Beer Review – 21st Amendment Lower De Boom

I’ve learned a great deal from my children – especially my daughters.  At 6 and 8 they are virtuosos at the finer art art of changing their minds.  At my age (which will be the subject of a separate post in the not too distant future) the simple inertia of decades of synaptic struggles doesn’t allow for lightning quick shifts in the direction of thought or decisions already made.  During those 4+ years when I wasn’t writing because I was being Natty Lightboarded I decided that I wasn’t going to write craft beer reviews if and when I started writing again.  My enabler and craft beer wingman G-Lo of Its Just The Booze Dancing kept urging me to post reviews – to copy some from my archives on RateBeer – but I’d made up my mind.  No beer reviews.  Not interested.  Plenty of great reviewers out there and some of them even know what wet horse blankets and freshly filed Indian Ocean cuttlebone taste like.  At least they say they do.  I don’t know.  I’ve always had a very hard time distinguishing between Indian Ocean and Bellighausen Sea cuttlebones.  That’s why I leave the serious reviews to the experts.  Then I read a review of Coronado Idiot IPA that left me wondering if it was written by the brew’s namesake.  One line in particular caught my attention: “…with serpentine and velvety layers of rich, dark fruits that ascend to vinousness.” Um, OK…. What the f*ck does that even mean!?

Suddenly the lessons of my daughters came to mind.  If they can change their minds at the drop of a Baby Alive curling iron, so can I.  So I’ll occasionally dabble in craft beer reviews (already posted a soft opening of sorts with reviews of Black Crown and New Albion Ale) but they won’t be quite as traditional as the ones you might find elsewhere.  I have to keep myself entertained after all.

No mirrors were harmed in the staging of this picture.  Honest

No mirrors were harmed in the staging of this picture. Honest

So I’m meticulously negotiating the ample grocery aisles at Wegmans sourcing ingredients for my Schlomo Kameamea’s Kamikaze Sliders when I lost my way.  Somewhere between the miniature King’s Hawaiian rolls and the Golden Frozen Latkes I found myself in the craft beer section.  Still not sure how I got there.  Never did find any bruises.  My handlers apparently don’t leave marks.  In any event, next thing I know I’m inspecting a previously unseen and unusually small cube of cans from 21st Amendment Brewery.

Full disclosure: I’m not a huge barleywine fan.  I often find them just a bit too intense and burdened.  Screaming for attention like the drama queens of craft beer.  Stone’s Old Guardian and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot are exceptions.  Lower De Boom intrigued me for a couple of reasons.  21st Amendment claims this to be an intensely hoppy brew – unique for a barleywine.  In fact, they’re description is decidedly anti-barleywine:

Lower De Boom is a powerfully balanced American-Style barleywine packed with citrusy Pacific Northwest hops. Chestnut brown in the glass with notes of toffee malt, fruitcake, toast, piney hops and more than a hint of alcohol. Our liquid gold is the first American craft beer in a can offered in the traditional barleywine “nip” size. Perfect to enjoy sipped at the end of a long day. More than that and you might feel like the boom has been lowered on you.

The second thing that intrigued me was the size of the cans.  Not sure what they mean by traditional “nip” size cans.  They’re far from traditional.  Look like they belong in the Wawa cooler next to Starbucks Double Shot cans – though they’d deliver a decidedly different buzz.  I know – I know – get on with the review.  Fine,  Sort of.

Here are a few things Lower De Boom didn’t remind me of:

  • Ton Loc
  • Reruns of either the first or second seasons of Miami Vice
  • Bobble head doll collections (especially dogs)
  • Barleywine

OK, so one of these things is not like the others but the list is still accurate.  Lower De Boom doesn’t taste like any barleywine I’ve had but looks like plenty of them once freed of the nifty little cylinders.  Clear walnut/chestnut brown with mild carbonation supporting a very thin dusky tan head which disappears as quickly as a Salman Rushdie impersonator rounding the corner towards a flash fatwa.  Bold citrusy, piney, grapefruit aromas along with caramel and a hint of white pepper.  Things get a little weird in he flavor – but not in a bad way.  Hops still there.  Chewy, resiny, piney hops take the first few swipes before getting steamrolled by a Mavericks-like breaker of rich, sweet  roasted barley.  Caramel, toffee, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate and some snack fruits (Turkish apricots or figs – take your pick – I couldn’t figure it out).  I thought the texture was a bit thin for a barleywine but that improved the overall drinkability.  Despite the 11.5% ABV I didn’t get a big, boozy punch of alcohol in the finish.  A hint of warming perhaps.  Otherwise the finish is smooth, satisfying, and far less sweet than expected.  No vinousness, vinousing, vinophilia, or Venus and Mars anywhere to be found (all due respect to Paul McCartney & Wings’ greatly underrated album).

Bottom line is that Lower De Boom is an interesting and well-crafted brew.  For me it’s more of an American Strong than a Barleywine but my name’s not on the svelt little can so 21st Amendment can call it whatever they like.  They’ve earned that and more.

Have you raised a Lower De Boom? If so chime in and let me know what you thought.



11 thoughts on “Beer Review – 21st Amendment Lower De Boom

  1. I haven’t had one of these yet but I keep reading about them and how enjoyable they are. I generally like 21st Amendment – Hell of High Watermelon excused – so I imagine this might be up my alley.

    … and as always, wonderful pic! I hope you had some friends help you out with those other two cans. (I kid)

    • I have to say that Hell or High Watermelon is actually one of my go to summer craft beers. It’s well beyond my normal favorite craft beer profile but it just works. Crisp, refreshing and perfect for a hot day of grilling or watching Little League Baseball (not that I’d bring real beer to an amateur stadium of course). Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche is another summer standard.

      They’re small cans – really small – so I needed a couple for a proper review (but I managed to hide one away for my wingman.

      Thanks for the pop in – glad the pic didn’t make you dizzy.


  2. Hang on. I’m assuming that you were shopping at your favorite Wegman’s, i.e. the one in that horrific shopping center plaza that once held a a horse racing track. Have I mentioned how much I hate navigating that nightmare of a parking lot? I think it was designed by 10 different developers at the same time. Oh wait! It WAS designed by 10 different developers at the same time that were simultaneously trying to piss each other off. Anyway….

    You say you bought this beer in the Craft Beer section of the aforementioned Wegman’s? Were you shopping while intoxicated, cause from what I remember, the Craft Beer section is not in the supermarket, but across that horrific parking lot in a separate structure. Or perhaps you were sucked in to the Craft Beer portal while trying to avoid the cheese section. Stranger things have happened I suppose. Even to you.

    As far as the actual beer, I too am Barleywine averse as a general rule, and yet I too enjoy the Bigfoot (fresh, not aged). As described by you, this sounds like a beer that I need to try. I shall keep an eye out for it!

    As always, an engaging and yet perplexing read. Well done!


    • What is they say about assumptions? Look what they did to the economy in relation to home values and AAA rated mezzanine synthetic collateral debt obligations. All sorts of horrific things result from poor assumptions. In this case, you were off by a few municipalities. The liquor section in the Moorestown Wegmans is a seperate “store within a store” thanks to the byzantine liquor license regulation in our fair state. And as for that craft beer portal, I’m having no luck finding it. I may have to ask Jodie Foster for a little help on that.

      Your eye won’t need much keeping out. I aim to perplex.


      • I may have plopped you into the wrong Wegman’s, but I still think my story is better, i.e. “The Craft Beer Portal”. If it actually did exist, I think it would look something like this…

    • Thanks Patrick! Glad you liked the post. I’m with you on the canned barleywine. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the style it just seems so wrong to wrap it in metal. Then again, I kind of thought the same way about all craft beer in general not that long ago.

      21st Amendment is a top notch brewery and I’ve rarely been disappointed with any of their offerings.


  3. I’m beginning to think I need to change my mind on 21st Amendment with all the positive things I’ve read about them lately. Their Hell or High Watermelon was the first (and only) beer of theirs I’ve had, and I was underwhelmed by it, as was my better half who bought it. Apparently they switched from actual watermelon to extract, and we got them right on the change over but excuses aside it was not a good first impression. Apparently they may be worthy of a second try.

  4. Hell or High Watermelon isn’t for everyone – wasn’t sure I’d like it myself but it’ll find its way into the can section of my new research facility craft beer fridge within weeks. Their Back in Black Black IPA is another solid brew. Hop Crisis & Bitter American are also favorites. The only one I really don’t care for is Fireside Chat, their winter seasonal.

    Again, if you’re a Barleywine fan – especially of more traditional, malt forward profiles, this probably isn’t the one for you.

    Hard to go too far wrong in search of the next good craft beer, right?

    Thanks for popping in and chiming in! Cheers!

  5. Pingback: Beer Review – 21st Amendment Lower De Boom Barleywine Style Ale | It's just the booze dancing...

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