Welcome back! Once again, I’m drinking beer and I’m doing stuff! But this time, it’s a little bit different.
One of my favorite summertime beers is Hell or High Watermelon from 21st Amendment Brewery. But recently, they came out with a new spin on this wheat ale: a sour called Watermelon Funk. I’ve been wanting to do an article on Hell of High Watermelon for a while, but once I got my hands on both, I decided a comparison might be more interesting. As for the stuff…there’s nothing like a good game of Mario Kart when it’s too hot outside. Especially when you have a kid that thinks he’s faster than you.
I’m getting two things done this time around: comparing two renowned beers and showing my son who’s boss….at…Mario Kart…
The Beers: Like I said before, this time around, I’m doing two similar but different beers.
IN THIS CORNER:
From 21st Amendment brewery…a wheat ale with Magnum hops…weighing in at 4.9% ABV…she is…HELL OR HIGH WATERMELON!
AND IN THIS CORNER!:
Also from 21st Amendment Brewery…A sour ale fermented with French Saison yeast…weighing in at 6.7% ABV…her name is…WATERMELON FUNK!
Of course they’re both women. Why wouldn’t they be?
The Stuff: Mario Kart 8 (Nintendo Switch)
My son is 6 years old and refuses to believe I know anything about “cool stuff.” Even though I’ve played video games around him his whole life, now that he has them, he truly thinks that he discovered Nintendo and I have no idea what I’m doing. So when I beat him, he’s downright confused. At least once a week, he challenges my wife and I, and he can’t figure out how we, at the ripe old age of our late 20’s and early 30’s, manage to destroy him every time. So I figured I’d get a bunch of things done at one time: Drink beer for my article and humble my child.
And before you ask, the answer is no, I do not let my son win. Ever. Neither does his mom. We’re a gamer couple raising a gamer child, and in this house, you EARN your victories! Let’s be honest, getting owned by his dad is going to be a walk in the park compared to what he’ll experience when he’s finally allowed to play online one day.
I’m going to do this a little differently this time. Since I’m doing two beers, I’m going to do a head to head comparison while describing the process of schooling my kid in Mario Kart. Without further ado, let the fight begin!
I’ve had Hell or High Watermelon before and I’m a huge fan of how forward the watermelon taste is. Since Watermelon Funk is based on it, I expected the same type of distinct flavor. I was very surprised…it didn’t. The Funk (which I’m calling it from now on) was flavorful, but the fruit flavor was faint. High (not as clever, but still) catches you with watermelon on the front and the back end. Funk has a hint of flavor, then goes straight to sour. That’s good for some people, but there are too many flavorful sours on the market to excuse this.
As for Mario Kart, I picked the first course, and I went with Leaf Cup. Technically, I have a bit of an advantage because these are all courses from old MK games that I’ve already played. It’s not my fault he’s 6 and he doesn’t believe me when I say that Mario Kart is older than him. You can guess how it went. I swept him. And my wife. Life is good. I’m an awesome dad. And I’m drinking two beers. I’m living the dream. Why is everyone giving me dirty looks?
ROUND 1 WINNER: Hell or High Watermelon…and ME
ROUND 2: High is really good at being a laid-back beer. It’s really easy to drink. It’s refreshing and relaxing. Seriously, I don’t get how people chug IPAs when it’s 101 degrees outside. High is perfect for the beach, or the mountains or…laying around the house in shorts and a dirty t-shirt. I don’t judge.
That being said, I don’t know that the laid back taste is an asset in this particular setting. The watermelon taste is good, but the hop notes are hard to find. It’s not as flavorful through as I’d like it to be, and I guess in the past I didn’t really notice because I wasn’t having it alongside something as in-your-face as Funk.
Funk is not as pronounced on the watermelon, but it’s a sour through and through. It’s tart and unashamed about it. But to describe it accurately, I need to tell you a story.
Personally, I feel like sours are the new IPAs and that presents a problem. 5 to 10 years ago, people started to make IPAs by dumping as many hops as possible into the boil until the end result was something that ripped the enamel off of your teeth like concentrated Coca-Cola. Sours are in danger of going down that road. There are going to be plenty of brewers that will trade taste for tartness and that is not a good look. I hope that isn’t what the industry trends towards, but history says that it’s very likely.
But I digress.
Funk doesn’t commit any of those crimes. It’s the right amount of tart. It lets you know you’re drinking a sour, but it doesn’t throw it in your face. Not as refreshing as High, but distinct and relaxing, still.
We’re doing another Grand Prix. The boy is getting smarter. He picks the Bell Cup, where the first race is Bowser City. He’s watched me play Mario Kart 7 on 3DS and he remembered that it’s my least favorite course.
I come in fourth place after accidentally flying directly into a sign and getting stuck. That (plus being two beers in) means I never recover. His mom wins the Grand Prix. He’s still far behind, but he’s learning how to beat me. He’s…adapting. They grow up so fast.
I must destroy him.
ROUND 2 WINNER: Watermelon Funk…and MOM
ROUND 3: This is it. This is what separates the men from the boys. The weak from the strong. The sweet from the stanky.
Hell or High Watermelon is neat and clean. The finish is crisp. It’s like driving a Tesla on freshly paved roads. It’s graceful.
Watermelon Funk is alarmingly tangy on the back end. The aftertaste is complicated for no reason. It’s like riding in the back of an ’81 Buick with no seatbelts on a gravel road. It’s painful.
Even if you really like sours, this is going to be a difficult one to tolerate. The flavorful middle isn’t enough to make up for the bitterness on the back side. I get what they’re going for, but in my opinion, it misses the mark.
By this time, I’ve had two of each beer and my dexterity is starting to show signs of wearing down. I didn’t even bother trying to get any pictures. The kid caught up and managed to get third place…but I was in second place. One day, he’ll catch on that he’s not ready to take on daddy yet.
His mom took first place…but she’s not writing this article and I’m not gonna talk about it in detail.
WINNER: Hell or High Watermelon