Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

SweetWater 15 Years Of Heady Beers | SweetWater Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
44 Reviews
SweetWater 15 Years Of Heady BeersSweetWater 15 Years Of Heady Beers

Brewed by:
SweetWater Brewing Company
Georgia, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Kromes on 02-11-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 44 | Ratings: 100
Photo of kylehay2004
4.03/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: two finger off white head with nice lacing on a hazy amber with golden hues body.

S: floral, grass, oak, some caramel malts and mild sour citrus.

T: up front the sweet caramel malts and fruitness consisting of pear and orange peel transition to a grassy and piney hop finish.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: fairly complex and dynamic tasting beer. Fairly drinkable. One of the better beers from this brewery.

 434 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.04/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

 1,995 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.76/5  rDev +1.6%
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

 589 characters

Photo of nickfl
4.08/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - poured with a small head of off white foam on a clear, amber body. The head settles rapidly and leaves nice lace.

S - sweaty pine hops with some toffee and caramel.

T - thick malt up front with some spicy hops. Notes of mustard, caramel, and burnt sugar in the middle. Finishes with velvety hops, dark caramel, and strong hop bitterness.

M - medium thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - nicely done, no one individual element stands out, but the overall impression is quite pleasant.

 521 characters

Photo of jlindros
4/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

 1,593 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.8/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle served in a Belgian snifter.

Pours clear, dark rose-amber with a good head.

The high ABV is still rather pronounced in this aged bottle but acceptable in the flavor. Rich, complex flavor is bitter-sweet, leaning to sweet early on but mildly bitter by the aftertaste.

 283 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.64/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours out a darkish, amber-tan body with a medium-small, ivory-hued head.

Smell: Lightly bready though fairly sweet-scented malts with a loose candyish quality, a noted booziness, hint of leafy green veg, and scantly tart fruits. Gee.

Taste: Bready malts hit by a blast of cutting unrefined sweetness lightly hinting toffee and light-colored brown sugar, but mainly just sugary. Growing vegetal accent of grandmother's famous braised kale and a quick-warming alcohol presence. Soiled, lightly tart apricot and lightly pithy citrus accents. Medium-high bitterness. Squashed-together, muddled flavors on the bitterish, heated, frown-inducing finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation.

Overall: I'm flabbergasted, Sweetwater. This isn't what I was expecting or wanted at all. Happy Anniversary??

 822 characters

Photo of Jason
4.02/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

 627 characters

Photo of drabmuh
4.03/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter, beer is brown but clear, dark with a thin tan head of small bubbles, some lacing, nice retention, decent carbonation.

Aroma is sweet, a little peaty, a nice scotch ale aroma.

Beer is light to medium in body, nice throughout, good integration and a nice finish, the whole beer comes together nicely. A little sweet up front and a mild roastiness at the back. I'd have this again.

 403 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
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.

 794 characters

Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

 543 characters

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

Aroma is not particularly strong, but does invite with its firm maltiness and fruity note of apple and pear, along with a hint of caramel. It comes out of the bottle a clear, dark coppery amber with a respectable light golden-tan head. Mouth-filling flavor is more than what the aroma promises: a malty and fruity core, notes of apple and pear, hints of caramel and wood, and a firm alcohol bite that lets you know this is indeed a strong ale. Smooth, firm texture has minimal fizz, and leaves a woody, slightly tinny finish. Though not Sweetwater's best, this is still a worthy brew.

 584 characters

Photo of thagr81us
3.88/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

 749 characters

Photo of Dope
4.03/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

 637 characters

Photo of MacQ32
4.33/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - pours a nice copper into my tulip glass with a full finger of light cream colored head, good retention and excellent lacing

S - Sweet crisp malt profile, sweet sweet fruits (peach like), citrusy hops

T - pretty seriously sweet malts up front along with a nice blast of citrusy and sweet fruit hops. Pretty bitter before transitioning to sweet and fruity. Dry alcoholy finish when cold. The warmer it gets the less bitter and more sweet, pretty big difference

M - medium bodied, well carbonated, very refreshing.

O - Good brew lots of sweet fruit qualities to compliment a nice bitter and sweet malty brew drinkability is phenomenal

 639 characters

Photo of Chaney
3.67/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was my first beer I enjoyed in my pool in 2012. The swim-up bar is open!

A: Poured a mildly cloudy, burnt orange/brown color, with a half-way dangerous off-white head that didn't add up to much in the long haul.

S: I got the sweet smell of toast, caramel, and red velvet cake batter mix. Glorious!

T: The taste was a little more suspect. Sure, the toastiness was there along with a good bit of candy sugar and more booze than you can shake a stick at... seriously.

M: Like I stated, lots of booze.... entering solvent territory. Actually though, the sweetness was tempered substantially by this, but still didn't do much in terms of drinkability.

O: This had potential from the outset and I dug the ESB quality of this, but overall, this was WAY too hot at this point. I'm going to grab another bottle of this. I have a hunch that it will be world class several years from now.

 887 characters

Photo of jsanford
3.53/5  rDev -4.6%
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!

 838 characters

Photo of babaracas
4.35/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A doubled/"bumped" ESB.

Pours a slightly hazy orange-red with one finger of dense cream colored foam, settles to a thin layer with sparse blobs on the glass. Smell: caramel, date, evergreen, leafy, candied citrus peel. Taste: lots of toffee, spruce, orange, lemon peel, date bread note and another citrus and earthy hop blast in the finish. Exceptionally creamy feel. Alcohol is hidden in all the right places. Very tasty and also pretty well balanced. Congrats to Sweetwater on 15 years!

 489 characters

Photo of bigfnjoe
3.86/5  rDev +4.3%
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

 623 characters

Photo of AleWatcher
3.14/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber courtesy of johnqvegas.
Served in Founders snifter.

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.

 780 characters

Photo of wisrarebeer
4.12/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle purchased in Atlanta.

A: deep copper color, clear, with nice rocky light-tan head that eventually dissipated with lingering collar
S: deep roasted malt, some heat, reminded me of barley wine
T: deep roasted malt, slightly cloying, good hop finish but not enough for extended aging of more than 2-3 years,
M: rounded, full-bodied with dense roasted malt
O: very good but defies any categoy as stated on the bottle 'there is no style'

 448 characters

Photo of Jadjunk
3.63/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"For the first ever SweetWater anniversary beer (yeah it took us 15 years), we went back to our roots, dusted off our original ESB recipe, and gave it a big ol' bump. The recipe consists of 7 malts, one of which Kevin toasted personally in his toaster oven, just like the old days, and 5 different styles of hops. In true SweetWater style, there is no style, but it's big, bold, and meant to grow old, meaning this beer will be fantastic out of the gate, or you can lay her down in the cellar for many years to come. " Brewed in the style of an Imperial ESB/American Strong Ale. This is SweetWater's 15th Anniversary ale, released February 2012 in 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a SweetWater snifter. Served above 52º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a medium creamy froth head of a tan-white complexion over a dense hazelnut-copper body. Retention is good and lacing is light and streaked. 4

(Smell) Malt complexity, lots of medium toasted grain malts, some earthy caramel malts and a strong fruit profile is present here with notes of underripe raisin and fig. Bitter, earthy hops provide a spicy, floral hop aroma and an assertive perceived bitterness. Some bold alcohol notes are quickly gaining ground. Potency is medium-high. 3.5

(Taste) Reminiscent of a big ESB or even a young barleywine, with lots of grainy, nutty caramel malt notes and bitter earthy hop profiles with a sharp alcohol booziness to pair. Drinkability is impeded somewhat by the alcohol, but I enjoy the assertiveness of the malt and hop build as they are very much indicative of a very strong ESB. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, mildly chewy, smooth. Carbonation keeps the texture smooth with a creamy consistency for a subtle mouthfeel. Body is medium/high for an Imperial ESB, medium/high overall. 3.5

(Overall) I'm not the biggest fan of the ESB style in general, and the Imperial treatment is no welcome enhancement to improve upon the flavors. 15 Years of Heady Beers is a beer that tries to build up an already incredibly flavorful and aggressive style with mixed results. What I recall from the last time I tried it was that it has in fact increased in perceived booziness and graininess since the young age, so if you're not looking for a grain bomb, maybe now is the time to open your remaining bottles. It's not the most graceful aging beer I have tried. 3.5

SweetWater Brewing Company's
15 Years Of Heady Beers 1997-2012

 2,465 characters

Photo of Cresant
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
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.

 527 characters

Photo of BeerDawgs
3.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 220z bomber pored into a Sweetwater tulip glass

A - A clear red/amber, with a touch of head and not much lace

S - Citrus hops up front. Earthy aromas

T - A double hoppy ESB. Alcohol kicks in the aftertate

M - Medium bodied. Pretty smooth

O - I feel like Sweetwater's other Dank Tanks are much better. It is very strong, but not worth the huge buzz the beer is giving me for the taste.

 391 characters

Photo of shivtim
3.72/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

 485 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
SweetWater 15 Years Of Heady Beers from SweetWater Brewing Company
3.7 out of 5 based on 100 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!