Nov 3, 2014

Sweetwater Brewing 2014 Festive Ale

Sweetwater Brewing’s Festive Ale is a 8.5% ABV winter warmer that is rich in body, maltiness and carries a touch of spices to remind you of the holiday seasons. I first had this beer courtesy the brewery a couple of years ago and with 2014’s bottles hitting shelves now, it looks like they didn’t mess with a good thing. This complementary bottle was also the first “winter” brew of the season on a cold, blustery evening.

Brewing with cinnamon and mace, Festive Ale isn’t overly spiced like many of it’s holiday contemporaries, instead accenting a rich malt backbone and welcome tingle of earthy hops. The overall package is earthy, smooth and more than seasonally appropriate — even arriving gift wrapped in a wax sealed bottle.


A short-lived cap of beige foam ends as a thin ring around the surface of the dark cola brown liquid.

Sweetwater Brewing 2014 Festive Ale photo


Cinnamon and spices — I’m not sure I know enough about mace to pick it out — lead the way for caramel, bready malt, a soft roast, hint of coffee and distant, grassy hops.


This beer is packed with softly roasted malt, rich caramel, a moderate sweetness and a dry, earthy character. The cinnamon and mace certainly make their presence known, but not in so much of a fashion as to give the impression you’re chewing on your mom’s potpourri — essentially, they are in the background complimenting everything nicely. A light bit of hop bitterness greets the malt sweetness, balancing everything out before finishing in the softly warming finish.


This brew is just as rich and flavorful as I remember. It presents a well balanced and seasonally appropriate variety of flavors without beating you over the head with them. Festive Ale is a beer that I need to find in my fridge more often during these colder months.

Rating: 4/5

This is a review of a promotional sample.

More: ,