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Sweetwater Festive Ale - SweetWater Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sweetwater Festive AleSweetwater Festive Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

280 Reviews
THE BROS
85
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 280
Hads: 713
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.23%
Wants: 26
Gots: 122 | 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
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Reviews: 280 | Hads: 713
Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2004 batch

Pours an opaque black with a thin brown head, no lace. Smells fruity and roasted malt. Lots of spice, nutmeg, clove and allspice. Roasted coffee finish and aftertaste.

Not great. Kind of like Anchor Christmas gone wrong. Too much spice. Lackluster. (265 characters)

Photo of Jwale73
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

33.8oz. waxed fliptop bottle shared by Thirstybird and served in my Allagash 25cl chalice. 2006 vintage. Poured the color of cola with some highlights around the base - half inch off-white head quickly dissipates into nothing. Nose is a little sour, malty and some booze. Taste is malty, roasty, watery and sour dark fruit (plums, prunes, raisins). Mouthfeel is medium-light with an even background effervescence. Something was a little off on this one - definitely some oxidation here. I'd have to say that this beer was a little beyond its prime. (548 characters)

Photo of Westsidethreat
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours a vigours oatmeal colored semi tight head. Beer appears to be the color of coffee. The way the foam sits on top when first poured it almost appears to be a cappucino.

S: Combination of dried strawberries and wet hay. Allspice hints on the nose with an essence of walnuts with an earthen sensibility.

T: Cinnamon flavors at the back of the mouth, citrus on the sides and grapejuice on the tip. After a few sips while it warms notes of strawberries dipped in chocolate emerge. Lots of nutmeg and nutty flavors.

M: Full and round.

D: Ultimately a bit too overspiced. By the end of the huge bottle, it had become a bit too much. (645 characters)

Photo of Buebie
3.34/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtasy of gford217

Poured from a 2008, wax dipped swing top bottle. It sure was hard getting this to open.

Poured into a pub glass, darker in color with little light penetration. Some mild glowing reds when held to light. I almost want to say its a brownish black in color. The head is an off white, about 1 1/2 inches. Leaving plenty of thick sticky webbed lace. A nice cap of retention hangs around.

Aroma is like baking spices, figs, dark fruit and it really smells like a
1996 bottle of Anchor christmas ale that I recently had. Theres a faint wiff of westeshier (sp) in there.

The taste is laced with spices, and more of the worstechier flavors, as well as dark fruits and figs. Some chalky overtone,s with a woody dust like taste. Just a hint of pine into the finish. Crisp, light and thin mouthfeel with plenty of carbonation.
A lingering warmth after the swallow. Its abv is very well hidden in aroma and taste, only just that slight warmth kick after the swallow and into the linger.

Its a solid brew, but nothing extravegant, like the fancy wax dipped swingtop might have suggested. (1,108 characters)

Photo of AgentMunky
3.34/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pilsner glass. Reviewed December 2010.

A: Generous head atop an ostensibly molasses-black body. In decent lighting, the beer is translucent and a drop-dead gorgeous wine-dark red.

S: Coffee and beets(?). Spices and maybe some alcohol.

T: Sweetish and spiced (mace?), moderately vegetal malts. An odd, roasted flavour reminds me of burnt cake. The aftertaste is bland, but reminiscent of a porter (excepting the spice).

M: Moderately thick/substantial, but nothing to write home about.

D: Very drinkable, and the ABV is hidden convincingly. Still, something about it is not quite to my taste -- though all my friends love it. I can't recommend it, but I wouldn't steer you away. (719 characters)

Photo of BeerDawgs
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A 22 oz bottle vintage 2006. Surprised to find one 5 years old in the store.

A - A dark, but thin appearance. Not much head or lace. But it is vintage 2006, so maybe that has something to do with it

S - Sweet molasses, and dried fruits.

T - Sweet fruits, dried plums. Smooth. But high abv is very prevalent.

M - Fairly thin, not too well carbonated.

O - Not as good as expected. The fruity flavors are nice, but thin, and boozy. (433 characters)

Photo of axeman9182
3.39/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle, poured into my Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

Sweetwater Festive ale pours a solid black, with between two and three fingers of khaki colored foa crowning the beer. Head retention is well above average, and there's definitely more of the glass left covered in lacing than not. The nose is disappointingly weak. There are some light chocolaty notes, and a decent amount of cinnamon aroma, but all in all it's a bit muted. The flavor profile is a bit more complex, if still dull. The malt opening features layers of biscuit and caramel, along with a delicate chocolate presence. The back end is cinnamon, which brings an almost pepper like spiciness to bear The mace is more noticeable here, adding a bit of balance to things. The body is a bit thin, and the carbonation is on the flat side, all in all the mouthfeel is a little lackluster. I've found most of Sweetwater's beers to be hit-or-miss, and this one is unfortunately trending towards the latter. I like the concept for the beer, but the execution largely leaves a little to be desired. (1,052 characters)

Photo of lackenhauser
3.4/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep red color-almost a pale burgundy. Mellow aroma-mildly spiced malt. Has an astringent note to it that I liken to alcohol. Slighly spiced, malty flavor. Mild bitterness. Good full body. Quite dry in the finish. Nice winter warmer though I dont find a lot to rave about. A notch or 2 above average. (300 characters)

Photo of mikereaser
3.41/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

labeled 2007

A - pours a deep mahogany brown with 1/4 inch of tan foam

S - sweet malt, molasses, candied sugar

T - roasted malts, molasses, toffee, coffee & chocolate

M/D - nice carbonation & flavor, held up well for 2 years old
thick full bodied feel (255 characters)

Photo of Enola
3.42/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer is a little better on-tap. There is a spiced taste to this brew and a slight bitterness. The beer is a deep mahogany color with a small head. There is a hint of liqorice in there too. Overall, fair for the style. I could drink this beer again. (253 characters)

Photo of number1bum
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta. The server had no idea what it was, although given the name I suspected it was a Christmas ale. It came to me a dark brown, not quite black and with some ruby hues. Thin head left some lace and stick.

Smell was sweet malt, some chocolate, and lots of spice.

Taste was very sweet and got to be cloyingly so toward the end. Sweet and malty with some spices, like ginger, and a raisin-like fruity flavor. Also some chocolate malt. Mouthfeel was medium-bodied and pretty creamy, but cloyingly sweet. Overall, I think I'd pass on this if I saw it again. Too sweet, didn't love the raisiny flavor, and there are better holiday beers to be had. (686 characters)

Photo of seebus
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Isn't it great that I have family in Atlanta?

A bottle with a typical Sweetwater label noting that this is the 2006 version of this festive brew.

It pours a deep, deep brown with a creamy tan head, and there seems to be quite a bit of suspended particulate. Yeast? Meh. There's a nice sweet, roasty smell, and the taste begins the same along with a bitter roasted note. There is a dark, malty sweetness with a slightly bitter finish. The mouthfeel is good; it has a full body.

I will drink as many of these as my uncle will send. (538 characters)

Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Sweetwater Draft House and Grill at ATL

A: Pretty standard brown looking winter warmer, but with only a ring of head on tap. That might have been because of how it was served, this place isn't exactly a craft beer bar.

S: A bit of cocoa, some toffee, light spices. A bit muted for the style.

T: Similar to smell, but with a bit more toffee and a bit of dark fruits. No hint of ABV at all.

M: Fairly thick with good carb. Pretty good.

O: A bit boring, but not a bad winter warmer. Like I said above, there is no hint of the ABV at all. (549 characters)

Photo of babaracas
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark brown with one finger of light brown colored head, settles to a thin layer with a few splotches of lace on the glass. Smell: brown sugar, lots of baking spices, a little plum and toasted bread. Taste: dark brown sugar, gingerbread, end of the sip is soft pear, grape skin, and more cinnamon. Sweet, creamy feel, enough spices and mild spicy and earthy hopping to keep it from being cloying. Easy drinking for 8.5%. (433 characters)

Photo of tone77
3.47/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is mild, some spices. Taste is dark malts, molasses, some alcohol. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a decent beer. (210 characters)

Photo of SPLITGRIN
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours to an almost black thin darkness of a body. Yeilds a one inch deep tan head that fades in just a couple of minutes. Nose is a sofr malt feel with rones of candy like coco, and roasty wood. Very smooth as you take first sip with long sweet maltieness and a balance of slightly sour wheat on the back of the tongue. A nice mineral and spice mingling happens twords the end of the palate. The soft sour and minerals team together to equal a nice mouthfeel and tingle on the tongue. Nice and drinkable even as it warms thanks to the 8.6% alchol. A solid holiday style. (570 characters)

Photo of match1112
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

big thanks to chefmikeanderson for sending this as an extra! pours out a dark cola color. a tan head rises to a fingers height than quickly falls to a thin almost non-existant ring. smells very malty with hints of chocolate and cinammon. the taste is pretty much the same with a slight smokey finish. mouthfeels thin for the style, but has decent carbonation. a little spicy and warm on the finish from the cinammon. overall this is easy drinkin, goes down smooth. (464 characters)

Photo of ilikebeer03
3.49/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. best by 11/05/15

A: pours a deep brown, almost black with a khaki head; about a half finger. good retention and lacing.

S: christmas-y spices are faintly present. cinnamon, nutmeg,

T: Christmas spices upfront, similar to the nose. cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of roasted malt on the finish with a slight trace of alcohol burn.

M: medium carbonation, decent mouthfeel. nothing special.

O: a decent Christmas beer. The spices are not over the top at all. (460 characters)

Photo of bigfnjoe
3.49/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage. Poured from a waxed bottle into a Dogfish snifter

A- pours jet black with a half finger very light brown head that doesn't stick around for awhile. Disappointing

S- tons of holiday-type spices...cinnamon comes through a lot, as well as some ginger. Not too shabby

T- getting a decent bit of ginger in the mouth....some cinnamon, maybe a little bit of clove. Everything is rather muted overall, but I'd rather have it be muted than to choke on the spices. Not bad

M- body is actually really thin. Stunning, disappointing

O- such a strange beer. Very easy to drink, better than many Winter Warmers I've had....yet not blowaway at all (650 characters)

Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dated 2009 and tasted and reviewed March 2011.

Pours black with light tan head that quickly fades.

Nose is sweet stone fruit and light coffee. Hint of some spice.

Mouthfeel is thin but bright.

Flavors are all sweet coffee/carmel/toffee with a bright almost citric character and a candy sweet undertone. A sweet porter character or an aged Belgian character dominate. Finish is rich coffee bitter and light espresso. There is a light oxidized character that is apparent but not offensive.

Beer should be consumed now and likely not aged further in my opinion. (568 characters)

Photo of aepb1
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Dark brown with red at the edges with a small light tan head

S- Dark roasted malts, chocolate and some coffee

T- Dark fruits, roasted maltiness, coffee and chocolate. Nice complexity

M- Medium body but kind of watery finish. Creamy body with the carbonation

D- Nice complexity but the mouthfeel is off (308 characters)

Photo of shivtim
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on-tap at the brewery. Looks dark brown; some light gets through revealing red tints. Not much of a head. Nose is christmas tree potpourri and malt. Taste is weak malty bread, with some more holiday spiciness. Alcohol is hidden fairly well. Decent mouthfeel and drinkability. Not a bad offering from Sweetwater. (315 characters)

Photo of MuddyFeet
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2004. Thanks ChainGangGuy. Overall this beer improves greatly as it warms up a bit.

Extremely carbonated out of control head that eventually settled down to a thin layer of condensed head. Sheets of lace on the edges. Dark brown in color with no light coming through. Nose is Christmas cookie dough with a cup full of eggnog spices.

Flavor is a bit over the top and out of balance with a bucket full of spices and a healthy does of alcohol heat. Sweet malts are quickly followed by the spices. Full body that really clings to the sinuses after the swallow. Warming on the way down and quite soothing. Kind of like a brandy actually. (646 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my Sierra Nevada tulip. Received in the Birthday BIF from jyounger30; thanks Jay. 2006 vintage.

a - Pours a dark mahogany brown color with one inch of off white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of caramel malts, bready malts, dark fruits, molasses, and a tiny bit musty. Overall it smells pretty good, and seems like it has held up well. It came off smelling a lot more like a barleywine to me and had a lot of bready and caramel malts. Seems like it has lost it's spice, but I still like it a lot.

t - Tastes of raisins, bready malts, caramel malts, alcohol, and a bit metallic. Also some light spices in the taste. A big drop from the nose.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Pretty smooth and easy to drink.

d - Overall this is a decent winter warmer, but I don't think the taste has held up too great over the last five years. The smell and mouthfeel really reminded me of a barleywine, which I really enjoyed. The taste seemed a tiny bit metallic, and a bit faded. Would like to try a fresher bottle of it and would give another shot. (1,093 characters)

Photo of chinchill
3.51/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

served in a pint glass at the brewery in 2010. I last had this beer 2-3 years ago and remember a less bold and unusual but more drinkable product; reformulated?

A - opaque; black with brown highlights and tan head

S - roasted malt and spices. Nutmeg(?), cinnamon & ??? (later discovered they use mace). I might guess this was a Belgian beer in a blind test.

T - roasted and slighty burnt malts; the burnt flavoring is undesirable. Spices: nutmeg and mace. High alcohol (8.6%) is somewhat hidden but detectable.

D - one and done

(Slight revision with aged bottle served Feb. 2014) (585 characters)

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