SWEETWATER BREWING CO.
“SweetWater’s roots began back in Boulder, Colorado in the early 90′s while Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney were roommates at the University of Colorado, Boulder. During their time out west, they realized they had more of a hankering for beer than books. Their first step into the profession was washing kegs on the loading docks of a local brewery for free beer. Not a bad job when you’re in college! With all this free beer, their grades went up, their cars got fixed, friends were plentiful and the sun shined a little brighter. Once they were finished with school, it was time to either find a real job, or get serious in the brewing business. Easy choice, right? Freddy and Kevin headed off to the American Brewers Guild in California aka Brewing School to sharpen up their knowledge of “Fermentation Science”! After that they were off and running brewing beer for other breweries around the west coast, learning their craft while keeping the dream of their own place alive.”
- 420 (85 Points)
- Blue (80 Points)
- Festive Ale (89 Points)
- Happy Ending (91 Points)
- Motor Boat (94 Points)
- Road Trip (83 Points)
- SweetWater IPA (94 Points)
- Waterkeeper (90 Points)
- Whiplash (89 Points)
420: 85 Points
This American Pale Ale is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale, our most popular brew, is a tasty West Coast Style Pale Ale with a stimulating hop character and a crisp finish. 1st brewed on April 20th 1997.”
My Description: This may have been first brewed on April 20th but they knew what they were doing by naming this beer 420. Good times, good times! Anyway, this is a great everyday pale ale with good flavors and an easy drinking body. It begins with a good sized, off-white colored head with an average retention level and it leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is clean and pleasant with citrus and pine hop notes, pale malts, and a touch of sweetness. This ale is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavors in this beer taste nice enough with a clean hop presence and a light malt backbone that satisfies. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and not too harsh. Overall, this is nothing exciting but makes for a good go to pale ale for hop lovers. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with burgers, coal fired pizza, or chicken stir-fry.
ABV: 5.4% Color: Orange Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 4/10
BLUE: 80 Points
This Fruit Wheat Ale is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Always the funky favorite at any outdoor beer festival, SweetWater Blue is a unique light-bodied ale with a hint of fresh blueberries. It begins with an appealing blueberry aroma and finishes as a surprisingly thirst-quenching ale.”
My Description: There is nothing wrong with subtlety but there is a problem when the flavors are bland and forgettable. This ale is clean and crisp but it leaves me with a “whatever” impression. It begins with a decent sized, white colored head with a weak retention level and hardly any lacing. The aroma is subtle and inviting with notes of blueberries and wheat malt. Blue is light bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. There are some wheat malt and blueberry notes accompanied by a slight tang. This transitions into an aftertaste that is minimally bitter. This beer is easy drinking and worth noting that the quality is there but not anything else. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with peach muffins, light salads, or grilled shrimp.
ABV: 4.9% Color: Gold Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10
FESTIVE ALE: 89 Points
This Winter Ale is released seasonally during the Winter months in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Winter Coat Season – A strong ale brewed with generous amounts of rich malt, coupled with a taint of cinnamon and mace to keep you warm and toasted all winter long We Double Dog Dare You.”
My Description: This beer makes a nice Winter warmer; it sips cleanly, the flavors are enjoyable, and before you know this beer has got you feeling tingly. It pours a good sized, beige colored head with a nice retention level and it leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is interesting with notes of caramel malt, molasses, and hints of spices like cinnamon. Festive Ale is full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Caramel malt dominates the flavor profile along with notes of toffee, molasses, earthiness, and a hint of cinnamon. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with an interesting lingering spice note, which must be the mace. The alcohol is only slightly noticed and this beer gets better as it warms. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with cherry desserts, roasted duck, or baked ham.
ABV: 8.6% Color: Dark Mahogany Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10
HAPPY ENDING (2014): 91 Points
This Imperial Stout is released seasonally in the Winter in 12 oz. and 22 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “This seasonal “Catch and Release” Imperial Stout is a dry hopped stiffy, leading to an explosive finish at 9% ABV that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.”
My Description: Gotta love the name, and the beer is really good also. It pours a good sized, beige colored head with a nice retention level and it leaves behind a noticeable amount of lacing. The aroma is not as strong as I had anticipated but still very pleasant with notes of vanilla, roasted malts, coffee, and a hint of woodsy hops. Happy Ending is medium bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile is more on the balanced side, I thought this beer was going to be slightly more bitter and dry. Vanilla and sweet notes are the first flavors I detected when drinking this stout. Coffee, roasted malts, and a hint of chocolate are also present. The alcohol flavor is beautifully hidden making this beer easy drinking and smooth. The aftertaste is somewhat bitter with a hint of woodsy hops. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with brisket, slow roasted ribs, or grilled asparagus.
ABV: 9% Color: Black Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 4.5/10
MOTOR BOAT: 94 Points
This American Style ESB is releases seasonally in Autumn in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Our titillating version of an ESB! Built for speed and comfort, this baby will slap you silly as soon as you hit the throttle. Dive in with your eyes wide open, you old sailor you!”
My Description: SweetWater does a nice job adding more bitterness to this style without losing the much needed maltiness. It has a large, light beige colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind a good amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting and fresh; it is hop dominated with notes of pine and citrus hops with a touch of caramel malt. Motor Boat is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer has a deep malt backbone that supports a delicious hop profile of pine and citrus hops. There is also a touch of earthiness and light toasted notes that are welcomed additions. This smooth and clean beer is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck, grilled pork chops, or fish & chips.
ABV: 5.6% Color: Amber/Orange Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 5.5/10
ROAD TRIP: 83 Points
This Golden Ale is released seasonally between late March and July in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Road trips are carefree adventures that usually take unexpected twists, like when we created this beer. It started out as a Pilsner recipe, but halfway through it blew a tire and Ale yeast was put on as the spare. The result was so good, it never could have been planned.”
My Description: This is a hybrid lager/ale beer that is pretty good for an anytime drink. It pours a good sized, white colored head with a decent retention level and it leaves behind a noticeable amount of lacing. The aroma is subtle and standard with notes of pale malts, some grassiness, and herbal hops. Road Trip is light/medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a very dry finish, it takes all the moisture right out of your mouth. The flavor profile follows the nose with pale malt notes along with some hints of grass and light bread notes. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with herbal and earthy hop flavors. This beer is crisp and hits the spot on a hot day but otherwise not memorable and there is nothing really special that stands out. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with grilled potatoes, burgers, or fried cheese sticks.
ABV: 5.2% Color: Gold/Orange Sweetness: 1/10 Bitterness: 4.5/10
SWEETWATER IPA: 94 Points
This IPA is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “This mammouth India Pale Ale is loaded with intense hop character and subjected to an extensive dry-hopping process. Our IPA is unfiltered and as always, not pasteurized, leaving all the natural flavors intact.”
My Description: I immediately fell in love with this IPA. The quality is top-notch and the flavor profile completely satisfies. It has a good sized, off-white colored head with a great retention level and nice amount of lacing. The aroma is typical for this style with notes of citrus hops, floral hops, and caramel malt. This beer is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The taste is where this beer shines. Upfront, there are clean notes of caramel malt, pine hops, and citrus hops. These flavors glide smoothly into a moderately bitter finish that tastes delicious. This beer is easy drinking, crisp, and highly addicting. This amazing IPA is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with Thai noodles, BBQ chicken, or your favorite burger.
ABV: 6.3% Color: Caramel Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 4.5/10
WATERKEEPER: 90 Points
This Hefeweizen is released seasonally in late Spring in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Perfect for a float down the Hooch or just grillin’ in the backyard, Waterkeeper Hefeweizen is our go to summer brew. Picks up with notes of banana and clove and light enough to drink all day.”
My Description: This is a refreshing Hefe with great flavor notes and a delicate body. It begins with a big and fluffy, bright white colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind a good amount of lacing. The aroma is real nice and inviting with notes of wheat malt, some yeast spice, a hint of sweetness, and touch of light fruit. This ale is light/medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile consists of a balancing wheat malt backbone with notes of cloves, banana, and light citrus presence. The aftertaste is minimally bitter and thirst quenching. This ale is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with smoked ribs, grilled sausages, or light salads.
ABV: 5.7% Color: Light Gold Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10
WHIPLASH: 89 Points
This White IPA is released seasonally in the Winter months in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “What happens when a 500year old Belgian style ale gets rear-ended bya truckload of pompous American hops? It equals one heck of an ambulance chaser of a beer. This is an American style Belgian IPA, with a subtle phenolic ﬂavor in combination with citrusy/piney hops, well balanced at 6.2% and 55 IBUs, with a tart, dry ﬁnish.”
My Description: This is a well crafted Belgian IPA that is more on the subtle and easy drinking side as opposed to the strong and potent hop bombs with pronounced yeast flavors. It begins with a large, white colored head with an excellent retention level that lasts the whole way leaving behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant and welcoming with a fruity and floral presence along with notes of grapefruit hops and a touch of malt. Whiplash is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is mild overall with a subtle sweet malt note in the background and not too much yeast flavors going on. Grapefruit hops and floral hops can be detected along with some spice undertones. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with a lingering pine hop note. This beer delivers great drinkability and is highly enjoyable. It could have been a bit more bitter but that is just one man’s opinion. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled shrimp, spicy fish tacos, or mushroom burgers.
ABV: 6.2% Color: Hazy Yellow/Gold Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10
17TH ANNIVERSARY: 85 Points
This Farmhouse Ale is a limited release for their 17th Anniversary. It is available in 22 0z. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “This year’s anniversary ale has everything in it but the pitch fork and a bale of hay. With over two months of fermentation and cellaring time, this saison plows the field as it harvests spicy farmhouse overtones from its primary Fraunch saison yeast. That funky monkey delivers a strapping alc 9 % by vol, seeding a perfect foundation for secondary Brettanomyces fermentation, which hoes a cornucopia of tart and effervescent flavors. Distinct citrus notes from the finishing hops cultivate a naturally freaky fresh palate tweaker. Here’s to the next 17 trips around that burning ball in the sky.”
My Description: This beer is enjoyable and a good take on the style but it just isn’t attenuated enough because there is a noticeable sweetness that hurts the overall drinkability of this ale. Granted it has a higher IBU than most Saisons but I need this beer to be a lot drier. It begins with a good sized, white colored head with a decent retention level but it leaves behind hardly any lacing. The aroma is slightly complex with notes of coriander, orange peel, earthiness, some funk, and a touch of pine hops. Saison is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Spice notes dominate the flavor profile with notes of pepper and maybe cloves. Tart notes are subtle and the sweetness is definitely apparent, which is balanced nicely by a bitter finish that satisfies. However, the sweetness is just a bit too much for the style. Citrus, malt, and some hints of light fruit such as pears round out the flavor profile along with a slightly noticed alcohol taste. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with jerk chicken, sauteed snapper, or BBQ ribs.
ABV: 9% Color: Gold/Amber Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10