The Fruits of the Field are the very finest family of solid foodstuff, preferable even to the glorious Meats, Cheeses, and Processed Grains, and eons better than the mere Vegetables, Candies, and Gelatins. This is because fruits are generally attractive (even the meatiest among us will admit that a strawberry would make a better hood ornament than a pork chop), delicious, and nutritious.

Fruit’s greatest attribute, however, may be its relatively high sugar content. I have it on good authority and also my own fondest wishes that this is some sort of Good Sugar, the kind that doesn’t give you diabetes or SlobBod, too, so there’s one more reason vegetables—i.e., unsweetened fruit—can fuck back off into the dirt whence they came. In addition to making things taste good, sugar also does mankind the great service of aiding in the fermentation process, which is why you see more raspberry wheat beers than you do artichoke stouts.

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Not all fruits are created equal, of course. Berries and hand-held pitted varieties tend to be better than the rest, for both eating and beerification purposes, but reasonable people can disagree. My own wife, who is otherwise sound of mind and tongue, doesn’t care for blueberries. That’s kinda nuts, but it happens, and I respect it. I’m not trying to present myself as some sort of all-knowing fruit czar around here, which is why I consulted Deadspin’s official ranking of the fruits before writing this review of watermelon beer.

It turns out the staff is very fond of pineapples, as well they should be. They are way too harsh on kiwis, which I suspect just means they haven’t figured out how to eat one (just snap it in half and have at it with a spoon!), but I didn’t come here to yell about kiwis. I came here, in part, to deliver the horrifying news that this tasteless band of boobs made the collective decision that watermelons are the fourth-finest fruit in the land.

I don’t dislike watermelons, but any group of sentient beings who prefer them to mangoes, plums, grapefruit, and a half-dozen varieties of apple is simply not to be trusted. Overrating watermelon is for people who daydream about fruit more often than they actually eat it. This is clearly the work of a hapless herd of city slickers who fantasize about picnics in the park as they subsistence-farm pizza and bagels. Watermelons are decent, but they’re also sloppy, weak-flavored pains in the ass whose greatest attribute is their ability to conjure happier, more pastoral times.

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This is why I was skeptical of 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon wheat ale. After years of foolish abstinence, I’ve finally turned around on fruit beers lately, but I didn’t think real watermelon was up to the task of infusing a beer with meaningful flavor. (Fake watermelon flavor tends to bear almost no resemblance to the real thing, for the simple and sad reason that watermelon is so light on taste that it provides the flavor scientists with a nearly blank slate on which to project whatever iteration of syrupy redness they choose.) But San Francisco’s 21st Amendment is a high-quality operation, and they use real fruit to brew Hell or High Watermelon, and the resulting beer is very, very good.

We’re going to take a one-day break from our moratorium on beer-beauty pageantry—it’s creepy enough to be so fixated on aroma—to note that Hell or High Watermelon looks like a traditional American wheat beer; it’s pale straw-colored, bubbly, and a bit hazy. No pink. It smells like competing waves of nice wheat beer and watermelon, with undercurrents of lemon and bread. The aromas aren’t very well integrated at first, but that just makes it more interesting when they eventually come together after a couple of sips. It does taste slightly sticky, but the sweetness evokes concentrated fruit rather than corn syrup, and the finish resembles the aftertaste of a real watermelon, as the relatively mild fruit fades into good, honest beeriness.

Watermelons aren’t great, but picnics sure as hell are, and this $11-per-six-pack, 4.9-percent alcohol-by-volume beer is the best way to enjoy them both at the same time.


This is Drunkspin Daily, the Concourse’s adequate source for booze news, reviews, and bullshit. We’ll be highlighting a beer a day in this space; please leave suggestions below.

Image by Jim Cooke.

Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain.