15 Years for Sweetwater

Buckhead-based brewery marks birthday with special brew

From Patch Reports

Sweetwater Brewing Co., which marked its 15th anniversary Friday, will soon undertake a major expansion project.

The company, located at 195 Ottley Drive, was founded Feb. 17, 1997, by college roommates Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney. It is now the 27th largest craft brewer in the nation, selling more than 95,000 barrels of its brews in 2011 throughout six states in the Southeast including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, according to a news release from the company.

The brewery’s expansion project will quintuple brewing capacity and help expand SweetWater’s footprint to eventually cover greater portions of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic within the next few years, the announcement said.  SweetWater officially broke ground on the expansion in June 2011 and will be unveiling the space and more details on this 88,000-square-foot project later this spring.

To celebrate the anniversary, SweetWater is offering a special anniversary ale.  Bensch invited McNerney back to help conceive the ale,  titled 15 Years of Heady Beers. The ale is a recreated version of their original Extra Special Bitter (ESB) recipe with an extra "bump" pushing the beer into a barley wine status. The brew is on shelves for a limited time throughout early March.

The brewery celebrated the  birthday Friday with a beer-baked birthday cake.  SweetWater teamed up with local bakery, Perfect Wedding Cake, to create a 5-feet-tall by 3-feet-wide chocolate cake specially designed to resemble the 15 Years of Heady Beers bottle and packaging. The cake recipe called for 60-ounces of a stout brew. SweetWater served  its Happy Ending seasonal chock-full of hops and chocolate notes to be included in the bake mix.

The cake makes its debut at a birthday party Saturday.


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