SweetWater Brewing Company launched in Ohio 2 weeks ago starting in Columbus before moving to Cleveland last week and finally arriving in the Cincinnati area two weeks ago. Anyone in the Cincy area who occasionally escapes the surly bonds of Ohio to buy beer in Kentucky has likely encountered SweetWater sometime in the past year or so since it launched south of the river.
I’ve been familiar with SweetWater for some years since my family moved down to Atlanta. Every bar you went to would have SweetWater’s 420 Extra Pale Ale on tap. I thought it was a pretty good beer at the time and the locals were clearly proud of their hometown brewer. Over the years I’ve continued to go back to 420 when I’ve visited Atlanta, going so far as to take a tour of SweetWater’s large production brewery which you can read about here. Before launching in Ohio SweetWater reached out to me and offered to send me samples of their beers, my thoughts on which follow:
A Few of the Beers
420 Extra Pale Ale
420 is a very good beer. It’s not mind-blowing and likely won’t rank on the top of any lists outside of Georgia. But like I said it’s a very good beer made to an extremely high quality. It’s also a superb entry-level hoppy/bitter beer for folks who are new to beer or say they hate “bitter beers.” Another great upside to 420 Extra Pale Ale is that it is likely to be all over the place, from Brass Tap to dive bars.
Great example of a pilsner which sadly means that most craft beer lovers won’t even drink it. #LoveTheLager people! Hopefully some Bud Light drinker will find this beer, then pick up the Tackle Box (SweetWater’s clever name for the mixed 12-pack), and try the 420 Extra Pale ale or the IPA.
This could be a great introductory IPA for the person who says they hate IPAs. I think many IPA-fanatics may find this beer lacking. I say both of these things because there is a heavier malt body bringing in more sweetness but lacking the hop bitterness. Like all the others this is a quality beer that will hopefully bring folks into the fold of craft beer enthusiasm.
Sweetwater is calling Blue a “unique light bodied wheat ale laced with natural blueberry flavor.” It is light bodied, wheaty, and some blueberry flavor. The blueberry comes off smoothly on the aroma but is a little lacking on the flavor. Also this is definitely a summer beer and I’m drinking it on a chilly night in late October, not really light wheat blueberry weather.
These are the four beers SweetWater is launching in Ohio with, including the previously mentioned Tackle Box, the mix pack containing three of each of these beers.
What the Future Holds
These four beers are just SweetWater’s basic lineup. They’ve got at least five or six more regular rotation beers that I’m aware of plus a pretty cool series called the Dank Tank. In the past the Dank Tank has unleashed Wheatwines, Old Ales, Imperial Red Ales, and all kinds of variations on IPAs. Luckily for Ohio these are all under 12% and will be coming soon. SweetWater’s debut in Ohio also makes me hopeful that another Georgia brewery dear to my heart, Terrapin Brewing Company, will be coming here soon.
FULL DISCLOSURE: This beer was sent to me for free by SweetWater. To our readers, and any breweries interested in sending me stuff, giving me free beer impacts the review in only 1 way. That way is that I WILL review the beer and I WILL write a blog post about it. Giving me free beer does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it or anything like that.