Monthly Archives: July 2011

Guinness Stout & The Boondock Saints

Hello Drinkers,

Tonight we’re spending quality time with three things I love: beer, movies and Boston. I’m from Boston and I always love seeing the city on the big screen, even if its depictions are a bit blood soaked. And since we watched an Irish movie with our last Irish beer (Smithwich’s Irish Ale), I figured this time around we’ll stick closer to home. That’s why tonight’s combo is the ever popular Guinness Stout and the 1999 film The Boondock Saints. I’m not talking about the recent remake that looked like crap, so don’t even ask even about it.

First and foremost, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word “fuck” or one of its derivatives so many times in under two hours. According to IMDb, its used precisely 246 times. So if bad language isn’t your cup of tea (or pint of Guinness, as it were) then I suggest you find another movie. Oh and lots of people die, so that’s something else to consider. But in all seriousness, this movie is pretty solid. The story isn’t complex and doesn’t try to be, but the characters are strong, likeable and driven by a higher moral cause: bad people should die. But really the star of this movie isn’t either of the Boondock Saints, it’s Willem Dafoe’s FBI Agent Paul Smecker. Smecker, (or Dafoe, they seem interchangeable really), is a gay-hating gay who listens to classic music while puzzling out crime scenes. He is erratic, morally-confused and totally awesome. Yes he comes off a wee bit crazy, but he absolutely commands every scene he is in and makes the film 100% stronger because of it.

Because sometimes you gotta be a lady to do a man's job.

In all honesty, what hasn’t been said about Guinness Stout? Everyone knows it, most everyone drinks it and I’d imagine that anyone whose tried it has enjoyed it on at least some level. Guinness makes stouts accessible to everyday drinkers. Stouts, which are very dark, almost chocolately beers, can be very heavy, complex and difficult to drink for casual drinkers. If I ever have a stout, I typically struggle to have a whole pint because they can be so intense. But a Guinness Stout is very simple and smooth while retaining that class chocolate flavor and thick, rich body. For those who want to experiment with darker beers, there is no shame in starting out with Guinness as a gateway beer (and I mean that in the best of ways).

So all in all, tonight was all about sitting, relaxing and not thinking too hard. The beer, and the movie, are both very good and entertaining without making you work too hard. While The Boondock Saints may be a bit on the bloody side, and Guinness may be on the dark side, neither is putting on airs or trying too hard. Rather, they simply want you to enjoy yourself.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Guinness Stout:
Deep, rich color.
Smooth, chocolate flavor.
Simple, for a stout.

The Boondock Saints:
Irishmen love their F-bombs.
Boston is a bloody place.
Willem Dafoe is, in fact, crazy.

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Abita Andygator & Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid

Hello Drinkers,

I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a great day today. And sometimes after a crappy day at work, all your want to do is get a little drunk and veg out in front of the TV. That’s why tonight’s Terrible Twosome is Abita’s Andygator (I reviewed Abita’s Amber a few weeks ago here) and the 2011 SyFy Original movie Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid. Now this might be stooping a bit low for Beer and a Movie, but just bear with me and keep on reading if you want to hear my half-drunken opinions on one of the campiest movies I’ve ever seen and one of my favorite beers.

Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid. Boy, where to begin. Let’s start with the obvious, the name. Holy crap was is this movie about?! A Mega Python I vaguely understand but what is a Gatoroid? The answer is actually more stupid than you probably thought. I was hoping for a futuristic robo-alligator in the vein of Mecha Godzilla (the mechanical nemesis of our friend Gojira). Nope. It’s an alligator on steroids. Deal with it. What else is there? Oh okay there’s the two 80’s pop stars Tiffany (of “I Think We’re Alone Now” fame) and Debbie Gibson (of…other 80’s pop song fame…) in the leading roles as competing environmentalists. Debbie Gibson plays a crazy snake specialist who releases captive snakes into the Everglades. Those snakes somehow become Mega Pythons but let’s not worry about the details. Meanwhile, Tiffany plays a gun-toting park ranger who decides that creating a giant alligator is the only logical response to combating mega pythons. There are a lot of mean words traded and a couple of slaps, but ultimately they band together to fight off the growing horde of monsters. Spoiler: they both die in the one surprising moment of this movie. Well, that and the Appalachian Indian gator specialist Diego Chavez. He was also a bit of a surprise. Definitely not a Mexican…But hey, we didn’t watch this movie for the acting or the characters or the story or the…what did we watch this movie for? Oh, that’s right, the EPIC MONSTER FIGHTS! Another Spoiler: there are no actual monster fights!

Mega Python Vs. Cute Puppy

But the night couldn’t have been all that bad, could it? Actually, you’re right. Abita’s Andygator is one hell of a beer. It is only sold by the Mega Bottle which holds one pint six ounces of this tasty and deceptive beer (ten ounces more than a normal bottle). According to the label, the Andygator is a Helles Doppelbock which means that this beer is high in alcohol, light in color and rich in flavor. Even with a surprising 8% alcohol by volume, the beer is light, crisp and fruity without losing the hoppiness of a beer. Typically, beers of a higher alcohol content are darker, richer and very complex in their flavors. The Andygator, however, defies these expectations by providing a literally intoxicating beverage that is very easy and enjoyable to drink.

So if you see a bottle of Andygator in the store, don’t be intimidated by it’s size. It’s a delicious beer that gives you just a enough flavor to keep you happy and just enough alcohol to make any bad day seem a little better. Unless, however, that day has been spent fighting amphibious abominations in the Everglades. In that case, drop the beer, grab a gun and unload.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes: 

Andygator:
Deceptively high in alcohol.
Light, fruity flavor.
Beautiful, light golden color.

Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid:
80’s pop stars go gator wrastlin’.
Pythons and alligators are sworn enemies.
Pretty much everybody dies.
(but at least the Everglades get saved!)

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New Belgium’s Somersault & Wet Hot American Summer

Hello Drinkers,

Tonight’s combo was originally going to be something a little…cloudy…but due to some availability problems I shelved the duo and replaced it with a line that I think you’ll enjoy (don’t worry, it’ll be happening soon). So instead I kicked it with some of New Belgium Brewing Company’s Somersault Ale (the makers of Fat Tire) and David Wain’s 2001 classic Wet Hot American Summer. Both are instant summer classics with a lot to offer to any palette.

Wet Hot American Summer, for those unfamiliar with it, follows the inexplicably long and wild last day at a 1980’s summer camp. Nearly every cast member is a well known comedian on the brink of their comedic career and every scene is packed with humor, some of it more subtle than others. While of course the movie is filled with the obligatory sex jokes and the occasional slice of earnest pie, the film relies mostly on its sheer absurdity. Though a number of more recent movies push the boundaries of absurdity with mixed results, Wet Hot American Summer achieves its comedy with such perceived ease and levity that you don’t mind going along for the ride. So when in the last 10 minutes of a film the camp is threatened by a rogue piece of space debris, you really don’t care. You just laugh. Also, the movie features an always perfect Paul Rudd and a hilariously homosexual Bradley Cooper (of The Hangover fame).

Summer camp was awesome.

For a movie about the glory days of summer camp, the counselors do drink a bit of beer. While I’m sure they’ve earned it (as a someone who’s worked at a “summer camp,” I sympathize), I’m fairly certain they weren’t drinking the good stuff like New Belgium’s Somersault. This summery ale is light, playful and very easy to drink for someone who is willing to try new things. Its got a light, golden color and you’ll definitely notice some citrus and fruit with your first sip. Now I know that some people can be a bit thrown off by beers that get described with fruity language (chuckles), but Somersault is still a beer’s beer at its core. It has a distinctive grainy flavor that is supported by those citrus-y flavors I mentioned. Definitely worth a bottle or two.

Simply put, Wet Hot American Summer and Somersault are two things you need to at least try once. Sure you might not be in to them, but you’ll be a better, wiser and more cultured person that can show off to your less awesome friends. Besides, you might even have a laugh or two while you do it.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Somersault:
Light, golden color.
Distinctive and unique citrus flavor.
Perfect for a warm summer night.

Wet Hot American Summer:
Easy and enjoyable if you just go for it.
Huge, talented cast.
Bradley Cooper was gay before he was a douche.

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Smithwick’s Irish Ale & Michael Collins

Hello Drinkers,

Tonight I’m trying new things and feeling Irish. Both Smithwick’s Irish Ale and the 1996 Neil Jordan film Michael Collins were new experiences for me and I have to say that I enjoyed both very much. Both are steeped in Irish history (Smithwick’s comes from Ireland’s oldest brewery and Michael Collins recounts the story of Ireland’s 1918 struggle for independence from the British Empire). Liam Neeson is the star, Julia Roberts makes some guest appearances and everyone is drinking.

Now, I won’t pretend to know Irish history or fully understand the political strife that has split the country for most of a century, so I can only take the movie at its word. So putting aside historical accuracies or inaccuracies, I have to say that the film is quite powerful. Not only is the film visually beautiful and supported by a strong score, but is also compelling in its narrative and layered portrayal of its characters. Liam Neeson somehow manages to effectively transform from a warhawk to an arbiter of peace. While that may seem like a generic character arc, Neeson’s portrayal is much slower, darker and, ultimately, sadder than most others you’re likely to see. While few of the other actors manage to keep up with Neeson, altogether the cast is strong despite their tendency to mumble their lines. Seriously, I had to turn up my volume and lean over my coffee table to hear what they were saying sometimes.

Speak up!

Smithwick’s Irish Ale, however, is not one for mumbling. It’s deep amber color and rich biscuity, almost chocolatey flavor speak volumes. It’s a full-bodied beer that tastes great all the way down without ever being too bitter or harsh. It also has a beautiful, thick head that is slow to dissipate which adds a great smell to the beer. Whether I got wrapped up in the Irish flag-waving or because I simply enjoyed myself, I drank this beer faster than I expected and found myself wishing I had a second to wash down the rest of the film.

Overall, I have to say it was a good night. A powerful and rich movie accompanied by an equally matched beer, neither of which I had really heard of before tonight. Must be the luck of the Irish.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Smithwick’s Irish Ale:
Deep, amber color
Rich, biscuity flavor
Smooth finish

Michael Collins:
Strong acting and a powerful narrative
Julia Roberts is pretty much forgettable
Alan Rickman was an Irish president long before he was a Professor of Potions

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Sapporo & Gojira

Hello Drinkers,

Tonight we’re kicking it old school and keeping it straight OG in Japan. I’m drinking Sapporo, a beer that dates back to 1876 and watching the original, 1954 Godzilla (OG. Get it?!) or, Gojira if your an purist. I’m not talking about the silly 1998 revamp (directed by our apocolyptic friend Roland Emmerich). Nor am I talking about the sad Americanized version of the Japanese classic. You know, the one where they just took the Japanese film, cut in a few scenes with an American reporter, and called it a new movie. No. Tonight was the original, unadulterated, purely Japanese version of Gojira and it was kind of sweet.

While Gojira is ostensibly about the threat of a nuclear-enraged Cretaceous sea monster oddly burning up all of Japan, the film itself focuses much more on the human drama and is surprisingly meditative. Aside from the obvious “atomic weapons are scary” theme, the movie is also about the debate between science and security, about love, trust and faith in your family. Visually the movie is quite remarkable and the special effects, however, cheesy, are solid. While at times Japan’s destruction looks a little like my bedroom floor circa 2nd grade, Godzilla himself looks pretty badass. Moreover, the sound that he makes is impressive and haunting. Also, he can breathe fire.

Trogdor!

My opinion of Sapporo is a little less flattering. The beer itself is light and crisp, but lacks any strong or defining flavor. Within seconds, the initial rice flavor disappears and leave very little to remember it by. To its credit, I was drinking from a can which, in my opinion, is never the best way to enjoy a beer. Also, I have to say, I was able to enjoy the beer a little more as it warmed, which is unusual in my experience. While I typically try to connect our two features for the evening, I can’t say that Sapporo is really a great compliment to Gojira. It’s not a bad beer, it’s just nothing special. Granted if the beer dates back to 1876 and is still around today, it must be doing something right.

Overall, tonight was an odd combination. Gojira was a good movie. Albeit a bit slow and uneven at times, it holds up well with time. Sapporo on the other hand, did not fair so well in my memory. I’ve had Sapporo in the past when I’ve gone out to dinner and I remember it being more enjoyable. Maybe that has something to do with the food accompaniment or the non-can serving style, but I have to say I was a little disappointed. To link these two any more than their country of origin would be a stretch of the imagination.

Speaking of which, they kill Godzilla by using something called the “Oxygen Destroyer.” It apparently it removes all of the oxygen from water, splits the atoms and then liquifies them, killing everything. Now that’s science.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Sapporo Premium Beer:
Light and crisp.
 Mild rice flavor.
Minimal aftertaste.

Gojira:
Godzilla looks pretty cool and sounds great.
Godzilla is simply a premise for larger, more human themes.
If Japan does it right the first time, don’t remake it…I’m looking at you Roland.

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