Mar 21, 2014

Sweetwater Brewing 17th Anniversary Saison

I’ve been pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to sample the past two years worth of anniversary beers (15th and 16th) from Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewing. If there’s one thing this brewery knows, it’s hops and both of those big beers celebrated a joyous amount of hop character.

I was expecting just as much of an influence with their 17th Anniversary Saison. Instead, what I received was an excellent interpretation of the style that used a moderate hop presence to accentuate the other, more dominate traits the brew carries. Yes, there is a welcome amount of citrus and soft bitterness present, but the beer is allowed to let its funky, wild nature shine through as the primary characteristic.

The malt bill for this saison consists of 2-Row, rye, wheat, Munich, 13/17 and Melanoidin malts while a healthy combination of hops (Galena, Saaz, Centennial and Amarillow) provide a welcome balanced. The star here though, is the yeast. The beer is initially fermented with a French saison yeast and then hit with a secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis. This pairing makes for an earthy, spicy and wildly funky drinking experience.


17th Anniversary Saison pours a golden amber in color with a small cap of white foam that fell to a thin surface covering.

Sweetwater Brewing 17th Anniversary Saison photo


You can definitely pick up the wild Brett presence immediately as hay, grain, funk, pepper, spicy hops and lemony notes all combine for an excellent aroma.


Man, this is a funky, hoppy and deliriously smooth saison. The Brett funk arrives immediately with some earthy hay notes as a smooth wave of citrusy, spicy hops glide over the tongue before a soft, wild tartness fades in. There’s a slight sweetness on the lips as a result of the balancing malt backbone. For a beer this high in alcohol (9% ABV), 17th Anniversary Saison hides its presence well, as a light, warming glow lingers gently after each sip.


17th Anniversary Saison is a big, flavorful example of the style. It’s not only funky as all get out, but also pretty well balanced and deceptively smooth. It’s got a welcome hop character but also an underlying earthiness that suits this beer wonderfully.

Rating: 4.25/5

This is a review of a promotional sample from the brewery.

More: ,