SweetWater Brewery was founded in 1997 by two friends, Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney, who met while in school at the University Colorado in Boulder. In 2002 SweetWater was voted Small Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival and Kevin McNerney was voted Brewmaster of the Year; they remain the only brewery east of the Mississippi that has ever won this award at this festival which began in 1982.
Besides Atlanta, SweetWater is also distributed to other areas of the southeast, including Nashville, Tennessee; Asheville, Charlotte, and Greensboro, North Carolina; Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, South Carolina;Birmingham, Alabama; and theFlorida panhandle.
Best known for their SweetWater 420 Extra pale ale, they also make the popular SweetWater Blue, a wheat ale with hints of fresh blueberries. Other brews include the Sweetwater IPA, Georgia Brown, and Sch’Wheat American Wheat Ale. SweetWater also features its Catch and Release series of beers available on a limited basis throughout the year. Early in the Year is Happy Ending, A Dry Hopped Stout – Road Trip, a Pilsner Style Ale available Spring through Summer – Motor Boat, a dry hopped version of an ESB, out in the fall, and Festive Ale a strong spiced winter ale.