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Sweetwater Festive Ale - SweetWater Brewing Company

Sweetwater Festive AleSweetwater Festive Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

566 Ratings
THE BROS
86
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 566
Reviews: 268
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.5%


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: 566 | Reviews: 268 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of barleyman
barleyman

Georgia

4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the brown glass 12 oz bottle into my straight sided tumbler. The dark white head quickly dissapates,and leaves very little lace as it moves down the glass. Overwhelming smell of clove, the taste is of clove and malt, and very well balanced, with a finish of hop. The mouthfeel is right, given the ABV and the drinkability is correct for a winter warmer. I have looked forward to the annual release of this beer, especially back when GA had a strength cap, this brewer would always find a way to sneak it by the alcohol board.

Just a thought,

barleyman

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2006 01:05:44 | More by barleyman
Photo of Weissenheimer
Weissenheimer

New Jersey

4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is the second Sweetwater beer from Rajendra82's package. The IPA upped my expectations, but I know that winter ales are a very mixed bag so I try not to get my hopes too high as I pour out the bottle. The pint is a very dark cherry color and has a pretty, medium-sized, foamy brown head. The spicy fragrance brings Harpoon Winter Warmer to mind, but this is heavier; apart from the spices I smell molasses and perhaps a bit of licorice.

I take my first sip and a completely unanticipated coffee taste nearly bowls me over. At this point I'm not sure that I'll be able to finish it, because I despise coffee. But thankfully I'm getting better at appreciating beers like this, because I soon realize that there's an awful lot here to appreciate. The initial flavor is full and malty with a roasted coffee undertone. This shifts over into the taste of bitter, hoppy coffee. The finish intrigues me because at first I want to say it's nothing but coffee, but then I also detect something of a too-strong cup of tea. The interesting thing is that up until this moment I thought of coffee (which I hate) and tea (which I love) to be two completely separate animals. I realize now that the tastes aren't as distinct as I thought.

In the end, the fact that I not only get used to the coffee flavor but happily finish the pint and look forward to another, says a great deal about the quality of this beer. I love it when I say "I don't like this type of beer" and the beer says "Oh yeah? Are you sure about that?" My only complaint is that the wonderful progression of tastes flies by too fast. This is probably because the strength and persistence of the coffee flavor dulls my taste buds so that the more subtle flavors go under my radar. I imagine that, for people who like coffee to begin with, this beer must be truly spectacular. Thanks Rajendra82 for a great trade!

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2003 19:34:49 | More by Weissenheimer
Photo of Tifore
Tifore

Ohio

3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Grant (gford217) for this bottle. Poured from the bottle into a tumbler.

A - Pours a dark brown almost black liquid that is clear as it pours. Develops a very small light tan head but dissapates very quickly and leaves nothing except little bubbles rising to the sides of the glass.

S - Smells very strong of cinnamon and syrup. Really sweet and spicy. I feel like I should be bundled up next to a fire. Definitely smells like a winter warmer.

T - First taste brings lots of cinnamon to the tounge, maybe some clove and allspice? Lots of fall spices. Sweet notes and slight booze come after and finish out the taste.

M - Mouthfeel is syrupy and heavy. Medium on the carbonation and definitely warming.

D - I like this beer. A six pack would be in my fridge for sure if I could buy Sweetwater in Ohio. A few of these and I'd be set for a cold night and sleep great all night long.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2010 01:39:04 | More by Tifore
Photo of Soozy
Soozy

Tennessee

4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 ale

Pours a very dark amber. Almost can't see through it, but holding it up to the light shows the red coloring. A very faint smell of cinnamon and vanilla mixed with caramel and chocolate malt. You can pick up a good amount of scents without putting your finger on any of them.

Taste is creamy, rich malt. It is well balanced between caramel and chocolate malts. There's a faint orange and tangerine taste to it in the finish. Alcohol is faintly present as it warms up, but balances well with the beer. A rather thin beer, but also creamy mixed with the carbonation. A highly drinkable, complex, rich, and full beer.

Overall, this is probably the best winter warmer I've had in my life. A completely balanced, highly drinkable ale. I'd love to try an oaked version of this if they had one. I'd definitely buy this one again.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2011 02:30:04 | More by Soozy
Photo of scvance
scvance

South Carolina

3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2013 version, poured from a bomber into a pint glass.

Pours dark reddish brown, almost black with a thin tan head. Smell is slightly spicy, caramel sweet, and earthy. Taste is slightly alcoholic upfront, not much bitterness, but plenty of rich malty character through the finish. Mouthfeel is quite thick and viscous. Feels slightly syrup like in the finish. Low carbonation, this beer is wonderful as a winter warmer. I would definitely recommend for anyone who enjoys a rich spicy winter seasonal beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2013 23:45:16 | More by scvance
Photo of ruleof72
ruleof72

Georgia

3.85/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2007 01:50:18 | More by ruleof72
Photo of Damian74Shensky
Damian74Shensky

South Carolina

3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A- Dark brown with a small light tan head

S- Dark roasted malts, chocolate and coffee

T- Fruits, roasted maltiness, coffee and chocolate.

M- Medium body with good carbonation

O- Nice complexity, not bad for a winter warmer would get again.

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2013 18:41:50 | More by Damian74Shensky
Photo of jraycee
jraycee

North Carolina

3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2008 18:59:12 | More by jraycee
Photo of mikecharley
mikecharley

Pennsylvania

4.58/5  rDev +19.3%
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

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2009 20:55:03 | More by mikecharley
Photo of sammy44
sammy44

Alabama

4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My favorite beers are always the winter beers and this is my favorite.

I drank this from a pint glass where it had a nice cream colored head that lasted 'til about halfway through the pint. The smell was something like a spice cake or gingerbread. The taste followed this up. The beer was heavy on the tongue and smooth going down. It would be great served with desert.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2005 20:09:57 | More by sammy44
Photo of ugaterrapin
ugaterrapin

Georgia

4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2009 00:57:44 | More by ugaterrapin
Photo of taylocd
taylocd

Alabama

3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured from tap at Stats Sports Bar in Atlanta, GA on 12/4/2010. Notes emailed to self via mobile phone.

A - medium brown with mocha colored head and thin lacing that lasted throughout the beer.

S - sweet aroma with hints of alcohol

T - roasted nut flavor

M - semi-sticky texture with low carbonation

D - texture and flavor make for an easy drinker

Serving type: on-tap

12-14-2010 03:22:08 | More by taylocd
Photo of dolemite77
dolemite77

Tennessee

3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-17-2009 18:17:34 | More by dolemite77
Photo of phideltashaggy
phideltashaggy

Tennessee

4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I ordered it at a local bar, I'm not sure if it was from the bottle or on-tap. It was served in a Chimay goblet.

A-Black, unless you look through it at an angle, directly at a light source, then it was a slight red. The head was somewhat fluffy and tan, but didn't last (I blame the quality of the glassware at the bar)

S-I had no idea what to expect when I ordered this, but the nose was very roasty, somewhat burnt. And I noticed something that I couldn't quite place, even though "Jager" came to mind.

T-The Jagermeister taste was affirmed here. There's a definite licorice taste, but it is not at all off putting. Again, roasted malts and a bitter hop finish complete the brew.

MF-Medium thickness, but I think I would have got more out of this if the glass was cleaned a little better.

D-I enjoyed this immensely. If I had the money (and the DD) I could see myself drink a number of these in a row.

Serving type: on-tap

12-20-2010 02:44:04 | More by phideltashaggy
Photo of slatetupelo
slatetupelo

Mississippi

3.8/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My buddy picked me up a sixer or 2007 for me. It pours a real dark brown with amber at the edges of the glass and a nice tan head. There's really nothing distinct about the smell for me but it's not bad. The taste was surprisingly good and tastes of dark chocolate and malts, very well balanced. The alcohol is well hidden and I could drink a few of these before realizing that I'm in over my head. This was my first beer of this style, I'll have to look for something similar.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2007 23:19:43 | More by slatetupelo
Photo of axisjones
axisjones

California

4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter, black, none more black. Big bubbled off white rocky head, about an inch or so. Head dies down to a thin coat, minimal lacing.

Rich chocolate espresso in the nose with a faint astringency to it. Complex smell, almost chalky neko wafer milk chocolate in the end. Faint Carnation hot chocolate as well.

Big taste going in, the alcohol is noticeable straight off. Malty with espresso/coffee flavors and a slight rum. Metallic in the middle with a milk chocolate finish. The hops provide a tiny bite and mix with the roast bitterness. A somewhat tasty, if uneven, flavor with a dominant malt profile.

A very interesting offering, sweet, complex, luscious and alcoholic. A fine beer, could definitely use some fine tuning.

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2005 07:19:21 | More by axisjones
Photo of StarSAELS
StarSAELS

Georgia

3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Considering that my "daily" brew of choice for the season is Sam Adams' Winter Lager, this is a major disruption in my routine. Also, when you consider that the other brew I purchased along with this one was the relatively boring Green Valley Wild Hop Lager, this is a major kick in the pants.

I had no idea what the price was when I picked it up at—of all places—one of the local Publix stores (has anyone in GA noticed that Publix all of a sudden has a considerable variety of beer??), but I'll pay $10 for a six pack for this one again.

I also had no idea what the ABV was, and so it's taking me a while to send my thoughts from my brain to my fingers... hahaahaha

As everyone else has already said, it pours dark—I could barely see the halogen undercabinet light through it. Little bit of sediment on the bottom of the bottle, too—the sign of a real handcrafted brew. Malty, mildly spicy aroma. First cold taste is smooth and creamy with no alcohol notes. Nurse this for half an hour or so to get it to stout-drinkin' temperature, and there's a LOT of flavor in there—but still no alcohol (though I certainly feel it!).

This one would go very well with a slow-cooked pot roast or beef stew. Oh, what the heck am I saying? This is dessert!

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2006 05:18:53 | More by StarSAELS
Photo of maccroz
maccroz

Cambodia

3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A fantastic seasonal brew from one of my favorite breweries. Sweetwater festive ale has many nutty/nutmeggy notes to it. It reminds me of Christmas. Very very tasty. On the sweetwater tour they said "It doesn't take much to get you fucked up" as this beer sports a very strong alcohol content. Bonus... :)

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2002 16:08:48 | More by maccroz
Photo of Schwarzwald
Schwarzwald

Tennessee

3.1/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Aromas are sweet smelling with lots of richness of fall fruits and winter fruits. I was very excited to try this and it has left me a little bit "wanting more". For such a beautiful bottle and display it had to be great. A perfect winter holiday ale with so much to offer... well... not really. Some spiciness and good mouth feel, but needs more depth. Has a funky bitter (not in a good way) aftertaste.

Not my favorite, but a good bet if nothing else is there for holiday beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2011 21:02:28 | More by Schwarzwald
Photo of AlFromBayShore
AlFromBayShore

Georgia

3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found one of the big bottles of these at Camp Creek Beverage. The year on this bottle was 2008. Two of these were sitting in a box of "Happy Endings". My best guess is that Sweetwater tossed these in amongst the "Happy Endings".

The first time I had a Festive Ale, I didn't like it. It seemed thin in its texture. I had another one that had aged for about two months. I'm not sure if that made a difference but it had much more body and the taste seemed more complex. By that time however, it was next to impossible to find.

The one I am drinking now doesn't seem as complex but does have full bodied texture. The taste reminds me of a double bock - malty with hints of cane syrup and molasses. Not much else. There is a slight booziness in the finish. The smell is seems dominated by the malt. I expected more complexity in both the flavor and smell. Not much carbonation and the drinkability is good.

Overall, this 2008 version is okay but nothing to write home about. I expected a complex tasting Christmas Ale and got what appears to taste a lot like a double bock. I have the second bottle but am not as exicted about this ale as I was before having it.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2010 23:37:42 | More by AlFromBayShore
Photo of MasterfulIdiot
MasterfulIdiot

Georgia

3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Served into a Riedel tulip glass. Appearance is nearly black, with hints of red when you hold it up to the light. Tan head fades super quickly and doesn't leave much lace.

Smell is bready - kind of like a dubbel. There are hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, but they don't dominate or seem over-the-top. It actually smells pretty pumpkin-y.

Taste follows the nose, with some nice dark fruit added - figs. Spices are really well-integrated - they're noticable, but not at all overbearing. Alcohol is similar - present, but not too much.

What brings this down for me is the mouthfeel. It's surprisingly light-bodied for the taste, and just doesn't really work for me.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2013 03:18:36 | More by MasterfulIdiot
Photo of resirob
resirob

Pennsylvania

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

12 oz. bottle,
Appearance: Pours a luxurious dark ruby/black with a thick khaki head that settles to a thin ring and leaves almost no lace.

Aroma: Spicy sweet. Spices are up front and bold. Floral hop character is there, too. Malty sweetness floats in and out as I swirl the glass.

Taste: Mmmm. Nice winter brew. Roasted toffee maltiness with a great blend of spices. Tastes like it smells - spicy sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and smooth.

Drinkability: An easy drinking winter brew.

Really got me in the mood for more winter/holiday seasonals. I received 2 bottles courtesy of rajendra82, and I will be cellaring the remaining one for further review in the future (next winter, if I can wait - no promises!). This is the second Sweetwater brew I have sampled, and I must say that I have liked both. It is a shame that Sweetwater is not readily available where I live. This is certainly a brewery that deserves some more exposure.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2003 15:33:36 | More by resirob
Photo of qcitydarkstar
qcitydarkstar

North Carolina

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

Appearance -- Held to the light, this ale is the deepest brown and the sediment in suspension makes it opaque and practically black. Upon pouring this ale in a chalice, I got about an inch of off-white head.

Smell -- Licorice, Nutmeg, Coffee, Various Spices

Taste -- Licorice, Ripe Raisins, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Roasted/Burnt Malts

Sweetwater Festive Ale has an overpowering "kitchen sink" taste that causes the drinker to notice new flavors with every sip. Because of the taste profile, I would consider this an "extreme beer" as it is not what I would grab if I was in the mood for your average stout or porter. This is a fantastic brew that everyone should try, but I do not see myself quaffing this beverage often.

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2005 21:57:18 | More by qcitydarkstar
Photo of planetscott
planetscott

Georgia

2.38/5  rDev -38%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2007 13:12:22 | More by planetscott
Photo of TerjUGA
TerjUGA

Georgia

4.85/5  rDev +26.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2008 04:56:30 | More by TerjUGA
Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 566 ratings.