Sweetwater Sweet 16 Anniversary

sweetwater-sweet16Brewery: Sweetwater Brewing Company
Location: Atlanta, GA
Brew: Sweet 16 Anniversary

Merchant: Decatur Mini Kroger
Service: 22 oz “bomber” bottle

Style: Wheatwine
Color: Dark Red to Brown – SRM 28
IBU: 70
ABV: 11%

Temp: Cool to warm at 50º

Smell: Sweet with a lot of red fruit, some wheat bread and subtle spice.

Taste: “16” pours a big head and the color is fantastic. The hazy, rusty red to brown color and light brown head scream rich flavor. The head starts lacing the glass almost immediately as the larger bubble subside.

The first sip is a humungous wallop of flavor. It’s toasty, super sweet and wastes no time getting boozy. It’s also well balanced, there are a ton of hops. A ton. The effects of the massive amount of wheat in this brew are also instantly evident. The mouthfeel (a word I typically try to avoid) is really unique; unbelievably soft and smooth, almost fluffy. The carbonation is nice, too, at a happy medium.

This is for patient sipping. Halfway into this glass there is a brandy-like booziness and sweetness that opens up flavors like plum, fig and caramel. The hops start to dry it out quite a bit. Both extremes–when meeting the toastiness of the malt–make this start to get a bit woody. I’m a sucker for beers that conjure thoughts of campfires.

An interesting though occurs to me: this is a monstrous beer—as far from a gateway beer as you will find—extremely strong. Yet the flavors themselves are so familiar; dark fruit, rich breads, caramel and smoke. I’ve never been a big scotch fan but I’ve heard it said that a good one almost tastes nostalgic. This brew has me thinking that may not be a total load of malarky. However, if 420 or Blue Moon are examples of your expanding horizons, you will probably not enjoy Sweetwater Sweet 16.

I would be remiss to not mention this bottles age. Mostly because hops—over time—fade significantly. It’s why you don’t encounter many IPAs on the cellar menu at local establishments. This bottle of “16” is still very hoppy. I wish I had chased this down when it was fresh—it must have been massive. This was bottled 19 months ago. It’s not fresh. However, at 11%, it’s perfect for cellaring. And at $6.99 (an amazing value) I’ll be going back for a few more bottles—as I recall they have a dozen more. It will be very interesting to crack one open every year for the next few years to see how these change. My guess is, while they will get sweeter and boozier, they will also reveal more dark fruit flavors and taste even more woody. We shall see. If you find a bottle of Sweet 16 around town I highly recommend snatching it up.

Pair with: Smoked gouda, bacon, french bread with cream cheese and spicy strawberry jam.

3 caps

Wayne Pelletier

September 1991. I drew from a tall, golden, hazy glass of a fresh and local hefeweizen in Bamberg Germany. Since then I've tasted more than a thousand brews. Here in the Greater Atlanta area we're pretty fortunate. Our local heavies: SweetWater, Atlanta Brewing and Terrapin all do world-class work. But the scene goes much, much deeper. That's where I like to find fresh pints. The goal is to draw attention to those finds on a 3-cap scale. Three seems simple but that isn't to say everything is great, average or terrible. Quite the contrary is the reality. I have come across very few craft/micro beers that are just no good. I assume these are all good beverages brew by good people with good intentions and you should as well. If I cross paths with a local brew that is truly terrible I won’t waste your time, or mine, writing a review. 3 CAPS: Hurry. This is a rare brew worth going out of your way to find. I swear it. 2 CAPS: A very good beer. Stands out as great in the style. 1 CAP: A decent brew that is average for the style. Prost!