Beer Review 0102: SweetWater IPA

SweetWater Brewing Company, located in Atlanta, Georgia, brewed today’s India Pale Ale up for review. This brewery has an interesting story that begins across the country in Boulder, Colorado — another great beer state. There, two roommates, Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney, discovered they liked beer more than their studies at the University of Colorado. While in school, the two took jobs at a local brewery, washing kegs in exchange for free suds.

Unlike most stories of this nature, the two men finished college and then went back to school, this time at the American Brewers Guild in California to learn about Fermentation Science.

Around the time of the 1996 summer Olympics, which were held in Atlanta, the two were in town and decided the place needed a brewery that created beverages in the California style. Enter in a few loans and a trip down the Sweetwater Creek, located in a national park close to the brewery, and SweetWater Brewing Company was born.

SweetWater’s IPA is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and is subjected to dry-hopping, so I expect this one to be a hop head’s type of drink.

The pour issued up an average size head with lasting quality, frothy in texture. The beer was a pleasant golden orange, with a light dusting of sediment floating throughout. The body was clear despite the fine particles, and the lacing was superb with nice sheets left clinging to the glass in the wake of each sip.

The aromatics, as expected for a dry-hopped beer, were very heavy on the hops, but pleasantly so. There was loads of grapefruit and a general citrus to be sniffed, along with a sticky pine note and a nice hint of tropical fruit. There is just a slight suggestion of malt with a toasty note; otherwise, this is a dreamy aroma for a hop lover.

The taste hits your palate with grapefruit and moderate bitterness up front, followed by a finish that delivers pine and a sweet note of caramel. The mouthfeel was quite creamy and the beverage was refreshing.

The key thing here is that while SweetWater IPA is a hop-heavy beer, but it’s not one of those that kills you with bitterness. While not balanced, this is a pleasant drink and I enjoyed it very much — the flavors are bright and solid, and I would return to this beer again, especially on a hot summer afternoon when I’m craving hop therapy.

SweetWater IPA, 91 points. Price: $8.99 US for a six pack.


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