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Sweetwater Festive Ale | SweetWater Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
86
very good
298 Reviews
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
Reviews:
298
Ratings:
794
Avg:
3.82
pDev:
20.42%
 
 
Wants:
32
Gots:
167
For Trade:
2
User Reviews
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Reviews: 298 | Ratings: 794
Photo of Zorro
3.06/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Massive 33 Oz bottle received from LuckySevens82 and BIF33 - Team Spring.

Vintage 2005 Bottle # 804 of 7200. Hard wax dipped flip top bottle.

Exceptionally dark brown beer that is very close to black. Only thing that makes it not black is the small amount of light that can be passed through the edges. Near no head just a tan ring around the edges of the glass.

Smell is a bit sour with lemon and ginger and something like the smell of Coke a cola. Bit of alcohol and pepper in the scent.

Taste is mildly sweet and sour with a good chocolate and coffee taste with some spices added. Decent bitterness kicks in after a while. Something tastes off here. Mouthfeel is OK.

Not my favorite beer here. Just seems off. Not recommended.

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Photo of WetCoaster
4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Well, this was supposed to be my 200th review, but I guess my math was a wee bit off. That's what you get for drinking, I suppose. At any rate, a gift from my good friend Tim F. in Hotlanta, GA. Much love for this super-rare (in San Fran, anyway) right coast gift. #176 of 7200, no less.

Appearance: Pour from a 33 oz. waxed and Ball jar-corked bottle (seriously guys, WTF?!) a deep, warm caramel with a tan, almost brown, head. Light, fizzy head head with moderate retention.

Smell: Very dense and sweet. Lots of vanilla and cola; the beer version of cream soda, if you will.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Fantastic -- probably the best winter warmer I've sampled. Dark chocolate malts, caramel, vanilla, roasted, smokey espresso. Nicely hopped and balanced. Finishes deep, charred and tight with burnt coffee long into the finish. The mouthfeel is fine, if a bit run-of-the-mill, medium bodied with fine, crisp carbonation.

Drinkability: Great -- loved the flavor, a real standout in a pretty mediocre style. Too bad I can't get no more. Still, enjoyed this one.

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Photo of oberon
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2005 bottle #6305 of 7200.Quite an impressive 33.8fl oz waxed swing top bottle,poured a deep brown with ruby tint thru out with a nice slow forming off-white head that is gone pretty fast after it forms.Deep roasted malt,molasses and a touch of nutmeg a malt bomb here.A thinner but not watery mouthfeel but I thought it would be a little fuller,flavors start on the sweeter side molasses and brown sugar dominate a touch of cherry as well but not to much spice,a nice dryinf earthy finish shows there is some hops in there.It comes in a fancy package and is a pretty good beer but for $10.00 bucks a bottle I wouldnt buy again.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%
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.

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Photo of hopsaplenty
4.33/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 Release, Bottle no. 4158/7200.

Have to fight through the wax before the 1L. swingtop bottle pours out a deep and dark, almost black, liquid, and ruby highlights announce themselves in the light. A huge head of cappuccino colored bubbles, small and densely packed, slowly settles to a thin surface coat leaving almost no lacing. The smell is sweet, and there are hints of roasted malt, coffee, and some alcohol. The taste matches the smell, sweet and spicy, slightly bitter. Coffee notes arise and there is a moderate alcohol warmth in the finish. Medium bodied, with a rich, full mouthfeel, the carbonation is on the subdued side. Highly drinkable and if this were the only beer being offered on a given night out, I’d be pretty happy.

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Photo of timtheenchanta
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Light to medium brown. True to style. Rocky fluffy head. Good retention. Little lacing that runs down the glass.

Spices and very faint malt. Not much else in the nose.

Lots of holiday spices. Ginger and everything else you put in cookies that screams out winter holidays. Slight alcohol taste and burn. Thin malt taste that's sweet but not great.

A little thin. Lightly carbonated. Enjoyable beer. Not my favorite of the style but good.

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Photo of Brewfan
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Konabrewer for this beer. You rock Matty!

Poured into my 3 Philosopher's chalace from a BIG 33.8 oz swingtop bottle that took me 10 minutes to break through the Fort Knox layer of red wax.

Poured a dark chocolate color with a big head of thick bubbles. Faded rather quickly, leaving a trace of lace on the outer reaches of the beer.
Sweet nose of caramel, slight coffee and alcohol. I get a bit of nutmeg and some slight hoppyness.
Not overly sweet on the tongue. Roasted caramel and a lot of butterscotch, but not cloying. A bit hoppy and earthy.
Mouthfeel was a med-light. Thought it could have used a bit more body but I for a winter warmer, you don't want it too heavy.
This was my first Sweetwater offering. Nice winter warmer. One I'd like to try again in the future.

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Photo of gosurfobx
4.32/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Comes in nice swing top bottle.
Poors dark brown with head that soon dissipates to a film. Smell is good with noticable spices. Interesting taste with several different flavors. Slight carmel taste, some coffee, and several spices that are hard to pick out. Leaves the drinker with a warming feeling after a glass or two. Very good beer for a cold winter night.

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Photo of MSchae1017
3.72/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 vintage 1 year old: head isn't quite as present as a fresh version. Chocolate and caramel in the nose. Strong caramel taste with subdued spices. Thick mouthfeel, smooth. Decent beer

This beer was tasted in a pint glass from a bottle.

This is quite darker than I expected. It is a brown-red. There is a sizable frothy head that holds nicely. It smells sweet and malty. There seems to be a lot going on with the taste but it is not very strong. First of all I notice that it is balanced nicely between hops and malts. I can detect some pine, cinnamon, and possibly something roasted and nutty. It feels thick and is carbonated well. This is one of the better winter warmers.

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Photo of mntlover
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2005 version bottle # 3166 of 7200

Pours a deep brown almost black with a dense light tan head that falls slowly and leaves some lace around.

Aroma is loads of malt some sugary molasses mingled thru out. Some nice dark fruit figs plums and some light spice.

Taste is lots of malt, molasses mingled with fruit finishing with spice clove and nutmeg mainly. Nice flavor lots of sweetness boarding on cloying but not quite. Hints of chocolate and metalic flavors appear also.

Mouthfeel is big medium almost full lots of free sugars floating around nice feel lots of spice

Drinkability is good but due to cost wouldn't purchase on a regular basis as others are better and cheaper.

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Photo of rabidawg
4.33/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep brown with red-tinged edges. Substantial off-white head that settled to a clinging skim, leaving spots and streaks of lacing. Moderate carbonation.

Smell: Cocoa powder and nutmeg. Slightly roasty, and reminiscent of a porter. Hops are minimal, and a moderate sweetness is apparent.

Taste: Wonderful in the mouth, with a creamy and velvety mouthfeel. Minimally hopped, but never cloying. Sweet malt character is accented by holiday spices, and the spiciness is further accentuated by a slight alcohol presence. Finishes clean, and is remarkably drinkable for a beer of this size and nature.

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Photo of qcitydarkstar
4.02/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

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Photo of sammy44
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

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Photo of warriorsoul
3.81/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to 1hopmonster for this one of many....
Pours a dark brown, almost black with very little light passing thru...a full finger of light brown head that disappears to all but a fine layer. Impressive lacing forms on the side of the snifter glass.
Aroma is very subdued...mostly fig and a hint of smoke.
The taste is where this one shines...a heavy dose of malt, but not overly sweet...the fig is more of a raisin flavor with some spice (cinammon, mild allspice) mixed in to fit the style.
The mouthfeel is thick yet not cloying and the carbonation is delightful...a very nice offering in the style and quite solid across the board, like many of Sweetwater's offerings.
I would enjoy this one all season long if only it was available...the alcohol is totally hidden, but it is so warming you know it is one to respect.
Definitely one to try if you like your winter warmers without the spices being overdone.

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Photo of sideshowrob
4.48/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Large Bomber-sized bottle. Grolsch-style swingtop covered in thick, red wax. Wax was rather difficult to remove gracefully, but well worth the effort. Brew was much darker than I was expecting, a nice almost-black color. Very little head. Nice aroma on this one. Hint of cardamom spice, reminiscent of an Anchor X-mas brew. Taste was unexpected, there was a stong smoke flavor to the brew, not unlike a good rausch style. The smokey flavor was distinct, not unlike maple bacon. The hops offset the strong malt note, resulting in an enjoyable experience. The bottle was numbered to indicate that only 7200 bottles of this sucker are avaible, so grab one while you can. I had number 3499.

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Photo of AlexJ
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
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.

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Photo of SilentSabre
3.09/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Aside from this being a bit darker than I would have expected, everything else I was dead-on about. It poured a very dense dark chocolate brown through which light could hardly pass. No head. The smell was hoppier than I care for, which I predicted it would be. A bit of malt present, which is what I enjoy, but plenty of hops. No thanks. The taste was the same as the smell. A greater presence of hops than malt. Mouthfeel is very nice, however. There's little carbonation and it's very smooth and easy to drink. This has a very very slight heaviness to it. Or rather, what I think I'm trying to say is that there is a consistency here that seems a bit thicker than one might expect. Not like syrup, but certainly more dense than water. Overall, I probably will never buy this again. It certainly isn't terrible, but it certainly isn't for me either. I really didn't care for it that much, but it sure does have a smooth finish, and at 8.6%, it'll do the trick in a hurry!!

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Photo of Chadbrew
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Don't Float The Mainstream... No worries there.
Coffee colored beer with very mild carbonation and slight head. There is an even ring of tight bubbles around the edges that leaves a fine, if small, sheet of lacing.
Smells like caramel and roast.
There is a definite bitterness right away and an anise flavor that stays around while the bitterness fades. I perceive a touch of spice that accents the big malty body, makes the beer kind of "chewy"... nice.
Most impressive is the smoothness and drinkability, the alcohol is very well hidden until you feel it rather than taste it.
I'll be looking for it next year no doubt!

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber brown bordering on opaque but plenty of red highlights when held up to the light... Large tan head with moderate rention and good lacing.

The nose is all malt - plenty of sweet notes of caramel and molasses with hints of nutmeg and ginger. The flavor is surprisingly chocolaty with a pronounced cocoa note as well as a lighter prune flavor. Moderate spicing of cinnamon and nutmeg make up most of the highlights. Very light hop bitterness in the background tends to give it a hint of balance. Sweet but not over the top.

A bit lighter bodied than you'd expect, oily residue left on the tongue and not enough carbonation to give this much body. Slightly cloying aftertaste but a bit of alcohol burn actually helps clean up the palate.

Not perfect but quite tasty and just the kind of thing I'm looking for in a winter warmer.

[Thanks to rajendra82 for sending out this Georgia treat]

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Photo of merlin48
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

One liter bottle, number 7083 of 7200, $12.50 at the Weinhaus in Asheville, NC. Swingtop bottle sealed in red wax. Pours a dark brown body with a two finger tan head. The body appears a clear chestnut with garnet highlights when held to light. Head retention is excellent and lots of sticky lace is left behind on the glass.

Aroma opens with citrusy orange esters, spicy cinnamon and nutmeg/mace, and some brown sugar. Undertone of caramel and an odd note of vegetal squash.

Mouthfeel is creamy and full bodied, with moderate carbonation.

Toasted grains and sweet malty caramel dominate the taste. Brown sugar is overly prominent and adds a cloying aspect. Hops contribute an earthy bitterness, and the spicing of mace and cinnamon are present, but understated. Alcohol is very well concealed. Very much the winter warmer, but the sweetness is overdone.

Not a bad effort from Sweetwater, but I thought the sweetness was a bit cloying.

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Photo of doubleipa
4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just picked up the 2005 rendition of this wonderful seasonal.
This beer had a slight toasted aroma mixed with nutmeg and clove with a hint of coriander. There was virtually zero head. I could just get the head to cover the surface, but it disappeared instantly. The body was a clear black.brown. Initial flavor was midly sweet that finished long. Body was medium to full with a syrupy texture. Virtually no carbonation. The finish was only slightly alcoholic. Surpisingly little for a 8.9% beer. Seems to taste a little less spicy than last year's model.

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Photo of Todd
3.57/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2004 vintage. 12oz bottle. No freshness date. Pours a very deep garnet, near opaque. Foam is a snapping tan with large bubbles that bust down to a quarter inch lace that has some decent retention.

Ripened fruits and baking spices in the aroma, and a hint of sour sherry. Estery. Alcohols in the background.

Crisp, snapping carbonation the palate lends way to a creamy mouthfeel. Sharp, fruity character of sweet and sour berries, dark ripe fruits of plum, fig and raisin, followed by a sweet malty flavor with notes of caramel and granola cereal, along with ash and some smoke. Bag of mixed holiday-type spices. Alcohol is well-hidden. Very mild oxidation character in the form of cardboard, which lingers in the finish with a slight metallic note and overall drying character with chalk backing.

Aged quite well. Not bad, and a nice winter brew enjoyed in the summer. Screw seasonal stereotypes.

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Photo of deejaydan
4.28/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Raj! Got this one, um, one of the BIF's.
Comes in an impressive waxed dipped flip top one liter bottle.

Pours a deep chestnut brown color with ruby highlights. Decent head retention here. Smells and tastes like a Belgian Dubbel. Rum, spices, ripe fruits greet you as you taste this beer. I find this has a fuller body than most belgian dubbels that I've had, and a much more rounded character. Still, it does seem a bit sharp in the mouth to me. The alcohol is blended in nicely too, not noticable at all.

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Photo of axisjones
4.17/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass clear deep amber brown with a tan head which rose tall and fell slowly to lace the glass.

The aroma was malty with a nice dark caramel presence and a nice fruit presence. Most notably were spices, namely cinnamon and perhaps a light bit of clove or maybe allspice. Chocolate was also nicely achieved in the aroma.

The flavor was similar to that of a brown ale with chocolate and a nice caramel maltiness. The flavor was fruity with more spice character that was well achieved and added complexity. The chocolate, caramel and spice all had melded into a very well done flavor that was quite alluring.

The finish was dry with a lasting chocolate and light spice impression into the aftertaste. The body was medium and nicely done. Rated as a brown ale with spices, it is a very good beer albeit a slight bit pricey.

2003 Vintage bottle 2675, could not have been above 6% abv in 2003 due to GA laws. 33.8 ounce large swingtop bottle covered with way that made the bottle near impossible to open. I'm very glad I purchased it even though it was about $16 at Sherlocks cold case in Marietta, GA. The price is the only sticking point.

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Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
3.82 out of 5 based on 794 ratings.
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