News SweetWater Brewery Turns 15

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Jason, Feb 23, 2012.

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  1. Jason

    Jason Founder (8,121) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Staff Subscriber

    ATLANTA, GA (Feb 2012) – Feb. 17th 2012 marked the 15th anniversary of SweetWater Brewing Company. SweetWater started as a dream of college roommates and Co-Founders, Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney who had a bigger hankering for beer than they did books, dedicating their studies to the business of brewing.

    SweetWater was their chance to bring a new West coast style of unpasteurized brewing to Atlanta’s beer scene. Since its founding Feb. 17, 1997, SweetWater Brewery has grown to become the 27th largest craft brewers in the nation selling more than 95,000 barrels of its lip-smackin’ brews in 2011 throughout six states in the Southeast including: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

    The kegs don’t stop flowing there. Fast approaching is the official opening of the brewery’s expansion project which will quintuple brewing capacity and help expand SweetWater’s footprint to eventually cover greater portions of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic within the next few years. SweetWater officially broke ground on the expansion in June of 2011 and will be unveiling the space and more details on this 88,000-square-foot project later this spring.

    To celebrate 15 sweet years, the SweetWater gang has brewed up something special and promises to blow the doors off this anniversary. To start, Bensch invited McNerney back to help conceive a special anniversary ale, appropriately titled 15 Years of Heady Beers. The ale is a recreated version of their original Extra Special Bitter (ESB) recipe with a “big ol’ bump” pushing the beer into a barley wine status. The brew is on shelves for a limited-time throughout early March, and a video documenting the creation featuring Bensch and McNerney can be found here:

    And what better way of celebrating a brewery’s birthday than with a beer-baked birthday cake? SweetWater teamed up with local bakery, Perfect Wedding Cake, to create a massive 5-feet-tall by 3-feet-wide chocolate cake specially designed to resemble the 15 Years of Heady Beers bottle and packaging. The cake recipe called for 60-ounces of a stout brew. SweetWater suitably served up its Happy Ending seasonal chock-full of hops and chocolate notes to be included in the bake mix.

    For more on SweetWater’s history, details on beer fleet and brewery tours, visit

    SweetWater Brewing Company is an Atlanta‐based craft brewery specializing in aggressive West Coast style beers. SweetWater’s brews are unpasteurized and designed to be consumed fresh so distribution is limited to the Southeast. The award‐winning lineup of year‐round brews includes SweetWater 420, IPA, Exodus Porter, Blue, LowRYEder and Georgia Brown. SweetWater also features a Catch and Release series of beers available on a limited basis throughout the year, and an experimental, one‐time‐only Dank Tank series. The SweetWater Brewery, open for tours every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 5:30‐7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 2:30‐4:30 p.m., is located at 195 Ottley Dr NE, Atlanta GA 30324. For more information about SweetWater Brewing Company, please visit For more of a social relationship with SweetWater Brewing Company follow @sweetwaterbrew on Twitter and become a fan on

  2. PokerGod

    PokerGod Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2010 Minnesota

    Congrats to Sweetwater. I have a 420 in my fridge right now that I'll crack open and offer a toast to many more years of excellent brewing.
  3. scifan

    scifan Disciple (376) Aug 31, 2007 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Congrats Sweetwater. Sweetwater IPA is always a staple in my fridge and I friggin love Happy Ending. Can't wait to try 15 Years of Heady Beers.
  4. NotACommunist

    NotACommunist Initiate (0) Jan 4, 2011 South Carolina

    Had a 15th Anniversary last night and it was fantastic. Their IPA is one of the best around and they don't disappoint with the 15th.
  5. BeerThursdays

    BeerThursdays Devotee (414) Feb 28, 2010 Delaware
    Beer Trader

    Don't see too much of their stuff up here in Delaware, but what I've had was enjoyable. Congrats!
  6. Onenote81

    Onenote81 Poo-Bah (1,879) May 27, 2008 North Carolina

    Saw this one the shelf the other day, but passed it by. Might have to grab one this weekend.
  7. oreo

    oreo Initiate (0) Jul 29, 2010 Illinois

    Never had their stuff before. Would like to try! ;D
  8. AleWatcher

    AleWatcher Initiate (0) Jan 25, 2009 Illinois

    Sweetwater IPA is pretty tasty!

  9. ChadQuest

    ChadQuest Initiate (0) Mar 4, 2009 Illinois

    Next time i am at the In-laws in Georgia, i will track some down.
  10. seanwhite

    seanwhite Devotee (400) Jan 31, 2008 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I love Sweetwater. The dank tank series is great, and the IPA is top notch. Can't wait till they expand up to Boston.
  11. funkymonk242

    funkymonk242 Initiate (0) Apr 7, 2011 Georgia

    I had a great time at the 15 year party. The beers in the cask were great and the 15 was quite enjoyable. Picked up a few to see how they will age. They also had 5 dank tanks of tap and the cake was also pretty good haha. Congrats Sweetwater and thank you for the delicious beers!
  12. awalk1227

    awalk1227 Initiate (0) May 2, 2010 Georgia

    Managed to get a couple glasses of their Barrel Aged creeper with blackberries, raspberries, and brett. It was awesome!
  13. Ruger

    Ruger Initiate (0) Aug 15, 2010 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    SweetWater makes some tasty refreshing beers, haven't had a one I didn't like yet.
  14. mikeyrb1

    mikeyrb1 Initiate (0) Feb 15, 2011 Colorado

    Love these guys, great tasting room.

    Pretty much the only reason for me to go back to atlanta. Viva la Dank Tank!
  15. dublthink

    dublthink Initiate (0) Feb 22, 2012

    love the IPA... was not expecting it to be at that level, but one of the better IPA's I have tasted
  16. stevefinny

    stevefinny Initiate (0) Aug 28, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    same here, too many beers not enough time!
  17. CP20

    CP20 Initiate (0) Jan 16, 2011 Massachusetts

    I could have sworn I saw their beer on The Office this past week (Episode: After Hours). Now that's when you know you've made it! It's great to see craft breweries continue to grow.
  18. Str8ShooterEsq

    Str8ShooterEsq Initiate (16) Mar 17, 2010 Maryland

    I hope they start distributing in Maryland once the expansion is completed.
  19. blamethemovies

    blamethemovies Initiate (0) Mar 11, 2012 Florida

    I don't know if anyone saw the picture they posted today on facebook of them installing their new 1 of 10 1000 bbl fermenters. Busy is good, and I'm looking forward to grabbing some 420 in Orlando by the end of the year hopefully.
  20. FosterJM

    FosterJM Poo-Bah (2,719) Nov 16, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Was just at the Tap house in the ATL airport. Great stuff!

  21. coreyfmcdonald

    coreyfmcdonald Savant (953) Nov 13, 2008 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    Does anyone know how they plan on using this extra capacity? Obviously they will enter new markets with existing beers, but should we expect to see larger or more frequent releases of the Dank Tank and/or seasonal releases? Will there be any new beers offered or perhaps a new series?
  22. blamethemovies

    blamethemovies Initiate (0) Mar 11, 2012 Florida

    I can't imagine that not being the plan. SweetWater seems to be expanding rapidly recently, which is nice since I don't have to just be in Atlanta on vacation to enjoy some of their brews. :grinning:
  23. ScooBoo

    ScooBoo Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2011 Georgia

    I haven't heard anything like that. I've only heard that they will be pushing farther into the SE markets initially, then expanding farther (ie VA, TX) over the next few years. If you are on the twitter, @sweetwaterbrew usually answers questions like that. Their twitter feed is where I got the above info.
  24. coreyfmcdonald

    coreyfmcdonald Savant (953) Nov 13, 2008 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    Thanks for the info. I'm not much of a tweeter, though.
  25. bigfnjoe

    bigfnjoe Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2009 Pennsylvania

    A friend of mine works for Sweetwater. He pretty much said when we were hanging out last week that they were going to expand their footprint in the south (including finally getting all of Florida supplied....thank god) and then start going into new markets.
  26. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (1,229) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    They will be expanding out, but they don't want to go so far to surpass their bottom line. If they can't get you fresh beer from bottle to you in 7 days, they aren't going to ship there.

    They have also hinted at more dank tank stuff.

    Their 15 is GREAT, and on a hot day, it's hard to beat their IPA or 420.
  27. shand

    shand Meyvn (1,419) Jul 13, 2010 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Did you hear anything further more specific than "this year" from him? Because I am really jonesin' for some Sweetwater action here in Tampa, and there's a lot of months left in 2012.
  28. bigfnjoe

    bigfnjoe Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Honestly....nope. We were in Orlando, and he told me "by this time next year", it'll be supplied.
  29. shand

    shand Meyvn (1,419) Jul 13, 2010 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Before the expansion was finished they were just saying 2012 for Orlando and Tampa, so with your statement they're probably shooting for late 2012. Oh well, I'll deal.
  30. twiggamortis420

    twiggamortis420 Poo-Bah (2,873) Jan 4, 2006 Texas

    Congrats! Their "tour" was one of the most fun ones I have been to. They busted out a random cask and the IPA was phenominal fresh.
  31. CurtisMcArthur

    CurtisMcArthur Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2009 Tennessee

    Hey guys, my name is Curtis and I cover TN and AL sales for the brewery. From what I understand, once the expansion is fully complete (hopefully Q4 of this year) we will start looking at expanding into markets in states we're currently distributed in, so Memphis, Johnson City, Tampa, and Orlando. It's not set in stone, but there's a good chance that VA will be the next new state we move into. Hope this helps!


    shand likes this.
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