warmer from Sweetwater.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2009 04:56:04 | More by Bung
Photo of titosupertramp
titosupertramp

Tennessee

4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown, chestnut in color. Thick, dense tan head that fades quicker than expected. Light lacing on the drink side of the glass. Decent cap.

S: Subtle for such a large beer, but pleasant. Chocolate, mollasses or brown sugar, toffee and lots of spices. Overall, a very sweet smelling beer.

T: Really nice mixture of flavors here. Tart fruit, chocolate, brown sugar, toffee..cinnamon maybe...I always have trouble identifying individual spices. Pretty complex beer.

M: This is on the full side of medium. Sure enough, this does give you a warming effect.

O: Festival Ale is solid. All aspects are enjoyable and it's incredibly drinkable given the ABV...the alcohol is hardly noticeable. I'll pick this up again.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2011 03:43:06 | More by titosupertramp
Photo of RonaldTheriot
RonaldTheriot

Louisiana

4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Sweetwater Festive Ale has a thin, creamy, cream-colored head, a very dark brown appearance with ruby highlights and visible, tight bubble streams, and a good amount of splotchy lacing left around the glass. The aroma is of spiced bread, bread crust, and sweetness. Taste is of those elements, with subdued bitterness and syrup of some sort. Mouthfeel is somewhat watery, and Sweetwater Festive Ale finishes refreshing, sweet, easily drinkable, mostly dry, and not the least bit alcohilic. Overall, this is one of the better spice ales I’ve tried.

RJT

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2013 15:22:31 | More by RonaldTheriot
Photo of ugaterrapin
ugaterrapin

Georgia

4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. About a finger of light tan head. A dark brown color that is almost completely opaque. Aroma is not too strong, but hints of spice and caramel malts. Initial taste is of hops and spice finishing with notes of vanilla. This beer is relatively drinkable for being on the darker side. It is a great seasonal offering from Sweetwater.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2009 00:57:44 | More by ugaterrapin
Photo of ATLhophead
ATLhophead

Georgia

4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A- Extremely dark, has great allure to promote berries, dark chocolate indulgence, hint of brown sugar.

S- Has an excessive amount of vanilla paired exquisitely with a caramel nutiness. Coffee grounds could add to the nose of this beast.

T- Very close to the aroma. Excessive traits: Vanilla, Chocolate, Molasses, Caramel.

M- My favorite part of this brew. A medium carbonation that represents the state of most stouts and porters. Puts a smile on your face.

D- Lighter than most would expect. The taste is quite appetizing. I could be a homer since I am from Atlanta, but this is one to enjoy all throughout the Holidays!

Cheers! :D

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2009 02:26:28 | More by ATLhophead
Photo of wisrarebeer
wisrarebeer

Wisconsin

4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 Version in a 750ml bottle.

A: deep mahogany color, very pretty
S: incredibly different nose, when I read the label and noticed the beer was spiced I was disappointed but the nose is chewy, treacle and hints of barrel aging although the beer isn't, some cinnamon noticeable also
T: somewhat thing for ABV but very nice roasted malt and spice hints, not overpowering with hops, nice roasted malt
M: thinner for color and ABV but good
D: very drinkable despite ABV

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2011 21:24:46 | More by wisrarebeer
Photo of rajendra82
rajendra82

Georgia

4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasted in a 12oz bottle in 11/03 as a month old brew. Thanks aracauna for pointing me in the direction of the store where I found this rare gem. Now I have a couple of six packs sitting in the fridge and a few more in the pantry. I'll be saving these and updating the review as it ages (if I can resist the temptation to finish them off). The beer pours out as a gorgeous looking dark red concoction with a tall off white head that dissipates to a thin invisible line of bubbles. Carbonation is pretty low and so is the amount of belgian lace. It is a perfect winter brew with lots of roasted caramel malt backbone and a high ABV (for Georgia) that is balanced out by the explosive level of spices and distinctively floral hoppy aroma. Warms you up nicely as it goes down easy. As I taste it, the temperature outside is near 60 degrees. This will be perfect when I get stuck at the house with about a 1/4 inch of snow on the roads outside (after all this is Atlanta). Another quality product from Sweetwater that should not be missed by anyone that can get their hands on it.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2003 03:30:10 | More by rajendra82
Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 566 ratings.