I’ve had a bad run of fruit beers lately. You’re probably thinking “well duh, you could have just looked them up and seen that they all got reviewed poorly.” But the thing is, I don’t really care about that. There have been plenty of beers I have enjoyed that get reviewed poorly, and on the other side there are 100pt beers that I thought were mediocre at best. It’s not always about finding something world-renowned, that everyone loves. Sometimes it is about trial and error, and new experiences, and finding something that makes you happy, even if no one else agrees.
I don’t know where this beer stands in the court of public opinion. If I had to guess, I’d imagine it got reviewed poorly, as most all fruit beers do. Perhaps the average reviewer is not as open minded as I am.
I’m hoping for the best with this one, let’s get started.
Style: Fruit Beer
Produced by: 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA, USA
From 21st Amendment:
A classic American wheat beer using fresh watermelon. Straw-colored and refreshing with a kiss of watermelon aroma and flavor.
Appearance – 3
An inch of pure white foam- frothy like you would see in a stream- builds as you pour. Bubble size is quite large (extra large by my calibrated eyeball). Just as quickly as it builds, it disappears, leaving the thinnest of layers, and a bunch of popping bubbles on the surface. The quantity of carbonation is huge- more so than anything I can recall as of late. Bubbles stuck to the sides, to the bottom, and flying to the surface.
Other than the intense carbonation, there’s not much else visually here. In fact, this could be easily mistaken for a lite beer unless someone was paying very close attention. Color is basically pilsner yellow, and totally clear. I must admit…even though I didn’t expect it…I was a bit disappointed when it didn’t pour a reddish or pinkish hue, suggestive of the watermelon it was brewed with…
Although I don’t normally put too much time into discussing the packaging, there are two things that are notable. As with all (or perhaps many) 21st Amendment brews, this comes in a can, which I love. Can’s are smaller, lighter, aren’t breakable. What’s not to love? Second, the can’s artwork is worth a look. It depicts the lady of liberty laying down her torch, crown, and big stone tablet thingy, relaxing on the Golden Gate Bridge, dipping her feet in the water, and picking car-size watermelons up off of a barge. I like it, and I will probably bump up the appearance a bit because of it, because…I can.
Aroma – 3
If the visual gives you no clues as to the true nature of this brew, the aroma instantly will. I wouldn’t say that watermelon is the first thing that comes to mind- more like a fruity tartness, mixed with the clean graininess of a lighter beer. It’s almost more citrus(y) than watermelon(y), owing to the hops I would guess.
I try to imagine: if I didn’t know this was made with watermelon, would I be able to identify it in the aroma? I close my eyes. Sweet fruit. Lemon. Cotton candy. Jolly Rancher. I think the answer is no- from as objective as I can get aside from a blind taste test, I’d say that this is way more sweet and generally fruity than it is watermelon. It’s not entirely unexpected…watermelon is a pretty mild fruit. Let’s face it, watermelon itself doesn’t smell like much. It does have an intense (and sweet) flavor though…lets hope this follows suit.
The first impression is a good one. Instantly the melon flavor is there. I breathe a sigh of relief…I was hoping not to run across another bad fruit beer after several disappointments. The flavor is as follows: primarily melon, a touch of grain, a bit of tart, and a bit of bitter. The finish is just a tad spicy and sweet. If I had to peg the exact melon flavor, I’d say it is just as close to honeydew as it is to watermelon…I guess it just has that sort of “green” less sweet feeling, more-so than the straight sweetness of watermelon.
I would not describe this as hoppy. They are surely there, and serve to balance out the sweetness with a perfect amount of bitter. In the background, but not strong enough to be identified on their own. Alcohol flavor is nearly non-existant at 4.9%…this is no vodka filled watermelon here…
The flavor is not wheat(y) to me. I don’t think I would have identified it as a wheat beer if not for it being on the can.
Palate – 4
Light in both color, texture, and alcohol, heavy on carb. It’s refreshing. It works. Nothing negative to say here.
I had not done any research on this prior to buying or reviewing. I still have no clue if this is generally reviewed well or not. For my part, I am a fan. This is what fruit beer should be- unique, uncomplicated, and fun…and it should be in-line with the natural flavor balance of the subject fruit, which this mostly does.
I don’t often finish my reviewing subjects before the review, but with this it was no contest. I think I was caught off guard by how well balanced and easy to drink this was. I’m very glad I found a unique fruit beer that I enjoyed, as negative reviews are not as much fun for anyone as positive ones are.
Yes, it’s a novelty beer, and no, it’s not going to be your new favorite, or get rated all that highly by the masses, but I think it’s definitely worth picking up a can (or a 4 pack) if you can find it. It bet it will have you smiling, images of a warm summer day dancing in your head before you know it.
After posting a picture of this review in progress on my Instagram, I got a like from 21stAmendment themselves. Taking a look at their Instagram, and wouldn’t you know it…lots of pictures of Hell or High Watermelon in the wild. The coolest part…they serve it in the SF Giants ballpark. WITH A SLICE OF WATERMELON. Tell me, how does watching a ballgame eating and drinking watermelon sound to you? Pretty darn good in my opinion.
Or, you know, you could just stick with your lite beer…that’s fun right?