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Sweetwater Festive Ale | SweetWater Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
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:
161
For Trade:
1
User Reviews
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Reviews: 293 | Ratings: 782
Photo of nickthegun12
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this beer is jet black with a little head

it smells of spices, maybe cinnamon and some other spices and dark malts

the taste is different from the smell...malty and not much of a warming character from the alcohol

not dry, not creamy but a full mouthfeel...and pretty decent lacing

the drinkability would be better if it weren't so high percentage of alcohol

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Photo of carlborch
3.13/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dense, dark, brown with a 2.5-inch, creamy, tan, head that is persistent, but eventually settles. Deep, rich, warm, spicy nose with hints of burnt sugar and coffee. Medium-full body with ABV warmth on the palate. Spicy (mace, cinnamon, and nutmeg) and malty with dark roasted-smokey notes. Raisin bread overtones. Dried fruit. Figs? Molasses? Nice lace. Slight sourness in the lingering.

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

A - Poured dark brown to almost black with just a little light coming through in red highlights. Nice thick tan head that fell slowly and leaves a nice lacing

S - The smell is of roasted malts with a hint of chocolate and maybe just a little mocha

T - Very much like the smell..it has a roasted malty taste..with just a bit of bitter chocolate and mocha...with a warm alcohol finish

M - Nice and thick, coating the mouth

D - Overall a very nice winter warmer and a good beer to have on a cold evening

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

A- Dark brown with some reddish highlights on the edges. Almost no head or lacing by the time I got it.

S-Dark chocolate and dried cherries. Some lighter roasty malts. Overall, fairly light smelling for such a dark beer.

T-Sweet, but not cloying. Dark chocolate covered cherries. Some chocolate bitter taste on the outer edges of the tongue. Light hop character on the back of the tongue.

M-Coats the mouth pretty well. Lots of lingering flavor after a sip. A little oily feel, but not at all objectionable. Quite nice actually. Almost no alcohol burning.

D-Well, I had 2 of them, so it's pretty drinkable. With the higher ABV, 2 are about my limit. Even with the higher alcohol, it's not a sipper.

Man is this a good beer. I think this year's is even better than last. It's kind of refreshing to not have a hop bomb of a dark winter beer from an American brewery. Pick up a bottle or try it on tap if you get the chance. You will not be sorry.

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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 godlessape
4.28/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured this into monster size thistle glass.
The body has an intensely dark malevolent ruby brown shade to it, just one degree from midnight. It's topped off with a creamy tan head that diminished rapidly.
Aroma is like burnt brown sugar, with maybe a hint of cinnamon toast.
Taste is both malty and fruity and densely so at that, along with a earthy, almost leathery savoriness There's also a minimal hop sizzle on the tail end that works rather well.
The mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth. The alcohol is well hidden.
Overall a fine brew from a great brewery. Caution: This beer will sneak up on you something fierce.

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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 MasterfulIdiot
3.59/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Served into a Riedel tulip glass. Appearance is nearly black, with hints of red when you hold it up to the light. Tan head fades super quickly and doesn't leave much lace.

Smell is bready - kind of like a dubbel. There are hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, but they don't dominate or seem over-the-top. It actually smells pretty pumpkin-y.

Taste follows the nose, with some nice dark fruit added - figs. Spices are really well-integrated - they're noticable, but not at all overbearing. Alcohol is similar - present, but not too much.

What brings this down for me is the mouthfeel. It's surprisingly light-bodied for the taste, and just doesn't really work for me.

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Photo of watermelon
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

$3 pint draft had at the Tapp Room in Boone NC

A: Really murky brown body, khaki head with medium retention and lacing.

S: Smells medicinal, dark malts, and winter spices.

T: Molasses taste, with some dark fruit and malts.

M: Awesome mouthfeel, alcohol is hidden well and the body is thick and syrupy with very little carbonation.

O: Its decent, better then some I've had , but not as good as others. At $3 bucks for a pint of 8.6 ABV this was a no brainer, and a great value.

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Photo of Meerkey
3.66/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Rich mahogany, with a touch of red; lasting off-white head.

S: Sweet and spicy -cinnamon, fruity, chocolate.

T: Sweet and fruity, spicy, chocolate, nuts, cake-like.

M: Carbonated and pretty smooth.

D: Pretty good, but doesn't excite me all that much.

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Photo of rsyberg01
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

S - 12 oz bottle courtesy of the generous cashew70.

A - pours a deep garnet with a creamy head. very nice, has some legs that are good as well.

S - roasty, caramel, little alcohol, slight fruit twang, a bit one dimensional but still nice.

T - big roast, touches of dark chocolate, good hop hit, sweet fruitiness, much more depth than the nose. from the nose I thought it would be much sweeter than it is.

M - lighter bodied which is nice for what the beer is.

D - According to the style, very drinkable.

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Photo of KrisPaulk77
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this at the Sweetwater pub in the Atlanta airport.
The beer poured what looked like a dark black stout, but upon closer examination, was actually a deep, dark brown with a decent head of creamy tan foam. Decent lacing noted.
The aroma was nice and roasty, with hints of spice, some nutty tones, and toffee. A touch of cinnamon, a wisp of smoke, and rich coffee flavors.
The flavor followed suit with the taste. Rich and flavorful, with a dominant roasted coffee flavor, sweet dark malts, underlying spice, nutty toffee, with a smooth coffee finish. Just enough bitterness to cut through the sweetness.
Nice body to the beer with decent carbonation. A sipper for sure, and would be enjoyed on a cold night, sitting next to a fire.
Quite an enjoyable beer from Sweetwater. If I come across this in my travels again, I won't hesitate to have it again.

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Photo of cgarcer
4.8/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Drinking this beer from a bottle poured into a pint glass.
Small head with little lacing.
Dark, coffee appearance.
Taste of spice, nuts, coffee.
This is a very drinkable beer that warms you from the inside. Drinkability is easy, and the alcohol content makes you feel festive.
Definitely give this one a shot.

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Photo of jlervine
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a vertical of the 2003 and 2004 Festive Ales, with the rating of the review reflecting the 2004 bottle..

2003, bottle number 917: Pours a deep brown with ruby highlights. Nearly black. Head is off-white. My glass poured with little fanfare, with the etching in the bottom of the goblet sustaining a pool of foam in the middle of the beer. Donna's glass, however, had no trouble. I can never get the first glass from a bottle to pour right...

The aroma is has a wisp of alcohol and a hop aroma reminiscent of Sweetwater's standard brews. Just a slight hint of rum soaked fruits and raisins.

Dry and quick taste, too dry for a dubbel. Currants, plums, and raisins dash through the mouth too quickly. The spices have REALLY died down since last year when I had the first of this batch, almost to the point of non-existence.

Mouthfeel is just so-so and doesn't really impress me much. It just feels thin.

Still, a pleasant brew.

3.5 Appearance
3.5 Smell
3.5 Taste
3.0 Mouthfeel
4.0 Drinkability

2004, bottle number 5679: Pours a deep brown-black with deep red-brown highlights and an off-white head. The head forms quickly, but dissipates much faster than the 2003.

The aroma is very spicy - I'm assuming the majority of this is mace, an herb that the bottle specifically names. There is a roasted earthiness to the beer, as well as a hint of raisin and alcohol.

The taste is raw with spiciness - now I remember why I aged a few bottles of the 2003! It is not unpleasant, but it is overpowering. Darker caramel malts form a backbone for the spices to mosh on. Almost a roasted or chocolate malt tone to the beer.

The mouthfeel is considerably more alive than the 2003. Very tingly carbonation and the caramel malts just lightly pelt the tongue and make my mouth happy.

The drinkability I would consider about the same as the 2003. The spices are just a bit much, but this is a fantastic brew.

Comparing the two, I'm wondering if there is a happy medium to aging this beer, and if I have enough of this year's stock to find it!

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Photo of ncbrewerbun
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A fellow homebrewer brought this to the last homebrew club meeting for us to try. Sampled from a 12 ounce bottle from a six pack.

This beer poured a dark brown with hints of red. The head was a finger or so and just the tan side of white.

An interesting spicy aroma along with some sweet maltiness.

The flavor was a mild spiciness (cinnamon and...nutmeg?) balanced with malt.

A very good beer...interesting with the spices and malty balance. This beer really grew on me. I was happy that we had a few bottles to share.

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Photo of n00tz
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - A one centimeter deep, tight tan head floats atop a dark body with active carbonation. Laces a good halfway down the glass.

S - Nutty, spicy fruits, and sweetness.

T - Sweet cream and fig. Kind of a dried spicy flavor, somewhat roasted. Followed by a nutty and mild hop taste.

M - Thick body with a smooth landing. Hides the alcohol content flawlessly.

D - If the intent is to drink this in happy company around a warm fire complementing some mildly sweet desserts like a pumpkin pie, then this hits the spot perfectly. By far the best brew from Sweetwater I've ever had.

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Photo of bhalter8
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours extremely dark, close to a stout it appears. The mix of cloves, hops and malts make for nice mixed aroma. The taste this year is far better than last year (2007). Having had this many times over the years I am pleasantly surprised and impressed by this year's version. While distinct in flavor form the previously mentioned mix, it is very drinkable, especially considering the ABV%. Considering I have cellared many of the previous years' version, I especially look forward to seeing how this ages.

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Photo of Brackh
4.17/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Did a holiday beer tasting with the wife. This was the first winter warmer holiday beer I was ever exposed to. It has a special place in my heart. Pours a nice black with a small head. Smells spicy with some molasses. Bitterness up front and finishes well with the spice (almost tastes toasted). Carbonated well. Done well all around.

Just had a 2013 on 12/31/14: Had some funk to it. Tasted good. Lost some carbonation. Whole new flavor though. Molasses caramel and toffee come out way more. Still easy drinking.

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Photo of Brian_L-2056
3.94/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very dark brown color with a creamy off white frothy head. Has amber tint when held up to light. The carbonation is good but the head dissipates rather quickly. The don't really get much at all in the smell department, maybe its just me. Initial taste is very pleasant, with hints of coffee. Has a very smotth feel to the palate. Overall a very nice brew.

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Photo of RockRuler
3.56/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Good brew. Light malt taste with spice. Loved the aroma. Maybe a bit of warming but not much. Not my favorite holiday beer and not my beer style but glad I gave it a try.

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Photo of jbone78
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the 2010. Poured dark brown, let's say mahogany with nice little frothy head. Smells of dates, dust and malt. Taste is a bit overwhelmed with cloves, but has a toasty nice malty backone. This one is growing on me, but I liked the '09 better.

-Bye

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Photo of dhd1491
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown and red, clear but almost opaque without backlighting. Tan head dies down rather quickly. Aroma is light and nutty with an alcohol punch. Taste is smoky and nutty, but rather more mild and less viscous than I thought it was going to be from the appearance. Low carbonation. Sweet caramelized maltiness and some buttery mouthfeel and quite easy to drink. All in all a pleasant unoffensive brew that dark beer lovers should enjoy if they're not looking for a thick-stout kind of darkness. Could definitely be enjoyed year-round...it's 85 outside and I'm lovin' it.

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