First, an explanation about where 21st Amendment Brewery gets its name. The turn of the 20th century witnessed thousands of small breweries operating across America. Just in San Francisco alone there were about 40 breweries within the city limits. By comparison, today there are eight with a population more than double what it was in 1900. These breweries not only served great tasting beers but also captured the essence of individual neighborhoods. As local gathering places, they went beyond serving a few cold ones to being what we now call a second space. Ideas were exchanged, politics and philosophy were debated, and families gathered together on weekends. All these shared experiences defined the taste of a neighborhood and its beer.
This all ended in 1920 when Prohibition wiped out this culture for 13 barren years. Social interaction was largely driven underground to the speakeasies where regular citizens became a nation of outlaws. But with the passage of the 21st Amendment repealing the “Great Repression”, society slowly began climbing back to the brewery as a neighborhood gathering place.
21st Amendment Brewery has strengthened this renewal since 2000 when it opened in San Francisco’s historic South Park neighborhood. Now in the modern world, they buck conventional wisdom by producing craft beer in cans. Although not elegant, aluminum cans keep beer fresher and they’re better for the environment. In the words of owners Nico and Shaun: “21st Amendment means much more than just an end to Prohibition. It means the right to brew beer, the freedom to be innovative, and the obligation to have fun.”
By my estimation, their best brew is their Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer. It pours light gold and clear, tops off with a foamy white head, and finishes with sweet watermelon aromas and a soft tart wheat accent tickling the nose. I can’t wait till BBQ time when I invite all my friends over, fire up the grill and heavily ice a bunch of these beers. Perhaps they’ll dig in thinking that they’ll pull out a Bud or Rolling Rock. But surprise…imagine their incredulous faces…what the heck is this? They’ll just have to taste! Unlike many fruit beers, this one is not overly sweet. The watermelon flavor is crisp and focused… a no-nonsense thirst-quencher. I’m placing my bets hands down that ultimately there will be no complaints.
photo courtesy of 21st Amendment Brewery