The line started two hours before the doors were scheduled to be open. Three food trucks sit parked on the left side of the the lot while tourists line up to the right, sweat dripping down their foreheads, mouths parched from the early August heat. A live band tunes up in preparation for the soon-to-be tipsy crowd of several hundred beer lovers. Soon, there will barely be enough room to lift a glass to thy lips and sip some of the sumptuous stout featured tonight.
This is a common scene on Ottley Drive in the middle of Atlanta, Georgia, home to Sweetwater brewery. Named after Sweetwater Creek, not too far from the original brewery location, this Southern brew hub has been making a big splash in the craft and microbrew arena.
In 2013, Sweetwater was placed number 24 in the Brewers’ Association ranking of over 2,000 American breweries. With a growth of 23% from 2012 to 2013, Sweetwater is ahead of its own industry which grew 15% in the same time period.
In a 2013 press conference on the expansion of the brewery, brewmaster Freddy Bensch said "I can honestly say in the 16 years we have been brewing beer, we have never been able to keep up with capacity."
With it’s new home on Ottley Drive, Freddy Bensch and his team of enthusiastic inebriation enablers plan to move out of the southeast and head north toward New York, their first destination in Virginia.
A hot spot of locals and tourists alike, Sweetwater features tours that are open to the public and private tours. For more information on tour dates and upcoming events and beer releases, visit www.sweetwaterbrew.com.