Beer Review 0327: 21st Amendment Sneak Attack Saison
21st Amendment began operations in the year 2000 and are located just two blocks from where the San Francisco Giants play baseball. Both principal founders — Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan — took a brewing science course at UC Davis, trading their successful careers to follow the passion of brewing beer.
As you might suspect, 21st Amendment is named after the actual 21st Amendment of the United States, which repealed the evil Prohibition.
Sneak Attack Saison gets its name from the timing of the release; a Saison is not a beer you’d normally associate with winter, but 21st Amendment have decided to put one out. This beer is dry-hopped, but not with hops; instead, the brewery used organic cardamom pods, with the hopes of getting an assertive spiciness. Coming in at 6.2% ABV (alcohol by volume), this Saison is 38 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). You’ll be able to find this can in your bottle shop January-March.
Pouring from the can issued an average size soapy head that faded moderately quickly. The beer was pale straw yellow in color, featuring a bit of haze to the body that got more cloudy as the entire contents of the can was added to the glass. Still, it wasn’t cloudy like your typical Saison; the beer just looked like it retained a chill haze even as it warmed. I didn’t notice any particles or sediment, and the lacing was disappointing, leaving behind only sparse bubbles.
On the nose, we’ve got a standard Saison with a bunch of cardamom. There are touches of orange peel, a really sweet candied orange peel, counterbalanced by a spicy peppery note. The yeast comes on bready and earthen, while the malts kick out a true farmhouse grain/straw scent. There are subtle notes of bubblegum and herbs, too, and it makes for a really nice aroma that invites you to sip.
The taste delivers sharp orange peel and white pepper up front, and it remains on that note until transitioning into a very dry white wine-like middle. The finish displays the dry-hopped cardamom, and it takes over the whole palate, leaving a lightly bitter but clean final crash. Sneak Attack is medium-bodied with a thin, foamy, and drying mouthfeel.
This 21st Amendment seasonal definitely offers a different take on a winter seasonal — insanely drinkable, you could throw a few of these down much easier than your standard Winter Warmer. That being said, this beer lacks complexity and becomes sort of a one-note instrument where the cardamom gets played to death and the other nuances take a backseat that isn’t even in the same vehicle. I did enjoy this and it is a very good beer, but it falls short of being outstanding. Cheers to the style/season experiment, though.
21st Amendment Sneak Attack Saison, 87 points. Price: $2.49 US for one twelve ounce can.