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Beer Review:
Sweetwater IPA
Atlanta, GA, US
By: George Zhen

April 24, 2005

(Atlanta, GA) - The Southeastern United States is a relative barren wasteland when it comes to good beer. As we left Florida, our hopes were raised by the growing buzz surrounding the Sweetwater Brewing Company and their collection of critically acclaimed brews. Friends from the region were singing the praises of the finely developed 420 Extra Pale and Indian Pale Ale's offered by this relatively new brewery (established in 1997). We decided to procure a 6 pack of the Sweetwater IPA and use it to fuel the next leg of our journey.

First, some history on IPA's: IPA's originated in England during the late 17th century and were designed to survive the long sea voyage from England to India. The result was a intensely hoppy brew with high alcohol content designed to prevent damage from microorganisms and mask any oxidation formed during the long voyage. As for tasting characteristics, those with experiences in lagers and pilsners will find an IPA relatively bitter at first, but will hopefully come to fully appreciate the intense flavor of this brew type.

The Sweetwater IPA is a real IPA with higher alcohol content (5.9%) than most domestic commercial beers. The head, which reflected the darker color of the brew, performed nicely when poured properly and remained controlled when poured with aggression. The color is crisp for an IPA and the initial flavor is surprisingly tempered with a fair measure of malt making its way through to the back of the tongue. However, there is no denying the unmistakable sinus experience of full-bodied hops that is the hallmark of an IPA. This combination of unbalanced sensations makes this a richly interesting brew indeed.

Effects were nice from this brew, with a buzz arriving on schedule around the middle of the second glass. The next morning was clear and no residual headaches from impurities were present.

If I were asked to introduce a lager or pilsner regular to the merits of an IPA, I think this beer would showcase the breed proudly. It is a fine example of an IPA, complete with traditional characteristics and its own unique dynamics. A fine beer and a great representative of the work done by the Sweetwater Brewing Company. Great work, guys!

Beer Tasting Scorecard
Sweetwater IPA
Attribute Score
Head 4
Color 4
Taste 4
Flavor 4
Effect 4
Overall Score 4.0

For more information on the Sweetwater Brewing Company, visit their website at www,

A special "thank you" goes out to brother Tim Starling for hauling this beer back from Atlanta for us. He even kept it in a cooler! Thanks, Timmy!

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