Tag Archive | 21st amendment brewery

Redux Review 0020: 21st Amendment Monk’s Blood Belgian Dark Ale

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Here’s a beer that I’ve been looking forward to trying again for a very long time — back in early 2012, I sampled 21st Amendment’s (San Francisco, California) Monk’s Blood, a Belgian Dark Ale brewed with eight different malts, Belgian candi sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean, local figs, and aged on oak chips. AND SERVED FROM A CAN!

I rated it 91 points, and I was so impressed with the beer that I ranked it #15 on my Top 25 Beers of 2012 list.

My initial review:

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Appearance: 15 of 15 points
Aroma: 13 of 15 points
Flavor and Palate: 31 of 35 points
Drinkability and Overall Experience: 32 of 35 points

Final Score: 91 points, or outstanding on my rating scale.

What an appropriate time to dig into the basement and pull out this can, dated from 2012 — 21st Amendment recently announced that after a one year hiatus, Monk’s Blood will be returning to bottle shops as a limited release four-pack, and should remain available until the end of May, 2014. They encourage you to enjoy it fresh but to also age some. Let’s take a look and see what some time does to Monk’s Blood, the curious oak-aged beer in a can.

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Pouring spills forth a beautiful beer capped by a large, frothy head that is light tan in color and lasts. The beer is muddy and murky amber-brown out of light, but in light is revealed to be a deep mahogany with red highlights. There is some cloudiness and a light presence of particles and sediment. Lacing is excellent, leaving sticky patches of foam in the initial sips.

The nose is very nice and quite complex; big notes of toasted and doughy bread, cinnamon, and dark fruit are the main flavors, followed by more delicate tones of woodsy oak, rum-soaked raisins, and sugary cinnamon. There’s lots of cinnamon here and it serves to enhance the booze in a good way, making this seem like cinnamon bread with a dipping of some thick boozy syrup. It’s awesome and I think age has worked magic here, not only making the aroma more complex, but melding the individual scents into a potent marriage.

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On the palate, the cinnamon is high in the mix, and the vanilla that was once here has taken a backseat to more of a cinnamon/oak flavor and a generous helping of dark fruits — raisin bread, doughy yeast, and toasted/slightly burnt sugar lead the way. The oak tends to come out through the middle, and the flavor pretty much stays the same until the finish, which brings on even more cinnamon and a moderate bitterness along with a delicate sugary edge. It’s interesting if a bit jarring, at first — this beer really comes into its own as it warms, just about to room temperature. The alcohol is completely hidden. Monk’s Blood is medium-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.

Overall, I thought the beer gained some in the aroma department but lost a little in the flavor — it tasted somewhat oxidized, or a little less full-flavored, than I remember. That might sound crazy given that it was in the perfect environment, a can — but that’s how my taste buds experienced it. That said, it’s still an outstanding beer, and I highly encourage you to seek out some of the fresh cans and tune in. I bet you’d never guess this came out of a can! Start out cold (45°F or less) and allow to gradually warm, sipping slowly — this brew tells a story.

21st Amendment Monk’s Blood Belgian Dark Ale, 90 points. Price: $2.49 US for one 12 oz. can.

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Beer Review 0528: 21st Amendment/Elysian He Said Belgian-Style Tripel

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In one of the more unique collaborations for 2013, San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery has teamed up with Elysian Brewing, based out of Seattle, Washington, to create two beers featuring pumpkin, both packaged in cans. This marks the debut of Elysian on this website as they don’t yet distribute in North Carolina, but we’ve reviewed several 21st Amendment beers, and they typically impress.

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.

Elysian opened in 1995, the creation of Dick Cantwell, Joe Bisacca, and David Buhler. The company has a production facility and operates three pubs, often churning out 20 different beers to have on-tap. Widely known for their beers featuring pumpkins, the brewery runs the Elysian Great Pumpkin Beer Fest, held each October. They’ve made over 300 unique beers since opening; at least 30 of them have involved pumpkin.

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He Said, the collaboration, comes in a four-pack, which contains two cans of each beer. The second beer up for review is a Belgian-Style Tripel brewed with pumpkin puree and juice, galangal, and tarragon. If you’re like me, you had to look up galangal; let me save you some time: it’s a type of ginger that comes from Asia. The beer uses Trappist ale yeast and like it’s Baltic Porter partner, comes in at 8.2% ABV (alcohol by volume).

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Out of the can, this beer produces a large, bright white head that is foamy and frothy. It hangs around a good while, but doesn’t regenerate especially well; color of the beer is a light golden, and the body has a touch of haze to it, but no particles or sediment. Lacing is excellent, leaving clumpy chunks stuck to the side of the glass.

On the nose, we’ve got a standard Tripel style ale with a subtle hint of pumpkin and ginger. The Trappist yeast adds a touch of bready dough and sweet honey, while the malt bill is grainy and straw-like. The sweetness mixes well with some orange peel, and there are classic touches of clove and bubblegum. The alcohol is well hidden, and overall the aroma is very nice.

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The taste is dominated by both the ginger and tarragon — the tarragon has a very earthy herbal quality to it, and that is very potent all throughout the taste. This beer is zesty, and kind of unwinds across the tongue in fits and spurts; there’s some orange peel but it quickly gets muted by the ginger, but it comes back…in and out like a detuned radio. A sweet hit of pink bubblegum brings on the finish, which is where the pumpkin shows up, for just a second. For a Tripel, I found He Said to be a little more bitter than normal, but it still qualifies as light bitterness to me; however, when coupled with the earthy herbal flavor, it makes for a strange combination. The final notes are faded orange peel, ginger, and grain. This beer is medium-bodied, with a thin, foamy mouthfeel.

While technically labeled as a “pumpkin beer,” it’s really hard to qualify this as a full-fledged member of that style. This is a Tripel with a bit of an identity crisis. That said, I never thought the beer really hit the ground running, and it’s a bit muddled overall.

21st Amendment/Elysian He Said Belgian-Style Tripel, 85 points. Price: $9.99 US for a four-pack of two different beers.

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Beer Review 0527: 21st Amendment/Elysian He Said Baltic Porter

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In one of the more unique collaborations for 2013, San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery has teamed up with Elysian Brewing, based out of Seattle, Washington, to create two beers featuring pumpkin, both packaged in cans. This marks the debut of Elysian on this website as they don’t yet distribute in North Carolina, but we’ve reviewed several 21st Amendment beers, and they typically impress.

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.

Elysian opened in 1995, the creation of Dick Cantwell, Joe Bisacca, and David Buhler. The company has a production facility and operates three pubs, often churning out 20 different beers at any time available on-tap. Widely known for their beers featuring pumpkins, the brewery runs the Elysian Great Pumpkin Beer Fest, held each October. They’ve made over 300 unique beers since opening; at least 30 of them have involved pumpkin.

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He Said, the collaboration, comes in a four-pack, which contains two cans of each beer. The first one up for review is a Baltic Porter brewed with pumpkin puree and juice, Vietnamese cinnamon, and caraway seed. Remember, a Baltic Porter uses a lager yeast — the beer comes in at 8.2% ABV (alcohol by volume).

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Pouring made for a nice, average size head that was light tan in color and had a creamy texture. The head lasted atop a beer that looked dark brown out of light, but when held to light became a pleasing shade of ruby red. The body was clear, free of particles and sediment, and lacing was very good; no solid sheets, but plenty of thin pods of suds stuck to the glass.

The nose is traditional pumpkin beer with a huge malt backing. There’s lots of cinnamon, some clove, and of course pumpkin up front. Even though this beer uses Vietnamese cinnamon, I didn’t think the cinnamon was any more special than, say…”regular” cinnamon. But the malt backing is clearly the star here, pushing deep scents of chocolate, coffee, general roasted notes and bready, sweet caramel. As the brew warms, the chocolate turns from a dark chocolate into more of a fudgey semi-sweet chocolate.

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The flavor pretty much follows the nose, with a heavy spice up front that overwhelms on the initial sips, but calms as you get used to it. The cinnamon is out of control, and the caraway seeds, while not appreciated on the aroma, are full-bodied in taste. In the middle of the mouth, the malts begin to seep forward, and it’s very nice; full, black coffee and dark chocolate mingle with a toasty bread. The finish sees the spices kick back up, concluding with cinnamon and sweetened coffee, and a minor edge of bitter orange peel and herbal hops. I’d call that bittersweet, and the finish does help to subdue the spices just a bit. He Said is full-bodied, with a medium, creamy mouthfeel.

Really, this brew comes down to personal preference. Are you fond of heavily spiced pumpkin beers? If so, you’ll really love this, especially if you also lean toward drinking Porters and Stouts. I give 21st Amendment and Elysian credit; we need more darker beers that are flavored with autumn/pumpkin spices. But I wouldn’t want more than one of these in an evening, and I doubt I would return to it, even if I find the base beer really interesting (can I try that one by itself, guys?)

21st Amendment/Elysian He Said Baltic Porter, 87 points. Price: $9.99 US for a four-pack of two different beers.

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Beer Review 0470: 21st Amendment Hop Crisis Imperial IPA

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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.

A few years ago in the midst of a hop shortage, 21st Amendment came up with the idea to brew a huge IPA with a ton of hops at their brewpub, and to age it on oak. The beer was appropriately called Hop Crisis, and makes use of Columbus, Centennial, and Cascade hops. Aged on oak spirals, the beer comes in at 9.7% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 94 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

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Hop Crisis pours an average size, creamy head that is bright white in color and looks very nice atop a golden-orange beer. The brew is slightly hazy but is still translucent, and is absent of particles and sediment. Lacing is perfect, especially for a beer with a higher ABV; the foam creates solid sheets that stick to the side of the glass that I’m not sipping from.

On the nose, there’s a heavy tropical fruit presence, especially passionfruit, pineapple, and papaya. The oak treatment shows its head and mingles well with all that fruity sweetness — this beer does resemble a fruit juice concentrate, but a hard one, as there is a noticeable punch of alcohol. The malts reinforce the moderate sweetness, giving off caramel and sweet breads. As it warms, a tangy note of grapefruit and some orange peel start to come out, and the oak begins to play nicely with the alcohol.

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The flavors start with big punches of grapefruit and orange — the tropical fruits so prominent on the nose aren’t featured at first; in the middle, they start to show up, but lighter in fare; more of a mango and papaya than anything else. This beer gets fairly sweet very fast, and it stays that way, counterbalanced by a decent sized squeeze of alcohol and raw oak. The finish turns malty for a second, yielding to the oak and some Tootsie Roll candies before hitting a dry, grapefruit conclusion that warms the body with more alcohol. I found Hop Crisis to be full-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.

I really enjoyed this beer for a couple of distinct reasons — I’ve never really found an Imperial IPA that was aged on oak that was very good, but this one used the oak to its advantage and it never overtook the flavor of the hops. In fact, it played super nice with everything and in the end, even lent a bit of balance to the sweetness, supporting the bitter finish. There seemed to be a good balance here, and not a boring one — the sweetness was heavy, but the bitterness and woodsy flavors were just as prominent, rewarding the palate with a really full-flavored experience. I’d pick this one up again in a heartbeat.

21st Amendment Hop Crisis Imperial IPA, 93 points. Price: $3.79 US for one 12 oz. can.

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Beer Review 0386: 21st Amendment Marooned On Hog Island Oyster Stout

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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.

This is my first Oyster Stout; yes, actual oysters are used in the brewing process. The first known use of the mollusks in beer was documented in 1929 in New Zealand; since then, you could classify it as more of a gimmick than an actual meat-and-potatoes ingredient. Often, only a handful of oysters are tossed into the kettle, and sometimes “Oyster Stout” is just a name given to the brew to suggest it could be paired with oysters.

However, Marooned On Hog Island does indeed use the real deal (specifically oyster shells), and it is a collaboration between 21st Amendment and Hog Island Oyster Company. Coming in at 7.9% ABV (alcohol by volume), the oysters are used to add a salty, silky finish to this highly malted brew.

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The pour produced an average size, light brown head, soapy and fast diminishing. The color of the beer was dark brown, and when held to light, presented some ruby highlights. Body was clear, free of particles and sediment, and the lacing was pretty good, leaving thin trails of suds.

On the nose, Marooned On Hog Island smells like a typical stout — roasty, with notes of chocolate, coffee, and some sweet caramel. The sweetness reminded me of a Milk Stout. There’s a light hint of smoke in there, too.

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Chocolate and caramel open the taste, and the saltiness of this beer quickly comes out. Salty chocolate and caramel can be good, but when you introduce coffee to the picture, things start to get a bit weird. The initial saltiness wears off, leaving a nice middle taste of caramel, coffee, and chocolate, very sweet; then, the finish comes on, bringing back the salt and a moderate bitterness. The more this brew warms, the more bitter it seems to get, and I didn’t think the bitterness and salt played nice. Marooned is medium-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.

For my first Oyster Stout, I found this to be really unremarkable. The flavors are typical stout, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but the saltiness the oyster shells add didn’t contribute in a positive way, at least to my palate. Sometimes hoppy beers can be so hoppy that it registers salty on my taste buds — this was just plain stout salty, no hop presence and not worthy of a repeat performance.

21st Amendment Marooned On Hog Island Oyster Stout, 77 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce can.

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