Fruit and beer have an uneasy relationship, much like Gators fans and Florida sucking. Yet here we are, in 2012, and just as I'm watching this unsteady SEC power flail against some team called Bowling Green, I'm also enjoying the seasonal release Hell or High Watermelon by the San Francisco brewery 21st Amendment. Some poor kicker shanked a field goal, then Gators players started jawing at him, as if they weren't favored by 48 points going into their opener at the Swamp. Then, Florida fumbles to end the third. The Gators suck. By contrast, for some reason, this watermelon beer is pretty good.
For starters, this brew starts with one of the tastier fruits, the watermelon. It's crisp, and you must be kidding me - that was the most untimely interception of the season so far, not that that's saying much. If Bowling Green is going to pull this one out, even against the worst Florida team since last year's Florida team, you can't just hand the ball back. Anyway, most watermelon-flavored concoctions are the product of lab-reared flavorings, but this actually tastes like someone sacrificed real melons on the way to not overdoing it. Oh, and touchdown Florida, because you can't just throw away the ball like you're back in the damn MAC. Jesus.
Other breweries pollute their unsuspecting brews with the thundering flavors of apricot or raspberry or cherries. While this can be accomplished without literally poisoning people, it often winds up strangling the beer drinker who wants to give a fruit beer a chance. Watermelon actually works as a starting point, because the beer that fruits least generally fruits best. But you can't always Mickey Mouse around. With 10 minutes left in the game, down by 10, you figure it'd take a miracle for the Falcons to pull this out. When you attack the king, you can't throw fourth-quarter picks. The Gators tack on a field goal? Game over. Another round, please.
This place serves the pint with a slice of watermelon on the rim of the glass, and the bartender insists we all take the tour of the 21st Amendment brewery. Take the tour, hit a Giants game - good way to spend a little piece of the summer. Maybe that's why this wheat beer holds up: It's a summer trip on its own, subtle but unmistakable, just like a stupid draw play on 4th and 3. A couple of malts, 17 little IBUs, and what you have is a hot-weather beer tasting of hot-weather fruit. How little time we have left to enjoy it! Already September - where did the summer go, after all? College football's back, but what of it, if the autumn draws upon us so soon once again, another season to mark our inexorable slide toward the grave. Much as Bowling Green can scarcely now cover a punt, none of us is truly in control of our destiny.
Florida survives today. Hell or High Watermelon triumphs likewise. Sweet beer rarely tastes so tolerable.