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Brew Free! Or Die IPA

By Andy Murphy
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Brew Free Or Die can detailIf IPA Monday is an excuse to try new hoppy beers, then I’ve certainly begun my week on a successful note. I’ve never had a beer from the 21st Amendment Brewery, but the San Francisco producer has a reputation for crafting fine beer.

In fact, 21st Amendment made headlines this year for brewing a “Twitter Beer” called Spring Tweet — like a Twitter stream, the beer is “unfiltered” and described by the brewmaster as “a little rough around the edges“. (The Twitter Headquarters are a short distance from the brewery.)

Cans of their craft beer have appeared on store shelves here in New England, so I scooped up their IPA called “Brew Free! Or Die”. Originally called simply, “21st Amendment IPA”, the brewery gave it a catchy new name to coincide with last year’s canned release.

The 21st Amendment website describes the IPA as the best selling beer at their pub:

Brewed with some serious west coast attitude. This aromatic golden IPA starts with a sucker punch of six different hops to the nose, quickly balanced by a solid malt back bone . . . this IPA starts big and finishes clean leaving you wanting more.

Popping the top on the can released an immediate wave of aromatic hops. I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t resist the urge to take a sip directly from the can. I’ll never get tired of tasting powerful beer in a can. It has a 70 IBU rating, and those strong hops were oh so tasty.

Brew Free! Or Die poured a hazy, pale, rusty gold. As the hop aroma seeped from the glass, sticky white foam piled up, as if futilely trying to lock in the scent. The towering head faded slowly, intricately lacing the glass as it receded. That aroma is resiny and piney, but also husky/grassy and a bit earthy. Sweet malt also manages to rise up to the nose, riding an piney coat tails.

Malt and hops play nicely together throughout the taste. Hops initially present as piney and slightly citrusy-tart, but the malt is quite sweet and slightly grainy. The beer has a medium body and is overall quite easy to drink, full of great IPA flavor and enticing hop aromas.

This is hands-down an above average IPA. I try not to officially “rate” beers on this site, but I’d give Brew Free! Or Die top marks for its rich and complex aroma. The beer has a very well-balanced taste, but the only remarkable taste element is the abundance of piney hops. I liked the taste, but when you combine the nuanced and robust aroma with a strong but easy-going taste, you get a very good IPA.

One more note before I leave you.

ipa-mondayWe’ve seen a few canned beers this year, but you may wonder what it takes for a brewpub or brewery to get into the canning business. The folks at 21st Amendment found the answer:

Building a canning facility from scratch is an expensive task. If we had to build our own canning facility, our beers would probably be in bottles. But once we decided we wanted cans, we were determined to make it work. We figured there must be some breweries in the Midwest who wouldn’t mind increasing the production on their canning lines, so we started looking. We found a fantastic partner in Cold Springs, MN who was willing to work with us to meet our unusually high standards for canned beer.

This is why the fine print on this California brewery’s can reads “Hand-crafted & Canned by 21st Amendment Brewery, Cold Springs, MN”.

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Categories : Beer a Day, IPA Monday

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