Sweetwater Festive Ale - SweetWater Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sweetwater Festive AleSweetwater Festive Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

709 Ratings
THE BROS
86
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 709
Reviews: 284
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 12.79%
Wants: 26
Gots: 117 | FT: 2
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: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sweetwater Festive Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 709 | Reviews: 284
Photo of beer2day
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown with a thin 1 and 1/2 finger head. No retention. Laces well enough.

Nose is very dark, dank, and musky. Very deep fruit tones. Earthy, peaty malt notes with overlays of cherries and plums.

Very thick hit. Very little taste in that initial hit, but quickly turns sweet with overripe cherries and plums. Nice when the taste matches the aroma. More tart than bitter in the finish, as to be expected. If you like fruit in your warmer, then this is a good one.

Feel is very thick and heavy, maybe even too much so. And I like thick beers.

As good as this one is, one 12oz bottle is plenty. For the style, though, that's fine. I've bought the flip top liters before and that is just way too much of a beer this heavy for us.

Photo of Jwale73
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

33.8oz. waxed fliptop bottle shared by Thirstybird and served in my Allagash 25cl chalice. 2006 vintage. Poured the color of cola with some highlights around the base - half inch off-white head quickly dissipates into nothing. Nose is a little sour, malty and some booze. Taste is malty, roasty, watery and sour dark fruit (plums, prunes, raisins). Mouthfeel is medium-light with an even background effervescence. Something was a little off on this one - definitely some oxidation here. I'd have to say that this beer was a little beyond its prime.

Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1/3 inch head, clear, dark brown in color

Smell: caramel malt, figs, brown sugar, alcohol, touch of plum

Taste: caramel malt, figs, brown sugar, black cherry, and spice--maybe cinnamon, small alcohol at the end

Mouthfeel: light bodied, moderate carbonation, semi-sweet

Drinkability: A nice dark holiday seasonal that leans more on dark fruit than spice. This is a sipper and kind of reminds me of a cross between a Belgian dark ale and a dark red wine. I will want another.

Photo of cpetrone84
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-pours a deep brown with hues of red, a thin finger of off white head that dissipates quickly and leaves nothing on the glass

S-light aroma of cinnamon spice, smoe floral hops and a touch of sweet ciitrus

T-light taste of sweet cinnamon, touch of pepper, hint of vanilla, some caramel malts come in next with a light roasted character that finishes with a dark fruits and a hint of citrus hops

M-solid body, full on medium, very smooth with a fair amount of carbonation

D-not a huge fan of winter ales and the spices associated. impartial rating as the flavors are decent and well related to the style. they aren't huge and i've had better winter's.

Photo of Backer2004
4.23/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this one on tap at the Sweetwater brewing grill at the Atlanta airport. If it was not for a small poster, I wouldn't have even known this was available. Great style to end the holidays with. Poured into a nice goblet, this winter warmer has no faults. Nice spices, easy to consume, and just the right baance of malts makes this probably the best airport beers I can remember

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

Review from notes. Enjoyed by me on Christmas Day 2009. Poured from the 12 oz. bottle that my brother in law Steven brought back from Atlanta into my father in law's Ray's standard pint glass. Thanks Steven.

A Medium brown creamy head that dissipates to a thin layer within 2 minutes. Dark porter body with no light coming through. 4.0

S Dark fruits, medium roast malt, possibly some dark caramel or molasses. I really like the smell of this beer and it is apparent that it is a Winter Warmer with some balls. 4.0

T Dark fruit, molasses carries right over from the smell. The taste is probably less "sweet" than the smell suggested but this is a delicious porter like beer. 4.0

M Syrupy thickness is not extreme but it is certainly there. 4.0

D Good. I found the bottom of my pint rather quickly. 4.0

Notes: What a treat to try this limited, bottled beer from Sweetwater. Thanks again Steven!

Photo of Bung
4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

Photo of boudreaux
4.37/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass; dark khaki-colored head, which dissipates quickly; very little lacing.

Nose: Rich, full bodied, distinctly malty; noticeable spices, with strong essence of clove and cocoa.

Taste: Creamy mouth-feel; noticeable but not overwhelming maltiness; mooth, pleasant after-taste; rich, dark malt and smoke flavors linger on the tongue.

Drinkability: Impressed by this seasonal offering from Sweetwater Brewing; solid offering from a company which is a steady performer in the craft brewing segment; rich taste is a departure from other Sweetwater beers that I have tasted; recommend this ale to anyone who enjoys a good dark beer.

Serving type: bottle

Photo of avalon07
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a brown color and a slightly cloudy consistency. There was a somewhat small amount of foamy, brown-colored head and good lacing.

S: Smelled of malt, a little hops and some spices.

T: Had a nice malty backbone with a hoppy bite to it, along with a spicy kick. Not exactly the most dynamic of flavors, but solidly constructed.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: A drinkable winter warmer, though not my favorite of the style. Still, a solid entry.

Photo of NWFLyer
4.32/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass; slim, brown-cream colored head which dissipated fairly quickly. Little to no lacing.

Nose: Rich, full bodied, distinctly malty. Spice is evident, with essence of clove and cocoa. It reminds me of a porter.

Taste: Creamy mouth-feel. Hop bitterness is evident, but not overwhelming. Smooth with a pleasant after-taste. Rich, dark malt and smoke flavors linger on the tongue.

Drinkability: Overall, I was pleasantly impressed by this seasonal offering from Sweetwater Brewing. It is a solid offering from a company which is a steady performer in the craft brewing segment. The rich taste is a departure from other Sweetwater beers that I have tasted. I would recommend this ale to anyone who enjoys a good dark beer.

Photo of crossovert
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage. 12 oz bottle. On the bottle it says best refrigerated, but iIprefer this style at cellar temp.

Pours a dark brown with hints of ruby, with a frothy off white head. As the head recedes thick lacing rims the glass.

The nose is full of holiday cheer. The malt is very nutty and roasty, witch hints of cocoa and cinnamon. Theres almost an eggnog scent in there as well.

The taste could be more intense (as with most Sweetwater brews) but is full of dark malt with some cocoa and dark bread. It is also sweet with some spices in there as well, just like the scent. There is also hints of dark fruits. The mouthfeel seems a bit water, I would have preferred it to be a little heartier for this style.

Overall a decent beer, warms you up but not to the greatest extent. The drinkability is pretty good on this one.

Photo of NCSUdo
4.24/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle

A: Dark brown under a very small off white head. No retention and no lace.

S: Nice roasted, toasted, nutty, malty aroma. Maybe a hint of some kind spice and pine. Good aroma.

T: Again, very malty. Roasted, toasted, nutty, hint of caramel, hint of pine and spice, alcohol is slightly apparent and a surprising level of bitterness in the finish (nothing huge, just more than I thought was going to be there).

M/D: Full bodied, smooth, carbonation is low. Drinkability is very good. A tasty beer indeed.

Photo of atsprings
2.94/5  rDev -23.2%
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.

Photo of pokesbeerdude
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Yesac for this in our most recent trade. 12oz bottle, 2009 vintage.

A: Deep dark brown in color with a light tan head that recedes into an island of bubbles in the middle of the glass. A few spots of lacing. Nice looking beer.

S: Roasted malt, some booze, a little caramel, a little caramel, and some spices, really strong booze presence though. Not bad.

T: Roasted flavors are nice, and cinnamon comes to mind, slightly boozey, nice malty sweetness, slight little hop profile mixed with the alcohol makes a nice bitter ending. Pretty tasty beer here.

M: Medium bodied with light carbonation, coats the mouth nicely, nice alcohol warmth.

D: This is dangerously drinkable, wow, I'd probably get into a ton of trouble if I had this around on the regular. Great winter warmer. Nice malty thickness and a good alcohol heat with a bit of spiciness. Very nice. Highly recommended for a cold winter night.

Thanks Casey!

Photo of Onenote81
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into my pint glass. Pours a dark tawny amber with a thin creamy tan capper. Little lace sticks as I sip. Scents of toffee, plum, molasses, and spices.

Body is creamy at the onset, but finishes with a nice carbonation pop. Flavors of mild cinnamon, some molasses, licorice, and mild hops. This is a good Winter brew here. Not your typical spicy all-cinnamon Xmas beer. I like it. Recommend.

Photo of slickmick22
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ours into glass with one finger of foam and some lacing. Head settles quickly.

Smell has lots of malt with some chocolate. Maybe some cinnamon.

Thick malt with some chocolate taste. Slight cinnamon. Slightly bitter. Nice sweetness on the end.

Moderately thick body, medium carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

This is a nice, smooth drinkable beer that I would never get tired of. Will buy again next year.

Photo of aubuc1
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured in to a pint glass.

Pours a deep black with a steady light tan head.

Smell is sweet winey, citrusy and strong roast. Very nice.

Taste is a big roasty delight. Not coffeeish like a ris, but very good.

The high alcohol is not even present. This is a great winter beer. I wish it was in FL.

Photo of dpodratsky3
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Pours deep, deep brown, nearly but not quite black except where some light comes through on the bottom, has a large tan head that slowly settles, very sticky looking

S: Some roasted malts make up the base, a melange of spice aroma over the top but not super powerful or anything, definitely dark fruits present, fig stands out to me

T: Gradually building roasted malt with a definite sweetness also, almost like dark chocolate, doesn't have that super dark roasted/burnt character though, hops start to show up at the end too but only in bitterness not much taste wise, kind of weird short taste length though, the taste just kind of stops at one point, but it leaves a pleasant warmness

M: Light carbonation brings the body to just over medium, but nothing really heavy, very similar to the "average" winter warmer feel

D: Good for the style of a dark, semi-strong winter beer, but more of a slow drinker

Notes: Appearance and smell are the strong suits with this one. The taste is good, but the thing that stuck out to me the most was how the flavor seemed to fade rather quickly. I would hope that the flavors themselves would be the most endearing quality. A nice solid winter beer, but nothing extraordinary.

Photo of superdedooperboy
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle into a Dogfish Head Signature Glass.

Pours a deep brown that verges on black at first sight, but which upon closer inspection shows highlights of ruby and mahogany. A thick finger-and-a-half of dense tan foam rises and falls gracefully, leaving a sticky web of lace on the walls of the vessel.

Aroma is malt-forward, sweet with notes of brown sugar and molasses and faint dark fruit. A hint of spice shows up as the beer warms, but is difficult to pin down, and some spicy-herbal hop notes show through as well.

Body is somewhere in the range of medium to medium-full, but adequate carbonation makes the exactitude of the measurement a bit off. Sweet malt up front, with maple, molasses, and a nuttiness following, bringing in a nutty-spicy-herbaceous weedlike middle that flows into a mildly astringent finish with a lingering pecan-maple-molasses character on the back of the tongue that holds tight and refuses to fade away. Alcohol is faintly present but mostly very well hidden.

An excellent, malt-accentuated winter brew that fails a bit in drinkability due to the somewhat cloying finish, but that shouldn't keep anyone from heading out and picking up a few -- this is certainly a decent pick in the pack of winter ales, and for a Georgia boy, it's always nice to see such a beauty born so near to home.

Photo of Bitterbill
3.67/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Time for a new Winter Warmer! Compliments of bhalter08. Thanks Ben!

I big 1LT red waxed, swing top bottle, #2461 of 7200.

Degree of difficulty in removing the wax and prying the swingtop open...the same as Grand Teton's Cellar Reserve brews. ;^)

The pour reveals a...err..pitch black brew? Nah, it's a very very dark brown that's close to being black when I look at the glass from the side but looking down from the top, I can definitely see some light and the deep brown colour at its best.

Not much of a head of foam, just a ring around the glass with some scattered islands in the middle. Tilting the glass from side to side reveals some spotty lacing.

Smell wise, I'm getting plenty of sweet factors with caramel being foremost but there's some chocolate and figs here as well. I'm trying to pick out any spiciness that may be here but I can't. No problem, though, as the super malty character I'm getting is very nice indeed.

The taste is not quite up to snuff compared to the smell. It has the caramel and chocolate sweet stuff going on that I like. Also a slight note of some dark chocolate bitterness, which is nice. I *do* get a light spice here..maybe nutmeg? That's what I was looking for in the smell. I guess my letdown is that the flavours aren't as bold as I'd hoped for when I took my first whiffs. The smell just promised so much more. Oh well, it's still a tasty brew...maybe more warming, from cellar temp to room temp, will help things out a bit.

Ok, that helped some and the flavours are...err...more flavourful but now, the alcohol is starting to show more too. That makes me think cellar temps are the best for serving this Winter Warmer so if one doesn't intend to finish the bottle at one sitting, putting it back in the fridge and pulling it out later and letting it warm up to around 50 to 55F would be the way to go.

Just crossing over into medium territory for mouthfeel, the carbonation is lightly done.

Drinkability? This is one to sip and sit back and relax with. A good brew for the season.

Photo of TurdFurgison
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 version, 12oz bottle extra from GatorBeerNerd (thanks Donnie). This beer is dark, very dark brown with a thin tan head. The aroma is malty and strong, kind of similar to an American barleywine. Some dark fruits like plums or dates, no real spices that I can smell. The taste is sweet and alcoholic, strong malt and ethanol with maybe a little cocoa. A big heavy ass-kicker of a beer, this is definitely a beer to drink on cold winter nights. Much appreciated, and I also have a 2007 to drink later.

Photo of Mistofminn
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to DeaconBluez for sending this bottle my way. Thanks Chip!

My bottle was just a normal capped bottle, not a swing-top like the picture above.

Poured into a tulip glass, this is a dark murky brown color, nearly black, very similar to a stout in appearance. Nice creamy light tan head that not only shrinks, but it changes color to white. Small ring of head is all that remains after only a few minutes, but it does leave some nice lacing.

The nose is very strong on the caramel malt and chocolate malt notes. Also, there is spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, with a nice floral hop presence.

The taste is pretty much what the nose would lead you to believe, but more pronounced. Chocolate malts and hops are much more forward and stand out more, with the nutiness and spices sort of taking a back seat to the malt and hop show.

Mouthfeel is medium and creamy smooth. Easy drinking, this is a good brew.

Overall, a solid offering from Sweetwater. Not my favorite beer I've had from them (the IPA takes the cake) but it's definitely one of the better ones. Thanks again, Chip, for the chance to try this!

Photo of ATLhophead
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A- Extremely dark, has great allure to promote berries, dark chocolate indulgence, hint of brown sugar.

S- Has an excessive amount of vanilla paired exquisitely with a caramel nutiness. Coffee grounds could add to the nose of this beast.

T- Very close to the aroma. Excessive traits: Vanilla, Chocolate, Molasses, Caramel.

M- My favorite part of this brew. A medium carbonation that represents the state of most stouts and porters. Puts a smile on your face.

D- Lighter than most would expect. The taste is quite appetizing. I could be a homer since I am from Atlanta, but this is one to enjoy all throughout the Holidays!

Cheers! :D

Photo of ugaterrapin
4.16/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. About a finger of light tan head. A dark brown color that is almost completely opaque. Aroma is not too strong, but hints of spice and caramel malts. Initial taste is of hops and spice finishing with notes of vanilla. This beer is relatively drinkable for being on the darker side. It is a great seasonal offering from Sweetwater.

Photo of glid02
3.83/5  rDev 0%
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.

Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 709 ratings.