WASHINGTON, July 30, 2015 –Much like last week’s review of Yards Pynk, ‘Drink Now ‘continues with a beer that is perfect for summertime drinking, the second incarnation of a beer from 21st Amendment that was on the leading edge of full-flavored lower alcohol craft beers nearly ten years ago.
A significant majority of all beer produced is intended to be consumed as close to production as possible. These reviews will almost always focus on beers that are relatively widely available for at least a season at a time, if not longer.
Down to Earth meets both of these criteria and is available year-round, thereby assuring absolutely no need to sit on this beer any longer than necessary.
Availability: Year-round; AK, CA, DC, GA, ID, IL, MA, MN, MD, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, VA, WA
Serving size: 12 oz. can
Price: approx. $10-$12/six-pack
Style: Session IPA
Alcohol (ABV): 4.4%
What makes this beer stand out on the shelves: Apart from the smiling chimp prominently featured on the can, Down To Earth (DtE) stands out as a leading west coast session IPA and one of the earliest. For those of you new to the conversation, “session” is used to connote a lower-alcohol beer – almost always below 5% ABV, but to many purists, below 4.5% or even 4%.
The 21A brewery launched this beer originally in 2006 as Bitter American to rave reviews. Personally, I drank this beer both at their pub and at a cask festival where it was served at 3.9% ABV. They nailed the profile, which I remarked at the time was an incredible feat of both aroma and taste at such a low alcohol level. It was bumped up to 4.4% in 2011 and produced/distributed from its contract brewing partner, Cold Spring, in Minnesota.
Why you drink this beer now: Bitter American’s recipe was tweaked just a bit in the malt profile and in the mix of bittering and flavoring hops to produce Down To Earth. Much like its predecessor, dare I paraphrase, DtE has a great taste and doesn’t fill you up. The deft balancing of sweet malt, citrus hop flavor, and slight earthy aroma makes it perfect for a beach break, post yard work (or during, if no power equipment is involved!), relaxing front porch sittin’, or on the summer picnic table with grilled meats, pizza, or steamed clams.
What else you should know about this beer and brewery: As the brewery’s brand-new, 100-barrel German brewhouse in San Leandro, Calif. is slowly brought up to full capacity, production of Down To Earth and its can packaged brethren will be balanced between Minnesota and San Leandro as needed.
The 21A’s new facility was opened in June 2015 just as the original downtown San Francisco brewpub is preparing to celebrate its 15th anniversary in August. In fact, the new San Leandro location will be throwing its own party – a grand opening – also in August where it will debut a collaboration Belgian Tripel with its brewing neighbors Drakes Brewing and Cleophus Quealy Beer Company.
Quotable from the brewery: from Ted Whitney, national sales director at 21st Amendment:
“Big flavor doesn’t need to go hand in hand with big ABVs. It seems like that was the secret of people who work in beer for years. All of us sought out beers we could drink 3 or 4 or more of and still keep our wits about us. Now, I think the rest of craft beer enthusiasts are starting to catch on. The good news is that we’re all getting better at making these reasonable ABV and intense malt and hop flavor expressions.
I drink Down to Earth after a long day, after the kids are down, after dinner is cooked and served. That’s when I really want to enjoy a beer and a few good songs, a conversation with my wife while we watch the sun set. Maintaining balance in my life is difficult enough. Down To Earth helps keep me grounded in what I’ve got to do and what I want to enjoy.”
Quotable from the barstool: from Derrick Peterman of Santa Clara County, Calif. and the rambler behind Ramblings of a Beer Runner:
“I noticed a lot of great tropical aromas when I opened the can. It’s got a grassy undertone and flavors of mango and grapefruit peel that threaten to overwhelm the malt, but don’t quite do so. I’m going to miss Bitter American if it’s gone for good. As for “Down To Earth”, let’s just say I’m a fan.”
If you have tasted this beer, please weigh in with your own comments below. If you know of a beer that should be profiled here, likewise let me know.
About the writer: Bryan Kolesar has been on the trail of great beer for over twenty years and writing about it for more than ten. In 2015, his “Beer Lover’s Mid-Atlantic” book was released and in a mere 416 pages covered the diverse beer scene of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.