Last week, 21st Amendment Brewery (563 Second St.) celebrated the annual release of its Hell or High Watermelon beer in fitting fashion, by dropping oversized melons from the roof of its South Beach brewpub. But it's not just the fruit that's blowing up. 21st Amendment itself is expanding its mark on the craft brew scene with the opening of a new production facility across the water in San Leandro.
On May 28th, co-founders Nico Freccia and Shaun O'Sullivan broke ground on a massive 95,000-square-foot brewery, formerly the home of a Kellogg Cereal factory. Throughout most of the past half-decade, 21st Amendment has been contracting its successful canning line to a brewery in Cold Spring, Minnesota. The development of the new East Bay facility will allow the beloved San Francisco brewpub to bring all those beers (and jobs) back to Northern California when it opens this fall.
In the meantime, there's no shortage of solid suds here in the city, as highlighted during its annual watermelon smash. This year's version of the Hell or High Watermelon -- offering a surprisingly dry, crisp finish -- was served out of watermelon cask and poured into glasses garnished with the eponymous fruit. And since you can't kick off summer without firing up the grill, the folks from the brewpub constructed an impressive streetside setup featuring beer can chicken and sensational bacon-studded BBQ beans. If you've never tried poultry that's been stuffed with a full can of IPA, you now have a newfound reason for living -- extraordinarily juicy, a subtle infusion of hops in every bite.
With a sessionable ABV of 4.9 percent, Hell or High Watermelon is a comfortable warm-weather sipper, allowing drinkers the luxury of enjoying a few before the ballgame while still being able to pay attention to the action on the field. But for those looking to get a little more serious, the brewery is also canning its Monk's Blood -- a Belgian-inspired abbey ale with a body like molasses and a dark, rich flavor so full it could supplant a meal. As baseball season rolls into full-bore, and watermelon beer now flows freely in South Beach, you can smell the summer in the air. Or maybe that's just the pile of smashed fruit outside of 21st Amendment.