At risk of being accused of a copout, my No. 1 and 2 could easily have been 1A and 1B. It was difficult to decide not only because I enjoyed both equally; but also because each brought something a little different to the table. Sweetwater Brewing Company has been brewing beers in Atlanta since 1996. In 2002, they became the first brewery east of the Mississippi to win Small Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). They annually sponsor SweetWater 420 Fest in the spring at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta, which has been held fourteen consecutive years and attracts beer lovers from all over the Southeast.
The unfiltered SweetWater IPA pours a very slightly hazy, medium amber color with fast rising bubbles forming a big fluffy white head with excellent head retention. This IPA is made with a boatload of hops: Columbus, Chinook, Cascade, Simcoe, and Golding. It is dry hopped with Simcoe and Golding. All of this build on a Munich Wheat, two-row barley, and 70/80 Crystal Malt grain bill. Needless to say, there is a lot going on in this one bottle!
Initial aromas are of citrus (grapefruit-like) and pine; however, as it warms and aerates, you begin to pick up additional aromas, of which fresh cut grass was most noticeable. The tastes are just as complex. You get a nice malty sweetness intermixed with citrus, pine and herbs. None of which are powerful or offensive. I finishes semi-dry with a short, eloquent bitterness. Nothing boring or harsh in this IPA start to finish.
With its 6.5% ABV and 50 IBUs, SweetWater IPA perfectly bridges the gap between older style IPA and modern IPA. For someone looking for a little more kick, they have their Hop Hash Easy IPA made with Bravo, Amarillo Hop Hash, Ahtanum, El Dorado and Crystal Hops that should satisfy the itch.
Do I recommend it? Yes, highly