The great thing about fruit beer, is that you know if you’re going to like it before you even crack the can. Brew your beer with heavy doses of fruit, and there’s a really good chance I’m not going to dig it at all. When I was a kid, I obsessed about food not touching other food on my plate. I loved those dividers on school lunch trays. I’m the say way about my beer today. Let’s be civilized and keep the beer and food separate, shall we? (Don’t even get me started on orange juice with pulp. Disgusting.)
And then I had 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon and my whole divided world was shattered. I had to drink the beer even though I was positive I wouldn’t enjoy the beer because that’s one of the rubs of being a journalist; I have to try things I don’t always like. I’ve tried roller blading, frog legs, and meditating (all things I really don’t like at all) all in the name of journalism and was ready to chalk up this watermelon beer in the category of “things I still hate, but look how open minded I am for trying them.”
Alas, Hell or High Watermelon had me at the first sip. The beer pours a slightly cloudy, but pale straw color, with a shocking amount of bubbles climbing up the glass. It looks like one of those retro bubble lights people put on their Christmas tree.
The nose is muted, with just a slight wave of sugary sweetness hinting at what lies inside the glass. It’s a wheat beer with a dry finish and just enough malt backbone to hold it all together. The watermelon is omnipresent in the beer, from the nose all the way to the aftertaste, but relax, this isn’t a bad thing. There may be a picture of a boatload of watermelon on the can, but the fruit here is understated. There’s nothing cloyingly sweet about it (thank the brewing Gods), and that’s what most of us fear going into a fruit beer. That we’re going to basically be drinking a Jolly Rancher.
Hell or High Watermelon is no Jolly Rancher. It’s a good wheat beer with just enough watermelon to keep things interesting.
Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
City: San Francisco, Calif.
Style: Fruit/Wheat Beer
Availability: Seasonal through summer