Sweetwater Festive Ale | SweetWater Brewing Company

BA SCORE
86
very good
806 Ratings
Sweetwater Festive AleSweetwater Festive Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
SweetWater Brewing Company
Georgia, United States
sweetwaterbrew.com

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.70%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
A strong ale brewed with generous amounts of rich malt, coupled with a taint of cinnamon and mace

Added by purplehops on 11-14-2002

BEER STATS
Ratings:
806
Reviews:
300
Avg:
3.81
pDev:
12.6%
 
 
Wants:
33
Gots:
177
For Trade:
2
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 806 |  Reviews: 300
Photo of AlFromBayShore
3.59/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

 1,162 characters

Photo of nomad
3.59/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A deep brown color, with no head or anything else despite a strong pour. This beer smelled of sweet dark malt tickling with spices, showing oaky, almost peat-like, and smoky sides. A full bill. Taste is mocha-like chocolate with soft spice surrounding it, deepened by a dark toast flavor with little too-much-roast distaste. Smoky at times, it had bits most noticeably of allspice, and a dry finish from spice chalkiness.

A fair bodied, fair winter beer. Thanks to aracauna for this warmer.

 493 characters

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.

 536 characters

Photo of BB1313
3.61/5  rDev -5.2%
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 kkipple
3.61/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 limited edition, liter bottle, number 4985/9000!

Poured from the beautiful red wax-sealed bottle into two pints. The head is a nice dark tan, compact, but eventually settles to ring the outside of the glass. The beer itself is a deep dark red, nearly black till you hold it to the light.

Smells rich, with lots of roasted sweet grains and more than a hint of tobacco, along with alcohol and a slight grape-tannic quality. Overall it's quite malty, with a bit of cocoa coming through. No hops. Brown sugar to spare. Ok smell, no real spices however. Is this really a Winter Warmer?

Festive is pretty tasty, albiet basic. It's just a sweet mildly roasted malt bomb, with a smooth mouthfeel and a few interesting notes to keep you drinking. Roasted grain, burnt sugars, the ever-used "dark fruit" (figs? raisins?) and a bit oc chocolate round it off. Not very complex. Don't know how much I could buy this (especially at the $12 per bottle...) but is pretty easy to down the pint in front of me. Finishes sweet and warming, with a hint of roasty bitterness.

Reminiscent of Old Chub, really, this is a tasty beer, but not such a good deal for the price. Still, it's worth a try, and the bottle is super slick and will win you cool points at parties when you show up toting it. As usual, Sweetwater does something interesting, but not exactly ground-breaking.

 1,371 characters

Photo of allengarvin
3.61/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Opaque brown-black color with a low initial head that fades fairly quickly to just a thin film.
S: Cocoa aroma, with a modest roast malt scent, moderately sweet.
T: Very low bitterness, relying on roast malt to offset the sweetness to a degree; chocolate cocoa flavor. If there are spices in here, I can't detect them.
M: smooth, creamy mouthfeel, nice body.
O: Mostly, a rather generic sweet stout or porter.

 414 characters

Photo of brocktune
3.61/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Zazzi82
3.61/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Smoky54
3.61/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Cyberkedi
3.61/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A nice, zingy winter beer. The serving I got did not have much of an odor - but I have never had an exceptional sense of smell. The taste, however, is fairly good. The flavor is not overwhelming or remarkable, but this is definitely a drinkable beer and a good companion to a hearty lunch or dinner. It goes down smoothly without a bad aftertaste.

 347 characters

Photo of jcalabre
3.62/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: This brew is reddish brown with a quickly disappearing head.
Aroma: It's almost a potpourri type of smell.
Flavor: slightly sweet and spicey
Overall: this is a medium bodied, slightly spicey beer. quite tasty. THis is a nicely done winter ale that isn't too overpowering

 286 characters

Photo of Gwitt
3.62/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Nose is of black strap molasses, unsulphered. Slight touch of raisin.
Taste -much like the nose, but heavier in the sweet raisin, or of a medjool date. End is spicy, but more pleasant anise and licorice. Good carbonization. Tingly, with syrup on the tongue.
Mild cinnamon and light plum involved in the aftertaste.
Note: having the 2013 festive on 4/2014.
If a waxed bottle could be cellared for a year, I'd expect more sweetness and spice. Would be a good choice for a holiday drink,
left in a one- to two- year cellar, but only in ideal (50 degree range) temps.
Serve with: potato leek soup, turkey and the trimmings.

 620 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
3.62/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of kell50
3.63/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

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.

 385 characters

Photo of Damian74
3.64/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

 279 characters

Photo of AdmiralSnackbar
3.64/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of jmpounders
3.64/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The 2006 release. I have also had the 2004 and 2005, but I think this year is somewhat different. Pours a deep burgandy, borderline black with an average sized off-white head which falls to a thin layer of "cream" within a minute or two. Very little aroma to this one (I think previous years exhibited more hop aroma... virtually none here)... smells of roasted grains, plums, a hint of chocoloate. Nice full body. Sweet taste of berries... cranberry and plum most notably with roasted malt flavor. Little to no bitterness. It seems to lack some of the spicy "bite" that I recall from previous years, and seems much more like some sort of "berry ale." This beer will go great with Thanksgiving dinner!

 701 characters

Photo of barczar
3.64/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque deep brown with garnet highlights and a frothy tan head that slowly dissipates, leaving modest lacing.

Nutmeg and cinnamon dominate the initial aroma, with an underlying malty tar character surfacing beneath. Notes of chocolate, cola, and clove add complexity. As it warms, molasses and subtle dark fruit emerge.

Flavor reveals more clove dominance, with dark chocolate and roasty malt dominating the slightly bitter finish. Hints of cola and ginger are subtle initially, but become more pronounced. Cinnamon rounds out the finish.

Body is moderate, with carbonation on the low side, and modest alcohol warmth.

Good variety of spice character, with enough malt presence to prevent it from becoming completely overwhelming. Hides the abv fairly well. Still a little too much spice for my tastes. Perfumey notes and a touch of acetaldehyde surface as it warms.

 878 characters

Photo of Brycecarolina
3.64/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of TheRock7755
3.65/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of memphischas
3.65/5  rDev -4.2%

Photo of woodychandler
3.65/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

It had been my intent to get festive over the Christmas/NYE/NY holiday period, but as usual, I have more beer here at Chez Woody than I can drink on a timely basis. I really enjoyed Saranac's Holiday Ale, so I am going to continue with a few more holiday beers before the next horizontal.

From the bottle: "Bottle Conditioned for fresher taste"; "A sleigh load of malt, spiced with a touch of cinnamon & nutmeg."; "Festive Ale is a unique seasonal blend brewed exclusively for the holidays."; "Everyone at Sweetwater Brewing Company wishes you and your family a safe and toasty holiday season.!"; "We double-dog dare you!"

Bottle conditioned, eh? That means that a gentle pour is in order, following my Pop! of the cap, so as not to rouse any existing lees. It took an in-glass swirl to raise a brief finger of fizzy, foamy, deep-tan/light-brown head with modest retention. Color was Very Dark Brown to Black/Opaque (SRM = > 34, < 44), allowing just enough light to penetrate to be able to see its mahogany highlights. Nose was spicy, filled with cinnamon & ginger, but I was not getting much beyond that. Mouthfeel was medium to full, not quite creamy, but big enough to merit my attention. The taste was interesting, more bready than spicy, although there was an anise flavor initially, replaced by the ginger-cinnamon flavor as it warmed. Finish was dry and spicy, but it just did not reach me the way that the earlier Saranac did.

 1,436 characters

Photo of mltobin
3.65/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of StarSAELS
3.66/5  rDev -3.9%
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!

 1,260 characters

Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
3.81 out of 5 based on 806 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.