Brewer’s Spotlight: SweetWater Brewing launches H.A.Z.Y. 710, a new INCOGNITO® co-branded beer.
We recently caught up with Mark Medlin, Brewmaster and Brian Miesieski, CMO from SweetWater Brewing in Atlanta to talk about the latest edition to their portfolio, H.A.Z.Y. 710 Pale Ale, brewed and branded with INCOGNITO®, HAAS’ innovative flavor and aroma hop product.
Can you tell us a little bit about SweetWater Brewing?
Brian Miesieski: We are about to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We were founded by Freddy Bensch, who was originally from California, and learned his trade at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Freddy came to Atlanta for the Olympics in 1996 and realized the West Coast-style of beer that he loved—hop forward, higher ABVs—really couldn’t be found there. He brought together his love of beer and what we like to call the “420 lifestyle”—the cannabis vibe, the freer style, the love of the outdoors and music—and created SweetWater.
25 years later, we’re going strong and 420 is our flagship beer. We also recently made some big moves. We were acquired by Aphria Inc., the world’s largest cannabis company, which aligned with what we’re all about at SweetWater. We just acquired a brewery in Colorado and we’re opening a taproom there, and we just purchased two other breweries based in San Diego. So we’re expanding pretty quickly and once we open in California, we’ll be in 40 states.
How did the inspiration for H.A.Z.Y. 710 Pale Ale come about?
Mark Medlin: We’ve been customers of HAAS® for ten years, maybe more. I was introduced to INCOGNITO® out in Yakima, where the folks at HAAS were talking about the wort-saving proposition—and I was really impressed. So I decided I wanted to do some piloting. This summer we made a one-off beer with INCOGNITO® and really enjoyed it. So we decided to go back and think about a new line from our original Hazy IPAs that we could build using INCOGNITO® products. We approached HAAS with the idea of actually using INCOGNITO® as part of the marketing for the beer.
Brian: Absolutely. At SweetWater, we always try to be at the forefront of burgeoning innovations, whenever we can. We were talking about what’s out there that’s unique and fresh and different and Mark brought INCOGNITO® to the table. I love being able to make innovative beer—and being able to use a great hop product like this would just amplify it, not just the taste of the beer, but the story behind it. Also, we like partnering with innovative brands, so when we thought of who’s at the forefront of hops, we knew partnering with HAAS to co-brand this beer would be a perfect fit.
How do you think the value proposition for INCOGNITO® translates to your customers?
Mark: Hopefully it’s the flavor of the beer! I just want them to love it and say, this is really unique and really, really good. Ultimately, that’s what I’m going for. To me, it’s just a slightly different flavor that you get from pelletized or raw hops, and I think it’s something that customers are going to love.
Brian: Consumers are always looking for something new, especially craft beer consumers. They like to learn, they like to be educated about hops and I think INCOGNITO® just takes that to the next level—so we’re putting that info on the can and explaining why it’s so different. To Mark’s point, it is all about the flavor and the taste but, we’ve always been hell-bent on quality since day one, so we love the quality proposition that comes with INCOGNITO®.
What’s behind the name H.A.Z.Y. 710?
Brian: Sweetwater likes to have fun with its names, and we wanted to be a bit more creative with this. 710 is a bit of innuendo. INCOGNITO® is a hop oil, so when you turn 710 upside down, it spells oil. It’s also a nod to our 420 lifestyle. 20 years ago, only a certain group of people knew what 420 meant and we were trying to have a little bit of fun with what that meant, and it also nods to hash, or cannabis oil.
When does H.A.Z.Y. 710 launch?
Mark: As we speak! I think it started shipping in late December and now it will be in stores, year ‘round.
Brian: It’s a really great addition to our portfolio. Mark and his team did a fantastic job and everyone who tries it is just raving about it. Distributors tend to be your harshest critics but everyone who tries it thinks it’s going to be our next big hit.
To learn more about H.A.Z.Y. 710 Pale Ale, check your local beer store or read more about it here.