Sweetwater Festive Ale | SweetWater Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
BA SCORE
86
very good
294 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:
294
Ratings:
783
Avg:
3.82
pDev:
20.42%
 
 
Wants:
32
Gots:
162
For Trade:
2
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 294 | Ratings: 783
Photo of jcalabre
3.62/5  rDev -5.2%
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 spacecake9
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a bottle of this fine ale in a trade.
A - Pours black with a nice head that settles quickly.
S - Aroma of malt, dark fruits.
T - Very tasty brown ale. Minimal spices.
F - Medium mouth feel, low carbonation.
O - I've been sitting on this one for a couple months, much better than I expected. Very drinkable beer.

 318 characters

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

Notes from 11/30/2010:

12 oz. bottle at 42* into a damn frozen pint glass (I hate when bars do this).

A: This pours a nearly black color that is not quite opaque and sports a half-finger of head with decent retention and lacing.

S: The nose shows aromas of dark fruits, brandy, nutty toffee, medium roast coffee, and a hint of smoke.

T: It features bold flavors of coffee, brandy-soaked plums and figs, roasted nuts, and some charred toffee.

M: The body is much thinner than expected and actual provides for a distraction from the great flavors.

D: This is not the typical Winter Warmer as it tastes and drinks more like a strong porter/dubble mix.

 654 characters

Photo of BierReise
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown like Coca-Cola and a dense off white head. Interesting aroma, has some smoky roasted malt and a good dose of hops along with a hint of ginger. Pretty smooth body with a nice crispness to it. Flavor is spicy, sweet with a good malt flavor. Probably the best I've had from Sweetwater.

 293 characters

Photo of dgallina
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Gigantic wax-stoppered 33.8 ounce brown bottle. Dated 2006 and numbered 2381 of 9000.

Pours slightly transparent dark brown with big chunky tan head that recedes to decent lace. Smells malty and heavily spiced with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and pepper. Flavor is dominated by heavily-toasted and somewhat smoky malts (chocolate, caramel, and toasted dark bread). The malts are balanced by dark fruitiness (raisins and plums) edged with christmas spices. Alcohol is not overly apparent, though the beer becomes heady with time. No hop presence to speak of. Gently carbonated and quite creamy medium-heavy body. Fans of malty ales (scotch ales particularly) may like this quite a bit. An unusually nice offering from Sweetwater IMHO.

 736 characters

Photo of thedoubler55
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- JET BLACK, very dark beer beauty at first sight!

S- Some caramel with vanilla, very good smelling beer.

T- Taste of nuts and chocolates, with some french vanilla coffee aftertaste.

M- A great beer to drink, definitely recommend for beer lovers.

D- Amazing flavor, a beer I will always love to have especially in the colder months of the year!

 350 characters

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

****Vintage '06****

A- Very dark brown. Chocolate colored with off white, thick head. Not too tall of head, just thick.

S- Very stout spice smells. Ginger for sure and still chocolatey.

T- Very smooth but also bitter and stout in the middle. Rich and full with well blended spices.

M- Thick and rich. Not much carbonation.

D- Great 'warm you right up" beer! Enjoy this one tailgating before the big game with a rack of ribs on the grill. Very drinkable, but be careful, the 8.6% will get hold of you before you know it.

 525 characters

Photo of blitz134
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a nice coca-cola brown with a off-white to tan one finger head on it which disappeared rather quickly to a slight coating on the surface. Aroma was a bit dull to me, not as pronounced as I was expecting. Woodsy smells waft to the edge of the glass with slight overtones of a concoction of spices. No single spice stands out to me though. The taste is rather good and coats the mouth well. The flavor is mostly dominated by toasted malts with a slight alcoholic sweetness. I don't pick up on too many spices in the taste. I could see having several of these in an evening but the sweetness could knock the drinkability down a bit.

 636 characters

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.

 536 characters

Photo of Erdinger2003
1.33/5  rDev -65.2%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

2006 Edition

The head pours out and falls away into nothing. The smell is like cheap cheap perfume that is very bad. Oddly enough it reminds me of the cleaners that we used back in 2001 at Hardees. It tastes like bad roast beef layed out on the table for a week. With a little sweet flowery bouquet of the cleaners from Hardees. The mouthfeel was ok, but overall the drinkability is zero, never again.

 404 characters

Photo of unclejimbay
3.04/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Scott for this 2010 Holiday gift to the JamMin Shack!

Dark coffee in color with respectable head and cap.
Strange aroma. Spicy, Jagermeister?, liquor? Licorice? Mace? Medicinal? Strange indeed, unpleasant but unique.
Tastes like a dark winter warmer, porter like with a dash of spice and cinnamon/pepper heat.
Medium body and body, spicy finish.

Tastes better as you warm up to it, just not my type of beer.
Share-able? Yes
Will I ever buy it? Nope.

 461 characters

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.

 679 characters

Photo of MaximalC
3.46/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark chestnut color with a substantial cap of khaki froth the soon sputters into oblivion. Aroma smells of toffee, molasses, nutmeg, and a hint of vinegar.

The taste is composed primarily of nuts and spices, including nutmeg and cinnamon. There are also suggestions of toffee and caramel. Earthy hops add an extra layer of texture. Unfortunately, the spices tend to overstay their welcome and soon become cloying. Medium body and carbonation afford a mouthfeel that’s smooth and robust up front but thins out on the back end.

I realizing the spicing is part of the style, but it’s a bit much for my tastes. Were it toned down a bit, I may actually fancy it.

 677 characters

Photo of boudreaux
4.37/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass; dark khaki-colored head, which dissipates quickly; very little lacing.

Nose: Rich, full bodied, distinctly malty; noticeable spices, with strong essence of clove and cocoa.

Taste: Creamy mouth-feel; noticeable but not overwhelming maltiness; mooth, pleasant after-taste; rich, dark malt and smoke flavors linger on the tongue.

Drinkability: Impressed by this seasonal offering from Sweetwater Brewing; solid offering from a company which is a steady performer in the craft brewing segment; rich taste is a departure from other Sweetwater beers that I have tasted; recommend this ale to anyone who enjoys a good dark beer.

Serving type: bottle

 698 characters

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.

 389 characters

Photo of aepb1
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Dark brown with red at the edges with a small light tan head

S- Dark roasted malts, chocolate and some coffee

T- Dark fruits, roasted maltiness, coffee and chocolate. Nice complexity

M- Medium body but kind of watery finish. Creamy body with the carbonation

D- Nice complexity but the mouthfeel is off

 308 characters

Photo of mklinger
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Dogfish Head snifter. It pours an extra deep brown that was almost black. A thin 1/2 finger mocha colored head formed. A nice looking rich brown ale.

Aroma is all full of alcohol and Christmas fruitcake smells. Lots and lots of dark, dried fruits -- raisins, plums, figs, etc with a hint of chocolate. Really rich complex aromas. Like a big old figgy rumball. I really like the aroma. Minimally hops but quite nice.

To me, this tastes like a good Belgian quadruple would taste like if it were fermented with a clean American yeast instead of Belgian Trappist yeast. So it doesn't have the spicy complexity of a Abbey ale, but it has a similar complex malty flavor. There's a bit more chocolate in the flavor than the aroma, and without the complex yeast character, it comes across as a bit more one-dimensional than a Trappist ale, but it's still a very solid, strong Christmas ale.

Very full rich mouthfeel. Nice carbonation in the mouth. Very enjoyable. Out of the 6 or 7 Xmas ales I've had each of the last couple years, this has been probably my favorite. Really nice, easy to drink beer.

 1,110 characters

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

-Appearance 4.0: Poured out an (unexpected!) jet black with a half-inch, white head. Head quickly faded, but stayed wispy around the edges. Very nice and unusual color combination.

-Smell 3.5: Nice smell, but nothing extraordinary. I smell hops, barley malt and a slight hint of some type of spice...gingery, citrusy... . The bouquet is better than average, but not exceptional.

-Taste 4.0: Initial sweetness turns into a slighty sour taste; middle is all barley sweetness and the finish is where I picked up the spice and all of the hops. I really like the spice taste: reminiscent of quality gingerbread. Unusual, but not over top.

-Mouthfeel 3.5: Slightly under-carbonated and watery in the mouth.

-Overall 4.0: A very tasty "Holiday" brew. Not too thick to consider as a session lager; its huge 8+% ABV is completely unnoticeable. These are the type of beers that tend to sneak up on you when you are out, so enjoy responsibly, folks! If you can find this beer, buy it.

 977 characters

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.

 1,258 characters

Photo of Cuervo_PCB
4.5/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love this stuff. I was fortunate enough to be able to have this special brew every Christmas season though out the 90s. It always bring fond memories. Cheers!

 160 characters

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

A: Dark brown, chestnut in color. Thick, dense tan head that fades quicker than expected. Light lacing on the drink side of the glass. Decent cap.

S: Subtle for such a large beer, but pleasant. Chocolate, mollasses or brown sugar, toffee and lots of spices. Overall, a very sweet smelling beer.

T: Really nice mixture of flavors here. Tart fruit, chocolate, brown sugar, toffee..cinnamon maybe...I always have trouble identifying individual spices. Pretty complex beer.

M: This is on the full side of medium. Sure enough, this does give you a warming effect.

O: Festival Ale is solid. All aspects are enjoyable and it's incredibly drinkable given the ABV...the alcohol is hardly noticeable. I'll pick this up again.

 719 characters

Photo of olympuszymurgus
2.86/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured into a discraft great lakes open mug. Dark, nice head, aroma is spicey, lots of cinnamon and nutmeg, allspice, hint of vanilla and fruit.

Flavor taste a bit too much like cheap pumpkin pie, too much spice and kinda sweet. It's not doing it for me, maybe some extra roast and I would be happier. There is a lot of good, just seems to be missing a few key components.

I would like to try next years festive fresh, maybe the 6 months did not do this one well.

 467 characters

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.

 744 characters

Photo of tayner
3.71/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle 2007

poured dark mahogany into my warsteiner glass. a 1 inch head dissipated to a full ring but not much lacing.

Smells less spicy than i was expecting from a winter warmer, which is good since i am sitting here with my front door open and it is sunny and 68 outside! has hints of roasted malts, fresh cigar tobacco smell as well.

Taste is like a rich brown ale more than what i would consider a "winter warmer". It has all the roasted malts you could want for a brown ale along with enough spicy hops to dry the palate and make you want more.

The mouthfeel is right on for a brown ale, if not just a tad heavy which would suit the winter warmer profile. a little sticky feeling as well. warms on the way down but 8.6 is not what i thought this was, more like 6% in my head.

I could drink this one alot if it was around here and colder outside for more than a month a year. i am happy to have tried it, and hope to try it again next year too.

 964 characters

Photo of Southernbrew
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After a 10 minute battle to get through the wax, I finally get the bottle open.

Pours dark brown with a good sized bubbly head.

The aroma is full of winter spices, fruits and a touch of alcohol.

Full bodied, fairly smooth. Many flavors combine in a delicious way: orange peel, light rum, dark fruit, a hint of alcohol and a light sweetness. The flavors stay about the same the whole way through, then finishes with a slight dry, bittersweetness with a light alcohol taste.

A very good seasonal. This review was done on a 2003 version that is nearly a year old. I don't think cellaring this would be a good idea, but it certainly has some staying power.

 664 characters

Sweetwater Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 294 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe