If you’ve been to an Atlanta brewery anytime in the last few years, you’ve likely seen a rack of Knotty Pretzels alongside the tap list. The brand calling itself the “Official Pretzel of Beer” is distributed across the U.S.—but it was born in Marietta, inspired by a recipe from cofounder Sean McSweeney’s grandmother. “She’d always have pretzels there when we got together for the holidays,” he says. “She made everything from scratch, including her seasoning.”
McSweeney was motivated to go down an entrepreneurial path after taking a high school business class with friend Casey May. “We were always business-minded,” May says. After a few years of soul- searching—and a stint as cabana boys in Florida—the pair launched Knotty Pretzels in 2013, selling Mom Mom’s Original Savory Italian at festivals. The first brewery to pick them up was Marietta’s Red Hare, and the business’s growth has followed the trajectory of the burgeoning local craft beer scene. The current lineup of six flavors includes Hot Wings, Honey Mustard, and Chile Lime; Knotty Pretzels suggests beer pairings (Chile Lime with, for instance, a Belgian-style wheat ale) on its website.
This article appears in our March 2023 issue.