A few years ago I visited my brother George who runs a website design company in Atlanta, Georgia. During my stay I sampled quite a few local beers, but nothing quite compared to SweetWater Blue. Last week my brother and his girlfriend flew over to visit us in England where we hosted a big party for his 32nd birthday (I brewed 10 Gallons of beer for this! More on that later..) As a surprise my brother brought me over six bottles of SweetWater Blue in his luggage! Despite being very inexperienced at reviewing beer, I decided it was an opportunity too good to miss, so read on for the review!
Beer Name: Sweet Water Blue
Brewery: SweetWater Brewery
Brewery Website: www.sweetwaterbrew.com
City of origin: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Awards: World Beer Cup Bronze medal winner, 2002 Great American Beer Festival: Small Brewery of The Year .
“Don’t Float The Mainstream.” – SweetWater Blue is a unique light bodied ale enhanced with fresh blueberries and all natural flavors. This euphoric experience begins with an appealing blueberry aroma and finishes as a surprisingly thirst-quenching ale.
Thick white head with Good head retention, light in colour and very good crisp clarity.
Strong blueberry aroma, smells like wild fruit as apposed to artificial flavourings which is a very good thing, but gives the aroma an almost feral quality that you don’t expect in such a crisp, light beer.
Just as the label claims, the primary flavour is a strong taste of fresh blueberries, at first this fruity taste is a little too sweet, but it is soon balanced by a hoppy bitterness which cuts through the sweetness and balances the flavour profile perfectly. The surprising thing about this beer, is the fact that the blueberry taste does not at all overpower the beer; many fruity pale beers taste unbalanced and artificial, but SweetWater Blue manages to balance the sweetness of the blueberries with the bitterness of the hops perfectly.
With regards to the ‘mouthfeel’ (I wish the brewing community could come up with a less… gross sounding way of describing the texture of a beer!), Sweetwater Blue falls slightly short of the bar in my opinion. This is mainly due to the high level of carbonation. When it comes to Pilsners and European lagers being highly carbonated is great; but I can’t help but feel that SweetWater Blue’s carbonation is far too ‘rough’ on the tongue for a beer with such a delicate flavour profile. When the fizziness subsides the beer has a very syrupy body which is to be expected from a fruity ale, but perhaps is a little too syrupy for such a crisp, light beer. Overall the mouthfeel is not unpleasant, it just seems to take something away from the blueberry flavour.
Overall Impression: 9/10
It’s very hard to review a beer in an informative and unbiased manner. That said, reviews are by their very nature, biased. With that in mind, I’d like to say that I absolutely bloody love this beer. Just to give you some idea of how good it is: I’m terrified of flying after being in a plane which caught fire 30,000 feet over the Nevada desert, but this beer could very well convince me to confront my demons and go visit my brother in Atlanta, just so that I can visit the SweetWater brewery! Until them I’m limiting myself to one bottle a week which should keep me happy for another month at least! Even if you hate the idea of brewing with fruit, please give this one a go, in fact even if you’re a monk somewhere in Germany who worships the “ancient” reinheitsgebot laws, please give this one a go; you will be pleasantly surprised!
– Henry Carless
P.S. If anyone from SweetWater is reading this; feel free to thank me for this review by sending me a crate of your lovely beer! 😀