Monthly Archives: September 2011

Owyhee Amber Ale & Stagecoach

Good Evening Drinkers,

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Gabe, how can you pair the classic 1939  John Ford film Stagecoach, set against the striking backdrop of Monument Valley, with a beer made hundreds of miles away in Oregon? Well, tonight’s theme isn’t about spatial relations. Rather, tonight is more more thematic. Beer Valley Brewing Company has an Old West feel about it’s labeling and it seemed only fitting to step back in time with this historic movie. Besides, it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want.

For those of you who haven’t seen the original 1939 Stagecoach, which stars John Wayne in a role no different than any other role he’s played, it really embodies all of the tropes of a great Westen movie. There are cowboys, Indians, chivalry, guns, racism, sexism, whisky, strong Republican values (there’s discussion of tax and deficit reduction) and, of course, surprise births. But what is truly remarkable about this film it not its classic character archetypes or distinctive cinematography, but its subtle undermining of its own genre. Women’s opinions are valued, military authority is questioned and interracial marriages are discussed (sparingly). For these and a host of reasons, this movie stands out as truly an American classic and should be required viewing for any Western fan. In similar news, it probably has one of the earliest depictions of a lovable alcoholic.

What real men look like. Yeah I'm looking you Taylor Lautner!


So what about my Stagecoach ride down into Beer Valley? Well, it was first journey with Owyhee (Way-Hee? Oh-Why-Hee?) Amber Ale and I have mixed feelings. I was initially quite excited about this beer as it poured a deep, rich amber color and smelled faintly of chocolate. I was all geared up for a rich and flavorful amber and, at first taste, I wasn’t that disappointed. Despite fairly mild carbonation, the beer had a solid taste that was just barely bitter. But my real disappointment set in as the beer went down. Rather than a rich, lasting flavor that stayed with me, I was sadly left with a watery finish. There’s not really a better way to describe it unfortunately. The flavor just sort of died and I found myself taking another sip simply to keep the taste going. The upside is that I had a 22 oz. bottle so it lasted awhile and the 5.5% ABV had some time to work it’s magic.

So maybe Owyhee (Oh-Hee? Oh-Way-Hee?) Amber Ale didn’t provide me with the rough and tumble drink I was looking for. It wasn’t a bad beer, it just fell short of what it could have been. In contrast, despite Stagecoach’s vintage racism and lack of actual driving plot (seriously, the movie is mostly about people and places, not narrative), it holds up quite well. Stagecoach is definitely one of those movies you’re supposed to see and, despite the 5.5% ABV haze, I think I understand why.


Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Owyhee Amber Ale 
Deep amber color.
Promising, rich smell.
Lackluster, watery finish.

An American classic.
Beautiful scenery and cinematography.
Geronimo enjoys mindless violence.

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Mission St. Hefeweizen & Dr. No

Hello Drinkers,

Tonight I’m a man on a mission with a Mission St. Hefeweizen and the James Bond original Dr. No.  And even though 007 is more of a martini guy, I think we can let it slide just this once.

Now, James Bond is always a man on a mission and no spy movie is more iconic (or parodied) than Dr. No. This movie really has it all: secret island bases to blow up, random hot women to bang, shark tanks to admire, world domination plots to explain and, of course, the obligatory half-Asian bad guy played by a white guy with robo-hands.

Robo. Hands.

Anyway, to our modern eyes this movie is incredibly cheesy and thin. Bond travels to a single location (Jamaica), follows several fairly simple clues and finds himself face-to-face with very congenial nemesis who works for one of the most poorly named organizations of all time: Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. Or S.P.E.C.T.R.E. for those who still want to sound cool. Dr. No doesn’t want money or fame. He simply wants to cause the US Space Program a little trouble. No big deal. Now aside from the odd fact that a British spy has to deal with an American problem and the film’s underlying racism towards the Chinese, the movie is fun. It has all the tropes of a great spy movie and can be largely credited with the genre’s popularity. And at the end of the day, who doesn’t love a little James Bond?

Answer: This guy.

So while I was watching my favorite spy on his first mission on screen, I was slowly sipping on a Mission St. Hefeweizen (a beer made specifically for Trader Joe’s). For those who don’t know what a hefeweizen is, this beer is essentially a cool way of calling something a wheat beer or a white beer. Now I’m sure there are some technical differences among them but for our purposes they are all similar at their core. Compared to last week’s wheat beer, Blue Moon, Mission St. is more mellow and less fruity. It’s not less flavorful or boring, the taste just doesn’t jump out at you. It’s got a cloudy gold color (hefeweizens and wheats aren’t filtered) and a pours a thin head. By all accounts, it’s a good beer for the end of summer. It’s still fairly light and floral but isn’t as sweet as something you might want in the middle of the summer. While it didn’t do anything new for me, I wouldn’t mind picking this one up again if I’m looking for a casual (re: low ABV) sip or two.

Although both Dr. No and Mission St. Hefeweizen might feel like familiar ground for anyone accustomed to the genres, they are both solid and enjoyable ways of spend an evening on your couch.

And now for a quick bit of business. I, of course, am a I fountain of wisdom when it comes to arbitrarily pairing beers with movies. At times though, I get a little lonely when it comes time to pick a combo off of my extensive list. So with that in mind, if you ever have any ideas for beers, movies or a combination thereof, let me know and I’ll do my best to get it up quickly.

Keep drinking my friends! That is unless you have to drive home. Then you should stop drinking.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Mission St. Hefeweizen:  
Cloudy, golden color.
Mellow, grainy flavor.
Solid beer but nothing out-of-the-ordinary.

Dr. No:
The original Bond. James Bond.
First example of all the cheesy stereotypes we love.
Bond bangs women who try to kill him. All the time.

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The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Blue Moon

Good evening drinkers!

And yes you are reading the title correctly. I just finished watching the second installment of the wildly popular Twilight Saga movies, New Moon. Tonight was all about popularity which is why I paired this tween sensation with the equally sensational wheat beer Blue Moon. And while hopefully not many teenagers are drinking this tasty beer, it is still worthwhile to get everyone a little educated.

But let’s start with New Moon. Now I’m going to break tradition here and rather than laying my opinions on the table, I want just want to pose a few general questions that I still have after finishing this devastatingly slow two hour movie.

1) Why does no one wear a shirt in this movie? The Pacific Northwest is a chilly place and even tan wolf-boys could catch a cold.
2) Follow up question: How the hell is a 16 year old boy that jacked? Holy crap does Jacob have muscles.
3) What is the big deal with Bella? Why does everyone want a piece of that? She’s really not that interesting of a person. She mostly just looks tired or bored. She mopes around everywhere, doesn’t really speak like a normal person and is completely incapable of being happy without a (supernatural) man. Oh and she’s a massive cock tease to Jacob.
4) Why is the soundtrack so good for this movie? Seriously. Did I hear some Bon Iver in there? Well played, Twilight.
5) What actually happens in this movie? (Short answer? Nothing.)

Maybe if I stare into her eyes more intensely, she'll finally kiss me after 6 months of intimate bonding.

I’ll be blunt here: Thank God I was drinking a beer while watching this movie. I wish I had more Blue Moons to hold me over to be perfectly honest. The movie was that bad and Blue Moon is that good. Blue Moon is probably one of the easiest beers to drink and is a great introduction to wheat beer for those who are looking to experiment. It’s got a beautiful, cloudy golden color that gives way to a medium body with strong notes of orange peel. Very strong actually, but not in a bad way. Wheat beers are typically garnished with citrus, so it only seems fitting that Blue Moon beats you to the punch. Take a sip of this beer and you will enjoy it all the way down.

Blue Moon is probably one of the first beers I ever had and even though my tastes have grown since then, I will keep coming back to Blue Moon. It’s a classic, delicious beer that will keep me entertained even when the movie I’m watching wants to destroy my soul. But I guess I have that in common with Bella.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Blue Moon: 
-Cloudy, golden color.
-Strong notes of orange peel.
-Satisfying medium body.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon:
-Shirts are for humans.
-Bella has a certain” je ne sais quoi.” Literally, I don’t know what is appealing about her.
-I’m rooting for Team Jacob.


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The Shawshank Redemption & Redemption Blonde Ale

Hey there Drinkers,

I’m here for a shot at redemption. I know I’ve been a bit inconsistent recently but I’m finally back. After a hurricane, an apartment move and a 16 hour unpaid job, I’m back drinking Russian River’s Redemption Ale and watching Frank Darabont’s classic film The Shawshank Redemption. Arguably one of the greatest films in recent memory, it deserves to be appreciated with a “nice cold bottle of suds.”

Now I’ve seen this movie a bunch of times but I still haven’t gotten sick of it. While it’s a bit on the long side (a leisurely 2.25 hours), the pacing is perfect. It’s even, thoughtful and engaging every step of the way. Considering that this movie takes place over the course of more than 20 years, the films moves smoothly and builds its tension expertly. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are perfect and Frank Darabont’s script is spot on nearly every word. Normally I like to offer some small criticisms of a film but The Shawshank Redemption is one of those films that truly rises above the rest and will stand tall for years to come. Also, I’m just too tired after that 16 hour day to be clever right now, so just deal with it.

"Let's me show you how's it done, kid." He said in a soothing voice.

And I have to say that I was impressed with Russian River’s Redemption Ale as well. I had never heard of this beer or this brewery but it’s one that I’ll be on the look out for from now on. This blonde ale is a casual foray into Trappist-style beers (think Chimay), a beer typically brewed by monks with a uniquely flavorful profile. Like any self-respecting blonde, this beer is light and refreshing. Now I don’t say “light” too lightly (get it?). What I mean is that this beer does not weigh you down or overburden you with flavor. Rather, the almost wheaty and floral taste of this beer graces you mouth gently before fading. It’s a beer that you drink slowly and can enjoy without having to think too hard.

So that’s what I was looking for tonight. A little shot at redemption. A great movie and a good beer. I think that’s all I needed after these past few hectic days. On a personal note, I’ll be starting a new routine this week, so hopefully I’ll be more consistent now that I’ll have a regular schedule. Stay tuned and keep drinking!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Redemption Blonde Ale: 
-Smooth and simple taste.
-Almost sweet, floral trappist flavor profile.
-Great for casual drinking.

The Shawshank Redemption:
-Perfect, even pacing.
-Strong writing.
-Morgan Freeman is old, wise and Black.

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