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Sweetwater Festive Ale - SweetWater Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sweetwater Festive AleSweetwater Festive Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

282 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 282
Hads: 724
Avg: 3.81
pDev: 20.21%
Wants: 31
Gots: 132 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
SweetWater Brewing Company visit their website
Georgia, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  7.70% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: purplehops on 11-14-2002

A strong ale brewed with generous amounts of rich malt, coupled with a taint of cinnamon and mace
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sweetwater Festive Ale Alström Bros
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Reviews: 282 | Hads: 724
Photo of Erdinger2003
1.33/5  rDev -65.1%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

2006 Edition

The head pours out and falls away into nothing. The smell is like cheap cheap perfume that is very bad. Oddly enough it reminds me of the cleaners that we used back in 2001 at Hardees. It tastes like bad roast beef layed out on the table for a week. With a little sweet flowery bouquet of the cleaners from Hardees. The mouthfeel was ok, but overall the drinkability is zero, never again.

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Photo of jneiswender
1.78/5  rDev -53.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Had this beer served in a pint glass during a tour of the brewery.

Dark walnut color with a large bubble head. Head lasts quite a bit.

Smells sour and then sweet. Like a raisin like finish.

/The flavor is very, very complex. I think to a fault. The flavors aren't necessarily bad, just not layered. Everything seems to be happening at once. It even had some musty or mushroom like overtones.

One sip was all I needed. Didn't like the beer at all. Very honestly it tastes like a bad homebrew made of leftover ingredients.

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Photo of BeerImmediately
2.35/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

6 pack from grocery store in NC. Sucked in by interesting label.

Pours with virtually no head over dark brown body with ruby edges. No lacing.

Aromas are heavy. Molasses, caramel, ginger, peppermint, and some allspice. Not bad.

Mouthfeel and flavor drop the ball on the aromas. Thick and syrupy, with harsh film left on the tongue. Flavors include black strap molasses, burnt raisin, char, caramel malt, and muted piney hop bitterness in the finish... Unfortunately, not a clean hop bite.

Seems like they're trying too hard to add holiday cheer to this one - overdone for the style, even tho there is debate on what this style should be. IMO, it should be something you could enjoy several of at a gathering, but this one is a bit of a choker.

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Photo of planetscott
2.48/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

The appearance and smell of this beer was decent, however there is just too much ginger used for my preference. So much so, it is undrinkable. This could be a much better beer if they backed off the ginger. I am hoping the 2007 edition will be better.

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Photo of PDXHops
2.67/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle poured into a La Chouffe tulip. Cola brown body with a wisp of a head that quickly shrinks to a ring of bubbles and a patchy skim of foam. Spots of lacing here and there.

Aromas at first seem to be limited to nutty malts with a hint of cocoa. As it warms, a tangy dark fruit presence comes into play. Plenty of fruity flavor as well; not quite puckering, but on the verge of sour. Tart orange and grape in particular are notable. These and a fairly potent citric bitterness team up to drown out any of the rich 'winter warmer' qualities that appear to be lingering underneath. Burnt brown sugar sweetness doesn't seem to mesh with anything. Light notes of cocoa and toffee fight through the tanginess, but are swatted down.

Overall impression: Sweetwater is perhaps my favorite regional brewery, but this is an awkward-tasting brew that misses the mark. Can't recommend this one.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
2.86/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured into a discraft great lakes open mug. Dark, nice head, aroma is spicey, lots of cinnamon and nutmeg, allspice, hint of vanilla and fruit.

Flavor taste a bit too much like cheap pumpkin pie, too much spice and kinda sweet. It's not doing it for me, maybe some extra roast and I would be happier. There is a lot of good, just seems to be missing a few key components.

I would like to try next years festive fresh, maybe the 6 months did not do this one well.

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Photo of JBIII
2.9/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Overall, this beer just did not do anything to stand out from the numerous other Winter Warmer/Winter Ale. This beer was overly sweet/malty and the hop profile was average.

With a beer as malty and heavy as this one, it should have been better balanced by a more robust, yet subtle and complex hop profile to enhance the spice profiles of the beer.

Try it, but don't buy it. There are better Winter Ales out there, such as Jubilation's Avery.

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Photo of drabmuh
2.91/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This beer is too thick, too sweet, cloying and doesn't really go anywhere. Oh well, never again.

Beer is dark brown and clear with a thin off white head, no lacing low carbonation, looks like beer.

Aroma is malty sweet, like syrup. Aroma does not excite me too much.

Beer is THICK, sweet like syrup and hard to swallow. Almost no other flavors other than syrup. I didn't really like this beer.

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Photo of atsprings
2.94/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Flying Saucer Raleigh on Dec. 3 served in a standard pint glass and reviewed from notes. The beer was served a dark brown that showed ruby highlights when held to light and sported a barely there disappearing head. The aroma was sweet malts and a hint of spice. The taste is slight sweet malts and alcohol, not much there. The beer is somewhat heavy a bit overly sweet. This one is tolerable, but a huge disappointment.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.95/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Mr_Kimchee: Poured a dark black color beer with a medium off-white foamy head with average retention. Aroma of dry roasted malt with some faint spices. Taste is dominated by roasted malt with a very dry finish. I could not detect very much spice presence overall though and was surprised by the fact that this is classified as spiced beer since I honestly though it was a porter.

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Photo of unclejimbay
3.04/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Scott for this 2010 Holiday gift to the JamMin Shack!

Dark coffee in color with respectable head and cap.
Strange aroma. Spicy, Jagermeister?, liquor? Licorice? Mace? Medicinal? Strange indeed, unpleasant but unique.
Tastes like a dark winter warmer, porter like with a dash of spice and cinnamon/pepper heat.
Medium body and body, spicy finish.

Tastes better as you warm up to it, just not my type of beer.
Share-able? Yes
Will I ever buy it? Nope.

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Photo of Zorro
3.06/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Massive 33 Oz bottle received from LuckySevens82 and BIF33 - Team Spring.

Vintage 2005 Bottle # 804 of 7200. Hard wax dipped flip top bottle.

Exceptionally dark brown beer that is very close to black. Only thing that makes it not black is the small amount of light that can be passed through the edges. Near no head just a tan ring around the edges of the glass.

Smell is a bit sour with lemon and ginger and something like the smell of Coke a cola. Bit of alcohol and pepper in the scent.

Taste is mildly sweet and sour with a good chocolate and coffee taste with some spices added. Decent bitterness kicks in after a while. Something tastes off here. Mouthfeel is OK.

Not my favorite beer here. Just seems off. Not recommended.

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Photo of CWiggins
3.07/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I purchased this big-ass bottle (33.8oz) from Bruisin' Ales in Asheville around Christmas '08. (Sweetwater brews aren't available in the Durham area, but they can be found in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina.

It pours a very dark brown with a rich, thick, deep tan head that lasted for some time. Aromas of bright cherry, caramel, dark chocolate, and alcohol are noted. The flavor is bright indeed, with sweet, dark fruit dominating the front and middle of the profile. The finish is a bit hoppy, and a slight coffee essence lingers here and during the aftertaste. It's certainly more malty than I expected.

It's a nice beverage, although it's not like any winter warmer I've ever had. Very interesting and worth trying again.

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Photo of PhillyStyle
3.08/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served on-tap in a pint glass at Pub 71 (Atlanta, GA):

The beer appeared a deep brown with red hints around the edges when held up to light. It had a tan-ish color head, no retention, no lacing to speak of.

Not much of an aroma, slight malt, that was about it.

The taste is decent, a nice roasted malt taste, with some hints of something sweet and some other spices, none really to strong to mention.

Beer has medium to light body, carbonation level was decent. It was smooth and drinkability is average, I could have another or not. Leaves malty bitter aftertaste. I think the next time that I visited the establishment, I went with something else.

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Photo of SilentSabre
3.09/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Aside from this being a bit darker than I would have expected, everything else I was dead-on about. It poured a very dense dark chocolate brown through which light could hardly pass. No head. The smell was hoppier than I care for, which I predicted it would be. A bit of malt present, which is what I enjoy, but plenty of hops. No thanks. The taste was the same as the smell. A greater presence of hops than malt. Mouthfeel is very nice, however. There's little carbonation and it's very smooth and easy to drink. This has a very very slight heaviness to it. Or rather, what I think I'm trying to say is that there is a consistency here that seems a bit thicker than one might expect. Not like syrup, but certainly more dense than water. Overall, I probably will never buy this again. It certainly isn't terrible, but it certainly isn't for me either. I really didn't care for it that much, but it sure does have a smooth finish, and at 8.6%, it'll do the trick in a hurry!!

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Photo of carlborch
3.13/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dense, dark, brown with a 2.5-inch, creamy, tan, head that is persistent, but eventually settles. Deep, rich, warm, spicy nose with hints of burnt sugar and coffee. Medium-full body with ABV warmth on the palate. Spicy (mace, cinnamon, and nutmeg) and malty with dark roasted-smokey notes. Raisin bread overtones. Dried fruit. Figs? Molasses? Nice lace. Slight sourness in the lingering.

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Photo of Schwarzwald
3.13/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Aromas are sweet smelling with lots of richness of fall fruits and winter fruits. I was very excited to try this and it has left me a little bit "wanting more". For such a beautiful bottle and display it had to be great. A perfect winter holiday ale with so much to offer... well... not really. Some spiciness and good mouth feel, but needs more depth. Has a funky bitter (not in a good way) aftertaste.

Not my favorite, but a good bet if nothing else is there for holiday beer.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.15/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

(A)- Pours a very dark burnt sienna color. Some good tan froth and lace.

(S)- A rich raisin and almond spice to it. Simple, but nice.

(T)- A spicy raisin and nut combo (walnut?)

(M)- A good carbonation level. A solid rich balance too without being too strong.

(D)- Overall, a solid little winter warmer. Not the best, but worth trying.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.15/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

($1.99 12oz. 2007 Bottle @ Total Wine in Kennesaw, GA).

Appearance: Pours a clear dark brown body with ruby-hued edges and a wispy, white head.

Smell: Aroma charged with spices, mostly allspice, but there's some mace and cinnamon in there as well.

Taste: Mild roasted maltiness and burnt toast flavor with a faint hint of chocolate. A spicy-sweet fruitiness kicks in, as does the allspice zing. Finishes dry with a light lingering spiciness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: It's alright, but I dare say one's enough for me per year!

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.25/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 12 oz from the great trader from Utah... Wasatch! I've been looking forward to trying this one for a looong time... poured into my Chimay goblet.

1/4" head dies back very quickly.. the brew looks like an American porter... very very dark.. highlites only when held to the brightest light.

Aroma is dark fruits.. dark dried fruits.... some burnt sugars.. dark cherries and prunes with some caramel and rummy raisins.

Flavor has all the above elements with some subtle (maybe imaginary) spiciness.. orange peel?, cardamom?, cinnamon?! again it's more fruity than anything else and has a fair amount of dark caramel maltiness to it.. This is a "Winter Warmer" that I actually can stomach.... I never care for the overspiced versions (think Anchor).. but even then, this is IMO, only okay.. too much of nothing.. just a descent beer that never goes anywhere... The body may be the best element... smooth and fairly thick with a lite yet ever present small bubble carbonation... Edit: Tooo sweet as it warms.. and the waves of spice really come out killing the drinkability.... I'm trying... but... too much of everything equals too much of nothing and is surprisingly just average.

Thanks John for the try.... Honestly Thanks!! I've thought about trying to trade for the big bottles of these before and am very happy that I've been dissuaded.. I'll try to do you right soon. :-)

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Photo of bassmantin
3.25/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Please note, I am drinking this beer out of a bottle because I am at the ATL airport. But I still want to put my two cents in.

No comments on the appearance or smell. The taste is very full and thick. Lots of sticky sweet malts. Decently biting hops to give it some punch, but nothing extreme. Leaves a sticky taste in the back of you throat, which I do not particularly enjoy.

Overall, I would not have this one again. It's a little too much malt and hop and not enough delicate balance.

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Photo of kimcgolf
3.26/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with hints of ruby, medium off-white head that lasts well into the glass, and good lacing. Aroma is somewhat weak, but what it there is a pleasant mix of malty sweet, dark fruit, some choclate and spices. Flavor is good and somewhat spicy, but fades too quickly because body is too thin and watery. The main drawback to this beer is the stale, bitter finish that leaves a licorice aftertaste. Not a terrible Holiday Brew, but there are better

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Photo of Chaney
3.26/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I bought this one from a liquor store in Winston-Salem during Sexual Chocolate weekend. I'm now drinking it.

A: Dark brown with no light passing. The huge 1.5 finger head died down within an hour or so (yep, that's right). HUGE!

S: Spice bomb for sure. Brown sugar, winter ale spice.

T: Like a brown ale around Christmas season. Dark fruit and lots of spice.

M: Not too thick, carbonation.... enough! The lacing was ridiculous.

O: Not my thing. If you're really into Winter Warmers, look elsewhere...

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Photo of KajII
3.26/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

[Best served in a Lager glass]

The pour was a murky dark brown with an average sized (1-2 finger) head that was not around for long and only having fair lacing.

The aroma was very mild of a toasted chocolate malt a very mild resin hop and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of allspice, cinnamon, toffee and dark fruit.

The taste was moderately sweet and malty with a hint of toffee and some fruit at first then had the strong effect of spices take hold with a nice note of dark fruit and an alcohol warming sensation at the end. The flavor lasted only a short time while the taste of the dark fruit faded into the background of the spices.

Mouthfeel was just a smidgen below medium in body and a tad watery in texture with a weak carbonation.

Overall a Winter Ale with a nice dose of spices and a superb maltiness. A very drinkable brew even with the noticeably strong alcohol presence.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.3/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Dogfish Head pint glass.
This pours MUCH darker than I had expected. This beer is a very dark brown with some ruby highlights around the edges. There was a slight 1/4 inch head that quickly disappeared.
There's some spice coming through in the nose but I can't put my finger on just what it is. I'm getting a nutmeg and licorice smell from it.
Taste is similar to the nose. It is good tasting and quite different from your ordinary winter warmer.
The mouthfeel is of medium feel with a decent amount of carbonation. It is somewhat coating in the mouth which takes away from the drinkability slightly.
This is a good beer for this 15 degree night. A solid offering that I would drink again.

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Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.