Beer: Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer
Brewer: 21st Amendment Brewery
Style: Fruit Wheat Beer
Description: Hell or High Watermelon Wheat pours a pale hazy straw color with a thick white foam head that lingers for a good amount of time before dissipating. The nose is dominated by what you would expect, watermelon and wheat. However, there are other aromas present, such as a slight hint of spiciness from the yeast and a mild amount of breadiness from the malt that round out the aroma profile. The taste is very crisp and refreshing and is dominated by the wheat and the watermelon, but neither truly comes to the forefront. The watermelon gives this wheat beer a wonderful tartness that provides a nice sour finish that lingers on the palate. The beer is also well carbonated, which is what gives it its crisp and refreshing capacity. The body does leave a little something to be desired, as it is very thin, but this does not take away from the overall enjoyment of the beer. It is undoubtedly not a very complex beer by any means, but it is very interesting, and with the warm summer season approaching, I can see a few cans of this in my cooler to help beat the heat.
Food pairing: This light and refreshing beer calls for a light and refreshing food pairing. This is undoubtedly a beer where the body and flavor profile need to be taken into consideration before pairing with food; otherwise, it can become completely lost in the mix. The obvious choice would be a fresh garden salad topped with either chicken or shrimp. However, I recommend a light fruity vinaigrette or a simple oil/vinegar mix, as hefty salad dressings can make this a poor match. Another great match for this beer is in the dessert arena and could make this beer even more refreshing. A nice cool sherbet or Italian ice, preferably watermelon flavored, would be a perfect match for this beer. The sheer amount of cooling ability on the palate combined with this refreshing beer would relax anyone after a long day in the sun. Throw in a hammock and some Ray LaMontagne on the stereo and I call that a perfect summer evening!
Is it worth trying? I think it's worth a go. In a market full of mediocre fruit wheat beers, 21st Amendment's take on the style certainly stands head and shoulders above the rest, as is the case with most of 21st Amendment beers. The fruit beer style has become dominated by large corporate beer factories pumping out bland brew after bland brew, so it is nice to see a reputable craft beer artist taking on the style with good results. While it is still spring and the doggy days of summer still seem off in the distance, I can certainly see this beer as a perfect summer beer, and it is available in cans, so it is perfect to take with you anywhere! I recommend you try some even if you aren't a huge watermelon fan; it just may convert you and become another great summer beer for you. Also, this is a seasonal beer, so as with most of them, get them while you can!
Rating: W W W V
Where can I get it? Currently available in cans at: J & H Beer, Wilkes-Barre; Exit 190 Beer & Deli, Dickson City; Backyard Ale House, Scranton; and Krugel's Georgetown Deli & Beer, Wilkes-Barre. Also, this may be available at the upcoming Steamtown Beer and Music Festival on June 15, where 21st Amendment will be pouring some great beers (hint hint)!
Remember, enjoy responsibly! Cheers!
-Derek Warren is a beer expert, avid homebrewer, and beer historian. Derek can be reached at NEPABeerGeek@gmail.com.