Tag Archives: Sweetwater Brewing

Warm up with winter warmers

winter_warmerI like to tell my out-of-town friends that here in North Florida, we have two seasons summer and two weeks of winter. Most people laugh and think I am kidding when I say that, they truly do not believe we have anything resembling cold weather. But, because we do have winter weather, we can have a legitimate discussion of Winter Warmer beers.

The history of Winter Warmers leads us to two older brews; Wassail and Strong English Ales. While Wassail is slanted more towards holiday imbibing with its aromatic spices, Winter Warmers are geared to warm drinkers from the inside out by pushing the alcohol content to between 5.5 percent and eight percent.  Today, it is common for brewers to apply the name Winter Warmer to any dark, malt forward strong brew that may or may not contain spices or flavorings.

Something to keep in mind when drinking this style of beer is that colder is definitely not better. While this adage is true with many styles of beers, Winter Warmers tend to release their fullest flavors as they warm. The ideal serving temperature for these hearty brews is 45 degrees to 55 degrees.

Since we are coming to the end of the Winter Warmer season, if you want to try some of these luscious ales, you should brave the cold weather and seek them out now.  Some to look for include:

North Peak Brewing Company – Blitzen Festivus Ale

This beer pours a deep red color and produces an active and healthy head. It smells of dark fruits like cherries, raisins and plums. The first sip reveals a hoppy bitterness and perhaps a touch of spiciness lent to the brew by the addition of rye in the mash.

SweetWater Brewing Company – Festive Ale

SweetWater has been producing this winter favorite for several years now. As a matter of course, I usually purchase several 22-ounce bombers every year and cellar them to savor beside the next year’s iteration. Over time, this brew smooths out and becomes pure, silky decadence.  It pours a dark chestnut brown with a light brown, frothy head. The aroma is heavy with spices like cinnamon and mace and the flavor is malty with plenty of cinnamon that reminds one of a cinnamon roll.

Highland Brewing Company – Cold Mountain Winter Ale

One of the oldest Winter Ales on our list, Highland has been brewing this beer for 19 years. Each year they make subtle changes to the brew making it a favorite for cellaring. After pouring into a glass, the aroma hints at hazelnuts, vanilla, cinnamon and piney hops. Upon tasting, flavors of toffee, vanilla, dark fruits and spices are revealed.

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Posted by on December 21, 2016 in Beer


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More Dank tank goodness coming soon from Sweetwater

SweetWater Logo JPGOne of our favorite regional brewers, Sweetwater Brewing Company in Atlanta, has been very busy lately brewing up a new Dank Tank beer, appearing on national television, creating a new web video series and breaking into new markets. Just what is to be expected by a brewery that encourages its followers by saying, “Don’t float the main stream.”

The next creation to emerge from the Dank Tank is The Gimp. In their typical, cheeky fashion the folks at the brewery have created a whole campaign around this brew that may remind you of a character in a recently re-released Quentin Tarentino movie that made everyone aware of the Royale with Cheese. While the brew does not contain essences of the quintessential burger, the brewers do promise that, after a short period of maturation, the brew should provide, “sweet scents of caramel and toffee, and warming sensations of alcohol and malt balanced with hops.” This is a big brew, too. It hits the palate at a whopping 10.3%, so watch how much you drink lest you have to call in a “cleaner.” Sweetwater hopes to have The Gimp on shelves by the end of December.

Cameras have been a common sight in the brewery over the past few weeks.

First, you may have noticed a video segment during the recent SEC Championship game on ESPN. The brewery was featured during what is known as a “bump shot.” That is the video played while announcing sponsors before breaking away to a commercial break. The idea was to focus on iconic places in Atlanta that make the town memorable. Sweetwater was an obvious choice for that honor.

The other video project you may have seen featuring Sweetwater is YouTube series called “Fish Tales” that will feature video articles on all the happenings at the Sweetwater brewery. The first installment of the series, which has its own YouTube channel, focuses on the recently released Festive Ale. As is typical with this group of creative and, well let’s just say it, whacky brewers, the video features a character named “Big Jewish Santa,” describing the winter brew.

And, because you just can’t keep a good brewery from spreading joy and beer, Sweetwater is continuing its expansion across Florida with its launch in the Orlando area. Last week both 420, IPA, and Blue were rolled out in bottles as well as 420 on draft. The brewery is also busy rolling out in Rock Hill, SC, and in Cooksville and Clarksville, TN.

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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Beer, Beer News


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Intuition mentioned on Sports Illustrated website

If you had any doubt that Intuition Ale Works in Jacksonville, Fla. was a world class brewery, those doubts should be put aside in light of Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column yesterday, Aug. 6. King is a sports columnist on Sports Illustrated magazine’s website and is known for occasionally ending his columns with a tidbit about his coffee and beer infatuations. On Aug. 6 he lamented the lack of a Starbucks in downtown Jacksonville and mentioned that Intuition’s brews gave Sweetwater 420 a real run for its money.

King’s said in his column, “The Beer of the Week (and trust me, there was a lot of competition, particularly from Intuition Brewery in Jacksonville) is Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale, which made me think I was back in Seattle. Really crisp and wonderful on the palate.”

But, for locals, Intuition’s People’s Pale Ale takes the top honors. One needs look no further than beer rating website Beer Advocate for confirmation. On Beer Advocate, users are allowed to provide a short review of beers they have tasted and then assign the beer a rating in five different categories; appearance, smell, taste, mouthfeel, and overall impression.

On the site both beers fare well and fall in to the good category. Local drinkers of People’s may disagree with that assessment and find the beer to more than merely good, but that is the rating on the site. Commenters said the brew was, “Surprisingly hoppy for a PA (Pale Ale),” and “A nice hoppy aroma with obvious citrus and piney notes.” Others thought that the brew was closer to an IPA than a Pale Ale with a nod towards big Pale Ales such as Oskar Blues’ Dale’s Pale Ale. Overall the beer earned an 83 out of 100 average score from reviewers.

Sweetwater 420, a regional beer brewed in Atlanta, Ga., also rated an 83 from site users; however the site’s originators and top tasters known as “The Bros” rank the brew an 80, giving People’s a slight edge. Reviewers said 420’s aroma “is more English hop than the pine/fruit west coast hops,” and its flavor was “All malt taste with a minimal amount of hop flavor, just mildly spicy.”

Whichever way you look at it, though, both brews are quality beers just made in different sub-styles. Where People’s is a true west coast Pale Ale with it big, near IPA hoppiness, 420 is a milder less hoppy Pale Ale more reminiscent of an English style. Jacksonville, locals will likely line up on the side of People’s while Atlanta beer-lovers are sure to stand behind their local favorite 420. And that is as it should be, locals sticking up for their home-town favorites.

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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Beer, Local Brewery


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Sweetwater Brewing Hosting Pub Crawl to Benefit St. Johns River Sunday

The St. Johns River Keepers are a group of concerned people who raise awareness for issues that affect the river that runs through the heart of Jacksonville. For ten years they have been responsible for many efforts to educate the public and stop the abuse of the city’s number one natural asset. To help in the cause, Sweetwater Brewing is hosting a pub crawl that begins at O’Brother’s in Riverside at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 3.

Sponsored by the young professionals group associated with the Riverkeepers, the Rising Tide, the pub crawl is meant to show support for the establishments that are supporting the organization’s cause. Beginning on Memorial Day weekend, restaurants and bars throughout the Jacksonville area began selling paper fish in $1.00, $5.00, or $10.00 denominations. Proceeds from the sale of the fish will go directly to help fund programs of the Riverkeepers. The contest will end on Independence Day.

The pub crawl will take crawlers to several of the establishments selling the fish in the Riverside/Avondale area. The crawl begins at O’Brother’s and visits Grassroots for a sampling table, Birdie’s on Park in 5 Points, then up to Kickbacks, European Street, The Rogue, and ends at The Garage.

A suggested donation to participate is $5.00 (free for dues paying members of Rising Tides). For your donation you will receive a wrist band and pick up a raffle ticket for every Sweetwater brew and paper fish you purchase during the crawl. A raffle for great prizes will be held at The Garage.

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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Craft Beer Brewery, Events


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