Sweetwater Festive Ale - SweetWater Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sweetwater Festive AleSweetwater Festive Ale

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

280 Reviews
THE BROS
85
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 280
Hads: 712
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 7.05%
Wants: 26
Gots: 119 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 280 | Hads: 712
Photo of aracauna
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

11/6/03 (review of aged sample): I stuck a couple of bottles of this down in the basement for a year to age. They aged surprisingly well. The spice flavor that was far too strong when fresh has subdued nicely, making this a much more drinkable beer and also allowed more fruitiness come out. Much more interesting now.

11/12/02: Dark, dark ruby, almost black. Light khaki head lasts a while. The aroma is brown sugar, pumpernickel bread and toffee. The flavor is really earthy and woody. Kind of like the smell of a forest after a rain with the rottings logs and new growth. What I'm assuming is the mace comes on a little strong while the cinammon is faint enough that I don't notice it. The alcohol tickles around the edges of the palate but is covered fairly well. (770 characters)

Photo of MbpBugeye
4.47/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Really dark. A lot darker than I expected. Smallish off white head disappears very quickly., thus no lacing.

S- Very sweet smelling. Lots of dark fruits. Cherries, plums etc. Chocolate, spices and yeast.

T- Cherries, oak, vanilla, caramel. This is very good.

M- Full, velvety, smooth and low carbonation.

D- Very smooth and drinkable. This is my favorite winter warmer Ive had.
___

7/19/10
This is beer #6 from the blind beers BIF. Sent to me by MMAJYK Reviewed totally blind.

This one here is really throwing me. Im initially thinking its some sort of brown ale. It pours a weird murky brown with greenish highlights. The head fades before I can even make much note of it. The beer sits in my glass really murky and chill hazed looking. Weird.

Smell is loaded up with raisins like crazy. Also some cinnamon maybe? Its like a cinnamon raisin bagel sometimes. Lots and lots of sweet toffee/caramel. Im getting lots of root beer also, like a root beer float. Yeast brings out lots of dark fruits, its very Belgian. From here Im wondering if this is Raison D'etre. Ive never had it and Im not sure if my notes are matching up with other reviews of D'etre.

Lots more raisins and Belgian fruity yeast. What ever this is Im pretty sure its some type of Belgian dark ale with raisins added. It starts out full of raisins, toffee and dark fruits, cherries but then the taste kinda just abruptly stops. This is another spot where my notes dont match up to Raison D'etre so Im thinking this is something else.

Feel is not quite full, semi dry with a carbonation that loses strength quickly.

Such a surprise to see that its an '07 Festive Ale. I was thinking it was a Belgian the whole time! (1,693 characters)

Photo of Proteus93
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
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. (455 characters)

Photo of ilikebeer03
3.49/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. best by 11/05/15

A: pours a deep brown, almost black with a khaki head; about a half finger. good retention and lacing.

S: christmas-y spices are faintly present. cinnamon, nutmeg,

T: Christmas spices upfront, similar to the nose. cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of roasted malt on the finish with a slight trace of alcohol burn.

M: medium carbonation, decent mouthfeel. nothing special.

O: a decent Christmas beer. The spices are not over the top at all. (460 characters)

Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Sweetwater Draft House and Grill at ATL

A: Pretty standard brown looking winter warmer, but with only a ring of head on tap. That might have been because of how it was served, this place isn't exactly a craft beer bar.

S: A bit of cocoa, some toffee, light spices. A bit muted for the style.

T: Similar to smell, but with a bit more toffee and a bit of dark fruits. No hint of ABV at all.

M: Fairly thick with good carb. Pretty good.

O: A bit boring, but not a bad winter warmer. Like I said above, there is no hint of the ABV at all. (549 characters)

Photo of rajendra82
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasted in a 12oz bottle in 11/03 as a month old brew. Thanks aracauna for pointing me in the direction of the store where I found this rare gem. Now I have a couple of six packs sitting in the fridge and a few more in the pantry. I'll be saving these and updating the review as it ages (if I can resist the temptation to finish them off). The beer pours out as a gorgeous looking dark red concoction with a tall off white head that dissipates to a thin invisible line of bubbles. Carbonation is pretty low and so is the amount of belgian lace. It is a perfect winter brew with lots of roasted caramel malt backbone and a high ABV (for Georgia) that is balanced out by the explosive level of spices and distinctively floral hoppy aroma. Warms you up nicely as it goes down easy. As I taste it, the temperature outside is near 60 degrees. This will be perfect when I get stuck at the house with about a 1/4 inch of snow on the roads outside (after all this is Atlanta). Another quality product from Sweetwater that should not be missed by anyone that can get their hands on it. (1,075 characters)

Photo of pixieskid
4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Glad to see that Sweetwater is offering more of their beers in sixpacks!
med full body, frothy mouthfeel, good carbonation.
Nice roasted malt presence upfront with a hint of spices.
Fair milk chocolate presence throughout with a hint of caramel. Finishes with a lingering spiced note and hint of raisins.
Great example of the style; one of the few winter warmers I have ever liked.
Drinkability was quite good with this one; I had two. (438 characters)

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

2010 Version in a 750ml bottle.

A: deep mahogany color, very pretty
S: incredibly different nose, when I read the label and noticed the beer was spiced I was disappointed but the nose is chewy, treacle and hints of barrel aging although the beer isn't, some cinnamon noticeable also
T: somewhat thing for ABV but very nice roasted malt and spice hints, not overpowering with hops, nice roasted malt
M: thinner for color and ABV but good
D: very drinkable despite ABV (467 characters)

Photo of number1bum
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
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. (686 characters)

Photo of MuddyFeet
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2004. Thanks ChainGangGuy. Overall this beer improves greatly as it warms up a bit.

Extremely carbonated out of control head that eventually settled down to a thin layer of condensed head. Sheets of lace on the edges. Dark brown in color with no light coming through. Nose is Christmas cookie dough with a cup full of eggnog spices.

Flavor is a bit over the top and out of balance with a bucket full of spices and a healthy does of alcohol heat. Sweet malts are quickly followed by the spices. Full body that really clings to the sinuses after the swallow. Warming on the way down and quite soothing. Kind of like a brandy actually. (646 characters)

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

Red wax-dipped swing-top bottle is pretty much a pain in the ass to whittle open, but it looks pretty.

The drink pours a dark, dark ruby hue with a fat khaki head that retains well and leaves little gobs of lacing spattered about the glass.

Smell is a bit fruity with a toasty note and a bit of spice.

Taste is warm and friendly with a nice malt backbone. Caramel-covered plums and dark berries are dusted with a little allspice and a dash of fresh-ground nutmeg. Nice spicy finish.

The drink has a fullish-medium body and a nice creamy feel. Superb drinkability. (567 characters)

Photo of JayS2629
4.15/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- This reminds me of a coca-cola from its color, carbonation and head. Almost black, but reddish tinges when held to the light. Very opaque. The tan head is medium but quickly recedes to a thin ring in the edge of the glass. Sea foam lace.

S- Spices up front. Cinnomon, mace, and allspice. Hints of dark fruits, and dark chocolate. Faint whiffs of dark cherry

T- Follows the nose. Dark fruits like plum and cherry in the front, notes of chocolate and coffee with nice tinges of cinnomon and mace.

M- This is where it got weird. It was like drinking a porter or stout before, but now we are thin and carbonated. Watery with a small amount of cream.

D- Very flavorful and complex. I would give it a higher rating if it were not for how thin it is. Easy to drink. (766 characters)

Photo of AdamBear
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got a pint at the Sweetwater Brewery restaurant in the Atlanta airport.

A-dark murky brown with a thick but sticky light tan head

S-cinnamon. a touch of apples. dark and spicy malts. smells tasty. good strength as well

T-comes in with a great taste of spicy and peppery dark malts. this is really good and full flavored! there's a good and slightly roasted matching after-taste. the tastes are bold and seem to be of high quality.

M-thick and creamy medium carbonation with a creamy finish

O-i was really surprised by this. when at an airport, i usually don't expect much but I am here with a great beer of a style I usually don't prefer. this has to be one of the best winter warmers I've ever had. Its definitely and after dinner beer though. (750 characters)

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. (747 characters)

Photo of SPLITGRIN
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
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. (570 characters)

Photo of mikereaser
3.41/5  rDev -11%
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 (255 characters)

Photo of AlexJ
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark chocolate brown pour with a light beige head that is dense and lasting.

Aroma is dark malt, cocoa, subtle coffee, and hints of spice. Nice but rather ordinary.

Flavor steps up a bit with unsweetened chocolate, roasted coffee, dark malts, leather, and very faint spice. Finish is big and hoppy. No trace of the nearly 9 % alcohol content.

Body hovers between medium and large with aggressive carbonation and a somewhat chalky mouthfeel. (449 characters)

Photo of Westsidethreat
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours a vigours oatmeal colored semi tight head. Beer appears to be the color of coffee. The way the foam sits on top when first poured it almost appears to be a cappucino.

S: Combination of dried strawberries and wet hay. Allspice hints on the nose with an essence of walnuts with an earthen sensibility.

T: Cinnamon flavors at the back of the mouth, citrus on the sides and grapejuice on the tip. After a few sips while it warms notes of strawberries dipped in chocolate emerge. Lots of nutmeg and nutty flavors.

M: Full and round.

D: Ultimately a bit too overspiced. By the end of the huge bottle, it had become a bit too much. (645 characters)

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
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. (709 characters)

Photo of BB1313
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Best by 11/5/15. 12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours a deep brown with a khaki head that sticks around leaving great retention and sticky lacing. The aromas are loaded with chocolate and cherries. Dark fruits are there. Tons of malts. The flavors are smooth and don't come off as "huge". It's very balanced. More cocoa malts. Lots of cherries. Maybe some orange peel in the mix. Some raisins and plums. Some toffee. This isn't a spice bomb or anything like that. The spices are subtle, if not non-existent. Mouthfeel is very nice. It's full-bodied with low carbonation. It's very creamy and fluffy. Very smooth. Easy drinking and the alcohol goes unnoticed.

This is a solid holiday brew. It's nothing magical, but it's simply a well crafted brew that will hit the spot during the cold weather. It's along the lines of an amped up brown ale. (849 characters)

Photo of younger35
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received this brew from gpcollen1 after winning his Fantasy Football League. I enjoyed my first offering from Sweetwater so I look forward to this one. Drank from my Laughing Dog Brewing pint glass. 2007 release.

Appearance- Pours a dark brown with reddish highlights and a soft light tan head that slowly recedes leaving no cap and a thin collar that leaves a thin layer of lacing.
Smell- Lightly sweet and fruity with hints of dark cherries and peaches. There is a solid red licorice smell among the fresh and clean nose. Bready and sweet with some brown sugar hiding in the background and MAYBE even a bit of chocolate.
Taste- A bit of peppery spiciness from the start and that same fresh and fruity candy like sweetness that I found in the nose. Once the fruit fades (overwhelmingly I get peaches) a gently chocolate/coco body is present along with a nice soft nuttiness. If fruit and nuts sound weird as a description to how the beer tastes, it shouldn't, this is tasty. Lightly nutty aftertaste that is fairly dry.
Mouthfeel- Kind of a thin body with crisp aggressive carbonation, a big of warming from the alcohol and a dry finish.
Drinkability- Although I'm not the biggest fan of Winter Warmers (with exception of Jubelale) this one was pretty damn tasty. It's a bit different but in a fantastic way. Very unique and honestly the more it warms and the more I drink it, the more I like it. Sweetwater is a really solid brewery and I can't wait to try more! Big thanks to Heath! (1,486 characters)

Photo of match1112
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

big thanks to chefmikeanderson for sending this as an extra! pours out a dark cola color. a tan head rises to a fingers height than quickly falls to a thin almost non-existant ring. smells very malty with hints of chocolate and cinammon. the taste is pretty much the same with a slight smokey finish. mouthfeels thin for the style, but has decent carbonation. a little spicy and warm on the finish from the cinammon. overall this is easy drinkin, goes down smooth. (464 characters)

Photo of kimcgolf
3.26/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with hints of ruby, medium off-white head that lasts well into the glass, and good lacing. Aroma is somewhat weak, but what it there is a pleasant mix of malty sweet, dark fruit, some choclate and spices. Flavor is good and somewhat spicy, but fades too quickly because body is too thin and watery. The main drawback to this beer is the stale, bitter finish that leaves a licorice aftertaste. Not a terrible Holiday Brew, but there are better (461 characters)

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

A-pours a deep chestnut brown with ruby highlights. The head is a creamy tan that sticks to the glass.

S-the smell is how I think a winter warmer should smell. Rich malts, caramel, light molasses, and spices

T-Tastes of lightly roasted malt, chocolate and caramel, and a slightly sour dark fruit ending. Easy to drink with just a light alcohol warming.

M-medium body, moderate carbonation, very mellow

Overall its an easy to drink beer and a nice representation of a winter warmer. I would definitely drink again. (517 characters)

Photo of Jadjunk
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
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 (2,825 characters)

Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 280 ratings.