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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

280 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 280
Hads: 715
Avg: 3.82
pDev: 20.42%
Wants: 26
Gots: 124 | FT: 2
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
Reviews: 280 | Hads: 715
Photo of Tifore
3.77/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Grant (gford217) for this bottle. Poured from the bottle into a tumbler.

A - Pours a dark brown almost black liquid that is clear as it pours. Develops a very small light tan head but dissapates very quickly and leaves nothing except little bubbles rising to the sides of the glass.

S - Smells very strong of cinnamon and syrup. Really sweet and spicy. I feel like I should be bundled up next to a fire. Definitely smells like a winter warmer.

T - First taste brings lots of cinnamon to the tounge, maybe some clove and allspice? Lots of fall spices. Sweet notes and slight booze come after and finish out the taste.

M - Mouthfeel is syrupy and heavy. Medium on the carbonation and definitely warming.

D - I like this beer. A six pack would be in my fridge for sure if I could buy Sweetwater in Ohio. A few of these and I'd be set for a cold night and sleep great all night long.

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Photo of nickfl
3.77/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with tow fingers of brown foam on top of a dark brown body with amber highlights and some suspended particulate matter. The head settles at a moderate pace and leaves little lace.

S - Sweet malt with some caramel and chocolate. Spicy notes of cinnamon and ginger.

T - Thick, caramel malt up front with a hint of chocolate. Clove and cinnamon notes in the middle. Some light malt bitterness in the finish with a lingering milk chocolate flavor.

M - Moderately thick body, medium carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - Nice, light spice flavor with a great malt character. Quite smooth and drinkable but it would probably get old pretty quickly if the bottle wasn't being split between several people.

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Photo of blitz134
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a nice coca-cola brown with a off-white to tan one finger head on it which disappeared rather quickly to a slight coating on the surface. Aroma was a bit dull to me, not as pronounced as I was expecting. Woodsy smells waft to the edge of the glass with slight overtones of a concoction of spices. No single spice stands out to me though. The taste is rather good and coats the mouth well. The flavor is mostly dominated by toasted malts with a slight alcoholic sweetness. I don't pick up on too many spices in the taste. I could see having several of these in an evening but the sweetness could knock the drinkability down a bit.

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Photo of aracauna
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

11/6/03 (review of aged sample): I stuck a couple of bottles of this down in the basement for a year to age. They aged surprisingly well. The spice flavor that was far too strong when fresh has subdued nicely, making this a much more drinkable beer and also allowed more fruitiness come out. Much more interesting now.

11/12/02: Dark, dark ruby, almost black. Light khaki head lasts a while. The aroma is brown sugar, pumpernickel bread and toffee. The flavor is really earthy and woody. Kind of like the smell of a forest after a rain with the rottings logs and new growth. What I'm assuming is the mace comes on a little strong while the cinammon is faint enough that I don't notice it. The alcohol tickles around the edges of the palate but is covered fairly well.

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Photo of HeyItsChili
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Poured from a 2008 Edition bottle into a pint glass. Pours dark brown with a medium/thin khaki head that slowly fades.

S - Toffee, dark fruits, spices

T - Spices at the onset, then roasted malts, brown sugar, slight alcohol tinge. Nutmeg finish.

M - Medium to thin bodied, not terribly impressive here.

D - Tasty, a little high on the nutmeg, but a nice ABV for a beer of its type.

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Photo of beergod1
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appears dark brown with very little head, some lacing on the glass. Smells Malty with a touch of Cinnamon. Tastes of dark roasty malts, cinnamon and a light alcohol finish. Not a very robust mouthfeel, somewhat light, But made it easy to drink. Worth a try, but not the best in its field.

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber brown bordering on opaque but plenty of red highlights when held up to the light... Large tan head with moderate rention and good lacing.

The nose is all malt - plenty of sweet notes of caramel and molasses with hints of nutmeg and ginger. The flavor is surprisingly chocolaty with a pronounced cocoa note as well as a lighter prune flavor. Moderate spicing of cinnamon and nutmeg make up most of the highlights. Very light hop bitterness in the background tends to give it a hint of balance. Sweet but not over the top.

A bit lighter bodied than you'd expect, oily residue left on the tongue and not enough carbonation to give this much body. Slightly cloying aftertaste but a bit of alcohol burn actually helps clean up the palate.

Not perfect but quite tasty and just the kind of thing I'm looking for in a winter warmer.

[Thanks to rajendra82 for sending out this Georgia treat]

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Photo of jucifer1818
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a: Dark and black, with little head. perfect for a winter ale like this one

S: Very varible and smelling of spice. With each smell someone can smell a differnt spice or detect something new in it. It is very nice, but could be stronger. A bit of yeasty fruityness in the smell as well

t: smooth for a beer of its ABV, with light spicing and malty backbone. the maltyness comes through in the after taste with some hoppy bitterness.

M: Very light for its dark color and ABV, but still quite nice
but could be stronger

Its a very decent winter warmer and one of the best deals on a 6 pack you can get. Its good spiceing and high ABV make this one a personal favorite, even with its flaws. If it had a heavyer body and a more pronounced spice taste in the body, I might had given it even higher marks
its s 4/5, but it is still very recommended.

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Photo of FanofHefe
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 version that pours a clear, deep, ruby red color with a nearly two-finger light tan head. Decent retention but only a little lacing.

The aroma is light and malty. As it warms, I get a little more of the spicy, cinnamon notes and a bit of cocoa.

The chocolate/cocoa flavor shows up more in the flavor than in the aroma. The overall flavor is very malt forward, as expected, and the spicy mix does not overwhelm, but accents.

Light to medium mouthfeel that works well overall. This works very well as a Winter Warmer and does not offend in any way. Just a solid offering altogether.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.79/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a red waxed top bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a dark, vibrant, ruby highlighted brown coloring with a tall, creamy, frothy, light tan head that settles into a low profile covering. Aromas of rich caramel, toffee, peat, smoke, cinnamon, hints of chocolate, and a touch of booze. Flavors are nutty, toffee, and caramel rich and sweet forward, with fruity notes of apple, cherry, and fig, and a subtle spice blend of cinnamon and nutmeg. Very solid and balanced, with a spiced kick at the end. Light and creamy bodied, with a tangy old world fruit sweet and spice blend aftertaste. The finish is light and smooth, with a sweet and spiced linger. ABV is hidden very well. This is a smooth, easy drinker.

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Photo of taylocd
3.79/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured from tap at Stats Sports Bar in Atlanta, GA on 12/4/2010. Notes emailed to self via mobile phone.

A - medium brown with mocha colored head and thin lacing that lasted throughout the beer.

S - sweet aroma with hints of alcohol

T - roasted nut flavor

M - semi-sticky texture with low carbonation

D - texture and flavor make for an easy drinker

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Photo of billab914
3.79/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish shaped pint glass. Poured dark brown in color with some scattered carbonation bubbles trying to make up a thin head. Almost looks like a cola when first poured. The bubbles disappeared after a few minutes and no traces of carbonation remained. Not a hint of lacing either.

The aroma is sweet and malty with some dark fruit and cocoa flavors to it. It has a little spice coming through but it's more focused around the chocolaty, cocoa and sweet malt flavors.

The taste shows a lot of the chocolaty and cocoa flavors that the nose suggested. It has a bit of spice and pepper coming through in the finish, but it's pretty light.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and carbonation is below average. Drinkability is pretty good, I liked more then I expected I would. I usually see winter beers and think they will be all spice but this one was a nice change. It had some nice chocolaty flavors to it that I enjoyed.

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Photo of corby112
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage received as an extra in a recent trade with funkydelic. Thanks again man!

Pours a dark amber/chestnut brown color with golden mahogany edges and a thin, half finger off-white head that quickly settles into a thin lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Spicy toasted malt aroma with subtle hints of alcohol and medicinal cough syrup. There's a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar as well as some pepper, caramel, toffee and rye in the nose. Slightly smokey with hits of dark fruit and robitussin. I'm picking up cherry, plum and raisin notes as well as some slightly roasted chocolate malt.

Medium bodied with a crisp, earthy and spicy character up front that lingers over the sweet and slightly roasted malt notes into a lingerng dry finish. Hints of zesty pepper, cinnamon, brown sugar and peppermint countered by a sweet malt backbone with hints of toffee, rye, caramel and dark fruit. Lots of dark cherry as well as some fig and plum. There's a slight smokey presence toward the end of the palate with notes of bittersweet dark chocolate and hazelnut. The unpleasant sweet cough syrup presence from the aroma is thankfully very subtle. I really dislike that characteristic in this style and thankfully it's kept to a minimum here.

Overall, this is a pretty good example of the style. Well balanced, complex and pretty quaffable. The ABV is excellently masked and I can see this one getting better with age.

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Photo of KrisPaulk77
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this at the Sweetwater pub in the Atlanta airport.
The beer poured what looked like a dark black stout, but upon closer examination, was actually a deep, dark brown with a decent head of creamy tan foam. Decent lacing noted.
The aroma was nice and roasty, with hints of spice, some nutty tones, and toffee. A touch of cinnamon, a wisp of smoke, and rich coffee flavors.
The flavor followed suit with the taste. Rich and flavorful, with a dominant roasted coffee flavor, sweet dark malts, underlying spice, nutty toffee, with a smooth coffee finish. Just enough bitterness to cut through the sweetness.
Nice body to the beer with decent carbonation. A sipper for sure, and would be enjoyed on a cold night, sitting next to a fire.
Quite an enjoyable beer from Sweetwater. If I come across this in my travels again, I won't hesitate to have it again.

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Photo of BierReise
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown like Coca-Cola and a dense off white head. Interesting aroma, has some smoky roasted malt and a good dose of hops along with a hint of ginger. Pretty smooth body with a nice crispness to it. Flavor is spicy, sweet with a good malt flavor. Probably the best I've had from Sweetwater.

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Photo of warriorsoul
3.81/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to 1hopmonster for this one of many....
Pours a dark brown, almost black with very little light passing thru...a full finger of light brown head that disappears to all but a fine layer. Impressive lacing forms on the side of the snifter glass.
Aroma is very subdued...mostly fig and a hint of smoke.
The taste is where this one shines...a heavy dose of malt, but not overly sweet...the fig is more of a raisin flavor with some spice (cinammon, mild allspice) mixed in to fit the style.
The mouthfeel is thick yet not cloying and the carbonation is delightful...a very nice offering in the style and quite solid across the board, like many of Sweetwater's offerings.
I would enjoy this one all season long if only it was available...the alcohol is totally hidden, but it is so warming you know it is one to respect.
Definitely one to try if you like your winter warmers without the spices being overdone.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.81/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a clear but opaque very dark brown to black in color with moderate amounts of gentle visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and ruby red + cola brown highlights. The beer has a half finger tall foamy light tan head that reduces to a medium to large patch of thin film with a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass with some sudsy spots. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of brown sugar, molasses, and caramel with lighter notes of anise + nutmeg.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of caramel malts with moderate amounts of brown sugar and molasses sweetness. There is a light to moderate flavor of spices I associate with the holidays - nutmeg, cinnamon, and anise/licorice.

M: Just heavier than medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly slick.

O: Enjoyable with well hidden alcohol making this beer fairly easy to drink. A nice combination of the sweetness of the malts and spices.

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Photo of rudzud
3.81/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Received as an extra in a trade. Poured into my Duvel tulip

A - Pours a deep, dark brown. Much darker than the typical winter warmer. Also, no real head on this one just thin wisps. Hard swirling does produce a light blanket that fades quickly.

S - Roasted malts, toffee, booze, and...gingerbread?! Definitely interested winter warmer spices here.

T - Bit too boozey for me. Light chocolate from the roasted malts, toffee is subded. More of the vibrant spice notes. Super unique, different from the typical winter warmer. Tasty.

M - Mouthfeel isnt bad, slightly on the thinner side with lighter carbonation.

O - If not for the average appearance this would actually be a pretty good beer. All things considered its a refreshing take on a classic style.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.82/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 Release, Sampled November 2006
As I pour this the stream of beer shows a brilliantly clear, chocolate brown color. It sits in my glass an opaque, dark brown, almost black color and is topped by a frothy, fairly large bubbled, initially a finger and a half thick, creamed amber colored head. The aroma is quite fruity with a sweetness that rides throughout. The fruit notes remind me of cherries, raisins, berries, and something like burnt figs. In fact the more I dig into the aroma the more I get notes reminiscent of burnt, concentrated fruit; not only burnt figs, but burnt raisins and burnt prune notes as well. There is a definite dark malt note here as well, something I associate with concentrated malty Imperial Stouts, something that is not quite chocolate.

The taste is not quite as sweet as the aroma would suggest, but it is definitely quite fruity tasting. Notes of prunes and figs are quite prominent here, and this definitely has the savory quality that these two dried fruits exhibit. The finish shows a touch of burnt grain with both a touch of acidity and a light coffee like roast character. There is an interesting spiciness here in the finish as well, it reminds me of a very soft, quite smooth nutmeg note; I also get spicy notes of ginger, a hint of cardamom, and maybe even some cinnamon. There are quite a few prominent flavors here that I can't quite put into words; there is almost a smoky quality here, definitely something savory, perhaps something like chocolate, and of course some other things I can't quite put into words.

This beer has a lightness to it that belies the fullness of the body. It has a medium heft to it, and just starts to stick to the palate, yet it is quite quaffable still; it might even be too quaffable as a touch more meatiness might be just what this needs. This is an interesting beer, it definitely fits the bill as a Winter seasonal.

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Photo of slickmick22
3.82/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ours into glass with one finger of foam and some lacing. Head settles quickly.

Smell has lots of malt with some chocolate. Maybe some cinnamon.

Thick malt with some chocolate taste. Slight cinnamon. Slightly bitter. Nice sweetness on the end.

Moderately thick body, medium carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

This is a nice, smooth drinkable beer that I would never get tired of. Will buy again next year.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.82/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 version, 12oz bottle extra from GatorBeerNerd (thanks Donnie). This beer is dark, very dark brown with a thin tan head. The aroma is malty and strong, kind of similar to an American barleywine. Some dark fruits like plums or dates, no real spices that I can smell. The taste is sweet and alcoholic, strong malt and ethanol with maybe a little cocoa. A big heavy ass-kicker of a beer, this is definitely a beer to drink on cold winter nights. Much appreciated, and I also have a 2007 to drink later.

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Photo of glid02
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dry-hopped cask served at the Brick Store.

Pours an opaque light brown color with a half-finger light tan head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of caramel malts with hints of chocolate malts along with a bit of spiciness, leafy hops, and a hint of vanilla.

Tastes similar to how it smells, though in the flavor the components are a bit more fleshed out. Caramel and chocolate malt flavors kick things off with a hint of vanilla riding the coat-tails. Midway through the sip a good deal of earthy hops offer up some flavor and segue through to a mildy spicy and bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is OK. It's a bit on the thin side with soft carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I didn't have any problem finishing the glass and could have another.

Overall the hops were a bit more prevalent in this version than the non-dry-hopped version (a big surprise right?), however the other flavors didn't seem as intense. Still, a solid late fall beer that's worth a shot.

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Photo of russpowell
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 bottle courtesy of Ddarden!

Pours a ruddy red/chestnut with 2 fingers of pillowy tan colored head. Good head retention & decent lacing

S: Slight chocolate & some smokeyness

T: Rich malt with hints of cinamon & brown sugar up front. Slight smokeyness & gingerbread flavors. Finishes with hints of licorice, dryness, slight grainyness, warming booze, juniper & chocolate. A little too all over the map taste-wise to rate a better score

Rich and chewy with low carbonation

Drinks very easy for the abv, but needs to find a consistent flavor to do more than 1. Maybe one to lay down for a year?

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Photo of BeerDocT
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

-Appearance 4.0: Poured out an (unexpected!) jet black with a half-inch, white head. Head quickly faded, but stayed wispy around the edges. Very nice and unusual color combination.

-Smell 3.5: Nice smell, but nothing extraordinary. I smell hops, barley malt and a slight hint of some type of spice...gingery, citrusy... . The bouquet is better than average, but not exceptional.

-Taste 4.0: Initial sweetness turns into a slighty sour taste; middle is all barley sweetness and the finish is where I picked up the spice and all of the hops. I really like the spice taste: reminiscent of quality gingerbread. Unusual, but not over top.

-Mouthfeel 3.5: Slightly under-carbonated and watery in the mouth.

-Overall 4.0: A very tasty "Holiday" brew. Not too thick to consider as a session lager; its huge 8+% ABV is completely unnoticeable. These are the type of beers that tend to sneak up on you when you are out, so enjoy responsibly, folks! If you can find this beer, buy it.

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Photo of Brewfan
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Konabrewer for this beer. You rock Matty!

Poured into my 3 Philosopher's chalace from a BIG 33.8 oz swingtop bottle that took me 10 minutes to break through the Fort Knox layer of red wax.

Poured a dark chocolate color with a big head of thick bubbles. Faded rather quickly, leaving a trace of lace on the outer reaches of the beer.
Sweet nose of caramel, slight coffee and alcohol. I get a bit of nutmeg and some slight hoppyness.
Not overly sweet on the tongue. Roasted caramel and a lot of butterscotch, but not cloying. A bit hoppy and earthy.
Mouthfeel was a med-light. Thought it could have used a bit more body but I for a winter warmer, you don't want it too heavy.
This was my first Sweetwater offering. Nice winter warmer. One I'd like to try again in the future.

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Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 280 ratings.