420 Extra Pale Ale 5.7% ABV
American Pale Ale
SweetWater Brewing Company
A little while ago I discovered that SweetWater recently started distributing to Chicago. I was excited, as I had heard amazing things about their beers, especially the 420 Extra Pale Ale. Chicago is a lot closer to me, about a 3 ½ hr drive, than Georgia is. I wasn’t planning on driving up to Chicago anytime soon, but it was nice to know if I did make it up there I could probably track down a bottle of this brew.
Yesterday, out of the blue, a kind and generous associate of mine gave me four bottles of SweetWater brews. One of his relatives had picked up a few 6 packs from Chicago and brought them down. I was shocked and excited. I didn’t even look to see which of the SweetWater beers I had just been given. I thought surely there wasn’t a 420 in there. A few hours later when I looked at the beers, I’d never been so happy to be wrong. Thanks again generous associate, if you are reading this you know who you are.
I knew I had to review these beers, not only were they given to me for free, but it was a brewery I had never sampled before. “Which beer would I review first?” I pondered in bed last night. It might seem obvious to any of you, but I couldn’t “see the forest for the trees.” It struck me when I awoke. I already did a 420 themed review on Monday, I have to review the 420 Extra Pale Ale today.
While 420 has obvious meanings in a particular subculture1, this beer was first brewed by SweetWater back on April 20th 1997, in Atlanta. As you can see in the photo, the logo also uses an Interstate Highway 420 symbol. Thanks to wikipedia I was able to learn that Interstate 420 was a road proposed in 1978 and “approved to be designated in 1983.” The road was suppose to be a spur of I-20, breaking off west of Atlanta, going south of downtown and then connecting back up with I-20 on the eastside of Atlanta. The interstate was never built which is probably why SweetWater is able to use the cool symbol2.
On to the actual beer now. It is darker in color than I expected. Not super dark, but I was expecting something a bit lighter and clearer. Would the taste surprise me as well? Yes, it sure did. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t nearly as hoppy as I thought it would be. After my first sips, I checked out the beer’s stats and saw that it sits at only 41 IBUs. The hop character is there, but it is definitely not aggressive, which is nice. There is a pinch of maltiness to the brew, and the finish is really crisp.
I imagine this being an ideal beer to drink on a hot humid Georgia day. I could see myself enjoying a few while playing frisbee golf or croquet. I understand now why this beer is so popular and renowned across the nation. I’m really looking forward to trying out the three other SweetWater beers I was given.