Bitter American | 21st Amendment Brewery

very good
356 Reviews
Bitter AmericanBitter American

Brewed by:
21st Amendment Brewery
California, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
This American session ale packs a lot of hop and malt flavor into a refreshingly lower-alcohol brew, making it the perfect beer to have on hand when you have a little history to make.

42 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-16-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 356 | Ratings: 1,264
Photo of Jesse13713
3.96/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance - Pours a brilliantly carbonated sunset orange. A huge frothy head presents itself in a creamy fashion. It tends to have problems lacing to the glass until it settles a bit more. Upon looking further, it has tints of caramel in it as well. The whipped froth begins to cling to the glass after a few drinks.

Smell - Smells a bit like an IPA. Slightly bitter with hints of banana chips. A slight citrusy pine with hints of malt. Sort of a light bread smell.

Taste - An oddly bitter pale ale that truly surprised me with it's taste. At first, you get a slight bitter hop-filled bite. But immediately after you are overcome by an extraordinarily strange taste that is hard to pinpoint. My first thoughts were that it was very watered down. But then I started to notice the more caramelized malts. I got hints of grapefruit and orange peel as well; especially in the aftertaste. All in all, a very smooth and clean beer.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability - Extremely light bodied. It comes off as a little too dry and I immediately wanted a glass of water. At the same time, this sort of reminds me of drinking Gatorade. Not because of taste at all, but because of the sodium in Gatorade; it just makes you thirstier and you immediately quench more Gatorade as soon as your glass hits the table. Same story here. As soon my last drink would settle, my brain would tell me drink more. Definitely easily drinkable in any fashion.

 1,428 characters

Photo of SirSketch
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

A - Big, big sticky head. Pale orange color.

S - Strong piney, resinous hops. Really nice malt profile brings aroma of fresh waffles.

T - Clean, toasty malt tastes 'darker' than the color suggests. Less hop in the flavor, but still assertive. Ends dry.

M/D - A little thin, though probably appropriate for a session beer. I would definitely pick this over Fat Tire for a picnic, round of golf, boat outing, or any other activity that calls for canned beer.

 459 characters

Photo of aerozeppl
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A: Really nice clear light copper color. Quite a bit of white head with some really impressive lacing.

S: The nose is of earthy and piney hops. Quite a bit of malt in the nose as well. One of the more pungent examples of the style I have had.

T: The bitterness comes across nicely without being overwhelming. The malt is crystal clear as well. Quite balanced.

M: A little on the thin side but for the ABV it is fine.

D: This would be a great summer beer. Wish it was available where I live. Quite a bit of taste and complexity for such a small beer.

 553 characters

Photo of Billolick
3.82/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz can with no freshness info available.

Pours clear, lighter amber, under a larger medium tan head. Thick collar, minor sheeting down low and moderate lace.

Biting citric nose, tangarines come to mind.

Hopped up ale, yet on the lighter side bodywise.

Caramel malts with more then some persistant hops. A bit watery in the mid section. Not bad, nothing special, decent session beer in a can, this stuff has its purpose....would work great at the beach, at a tail gate, music fest or for those days (rare no doubt) when you wanta have way more then one

 557 characters

Photo of beertunes
3.45/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in bubble pint glass. Poured a clean, clear golden amber color with 1/4 inch of off-white head that had medium retntion and lacing.

The aroma was a bit grainy and spicy for an IPA and had a medium hop presence in the nose. The tastes were about the same, a nice grain base, notable, but not overpowering, hops and a bit of spiciness.

The body was good, fairly typical for the style. Drinkability was very good, the beer went down smooth and easy and I could see having several.

Overall, a nice little brew. Try it when you see it.

 540 characters

Photo of chumba526
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appears clear orange like red in color with a slightly off white head.

It smells of nutty roasted malts, slightly sweet caramel malt, I also get a bit a grassy citrusy hop flavor to the beer as well.

It tastes initially of citrusy and grassy hops. I get a mild grapefruit and orange like flavor. There is a slightly pine like hop flavor as well. I then get a bold bread like and caramel like malt flavor. The beer ends with a nice bitter aftertaste. I had this on tap one time and was not that impressed but today trying it I am quite impressed.

There is a crisp mouthfeel with a medium high carbonation level.

This is a very drinkable ale that is easy to drink. I could drink this all day.

Overall a great low alcohol hoppy pale ale. Worth getting a six pack or two.

 773 characters

Photo of Mdog
4.01/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Clear amber, big head.

Smell: Mild citrus, dry.

Taste: Very big, very dry citrus. Like biting into and chewing on the pith. Not much else to balance it out.

Drinkability: Low ABV with lots of hops means this could be a good one to get the hop fix on.

This was really bitter and really dry, but that's not a bad thing. Reminded me somewhat of Bitter Brewer from Surly but without the orange flavors, just the big bitterness in a little beer.
Worth a try.

 469 characters

Photo of DrinkingDrake
4.37/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Comes out a clean golden yellow. A small amount of head but a good ring around the edges.

Smells resiny crisp. A slight pine twist. A very light malty body. Faint fresh bread slightly sweet.

A nice punch at first good little hop bite that finishes quick and leaves you with a clean very light malt finish. Crisp malty faintly bitter.

Extremely drinkable beer. Light body but great hop and malt characters. refreshing and smooth. If only the commercial breweries could think like this.

 488 characters

Photo of ShogoKawada
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bought a 6pk, ended up having a few of these last night. Poured a few pints into a Deschutes pint glass.

This pours a nice golden color with some orange tones. 2-finger head and some mild lacing, head settles out eventually.

Nose is pleasantly hoppy- zippy, fresh pine hops.

T- Substantial bitterness, although it quits after a few seconds. Pine sap, resiny... some floral hops. Pale and dry bready maltiness. Big blast of initial flavor that subsides in the finish.

M- Light, very quaffable. Nice hop snap. Good carbonation keeps it lively.

D- Very very high. Wow. I am diggin' this one... great flavors in a lower ABV beer. One I will for sure buy more of.

 664 characters

Photo of TheShaunsie
3.33/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a can into La Fin Du Monde Tulip

Appearance: Quite a beautiful copper-orange hue, with an ivory head. Thin, dainty lacing following the first sip. Looks like an enticing IPA or copper ale.

Smell: Perhaps the most admirable part of this brew. Picking up hop oil, slight pine, itty-bit of candied caramel, and after swirling several times, a bit of grapefruit and acidic citrus.

Taste: Somewhat akin to an English-Style Bitter. Hops are present, but only reveal their agenda in the finish, and it doesn't last quite as long as you think it should. You'd think by the color of the beer that it should have a bit more malt complexity, but surprisingly, there isn't much complexity to be found.

Mouthfeel: The aroma of hop oil doesn't translate to a smooth, coating mouth on the Bitter American. It feels light and skittish, never hanging around for long enough to make a decent lasting impression. Good carbonation, but it seems to dissipate any lingering flavor too quickly.

Drinkability: Despite most of the complaints, I will be finishing a few of these beers this fine, 35 degree MN evening. Perhaps it's the want of this brew to be bigger, better. Perhaps it's the tantalizing hop profile like a gal showing a bit more leg every time you cast your eyes her way. Or it could be the damned astronaut monkey on the label.

This would be a great substitute for a sporting event beer, simply because it has more character than some of the swill. They call it session beer, and rightly so. The 4.4% is perfect for exploring 3-4 cans in an evening, and it just might take you that long to really hunt down what this beer might have to offer.

 1,656 characters

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clean orange-ish to yellow color with a small off white head. In the aroma, small citrus and pine, with a big hop presence. In the taste, pine like hops and a small malt back, but kind of watery. A hop bite and a medium to light bodied mouthfeel, with a dry, small hop in the aftertaste. Quite nice, but thin and watery, dare I say too hoppy for a pale.

 361 characters

Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
3.94/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a Sam Smith pint. Pours clear straw with a two finger head, just a little lace. The smell is pretty nice and surprizingly hoppy. We have some citrus, bread, dirt and some grass. The taste follows the smell, leans toward citrusy. Goes down smooth, very smooth. Very dry finish.
Not a bad brew but super light. Reminds me of a tastier version of Anchor Brewing Co.'s Small Beer.

 400 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a huge 3 finger fluffy head that fades semi quickly with a touch of sticky lacing, over crystal clear orange auburn colored beer.

Nose of earthy, light floral, light pine, light citrus hops, just a touch of malt behind that.

Taste is lighter, crisp ale, some very light malts, with that decent bitterness, a slight bit of earthy, piny, and floral hops, touch of citrus fruit. A slight copper fruity flavor. The finish brings a slight more fresh bitter hop addition, and more fruit, with a crisp ale finish.

Mouth is med bodied with decent carbonation.

Drink is good, pretty crisp and light, sessionable, a bit of bittering hops but not too bitter. Decent dry finish.

 677 characters

Photo of metter98
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is crystal clear light amber in color and has a very light amount of visible carbonation. It poured into a pint glass with a finger high foamy off white head that quickly died down but consistently left a thin head covering the surface.
S: There are moderate aromas of citrus and pine resin hops in the nose.
T: Staying true to its name, the beer has a strong dose of bitterness in the taste along with flavors of grapefruit and some hints of the underlying malts.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a light amount of carbonation. There is some dryness in the finish.
D: The beer is very easy to drink and goes down smoothly; the low alcohol content makes this particularly suitable for being a session ale.

 742 characters

Photo of Jayli
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This beer pours a beautiful, crystal, clear golden color with a two finger of white, rocky, foamy head. Head retains nicely and leaves loads of sticky lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is a big dose of floral hops, minor citrus, and a bit of biscuit.

T: Taste starts with a healthy floral hop dose. A hint of... cannibis? Huh, yup - definitely. Biscuity notes and pale malts fill the middle. Finish has a nice citrusy, grapefruit bite.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation, crisp, clean body.

D: Goes down easily, pretty tasty, not too filling, not much of a kick, decent representation of style. This is definitely a beer to sit with for an evening.

 651 characters

Photo of kevinv
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12oz can into a pint glass

A - Pours a clear orange/brass color with a thick 2-finger white head which retains nicely. Decent lacing down the glass.

S - Big citrusy and piney hops. Beautiful scents of grapefruit and orange. Slight sweetness undertones.

T - Notes of grapefruit and orange - pretty close to the smell. Great hop flavor that leaves a slight oily coating. This beer has a very balanced bitterness.

M - Light/medium mouthfeel. Good amounts of carbonation.

D - Super drinkable. This truly is a great tasting beer. The low ABV allows this beer to be very "sessionable" and makes it easy to put a few back. Pleasantly surprised with this one.

 658 characters

Photo of Jason
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz can with no freshness date.

Clear pale brassy color, sudsy topping ... looks like a beer! ;-) Fruity and floral hop nose with a hint of biscuit and caramel malt. Crispness over smoothness, moderate dry-ish body. Semi-pungent hop flavor lends a heavy hand of bitterness; oily, minty, orange peel, leafy / bark, sage. Dry malt character pushes through the hops a bit with bone dry biscuit flavors. Vaguely fruity and the alcohol is tame obviously.

Well within the definition of the American session beer, pretty bold with the hops ... this beer really is starting to grow on me, sadly this 12oz can is not even close to what I would want right now.

 653 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

B+ / 3.9
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | drink: 4
rDev: 0%

21st Amendment, The Bitter American

Pours a rich gold color with a soapy head and lots of lacing going down the glass.

Aroma is rather hoppy, with some floral notes.

Taste is actually quite bitter. Noble hop flavor giving off a leafy, hoppy bitterness. The bite is actually drying, and the beer is decently balanced, leaning towards the bitter side but no real citrus notes from the hops, just bitterness.

Mouthfeel is prickly, medium bodied. Drinkability is good too. Really liked this one from 21st Amendment, would certainly have it again.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 08-13-2010 18:19:45

 678 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.62/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Rustico a few weeks back.

Pours a nice golden apricot that was fairly light. Nice white head and some lacing as it went down. Smell is really nice strong citrus hops coming over just a tiny bit of underlying malt sweetness. Taste is similar and blew me away for a bitter. Incredible how much flavor has been packed into this uber-sessionable beer. Super hop flavor without too much accompanying bitterness. Mouthfeel really hits the spot in this regard, as there's enough bitterness--and perhaps a bit more--than is needed to counteract the sweetness, and the hop flavors really jump out. This is one exceedingly drinkable brew. Hoppy, sessionable beers are right up among my favorites, and this one is near the top.

 727 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass at Paradiso.

Even the tap handle was a can. Nice. It pours a clear straw topped by over a finger of white foam. The nose comprises citrus hops (heavy on the grapefruit), stinky flowers (now, that's what my notes say, and I think I can explain: you know those stenchblossoms that show up every now and again? Smells like those, a combination of sweet petals and death...something like that...), and a very light caramel. The taste consists of a mostly floral, only partially citrus-y bitterness mixed with a light, sweet toffee. The body is light, with a heavy-moderate carbonation and a crisp finish. Overall, a nice bitter, easy to drink and definitionally sessionable.

 694 characters

Photo of sonata2008
4.24/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A: A straw color tap. A medium, short lasting head.
S: Fruity floral, citrus hops aroma. No malt to speak of.
T: Initial bitterness, followed by a floral taste. There is a little lingering bitterness left on the palate afterwards.
M: Thin, but with lots of carbonation.
D: Very tasty and refreshing + low alcohol. Great.

This makes a wonderful session beer. I would not have guessed that it was only at 3.6% ABV.

 413 characters

Photo of rfgetz
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clean and clear reddish orange with a small cap of white foam. Scent is of grapefruit, touch of pine and a faint scent of musty grain. Taste brings a fairly aggressive and only mildly bitter touch of grapefruit and piney hops, the backbone is of musty and pale malts. Lighter side of medium bodied, slightly overly carbonated, not lingering tastes, crisp. The taste and scent leans more towards IPA than bitter, in my opinion and makes for a great low ABV alternative.

 476 characters

Photo of Gavage
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: orange in color with a 1/2" head that breaks apart quickly. Some nice lace spots show up on the glass.

Smell: light citrus and some mild hop aroma are pleasant on the nose.

Taste: caramel, light orange citrus, and some decent hop bitterness provides a nice flavored beer for a very low alcohol level.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied but a bit thin. Crisp throughout. Short aftertaste.

Drinkability: this is one of the more flavorful lower alcohol beers I have had. One can quaff this all night long.

 508 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.03/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Is this a bitter or an IPA? The bar where I had it seemed to think the latter. I'm not so sure myself.

Didn't pour with much head, but packed some surprising fizz. Bland, clean, light-copper color.

Wet metal and hop aroma. Mildly malty sweetness in the nose and palate. Could swear I was getting a good bit of rye in the flavor as well.

The jury is out as to how honest the attempt was to brew this is to style. Naturally, there'll be a spin on it. It does maintain a feel and body somewhere in the neighborhood of a British ale. I didn't, however, encounter any bitters nearly as hoppy in the UK. Even by British IPA standards, the hops are a little much from start to finish, which I believe foiled the effort.

Just a strange (off-)balance of bold (dry-)hopping covering up (what might actually be) a (enjoyably) mild taste that slides off into a ghostly finish (the low ABV is certainly noticeable, and true to style)... Queer brew. Didn't offend, but sure didn't impress.

 980 characters

Photo of BrewerB
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at 21A on multiple occasions and it's easily one of my top 5 session beers. You'll see some negative reviews on here but I suspect they can't appreciate the nuances of an english bitter. It won't knock you over the head like a DIPA, people!!

The beer poured a clear amberish-orange color with an off-white head a nice retention. Aromas included floral/citrus hops and a little bit of biscuit. Yeast character seemed quite neutral (hence the Bitter "American" and not "English" Bitter). Easy to drink, loaded with hop flavor and a nice balanced bitterness. Medium-light bodied, medium-carbonation. Highly sessionable, easy-drinking beer. Pop in for lunch, at 3.6% ABV, the coworkers will never know :)

 718 characters

Bitter American from 21st Amendment Brewery
3.9 out of 5 based on 1,264 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.