Some 21st Amendment Brewery packaging

21st Amendment Brewery

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Of all of the Amendments, I’d have to say that the 21st is the most American. After all, it’s just declaring “take backs” on the 18th Amendment and what’s more American than saying, “Oops, I goofed”? San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery celebrates this fantastic piece of legislation and the spirit of the U.S.A. the best way it knows how: by brewing and selling tasty, affordable beer. Founded in 2000, the brewery has steadily been expanding its reach ever since, and just rolled its product out to bars and retailers across Chicago last month. A big selling point for me, initially, was the branding: Each brew bears an amusing name and has a beautifully designed can that embraces certain hallmarks of American iconography and history. My very first introduction to 21st Amendment was the warm-weather selection Hell Or High Watermelon. While I initially feared it would be a gimmicky, too-sweet take on fruity beer, I was delighted to taste a refreshing wheat ale with just the right amount of flavor. My current favorite is the unusual Back In Black, a black IPA ode to Paul Revere, which 21st Amendment calls their way of rebelling against the typical British IPA. Back In Black successfully combines the citrus of a pale ale with the rich, coffee-scented malts of a stout. It’s surprisingly light, so it’s the perfect beer for people who like the caramel taste of a stout, but not the thickness. These beers are all worth trying, especially because they’re so reasonably priced: The last bar I visited with 21st Amendment on tap was selling $5 pints. Delicious, creative, affordable beer? That’s the American dream! [Cameron Scheetz]

Knxwledge’s Hexual Sealings

Note to Jay Z: Build the perfect recommendation algorithm and I’ll switch from Spotify to Tidal. Spotify’s Discover feature is its most useful function, and I credit it with turning me onto the music of the Los Angeles-based hip-hop producer Knxwledge. I fell in love with Kauliflower, one of his two “proper” albums along with the recent Hud Dreams, but there’s a universe of beats beyond those two albums, as Knxwledge cranks out J Dilla-influenced beats at a feverish clip and tosses them up on his Bandcamp site. I recently built up the courage to dive into the Bandcamp stuff, which I’d never done due to its intimidating volume. It proved worth the effort; I stumbled onto the eighth installment of Knxwledge’s Hexual Sealings series and have been wearing it out since. I hate to call the tracks “mashups” because that term is awful, but the cut-and-paste sample approach is similar. The album is reminiscent of Gregg Gillis’ work, but Hexual Sealings resembles a decompressed Girl Talk album. Knxwledge is just as much of a pop omnivore as Gillis, but his music is less ephemeral. When he marries two seemingly incompatible elements—Freddie Gibbs over a James Taylor loop, for example—he lets it ride for a couple minutes before getting bored and moving onto something else. Thanks to his daring, random reinventions, like his treatment of Deborah Cox’s “It’s Over Now,” I might not be moving onto something else for a while. [Joshua Alston]

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Hayden, Hey Love

The music industry probably thought it had found the next Beck when Hayden Desser became the focus of a mid-’90s bidding war of sorts. But since 1995, the Canadian singer-songwriter has worked his style—and distinctive voice—into something darker and deeper. Age has treated his songs and style well, and his eighth album—the new Hey Love—is among his best. He’ll probably never escape cult status, but he’s the kind of songwriter who’ll inevitably be rediscovered and reissued in the future. Why not say you were into him back when? (He’s also on tour in the States right now…) [Josh Modell]

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