Oct 15, 2012

SweetWater Brewing Festive Ale

It’s just about that time… Maybe… The Winter holiday beers are starting to show up on shelves, right next to the pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest brews that haven’t yet found a home to love them. I personally think it’s still a bit too early to start thinking about warming myself up with a tasty brew as snow falls on the ground outside — hell, it was in the low 70s this past weekend.

At any rate, my first Winter Warmer of the season comes courtesy SweetWater Brewing and their 8.6% ABV Festive Ale. This limited release beer has been part of the company’s seasonal rotation since their inception. This year however, things have been amped up a touch with a fuller, richer malt profile and a bump in alcohol. The end result is a well balanced, nicely spiced brew that not only warms the body, but fulfills on the flavor side, as well. Too bad I didn’t save any for much colder temperatures.


Festive Ale pours a dark cola brown in color with a fairly resilient cap of light tan foam.


Roasted malt, light grassy hops, spices (particularly cinnamon) and caramel fill the nose with a pleasing and welcoming character. So far, the alcohol is hidden well.


Rich, roasted malt and caramel arrive first as a dash of cinnamon and spices shows up briefly before fading smoothly into a moderate hop presence. The hops bring a decent, balancing bite to the sweetness that the malt brings to the table. There’s also a light touch of pine in the mix. The alcohol is masked well, though it does appear late as a gentle glow in the chest after the beer has had some time to warm in the glass.


I’m kicking myself for not holding onto some of the sample bottles I received for later enjoyment, but they were just too darn tasty to pass up. I love the rich maltiness that Festive Ale has along with the welcome hop character present to balance everything out. I can see why the brewery continues to make this beer after so many years — it’s pretty damn good. Grab some while you can.

Rating: 4/5

This is a review of a promotional sample received from the brewery.

More: ,