Listen, there’s no weed in Sweetwater’s new IPA. You’re going to crack open 420 Strain: G13 and think for sure that the Atlanta-based brewery used some of their own stash in the kettle of this beer, because it smells like Spicoli’s van. Like, from across the room. It smells like a Seth Rogen meeting. And that’s the exact effect that SweetWater was going for with this IPA—to make you think you stumbled onto Snoop Dogg’s backyard “garden”—but there’s no actual marijuana in the beer. Sweetwater took an IPA that’s loaded with Columbus and Simcoe hops and blended in “strain specific terpenes and a proprietary hemp flavor blend to mimic the aroma of a cannabis strain.” It’s a playful, science-lab approach that delivers a delicious, aromatic experience that’s as fun to smell as it is to drink.
The beer pours cloudy and light orange with a big, fluffy head that just won’t quit. There’s absolutely no citrus or pine or anything on the nose but straight up weed. Like, Willie Nelson’s tour bus. Like Matthew McConaughey playing ping pong with Wiz Khalifa. It’s an incredibly fresh beer full of bright, grassy notes with a mouthfeel that somehow manages to be both soft and zesty. SweetWater used wheat and flaked oats to provide that creamy texture that underscores the zesty hops. It’s as if you’re sucking on marshmallows at first, but tangy 9-volt batteries on the back end.
It’s a tasty, easy-drinking IPA that looks like a New England darling but delivers a big, West Coast dank experience. It’s sticky and herbal with a hint of citrus juiciness without going over the top into orange juice territory. SweetWater has gotten playful with their IPAs recently (I dig the hop hash experiments) and I think they’ve hit a sweet spot with this 420 Strain business. It’s delicious, but as good as it tastes, this beer really is all about the nose. It’s beautiful, fragrant, gateway reefer madness nose.
Brewery: SweetWater Brewing
Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Availability: On draft now, bottles starting this fall