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Watermelon Funk is Funkadelic

During last weekend’s bus trip to Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, Vinnie brought out a couple of pitchers from the barrel of his collaboration with 21st Amendment that’s been sitting in wood for a year now. Essentially as an experiment, Shaun O’Sullivan gave some of his Watermelon Wheat to Vinnie Cilurzo who put it in old pinot noir barrels and spiked it with Brettanomyces. According to Vinnie, who’s been tasting it every couple of months, it’s been a roller coaster of ups and downs, flavor-wise. But both he and Shaun believe, after a good year, that it will very shortly be ready to unleash on the world. There are only about 50 or so gallons and it will be available only at 21st Amendment and Russian River, and possibly at the Toronado. (As of Saturday Dave Keene had not yet tasted it to give his approval for carrying the beer.) Also, five gallons were sent to Boston, I think for Beer Advocate’s Belgian Beer Festival that starts on Friday. So there are only three, maybe four, places where you can try this beer, and not much at any single place. So needless to say, as a great fan of sour beers, I was thrilled to get a chance to sample it.

It was a little cloudy with a dull golden color and a thick white head. It had sharp, fruity estery aromas though not too pronounced with some of the signature “horse blanket” aromas coming through. Delightfully sour flavors and chewy, with a strong candied sweet-tart puckered essence. At the end, the mouthfeel became very juice-like — or à la Jolly Rancher — and this was the only place that the fruit was identifiable as watermelon as it washed down the back of the throat. Overall, a very complex, sour beer. There’s an awful lot going on in this beer. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I quite enjoyed it and hope they’ll do it again soon.


The Watermelon Funk, a collaborative concoction.

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