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Bitter American

Judges Rating: 
23 / 24
5 / 6
36 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
19 / 20

Just off of San Francisco’s scenic Embarcadero, 21st Amendment Brewery has been turning out California-themed iconic beer styles for over a decade. Its contract-brewed entry into the “session beer” market, Bitter American expresses much more character than one would expect from a beer of only 4.4 percent ABV. Awash with hints of cherry, peaches, hyssop, and Meyer lemon zest, the aroma is decidedly hop-driven, with a delicate malt underpinning. The big, fruity aroma caught Lee by surprise, but he savored the “West Coast aromas of resiny pine, fresh grass, and orange marmalade.” He found himself wishing for a touch more cracker or biscuit-like malt. Pete found the low, grainy malt presence “pleasant, but just a tad underdone,” and he enjoyed the deftly woven notes of Bing cherries, ripe peach, and fresh pine needles. Ringed by a low collar of velvety, pure white bubbles, this pale yellow brew throws just the slightest hint of a chill haze. With assertive bitterness and gobs of hop flavor, this beer walks a fine line, showing just enough malt sweetness to keep the hops in line. Tim pushed down through the initial hop assault to reveal “big jammy flavors of peach and apricot” riding over a faintly cracker-like malt base, with a woody, pine aftertaste. A can of Bitter American is proof positive that a proper session beer can pack a ton of flavor into a small package.