Someone Stole a Whole Lot of Beer from an Atlanta Brewery

Image: A server grabs a beer while loading a tray at Hale's Ales brewery and pub in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.
In this June 28, 2013 photo, a server grabs a beer while loading a tray at Hale's Ales brewery and pub in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. In the neighborhood, home to fishing shops, shipyards and boat fueling facilities for decades, six breweries have sprung up in the past 2 years, joining Hale's Ales and Maritime Pacific Brewing, which both opened in Ballard in the 1990s.Elaine Thompson / AP file

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By Associated Press

A mystery is brewing in Atlanta, where someone stole an ocean of beer.

A brewery in the city says nearly 3,300 cases of beer went missing when two of its refrigerated trailers were stolen.

SweetWater Brewing Co. said the trailers had been loaded for a morning pickup when they were taken from the plant north of downtown in the pre-dawn darkness Tuesday.

"For a small company like us to lose that much beer, it really hurts," said Steve Farace, who handles marketing for the 140-employee craft beer company.

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The two trailers carried 3,272 cases altogether — or more than 78,500 bottles — of SweetWater's Summer Variety Pack, company spokeswoman Tucker Berta Sarkisian said.

Both trailers were later found in the Atlanta area by using GPS, but both were empty.

By Tuesday afternoon, about one-fourth of the stolen beer was found at a warehouse in Clayton County just south of Atlanta, Sarkisian said.

Farace was at the warehouse as police looked over the recovered beer and sought clues about who stole it.

Though some of the beer was found, "we can no longer trust that that beer would be up to the quality standards that we as a brewery maintain, so unfortunately we have to destroy it all," Farace said.

The warehouse where the beer was found isn't far from some of the locations where the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit was filmed. In the movie, Coors Beer is hauled across the South with a sheriff in hot pursuit. Those similarities have led to plenty of jokes inspired by the movie since word of the crime spread through the SweetWater plant, Farace said.

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But it's not generating many laughs at the company.

The timing of the heist is unfortunate, because one of the beers in the Variety Packs contained the company's "Goin' Coastal," a pineapple-flavored IPA which has been in extremely short supply.

"This has pretty much wiped out our Atlanta inventory" for that particular beer, Sarkisian said.

The company is asking retailers to contact them if someone other than the company attempts to sell the beer, which has expiration dates of Sept. 20 or Sept. 21.