Suds and blood: 21st Amendment concoctions and Japanese death metal

It’s been some time since we talked the mead portion of Meat Mead Metal, and since it’s Friday, I can’t think of a better time to fix that. Lots of people mark the end of the work week with a nice brew, and I’m no different. Typically I’ll take a ride over to D’s here in Pittsburgh to grab some mix and match stuff, and that’s how I came to know of the beers we’ll cover today. Oh, and then we’ll get to some Japanese death metal.

You cannot walk past 21 Amendment’s creatively designed cans without stopping to take notice. They’re easily the most eye-catching, attractive cans I’ve ever seen, and even if you’re a diehard bottled beer or draught consumer, you’d be making a huge mistake passing these by. What’s inside of them consistently has blown my mind and taste buds, and this has become one of my go-to breweries when I’m just looking to pick up a few things to relax during the evening.

The San Francisco-based brewery, owned and run by Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan, has a number of different styles, normally housed in an American history-inspired name and can. With a twist. So if you need something to make these GOP debates a little more tolerable, you can do worse than these beers. In case you’re not American, or if you are and have no clue about the nation’s history, the 21st amendment to the Constitution brought an end to prohibition, repealing the 18th amendment that called for a nationwide ban on liquor. This brewery celebrates that great feat, as well as the freedom to do whatever moves them when it comes to making great-tasting  craft beers. It’s a win all around.

I haven’t tried all of 21st Amendment’s stuff yet, but that’s only because I haven’t quite gotten my hands on all of products. I spotted Fireside Chat, a winter-style ale that’s emblazoned with a drawing of FDR’s Depression-era radio talks, but was out of cash. Now I can’t find them anywhere. That made me sad because I love winter-style beers. But I’ll keep looking in case there are a few hanging around. I have had a chance to copiously sample Allies Win the War! (I have a can in my fridge right now), Back in Black IPA and Monk’s Blood, a gory-sounding beverage that’s the most delicious of all the 21st stuff I’ve had. In fact, let’s start there.

Monk’s Blood is a Belgian dark ale that pours a nice and deep reddish brown and tastes amazing. It doesn’t get a cool American-style name (though the can kicks ass), but that’s to be understood. Our brewmasters took a trip to Belgium to explore new recipes for their ale, according to their tale, and struck gold … er, red … near the Trappist abbey of Westvletren. Thus, the name. The wonderful waves of vanilla, fig and cinnamon wash over you nicely but never overwhelm. The tastes play together like prog-death where you can point out all the parts and can explain what’s going on, but you can’t imagine the entire thing working nearly as well without all of those elements. The ABV is 8.3, and it’ll make you feel really nice and toasty if you take your time (and you should, by the way). I really love this beer, and I hope to travel to their restaurant one day to try it straight from the tap. Go get this.

The other two brews, both of which are worth your time and indulgence, also have become familiar with my ice box. Allies Win the War, a meeting of the minds involving 21st and Ninkasi in Oregon, also is stronger at 8.5 ABV, and if you like a hops-friendly brew, this one will thrill you. In a can that looks like an old WWII newspaper front page, you’ll be thrilled these powers came together to create this dark majesty, brewed with dates, that’ll play to your sweet tooth. As for Back in Black, if you like IPAs, you need to give this a whirl. It looks like it should be a deep, bitter stout, but it totally surprises you when you drink it. It’s lighter-tasting and not thick like bread, so it’s a sort of shock to the system. Once you get over that, you get a nice drink that works best with the lights down low. Sadly for 21st, I had this for the first time watching the 49ers/Giants NFC title tilt. Hey, guys, I tried.

For more on 21st Amendment Brewery, go here: http://21st-amendment.com/

For more on the 21st amendment, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty-first_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

For more on Ninsaki, go here: http://www.ninkasibrewing.com/

That name again is Desecravity

Now for some metal, and I feel kind of bad talking about a beer can that reminds me of the Allies’ triumphs in WWII and seguing into a piece about a Japanese death metal band, but we’re all friends now, right? What I’m on about is “Implicit Obedience,” the debut full-length from Desecravity. The album (produced by Hate Eternal’s Erik Rutan, who knows a few things about how to capture savagery in the studio) comes our way via hometown powerhouse Willowtip, who obviously have a knack for finding some of the hardest-hitting, most mind-blowing bands out there. These guys are no exception, and their guttural, vicious, brutal death injects a serious dose of poison into a genre that has been crippled by groups whose sole purpose it to get their shirts into a Hot Topic bin. If you’re one of those people all pumped for Mayhem festival (God help you if you are), this band will scare the hell out of you and liquefy your guts in no time at all. THIS is mayhem.

Desecravity remind me of the early ’90s, when finding new death and thrash cassettes was a way of life. That’s when you took more chances, bought based on album cover and song titles and sometimes went home with a crushing new gem. The band’s approach is heavy and filthy, but they have an undercurrent of technicality that gives everything a dizzying feel. You get crushed and spun around a million miles per hour, and once you finally get your wits about you, you wonder what just hit you. The blazing riffs, total crunch and mind-altering madness are most potent on cuts such as tricky, trucking “Hades”; “Enthralled in Decimation,” where the drumming owns your ass; hellishly grinding and furious “Enthralled in Decimation”; and cavernous and face-beating “Dark Dimension.” By the way, Yujiro Suzuki’s infernal, guttural growls match this destruction perfectly. Dude’s throat has to hurt when he’s done.

“Implicit Obedience” is a mean-sounding, ill-intentioned, skin-shredding dose of death that typically isn’t conquered by such a young band. These guys have a promising future, and as long as they keep reaching elbow deep into the cesspool of humanity for inspiration, they should remain a dangerous group for years to come.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/DESECRAVITY

To buy “Implicit Obedience,” go here: http://www.willowtip.com/releases/details/desecravity-implicit-obedience.aspx

For more on the label, go here: http://www.willowtip.com/