Beer Wednesday: Bitter American by 21st Amendment

While in Napa last week we visited a fantastic bar-restaurant in downtown Napa called Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin' BBQ. (Quick aside: this place was awesome. The bbq was amazingly delicious, they had wine tastings, and they had a solid beer list. And it had a cool ambiance. Wish there were a bar like that near me.) One beer we tried was the Bitter American by 21st Amendment Brewery, based out of San Francisco. It caught me off guard because it was very good, which I was not expecting.

Both ratebeer and Beer Advocate refer to this beer style as a "bitter," but I find that patently ridiculous since that is exactly the same thing as a pale ale according to the BJCP guidelines and everyone uses the term pale ale. Plus it looks, acts, and tastes like a pale ale. So we are going with pale ale.

In fact, the name Bitter on the label is misleading. While there is some bitterness, I found this beer overwhelmingly smooth. Based on the named I expected to be making bitter beer face, but instead I was really impressed. Slightly fruity, slightly bitter hops give the beer a really nice crisp character as you first taste it. It's really flavorful and light bodied in the mid-palate, and then is very creamy on the finish. Didn't expect Bitter American to be creamy? Me neither.

My only other interaction with 21st Amendment Brewery is from their collaboration with Stone on the exceptional El Camino (un)Real Black Ale. Based on these two exemplary beers I have to try more of their beer. Apparently Bitter American is only 4.6% ABV (wow), and it cost me I think $5 for a pint at Bounty Hunter. I recommend it to all beer fans, it is very easy drinking and flavorful.


  1. Do you say "wow" because you expect a Bitter/Pale Ale to have a higher alcohol content?

    Also, in London, they have plenty of bitter beers and the three bars I went to had never heard of pale ales, IPAs or hops. Those things were bitter and not in a good way. The closest comparison I can make is McGarvey's Scottish Ale.

  2. I say wow because it tastes like a beer with higher alcohol content, because it has a full body and a lot of flavor. It is not as light as most beers in that ABV range.

    This beer does not fit the description you list. And the McGarvey's is an atrocity - I had it on a second, wholly unrelated occasion, and it still sucked. I would recommend you try the Bitter American because I'm curious to hear your take on it.