Humulus Lupulus, more commonly known as “hops”, are easily the most prominent ingredient in beer. Using the term “dank” or “weed-like” when describing in India pale ale isn’t just a fun descriptor, but pretty accurate. Marijana and Humulus share the same family – Cannabaceae. The very unique scents by both hops and weed are not only familial traits but quite complimentary of each other.
Terpenes are hydrocarbons derived from the essential oils of hemp plants, and a major component of their resin. Terpenes give plants their aroma, taste and even color. While marijuana is still illegal in a majority of U.S. states, the flavor terpenes – which lack the psychoactive cannabinoids Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) have the blessing of the U.S. government.
Taking some of the all-stars in hops, and combining with the “dankness” of weed aromas is heating up in craft beer. Atlanta based SweetWater has had 420 Pale Ale for years, sporting a weed-culture undertone, only containing hops from the Cannabaceae family.
This month, SweetWater 420 Strain: G13 IPA debuts on draft, marrying hops and weed aroma mimicking terpenes into truly (dare we say dank again-) experience.
The origin of G13, or “Government Indica Strain 13” marijuana is the subject of various rumors, including one where the government created this “super-strain”. It was even mentioned in the movie American Beauty back in 1999. It’s easily one of the most well-known strains known to pop-culture after first appearing sometime in the 1970’s.
SweetWater has been experimenting for months with various iterations of plant-derived terpenes with cannabis aromatics, and India pale ales. The final recipe uses a proprietary terpene blend on the backdrop of a dry-hopped IPA that smells like the infamous G13 strain. Per head brewer Nick Nock, “The [IPA] flavor was undeniable, and a no-brainer for this first release. We used Columbus and Simcoe hops in both the boil and double dry-hop, plus flaked oats and wheat for a smooth finish.”
Let us say this. You know damn well when someone opens a bottle of 420 Strain: G13 IPA by smell alone. When Beer Street Journal published a photo of 420 Strain prior to this piece. Many followers made allusions to New Belgium’s recent terpene heavy release – The Hemperor. That beer also smelled like Willy Nelson’s house or a Widespread Panic concert. Sadly, so many drinkers told us while the beer’s aroma was very much on point, but the beer’s taste didn’t match. New Belgium does fantastic work, but that the disparity for many was hard to get past.
SweetWater’s 420 Strain: G13 doesn’t stop at the extremely notable aroma. The brewery got the IPA recipe right to boot. The entire package is dank, juicy, and incredibly aromatic. The brewer and laboratory work really shines in this creation. Keep in mind, just because you’ve had one IPA, doesn’t mean you’ve had them all. Same goes for terpene beers.
When you pour it in a glass, you get a face full of the G13 aroma, like opening a bag of fresh marijuana. And though it smells like the infamous cannabis strain, it tastes like a super delicious, nice and soft IPA with a clean finish.- SweetWater Brewing
The brewery is creating a full “420 Strain” series using various cannabis mimicking terpenes.
SweetWater 420 Strain: G13 is hitting taps in all of the brewery’s distribution states this summer. Expect new black bottles and black cans coming in the fall. The brewing team is working on new recipes for the 420 Strain Series, including a porter or stout.
Availability: Draft (Summer). Cans/ Bottles (Fall)
Debut: June 22, 2018
6% ABV, 48 IBUs
SweetWater Twisted Fish is hitting shelves this week – brewed with and for Building Conservation Trust. The Trust is the Coastal Conservation Association’s National Habitat Program.
Water is the biggest component of every beer, and Atlanta based SweetWater Brewing Co. is dedicated to protecting the Earth’s precious liquid. In 2006, the brewery launched the “Save Our Water” initiative in conjunction with local Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. Every summer since, SweetWater has donated $100,000 dollars to clean water and natural habitat protection initiatives around the nation.
In honor of those hard-working freshwater protectors, SweetWater created Twisted Fish. This new pilsner is brewed with traditional Czech yeast, Hallertau hops, pilsner malts while breaking tradition Citra and Mandarina Bavaria hop varieties.
Lagers and pilsners are being seen more frequently on beer shelves, and for most this is a very welcomed sight. SweetWater’s new pilsner is built on a traditional recipe, with an American hoppy twist. The crisp and clean pilsner most certainly has a traditional start with each sip, finishing with a juicier, more citrus hop aroma and flavor. It’s almost a pilsner that finishes with a lingering “hazy IPA” aroma and flavor.
A little bit of the old world and a little bit of the new world make for a truly a unique, pilsner that does some good in the process.
SweetWater Twisted Fish is available in 16-ounce cans and draft across the brewery’s entire 22-state distribution while supplies last. According to the brewery, they have already sold through every keg they have in the taproom.
Hops: Hallertau Mittelfruh, Citra, Mandarina Bavaria, Crystal
Malts: Pilsner, Carapils, Vienna
Availability: 16oz Cans, Draft.
Debut: Late May 2018
PIC: Beer Street Journal
SweetWater Tropical Lover rolls off the can in Atlanta as a new seasonal in April.
Nick Burgoyne, brewer at SweetWater has been developing this recipe for some time now. He created a low alcohol by volume Berliner Weisse; adding mango, guava, and passionfruit to the beer. The result was something quite tropical and very refreshing.
“When we put test batches on tap at the Woodlands and in our main taproom, people kept commenting on how drinkable and refreshing it was; they loved the tropical flavors. I imagine Tropical Lover will be a hit with folks hanging out on the water all summer, kicking back with a few daytime drinks.” – Nick B.
SweetWater Tropical Lover will be available in 12-ounce cans and draft starting April 7th. Look for a launch party at the brewery on April 19th.
SweetWater Through the Brambles was the inaugural release from the brewery’s multi-million dollar sour and wild ale expansion last year. The blackberry heavy ale truly set the tone for what was to come from the program. Its popularity is prompting a second release. .
SweetWater Through the Brambles is a sour ale brewed with blackberries that has spent 12 months aging in French oak. The result is something magical. We were wowed by the fresh peach flavor in Pit & the Pendulum. The blackberries in Brambles is equally as fresh and bright. The mixed culture of wild yeast and bacteria used here is the beginnings of the house culture, which is sure to become a superstar over time. The beer finishes with just a hint of tartness, and a touch of funk.
Through the Brambles and The Woodlands is just the beginning of a whole new era for the brewery. A strong lab program and a team of incredibly talented brewers will most assuredly turn these releases into household names in the next couple of years.
Rose in color with notes of blackberry, oak and some southern funk form the wild yeast and bacteria. Initially light bodied and slightly tart, this beauty will evolve with time.
SweetWater Through the Brambles will return again in new 375 milliliter bottles, just like 100% foeder beer Cambium.
SweetWater Brewing’s 20-plus years of operation have been shaped by three beers – 420 Pale Ale, IPA, and Blue. Incidentally, that’s their ranking in annual sales as well.
When the brewery first started canning in 2014, 420 and IPA got the nod, but Blue never got the call for aluminum. Love it or hate it, the blueberry wheat beer has always held its own in the brewery’s lineup, but was passed up for canning in lieu of seasonals, and more recently, the Dank Tank releases. Not anymore.
SweetWater Blue is now available in 12-ounce cans for the first time, ending the lurking can question for the “infamous” wheat beer.
Drink in good health.
Style: American Wheat Ale (w/ Blueberries)
Availability: 12oz Bottles, 12oz Cans, Draft.
Debut (Cans): Early 2018
PIC: Beer Street Journal
It was a sweaty, stormy day in Atlanta years ago, even before the build of SweetWater’s wild ale expansion “The Woodlands” was complete, that SweetWater Cambium was born. Brewers Nick Burgoyne and Chris Meadows were transferring wort from the brewery’s number one selling 420 Extra Pale Ale into a stainless steel tank. On any other day, this beer would have been donning the “420” hoppy badge of honor and headed out the door in a matter of weeks. This liquid, however, had a much grander destiny that would take years to complete.
The ever-so-stunning The Woodlands was a drawing on a piece of paper when the brewers and lab biologists at SweetWater started isolating Brettanomyces strains and souring bacteria for the brewery’s wild ale program. On this day, as the thunder boomed over the city, the years of microscopic work were about to pay off. Isolated Brettanomyces strains, along with a Belgian saison yeast and Lactobacillus bacteria were set free in the tank. Nature will handle it from here.
About 8 months later, an American wheat ale base (similar to the now-retired Sch’Wheat Wheat Ale) topped off tank then allowed ferment out before finally being transferred to the brewery’s oak foeders for a full year. Cambium was finally bottled in December and has been conditioning on their House Brett ever since.
A bit like a Robert Frost poem, two roads diverged for that pale ale wort and only one went into the wood(s). This weekend you’ll see it really made all the difference.
Nearly two years in the making, SweetWater Cambium will debut in 500-milliliter bottles on January 27th.
SweetWater will release special crowlers at the brewery for Georgia vs. Alabama Championship Game.
The Georgia Bulldogs meet the Alabama Roll Tide in the National Championship Game at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Just miles down the road, SweetWater is releasing limited edition 32-ounce crowlers, sporting the opposing school colors.
Guests can fill up with any beer on tap with the exception of Woodlands Ales and Second Helping IPA.
Crowlers will be on sale starting at 4:20 pm on Friday, January 5th.
Image: SweetWater Brewing Company