Sweetwater Festive Ale | SweetWater Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
86
very good
293 Reviews
Sweetwater Festive AleSweetwater Festive Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
SweetWater Brewing Company
Georgia, United States | website

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:
293
Ratings:
782
Avg:
3.82
pDev:
12.57%
 
 
Wants:
32
Gots:
162
For Trade:
2
User Reviews
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Reviews: 293 | Ratings: 782
Photo of aubuc1
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured in to a pint glass.

Pours a deep black with a steady light tan head.

Smell is sweet winey, citrusy and strong roast. Very nice.

Taste is a big roasty delight. Not coffeeish like a ris, but very good.

The high alcohol is not even present. This is a great winter beer. I wish it was in FL.

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Photo of dpodratsky3
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Pours deep, deep brown, nearly but not quite black except where some light comes through on the bottom, has a large tan head that slowly settles, very sticky looking

S: Some roasted malts make up the base, a melange of spice aroma over the top but not super powerful or anything, definitely dark fruits present, fig stands out to me

T: Gradually building roasted malt with a definite sweetness also, almost like dark chocolate, doesn't have that super dark roasted/burnt character though, hops start to show up at the end too but only in bitterness not much taste wise, kind of weird short taste length though, the taste just kind of stops at one point, but it leaves a pleasant warmness

M: Light carbonation brings the body to just over medium, but nothing really heavy, very similar to the "average" winter warmer feel

D: Good for the style of a dark, semi-strong winter beer, but more of a slow drinker

Notes: Appearance and smell are the strong suits with this one. The taste is good, but the thing that stuck out to me the most was how the flavor seemed to fade rather quickly. I would hope that the flavors themselves would be the most endearing quality. A nice solid winter beer, but nothing extraordinary.

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Photo of superdedooperboy
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle into a Dogfish Head Signature Glass.

Pours a deep brown that verges on black at first sight, but which upon closer inspection shows highlights of ruby and mahogany. A thick finger-and-a-half of dense tan foam rises and falls gracefully, leaving a sticky web of lace on the walls of the vessel.

Aroma is malt-forward, sweet with notes of brown sugar and molasses and faint dark fruit. A hint of spice shows up as the beer warms, but is difficult to pin down, and some spicy-herbal hop notes show through as well.

Body is somewhere in the range of medium to medium-full, but adequate carbonation makes the exactitude of the measurement a bit off. Sweet malt up front, with maple, molasses, and a nuttiness following, bringing in a nutty-spicy-herbaceous weedlike middle that flows into a mildly astringent finish with a lingering pecan-maple-molasses character on the back of the tongue that holds tight and refuses to fade away. Alcohol is faintly present but mostly very well hidden.

An excellent, malt-accentuated winter brew that fails a bit in drinkability due to the somewhat cloying finish, but that shouldn't keep anyone from heading out and picking up a few -- this is certainly a decent pick in the pack of winter ales, and for a Georgia boy, it's always nice to see such a beauty born so near to home.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.67/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Time for a new Winter Warmer! Compliments of bhalter08. Thanks Ben!

I big 1LT red waxed, swing top bottle, #2461 of 7200.

Degree of difficulty in removing the wax and prying the swingtop open...the same as Grand Teton's Cellar Reserve brews. ;^)

The pour reveals a...err..pitch black brew? Nah, it's a very very dark brown that's close to being black when I look at the glass from the side but looking down from the top, I can definitely see some light and the deep brown colour at its best.

Not much of a head of foam, just a ring around the glass with some scattered islands in the middle. Tilting the glass from side to side reveals some spotty lacing.

Smell wise, I'm getting plenty of sweet factors with caramel being foremost but there's some chocolate and figs here as well. I'm trying to pick out any spiciness that may be here but I can't. No problem, though, as the super malty character I'm getting is very nice indeed.

The taste is not quite up to snuff compared to the smell. It has the caramel and chocolate sweet stuff going on that I like. Also a slight note of some dark chocolate bitterness, which is nice. I *do* get a light spice here..maybe nutmeg? That's what I was looking for in the smell. I guess my letdown is that the flavours aren't as bold as I'd hoped for when I took my first whiffs. The smell just promised so much more. Oh well, it's still a tasty brew...maybe more warming, from cellar temp to room temp, will help things out a bit.

Ok, that helped some and the flavours are...err...more flavourful but now, the alcohol is starting to show more too. That makes me think cellar temps are the best for serving this Winter Warmer so if one doesn't intend to finish the bottle at one sitting, putting it back in the fridge and pulling it out later and letting it warm up to around 50 to 55F would be the way to go.

Just crossing over into medium territory for mouthfeel, the carbonation is lightly done.

Drinkability? This is one to sip and sit back and relax with. A good brew for the season.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.82/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 version, 12oz bottle extra from GatorBeerNerd (thanks Donnie). This beer is dark, very dark brown with a thin tan head. The aroma is malty and strong, kind of similar to an American barleywine. Some dark fruits like plums or dates, no real spices that I can smell. The taste is sweet and alcoholic, strong malt and ethanol with maybe a little cocoa. A big heavy ass-kicker of a beer, this is definitely a beer to drink on cold winter nights. Much appreciated, and I also have a 2007 to drink later.

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

Thanks to DeaconBluez for sending this bottle my way. Thanks Chip!

My bottle was just a normal capped bottle, not a swing-top like the picture above.

Poured into a tulip glass, this is a dark murky brown color, nearly black, very similar to a stout in appearance. Nice creamy light tan head that not only shrinks, but it changes color to white. Small ring of head is all that remains after only a few minutes, but it does leave some nice lacing.

The nose is very strong on the caramel malt and chocolate malt notes. Also, there is spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, with a nice floral hop presence.

The taste is pretty much what the nose would lead you to believe, but more pronounced. Chocolate malts and hops are much more forward and stand out more, with the nutiness and spices sort of taking a back seat to the malt and hop show.

Mouthfeel is medium and creamy smooth. Easy drinking, this is a good brew.

Overall, a solid offering from Sweetwater. Not my favorite beer I've had from them (the IPA takes the cake) but it's definitely one of the better ones. Thanks again, Chip, for the chance to try this!

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Photo of ATLhophead
4.22/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A- Extremely dark, has great allure to promote berries, dark chocolate indulgence, hint of brown sugar.

S- Has an excessive amount of vanilla paired exquisitely with a caramel nutiness. Coffee grounds could add to the nose of this beast.

T- Very close to the aroma. Excessive traits: Vanilla, Chocolate, Molasses, Caramel.

M- My favorite part of this brew. A medium carbonation that represents the state of most stouts and porters. Puts a smile on your face.

D- Lighter than most would expect. The taste is quite appetizing. I could be a homer since I am from Atlanta, but this is one to enjoy all throughout the Holidays!

Cheers! :D

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Photo of ugaterrapin
4.16/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

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Photo of glid02
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dry-hopped cask served at the Brick Store.

Pours an opaque light brown color with a half-finger light tan head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of caramel malts with hints of chocolate malts along with a bit of spiciness, leafy hops, and a hint of vanilla.

Tastes similar to how it smells, though in the flavor the components are a bit more fleshed out. Caramel and chocolate malt flavors kick things off with a hint of vanilla riding the coat-tails. Midway through the sip a good deal of earthy hops offer up some flavor and segue through to a mildy spicy and bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is OK. It's a bit on the thin side with soft carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I didn't have any problem finishing the glass and could have another.

Overall the hops were a bit more prevalent in this version than the non-dry-hopped version (a big surprise right?), however the other flavors didn't seem as intense. Still, a solid late fall beer that's worth a shot.

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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 KickbacksSteve
4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage from one liter bottle poured into tulip. Light brown head atop a raisin colored body. I say raisin colored because that is the first smell I note, probably due to the 3 year age. Other aromas seem to include dates, brown sugar and plum. Picking up some coffee notes in the taste, no hops, no alcohol (I'm sure due to mellowing)(impressive considering the abv). Low carbonation at this point and very easy to drink. Extremely easy. Makes me proud of myself for having resisted this one for so long.

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Photo of nickfl
3.77/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with tow fingers of brown foam on top of a dark brown body with amber highlights and some suspended particulate matter. The head settles at a moderate pace and leaves little lace.

S - Sweet malt with some caramel and chocolate. Spicy notes of cinnamon and ginger.

T - Thick, caramel malt up front with a hint of chocolate. Clove and cinnamon notes in the middle. Some light malt bitterness in the finish with a lingering milk chocolate flavor.

M - Moderately thick body, medium carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - Nice, light spice flavor with a great malt character. Quite smooth and drinkable but it would probably get old pretty quickly if the bottle wasn't being split between several people.

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Photo of mikereaser
3.41/5  rDev -10.7%
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

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Photo of mikecharley
4.59/5  rDev +20.2%
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

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Photo of Buebie
3.34/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtasy of gford217

Poured from a 2008, wax dipped swing top bottle. It sure was hard getting this to open.

Poured into a pub glass, darker in color with little light penetration. Some mild glowing reds when held to light. I almost want to say its a brownish black in color. The head is an off white, about 1 1/2 inches. Leaving plenty of thick sticky webbed lace. A nice cap of retention hangs around.

Aroma is like baking spices, figs, dark fruit and it really smells like a
1996 bottle of Anchor christmas ale that I recently had. Theres a faint wiff of westeshier (sp) in there.

The taste is laced with spices, and more of the worstechier flavors, as well as dark fruits and figs. Some chalky overtone,s with a woody dust like taste. Just a hint of pine into the finish. Crisp, light and thin mouthfeel with plenty of carbonation.
A lingering warmth after the swallow. Its abv is very well hidden in aroma and taste, only just that slight warmth kick after the swallow and into the linger.

Its a solid brew, but nothing extravegant, like the fancy wax dipped swingtop might have suggested.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.25/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 12 oz from the great trader from Utah... Wasatch! I've been looking forward to trying this one for a looong time... poured into my Chimay goblet.

1/4" head dies back very quickly.. the brew looks like an American porter... very very dark.. highlites only when held to the brightest light.

Aroma is dark fruits.. dark dried fruits.... some burnt sugars.. dark cherries and prunes with some caramel and rummy raisins.

Flavor has all the above elements with some subtle (maybe imaginary) spiciness.. orange peel?, cardamom?, cinnamon?! again it's more fruity than anything else and has a fair amount of dark caramel maltiness to it.. This is a "Winter Warmer" that I actually can stomach.... I never care for the overspiced versions (think Anchor).. but even then, this is IMO, only okay.. too much of nothing.. just a descent beer that never goes anywhere... The body may be the best element... smooth and fairly thick with a lite yet ever present small bubble carbonation... Edit: Tooo sweet as it warms.. and the waves of spice really come out killing the drinkability.... I'm trying... but... too much of everything equals too much of nothing and is surprisingly just average.

Thanks John for the try.... Honestly Thanks!! I've thought about trying to trade for the big bottles of these before and am very happy that I've been dissuaded.. I'll try to do you right soon. :-)

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Photo of Reagan1984
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

** Note on 12/18/10** I received another bottle from RBald42 over a year ago and just popped it. I think this aged nicely despite the style not conforming to cellaring. I really enjoyed this today. Malt flavors really smooth out and it's a chewy caramel flavor.

Big Thanks to BHalter8 for providing this in a trade. He's an excellent trader!!

Pours a deep brown color. A wonderful tan head that is about a perfect thickness. (2 fingers) the head begins to dissipate almost immediately. Almost looks like a real Root Beer. Maybe a little thicker.

Aroma is sweet caramel and lots of deep malt.

Deep caramel flavor follows the aroma almost perfectly. The slightest hint of spices as well. Not sure if I can pick anything specific out, but it's there. A bit nutty as well. Almost roasted nuts....

Thick full bodied beer. Very light carbonation.

Very drinkable as a Winter Warmer. Definitely warms the heart.

Glad I had the opportunity to try this beer.

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

Thanks goes out to Jhill for this brew.

Pours a nice dark brown color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy tan head, nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some toffee/caramel, slightly spicy. The taste is sweet, malty, with a nice touch of toffee/caramel, with some spicyness. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a nice brew.

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Photo of dolemite77
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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Photo of PhillyStyle
3.08/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served on-tap in a pint glass at Pub 71 (Atlanta, GA):

The beer appeared a deep brown with red hints around the edges when held up to light. It had a tan-ish color head, no retention, no lacing to speak of.

Not much of an aroma, slight malt, that was about it.

The taste is decent, a nice roasted malt taste, with some hints of something sweet and some other spices, none really to strong to mention.

Beer has medium to light body, carbonation level was decent. It was smooth and drinkability is average, I could have another or not. Leaves malty bitter aftertaste. I think the next time that I visited the establishment, I went with something else.

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Photo of BDIMike
3.6/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

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Photo of gford217
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1L swingtop poured into a pint glass.

Pours a deep mahogany with hints of ruby around the edges. An aggressive pour produces a two-finger tan head that recedes to a very thin cap leaving some spotty lacing.

Aromas are pretty basic with lots of sweet caramel malts and dark, sweet fruits, apples and grapes maybe. I didn't get much in the way of spices in the aroma.

The taste is also extremely sweet, with sugary caramel malts and dark fruits. I thought I got some chocolate hints as well. The finish has a cola-like sweetness.

The mouthfeel is pretty light for the style with good carbonation but lacking the body I was hoping for.

This is a decent but not great beer from Sweetwater. Probably a bit one-dimensional for me, but I may sit on a bottle or two and see how it develops over time.

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Photo of jas30060
4.07/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I had the 2007 brew, Its good stuff.
Frothy tan head, that leaves some nice lacing.

The scent is Kinda malty with a chocolate Undertone.

This beer is smooth and very drinkable. Its very well balanced. It has a soft feel on your tongue. The main flavor is strong caramelized malts with a light spice at the end. Nothing major in the hop department. A tasty all around good beer.

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

A - Poured from a 2008 Edition bottle into a pint glass. Pours dark brown with a medium/thin khaki head that slowly fades.

S - Toffee, dark fruits, spices

T - Spices at the onset, then roasted malts, brown sugar, slight alcohol tinge. Nutmeg finish.

M - Medium to thin bodied, not terribly impressive here.

D - Tasty, a little high on the nutmeg, but a nice ABV for a beer of its type.

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Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 293 ratings.
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