21st Amendment Brew Free Or Die Hazy IPA

21st Amendment Brew Free Or Die Hazy IPA

John ShearlockJul 22, '23
January 17 1920 was a dark day in US history. It was the day on which the 18th Amendment - which prohibited the "manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors..." went into effect and the country effectively went dry! Yes, this was the beginning of Prohibition and it lasted for a whopping 13 years.

Eek - can you imagine it?!!!

The amendment didn’t actually ban the consumption of alcohol and so there were loopholes that people exploited to make the odd drink viable. That said, it pushed everything underground, tarnished the drinks industry and made everyday citizens into outlaws.

It also decimated the “local” drinks industry. Take San Francisco for example, where today’s beer hails from. At the turn of the 1900s, there were as many as 40 breweries operating just within the city limits. By the end of prohibition they were mostly gone.

The US finally came to its senses in 1933 with the passing of the 21st Amendment, which repealed federal prohibition. Beer slowly returned, but the brewing landscape that appeared afterwards was very much a different one, consisting mostly of large brewing corporations.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that things began to change, but the beginning of what might be called the modern brewing phase really only began to take shape in the 1990s.

Which is when Nico Freccia and Shaun O'Sullivan met in San Francisco, having been called there by beer, and began sowing the seeds for a local brewpub. They finally opened the doors to their first venture in San Francisco’s historic South Park neighbourhood in 2000, and rather aptly they named it the 21st Amendment Brewery, a name that extolls the freedom to brew and the essence of neighbourhood and local society. Amen to that…

Let’s taste their Brew free of Die Hazy IPA - which is also rather aptly named!

Pours a lightly hazy pale gold with a decent firm white head. The nose is superbly ripe with citrus and apricot notes and is evidently well hopped, but sticking with fruits and pine, and keeping well away from the realms of the dank. The hops are more evident on the palate, as you might have guessed from the colour which doesn’t shout malt, but again this is fruity, clean and sumptuously bitter all at once. This may be hazy, but it sits nicely somewhere between a West Coast and East Coast style - juicy, but firmly hopped nonetheless.

It would be interesting to know just how much the 100 or so years of history leading to this beer’s creation has helped shape it. Sometimes you have to lose something to discover it’s worth and then refocus one’s energy.

In New Zealand we dodged prohibition by a whisker. The majority of the country (56%) actually voted for it in a referendum in 1911, but the bar for acceptance was luckily set at 60%. How would our beer industry look right now if it had happened I wonder? Impossible to know really, but an interesting question to ponder. Perhaps one for another blog…