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Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing to launch distribution in Memphis next week

June 12, 2014 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Distribution, Events, Memphis

SweetWater-LineupThe long-awaited arrival of SweetWater Brewing Company beers in Memphis is finally happening.

The Atlanta-based brewery announced today that it will begin distribution in the Bluff City — in cans, bottles and on draft — starting Monday, June 16. Budweiser of Memphis will be SweetWater’s distribution partner.

Here’s the full press release:


Southeastern craft brewery announces distributor, launch events and beer lineup coming to local shelves and taps

ATLANTA (June 2014) – SweetWater Brewing Company is ready to make a move Westward with the announcement it will open up distribution to Memphis, TN later this month. Shortly after the brewery’s $19 million expansion, SweetWater – ranked as one of the nation’s top 20 craft breweries according to the Brewer’s Association – will be bringing its lip-smackin’ lineup to the area on June 16.

Through diligent planning and wholesaler assignments, SweetWater proudly announces they will be working with Budweiser of Memphis to begin flowing in the market. While SweetWater has been available in Eastern parts of the state since 2005, Memphis will round out distribution statewide for thirsty locals. The brewery’s current footprint covers the Southeastern United States including Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana and Virginia.

“We’ve had our hands full expanding the brewery while simultaneously launching our new can line and conditioning process,” said SweetWater Founder and Big Kahuna Freddy Bensch. “With that under our belts, we’re finally at a place where we feel we’ve ramped up production enough to move further West and bring Memphibians the brews they’ve been training for!”

SweetWater is bringing their notoriously hoppy ales to the area starting with its flagship, 420 Extra Pale Ale, and IPA on draft at bars and restaurants, alongside bottles, cans and Tackle Box variety packs in off-premise grocery, package and specialty bottle shops including:

• 420 Extra Pale Ale – SweetWater’s 420 is a West Coast style pale ale with big hops and a crisp finish. First brewed on April 20, 1997, this beer has developed quite the following in the Southeast. 420 is extremely well-balanced which makes it a perfect introduction to a new town…that’s why we say “drink ‘em if you got ‘em!” Rolling out in six-pack bottles and 12-pack cans.

• SweetWater IPA – This mammoth India Pale Ale (IPA) is dry-hopped to the gills delivering a kick-you-in-the-teeth hop chop. The brew is unfiltered to leave all the natural flavors intact. SweetWater IPA won first place in a blind tasting against 15 of the best IPA’s in the country held by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Rolling out in six-pack bottles and 12-pack cans.

• SweetWater Blue – SweetWater Blue is a unique, lighter-bodied wheat ale enhanced with blueberries. This brew’ll give folks a good whiff of a blueberry influence, with a subtle taste and an extra clean finish. This ain’t no fruit beer, but it is our breakfast beer, and perfect for hanging on a warm Memphis day. Rolling out in six-pack bottles.

• SweetWater Tackle Box – The SweetWater Tackle Box variety pack is a hefty 12-pack collection featuring three of SweetWater’s favorite year round brews, along with a fourth catch and release seasonal specialty in each box.

A crew from SweetWater will taste their way around the area with sampling celebrations and sponsored events kicking off Tuesday, June 17 and running throughout the week. For the full schedule and participating locations, visit SweetWater’s Facebook Page.

Online fans can wet their whistles too by following the Tennessee Facebook page for details on how to enter SweetWater’s “Catch a Trout Tap” contest rewarding the first locals to spot their tap handles with free SweetWater Schwag.

To learn more about SweetWater Brewing Company and its full lineup, visit www.sweetwaterbrew.com.

Don’t float the mainstream: A visit to SweetWater Brewing Company in Atlanta

October 08, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Travelin'

Memphis, you’re in for a treat. Sometime in the next year or so, hopefully sooner than later, SweetWater Brewing Company plans to start distributing its beers in the Buff City.

SweetWater’s brewery in Atlanta has been undergoing a major expansion this year and will be able to distribute a half million barrels of beer annually once complete. In Tennessee, SweetWater is already available in Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. Memphis is next, or last, depending on how you look at it. But SweetWater’s beers, from the Georgia Brown to 420 Extra Pale Ale to IPA, are well worth the wait.

I had a chance to visit the brewery recently, enjoying samples of SweetWater’s offerings and taking a tour of its  massive craft brewing facility.

SweetWater - exteriorSweetWater was founded by Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney, former roommates at the University of Colorado, who wanted to open a West Coast-style brewery in Atlanta. SweetWater opened in 1997 and moved to its current location in 2004.

SweetWater - lineTours at SweetWater are quite popular, as you can see from the line. The tours are free, but $10 gets you a souvenir SweetWater pint glass, plus six tickets for 5.5-oz samples of SweetWater’s brews.

SweetWater - beer boardSweetWater’s year-round beers are Blue, IPA, 420 Extra Pale Ale, Exodus Porter and Georgia Brown. The Brown and IPA are among my favorites. The IPA, which is like a grapefruit explosion, is particularly good.

SweetWater - beer tapsSweetWater got its name from the Sweetwater Creek, which is in a state park just west of the original brewery. The company’s motto is “Don’t Float the Mainstream.”

SweetWater - crowdTours can get particularly crowded, so be sure to grab a good spot. About 2,000 people visit the brewery each week.

SweetWater - tourWith its expansion, SweetWater is growing from a capacity of 100,000 barrels of beer a year to 500,000 barrels, a 400,000 barrel increase. In 2010, for example, SweetWater sold 77,000 barrels.

SweetWater - Dank TankDank Tank is a series of small-batch beers released just a few times a year. The latest is SweetWater’s Ich Bin Ein Lager.

SweetWater - fermentersSweetWater’s Catch N’ Release Brews are seasonal beers and include Motor Boat, Road Trip, Happy Ending and Festive Ale.

SweetWater - packaging - 2SweetWater beers are currently available in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina.

SweetWater - insideThe brewery is expanding from 26,000 square feet to 114,000 square feet.

SweetWater - packagingSweetWater’s 420 makes up 16% of total sales for the Atlanta brewery.

SweetWater - 420 sixersFor the latest news on SweetWater in Tennessee, follow @sweetwatertenn on Twitter. SweetWater’s main handle is @sweetwaterbrew.

Happy in Hoplanta: A visit to Georgia’s Red Brick Brewing

September 13, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Travelin'

Red Brick - sign

On a recent visit to Atlanta I had the pleasure of stopping in at Red Brick Brewing, the oldest operating craft brewery in the state of Georgia.

Red Brick, originally known as the Atlanta Brewing Company when it was founded in 1993, produces a number of beers that hit the Memphis market just one year ago. As a fan of Red Brick’s Blonde, Laughing Skull and the Brick Mason series of special beers, I was really excited to check out the brewery.

Red Brick Brewing - exterior Red Brick moved to its current Atlanta location on Defoor Hills Road in 2007.

Red Brick - outsideRed Brick’s patio is a nice place to enjoy pints of Red Brick beer!

Red Brick - patio Red Brick has public tastings each Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (5 p.m.-8 p.m.) and Saturday (2 p.m.-5 p.m.)

Red Brick - bandRed Brick even features bands on the patio.

Red Brick - insideA view of the tasting room at Red Brick, with windows that look into the brewery.

Red Brick - Laughing Skull pint glassFor $10, you get a tour of the brewery, a souvenir pint glass and four pours of Red Brick beers. I’m pretty excited about my Laughing Skull glass.

Red Brick - barAmong my favorite Red Brick beers is the HopLanta, a citrusy American IPA, which you can now get in liquor stores in Memphis.

Red Brick - tour guideRed Brick’s excellent Blonde Ale was a 2007 Gold Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival in the Golden or Blonde Ale category.

Red Brick - fermentation tanksEarlier this year, Red Brick celebrated a milestone, brewing its 500th batch of beer. Here’s to many more!

Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Co. distributing again in Chattanooga after hiatus

May 25, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer

Sweetwater 420 Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company announced today that it’s returning to Chattanooga with a new distribution agreement after a 3-month hiatus. Sweetwater is available in Nashville, but it’s still not in Memphis.

Here’s the press release from SweetWater:

SweetWater Brewing Company is pleased to announce its return to Chattanooga this May after a three-month-long hiatus from the market. The second-largest craft brewery in the Southeast will be bringing its brews back to its neighbors in Chattanooga, first rolling out 420 on draft, and then bringing six-packs of 420, IPA and Blue later this summer.

The return to market is a result of a new distribution agreement with the Budweiser of Chattanooga wholesaler being assigned the rights to distribute SweetWater’s lineup. The transition became official on April 20, coincidentally the anniversary date of SweetWater’s flagship 420 Extra Pale Ale and 8th annual SweetWater 420 Festival, celebrating Earth Day.

“We are thrilled to be back in Chattanooga and further serving the South” said SweetWater Brewing Company Director of Sales Dave Guender. “We’re excited about our future with Budweiser of Chattanooga as it will give us the ability to stretch our legs in this market, deliver broader coverage and more efficiently align our wholesaler network within the state of Tennessee.”

SweetWater will be rolling out 420 on draft in restaurants and pubs throughout the city followed by core styles of six-packs in the off-premise channel later this year with Chattanoogans looking for SweetWater’s lip smackin’ lineup to feature 420 Extra Pale Ale, SweetWater Blue and SweetWater IPA.

Recently named in the Top 25 craft breweries in the nation by Brewers Association, SweetWater is also recognized as an environmental advocate and a champion for clean water throughout the Southeast. Through their regional Save the Waterway campaigns partnering with Waterkeeper© Alliance members, SweetWater has donated more than $500,000 to help patrol, protect and preserve waterways throughout its markets.

With their return to Chattanooga, SweetWater hopes to continue to grow partnerships with local environmental causes, festivals and community events, in addition to serving up locals with a taste of SweetWater’s samplings. To learn more about SweetWater Brewing Company, visit www.sweetwaterbrew.com.