I’m a little late in posting this, but given the Christmas season, I decided to indulge in the 2013 incarnation of Sweetwater’s Festive Ale.
In my heart of hearts, I’m an IPA guy who dabbles in some hoppy lagers and maybe the occasional Belgian. However, I’ve been trying to expand (read: develop or establish) my beer “palate” and thus have been attempting to broaden my horizons a bit as of late. Also, I’m striving to get more badges on Untappd (terrible, I know).
Back to the task at hand–Sweetwater Festive Ale is a yearly winter seasonal released by the Hotlanta mega craft brewer and is classified as a “winter warmer”. When living in Jersey or even in Durham, NC, there were definitely times when any type of warmer would have been welcome when the temps started to dip. However, here in Charleston, SC, a “cold” day is seemingly when the thermometer drops below 50F. I know the locals view such days as cold because that’s when the puffy winter jackets, ear warmers, and UGGs come out of hibernation. I guess you really do adapt to your environment. Even though I may not be in need of any warmer per se, one is always in need of good brews…
I am happy to report that Sweetwater’s Festive Ale definitely does fall into the “good brew” category and did also pack some warming powers even on a rather temperate SC evening.
The brew poured a very deep and dark Coca-Cola like brown color. There was little head and what head was present was thinner than I would have expected. A medium level of carbonation helped make the brew quite drinkable. Nutmeg and cinnamon dominated the initial aroma and taste on the tongue, with cola and ginger lingering later. Overall, there was definitely a significant spice character but this seemed to be balanced quite well by the overall maltiness. However, the spices did make their presence known to bring forth thoughts of snow angels, presents, and Santa sliding down the chimney.
Given its pretty hefty 8.60%ABV, this brew hid the alcohol taste well and was very drinkable.
The final verdict is that Sweetwater’s Festive Ale was an enjoyable and surprisingly complex brew that seems very well suited for the holiday season!