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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

281 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 281
Hads: 723
Avg: 3.81
pDev: 20.47%
Wants: 31
Gots: 130 | 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
Reviews: 281 | Hads: 723
Photo of FanofHefe
3.78/5  rDev -0.8%
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 tdm168
3.58/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown that has a reddish hue when put to light. There is a quarter of an inch of foamy, loose, off white head that quickly dissipates. The nose has notes of caramel and ginger. The flavor is sweet at first with notes of caramel and chocolate then finishes with a bittersweet chocolate note. A few more sips reveal some vanilla, ginger, and faint spice. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied though a little crisp at first. The carbonation settles down as the beer warms.

The flavor becomes a little boring throughout the drink. The chocolate, caramel, and ginger start out as a good flavor. As I continued to drink it though they lost their individual flavor. They meshed together into an incoherent, one-dimensional, boring flavor. This is a decent beer and enjoyable at first, but I don't think it's something I would come back to.

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Photo of match1112
3.48/5  rDev -8.7%
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.

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Photo of iadler
3.72/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark brown with a one finger off white head that dissipates quickly, leaving a thin cap. No lacing is left behind.

S- Raisins, cinnamon, brown sugar, molasses, star anise, nutmeg, roasted malt and a hint of unsweetened chocolate.

T- Unsweetened chocolate, faint coffee beans, grassy hops, molasses, roasted malt and brown sugar. Spices are more subtle in the taste

M- Medium carbonation and a fairly light body that finishes with a hint of roasted malt.

O- A good seasonal from SweetWater. The mouthfeel was a little watered down, but other than that, a winter warmer to visit if you have a chance.

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Photo of beergod1
3.78/5  rDev -0.8%
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 kdawg105
4.76/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Amazing beer! I love Christmas time when all the great seasonal brews come around. Anyway this beer is very inviting when poured into a glass it looks almost exactly like a coke, the smell was a bit fainter than I expected but this beer has awesome taste it all the Malts are so balanced. It has nice light fluffy mouthfeel very warming for real this is a excellent winter ale if you can get on please do! THE REAL CATCH is the beer is so smooth you don't realize how easy it is to drink and be surprised by the warmth!!!

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Photo of ksimons
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-pours a deep chestnut brown with ruby highlights. The head is a creamy tan that sticks to the glass.

S-the smell is how I think a winter warmer should smell. Rich malts, caramel, light molasses, and spices

T-Tastes of lightly roasted malt, chocolate and caramel, and a slightly sour dark fruit ending. Easy to drink with just a light alcohol warming.

M-medium body, moderate carbonation, very mellow

Overall its an easy to drink beer and a nice representation of a winter warmer. I would definitely drink again.

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Photo of DeltaGolfSierra
3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Color is a very deep brown to nearly black, with a modest tan head. No lacing left on the glass. The scent and taste are both very much like a porter. Sweet malts dominate - chocolatey, nutty, molasses-y. Hardly a trace of bitterness to be found. Very drinkable, and was gone before I knew it. Hardly noticed the 8.6% abv at all. Sweetwater could pass this off as a nice year-round porter.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.85/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is another bottle that my 2011 Secret Santa gdodd12 sent me. Thanks, Greg. 2011 Vintage.

Sweetwater Festive Ale has a dark brown body and a creamy tan head. The retention and lacing are both OK.

The aroma has some spice to it, namely cinnamon, but it also has a lot of rich malt to back it up.

Some spice flavors come through up front, with mostly cinnamon. Next comes a complex mix of rich malt. Toasted and nutty malts mix with caramel and molasses, with toffee as well. Dark, powdery cocoa flavors come through as a good dose of sweet maple and burnt brown sugar. The finish is sweet and slick with some warmth.

Nice full body with a moderate amount of carbonation make this one feel alternately chewy and slick.

Festive Ale is a pretty good warmer, and I could see it getting better with some age on it (I guess the wax should have tipped me off).

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Photo of bcostner1
3.56/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown/amber. Fairly opaque. Nice, thick, rich tan head that sticks around for a while.

S: Not that impressive to me. Faint hint of spice (cinnamon and citrus maybe?) and a little bit of licorice actually.

T: I am pleasantly surprised by the taste of this one. It's sweeter and less hop-forward than I expected. The predominant flavors for me are caramel, malt, and chocolate with some brown sugar in there. Very subtle spice comes forward as the beer warms and to me is mainly cinnamon with a little bit of bitter orange peel perhaps. I'm digging this...and I wasn't sure that I would.

M: For as thick and rich as the head was on the pour, the beer itself is a little on the thin side. A little more body would do it well. Still, it is very easy to drink and I really don't detect the 8.6% ABV whatsoever which is a good thing.

Overall, I enjoyed this beer quite a bit. I would definitely buy it again. As far as winter warmers go, I haven't had many but I personally enjoyed this more than Jubelale, which I also had recently, mainly because I like my hops more subdued and this definitely fits the bill for that.

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Photo of Soozy
4.3/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 ale

Pours a very dark amber. Almost can't see through it, but holding it up to the light shows the red coloring. A very faint smell of cinnamon and vanilla mixed with caramel and chocolate malt. You can pick up a good amount of scents without putting your finger on any of them.

Taste is creamy, rich malt. It is well balanced between caramel and chocolate malts. There's a faint orange and tangerine taste to it in the finish. Alcohol is faintly present as it warms up, but balances well with the beer. A rather thin beer, but also creamy mixed with the carbonation. A highly drinkable, complex, rich, and full beer.

Overall, this is probably the best winter warmer I've had in my life. A completely balanced, highly drinkable ale. I'd love to try an oaked version of this if they had one. I'd definitely buy this one again.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is another regional brewery that has developed into a pretty reliable performer so I figured this sixer was a good gamble. Surprisingly dark brown, almost black hue with impressive head and lace, although capping does set in within a few minutes. Spice and brown sugar anoint the nose with touches of cinnamon and alcohol.

Most of the time, when American brewers try to modernize (read: load up on the American hops) a classic malt leaning English style, it's a hot mess. This is a worthy exception. West coast flavored hops add healthy balance but because the malt profile is likewise juiced, it is able to handle the hops without collapsing on itself. The overall effect is still a little clunky but drinks much easier and finishes cleaner than should be physically possible. Hints of warming alcohol are everywhere but considering the 8.6 that's hardly a surprise. I defy you to find a more drinkable winter warmer with a similar punch Good effort, Sweetwater.

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Photo of BeerDocT
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
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 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 jsanford
3.7/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Pint Glass.

A - Pours a dark black with slight reddish edges and a creamy khaki-colored head that fades to a thick cap, leaving spotty lacing as it recedes.
S - Sweet, malty aromas of milk chocolate, brown sugar, baked brown bread, and Winter spices (cinnamon and nutmeg).
T - More big flavors of sweet caramel and chocolate malt, baked bread, spices, and a good amount of warming alcohol "heat".
M - Smooth and creamy, with a medium-full mouthfeel and lowish carbonation.
O - A nice Winter brew, excellent on a cold evening!

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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 UnderPressure
4.02/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown, nearly black colored beer with a light brown head.

A really nice malty, sweet aroma. Roasted grains and spice are also present in the aroma.

A nice malty, spicy flavor. A slight bitterness hits the back of the mouth at first. With a grainy, roasted malt finish.

Nice mouthfeel. Medium-heavy bodied. A perfect level of carbonation.

This has become one of my favorite winter seasonals. A great dark, roasty, spicy beer with plenty to offer.

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Photo of AdamBear
4.35/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got a pint at the Sweetwater Brewery restaurant in the Atlanta airport.

A-dark murky brown with a thick but sticky light tan head

S-cinnamon. a touch of apples. dark and spicy malts. smells tasty. good strength as well

T-comes in with a great taste of spicy and peppery dark malts. this is really good and full flavored! there's a good and slightly roasted matching after-taste. the tastes are bold and seem to be of high quality.

M-thick and creamy medium carbonation with a creamy finish

O-i was really surprised by this. when at an airport, i usually don't expect much but I am here with a great beer of a style I usually don't prefer. this has to be one of the best winter warmers I've ever had. Its definitely and after dinner beer though.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.43/5  rDev -10%
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.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: murky dark brown with some light getting through. Single finger head. Nice lace and little retention.

S: lots of chocolate with some caramel malt and nut.

T: semisweet chocolate and caramel malts with hints of apple. Fig and raisin.

M: medium to full body with moderate to high carbonation.

Overall: this is a very drinkable beer. The finish is a lIttle dry for my liking. The aroma and taste are very similar. I haven't had previous years but I liked this one.

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Photo of titosupertramp
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

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Photo of mattsdenney
4.47/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a NB globe glass. Good looking bottle too.

A: Pours a dark reddish brown. Clear with a one finger brown head. Head dissipates relatively quickly with no lacing. Looking like a good cold weather beer so far.

S: Warm alcohol, spices, and malts. Hints of chocolate and sweet toffee.

T: Malty and boozy with a great spice, particularly cinnamon and nutmeg. Follows with chocolate and hints of coffee. Aftertaste reveals a light amount of hops that balances nicely.

M: Thick and frothy with light carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel that really compliments the taste and overall feel.

O: IMO it's hard to find a true winter warmer. Many that receive that label don't include the characteristics that I typically want. This beer has them all. Perfect cold weather Christmas beer.

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Photo of sommersb
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 11-18-2011
Freshness: 2011 Vintage
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle
Glassware: Nonic Pint
Purchased: 6-pack from Midtown, Nashville

A: Pours dark brown to black, with garnet highlights. Head is tan with 1+ finger worth of foam. Lacing is good.

S: Malty sweet, with spices I can't identify. Roasted malts are present as well, but overall not much in the way of aroma.

T: Rich and sweet, this is a malt forward beer, with nutty and spicy flavors. Nice alcohol warming.

M: Chewy body with moderate carbonation. Finishes both sweet and nutty.

O: Very nice warmer, reminds me of a stronger version of a nut brown ale.

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Photo of Kromes
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown, almost black with a fingers width tan colored head.

S: Chocolate, coffee and caramel aroma.

T: Toasted caramel malt, chocolate and a little bit of hop in the finish.

M: Heavy bodied and light carbonation. Thicker feel to it. A little alcohol burn in the finish.

O: It's that time of year again and it's not a bad way to start the winter beer season with this beer. Easy drinking for the alcohol content.

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Photo of BeerDawgs
3.35/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

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Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 281 ratings.