How SweetWater is brewing beer and doing good

The tasting room and tour at SweetWater Brewery can be intimate or extremely busy depending on the day. Our Thursday visit was pleasant with plenty of elbow room.
The tasting room and tour at SweetWater Brewery can be intimate or extremely busy depending on the day. Our Thursday visit was pleasant with plenty of elbow room.

Credit: Courtesy of SweetWater Brewing Company.

Credit: Courtesy of SweetWater Brewing Company.

Finding their Midtown location might seem a little unsettling at first. Did you take a wrong turn?

The sight of tie-dyed trucks puts your mind at ease and guides you into the parking area adjacent to the brewery.This isn't a replica version of a beer-making operation. It's brewing, bottling and a little mad-scientist situated right in the middle of an industrial park.

Stepping inside, industrial becomes eclectic as hippie patterns mix with chandelier-like placements of paddle boards and kayaks. The clean lines of the tasting rooms are as if art-deco married a mountain cabin. Unconventional, but it works seamlessly for SweetWater Brewery.

It's here that you may join up to 1,000 other people on a given tasting day. SweetWater's culture is the landlocked, southern city answer to island time.

Tours are announced with placards that tour the room and beckon you to the door that leads to where the magic happens. If you bought the $10 souvenir pint glass (and who wouldn't?) then use one of your six sampling tickets included.

Chances are your tour guide will have a brew in their hand as well. Ask away! The tour guides are very flexible and accommodating to the interests of those in the group.

You'll see everything from fermentation tanks to the bottling operation. Be sure to key in on the challenges and uniqueness that come with the unpasteurized ales.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Pooches are welcome at this establishment on their porch, and as they point out on their website, that means if it's raining, leave Fido at home .
  • If you are headed for a brewery tour, be sure to check the hours. This is not a situation where you can just pop in any time of day. Wednesdays through Sundays each have their own two-hour window that you can come to sample and learn.
  • With only two hours of time, parking fills up quickly. If racking up your Fitbit count is not a priority, then go early. Fridays and Saturdays are usually the busiest.
  • Do check their website for information and specifics. With the passage of Georgia's "Beer Jobs Bill," there are sure to be changes to come in the future with respect to brewery tours in the state.

VIP and more

Grab 15 or more of your craft beer-loving friends for a VIP experience. Starting at $25 per person, you can score your own VIP area, VIP server, catering from a local Atlanta barbecue joint and more.

SweetWater Brewing Company also hosts meetings and other events such as reunions, rehearsal dinners and receptions.

SweetWater shindigs and things to come

Be sure to check the calendar; you may see that there is a live band playing on the day you want to visit. The best chances to score a visit that includes free entertainment is on Saturdays and Sundays.

Keep your eyes open. You might just catch some behind-the-scene clues to SweetWater Brewing Company's barrel-aging program.

While in the works, no official details are available. Maybe you'll score some super-secret intel on your tour. Let's just say that even the neophyte beer drinkers on our tour were intrigued for the devilish concoctions that were being tested and imagined.

Look out for their annual events. These people know how to throw a party. April brings their annual SweetWater 420 Festival — a mix of music, beer, and eco-awareness.

Winter brings their "Brew Your Cask Off" Cask Ale Festival from which a portion of the proceeds are donated to benefit the Georgia Conservancy.

SweetWater also partners with the Chattahoochee River Keeper and Waterkeeper Alliance to raise awareness and funds because "you can't make good beer without good water."