21st Amendment Brewery | Brew Free! Or Die Blood Orange IPA
Photo courtesy of 21st Amendment Brewery
The new, ultra-refreshing spin on the original Brew Free! or Die IPA has arrived this March like a full-flavored lion pouncing on its beer-drinking prey. The brewery that made watermelon beer famous has gone the citrusy IPA route with its new year-round offering — real blood oranges and plenty of hops.
Building on the original West Coast IPA, Brew Free! or Die, the 21st Amendment Brewery blood orange version contains all the vibrancy and freshness of a beer cocktail, but the beer’s malt backbone prevents it from straying too far from its true-brew identity. It’s a beer, but an exceptionally invigorating one. The Brew Free! or Die Blood Orange IPA provides the added zing of refreshing orange citrus thanks to the infusion of real blood orange puree, which accompanies the familiar IPA bitterness imparted by two pounds per barrel of dry hops comprised of Citra, Mosaic and Chinook.
Including real fruit into a beer is nothing new for 21st Amendment. Most are familiar with its Hell or High Watermelon Wheat summer seasonal beer. So, one wonders what inspired them to concoct another fruity beer.
Nico Freccia, 21st Amendment co-founder commented:
We had resisted coming out with another fruit beer for a while now, but the fact is, we helped pioneer this style when we first started brewing Hell or High Watermelon Wheat almost 17 years ago at our San Francisco brewpub, and we do it really well. We ultimately decided to have a little fun with our flagship IPA because we knew we could do it right.
In the view of this writer, 21st Amendment succeeded with the recipe for Brew Free! or Die Blood Orange IPA. It’s not often these days that a beer inspires a double take, but one sip of this beer quickly turned into a gulp, and then a chug. Brew Free! Blood Orange sits 180 degrees removed from all the barrel-aged robust dark beers — this is a thirst quencher. The hoppy bitterness arrives with each sip, and the oranges do not hide the hoppy aromatics because 21st Amendment added 30 pounds of Citra Hops into the whirlpool (after the boil). Hence, there’s a true West Coast nature, but there’s also plenty of hops flavor and aromatics that remind one of a Colorado or New England IPA. Nevertheless, the hops play second fiddle to the blood orange flavor that evokes daydreams filled with hammocks and sand between one’s toes. In the end, 21st Amendment Brewery Brew Free! or Die Blood Orange IPA is tart, juicy, citrusy, bitter, and enjoys malt (and a little fruit) sweetness.
Shaun O’Sullivan, 21st Amendment brewmaster and co-founder explained:
“We’ve been developing this recipe for almost a year. Blood oranges were a totally new ingredient for us, and it was a lot of fun to play around with different approaches of where to add it into the process, and how much. We want craft beer drinkers to understand that while this is a new and totally different beer, it has a great lineage, but when you crack open that can and get that first whiff of blood orange and hops… Oh man, it’s a thing of beauty.
While admittedly finding it impossible to sip this beer, the 7% ABV should inspire drinkers to drink the beer somewhat slowly. Not a bad idea, either, because this is a nice beer to savor.