Sweetwater Brewing Company General Facts and Information

SweetWater Brewing Company

General Facts and Information

Founder and Big Kahuna, Freddy Bensch, came to Atlanta during the 1996 Olympic Games and immediately recognized the potential to introduce the city, and the Southeast, to the bold, flavorful craft beers he had been brewing back in Boulder, Colorado.  And SweetWater, named for the Sweetwater Creek located just a few miles from the brewery, was spawned. Freddy’s passions for beer, fishing and music, and his abiding love and respect for the outdoors, inspire the brand and inform the business strategy.

SweetWater Brewing Company is an Atlanta-based craft brewery living by the motto “Don’t Float the Mainstream!” The award-winning lineup of year-round beers includes SweetWater 420, IPA, Blue, Georgia Brown, Take Two Pils, and Hop Hash.   Four annual seasonal releases offer palate pleasing variety — 2015/16 introduced Hash Brown in fall, Whiplash in winter, Hash Session IPA in spring, and Goin’ Coastal in summer.   SweetWater also features an experimental, one-time-only Dank Tank series and more progressive styles in the 750 mL Cork & Cage series. SweetWater Brewery – located at 195 Ottley Drive in Atlanta – is open for tours every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. as well as Saturdays and Sundays from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. For more information about SweetWater Brewing Company, please visit www.sweetwaterbrew.com. Follow SweetWater Brewing Company on Twitter/ Instagram @sweetwaterbrew, or become a fan on Facebook atfacebook.com/sweetwaterbrew.

·         SweetWater Brewing Company was co-founded in Atlanta by Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney on Feb. 17, 1997.   Freddy is still “Big Kahuna” and involved in brewery strategy and operations.

·         SweetWater is named after Sweetwater Creek, a 45-mile-long stream located in a Georgia state park near the brewery.

·         Brewery headquarters are located in Midtown Atlanta and house a 250-barrel brew house within its 115,000-sq-ft building.  An adjacent expansion will open in 2017, featuring additional dedicated bottle conditioning space, barrel aging, an elevated tour experience, and a striking new event venue.

·         SweetWater specializes in hoppy, aggressive and incredibly fresh ales. Freshness is a vital key to the quality of SweetWater beer, allowing only 90 days to be consumed.

·         SweetWater Brewery was named as one of the nation’s 18th largest craft brewers in 2016 by the Brewers Association, ranked according to sales by volume.

·         SweetWater’s current distribution footprint spans 18 states including Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Virginia, DC, Ohio, Mississippi, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, plus D.C.

·         SweetWater Brewery is one of Atlanta’s top destinations as both a tourist hotspot and a local showpiece for Georgia residents, bringing more than 150,000 visitors annually through its doors for an up-close look at how craft beer is made, and an authentic feel for the SweetWater lifestyle.

·         SweetWater opens its doors and taps to the public five days a week with brewery tours and tastings every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 5:30‐7:30 p.m. along with Saturdays and Sundays from 2:30‐4:30 p.m. A souvenir SweetWater pint glass may be purchased for $10 and includes six sample tickets of SweetWater’s lip-smackin’ lineup.

·         The United States Open Beer Championship named SweetWater Grand National Champions in 2012 as its brews took home three gold, three silver and a bronze medal against 1,650 brews entered 65 categories.

·         In 2002, SweetWater Brewing Company was named “Small Brewery of the Year” by the Brewers Association at the Great American Beer Festival marking it the first, and still the only, brewery east of the Mississippi to win this prestigious award in its 30 plus year history.


Media Highlights:

·         SweetWater founder and Big Kahuna, Freddy Bensch, was listed among the 100 most influential Georgians by Georgia Trend Magazine in 2012, and was featured on the cover of Brewer Magazine in 2016.

·         Fortune Magazine described 420 Extra Pale Ale with, “In fact, it’s damn near perfect.”  (Nov 2015)

·         When asked by the popular ESPN show “Mike & Mike” to name his favorite beer, Peter King replied, “Have one bottle of SweetWater Blue and tell me it’s not nectar of the Southern gods.”  (September 2015)

·         Men’s Journal named Hash Session IPA “One of the Best New and Seasonal Beer Releases” for 2016.

·         Eater suggested Hash Session IPA will “reawaken your beer buds.”  (March 2016)

·         Southern Living dubbed SweetWater “one of the best breweries in the South.”  (March 2016)

·         Paste Magazine has included 420, IPA, Happy Ending, and Hop Hash in their blind tastings, resulting in top rankings for each.

·        Men’s Journal named Pulled Porter “one of the best 12 smoked beers in the world.”  (March 2016)

·         Fortune Magazine included Atlanta in their list of “best beer cities,” citing SweetWater as the anchor.  (March 2016)


Commitment to the Community & Planet

·         SweetWater is passionate about giving back to communities where our beer is sold, and protecting our planet.  The company supports dozens of nonprofits and initiatives throughout the year with highlights including:


Save Our Water Campaign:

o   SweetWater Brewing Company is passionate about protecting natural resources, and is recognized as an environmental advocate and champion for clean water throughout its distribution footprint.

o   Supporting the conservation of some of the nation’s most threatened rivers, streams and coastlines is a cause near and dear to the brewery, as clean water is also vital to the creation of their tasty brews. SweetWater founded the “Save Our Water” program in 2006 with its local Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in Atlanta, and has grown to include other Waterkeeper Alliance members as the brewery’s distribution footprint has grown.

o   Kicking off in late June and running through Labor Day, “Save Our Water” began as a campaign encouraging folks to “give of their liver to save the river” via a multifaceted fundraising and awareness generating effort, which included a “Waterkeeper” seasonal brew, purchases of “Save Our Water” t-shirts and signature-ready “fundraising fish” at participating restaurants, bars and retail accounts, and purchases of custom “Save Our Water” pint glass at brewery tours during the campaign.

o   Since the inception of the program, SweetWater has helped raise more than $600,000 for the cause, with $150,000 raised in 2015 alone.

o   SweetWater is broadening the 2016 Save Our Water campaign to generate $200,000 for 5 partner organizations:  Waterkeeper Alliance, Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Surfrider, and Building Conservation Trust (CCA’s National Habitat Program).  SweetWater will donate $100,000 and promote a robust matching campaign, with the goal of raising an additional $100,000.  


Camp Twin Lakes:

o   Each year, SweetWater raises funds and provides bicycles for campers at Camp Twin Lakes (CTL), a not-for-profit Georgia organization that offers year-round recreational, therapeutic and educational programs for children facing serious illnesses and other physical, emotional and life challenges.

o   The brewery also created a cycling team to raise donations for the organization’s annual Spin for Kids fundraiser ride, as well as featuring a specialty CTL pint glass sold at brewery tours during the month of October, from which portions of proceeds go back to the cause.

The Giving Kitchen:

o   The Giving Kitchen is an Atlanta-based nonprofit with a mission of providing financial aid (and critical peace of mind) restaurant workers who’ve fallen on unexpected hard times.  Founded in 2014, the nonprofit rapidly gained the support of the Atlanta culinary community – from patrons to bartenders to restaurant owners to servers – due to its inspiring backstory:  Locally beloved chef Ryan Hidinger was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and the community rallied around him to raise $250,000 for his treatment.   After Ryan’s passing, his legacy lives on through The Giving Kitchen’s mission.

o   SweetWater and The Giving Kitchen created a collaboration ale in 2014 – called “Second Helping,” both the brewery and United Distributor donate 100% of the profits from this brew to The Giving Kitchen.   Second Helping is an IPA brewed with juniper berries, made from a recipe created by Ryan Hidinger and SweetWater’s head brewer, Nick Nock.

o   The brew was first released in 2014; donations from 2014, 2015 and 2016 are expected to exceed $150,000.




Tucker Berta Sarkisian | Communications Manager | (404) 337-1062 | [email protected]