21st Amendment Brewery Wants to “Funk Up” Your Summer

The 21st Amendment Brewery has transformed their summertime favorite Hell or High Watermelon wheat beer into a mind blowing, shake your booty beauty named Watermelon Funk. This super limited edition Insurrection Series beer is brewed with 100% fresh watermelon puree, kettle soured with lactobacillus for bright, tart, citrus notes, and finishes with the spicy farmhouse aroma of its French Saison yeast strain.

First brewed as a homebrew recipe by 21A co-founder Nico Freccia in the basement of his San Francisco apartment, and later scaled up by 21A Brewmaster and co-founder Shaun O’Sullivan at the pair’s 12-BBL San Francisco brewpub, Hell or High Watermelon wheat was born and the rest is history.

But not everyone bought into the concept at first. O’Sullivan recalls having a conversation back in 2004 with Dave Keene, owner of the iconic San Francisco craft beer bar the “Toronado” who was reluctant to put Hell or High Watermelon wheat on draft. Vinnie Cilurzo, co-founder of Russian River Brewing was having beers there as well and shouted out “Let’s Funk it up!” So O’Sullivan took 60 gallons of fresh watermelon beer up to Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa where it was put in a chardonnay barrel and inoculated with brettanomyces, pediococcus and lactobacillus and left to mature, sour and funkify in the barrel for a year. It then spent another year and half aging in kegs before it was released and finally poured at that iconic beer bar.

Flash forward many years and O’Sullivan wanted to resurrect the essence of Watermelon Funk without having to wait two years to drink it. His solution was to “kettle sour” the beer and then ferment it with a saison yeast strain imparting a tart, slightly acidic mouthfeel with syncopated sweet notes and downbeat aromas.

“The process of kettle souring is where we add lactobacillus bacteria to the kettle, allowing it to grow and consume sugar, producing lactic and acetic acids that are responsible for souring the beer. We then halt that process by boiling the wort in the kettle and then ferment it with a special farmhouse yeast strain”, O’Sullivan explains.

Watermelon Funk marks the first Insurrection Series beer of the year for 21st Amendment Brewery. In 2017, they opted to unleash their brewers’ creativity and roll out brand new, never-before-seen-or-brewed beers for this series. “Insurrection is the act of rising in revolt, rebellion or resistance,” says Freccia. “Kind of our rallying cry when we released our first Insurrection Series beer in 2009. Back then drinking craft beer in cans was a strange and out-of-the-box idea and this was our way to rise up against the cheap, flavorless canned beer that had come before. Today, our Insurrection Series allows us to push the limits of our brewery, to introduce new beers that celebrate our creative spirit and offer a taste of something new, rare and exciting.”

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