Bob Townsend’s Beer Pick: SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale

Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Co. celebrated its 20th Anniversary in February with a sold-out party and a crowd of some 5,000.

This weekend, many more people will jam Centennial Olympic Park for the annual 420 Fest, which has grown in size and stature to become a showcase for jam band music, comedy and environmental education.

With respect to all that, this week’s Beer Pick is the classic SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale, an underrated offering that gets little respect among beer geeks but remains a perennial best-seller.

Of course, if you’re at the 420 Fest this weekend, you can try all sorts of new things, including jam band collaborations such as Hipbiscus Tropical Ale or Citra Hash Stoopid, and the debut of Cool Breeze, a saison with cucumber that’s slated to be the new summer seasonal, beginning May 1.

Beer Pick

SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale
SweetWater Brewing Co., Atlanta
Available on in bottles, cans and on draft almost everywhere

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A 2002 Silver Medal award winner at Great American Beer Festival, and a perennial best-seller, SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale gets no respect from beer geeks. But to my mind, it’s among the best and freshest local session beers going. And it has the added advantage of being both food friendly and suitable for serving to light lager drinkers.

Brewed with an interesting old world/new world combo of Munich malt and Centennial and Cascade hops, 420 is a quaffable pale gold ale that comes off as crisp, clean and hop-forward, with plenty of pine and citrus notes. But the malt is in there, too, offering a touch of caramel before a quenching dry finish.

Pair with

SweetWater 420 is a perfect companion for backyard cookouts, with an underlying malt presence to match the caramelization in grilled meats, along with a quaffable, crispy hop presence that won’t overwhelm salads or side dishes or drive IPA haters crazy.

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