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SweetWater Brewing’s branding and beers are perfect for Colorado. The banner logo is accented by a splashing rainbow trout—named Fletcher, in case you were curious—and the beers are cheekily named after Colorado’s other favorite mind-altering substance, including “420 Extra Pale Ale” and the “Dank Tank Series.”
But, the discerning beer drinker might also notice that SweetWater Brewing is actually based in Atlanta, Ga., an Olympic city that is just about as far from ski country as one can get in the continental U.S.
Now before you get all NIMBY about the Georgia brand’s marketing next time you fly into Denver International Airport (DIA) on a ski trip, know this: In addition to a new taproom at DIA, the brand is opening up a full-size brewery in Fort Collins, Colo. Also, both of SweetWater’s founders graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in the early ’90s. This means the SweetWater beers served at DIA and at every major ski resort will be brewed in Colorado, and America’s eleventh largest craft brewery has Colorado roots that run deeper than most.
Most importantly, the brand’s return to the state is pretty sweet for everyone, especially skiers.
“This exciting expansion with the opening of this state-of-the-art brewery in Colorado and SweetWater Mountain Taphouse at the Denver International Airport truly brings things full circle,” says Freddy Bensch, founder and CEO of SweetWater. “This is where our team’s brewing careers began nearly 30 years ago when we began washing kegs back in 1992 at Boulder Brewing Company while attending University of Colorado.”
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But what really matters most is that the beer is really, really good. SweetWater’s flagship brew, the 420 Extra Pale Ale, is the best of their core line and a refreshing addition to any Colorado après ski cooler. It’s lighter than most pale ales and tastes significantly drier thanks to the dry-hopping process that uses cascade hops. It’s so dry, it might even be called “brut” if it were champagne. The hops are expressed perfectly, making the 420 EPA a refreshing and very flavorful option that doesn’t sacrifice taste and mouthfeel as many session IPAs do.
So next time you see Fletcher on tap at the ski hill, be brave and try the newest addition to Colorado’s brewery scene. Then raise your beer in salute to the ever-improving beer options in Colorado’s ski country. Hopefully, innovation will continue to be driven by competition.
SweetWater Brewing Company 420 Extra Pale Ale Notes
- Beer Style: Dry-Hopped Pale Ale
- Hops: Centennial, Cascade
- Dry Hops: Cascade
- Tasting Notes: Hoppy, Herbal, Floral, Smooth, Clean
- Pairs Well With: Fishing, flying in/out of DIA, knowing where your buds are, safety meetings
- ABV: 5.7 percent IBU: 39
- More Info: SweetWater’s Website