In our second installment of the other ‘hoppy’ beer style (or Pale Ale) we merge two things, bitter ales and low alcohol. We aren’t advocating that you start hitting that unsubscribe button out of fear this will turn into a light lager conversation. On the contrary we will be discussing a beer from the brewery in San Francisco, 21st Amendment’s Bitter American Extra Pale Ale.
Brewers Association Guidelines for an American-style Pale Ale
American pale ales range from deep golden to copper in color. The style is characterized by fruity, floral and citrus-like American-variety hop character producing medium to medium-high hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Note that the ―traditional‖ style of this beer has its origins with certain floral, fruity and citrus-like American hop varietals. One or more of these hop characters is the perceived end, but may be a result of the skillful use of hops of other national origins. American pale ales have medium body and low to medium maltiness. Low caramel character is allowable. Fruity-ester flavor and aroma should be moderate to strong. Diacetyl should be absent or present at very low levels. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures
Historically San Francisco’s 21st Amendment is a brewery known for their rebellious beer names. From their Hell or High Watermelon Wheat to the respected Live Free or Die IPA, it’s never a dull moment when you ponder what beers 21A has produced. Bitter American is no different as this beer has all the rebellious wrappings of a mind changing ale.
If you'd been rocketed into space against your will, you might be a little bitter too. Bitter American is our long-overdue tribute to unsung, unwitting heroes everywhere. This American session ale packs a lot of hop and malt flavor into a refreshingly lower-alcohol brew, making it the perfect beer to have on hand when you have a little history to make.
Bitter American is our late winter seasonal beer available from January through March in six pack cans and on draft. This extra pale session ale has lower alcohol but all the flavor and hop aroma you expect from a much bigger beer. Give one, or three, a try.
Bitter American starts out innocently enough with its copper hue peering through oceans of clarity. Head retention can be described minimal after starting out with less than an inch of tapioca colored head. As expected there is no lace, save a halo of foam inside the glass that does no recede despite the volume of fluid disappearing.
As 21A’s low-abv brew warms up, strong notes of citrus and floral hops are smelled along with noticeable biscuit and caramel creaminess. Sipping this you are greeted by earth tones (mostly green grass) along with elements of bread and nuts throughout before finishing with a flavor reminiscent of grapefruit citrus and orange peel. Overall the beer feels medium in weight on the tongue and isn’t sticky despite what the hops might wish you to believe.
You Should Try This. As a recognized gabber of trivia, sports, and the like; it's beers like this that lubricate the conversation. Whether you find this on draft or in mini-keg such as this 12oz companion its a safe bet that you won't be disappointed. Thoughts lean towards salads with field greens, sharp cheeses, along with walnuts and croutons. If you are feeling something more savory, you might try this with some smoked ham, lightly seasoned buffalo, or even some ostrich. Note, although this beer has been on the shelves since January it’s a safe bet there isn’t much left. Take our advice and go pick up a box.
Thoughts by your Colleagues
About the photos’ author
walknboston is a fellow craft beer fan from the east coast. Special thanks to him for letting us borrow from his work.
In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.