Pros: Interesting flavor profile; Agreeable taste
Cons: Not widely available, but getting there
Sweetwater Brewing is a very large and still growing craft brewery with production over 100,000 barrels per year. Its fan base continues to grow and one reason is its agreeable beer products that appeal to a large cross- section of the population. One beer that certainly fits the label “agreeable”, but that may not meet the strict standards of some craft beer geeks is Sweetwater IPA.
Beer Facts and Figures:
Sweetwater IPA pours to a slightly hazy orange color with a nose that is indicative of citrus, tropical fruit, and a small amount of pine. The foam level on this beer is good, and it leaves some decent lacing as you drink.
Sweetwater IPA offers a taste that is somewhat expected based on the nose, but not completely expected for the style. The taste offers a distinct grapefruit flavor with light spice, a caramel- malt base, and a sweet maltiness that balances out the bitterness of the hops. The bitterness is tame for an IPA and lacks the piney hop resins and extreme bitterness common with other beers of the style, but it is still noticeable.
This Sweetwater product is unfiltered and unpasteurized with a medium body overall. The product contains 6.3 percent alcohol by volume and 65 IBU of hop bitterness.
Sweetwater is large craft brewing operation and a favorite among Atlanta residents and others who admire the company’s rise to dominance in the local market and its ability to produce quality beer. Sweetwater IPA is one of about six different year- round products that Sweetwater brews and, among IPA, it is one of the more easy- drinking and likable beers on the market.
I first got to know Sweetwater Brewing many years ago when I resided in the state of Tennessee and I still respect this brewing operation very much and look forward to sampling its products. What I like about Sweetwater is that its regular lineup includes products that are compatible to such a wide range of palates while still maintaining enough craft beer character that they will appeal to most anyone who tries them. The beers are not over the top. They are brewed in a way that makes them compatible and agreeable to most who try.
Sweetwater IPA easily follows this trend and it is the type of IPA that stands out in a crowd for several reasons. The grapefruit, tropical fruit, and juicy character of this beer make it different from most American IPA and at first, I found myself a little torn over whether or not this product met my standards. I am a craft beer geek to the nth degree and I am usually very picky about what touches my lips, but I found that, with Sweetwater IPA, my liking improved with my second and third bottle. At first, I considered the beer a little too weak and devoid of the hop intensity that I demand in an IPA. But as I took additional sips, I liked the flavor more and more. The unique juicy hop character is a good part of the reason. The more I tasted, the more I appreciated this quality.
Sweetwater IPA is not as hop- infused as other American IPA and its bitterness rating stands at a moderate (for the style) 65 IBU. However, this more moderate level of bitterness should be to the liking of non- craft beer fans and other newbies who cannot fully grasp/accept the rousing hop bitterness so common with other American IPA. Again, this is something I like about this beer. Not only does it offer a more unique twist on the style, but it is more acceptable and makes a good option for the craft beer curious who want to like IPA, but cannot make the palate leap to the 90+ IBU level.
Overall, I consider Sweetwater IPA a tasty IPA and one worth having around for many occasions. The creamy body, tropical fruit and grapefruit character, and easy- going personality make this a good IPA for most anyone, craft beer geek or macro consumer alike.