Review Date 3/24/2016
Happy 20th Anniversary Sweetwater! Thing is, we the beer drinkers are the ones getting the gift in the form of Sweetwater 20th Anniversary Ale. It’s true, Sweetwater has been brewing for 20 years now and is Georgia’s second oldest craft brewer (after Red Brick). I’ve lived in Georgia for 15 of those 20 years since Sweetwater was founded, and that got me thinking. Way back on February 11th of 2000 (which, coincidentally, would be the day 5 years later when I would marry my Beloved Barbara here in the Peach State), somebody on Usenet asked me to list my three favorite beers. Here’s how I replied:
No way I could possibly narrow it down to three. There are just too many great beers out there. How about some great beer memories though? Schmidt's Beer and their Bock, in the barrel shaped bottles for $8 a case. My first bottle of Sam Adams. My first sixer of Geary's Pale Ale, sold to me by a crusty old store owner in Portland. My first pint at my first brewpub (Gritty's). Harpoon Octoberfest in Boston. Fresh Konig Pilsner at Konig City in Providence, draft Hope beer there too. My first Catamount Christmas Ale. Kessler Octoberfest from Beer Across America. My first visit to Oldenberg, I can still smell the wort. Beer Camp. My first Bank Street ale. Walking through the door at Martha's Exchange in Nashua, NH. Old Fezziwig in the big bottles. The open fermenters at Middle Ages, wanting to dive right in. The time I dreamed I'd find Thomas Hardy's for the first time, took a ride the next day and found it. Pulling pints at Nerax. Watching Jackson's Beer Hunter for the first time. Reading my first issue of All About Beer. Finding this wonderful German deli in Walpole Mass with the best (made in store) bratwurst I have ever found, and a fantastic German beer selection (Tucher, Wurzburger, Hacker-Pschorr, Paulaner, Veltins, EKU, Warsteiner, Konig, etc.). My buddy wanting to go to Waltham to go to a bookstore, stopping at a liquor store there and getting my first Long Trail Ale and Anchor OSA (1991). Turning people on to craft beer when I worked in a liquor store. Seeing my first article published in Yankee Brew News. Brewing a batch of beer that BOP. Stopping at the Grey Lodge during the Philly Beer Tour, thinking what a great local bar, then finding out my dad bought a house five miles away. Damn I could go on and on.....
I ended up moving to Georgia the following year, and I’ve made many more beer memories, a number of them with Sweetwater. My first 420 after the 1000 mile ride from Rhode Island, enjoying delicious Sweetwater Festive Ale my first Christmas here, touring the Sweetwater brewery, my first high gravity Sweetwater brew (Dubbel Ds Barleywine) after the popping of the 6% cap, the first Dank Tank release, my first Sweetwater at Summit’s Wayside Tavern, at Charlie Mopps, and the first of many, many more at Taco Mac.
Back in January, I had just enjoyed Sweetwater Hash Session IPA for the first time. If you want to know more about their hash line of beers, brewed with hop hash, you can read about it there. After enjoying the beer I thought how neat a hash beer with Brett would be, and e-mailed Sweetwater asking them if they planned on making one. They did! Sweetwater 20th Anniversary Ale would be a double IPA with hop hash and Brett yeast. I first got to try Sweetwater 20th Anniversary Ale at The Brick Store Pub in early March. My buddy Jeff Evans had ordered a glass and I tried it, and was very impressed indeed.
I knew then that Taco Mac was featuring Sweetwater brews this month, and they were having a special release of Sweetwater 20th Anniversary Ale on the 14th (my birthday!). Then too, I bought a 750 ML bottle to hang onto for a while.
Sweetwater says on their website:
Extremely hop forward with a residual sweetness; golden in color with a haze.The Brettanomyces used is a SweetWater house blend. As fermentation finishes, the Brett will start to produce its associated acids and phenols, lending a slightly tart finish. The aroma is fruity, herbal, tropical and citrusy, and the Brett gives a nice touch of funk and earthy phenolics. Will be released at SweetWater’s 20th Anniversary Celebration: Sunday, February 19 at the brewery, featuring live music with moe.
Ingredients from the website:
Grains: Pilsner, Maris Ottler, Wheat, Flaked Oats, Midnight Wheat
Hops: Bravo, Mosaic, Citra
Dry Hops: Mosaic, Citra
Yeast: Secondary fermentation on Brett
Sweetwater 20th Anniversary Ale has an alcohol content of 9% by volume with 81 IBUs. I paid just $5 for an 11-ounce glass at Taco Mac. It’s a bit pricier in the bottle at $14.95.
My glass of Sweetwater 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA featuring Hash on Brett arrived a hazy orange color with a medium head of creamy foam and a big bad Brett party going on in my nose when I sniff. Taking a sip, there’s light caramel malt and Brett and a resin bomb in the palate, light citrus, more Brett and resin and warming alcohol in the finish.
Did I die? Am I in beer heaven? No, I didn’t, but I’m sure this beer is served there. The wonderful marriage of resiny hop hash and funky Brett yeast character are truly divine. I’ll be back to talk more after my bottle ages a little.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.