SweetWater founders Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney met as roommates at the University of Colorado, Boulder. They quickly realized that they had more of an affinity for beer than books, and began dreaming of starting a microbrewery. After graduating, they headed off to California to attend brewing school at UC Davis, after which the two friends honed their craft by working for a number of breweries on the West Coast. In 1996, Freddy visited Atlanta and decided that the town was in dire need of a quality microbrewery. With the help of family and friends, Freddy and Kevin amassed enough capital to get their dream off the ground.
SweetWater Brewing Company (named after a local creek on which Freddy liked to kayak) opened for business in 1997, and after driving all over the city in an old van, Freddy and Kevin managed to line up a few bars interested in their new West Coast style beers. Their beers were a hit, and in the 1998 World Beer Cup, SweetWater walked away with the second highest number of medals. Then in 2002, they were named Small Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival. After several years of strong growth the brewery was relocated in 2004 from its original location on Atlanta’s west side to a larger facility near Ansley Park in mid town Atlanta. Growth has continued steadily, and as of this writing SweetWater is in the middle of a major brewery expansion. When complete, the expanded brewery will have grown from 26,000 sq.ft. to 114,000 sq. ft. and will be equipped with Atlanta’s largest privately owned solar array.
For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours, call (404) 691-ALES or check out their web site at www.sweetwaterbrew.com