1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Sweetwater Festive Ale - SweetWater Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sweetwater Festive AleSweetwater Festive Ale

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

585 Ratings
THE BROS
86
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 585
Reviews: 268
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.79%
Wants: 14
Gots: 52 | FT: 1
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sweetwater Festive Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 585 | Reviews: 268 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jophish17
jophish17

Georgia

3/5  rDev -21.7%

11-14-2011 21:28:11 | More by jophish17
Photo of Janderson91
Janderson91

Alabama

4/5  rDev +4.4%

11-14-2011 16:31:22 | More by Janderson91
Photo of Kromes
Kromes

Georgia

3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2011 18:14:40 | More by Kromes
Photo of BeerDawgs
BeerDawgs

Georgia

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.

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2011 01:43:56 | More by BeerDawgs
Photo of Chaney
Chaney

District of Columbia

3.28/5  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...

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2011 03:49:21 | More by Chaney
Photo of drabmuh
drabmuh

Maryland

2.9/5  rDev -24.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2011 20:48:39 | More by drabmuh
Photo of jbphoto88
jbphoto88

Texas

4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 2010 large bottle sealed in crimson wax. The festive pours a deep wet leather color that's brown and clear during the pour but opaque in the glass. The head is egg cream in color, thick and beautiful. A fine looking brew.

The nose is confusing at first with so many scents wafting up from the glass. A few swirls and repeat sniffs reveal an earthy malt scent with hints of chocolate and cinnamon, there is also a slight tartness in the air. This nose suggests malt bomb.

Taste delivers on the scents promise of grains. BAM!!! Like a punch to the sweet pinchy spot by my molars. A ton of roasted grain that has everything from caramel, coffee and chocolate assault my tounge. The spices are present but not aggressive to really distract from the earthy malts. Slight cinnamon mixed in with a dry finish.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth with a heavier body and light carbonation. It really let's the malts shine and take the warm, snuggly spotlight. Wow, what a great sesonal and cheap!! This one was $4.99, how can the brewery use all that grain and only charge that for a bottle. A great find, I can't wait for next years.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2011 23:37:42 | More by jbphoto88
Photo of Ryan011235
Ryan011235

Ohio

3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 3/1/11

2010 vintage

Courtesy of PDXHops

Dark brown with crimson highlights. One finger of tan colored foam drops to a thin layer of retention and a patch of bubbles off to one side.

Lots of cinnamon in the aroma; spiced bread, earthy hops, nutmeg and maybe a dash of ginger. Smells pretty nice. The taste turns things on edge. Cinnamon is second string to nutmeg; though very much spiced said spices aren't harsh. Modest hoppiness in the middle. Toasted bread throughout. Just over medium body. Moderate carbonation seems appropriate. Some grittiness and a slightly coating finish.

Festive Ale is an easy-drinking 8.5% abv. Definitely worth a shot.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2011 04:42:46 | More by Ryan011235
Photo of mdfb79
mdfb79

New York

3.45/5  rDev -9.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2011 22:52:30 | More by mdfb79
Photo of corby112
corby112

Pennsylvania

3.83/5  rDev 0%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2011 09:09:54 | More by corby112
Photo of GRG1313
GRG1313

California

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.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2011 23:07:43 | More by GRG1313
Photo of AgentMunky
AgentMunky

California

3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2011 22:35:28 | More by AgentMunky
Photo of Metalmonk
Metalmonk

North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Soupy milk chocolate brown color is the liquid, and the head is a dirtied white thing, biggish at first then sinking very quickly to a skim in under a minute.

Aroma is predominantly spicy/herbal, but balanced. I get spruce tips, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, grape must and alcohol in the nose (uh, not literally in my nose), very fragrant and up-front, bordering on intense but never going too far.

Truly a winter warmer, in that its got a cozy, welcoming, dessert-like, let's-stay-inside-and-light-a-fire vibe. Spices and herbs are still the outstanding feature in the taste, but as with the aroma, never overkill. Smooth and balanced mixture of spruce/pine, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, brown sugar and grape juice. Hops and malt are here although costumed for the Christmas party (especially the malt, which is the life of this party). Alcohol is impressive well-hidden, or maybe better, well-incorporated.

Love the feel here, very smooth, silky, soft, round, almost creamy even. Enough carbonation to keep it lively.

Very nice. A real pleasure to drink and one I'll definitely try and track down next year again.

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2011 23:14:01 | More by Metalmonk
Photo of wisrarebeer
wisrarebeer

Wisconsin

4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
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 Kkottonmouthkngz
Kkottonmouthkngz

Massachusetts

4.28/5  rDev +11.7%
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 aepb1
aepb1

Florida

3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
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

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2011 16:25:23 | More by aepb1
Photo of Meerkey
Meerkey

Virginia

3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Rich mahogany, with a touch of red; lasting off-white head.

S: Sweet and spicy -cinnamon, fruity, chocolate.

T: Sweet and fruity, spicy, chocolate, nuts, cake-like.

M: Carbonated and pretty smooth.

D: Pretty good, but doesn't excite me all that much.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2011 03:53:55 | More by Meerkey
Photo of unclejimbay
unclejimbay

Florida

3.1/5  rDev -19.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2011 00:24:19 | More by unclejimbay
Photo of pwoods
pwoods

Ohio

3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I believe this was an extra from Exiled. Thanks!

12oz. brown bottle poured into an imperial pint.

A: Pours a very dark brown that barely lets any ruby through. Not much of a head on the pour with no retention and just a wisp of lacing.

S: Nice malty aroma mixed with just a touch of mellowed alcohol. Strong raisin aroma and a light hint of diacetyl, which I'm not sure if it's appropriate in this style but it's not off putting. Plenty of residual sweetness.

T/M: Nice caramel and toffee flavors. Light nuttiness. More of the diacetyl that's fortified with the residual sweetness. Some spiced cookie flavors. Alcohol is lightly present but tasty and complex. Body is medium full to full with mellow carbonation.

D: Tasty brew but drinkability is limited with the residual sweetness and there might be a bit of a flaw in there with the diacetyl.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2011 04:27:01 | More by pwoods
Photo of BeerAdvocate
BeerAdvocate

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #35 (Dec 2009):

Happy to see more beefed-up versions of the Winter Warmer style? Do you want a mouthful of pie spices, or do you want to drink a beer?

The beer wants to be black, but in the light, it shows its true color. Good lacing on top. Aromas of chocolate, dried plum and molasses with a hint of cinnamon. Thick and slick full body, carbonation is on the lighter side, which brings a smoothness to the table. Fruity with a heavy rounding of chocolate, nougat, nuttiness, mild spicing and bread crust. Hops are mild, yet push the sweetness down a notch. Alcohol is warming. Hint of burnt sugar and more nutty undertones in the semi-dry finish.

Damn tasty, this Winter Warmer is serious, with a festive back end.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2011 15:42:55 | More by BeerAdvocate
Photo of welldigger888
welldigger888

South Carolina

3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from growler into an irish pint glass. Nice thick off white head with excellant lacing down glass,nice deep copper ruby colored elixer.
A festive spicey malt breadiness in aroma for me.
Sweet bready spiced flavors with just enough of a kiss of hops to round out.
I am pleased with the creamy smooth mouth on this brew!
Until the abv catches you this is highly drinkable!

Serving type: growler

12-26-2010 23:25:16 | More by welldigger888
Photo of Thur123
Thur123

Georgia

3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ruby brown with a finger and half of lout khaki head that settles slowly. The smell is faint, likely due to beig on tap but it smells malty with a winter Spice edge, cinnamon and nutmeg taking charge here.

Glug glug glug. 

The flavor is spicy with a nice malty sweetness balancing the spice at the end. The spice is cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander I believe too. The malt is complex and reminds me of a heavy brown ale. Drinkability is where this excels compared to it's bottled brethren. The mouthfeel too is smooth and creamy. 

Serving type: on-tap

12-26-2010 22:29:37 | More by Thur123
Photo of JayS2629
JayS2629

Alabama

4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- This reminds me of a coca-cola from its color, carbonation and head. Almost black, but reddish tinges when held to the light. Very opaque. The tan head is medium but quickly recedes to a thin ring in the edge of the glass. Sea foam lace.

S- Spices up front. Cinnomon, mace, and allspice. Hints of dark fruits, and dark chocolate. Faint whiffs of dark cherry

T- Follows the nose. Dark fruits like plum and cherry in the front, notes of chocolate and coffee with nice tinges of cinnomon and mace.

M- This is where it got weird. It was like drinking a porter or stout before, but now we are thin and carbonated. Watery with a small amount of cream.

D- Very flavorful and complex. I would give it a higher rating if it were not for how thin it is. Easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2010 03:46:15 | More by JayS2629
Photo of Pencible
Pencible

Virginia

3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured a cloudy dark copper with a little light tan head.
S: It smelled like brown sugar and mocha, with a bit of copper and sour yeast.
T: It tasted like coffee and dark chocolate, with some copper and sour yeast. It had a bittersweet aftertaste.
M: It was watery with a little carbonation. A bit thin and weak.
D: This was a nice porter-ish winter warmer, but there was nothing exceptional about the brew. Good scent and taste, with a mediocre body. Alcohol was well hidden, so it was pretty easy to drink. Enjoyable but not super memorable.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2010 01:02:36 | More by Pencible
Photo of phideltashaggy
phideltashaggy

Tennessee

4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I ordered it at a local bar, I'm not sure if it was from the bottle or on-tap. It was served in a Chimay goblet.

A-Black, unless you look through it at an angle, directly at a light source, then it was a slight red. The head was somewhat fluffy and tan, but didn't last (I blame the quality of the glassware at the bar)

S-I had no idea what to expect when I ordered this, but the nose was very roasty, somewhat burnt. And I noticed something that I couldn't quite place, even though "Jager" came to mind.

T-The Jagermeister taste was affirmed here. There's a definite licorice taste, but it is not at all off putting. Again, roasted malts and a bitter hop finish complete the brew.

MF-Medium thickness, but I think I would have got more out of this if the glass was cleaned a little better.

D-I enjoyed this immensely. If I had the money (and the DD) I could see myself drink a number of these in a row.

Serving type: on-tap

12-20-2010 02:44:04 | More by phideltashaggy
Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 585 ratings.