Sweetwater Brewing is expanding its reach in Florida, adding Tampa and St. Petersburg-Clearwater markets through Pepin and Great Bay Distributors – both of which distribute Anheuser-Busch products and an array of craft brands.
But brewery spokesperson Steve Farace said the decision wasn’t an easy one.
“It was an exhaustive process choosing between JJ Taylor and the Pepin and Great Bay folks,” he said. “They are both great wholesalers, have great portfolios and feet on the street. It came down to what we felt was the best fit and at the end of the day we had to go with our gut and what felt most comfortable.”
Sweetwater will initially launch in the new markets with 420 Extra Pale Ale on draught, before adding bottles of Sweetwater Blue and IPA. Those offerings should begin hitting the market in mid-October. The brewery’s products are already available in other parts of the state including Pensacola, Jacksonville, Gainesville and Tallahassee. They also plan to launch in Orlando before the end of the year but haven’t yet settled on a distribution partner.
Farace also said the brewery is chugging along with expansion plans and hopes to make its first batch of beer on a new 250-barrel brewing system next month. It won’t be one of the company’s core brands either.
“We’re going to christen it with something strange,” he said.
Farace said they want to “get to know the equipment” with an experimental “Dank Tank” series beer first, instead of having the pressure to scale up one of the brewery’s existing flagships.
More on the Florida expansion is included the company’s official press release, printed below.
ATLANTA - Kicking off the week of October 15, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater natives will officially be able to get their hands on SweetWater Brewery’s lip-smackin’ lineup.
“After an arduous and comprehensive wholesaler assignment process, we are glad to announce that we’ve selected Pepin Distributing Company for the Tampa market, and Great Bay Distributors for St. Petersburg and Clearwater,” said Dave Guender, Director of Sales for SweetWater Brewing Company. “We are stoked to be adding these great markets to our distribution footprint, and the anticipation of our fine brews making their way further into southwest Florida has been fantastic.”
SweetWater is bringing “the beer you’ve been training for” to thirsty locals starting with 420 Extra Pale Ale on draft at bars and restaurants, following later in the week with distribution of SweetWater brews in 12-ounce bottles to include the following brands:
- 420 Extra Pale Ale – SweetWater’s 420 Extra Pale Ale is a West Coast style pale ale with big hops and a crisp finish. First brewed on April 20, 1997, this beer has developed quite the following in the Southeast. 420 is extremely well-balanced which makes it a perfect introduction to a new town…that’s why we say “drink ‘em if you got ‘em!”
- SweetWater Blue – SweetWater Blue is a unique, lighter-bodied wheat ale enhanced with a hint of fresh blueberries. This brew’ll give folks a good whiff of a blueberry influence, with a subtle taste and an extra clean finish. This ain’t no fruit beer, but it is our breakfast beer, and perfect for hanging outside in the Florida heat.
- SweetWater IPA – This mammoth India Pale Ale (IPA) is dry-hopped to the gills delivering a kick-you-in-the-teeth hop chop. The brew is unfiltered and, like all of our beers, always unpasteurized to leave all the natural flavors intact. SweetWater IPA recently won first place in a blind tasting against 15 of the best IPA’s in the country held by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Get in on the action! A crew from SweetWater Brewery, along with its Founder and Big Kahuna Freddy Bensch, will be flooding the market with sampling celebrations and sponsored festivities including:
- Weds., Oct. 17 – Pub crawl featuring SweetWater samplings, specials and meet-and-greet with Freddy in Tampa (times/locations TBD)
- Thurs., Oct. 18 – Pub crawl featuring SweetWater samplings, specials and meet-and-greet with Freddy in St. Petersburg (times/locations TBD)
- Fri., Oct. 19 – SweetWater’s presents Olde Bay Café’s Craft Beer & Crab Festival at Edgewater Park in Dunedin from 2-10 p.m.
- Fri., Oct. 19 – Brews featured at Safety Harbor 3rd Friday in downtown Safety Harbor from 6-10 p.m.
- Fri., Oct. 19 – SweetWater will be flowing at the JJGrey & Mofro show at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg at 8 p.m.
Online fans can wet their whistles too by following SweetWater’s Florida Facebook page at facebook.com/SWHeadyPeddlersFlorida for details on how to enter the “Catch a Trout Tap” contest. The challenge rewards the first 20 folks to spot, capture and post photos of the brewery’s iconic trout tap handles around town with SweetWater Schwag.
To learn more about SweetWater Brewing Company and its full lineup, visit www.sweetwaterbrew.com.
ABOUT SWEETWATER BREWING COMPANY:
SweetWater Brewing Company is an Atlanta?based craft brewery specializing in aggressive West Coast style beers. SweetWater’s brews are unpasteurized and designed to be consumed fresh so distribution is limited to the Southeast. The award?winning lineup of year?round brews includes SweetWater 420, IPA, Exodus Porter, Blue, LowRYEder and Georgia Brown. SweetWater also features a Catch and Release series of beers available on a limited basis throughout the year, and an experimental, one?time?only Dank Tank series. The SweetWater Brewery, open for tours every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 5:30?7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 2:30?4:30 p.m., is located at 195 Ottley Dr NE, Atlanta GA 30324. For more information about SweetWater Brewing Company, please visit www.sweetwaterbrew.com. For more of a social relationship with SweetWater Brewing Company follow @sweetwaterbrew on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sweetwaterbrew.