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Sweetwater Festive Ale - SweetWater Brewing Company

Sweetwater Festive AleSweetwater Festive Ale

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

566 Ratings
THE BROS
86
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 566
Reviews: 268
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.5%


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
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Ratings: 566 | Reviews: 268 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of glid02
glid02

Georgia

3.85/5  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.

Serving type: cask

10-23-2009 01:51:57 | More by glid02
Photo of Gwitt
Gwitt

Tennessee

3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Nose is of black strap molasses, unsulphered. Slight touch of raisin.
Taste -much like the nose, but heavier in the sweet raisin, or of a medjool date. End is spicy, but more pleasant anise and licorice. Good carbonization. Tingly, with syrup on the tongue.
Mild cinnamon and light plum involved in the aftertaste.
Note: having the 2013 festive on 4/2014.
If a waxed bottle could be cellared for a year, I'd expect more sweetness and spice. Would be a good choice for a holiday drink,
left in a one- to two- year cellar, but only in ideal (50 degree range) temps.
Serve with: potato leek soup, turkey and the trimmings.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2014 03:46:11 | More by Gwitt
Photo of carlborch
carlborch

Michigan

3.13/5  rDev -18.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2014 23:16:04 | More by carlborch
Photo of rangerred
rangerred

Tennessee

3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours pitch black with a one finger light tan head that is quick to dissipate. Lacing is present but very light and short-lasting.

The aroma has a definite smoky note to it along with roasted malt, caramel, and molasses. There is just a slight tinge of metal but it is not really that distracting.

The flavor throws a lot more complexity into the mix. The smoked meat character is quite nice and is complimented nicely by molasses dark, almost burnt, caramel. Some spices start to become apparent as the beer warms with some nutmeg and cinnamon. Some dark bread undertones also make themselves known. Bitterness is just moderate but is enough to counteract the sweetness. The alcohol is completely hidden.

Overall, a nice winter warmer but for some reason, it just misses the mark for me. The aroma is really lacking and I wish the flavor had a bit more depth. Still it is a very good beer that I would get again during the holidays.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2014 02:28:09 | More by rangerred
Photo of RonaldTheriot
RonaldTheriot

Louisiana

4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Sweetwater Festive Ale has a thin, creamy, cream-colored head, a very dark brown appearance with ruby highlights and visible, tight bubble streams, and a good amount of splotchy lacing left around the glass. The aroma is of spiced bread, bread crust, and sweetness. Taste is of those elements, with subdued bitterness and syrup of some sort. Mouthfeel is somewhat watery, and Sweetwater Festive Ale finishes refreshing, sweet, easily drinkable, mostly dry, and not the least bit alcohilic. Overall, this is one of the better spice ales I’ve tried.

RJT

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2013 15:22:31 | More by RonaldTheriot
Photo of scvance
scvance

South Carolina

3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2013 version, poured from a bomber into a pint glass.

Pours dark reddish brown, almost black with a thin tan head. Smell is slightly spicy, caramel sweet, and earthy. Taste is slightly alcoholic upfront, not much bitterness, but plenty of rich malty character through the finish. Mouthfeel is quite thick and viscous. Feels slightly syrup like in the finish. Low carbonation, this beer is wonderful as a winter warmer. I would definitely recommend for anyone who enjoys a rich spicy winter seasonal beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2013 23:45:16 | More by scvance
Photo of watermelon
watermelon

North Carolina

3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

$3 pint draft had at the Tapp Room in Boone NC

A: Really murky brown body, khaki head with medium retention and lacing.

S: Smells medicinal, dark malts, and winter spices.

T: Molasses taste, with some dark fruit and malts.

M: Awesome mouthfeel, alcohol is hidden well and the body is thick and syrupy with very little carbonation.

O: Its decent, better then some I've had , but not as good as others. At $3 bucks for a pint of 8.6 ABV this was a no brainer, and a great value.

Serving type: on-tap

12-19-2013 00:43:21 | More by watermelon
Photo of spense727
spense727

North Carolina

3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - dark brown, cloudy, the color of black jesus
Smell - smokey beef jerky smell
Taste - Rauch beers little brother, a slight hint of smokiness, with a fine medium roast
Mouthfeel - not overly carbonated, light mouthfeel,
Overall - it was a nice beer tastey kind

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2013 02:37:53 | More by spense727
Photo of barczar
barczar

Kentucky

3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque deep brown with garnet highlights and a frothy tan head that slowly dissipates, leaving modest lacing.

Nutmeg and cinnamon dominate the initial aroma, with an underlying malty tar character surfacing beneath. Notes of chocolate, cola, and clove add complexity. As it warms, molasses and subtle dark fruit emerge.

Flavor reveals more clove dominance, with dark chocolate and roasty malt dominating the slightly bitter finish. Hints of cola and ginger are subtle initially, but become more pronounced. Cinnamon rounds out the finish.

Body is moderate, with carbonation on the low side, and modest alcohol warmth.

Good variety of spice character, with enough malt presence to prevent it from becoming completely overwhelming. Hides the abv fairly well. Still a little too much spice for my tastes. Perfumey notes and a touch of acetaldehyde surface as it warms.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2013 02:07:15 | More by barczar
Photo of dbrauneis
dbrauneis

North Carolina

3.8/5  rDev -1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2013 02:29:34 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of tillmac62
tillmac62

South Carolina

4.06/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I just bought this, but the BBD is 10/31/13, so I assume this is last years vintage. Pours an opaque dark brown with a nice tan head that laces well but diminishes fairly quickly. Nose is of dark malt, chocolate and spice, probably cinnamon. Light / medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. For an 8.6% alcohol, the alcohol is extremely well hidden. A nice balance of malt sweetness and cinnamon spice with a chocolate undertone. Clean finish of dark malt sweetness and spice.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2013 21:13:23 | More by tillmac62
Photo of MasterfulIdiot
MasterfulIdiot

Georgia

3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Served into a Riedel tulip glass. Appearance is nearly black, with hints of red when you hold it up to the light. Tan head fades super quickly and doesn't leave much lace.

Smell is bready - kind of like a dubbel. There are hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, but they don't dominate or seem over-the-top. It actually smells pretty pumpkin-y.

Taste follows the nose, with some nice dark fruit added - figs. Spices are really well-integrated - they're noticable, but not at all overbearing. Alcohol is similar - present, but not too much.

What brings this down for me is the mouthfeel. It's surprisingly light-bodied for the taste, and just doesn't really work for me.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2013 03:18:36 | More by MasterfulIdiot
Photo of godlessape
godlessape

Georgia

4.3/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured this into monster size thistle glass.
The body has an intensely dark malevolent ruby brown shade to it, just one degree from midnight. It's topped off with a creamy tan head that diminished rapidly.
Aroma is like burnt brown sugar, with maybe a hint of cinnamon toast.
Taste is both malty and fruity and densely so at that, along with a earthy, almost leathery savoriness There's also a minimal hop sizzle on the tail end that works rather well.
The mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth. The alcohol is well hidden.
Overall a fine brew from a great brewery. Caution: This beer will sneak up on you something fierce.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2013 04:48:29 | More by godlessape
Photo of Immortale25
Immortale25

North Carolina

4.11/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a New Belgium goblet. Label says Best if Enjoyed by 10/24/14.

A- Pours a mostly opaque black color with a 1/2 inch tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a small center patch of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing slides down the glass leaving a thick ring behind.

S- Sweet sugary aroma that has notes of anise, molasses and caramel.

T- Hearty flavor of mild roasted malt, some nutmeg and more anise. Still sweet but the hops put forth a moderate bitterness to balance. Bit of clove. Alcohol is wonderfully hidden.

M- Slightly thick and slick with medium carbonation and a fullish body.

O- A no-frills, easygoing winter warmer that's dangerously drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2013 03:46:55 | More by Immortale25
Photo of uscgsc22
uscgsc22

South Carolina

4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

It's in my top 10 beers and is a must try beer. It's alot like Sweet water 'Happy ending"

Try this it is worth the price.

Pro about the beer it ranges $11 to $12 for a 6 pack.

Con it's only out once a year.

Sweet Water Brewing Company!!!

Serving type: bottle

09-05-2013 01:16:58 | More by uscgsc22
Photo of spinrsx
spinrsx

Ontario (Canada)

3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from total wine Tampa FL for $3

Appearance - Reddish brown colour with an average size fizzy beige head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some great lacing. The head lasted for 3-4 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, dark fruits, caramel/butterscotch

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and an earthiness. There are also some dark fruits, butterscotch/caramel, and a bit of anise. It ends with a malty sweet aftertaste with some lingering chocolate flavour.

Overall - Not terribly exciting, but a nice well balanced very drinkable flavour. You would never know it had a higher ABV. I've only had a few beers from this brewer, but they have all been winners so far.

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2013 00:52:28 | More by spinrsx
Photo of Mojo
Mojo

Alabama

3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle -> World Market tulip glass

This beer pours up a deep brown, almost black. There is a one finger light brown head, no retention to speak of and quite a bit of lacing at first, but it fades away quickly. The nose is spicy with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. Taste is rather sweet at first sip with some notes of cola and molasses. The finish has a mild bitterness with some spiciness, but the sweetness upfront overshadows it. The alcohol is well hidden. Mouthfeel is pleasing with a syrupy texture. Not mad overall.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2013 03:36:18 | More by Mojo
Photo of Dope
Dope

Massachusetts

3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2012 batch.

A: Pours a nice dark mahogany. Big fluffy light brown head. Lacing doesn't seem to stick as the head fades away. Just a splotch here and there. Decent retention though.

S: Lots of holiday spaces. Nutmeg and cinnamon primarily it seems. Some others that I can't quite place. Get a bit of dark bread in there too but it's mainly the spices.

T: Again, lots of spices. Cinnamon and nutmeg up front. Kind of a thick, molasses breadiness to the malt, for lack of a better description. More spices in the finish, almost like black pepper here. Cinnamon lingers between sips.

M: Nice medium bodied, pretty standard.

O: A fairly simple and spicy winter warmer. Fairly mellow with decent balance. Easy drinking but somewhat plain.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2013 04:27:34 | More by Dope
Photo of babaracas
babaracas

Florida

3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
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%.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2013 04:24:51 | More by babaracas
Photo of rudzud
rudzud

Massachusetts

3.83/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2013 19:15:16 | More by rudzud
Photo of Murrhey
Murrhey

Montana

3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass in high elevation Libby, Mont. Expectations are quite high. I received this beer as part of a secret santa gift exchange from a beer-friendly stranger in Atlanta, Ga.

A- One finger khaki head with tiny little bubbles. Retention lasted about 45 seconds, which is alright for the ABV. Ruby red color with low clarity. Very dark. Sliding khaki lacing. Attractive looking brew.

S- Dark chocolate, toffee, coffee and gingerbread. Molasses and deep roasted malts. Rich and dark, with bakery notes. Very interesting and complex beer. Hop profile is negligible at best.

T- Molasses, toffee and deep, dark roasted malts. Alcohol makes its presence felt in the aftertaste, along with the burnt malts.

M- Dry and roasty feel, some chewiness to the thickness. Some slight syrupy feel.

O- Tasty, alcoholic and roasty. I'm glad I got to try this beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2013 03:08:19 | More by Murrhey
Photo of Damian74Shensky
Damian74Shensky

South Carolina

3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A- Dark brown with a small light tan head

S- Dark roasted malts, chocolate and coffee

T- Fruits, roasted maltiness, coffee and chocolate.

M- Medium body with good carbonation

O- Nice complexity, not bad for a winter warmer would get again.

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2013 18:41:50 | More by Damian74Shensky
Photo of mscudder
mscudder

Georgia

4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Bomber. Served in a globe.

A - Pours an oily black hue with a two-finger soft-ivory head. Average retention with some lacing.

S - Cinnamon, nutmeg, big malts and assorted winter spices.

T - Massive malt backbone in this one. Bold creamy backdrop with some warmth from the booze. I find flavors of caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, subtle chocolate and a touch of maple.

M - Creamy medium body with average carbonation. Wish it were a touch more robust.

O -Pretty good showing this year and a certain upgrade from past editions. Holiday spices are abundant atop a might blend of malts. Not nearly as boozy as I tend to feel about warmers. I would get this again.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2013 04:36:56 | More by mscudder
Photo of Infamous7100
Infamous7100

Ohio

3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: pours deep and rich brown. It's clear, but the depth of the color makes it impossible to see all the way through. A nice head upon my pour with minimal lacing. A tan ring remains around the outside throughout my consumption.
S: aromas of cinnamon and spice are what I pick up at first. Shockingly, I am getting a lot of toasted malt and dark chocolate overtones I would associate with a stout. Interesting combo.
T: Complexity abound. The winter spices blend nicely with the roasted malts, chocolate and coffee flavors. I get a slight hoppiness as well, but malts and spice rule the day.
M: this brew possesses a nice creaminess with a medium body and medium carbonation. It finishes smooth and spicy with a hint of bitterness.
O: a nice winter brew. I enjoy the elements of a stout that were incorporated into its characteristics, wnich is unique. The flavors were maybe a bit too subtle, but were present enough to mask most of the alcohol.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2013 01:38:18 | More by Infamous7100
Photo of Jadjunk
Jadjunk

Georgia

3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a snifter. Served above 50º Fahrenheit. Roughly 3 months old, date on bottle is 10/8/13.

(Appearance) Beer pours thick chocolate cream head that retains well. There is a thin lacing on the side. Beer is very dark brown with dark ruby highlights. From the little I can see in this, there is some subtle carbonation. There's plenty of substance to behold with the nice presentation this beer gives. It's an attractive appearance overall. 4

(Smell) Medium roasted malts, some caramel with toffee and cream. Festive spice blends are on low, but reminiscent of licorice and cinnamon, both in trace amounts. Potency is medium. The aroma isn't the most impressive aspect of this beer. 3.5

(Taste) Caramel and toffee are in the foreground, but spices linger faintly in the background. The slightly bitter aftertaste is reminiscent of medium toasted malts. Slightly sweet, although a touch more sweetness would be desirable. The alcohol is well concealed, but I can pick up some tastes of it here and there at the tail end of the drink. The taste is enjoyable, but could be far more intense and full bodied, like the initial impressions I gathered when smelling. The beer is toasty and sweet. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Creamy and clean. Balance works well for the flavors. Malt is close to where it could be, nonetheless the beer is medium bodied for a winter warmer and medium bodied overall. Alcohol presence is light, well masked by the malt body and perhaps even the creamy texture in the mouthfeel. 4

(Overall) A malt-heavy winter warmer, with a subtle spice profile and a mild bitterness. I thought that the malt characteristics were a bit shallow for the beer or the remaining characteristics were underdeveloped and need some time to impart additional flavors. 3.5

Vertical Tasting Notes:

2011 (1 year, 3 months aged) Date on bottle: Best by 10/10/12.

Pours slightly darker head than the fresh vintage, slightly less substantial with a minor froth, overall still decent quality and retains well, perhaps even better than the fresh batch. Body color is identical to fresh with deep ruby highlights. There's a definite change in the malt background as the caramel begins to develop and bring out the subtleties in the spices, a little souring perhaps and some fruit characteristics are developing. This vertical is notably boozier as well. The age has done some wonders for the complexity; there's better balance to the beer and more yeast characteristics, imparting some tart fruit characteristics and enhancing the spices, notably cinnamon and anise, which are no longer masked by the malt bill. A touch dry still, but no worse than the fresh batch. A 1 year vertical of this beer is certainly worth your time as there is much more complexity to be found. Recommended.

Recommended Age: 1+ Years

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2013 01:11:05 | More by Jadjunk
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Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 566 ratings.