I’m not kidding when I say that Eric Johnson, brewmaster at Wild Heaven Beer, labored over the Emergency Drinking Beer Watermelon Blend.
He spent eight months figuring out how to create a beer with fresh watermelon, experimenting with a myriad varieties of the fruit.
One of the biggest challenges involved stabilizing the beer to create a decent shelf life.
“One of the issues with fresh juice is that when you put it in a can, any yeast in the beer will eat the fruit sugar in the watermelon, and the cans will explode,” Johnson said.
Emergency Drinking Beer Watermelon Blend
Brewery: Wild Heaven Beer
Alcohol by volume: 4 %
Style: Pilsner with fresh watermelon
Bottom line: An unadulterated watermelon bomb
He made the decision to use watermelons from Georgia and South Carolina, only choosing the ones picked ripe and with dark red insides.
With each batch, Johnson and another brewery staff member break down each watermelon by hand, peel the white parts off, then put the fruit into two semi-commercial juicers.
Johnson said per batch, 2,000 pounds of fresh watermelons are used, equating to around 200 gallons of watermelon juice per tank.
“It’s a huge pain in the ass,” he said.
The base of the watermelon beer is a pilsner fermented with a strain of ale yeast. Johnson said he used around half the amount of salt in this brew that you would typically find in a gose.
The brewery only produces the beer when the specific watermelons are in season. When collecting fruit for the beer, Johnson said he constantly evaluates each individual watermelon for the “juiciest and most iconic perfect watermelon we know from our childhood.”
“It’s truly a seasonal beer in the most significant sense of the word,” Johnson said. “We want the beer to evoke the best memories of what a delicious fresh, locally grown watermelon tastes like.”
In all of my columns, I’ve said fairly nice things about the beer I’ve tried.
I admire the expertise and time Johnson put into the beer, but this watermelon brew won’t be returning to my fridge anytime soon.
I really wanted to like this beer. It looks good, smells good, but I couldn’t get over the cloyingly sweet watermelon flavor.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watermelons, but this tasted oddly reminiscent of Tums.
The beer definitely captured the sweetness of a melon; however, it just wasn’t working for me. It seemed one-dimensional. Gallagher-style, the powerful watermelon note smashed every other quality of the beer. I could only taste a whisper of the hops after swishing the beer in my mouth for a while.
I’m sure many of you adore this watermelon beer and think I’m crazy. But, I can’t love every single beer I try, right?
If you’re into super sweet in-your-face watermelon, then give this brew a shot.
Although Johnson makes the beer seasonally, it’s on tap at the brewery almost year-round. You can visit Wild Heaven Beer at 135 Maple St. in Avondale Estates.
For more information about Wild Heaven Beer, visit wildheavenbeer.com.