1. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $14.99 (US/print only). Offer ends April 30. Subscribe now! (Because great beer deserves great stories AND readers.)

SweetWater 15 Years Of Heady Beers - SweetWater Brewing Company

Not Rated.
SweetWater 15 Years Of Heady BeersSweetWater 15 Years Of Heady Beers

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

98 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 98
Reviews: 44
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 13.53%
Wants: 4
Gots: 20 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
SweetWater Brewing Company visit their website
Georgia, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Kromes on 02-11-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view more.
Ratings: 98 | Reviews: 44
Reviews by abrand:
Photo of abrand
3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

23 ounce bomber split with a friend. Poured into pint glass

Pours a deep copper almost cola color. Small but nice looking head that fades quickly although doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. Aromas are full of hops and some malts. A hint of vinegar is also present. Taste is pretty centered around the hops with hints of raisins, grains, and toffee coming through as it warms. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and well carbonated. Overall this was really good. I think I'll let my other bottle settle for a while and see what its like without the hops dominating the taste.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Jason
4.02/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Gratz on 15 years guys!!

22oz brown bomber with a vintage date.

LOOK: Clear tawny color, great lacing show

SMELL: Herbal, citrus rind, mildly pungent, piney, leafy, biscuits, spicy, alcohol

TASTE: Smooth, creamy, resin, soft bitterness, oily, biscuity, pineapple, warming alcohol, mango, leafy, toasty, citrus, dry finish

There is something about this brew that makes it unique ... perhaps a few things. Good hopping all around with out being completely aggressive. The toasted grain character is real tasty and adds a layer that many bigger beers don't have. Maybe a bit of time is all this beer needed? Great all around.

Photo of thagr81us
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from bottle into a Funky Buddha snifter. Poured a ruby red orange with a one finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained phenomenal lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, caramel hop, earth, earth hop, and alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, caramel hop, earth, wood, earthy hop, dark fruit, and subtle sweet alcohol. Overall this was a fairly good brew. The aroma on this one was a little weak for my liking as it took me quite a bit of effort to pick up some of the things in it. The flavor on the otherhand was a little more robust and enjoyable. A really well done brew for their 15th anniversary, hopefully they keep up the good work for another 15 years.

Photo of UnderPressure
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very clear red color. Fluffy white head. 3/4 inch. Decent lacing

Complex malty sweetness in the aroma. Some earthy hops.

Oh, wow! Great flavor! A nice bitterness with a balanced sweetness. Really complex. Oakish flavor.

Smooth, medium thick mouthfeel. A sticky, bitter finish.

This is a great beer. I got two bottles and I wonder what it will be like after a year or two.

Photo of jsanford
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a SweetWater Snifter

A - Pours a dark copper with a dense ivory head that settles to a wispy haze and moderate ring.
S - Big, sweet aromas of caramel, candied apple, toffee, and bready malt with some resinous orange peel and pine hop notes. Definitely smells like an "Imperial ESB".
T - Similarly sweet, lots of malty flavors of caramel, baked bread, brown sugar, and toffee with resinous hops that linger on the palate for some time and a solid dose of warming alcohol. Nice, but definitely not a balanced beer, this is all about the extremes.
M - medium-full bodied, with a fairly sticky mouthfeel and lowish carbonation.
O - Certainly an interesting beer, but not my favorite SweetWater release of late. Still, congrats on 15 years, maybe I'll grab a bottle or two and hold on to them until the next milestone!

Photo of Kromes
4.34/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

3.5 A: A slightly hazy copper color with a thin tan colored head that leaves a little lacing on the glass and dies down to a thin line of bubbles.

4.0 S: Fruit aromas, peach, pear, grapefruit along with slight caramel and alcohol.

3.5 T: The initial flavor is of grassy and citrus hop and that is quickly overtaken by a rather strong alcohol flavor. I'm not getting too much more than that since the alcohol and hop both have a really sharp bite. Maybe a slight peach and toasted malt in the background. The finish is warm and bitter.

3.0 M: Medium-heavy feel with low carbonation.

3.5 O: An interesting beer. Definitely not for the faint of heart. This one packs quite a punch.

---
Update....This review is of a bottle that has been cellared for 8 months.

A hazy amber color with a thin line of soapy bubbles and lacing down the glass. There is a very nice sweet roasted grain aroma with some caramel, oak and a touch of hop in the background.

Initial flavor is of sweet toasted grain and caramel. Then there is some cherry fruit and a touch of alcohol. The beer finishes very smooth with a sweet, oak and smoky caramel flavor and a touch of warmth and bitterness from the alcohol.

Full bodied with smooth, low carbonation.

Much better with age. This beer has matured nicely and is much better this time around.

Photo of Cresant
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served this 22 oz. bottle in a Tulip pint. The body was clear and bright copper/caramel colored. There was alight tan head that left freckles of lace.

The smell was syrupy malts. Spicy. Stewed fruits. Leather. Leafy/organic matter. Mild alcohol, and increasingly of dark bread as it warmed.

The taste was also syrupy/caramely. Subdued hops. Mild alcohol and dense whole grain bread. Sort of reminded me of Double Dead Guy. It took a while to finish this one.

The mouthfeel was medium to full bodied. Silky, slippery texture.

Photo of superdedooperboy
3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22-ounce brown glass bottle poured into a SweetWater 15th Anniversary tulip. Served at approximately 45 degrees F.

Deep copper hue with a twinge of gold, showing off a thick, creamy head of beige froth that hangs determinedly to the walls of the glass, and a sparkling clarity. The appearance certainly hearkens back to this heady brew’s ESB roots.

The nose is full of piney, resinous hop notes, with a touch of earthiness, a slight hint of booze, and a whole boatload of malt character – sweet pan-caramelized brown sugar combines with medium-toasted bread and even a bit of cashew-like nuttiness. All together, the mélange of malt and hops is more than inviting – time to dig in and see what lies underneath.

Up front, the malts lay down a big ol’ base upon which to layer the hops. Sweet caramel-drizzled biscuit is overtaken in the middle by a huge dose of earthy, herbaceous, piney hop character with some grapefruit peel and orange zest; the bitterness is dry and intense, but not overwhelming, as the malt backbone keeps things in check. Toward the back and edges of the palate, the malt picks up momentum again, with rich toffee and bread pudding enveloping the palate before the bitterness kicks back in, finishing with a very dry, toffee-resin character and a bit of light boozy alcohol that all lingers long afterward and screams for a palate cleanser – be it another quaff or something altogether different.

Body is full and heavy, but the mild-to-medium level of carbonation, combined with the fairly high bitterness leaves the brew feeling sprightlier than it really is. Alcohol is, as stated, somewhat present on the palate, and leaves a bit of a slickness in the mouthfeel, but as far as headiness goes – well, this one is really much bigger than it lets on is all I can say. Be aware!

This is one brew that could use some age, no doubt – I’d wager that it could make it at least until the brewery’s 20th birthday, which, at the rate their going, is undoubtedly going to arrive. And I can’t wait to see that party! Cheers to fifteen years of heady beers, SweetWater!

Photo of bigfnjoe
3.86/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a Victory tulip

A- pours a nice shade of cherry red with a one finger tan head. Looks solid, though in this style, there's really nothing to compare it to...

S- getting some caramel sweetness....not a whole lot else though. Very mild aroma

T- mild spice flavor, almost like a winter warmer....there's a slight bit of bitterness. I can see why they kind of refer to this as an imperial ESB, because I get a lot of ESB qualities, just cranked up

M- medium bodied, maybe a little syrupy. Not bad

O- really like it. Not overwhelmingly hoppy, nice malt backbone....another good job from Sweetwater

Photo of AlCzerik
3.08/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I just expected a lot more out of this beer. I liked it, but for their 15th anniversary edition. I was hoping for something as good as one of their dank tanks and I was left disappointed. It poured a golden brown but didnt produce a good foam. Just all in all a little disappointed.

Photo of Swim424
3.35/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

poured from bomber into sweetwater pint glass

A-pours a clear red orange with a small head with a thin layer retaining on top. appears a nice ruby red up to a light.

S-smells of floral hops and malts. smells crisp. a bit weak, but good.

T-very strong. sort of a powerful alcohol/hop bitterness up front, with a sweet maltiness in the middle going back to the same hoppy alcohol bitterness on the finish. Can definitely taste the alcohol in this one.

MF-medium body with a little hoppy coating in the mouth. definitely some carbonation.

O-This is good. If you dont like hops it definitely is not for you. very strong. Needs a bit more malt balance to it. Pretty good throughout but the finish doesn't taste right to me. Love the hops, just think it could use a bit more malt.

Photo of jlindros
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to JonnyGalt (Reddit) to let me try this interesting beer.

It pours a fizzy 1 finger head that fades at a med pace with some decent lacing, with a hazy coppery reddish colored beer.

Nose is essentially an imperial red ale, with tons of reddish malts, slight toasty malts but mostly sweet, caramel and toffee up the wazoo, the red candy that you get from candy apples, etc. Plenty of sweet malts, reddish malts, with a coppery sweet malt, bringing a hint of booze, and some light reddish fruit aromas. Then a bit of earthy bittering hops.

Taste starts with more copper malts, reddish toasty malts, with plenty of sweetness that doesn't overpower. in comes the sweet additions with plenty of caramel, toffee, light nutty flavors, and the candied apple candy again. It gets slightly juicy as well, as the malts really layer upon itself, and a slight warming booze kicks in. Then slight earthy chewy and a bit spicy hops come through, with fair bitterness that doesn't get too strong and keeps the malts forward. As it finishes the hops gets even more spicy and earthy, as well as chewy, with a bit of sweet caramel, toffee, and candy lingering.

Mouth is fuller bodied, slightly syrupy, decent carb, some warming booze.

Overall a nice beer, nothing too special, but does fairly well. Malts come forward with nice flavors and sweet additions, with hops adding a nice touch without overpowering. Booze is there a bit but drinks much easier than 10%. A nice tasty beer that I wouldn't necessarily make an anniversary beer since its more basic imperial red ale, but still a well done beer.

Photo of AleWatcher
3.14/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber courtesy of johnqvegas.
Served in Founders snifter.
[img]http://i.imgur.com/3xdjo.jpg[/img]

Pours a ruddy, practically opaque, very murky diarrhea brown color. Ecru head of 3 foamy fingers settled quickly to a ring around the glass and a chunky film.

Smells... Lots of stuff going on here... This has toffee and caramel malt notes, along with some sweet breadiness. The hops are a little citrusy, tad piney, floral, and a hint vegetal.

There is a mild bitterness on the finish, but it is overpowered by the dry booziness.

Feels pretty full-bodied, little chewy. Firm carbonation.

Overall-- not quite what I'd hope for. If I had another of these, I'd put in the cellar and forget about it for about 3 years. Maybe 5. I do suppose that it has some aging potential.

Photo of rmccomas
3/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bomber into a stemless wine glass, perfect for splitting beers for tasting in my opinion.

A: pours a hazy amber color
S: smell is an earthy bitterness, not like hops, more of a tea type bitter aroma
T: follows the nose to a tee, it doesnt taste like hops to me, just an earthy generic bitterness going on. not bad at all.
M: par for the style, medium to light, with good carbonation
O; overall this beer is just average all the way. nothing stands out as excellent about it, but its a good rep of the style

Photo of cvm4
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a very murky, deep amber/brown color. One finger, off white head. Minimal lacing.

S - Toasty malts, stoned fruit and caramel.

T - Malty, hoppy and slightly sweet. Raisins come out. Very one dimensional.

M - Medium carbonation and mouthfeel. Not heavy but slightly cloying sweet and alcohol rich.

O - Disappointed to say the least. I was expecting more out of Sweetwater.

Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a clear consistency. There was an inch of foamy, somewhat long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A lot of hops in the aroma, along with some citrus as well.

T: Tasted of hops (a surprisingly heavy amount), malt, citrus (a little grapefruit), and caramel. In a way this reminded me of a barleywine: A big, hoppy, thick flavor. Very solid.

M: An average amount of carbonation with a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

O: An interesting beer that's big, potent, and well worth checking out.

Photo of BEERchitect
4.04/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Billed as a double-strength recipe of their Motorboat ESB, the slightly Americanized English ale takes on imperial status as its taste now more resembles Olde Ales and Barleywines... but with that citrusy hop kick in the pants.

The anniversary ale pours a dark and rusty-brown color with highlights of garnet and crimson that pierce through its stern haze. Capped with a dense column of slight tarnish foam, the beer holds its structure to last the session and lacing the glass with separate rings at each sip.

Savory aromatics leap out immediately with notes that's sure to appease the sweet tooth. Toffee, brown sugar and molasses provide a hearty and sweet scent. Nearly fruitcake-like, its dense bread aromas are chocked full of dates, figs, plumbs and raisins. A mild vinous tone peaks through the sweetness just before the hops set in with an acidic citrus and pine note.

Heading into taste, its immense sweetness coats the tongue with bready-sweet taste. Coffee cake, pecans, dark dried fruit and vinous port pull from the malty body at times for complexity and intrigue. But it is that taste of maple, molasses, brown sugar and lightly burnt toffee that captivates the taste buds and carry the beer from early palate nearly to finish. Its long draw of malt concludes with a rise in hop bitterness that carry and inherent citrus pith tone and deep resinous pine.

Full bodied, the beer is chewy and pound cake dense. As its bready armatures wrap around its creamy carbonation, its full effect seems even larger. And this texture extends just a deep as does its taste. But finally, the hop dryness and bitterness slices through the malt for a light semblance of drinkability. But the beer does remain largely a sipping ale, equipped with rummy warmth and a spicy bite in the throat.

It seems that a year in the cellar rounds off the rough edges of the hops and allows the sweetness and warmth to mature. Its a bold and masculine taste that also carries a sense of refinement and grace.

Photo of jchoffman
4.55/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - pours a nice copper into the pint glass with a full finger of light cream colored head, great retention and lacing
S - Sweet crisp malt profile, citrus hops smell

T - pretty seriously sweet malts up front along with a nice blast of citrus and sweet fruit hops. Fairly bitter before transitioning to sweet and fruity. Dry alcohol finish when cold.
M - medium bodied, well carbonated, very refreshing.

O - Excellent brew, a little sweet for me, but excellent qualities to compliment a nice bitter and sweet malty brew
serving type: bottle

Photo of Dope
4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A dark amber pour with a huge effervescent light tan head floating on top. Fades very slowly, leaving a solid wall of fluffy lacing all along the glass.

S: Sweet caramel and toast. Toffee and raisins. Some citrus, mainly orange.

T: Orange marmalade up front, followed by caramel. Toffee and toast. Really nice toasted malt - almost nutty. Bit of piney hops in the aftertaste.

M: Pretty heavy but not syrupy or cloyingly sweet.

O: I don't know what style this is. It tastes like a really big ESB is my best guess (imperial ESB?). Nice malty aromas and flavors. I really enjoyed the toasted malt especially. Drinkable and tasty.

Photo of brentk56
3.76/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear copper with a magnificent, rocky cap that leaves a nice pattern behind

Smell: Intense caramel and stone fruit elements; vague earthy hop tones

Taste: Caramel and stone fruit flavors, up front, with a growing brown sugar element; some earthy hops add another dimension by mid-palate but the finish has a lot of sweet/fruit flavors

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; a bit thick and syrupy

Overall: Clearly influenced by the ESB style, this beer is just a bit too thick and sweet for my palate; not a bad beer and many will like it for what it is

Photo of Merkur
3.6/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours a nice dark copper color with a slight amount of tan head.

Beer smells very sweet. Malt is present along with some floral hops.

Beer tastes extremely sweet. Very malty and almost caramel like with some slight hops bitterness at the end. Not as hoppy as the nose.

Mouthfeel is a bit syruppy and thick.

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an orange amber with a sticky look against the glass, and a fairly short head that fades away to a thin ring. Smells sweet, like taffy, with lots of residual sugar and a hint of spiciness, as well as a light toffee or molasses note. A little spicier and dryer in the taste, but there is an almost fruit juice-after-toothpaste note here that is a bit jarring. Not that well integrated, but some interesting flavors do poke through from time to time. Some fruity notes, a bit of bubble gum, and an underlying bready layer are present in the mix. A bit watery on the edges, and a bit too sweet at the core, this is a bit of an odd duck. I usually enjoy strong ales, but I could have given this a miss. I would have liked to have seen something a little more special for the 15th anniversary.

Photo of Heavenisbeer
3.68/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Copper red in color, with a one-finger bleach white head, and wonderful, coating lacing.

S: Muted malts and fluffy floral hop tones. I was expecting more in the nose.

T: Fruity (tropical mainly) and floral hops lead off and continue through, as sweet malts (caramel and toffee) make a brief appearance midway, followed by more bitter hop tones, and a grassy/hay finish.

M: Great feel. Puffy and feathery but with a solid body and a dry, boozy finish.

Photo of elgiacomo
3.05/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle, very fresh release. Served at around 45F.

Pours lightly cloudy copper/amber with a nice two finger off-white light beige head that leaves really nice sticky bubbles of drippy lacing and recedes to a foamy island and ring. Before long, all head and lacing disappear for a flat appearance. Starts pretty, ends ugly.

Aroma is caramel, toffee, grassy and earthy hops, fairly fruity, bread. Pretty sweet, some alcohol. Decent strength.

Flavor starts with some sweet malt, toffee, caramel, some fruit, some bread, molasses, finishes with a decent hop punch featuring some pine, grass and citrus, good bitterness on the finish at first. Quite a bit of candy sweetness throughout (akin to the recent Dank Tank 420). Sweetness picks up steam as it warms. Decent bit of alcohol at the end as well. Gets messy after a while and I found myself pouring out the last few ounces.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, oily, a bit sticky, moderate carbonation.

Initially I was rather meh on this, but let it warm up a bit and it starts to open up. Let it warm too much and it heads south quick. Sweeter than I like for my tastes, and IMHO a style that doesn’t really need to be jacked up to 10% ABV. To be honest I would’ve liked to seen a little more from a big anniversary brew.

Photo of shivtim
3.72/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice looking bottle. Poured into a chalice.

Dark ruddy amber. Nice foamy, lasting, tan head.

Nose is really great. Sweet, bready malts. Belgian sugars. A little bit yeasty. Tiniest hints of ethanol and even chocolate malt. Very complex and enticing.

Taste is an OK strong ale. Malty. A bit of corn/grain flavors mix with ethanol on the end. Doesn't match the nose.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall it's still a nice beer. Propped up quite a bit by the great nose and strong appearance.

to view more.
SweetWater 15 Years Of Heady Beers from SweetWater Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 98 ratings.