Saturday, February 18, 2012

SweetWater's Sweet 15!!!

The Commemorative SweetWater 15th Anniversary Glass is pimp!
How crazy has your week been? Well if it was as nuts as mine has been, it sounds like SweetWater Brewery's 15th birthday celebration on Saturday afternoon will be the perfect reward for our hustlin'. Yeah, I was on the Weather Channel and all (Did you catch it in my last post?), so I am going to continue being a fake-ass weatherman and say it's going to be friggin' gorgeous out during the party that starts at 2 p.m. I heard there might be some rain, but no matter what Mother Nature has in store, SweetWater's stellar brews are going to be flowing and the mood will be just as festive as that Holiday Ale they sling every year, so you better be there!
Now I have known the SweetWater fam for a good minute, documenting their growth, judging competitions like the Annual Brew Your Cask Off, filming Cruisin' For A Brewsin' episodes at the brewery, interviewing the forever comical co-founder Freddy Bensch by phone while he's fishing in the islands,and penning features on them in numerous publications including Beer Connoisseur Magazine, so I personally share some awesome memories. But I took it a step further and compiled a couple of fond moments from two gents who played a big part in the success of the brewery with the flapping fish logo. 
The always clever Steve Farace, SweetWater's Minister of Propaganda, remembers the time "When the forklift fell off the dock of the old brewery right as they were leaving for Boneroo," he said, shaking his head. "It fell forks-down!"
And brewer extraordinaire Nick Nock took time to reflect and got some bystanding co-workers a little teary eyed in the process, saying, "I remember when we first started loading one delivery truck with three different brands. Now we're loading six 18-wheelers and one of those is with just straight 420! Just being along for the ride and learning as we're growing is my fondest memory." Stroking his beard, Nick also added, "I really liked the old-time festive bottling, too. It was all volunteer work and everyone would pitch in. It'd always turn into a good old-fashioned throw down!"
Ahh, the memories!
Anyway, below is the official press release. And to SweetWater: Due to some serious ass-kickin' and that monster of an expansion you just completed adjacent to the existing brewery, you went from 100,000 barrels a year to 500,000. Now that's gangster
Thank the Beer Gods for having the truck Freddy and the other co-founder, Kevin McNerney, were driving broke down in Atlanta on their journey to find somewhere to start a brewery in 1996. They stayed a couple days and realized that Atlanta was enough of a kick-ass city to set up shop here. Now, 15 wild years later serving suds to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina in the process, they are still going against the tides of the mainstream with one hell of  stoke. 
Keep it brewing, baby!

Note: A special thanks goes to the new in-house PR queen, Francesca. Also, there still might be some seats left for the SweetWater Beer Dinner at the C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar on Monday, February 20th! Visit and call 770-272-0999 for the details. See you there!
The Official SweetWater Press Release:


ATLANTA (Feb. 17, 2012) – Today marks 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 Drive, 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 Facebook:

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