Widely known throughout the southeastern United States, SweetWater Brewing Co. has been slinging brews out of Atlanta since February of 1997.

Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerny named their brewery after the Sweetwater Creek located in Georgia’s aptly named Sweetwater Creek State Park. They must be doing pretty well as I can’t go to any drinking establishment in the southeast without seeing Sweetwater Brewing displays boasting its epigram of “Don’t Float the Mainstream.” Lately, there has been a lot of talk surrounding a possible IPO along with a massive expansion to include a new brewhouse as well as increasing distribution to the northeast and west coast.

SweetWater The Pit & The Pendulum bottle

The Pit and the Pendulum is the second offering out of the limited Cork and Cage Series. I find it oddly amusing that a brewery in the heart of The Peach State would buy its peaches from a farm Titan Farms, in South Carolina.

The description on the label is as follows:

The perfect balance of three distinct divergences. Allowed to initially flower with Belgian ale yeast, The Pit & The Pendulum was then incarcerated with Brett and freshly pureed peaches to intensify the trifecta of its persona.

The first thing I notice before even opening the beer is that the cage is quite loose and is just kinda flopping around. Half of a twist and the cage slips right off. The cork however took a bit of persuasion, and when finally relieved of its seat, exited with a weirdly satisfying pop. Poured into a Teku, the body is a glowing opaque light orange and sports a hefty two finger white cap of sudsy looking foam. I’m assuming most of the opaqueness is coming from the pectin in the peaches as without the use of pectin enzyme fruit beers will exhibit a cloudy appearance. The aroma is dominated by peaches and cloves with a bit of pecan nuttiness and some alcohol heat being detectable as well.

SweetWater The Pit & The Pendulum

The Pit and The Pendulum hits the tongue and explodes in violent effervescence. Many champagnes wish they were this bubbly. Leading the taste front is tons, and I mean tons, of sweet peachy goodness followed by that characteristic Belgian clove character and a good bit of alcohol heat. On the tail end is the slightest hint of brettanomyces and so far the only hint. In my opinion, this could have used much more time in the fermenter before the peaches were added to allow the brett to express itself. Will the brett character come out more as it ages? Most likely yes but by then the peaches will have faded.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to this: fermentor space is at a premium and for a brewery looking to go IPO and appease potential investors they need to turn product quick. That “profit first, quality second, expand or die” attitude shows up in the final product.

SweetWater The Pit & The Pendulum
BREWERY: SweetWater Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Atlanta, Ga.
STYLE: Belgian ale
ABV: 8.3 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $15.99
AVAILABLE IN: 750ml bottles
Overall, I think SweetWater nailed the peach aspect but it is completely devoid of any complexity that a brettanomyces beer should have. The Pit and The Pendulum drinks like a dry Belgian strong pale ale with a boatload of peaches and alcohol heat. If you like peaches it’s definitely worth a try.
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