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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:
793
Avg:
3.82
pDev:
20.16%
 
 
Wants:
32
Gots:
166
For Trade:
2
User Reviews
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Reviews: 298 | Ratings: 793
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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Photo of Pegasus
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear deep amber color, with a small white head, and scattered, patchy lacing.

Aroma: Sweet coriander, and cinnamon aroma, vanilla, slight wood, and alcohol notes.

Taste: Spicy at the open, with cinnamon, ginger, and dark caramel malts. The caramel malt anchors the taste throughout lending a dark sugar quality, which dominates the taste. Finishes with a lingering herbal hop bitterness.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, quite full, and pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: A very quite pleasant and drinkable example, well suited to the festive holiday season.

Thanks to BA HardTarget for sharing this rare example.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.02/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Soupy milk chocolate brown color is the liquid, and the head is a dirtied white thing, biggish at first then sinking very quickly to a skim in under a minute.

Aroma is predominantly spicy/herbal, but balanced. I get spruce tips, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, grape must and alcohol in the nose (uh, not literally in my nose), very fragrant and up-front, bordering on intense but never going too far.

Truly a winter warmer, in that its got a cozy, welcoming, dessert-like, let's-stay-inside-and-light-a-fire vibe. Spices and herbs are still the outstanding feature in the taste, but as with the aroma, never overkill. Smooth and balanced mixture of spruce/pine, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, brown sugar and grape juice. Hops and malt are here although costumed for the Christmas party (especially the malt, which is the life of this party). Alcohol is impressive well-hidden, or maybe better, well-incorporated.

Love the feel here, very smooth, silky, soft, round, almost creamy even. Enough carbonation to keep it lively.

Very nice. A real pleasure to drink and one I'll definitely try and track down next year again.

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Photo of CRJMellor
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a drak, turbid brown/black and maroon mixture. Thin light ecru head leaves no lace on the glass.
Aroma has hints of cinnamon, ginger, cassis and maybe nutmeg with a little bit of chocolate, toffee and a hint of charcoal.
Flavors of cinnamon and ginger, caramel and a semi-sweet dark fruit note were detected. Seems almost like a light, spicy porter. Interesting, not amazing but very solid profile.
Mouthfeel is semi-sweet with a spicy middle and a lightly bittered finish. Leaves a hint of lactose as an aftertaste.
Drinkability is solid. If you can find it, try it. Interesting combination of lighter spices with a darker malt profile.

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Photo of Chaney
3.26/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I bought this one from a liquor store in Winston-Salem during Sexual Chocolate weekend. I'm now drinking it.

A: Dark brown with no light passing. The huge 1.5 finger head died down within an hour or so (yep, that's right). HUGE!

S: Spice bomb for sure. Brown sugar, winter ale spice.

T: Like a brown ale around Christmas season. Dark fruit and lots of spice.

M: Not too thick, carbonation.... enough! The lacing was ridiculous.

O: Not my thing. If you're really into Winter Warmers, look elsewhere...

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

12oz bottle poured into a Pint Glass.

A - Pours a dark black with slight reddish edges and a creamy khaki-colored head that fades to a thick cap, leaving spotty lacing as it recedes.
S - Sweet, malty aromas of milk chocolate, brown sugar, baked brown bread, and Winter spices (cinnamon and nutmeg).
T - More big flavors of sweet caramel and chocolate malt, baked bread, spices, and a good amount of warming alcohol "heat".
M - Smooth and creamy, with a medium-full mouthfeel and lowish carbonation.
O - A nice Winter brew, excellent on a cold evening!

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Photo of Damian74Shensky
3.64/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.33/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

the beer pours a black color with a finger of head that falls to coat the beer. The nose has a bit of ginger in there with a background of chocolate that smells nice. The flavor is also first highlighted with a ginger flavor that fades to a chocolate on the finish. I like it a lot. The feel is a touch thin, but the other characteristics of the beer make up for that overall. The beer is smooth and just damn good. Thanks to clvand0 for sharing this awesome beer with me.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from waxed bomber into tulip glass. Pours a very deep brown along with a nice medium to thin tan head. Aromas of cinnamon, caramel, nutmeg, toasted malts, and maybe a touch of chocolate. The flavor allows for a decent amount of chocolate to sneak in there to go with the cinnamon holiday spice, vegetation notes, and sweet malt. Medium bodied with decent carbonation throughout. Overall, a nice holiday beer and one I wouldn't mind seeking out again!

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is another bottle that my 2011 Secret Santa gdodd12 sent me. Thanks, Greg. 2011 Vintage.

Sweetwater Festive Ale has a dark brown body and a creamy tan head. The retention and lacing are both OK.

The aroma has some spice to it, namely cinnamon, but it also has a lot of rich malt to back it up.

Some spice flavors come through up front, with mostly cinnamon. Next comes a complex mix of rich malt. Toasted and nutty malts mix with caramel and molasses, with toffee as well. Dark, powdery cocoa flavors come through as a good dose of sweet maple and burnt brown sugar. The finish is sweet and slick with some warmth.

Nice full body with a moderate amount of carbonation make this one feel alternately chewy and slick.

Festive Ale is a pretty good warmer, and I could see it getting better with some age on it (I guess the wax should have tipped me off).

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Photo of grub
4.47/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

christmas tasting hosted by biegaman on dec 15/07. i contributed this one, which i got from purplehops as part of BC2. huge thanks stan!

giant 1L swingtop topped with red wax. 2004 vintage, bottle 3042 of 5800.

pours dark brown with a fluffy fine tan head. the head drops fairly quick but leaves lots of lace.

aroma is great. bittersweet and dark chocolate. caramel and toffee. light alcohol. almond and cashew. bit of hazelnut.

taste is great. dark and milk chocolate. big caramel and toffee. great nuttyness - almond, hazelnut, cashew. light alcohol. bit of coffee. dominated by chocolate and nut, but in a good way. big bready malt.

mouthfeel is great. medium carbonation level. medium large body. smooth as silk.

drinkability is excellent. well balanced. great big caramel+chocolate+nut combo that i'm really enjoying. this is one fine beer!

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Photo of ilikebeer03
3.49/5  rDev -8.6%
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.

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Photo of atsprings
2.94/5  rDev -23%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Flying Saucer Raleigh on Dec. 3 served in a standard pint glass and reviewed from notes. The beer was served a dark brown that showed ruby highlights when held to light and sported a barely there disappearing head. The aroma was sweet malts and a hint of spice. The taste is slight sweet malts and alcohol, not much there. The beer is somewhat heavy a bit overly sweet. This one is tolerable, but a huge disappointment.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.52/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into my pint glass. Pours a dark tawny amber with a thin creamy tan capper. Little lace sticks as I sip. Scents of toffee, plum, molasses, and spices.

Body is creamy at the onset, but finishes with a nice carbonation pop. Flavors of mild cinnamon, some molasses, licorice, and mild hops. This is a good Winter brew here. Not your typical spicy all-cinnamon Xmas beer. I like it. Recommend.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.4/5  rDev -11%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep red color-almost a pale burgundy. Mellow aroma-mildly spiced malt. Has an astringent note to it that I liken to alcohol. Slighly spiced, malty flavor. Mild bitterness. Good full body. Quite dry in the finish. Nice winter warmer though I dont find a lot to rave about. A notch or 2 above average.

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Photo of HardTarget
4.37/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle Inspection: 12 oz. brown bottle states it’s a Holiday beer, and has the year (2006), nothing else.

Aroma: Yep, that’s a holiday beer! Great clove, nutmeg aroma in a dark malt base.

Appearance: Dark black with thick ruby brown edges. Sports a solid collar but fails to lace.

Flavor: That’s nice! Lightly plumed malt base supports the spices, again, nutmeg and clove are my guesses (website lists cinnamon and mace), and results in a very balanced, complex taste. Some mild coffee/chocolate flavor is noted. It seems to be a good English Brown Ale spiced for the holidays. Notably absent from the flavor: hops and alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, medium low carbonation, dry.

Overall Impression: Easy drinking, dangerous in it’s close to 9% abv. Felt the alcohol long before I tasted it. This beer is expertly assembled to let every aspect shine. Spices are firm, but not overdone. Malt and subdued hop blend into a well matched pair. My first Sweetwater, I plan on not letting it be my last!
Thanks to Mark for the trade!

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Photo of SPLITGRIN
3.48/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

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Photo of babaracas
3.43/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark brown with one finger of light brown colored head, settles to a thin layer with a few splotches of lace on the glass. Smell: brown sugar, lots of baking spices, a little plum and toasted bread. Taste: dark brown sugar, gingerbread, end of the sip is soft pear, grape skin, and more cinnamon. Sweet, creamy feel, enough spices and mild spicy and earthy hopping to keep it from being cloying. Easy drinking for 8.5%.

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Photo of BB1313
3.61/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
3.49/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage. Poured from a waxed bottle into a Dogfish snifter

A- pours jet black with a half finger very light brown head that doesn't stick around for awhile. Disappointing

S- tons of holiday-type spices...cinnamon comes through a lot, as well as some ginger. Not too shabby

T- getting a decent bit of ginger in the mouth....some cinnamon, maybe a little bit of clove. Everything is rather muted overall, but I'd rather have it be muted than to choke on the spices. Not bad

M- body is actually really thin. Stunning, disappointing

O- such a strange beer. Very easy to drink, better than many Winter Warmers I've had....yet not blowaway at all

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Photo of clvand0
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a very dark color with a small head that falls fast and doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. The aroma is malty and has a chocolate character and a little spice. The flavor is very nice. Chocolate flavors along with a spice from the ginger make it very interesting and enjoyable. I'd definately have this one again.

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Photo of rangerred
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours pitch black with a one finger light tan head that is quick to dissipate. Lacing is present but very light and short-lasting.

The aroma has a definite smoky note to it along with roasted malt, caramel, and molasses. There is just a slight tinge of metal but it is not really that distracting.

The flavor throws a lot more complexity into the mix. The smoked meat character is quite nice and is complimented nicely by molasses dark, almost burnt, caramel. Some spices start to become apparent as the beer warms with some nutmeg and cinnamon. Some dark bread undertones also make themselves known. Bitterness is just moderate but is enough to counteract the sweetness. The alcohol is completely hidden.

Overall, a nice winter warmer but for some reason, it just misses the mark for me. The aroma is really lacking and I wish the flavor had a bit more depth. Still it is a very good beer that I would get again during the holidays.

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Photo of joe1510
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle
2005 Vintage

I was damn lucky to get this bottle thrown in as an extra in a recent trade with RustyDiamond, Thanks a lot Rusty. Sweetwater's Festive Ale pours mahogany with deep ruby and chestnut highlights. A one finger khaki head grew on the pour and fell rather quickly to a skimming and ring around the glass. The head leaves some spotted lacing on its way down.

This beer smells different than I expected which, in this case, is a good thing. I was expecting a spiced winter warmer but instead got more of a heavy brown ale. Nose is dark chocolate, lightly roasted grains, a slight nuttiness and a hint of tobacco leaf in that order from most prominent to least. There seems to bit the smallest bit of oxidation that actually compliments the aroma.

The flavor follows in stride with the aroma. Big chocolate notes seem a little more milk chocolaty than the nose suggested. The nuttiness, tobacco, and light roastiness all mesh together flawlessly. Again, there seems to be a little oxidation on the backend but it compliments the flavors nicely. Festive Ale turned out to be a great sipper loaded with flavor.

The body seems a touch on the thin side for the style. Maybe some carbonation has been lost over the years but maybe not. Either way it's not a serious offense and doesn't hurt the mouthfeel too bad.

I really enjoy sipping on this brew. It's warming and more importantly packed with flavors perfect for a cold evening.

I was expecting a spiced winter warmer but luckily came across something much more to my liking. This is the kind of Winter seasonal I like seeing released. Keep the heavy spicing out of my beer and in the fruitcake.

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

appearance: dark brown, not ebony, slight retention, no lacing

smell: Had a great spicy fruit aroma. Like apple pie. Nice cinnamon apple notes

taste: roasted malt flavors, like a molassess flavor with some good spicy flavor

mouthfeel: medium bodied to full

drinkability: world class beer from sweetwater. Best I have had from yet so far.

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Photo of Jayli
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired this from tigg924 so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!

A: This beer pours a deep dark brown with mahogany hue edges. A one finger of khaki colored head that dissipates quickly. Wispy lacing is left on the side.

S: Nose is of caramel malts, brown sugar, molasses, and spices.

T: Taste is caramel malts, brown sugar, hint of bitter chocolate up front. Middle is a bit nutty, some molasses, spicing. Finish is bitter chocolate with just a hint of hop bite, and bit of alcohol.

M: Lighter side of medium body, medium carbonation, crisp, clean body with a touch sticky finish.

D: Nicely balanced, goes down easily, in my winter warmer days, I could drink these all day. One would probably do me now.

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Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
3.82 out of 5 based on 793 ratings.
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