Sweetwater Brewing Company - 420 Extra Pale Ale
- ABV: 5.4%
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 39
- Serving Temperature: 40-45° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass or Mug
- Malts: 2-Row, Munich, Wheat, Midnight Wheat
- Hops: Cascade, Centennial
420 Extra Pale Ale was brewed for the first time on the 20th of April, 1997, hence the name. Yeah, well, we’d bet a nickel and a dime that it’s not the whole reason behind the name, but we can’t confirm. The term "extra pale ale" is one that means different things to different breweries; sometimes it's interpreted as an amped-up, richer sort of pale ale, almost IPA-like, while other times it's literally a lower-gravity, paler, and less richly malty form of pale ale. 420 is more the latter sort of beer. On the pour, expect a lightly hazy golden color on this lighter-bodied West Coast style pale ale. Hints of biscuity malts and light caramel aromas come through on the nose, but it’s the hops that are the star of this show, offering soft floral and juicy citric aromas. On the palate, look for an excellent expression of hop flavor without reaching the bitterness and intensity level of an IPA. That being said, the bitterness comes through fairly firm due to the low level of malt sweetness and very clean, lightly wheaty malt flavor. Dry-hopped with Cascade, this brew's hop profile was quite enjoyable to us, leaning toward floral, resinous, and citric, with some of us also picking up hints of mango and passion fruit. This GABF Silver Medal winner goes great with lobster, shrimp, mussels or clams, as well as grilled chicken or burgers. A teriyaki chicken sandwich featuring grilled pineapple makes a nice pairing, but it's also just superbly drinkable on its own at 4:20 or any other time of the day. Cheers!
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. But, within just a few short years demand increased to the point that the brewhouse was in near continuous operation – 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year – necessitating a major expansion in 2012. The new features included Atlanta’s largest privately owned solar array, capable of generating 157 KwH of clean electricity, as well as top-of-the-line computerized brewing equipment that allows SweetWater to slow down the human side of the brewing process to increase quality control, while simultaneously increasing their overall output. Just last year, SweetWater launched their "Woodlands Project" in an adjacent building, which is focused on their barrel-aging program and small batches of sour, funky, and experimental beers. For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours, call 404-691-2537 or check out their web site at www.sweetwaterbrew.com.
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