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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

291 Reviews
THE BROS
85
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 291
Hads: 774
Avg: 3.82
pDev: 20.42%
Wants: 30
Gots: 151 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
SweetWater Brewing Company
Georgia, United States | website

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: 291 | Hads: 774
Photo of grub
4.47/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

christmas tasting hosted by biegaman on dec 15/07. i contributed this one, which i got from purplehops as part of BC2. huge thanks stan!

giant 1L swingtop topped with red wax. 2004 vintage, bottle 3042 of 5800.

pours dark brown with a fluffy fine tan head. the head drops fairly quick but leaves lots of lace.

aroma is great. bittersweet and dark chocolate. caramel and toffee. light alcohol. almond and cashew. bit of hazelnut.

taste is great. dark and milk chocolate. big caramel and toffee. great nuttyness - almond, hazelnut, cashew. light alcohol. bit of coffee. dominated by chocolate and nut, but in a good way. big bready malt.

mouthfeel is great. medium carbonation level. medium large body. smooth as silk.

drinkability is excellent. well balanced. great big caramel+chocolate+nut combo that i'm really enjoying. this is one fine beer!

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

A- Dark brown with some reddish highlights on the edges. Almost no head or lacing by the time I got it.

S-Dark chocolate and dried cherries. Some lighter roasty malts. Overall, fairly light smelling for such a dark beer.

T-Sweet, but not cloying. Dark chocolate covered cherries. Some chocolate bitter taste on the outer edges of the tongue. Light hop character on the back of the tongue.

M-Coats the mouth pretty well. Lots of lingering flavor after a sip. A little oily feel, but not at all objectionable. Quite nice actually. Almost no alcohol burning.

D-Well, I had 2 of them, so it's pretty drinkable. With the higher ABV, 2 are about my limit. Even with the higher alcohol, it's not a sipper.

Man is this a good beer. I think this year's is even better than last. It's kind of refreshing to not have a hop bomb of a dark winter beer from an American brewery. Pick up a bottle or try it on tap if you get the chance. You will not be sorry.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a Pint Glass

A – Poured a very nice and somewhat hazy hazelnut brown. A nice light reddish hue was apparent around the edges. A good two finger or higher head of white sticky and foamy lace then appeared over the top of it and ever so gradually settled down to simply a thin layer of film across the top. There was some carbonation apparent in it as well.

S – Aroma was very interesting, lots of spice and caramel mixed in with a very nutty, malty aroma. Some fresh cut grass could be detected floating around on the inside and making it appear much lighter. There was almost something sweet though lingering, perhaps honey in the back.

T- The flavor was very smooth and pronounced. To be honest it was quite mellow and drinkable with a good bit of caramel and maple added to it, it kind of tasted like fall if that makes any sense. A really full flavor this gave off some essence of nuttiness as it warmed a really nice and festive beer, there was no hint of the alcohol whatsoever and the overall flavor was very pronounced and robust.

M – Nice medium body and adequate carbonation gave this a very nice, full feel and really a nice push overall. Not overly slick or syrupy it was right down the middle here.

D – Pretty good, albeit a little on the sweet side to really be able to put down a whole lot, it still came off very well and made for a fine late fall taste. I could see myself enjoying one of these every once and a while a really nice ale.

Overall I thought this was very nice. It was in the same category as a Highland Cold Mountain, with that sweet maple like taste and a good amount of wood flavor mixed in. A good chunk of Vanilla also mixed in as you let the taste work its way out. I would have to say this was more then decent and I look forward to being able to have another one soon. A nice seasonal from Sweetwater.

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Photo of SPLITGRIN
3.48/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

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Photo of BeerSox
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into nonic.

With a gentle pour about a one finger head builds then slowly settles to a razor thin cap.

The aroma has some light burnt caramel aromas with some soft spices. Some light fruit aromas are there as well.

The flavor starts out with the same burnt caramel, then quickly transitions to some mild spice flavors. Most of the flavor is from the malt (caramel) with a little bit of hop flavor coming in at the end. Full bodied with assertive carbonation giving it a spritzy feel. The finish is the spices mixed with a bit of caramel.

This one is pretty good. It's not your standard Winter Warmer, maybe a little spicier than average, but it's still a great beer. Recommended.

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Photo of jneiswender
1.78/5  rDev -53.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Had this beer served in a pint glass during a tour of the brewery.

Dark walnut color with a large bubble head. Head lasts quite a bit.

Smells sour and then sweet. Like a raisin like finish.

/The flavor is very, very complex. I think to a fault. The flavors aren't necessarily bad, just not layered. Everything seems to be happening at once. It even had some musty or mushroom like overtones.

One sip was all I needed. Didn't like the beer at all. Very honestly it tastes like a bad homebrew made of leftover ingredients.

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Photo of shivtim
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%
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.

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Photo of ruleof72
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage

Pours a root beer brown with a thinish head that quickly becomes a thin ring. Good lacing and carbonation

Smell is allspice and cinnamon with some raisin and a slight hint of chocolate.

The taste was good. there is nice balance between the spices and a slight sweetness. A little dry aftertaste that has some highly toasted malt components to it.

Mouthfeel was OK although a little thin . This is a good, drinkable beer that has enough of the "seasonal" flavor to it. Well worth a taste or two.

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Photo of number1bum
3.43/5  rDev -10.2%
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.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.15/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

($1.99 12oz. 2007 Bottle @ Total Wine in Kennesaw, GA).

Appearance: Pours a clear dark brown body with ruby-hued edges and a wispy, white head.

Smell: Aroma charged with spices, mostly allspice, but there's some mace and cinnamon in there as well.

Taste: Mild roasted maltiness and burnt toast flavor with a faint hint of chocolate. A spicy-sweet fruitiness kicks in, as does the allspice zing. Finishes dry with a light lingering spiciness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: It's alright, but I dare say one's enough for me per year!

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Photo of MMAJYK
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

****Vintage '06****

A- Very dark brown. Chocolate colored with off white, thick head. Not too tall of head, just thick.

S- Very stout spice smells. Ginger for sure and still chocolatey.

T- Very smooth but also bitter and stout in the middle. Rich and full with well blended spices.

M- Thick and rich. Not much carbonation.

D- Great 'warm you right up" beer! Enjoy this one tailgating before the big game with a rack of ribs on the grill. Very drinkable, but be careful, the 8.6% will get hold of you before you know it.

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Photo of planetscott
2.48/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

The appearance and smell of this beer was decent, however there is just too much ginger used for my preference. So much so, it is undrinkable. This could be a much better beer if they backed off the ginger. I am hoping the 2007 edition will be better.

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 Edition

A - Pours a deep brown with a thin brown head that leaves a slight topping of lace.

S - Malty some spicing (can't exactly place which ones) with a touch of chocolate.

T - Toasted malt with a slight taste of biscuit or baked bread, hint of chocolate with a mild earthy spice character.

M - Smooth and creamy with a medium body.

D - Tasty with more subtle flavor/spicing than other holiday beers I have had.

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Photo of kkipple
3.61/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 limited edition, liter bottle, number 4985/9000!

Poured from the beautiful red wax-sealed bottle into two pints. The head is a nice dark tan, compact, but eventually settles to ring the outside of the glass. The beer itself is a deep dark red, nearly black till you hold it to the light.

Smells rich, with lots of roasted sweet grains and more than a hint of tobacco, along with alcohol and a slight grape-tannic quality. Overall it's quite malty, with a bit of cocoa coming through. No hops. Brown sugar to spare. Ok smell, no real spices however. Is this really a Winter Warmer?

Festive is pretty tasty, albiet basic. It's just a sweet mildly roasted malt bomb, with a smooth mouthfeel and a few interesting notes to keep you drinking. Roasted grain, burnt sugars, the ever-used "dark fruit" (figs? raisins?) and a bit oc chocolate round it off. Not very complex. Don't know how much I could buy this (especially at the $12 per bottle...) but is pretty easy to down the pint in front of me. Finishes sweet and warming, with a hint of roasty bitterness.

Reminiscent of Old Chub, really, this is a tasty beer, but not such a good deal for the price. Still, it's worth a try, and the bottle is super slick and will win you cool points at parties when you show up toting it. As usual, Sweetwater does something interesting, but not exactly ground-breaking.

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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 Erdinger2003
1.33/5  rDev -65.2%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

2006 Edition

The head pours out and falls away into nothing. The smell is like cheap cheap perfume that is very bad. Oddly enough it reminds me of the cleaners that we used back in 2001 at Hardees. It tastes like bad roast beef layed out on the table for a week. With a little sweet flowery bouquet of the cleaners from Hardees. The mouthfeel was ok, but overall the drinkability is zero, never again.

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Photo of biegaman
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2006 edition, sampled amidst a bristly snow storm on the first day of March 2007. Hopefully this bout of "peace, love, and suds" will be the end of this weather and onto spring!
Pours dark in colour, deep auburn with lots of both dark and light highlights. Pearly white bubbles as head. A refreshing aroma of spice. A little spicy actually, notes of cardomom, fresh green tree bark (spruce) and a whole slew of spices typical of a pumpkin ale; if not outwright pumpkin. Spices carry the mouthfeel too. Nowhere near as much malt or hops as there is spice, which works ok. Medium bodied, fairly light drinking - especially considering the alcohol percentage. Good and enjoyed, thanks Harry!

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.4/5  rDev -11%
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.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep chestnut with a ruby undertone roofed by a smallish capping of off-white frothed over foam. Minimal lacing in a few inky strings.

Aroma is low key, dark, and deep with a brown sugar malt laden sweetness. Soft and bready with a big base of malts most evident in a darkly set fashion that is neither roasty, flat, or fruity. Just sweet, bready, and dark.

Taste has a good play of solid maltyness bringing a soft, succulant display of molasses, brown sugar over soft bread, hints of vanilla, and a twist of fig. No real length to it however, a bit short lived I'm afraid, yet tasty enough.

Body is creamy and sufficient with a malt goodness wrapped within a solid mediumishness. Soft, supple, sweet, with a light fluffy dry finish arriving late. Low carbonation if any at all really doing much.

A solid, subtle treat that'll be gone in no time. The overall smoothness lends itself to be a quick drinker.

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Photo of rsyberg01
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

S - 12 oz bottle courtesy of the generous cashew70.

A - pours a deep garnet with a creamy head. very nice, has some legs that are good as well.

S - roasty, caramel, little alcohol, slight fruit twang, a bit one dimensional but still nice.

T - big roast, touches of dark chocolate, good hop hit, sweet fruitiness, much more depth than the nose. from the nose I thought it would be much sweeter than it is.

M - lighter bodied which is nice for what the beer is.

D - According to the style, very drinkable.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark brown, but light gets through. A half finger light tan colored head fades slowly, but is kept alive by visible effervescence. Some suspended 'bits' are present.

The aroma is sweet and slightly warm from the alcohol with a mellow roasted malt.

It has a medium body and is very smooth with a nice balance from hops.

I appreciate the lightly roasted malt taste (I've recently experienced a number of ales that have gone overboard with the level of roasted flavor); it's sweet and creamy. The 8+% is hidden well. Quite drinkable. Thanks to blitz134 for the opportunity to enjoy this one!

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Photo of seebus
3.43/5  rDev -10.2%
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.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.3/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Dogfish Head pint glass.
This pours MUCH darker than I had expected. This beer is a very dark brown with some ruby highlights around the edges. There was a slight 1/4 inch head that quickly disappeared.
There's some spice coming through in the nose but I can't put my finger on just what it is. I'm getting a nutmeg and licorice smell from it.
Taste is similar to the nose. It is good tasting and quite different from your ordinary winter warmer.
The mouthfeel is of medium feel with a decent amount of carbonation. It is somewhat coating in the mouth which takes away from the drinkability slightly.
This is a good beer for this 15 degree night. A solid offering that I would drink again.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 Vintage
This was a total surprise. Definitely not your average winter warmer. I was sort of expecting the typical amber/brown/or red with some spice thrown in and a wintery label but this is an entirely drifferent brew.
Dark amber in the glass with a half finger loose head that melts quickly to a thin ring.
Aroma initially is alcohol with some toasted malt back.
Flavors are toasted amber malt with almost a smokey taste. Dark candied fruits like raisin and plum. Most prominent spice is nutmeg...yeah, definitely nutmeg. Alcohol and light citrus hops on the end that dry and clean the palette.
Alcohol in this one makes for a nice sipper...especially on this cold winter evening.
Thanks to barleywinebrewer for this wonderful winter warmer.

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Photo of Pegasus
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear deep amber color, with a small white head, and scattered, patchy lacing.

Aroma: Sweet coriander, and cinnamon aroma, vanilla, slight wood, and alcohol notes.

Taste: Spicy at the open, with cinnamon, ginger, and dark caramel malts. The caramel malt anchors the taste throughout lending a dark sugar quality, which dominates the taste. Finishes with a lingering herbal hop bitterness.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, quite full, and pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: A very quite pleasant and drinkable example, well suited to the festive holiday season.

Thanks to BA HardTarget for sharing this rare example.

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Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 291 ratings.