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Support the 21st Amendment
That's Hell or High Watermelon, son

From a humble little brewpub in San Francisco, some big beers were born. And today, the canned craft beers of 21st Amendment Brewery have begun landing on shelves In Savannah.

The brewery’s name celebrates the constitutional amendment that repealed prohibition. Sadly, the enactment of prohibition was a tragic turning point for small U.S. brewers. Until then nearly every city of any size had one — or dozens — of little breweries that turned out beers favored by locals and relished as popular neighborhood watering holes.

Still it took 75 years for small breweries, now referred to as craft brewers, to begin to exert a market presence across the US. Stringent state laws, many of which are still on the books, kept these new beers — usually of higher alcohol levels than big brew houses like Anhueser–Busch, Coors or Miller — at bay.

California was on the leading edge of legislation that allowed micro breweries and craft brewers access to the market. Anchor Steam is a legendary pioneer of the movement, and has been joined by dozens of California brewers who enjoy nationwide distribution.

21st Amendment is one of those little breweries built on passion, commitment and dedication to the brewer’s art. You’ll find two beers from 21st Amendment – but don’t look for six–packs of bottles. Like Colorado’s Oskar Blues, 21st Amendment cans its beers!

I tracked down this first pair, and here’s what I found:

Hell or High Watermelon Wheat: At 5.5 percent ABV, this fruit–based session beer pours cloudy yellow – thanks to a bit of yeast tossed in before sealing. This “can conditioning” means you should agitate the can slightly before opening to distribute the yeast.

That same yeast consumes virtually all of the flavor from 300 pounds of watermelon used in brewing. Sure, there’s a hint of melon, but mostly a nice, bready and refreshing wheat beer.

At 21st Amendment’s brewpub, the beer is served with a garnish of watermelon. I dropped a couple of pieces into the beer – ala a slice of orange in Blue Moon – and found it brings the melon flavor forward – and I was left with beer–steeped melon for a snack!

Brew Free or Die IPA delivers its hoppy goodness at 70 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) and 7 percent alcohol. A staunch malt backbone supports its bold hops characteristics. Of course, you’ll pull out piney notes and citrus aromas and tastes – like any good IPA should deliver.

At two blocks from the San Francisco Giants ballpark, these first Georgia offerings from 21st Amendment hit home runs. I’m anxious to take a swing at the other labels.

A chilling development

“My” Publix supermarket at 12 Oaks is undergoing a substantial remodeling and hasn’t overlooked wine and beer consumers in the process. A new customer-operated wine chiller is tucked into an end cap on the wine aisle. Four different settings give your off–the–shelf wine purchase everything from a light chill to deep refrigeration in minutes.

And, I’m happy to learn that store management is investigating the addition of a prominent end cap display for a wider selection of craft beer. The cold case bulging with big house beers, so having a good craft beer selection should capture more shoppers – many of whom have turned to the growing craft beer selection at area Kroger stores.