Sweetwater Brewing Co.
Available: GA, SC, NC, TN, AL, FL
Sweetwater Brewery has specialized in bringing West Coast-style brewing to the South East, winning Small Brewery of the Year at the GABF.
Original gravity: 1088
In the beginning, there is the bottle, like the beer, big and in your face. The pour, perfect with a handsome head that is held high, like a chocolate shake, and stays there above a robe of strong coffee, opaque until held to a bright light where tones of nut brown shine through. A bouquet of honeysuckle and semi-sweet chocolate gently massage the olfactory senses. Soul satisfying, full-flavored, roasted, almost smoked, malt dominates the palate, but with plenty of clean, herbal hop character for balance. Though quite strong, it is easy to drink with little flavor of the alcohol itself. For a happy ending, experience with smoky barbequed ribs, fried calamari or flavorful blue cheeses, with pumpernickel bread.
Jet black and opaque on the pour, the rocky and ruddy brown head is persistent and lacy. The clean, fresh bouquet of late-addition hops is a pleasant aromatic surprise with pine forest notes of earth, wood, and evergreen over a backdrop of dark cocoa and espresso. Relatively lean in body for the style. Another splash of that earthy hop character, along with bittersweet chocolate, burnt sugar, and roast is found in the flavor. The finish features lingering roast, a hint of smoke, and hop bitterness. Its hopcentric character should mellow with age, which it ought to do gracefully, but it is playfully delicious and brisk in this youthful condition; happy from beginning to end.