Accompanying their flagship beer into Louisiana, the brewers of Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Co. met bartenders and aficionados at Baton Rouge and New Orleans tap rooms last week.
They discussed their top recipe — a pale ale called 420 Extra Pale Ale available now on tap and in six-packs in south Louisiana — and hyped the next two beers they plan to release in the state in coming months.
The 16-year-old brewery’s second oldest recipe, the 420 is a lightly sweet beer with a strong jolt of hops.
“The No. 1 thing that makes it different is the hops,” said Nick Nock, SweetWater’s head brewer, while at the Pelican House in Baton Rouge. “We get a great malt flavor that finishes very nicely.
“A lot of pale ales are bland.”
Over the next four months, SweetWater also plans to roll out its Blue wheat beer and its IPA, an India Pale Ale with a more prominent hop taste.
Louisiana is the sixth state in SweetWater’s distribution territory, based in the Southeastern states surrounding Georgia.
It recently upgraded its brew house in a $19 million expansion, Nock said, allowing expansion farther west and north to Kentucky.
SweetWater ranks as the second largest craft brewer in the southern United States, Nock said, behind Louisiana’s Abita Brewing Co.The brewery was seeking to expand in Southeastern Conference states, said Dan Palmer, of Mockler Beverage Co., which is distributing the beer in the Baton Rouge area.
Earlier in 2013, Colorado-based craft brewer New Belgium, maker of Fat Tire, expanded into the south Louisiana market.