Brewed just once a year and with 8.5% alcohol, this is is a winter seasonal that is beginning to gain quite a large following. Before moving to Florida, I was fairly unfamiliar with SweetWater and have been sampling each of their beers as they've come my way. Festive is my favorite beer out of the Atlanta brewery thus far; though I have only had a handful to date (420, Blue, IPA, Road Trip). This beer was reviewed in the Beer Advocate Magazine (issue #39) and this quote really sums up why I like this beer: "Happy to see more beefed-up versions of the Winter Warmer style? Do you want a mouthful of pie spices, or do you want to drink a beer?" I'll take the latter, Alex, for 300.
Festive Ale is definitely a beer, and it is a good example of what
happens when you have a quality beer that is adequately spiced to meet
the needs of a particular style. Festive is full of the usual Christmas
ale suspects--cinnamon, nutmeg, and some dark fruits. However, there's
substance beyond all the spices.
The body is mildly frothy, but there's enough carbonation to let you
know this is definitely not a stout. The taste includes all of the
spices, but is much sweeter than I expected. Very malty with a burnt
sugar flavor. I also get brown sugar and a tad of chocolate. The alcohol
is prevalent near the finish and the label "winter warmer" is quite
Overall, I really enjoyed this beer and will probably sit on a bottle or two for next year to do a side-by-side next year.