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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

589 Ratings
THE BROS
86
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 589
Reviews: 268
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 13.02%
Wants: 14
Gots: 53 | 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
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Ratings: 589 | Reviews: 268 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of AgentMunky
AgentMunky

California

3.33/5  rDev -13.3%
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 msubulldog25
msubulldog25

Oregon

3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle sent by my buddy, bluepred, a few weeks back; poured to a pint glass. As we're a couple days into spring now on the calendar, it seemed perhaps 'too late' to drink - then I dealt with snow showers on the commute home and it seemed appropriate on a 'winter'-feeling evening.

This is the 2011 edition, dipped in [extra-thick] red wax. Label shows 8.5%, a 'Catch & Release Seasonal' (from the 'Winter Coat Season')

A: Very dark, a ruby-tinted chocolate brown that pours with a compact tan/ivory head. Head recedes and rings the glass forming a base for drippy lace to fall toward. Most of it sticks. So dark that carbonation can only be seen in the strongest light; it's sleepy, but adequate.

S: Not much initially, even after warming 10 minutes or so. Gradually a nice spicing arises, a rooty gingerbread and molasses. It's similar in ways to Anchor's OSA... although theirs is stronger and more inviting. Kind of surprised that a 'big beer' like this doesn't have more aroma. Shrug.

T: I'm a fan of a sweeter/maltier winter ale - and this fits that bill. A dusty cocoa powder and careful use of cinnamon are highlights. The longer it sits, the more the spice turns to 'ginger', a spark that tingles on the tongue. A little drier in the finish, just enough to balance.

M: For an 8.5% beer, surprisingly devoid of alcohol 'heat'. Very easy to drink, truth be told. I assume that, by mid-March, this beer is 4-6 months since brewing; it's held up well, although carbonation is a little subdued. The end result is that it's thinner-feeling than expected. Smoothness is spot on.

O: I'm happy to have tried this (again), thanks to Mark. I've never reviewed it, but have been the recipient of a couple Festive Ales over the years. It's a better than average Winter Warmer, that does a good job with flavors that match my palate... and with subtle 'warming'. Yum.

Serving type: bottle

03-22-2012 02:50:00 | More by msubulldog25
Photo of GCBrewingCo
GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass clear deep amber brown with a tan head which rose tall and fell slowly to lace the glass.

The aroma was malty with a nice dark caramel presence and a nice fruit presence. Most notably were spices, namely cinnamon and perhaps a light bit of clove or maybe allspice. Chocolate was also nicely achieved in the aroma.

The flavor was similar to that of a brown ale with chocolate and a nice caramel maltiness. The flavor was fruity with more spice character that was well achieved and added complexity. The chocolate, caramel and spice all had melded into a very well done flavor that was quite alluring.

The finish was dry with a lasting chocolate and light spice impression into the aftertaste. The body was medium and nicely done. Rated as a brown ale with spices, it is a very good beer albeit a slight bit pricey.

2003 Vintage bottle 2675, could not have been above 6% abv in 2003 due to GA laws. 33.8 ounce large swingtop bottle covered with way that made the bottle near impossible to open. I'm very glad I purchased it even though it was about $16 at Sherlocks cold case in Marietta, GA. The price is the only sticking point.

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2005 21:07:17 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of Metalmonk
Metalmonk

North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
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
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warnerry

Michigan

3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

12-31-2013 16:06:13 | More by warnerry
Photo of Bung
Bung

Michigan

4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Sturdy brown pour with just a little bit of off white head. Retains well and sticks to the glass a little. Aroma has some more roast than other warmers, and some floral hop with the Christmas spice. Taste is like a brown ale spiced with ginger and nutmeg. Light roast, earthy nuttiness and some chocolates. Well carbonated with a mid/light body and mouthfeel. Drinks very well with no alcohol noticed. A nice warmer from Sweetwater.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2009 04:56:04 | More by Bung
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 jsanford
jsanford

Georgia

3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
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!

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2011 19:43:52 | More by jsanford
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kmpitz2

Tennessee

4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

the beer pours a black color with a finger of head that falls to coat the beer. The nose has a bit of ginger in there with a background of chocolate that smells nice. The flavor is also first highlighted with a ginger flavor that fades to a chocolate on the finish. I like it a lot. The feel is a touch thin, but the other characteristics of the beer make up for that overall. The beer is smooth and just damn good. Thanks to clvand0 for sharing this awesome beer with me.

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2004 02:47:36 | More by kmpitz2
Photo of Chaney
Chaney

District of Columbia

3.28/5  rDev -14.6%
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 birchstick
birchstick

Colorado

3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - pours black color with a nice white head

N - rich, caramel malts are all over the nose. There are also some
anise mixed in with some more sticky candy notes.

T - starts off with sweet malty candy flavors that get sweeter as it rolls down the palate. There is also a little bit of charred malt and anise. Nice winter warmer.

M - mouthfeel is full and smooth and coats the tongue - goes down nicely

D - I really enjoyed this winter warmer. Really sticky, candyish, and malty - all the flavors that should be in a warmer. I'll have to get some more for the holiday season this year.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2012 05:21:14 | More by birchstick
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BeerAdvocate

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +4.2%
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 Hojaminbag
Hojaminbag

Colorado

3.88/5  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).

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2011 18:27:57 | More by Hojaminbag
Photo of buckyp
buckyp

South Carolina

5/5  rDev +30.2%

12-10-2011 19:06:14 | More by buckyp
Photo of grub
grub

Ontario (Canada)

4.47/5  rDev +16.4%
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!

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2007 18:08:29 | More by grub
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ADTaber

South Carolina

3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

06-23-2013 00:04:15 | More by ADTaber
Photo of sulldaddy
sulldaddy

Connecticut

4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally getting around to trying this one. The first of two from a trade with Rajendra82. Hoping for some tasty southern brew here.

I pour the chilled brew into my pint glass and it is incredibly dark brown, almost black. Barely any light gets through. Not what I expected at all. This is exciting! Very little tan head foams up and fades rather quickly, back to a thin layer on the surface.

The aroma is spicy sweet similar to other winter brews. Some nutmeg, and actually brown sugar or molasses scents as well.

First sip, very mild carbonation, very smooth with above average thickness. The flavor is similar to the scent. Slightly sweet, with hints of coffee, but more of a mocha. Similar to those swiss mocha hard candies they give out at banks sometimes. That is exactly what I taste. very easy to drink. No ABV listed but I guess it is above 6%. But not due to alcohol flavor or burn just thickness of the brew. This is a very nice brew. not what I expected from a winter ale, but I am very impressed with my first sweetwater beverage. Now I know what to look for next time I am in Georgia. Thanks again for a quality brew Rajendra!

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2004 04:04:55 | More by sulldaddy
Photo of atsprings
atsprings

North Carolina

2.9/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Flying Saucer Raleigh on Dec. 3 served in a standard pint glass and reviewed from notes. The beer was served a dark brown that showed ruby highlights when held to light and sported a barely there disappearing head. The aroma was sweet malts and a hint of spice. The taste is slight sweet malts and alcohol, not much there. The beer is somewhat heavy a bit overly sweet. This one is tolerable, but a huge disappointment.

Serving type: on-tap

12-10-2009 09:45:49 | More by atsprings
Photo of Todd
Todd

Colorado

3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2004 vintage. 12oz bottle. No freshness date. Pours a very deep garnet, near opaque. Foam is a snapping tan with large bubbles that bust down to a quarter inch lace that has some decent retention.

Ripened fruits and baking spices in the aroma, and a hint of sour sherry. Estery. Alcohols in the background.

Crisp, snapping carbonation the palate lends way to a creamy mouthfeel. Sharp, fruity character of sweet and sour berries, dark ripe fruits of plum, fig and raisin, followed by a sweet malty flavor with notes of caramel and granola cereal, along with ash and some smoke. Bag of mixed holiday-type spices. Alcohol is well-hidden. Very mild oxidation character in the form of cardboard, which lingers in the finish with a slight metallic note and overall drying character with chalk backing.

Aged quite well. Not bad, and a nice winter brew enjoyed in the summer. Screw seasonal stereotypes.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2005 19:24:30 | More by Todd
Photo of jheezee
jheezee

Texas

3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

02-04-2013 18:08:23 | More by jheezee
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Lovely85

Florida

4/5  rDev +4.2%

01-06-2013 22:40:12 | More by Lovely85
Photo of lackenhauser
lackenhauser

Maryland

3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2007 01:44:15 | More by lackenhauser
Photo of CRJMellor
CRJMellor

Arkansas

3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a drak, turbid brown/black and maroon mixture. Thin light ecru head leaves no lace on the glass.
Aroma has hints of cinnamon, ginger, cassis and maybe nutmeg with a little bit of chocolate, toffee and a hint of charcoal.
Flavors of cinnamon and ginger, caramel and a semi-sweet dark fruit note were detected. Seems almost like a light, spicy porter. Interesting, not amazing but very solid profile.
Mouthfeel is semi-sweet with a spicy middle and a lightly bittered finish. Leaves a hint of lactose as an aftertaste.
Drinkability is solid. If you can find it, try it. Interesting combination of lighter spices with a darker malt profile.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2004 20:16:01 | More by CRJMellor
Photo of Pegasus
Pegasus

Texas

3.88/5  rDev +1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2007 01:36:42 | More by Pegasus
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
Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 589 ratings.