Beer Review: Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale

February 5, 2007

Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale AleThings happen when you have two kids under two, and I was unable to do any beer tasting until last night just after the Colts beat the Bears. I had been wanting to try one of Sweetwater’s brews for a while, and I was wanting to add a pale ale or something like it to my reviews here. Plus the label has a rainbow trout on it, so I was hooked. (Pun intended)

 I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for a pale ale. With all this cold weather, a porter or stout may have been more appropriate. But I sacrifice for you, so I went with Sweetwater’s 420 Extra Pale Ale. Sweetwater Brewing Co. operates out of Atlanta. Their beer is both brewed and bottled there. According to the label, this is “a crisp refreshing pale ale accentuated by a stimulating hop character.”

I went looking for a pint glass to pour this into and once again they were dirty. My wife insists on using them for ice tea! I washed one out, dried it well and went for the pour. It poured with a medium head that lasted an average length of time. The head was thick and cushiony, with very minimal lacing. Looking at the beer in the glass, it was a nice copper color, and you could see the carbonation was not overpowering by far.

On the nose, the hops were definitely front and center. Hints of citrus appeared, but flowery hops were the star of this show. The first taste confirmed what the label said: it was a crisp refreshing ale, and the hops did accentuate the flavor. In some beers the brewer takes the hops as far as they can and you’re left with a bitter, hoppy brew that comes across very dry. This is not a bad thing, when that’s what you’re in the mood for.

This brew, however, comes across well hopped but without the lingering bitterness or dryness. The flavor is mild and smooth….nice hoppiness without the bite. There are hints of other flavors as well, such as the citrus I barely noticed in the nose, but it is a subtle brew.

All in all, I would say this is a fine brew, very smooth and drinkable. This would be great on a summer Saturday standing at the grill as the sun sets, the steak sizzles, and the smell of fresh cut grass lingers in the air from your day spent behind the mower.

Recommended: Yes, a good solid pale ale that goes down smooth
Price: I paid $7.99 for a six-pack
ABV: 5.4%



  1. Cool site. You write well about beer, lol.

  2. Thank you sir….hope to add more reviews soon!

  3. question. How would I be able to purchase and/or have some sweetwater 420 shipped to California?

  4. jaemmie, I guess you’d have to contact Sweetwater…visit them at http://www.sweetwaterbrew.com/

  5. ..I just opend my 3rd for the ev , yes indeed crisp , would be good any time , love the smell ! ….Just finshed , very good no bitter bite , very nice fragrance .

  6. Sweetwater is my all time favorite brewery, and home to four of my top ten beers ever! Sweetwater IPA wins, hands down, as my favorite beer ever. I really love the 420, the Blue is a must have when you have women over to share beers with, and the Hummer is a fantastic white beer.

    Unfortunately, Sweetwater is not allowed, by Georgia law, to ship their beers anywhere (trust me, I’ve tried). So I just have to make due when I go to Atlanta for a visit (yearly).

    Their beers are crisp, refreshing, and do not have a nasty aftertaste.

    I just got done with a 420 that I brought back from my last visit there. It was a little old, but still held up very well for its age. Still crisp, still refreshing, and still had enough floral and citrusy hop taste.

  7. I have a friend who wants me to try the Blue….I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the comment….I love when people come and post their own thoughts on the beers I’ve reviewed

  8. Must agree that the 420 is fantastic. Not as big a fan of the Sweetwater Blue. The blueberry taste is a little overpowering for me, but too each is own.

  9. Does anyone know the origin of the drug reference in the 420 name? A friend told me it is brewed with the flower of the cannibus plant but I couldn’t find anything to support this.

    I also love the sweetwater brewing company and am fortunate that in north florida I can find it just about anywhere. Georgia Brown is my hands down, all time favorite brew.

    • I am not 100% but I believe the 420 name was taken from one of the favorite pass times of kayakers. The owners of Sweetwater are avid paddlers.

  10. I loved your review of Sweetwater. My last pint was in May (I too live in California) and can’t wait to get back to Atlanta for another. My classic Atlanta experience is a pint of Sweetwater and a burger from the Vortex. I’ve never really considered the character of the beer, but now that you write about it so well I think you really nailed it. As far as getting it my best option prior to the liquid laws on the planes was to carry a 24 pack back as my “carry on”.

  11. Thanks for the kind words Ray! I may have to go back and review this again. I did this one, obviously, before I started making them consistent with sections on The Pour, The Nose, The Taste and Overall.

  12. We visited Atlanta and fell in love with Sweetwater booer!!! Does anyone know how we can get Sweetwater in the Northeast, New Jersey or New York City?

  13. My all time favorite beer

    • I haven’t had it since the review….that’s the only negative to doing this blog….I always want to try something new so I have review material, so I don’t get to have the same beer more than once very often

  14. not sure about the comment about georgia law not allowing for export…you can find it outside of georgia but only in border states….i must say i’ve been going to atlanta on business since 2005 and i go straight for the sweetwater 420….i just love this beer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: