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Sweetwater Festive Ale - SweetWater Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sweetwater Festive AleSweetwater Festive Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

282 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 282
Hads: 724
Avg: 3.81
pDev: 20.21%
Wants: 30
Gots: 134 | FT: 1
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: 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: 282 | Hads: 724
Photo of nickfl
3.77/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with tow fingers of brown foam on top of a dark brown body with amber highlights and some suspended particulate matter. The head settles at a moderate pace and leaves little lace.

S - Sweet malt with some caramel and chocolate. Spicy notes of cinnamon and ginger.

T - Thick, caramel malt up front with a hint of chocolate. Clove and cinnamon notes in the middle. Some light malt bitterness in the finish with a lingering milk chocolate flavor.

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

D - Nice, light spice flavor with a great malt character. Quite smooth and drinkable but it would probably get old pretty quickly if the bottle wasn't being split between several people.

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Photo of mikereaser
3.41/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

labeled 2007

A - pours a deep mahogany brown with 1/4 inch of tan foam

S - sweet malt, molasses, candied sugar

T - roasted malts, molasses, toffee, coffee & chocolate

M/D - nice carbonation & flavor, held up well for 2 years old
thick full bodied feel

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Photo of mikecharley
4.59/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Track1646 for bringing this to our tasting yesterday. This bottle is a 2005 vintage.

Pours a dark brown. Spotty lacing. The head is spotty on top of the surface in my huge brandy snifter.

This is by far the best smelling brew I have ever had... I smelled it for the first time, and had two comments immediatly. First was: "This is a five" Next came "This smells like Thanksgiving dinner". Both are very very true. It was the easiest rate I have ever done on a particular attribute of any beer. Amazing nose. I got cloves, raisin, nutmeg, spicy, potpouri, pumpkin pie spice. Amazing! Let it warm, and it just gets better.

The flavor is in the nose, but is a bit more subtle. Lots of spice, with some very small hints of some faded grassy hops in the background. Some sweet malts. Really good beer. This might be one of the best beers I have EVER had. Great

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Photo of Buebie
3.34/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtasy of gford217

Poured from a 2008, wax dipped swing top bottle. It sure was hard getting this to open.

Poured into a pub glass, darker in color with little light penetration. Some mild glowing reds when held to light. I almost want to say its a brownish black in color. The head is an off white, about 1 1/2 inches. Leaving plenty of thick sticky webbed lace. A nice cap of retention hangs around.

Aroma is like baking spices, figs, dark fruit and it really smells like a
1996 bottle of Anchor christmas ale that I recently had. Theres a faint wiff of westeshier (sp) in there.

The taste is laced with spices, and more of the worstechier flavors, as well as dark fruits and figs. Some chalky overtone,s with a woody dust like taste. Just a hint of pine into the finish. Crisp, light and thin mouthfeel with plenty of carbonation.
A lingering warmth after the swallow. Its abv is very well hidden in aroma and taste, only just that slight warmth kick after the swallow and into the linger.

Its a solid brew, but nothing extravegant, like the fancy wax dipped swingtop might have suggested.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was the 2007 bottling, shared with dkachur and CrellMoset a couple months ago.

A: Chocolatey brown, a bit of sediment (end of the bottle pour), and an off-white, seni-creamy head

S: Sunflower seed???, candi sugar, artificial banana?

T: Sweet and sugary, some nice caramel, sunflower again?! Wtf?? Some soft breadiness, and even a little buttery.

M + D: Very light caebonation... Lacking, really. Sweet and inoffensive drinking... Not too bad.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.25/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 12 oz from the great trader from Utah... Wasatch! I've been looking forward to trying this one for a looong time... poured into my Chimay goblet.

1/4" head dies back very quickly.. the brew looks like an American porter... very very dark.. highlites only when held to the brightest light.

Aroma is dark fruits.. dark dried fruits.... some burnt sugars.. dark cherries and prunes with some caramel and rummy raisins.

Flavor has all the above elements with some subtle (maybe imaginary) spiciness.. orange peel?, cardamom?, cinnamon?! again it's more fruity than anything else and has a fair amount of dark caramel maltiness to it.. This is a "Winter Warmer" that I actually can stomach.... I never care for the overspiced versions (think Anchor).. but even then, this is IMO, only okay.. too much of nothing.. just a descent beer that never goes anywhere... The body may be the best element... smooth and fairly thick with a lite yet ever present small bubble carbonation... Edit: Tooo sweet as it warms.. and the waves of spice really come out killing the drinkability.... I'm trying... but... too much of everything equals too much of nothing and is surprisingly just average.

Thanks John for the try.... Honestly Thanks!! I've thought about trying to trade for the big bottles of these before and am very happy that I've been dissuaded.. I'll try to do you right soon. :-)

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Photo of Reagan1984
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

** Note on 12/18/10** I received another bottle from RBald42 over a year ago and just popped it. I think this aged nicely despite the style not conforming to cellaring. I really enjoyed this today. Malt flavors really smooth out and it's a chewy caramel flavor.

Big Thanks to BHalter8 for providing this in a trade. He's an excellent trader!!

Pours a deep brown color. A wonderful tan head that is about a perfect thickness. (2 fingers) the head begins to dissipate almost immediately. Almost looks like a real Root Beer. Maybe a little thicker.

Aroma is sweet caramel and lots of deep malt.

Deep caramel flavor follows the aroma almost perfectly. The slightest hint of spices as well. Not sure if I can pick anything specific out, but it's there. A bit nutty as well. Almost roasted nuts....

Thick full bodied beer. Very light carbonation.

Very drinkable as a Winter Warmer. Definitely warms the heart.

Glad I had the opportunity to try this beer.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to Jhill for this brew.

Pours a nice dark brown color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy tan head, nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some toffee/caramel, slightly spicy. The taste is sweet, malty, with a nice touch of toffee/caramel, with some spicyness. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a nice brew.

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Photo of dolemite77
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Barley's, Asheville, NC, from notes found of a November 2008 trip. Highland Cold Mountain was released a couple of weeks after we were there, so this took it's place for me as the holiday beer of choice. Strong aromas of cinnamon, sweet and herbal. Notes on the bottle state that it has mace in it, not sure much about mace other than I think it's in pumpkin pie, I'll take their word for it. Great holiday beer with the right amount of sweetness and spices. Not overdone at all. I think the extra roasted malt notes helped in this category.

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Photo of PhillyStyle
3.08/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served on-tap in a pint glass at Pub 71 (Atlanta, GA):

The beer appeared a deep brown with red hints around the edges when held up to light. It had a tan-ish color head, no retention, no lacing to speak of.

Not much of an aroma, slight malt, that was about it.

The taste is decent, a nice roasted malt taste, with some hints of something sweet and some other spices, none really to strong to mention.

Beer has medium to light body, carbonation level was decent. It was smooth and drinkability is average, I could have another or not. Leaves malty bitter aftertaste. I think the next time that I visited the establishment, I went with something else.

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Photo of BDIMike
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown color when held to the light. There is a small tan head that leaves rings throughout the drink.
Smell is of slight dark plum fruits along with roasted malts and nutty smells.
Taste is of the dark fruit flavors and the roasted malts. There is also a tad bit of alcohol to the taste as well.
Mouthfeel is a bit thin for the style, but very smooth.
Drinkability is nice for a stronger beer. There is not a lot of strong tastes going on, so it makes it more of a session beer than a great, flavorful winter warmer.

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Photo of gford217
3.53/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1L swingtop poured into a pint glass.

Pours a deep mahogany with hints of ruby around the edges. An aggressive pour produces a two-finger tan head that recedes to a very thin cap leaving some spotty lacing.

Aromas are pretty basic with lots of sweet caramel malts and dark, sweet fruits, apples and grapes maybe. I didn't get much in the way of spices in the aroma.

The taste is also extremely sweet, with sugary caramel malts and dark fruits. I thought I got some chocolate hints as well. The finish has a cola-like sweetness.

The mouthfeel is pretty light for the style with good carbonation but lacking the body I was hoping for.

This is a decent but not great beer from Sweetwater. Probably a bit one-dimensional for me, but I may sit on a bottle or two and see how it develops over time.

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Photo of jas30060
4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I had the 2007 brew, Its good stuff.
Frothy tan head, that leaves some nice lacing.

The scent is Kinda malty with a chocolate Undertone.

This beer is smooth and very drinkable. Its very well balanced. It has a soft feel on your tongue. The main flavor is strong caramelized malts with a light spice at the end. Nothing major in the hop department. A tasty all around good beer.

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Photo of HeyItsChili
3.78/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Poured from a 2008 Edition bottle into a pint glass. Pours dark brown with a medium/thin khaki head that slowly fades.

S - Toffee, dark fruits, spices

T - Spices at the onset, then roasted malts, brown sugar, slight alcohol tinge. Nutmeg finish.

M - Medium to thin bodied, not terribly impressive here.

D - Tasty, a little high on the nutmeg, but a nice ABV for a beer of its type.

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Photo of Brad007
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown color with a two-finger head that fades, leaving some lacing.

Aroma is light with a hint of cinnamon and/or nutmeg in the nose. Seems enticing.

Taste is spicy upfront with just a bit of nutmeg followed by chewy malt and a bit of raisin.

Mouthfeel is very smooth and fluffy. Goes down with ease. A bit of nutmeg lingers at the back of the throat, followed by some alcohol warmth.

Strong and deceptively drinkable example of the style. The mouthfeel is nice and shows that this beer is not too carbonated. I could drink more than one of this.

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Photo of bassmantin
3.25/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Please note, I am drinking this beer out of a bottle because I am at the ATL airport. But I still want to put my two cents in.

No comments on the appearance or smell. The taste is very full and thick. Lots of sticky sweet malts. Decently biting hops to give it some punch, but nothing extreme. Leaves a sticky taste in the back of you throat, which I do not particularly enjoy.

Overall, I would not have this one again. It's a little too much malt and hop and not enough delicate balance.

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Photo of weeare138
4.25/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage bottle received in a trade from warriorsoul many moons ago.
Appears a dark brown, nearing black with deep crimson, & purple edges when held to the light. A fluffy, 2 finger light tan head slowly drops into a mild cap that seems to stick around for the entire duration. Scattered lacing sticks to the glass.
Smell is of molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, toasted nuts, caramel, and a touch of cocoa.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a lovely mix that seems to come together nicely in a lowly spicy yet somewhat sweet, molasses & caramel drizzled cashew flavor.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, spritzy, sweet, lip smacking, and nutty. The spicing is enticing enough to make an impression on the palate with just a touch of black grape in the finish.
This is a really good beer. If it was aged on oak, this would strike me as being similar to a nicely aged blend of Zinfandel & Shiraz grapes with a hint of peppery, cinnamon, & sandalwood in the finish.
I'm not sure if this was intended to be aged, or not but it found it's way to the miscellaneous section of the cellar shelves and sat there for a few years. Before I opened this, I just enjoyed a 2003 Anderson Valley Winter Solstice and I was loving it b/c it took on some sherry characteristics. This too was a nice follow up, as it had complex wine notes that I would actually rate higher than many wines.
Damn...I'm glad that I stumbled on this one tonight!

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Photo of GPHarris
3.63/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 vintage

a - poured a one finger thick light tan head into a goblet that left thin ring and sheet throughout. the head billows nicely. the body is a dark and deep reddish-brown.
s - dark and sour fruits with a hint of spice.
t - sour cherries with a dry chocolatey finish.
m - medium and bubbly.
d - good beer but the bomber was a beast to finish after my fiancee' didn't like it.

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Photo of whiplash3825
3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a VERY dark brown/black, opaque unless held up to the light, with a small tan head that dissipates quickly to a small lasting cap.

Dark fruits in the nose, sweet, with a hint of alcohol.

Tastes very malty... dark fruits, brown sugar, with a slight metallic in the background. Alcohol is there, but pretty well-hidden. I'm not tasting much in the way of spices?

Seems just a tad thin in the mouthfeel for the robust flavors.

Drinks pretty easy considering the higher ABV!

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Photo of jraycee
3.67/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 12oz. Bottle
Pours a very dark brown almost black. Small khaki colored head that fades into a thick ring.
Smells of dark fruits, spices and roasted nuts.
Taste follows very similar as slight alcohol sits on top of big malt base complimented by spices and sweet dark fruits. Hops are hard to find, seems just a tinge of pine in the finish.
mouthfeel is very light and well carbonated for the style.
This could go great with a hearty meal. I probably won't get it again though, just not my style.

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Photo of n00tz
3.98/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - A one centimeter deep, tight tan head floats atop a dark body with active carbonation. Laces a good halfway down the glass.

S - Nutty, spicy fruits, and sweetness.

T - Sweet cream and fig. Kind of a dried spicy flavor, somewhat roasted. Followed by a nutty and mild hop taste.

M - Thick body with a smooth landing. Hides the alcohol content flawlessly.

D - If the intent is to drink this in happy company around a warm fire complementing some mildly sweet desserts like a pumpkin pie, then this hits the spot perfectly. By far the best brew from Sweetwater I've ever had.

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Photo of CrellMoset
3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Five Points Bottle Shoppe in Athens, GA. Poured into an Allagash flute, several times, because this bottle this bottle is friggen' huge. Bottle #153 of 11,000, 2007 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a thick, murky brown with ruby hues as a two-finger foamy cream-colored head rises from the dusk. It has a decent amount of staying power, but the lacing isn't so hot. Nonexistent really.

Aroma: Sunflower seeds, and a few other nutty notes, a few dark fruit notes, largely nondescript, but a few nicer light fruity notes that emerge upon agitation. In fact, agitation reveals a huge cornucopia of fruitiness, grape and apple juice, other notes, very nice.

Taste: Very nutty - again, sunflower seeds are dominant - but there are also a few good malty notes here, darker coffee, raisins, toffee, slight rum raisin without a real detectable hint of alcohol. Fruit cakey notes w/out it being spicy. Some simple sweet sugar notes and a few Perhaps a single-digit IBU bitterness. Sunflower seeds mellow out as it warms, fortunately.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, fairly even, smooth, low carbonation.

Drinkability: This is one fruity bitch of a beer. It's thick, malty, not too spicy, but intensely fruity, particularly as it warms. The alcohol is well hidden, and really not too terribly high. This one's drinking really well right about now, so give it a shot before it goes south.

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Photo of bhalter8
4.3/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours extremely dark, close to a stout it appears. The mix of cloves, hops and malts make for nice mixed aroma. The taste this year is far better than last year (2007). Having had this many times over the years I am pleasantly surprised and impressed by this year's version. While distinct in flavor form the previously mentioned mix, it is very drinkable, especially considering the ABV%. Considering I have cellared many of the previous years' version, I especially look forward to seeing how this ages.

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Photo of ectomorph
4.3/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - Pours jet black with a light hint of mahogany when held up to the light. Full finger tan head fades to rings at each sip.

S - Malty molasses and figs. No spice readily available. Surprised.

T - Chocolate, molasses, and nutmeg? Not nutmeg, what is that?? I love this beer. Very faint hop citrus in the back.

M - Medium to big body and rich feel. Nice.

D - Very high, you would never in life guess 8.6%

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Photo of TerjUGA
4.82/5  rDev +26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-dark almost amber tint when held to light. good tanned foamy head with medium bubbles.

S-smells of warm spices, reminds me of cold winter nights

T- Muy bien! You can definitely taste the spices hidden in the dark aroma of this fine festive ale. Hints of brown sugar tickle your taste buds as it flows. Gives a very warm feeling.

M-Very smooth, lightly carbonated

D-Good dinner beer, and definitely a beer that will be most enjoyed during the winter months. Also has active yeast so buy a couple of extra and save them for next winter.

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Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.