It had been a while since I had 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon – the brewery brought it to a local beer festival a couple years back. They just started distributing to North Carolina about six months ago. Unfortunately, the beer wasn’t what I remembered. Others seem to feel the same – it’s got a 75 on Beer Advocate.
Silver lining: I paired it with a bowl of watermelon gazpacho, which was delicious.
What I remember (I think) from my first sampling of this beer was how impressed I was with the ability to get watermelon flavor into a beer. At the time, it was certainly novel to me. Sadly, with the first can of a six-pack I bought, I didn’t really get much watermelon at all.
Little to no watermelon on the nose, that’s for sure. The color of the beer made me think it was going to smell light and that assumption felt correct. There’s some sweetness to it, but unless the name was printed on the can, I’d never be able to know from a smell that this was a watermelon wheat beer. Others have called the smell more honeydew than watermelon, which seems to make sense.
The flavor – to me – didn’t seem much different. Just as the pour of the beer made me think there wasn’t going to be much smell, the light-bodied appearance also made me think it was going to be thin, but a smooth mouthfeel. There’s some watermelon hidden there to be sure, but if someone is buying a beer for its novelty of being, well, watermelon, you want that flavor to really stand out. Or, at least, stand out more than in Hell or High Watermelon.
A friend of mine only refers to this beer as “swill” and while I won’t go that far, it’ll be easy for me to never buy this beer again. It made me long for Huske Hardware’s version that I had at the Raleigh Beer Festival in April. I’m going to be actively looking at making a watermelon wheat myself, perhaps next month.