Monthly Archives: October 2011

Leffe Blonde & Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Evening, Drinkers!

Tonight we’re celebrating all that blondes have to offer with the Belgian beer Leffe Blonde and watching the 1953 classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. To be honest, I hadn’t seen Gentlemen Prefer Blondes before tonight but there is something refreshing about watching an old school musical comedy. And having a smooth beer by my side doesn’t hurt either.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which stars a sexily-stupid Marilyn Monroe and a snarky (and startlingly horny) Jane Russell, follows two women as they travel to Paris for a ladies getaway before Ms. Monroe gets married. As to be expected of screen women of the 1950’s, they are silly, attention starved and want nothing more than a good, strong man to care for them…with his massive wallet. That’s right, this movie is all about how the most important thing about a man is his money. To be fair, Jane Russell’s character is actually turned off by men who flaunt their money but that doesn’t stop the core of the film from revolving around Marilyn Monroe’s unhealthy obsession with diamonds. What else is interesting is that for a musical-comedy, there is a noticeable lack of musical. There are maybe only four or five numbers in the entire film and they only appear at the film’s opening and close. The body of the film is primarily filled with our two heroines hilarious antics. They ogle men, seduce and drug men, all in good fun. So really, this film has something for everyone. Oh and the US Olympic team shows up and they apparently all have one coach, train for every sport through dance and wear shorts that make them look naked.

Because sometimes life can be hard when you look this good.

So what about our other blonde? Was it silly? Dumb? Or, just like Marilyn Monroe, occasionally brilliant when the mood strikes? Well, it’s kind of hard to say with Leffe Blonde. The first time I ever had this beer, it was on tap and I was blown away. It had a robust nose, a full body and was remarkably smooth. This time around I was drinking from a bottle and the experience was changed. The beer retained that unmistakeable Belgian yeast smell with a hint of banana (yes, banana. These are beer words) but it lost some of that on-tap charm. After the initial flavor dissipated, I was left with a mild, almost stale flavor that was not all that pleasant. In all honesty, I caught myself just drinking more just to mask that odd aftertaste. I want to like Leffe Blonde so badly because of my initial experience with it, but I just can’t seem to replicate that when I buy it bottled. So if you see this blondie on tap, I would recommend it but if it’s all bottled up, you might want to think twice.

And that was our blonde evening. The movie was classic cinematic fun and there are worse things than watching that Marilyn Monroe shake it. The beer was good but not great, which was a bit of a let down. But hey, my word isn’t final. Maybe I’m just having a blonde moment.

Keeping drinking my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Leffe Blonde:
Smooth all the way down
Classic, Belgian yeasty aroma and flavor
Left a bit to be desired in its aftertaste

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes:
1950’s sex humor is better than 2010’s sex humor
Being blonde doesn’t mean you’re stupid, but the odds aren’t in your favor
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

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Spaten Oktoberfestbier & Beerfest

Happy October Drinkers!

Now I realize that it’s a bit late to be celebrating Oktoberfest but I figure better late than never. And if we’re going to be honoring this great beer drinking tradition, we’re going to do it right by drinking one of the preeminent Oktoberfest beers, Spaten. Spaten, along with Paulaner, is one of the most common beers associated with the actual Oktoberfest in Munich, the setting of tonight’s film Beerfest.

And what better way to celebrate a national treasure like Oktoberfest than to watch a horribly low-brow, college-humor comedy about a bunch of Coloradans drinking to excess. This 2006 film was made by the comedy group Broken Lizard which is responsible for such classics as Club Dread and Super Troopers. For those who are unfamiliar with their pedigree, Broken Lizard is not known for its thoughtful or clever comedy. Rather, they do bawdy, hyperbolic and boob-filled movies that are best watched with a group guys and a lot of beers. Not say that Beerfest isn’t funny (it’s hilarious), you just simply have to know what you’re getting in to. The jokes are a bit stupid, the gags filled with slapstick and the narrative is soaked in enough beer to warrant an actual health warning at the film’s beginning. Okay, so maybe Beerfest isn’t the most appropriate way to celebrate Oktoberfest, but it does advertise a love of beer and you can’t really argue with that.

How real professionals train.

So what were our American beer-heros drinking at Oktoberfest? Well, there’s a good chance they got to try Spaten’s Oktoberfestbier as the brewery’s flag and logo can be seen throughout the film (you can even see it in the picture above). This beer pours a rich head about three fingers thick (because drinkers don’t use rulers), has a distinct, malty aroma and is bronze in color. And while this beer looks and smells pretty, it didn’t do much beyond that. That malty aroma translates readily into its taste but it does not go far beyond that. Yes it was crisp and refreshing but it was not a particularly complex beer. But then again, if the idea is to drink stein after stein of beer, you don’t necessarily want something too heavy or complicated. Rather, I think you’d want something that is light in body but can hold its own when it comes to flavor.

So how was Oktoberfest? Well, I was a little late to the party but I think I still got to enjoy myself. I tasted a little bit of German culture and I got to watch Americans utterly crush it with B Grade humor. But it was all in good fun.

So keep drinking my friends. But don’t drink like the guys from Beerfest, they’re professionals.

 

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Spaten Oktoberfestbier: 
Malty nose and taste
Deep bronze color
Simple, one note flavor

Beerfest
Das Boot! (translation: Simple, sophomoric humor)
Das Boot! (translation: Surprisingly recognizable cast)
Das Boot! (translation: Das Boot!)

 

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Red Stripe & Cool Runnings

Hey there drinkers!

There were really only two logical options when it came time to pair a movie with the Jamaican lager Red Stripe: Cool Runnings or The Thin Red Line. Now I’m all for three hour long, dreamy meditations on war, but when it comes down to it, wouldn’t you rather see some Disney-shaped Jamaicans go bobsledding? I would. And so here we are, Red Stripe and bobsled in hand. Let’s get running.

For those who haven’t witnessed the absurd glory that is Cool Runnings, this true-story-inspired film chronicles the unlikely rise of the Jamaican bobsled team that competed at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Now if we are to take the film at its word, the Jamaican bobsled team was greeted by the international community with overt criticism and subtle racism (lies!). Also what we will accept at face value are the clothing choices of every Jamaican in this movie. Not sure if it’s the island culture or the lens through which Disney sees the world, but everyone in Jamaica dresses in clashing neon clothes that make little sense regardless of the climate. But hey, it’s the 80’s. Anyway, no one watches this movie to take it seriously. It’s mostly just a fast means of getting a quick, inspirational boost and a lot of cheap laughs. To that end, this movie is incredibly quotable as most of the dialogue is just plain silly (“Kiss my egg!”). But really, when you take a step back from it all and you watch Cool Runnings for what it is, it’s fine. It says what it wants to says, it’s reasonably entertaining and tugs on all the right heart strings.

Disney shenanigans, Jamaican style.

So when we’re done competing for the gold medal, there’s really no better way to celebrate than with a nice, refreshing beer. And to do that, I think I’d generally pick something other than a Red Stripe, but you could also do a lot worse. In layman’s terms, Red Stripe is an average beer. When you compare it to its similarly priced light beers, its got a medium body and simple, clean flavor. This might not be much of an endorsement, but it tastes like an average beer. Nothing extraordinary or any specific flavorings that make it stand it but solid and doesn’t taste as awful as some other beers on the market. So for those who are on a budget but are sick of the general light beer parade you always see, Red Stripe isn’t a bad alternative. But, if you’re like me, you’ll drop the extra dollar or two.

So there you have it. An ordinary beer,  an extraordinary story and an altogether low-key, no-pressure evening. Sure neither of them are high art, but both are perfect for an evening of low expectations.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Red Stripe: 
Average, generic beer flavor.
Medium-bodied when compared to its light brethern.
The country is more lively than its beer.

Cool Runnings:
Feel the rhythm.
Feel the rhyme.
Get on up, it’s bobsled time!

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Petit La Chouffe & Casino Royale

Evening, Drinkers!

Tonight we’re back saving the world with the 2006 redux of the 007 film Casino Royale and drinking Petit La Chouffe. As you may or may not have guessed, I love me some James Bond and this post-Brosnan reboot of the franchise shows the character at the top of his game. No jetpacks or invisible cars. Just some guns, an Aston Martin, beautiful locations and even more beautiful women. So with a La Chouffe in hand and a Le Chiffre to beat at poker, let’s get started.

For those of you who don’t know, Casino Royale was actually the first James Bond book every written. However, it was never sold with all the others that went into making the original movies. Before 2006, there were actually two other Casino Royale incarnations. The first was a 1954 TV pilot aimed at starting a 007 television series. The second version came out in 1967 and was actually a spoof starring none other than Orson Welles as our bad guy Le Chiffre. With it’s release in 2006, the Casino Royale of tonight’s pairing is actually the last movie to be made out of Ian Fleming’s novels. But enough history, let’s get to the action.

Unlike most action movies, Casino Royale balances intensity with sensitivity quite well. Action punctuates moments of character development and reflection. The writing is sharp, layered with meaning and is carried well by a strong cast (who doesn’t want some Daniel Craig?). On top of that, the visuals are striking (most notably Eva Green) and the plot doesn’t lose track of itself unlike some of the film’s predecessors. I really only have two complaints about the film and they can really be rolled into one. Structurally, the film’s acts are almost painfully distinct. The film is evenly split into thirds and sometimes it’s hard to remember how we got from A to B. Though the film’s narrative makes sense, it feels a bit too rigid and it stands out. This brings me to second point which is that the final sequence (in an unnaturally blue-watered Venice), feels like a tag-on. I’m all for wrapping things up but this sequence is like a short film unto itself. And while yes it does wrap up a few loose ends, it feels as if the filmmakers realized a little too late in the game that they needed to end the movie. But overall these are minor complaints and I will still continue to watch this movie (and Eva Green) over and over.

My mom doesn't love me so I'm going to fund terrorism. Oh and I cry blood.

And now we’re off to Belgium, Land of Beer! Seriously, if you want good beer, buy Belgian. Petit La Chouffe, which sports a darling picture of a gnome on its label, is no exception to the Belgian rule. Brewed with spices and touting a bold 8% ABV, this is a beer that is not to be trifled with. Golden in color and smooth in its delivery, La Chouffe’s ABV can actually sneak up on you simply because this beer is so delicious. It has a strong smell of yeast and it doesn’t shy away from those magical spices with which it was brewed. This bold flavor combined with a surprisingly large head (the foam that appears when you pour) forces you to slow down, sip and enjoy this tasty beverage. And though La Chouffe goes for about $5 a bottle, I have to say that it is entirely worth it for anyone who wants to experience good beer. And trust me, you want to experience good beer.

So that’s about all, folks. La Chouffe and Le Chiffre. A match made in heaven. An engaging and occasionally thoughtful action movie with a robust beer. Doesn’t get any better than that.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Petit La Chouffe: 
Rich, golden color.
Big, yeasty head.
Complex, spicy flavor.

Casino Royale:
Action movie with a sense of grace.
Eva Green.
Daniel Craig is one tough man.

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Corona Extra & Tears of the Sun

Hello Drinkers,

From tonight’s title, you might think I’m just phoning it in. You’re thinking that I just had a few Coronas lying around in my fridge that would otherwise sit unconsumed and taking up space. And you, my friends, would be absolutely correct. Well, that’s not entirely honest. I did put a lot of thought as to what movie I would watch tonight and it did take some time to work myself up to crack open tonight’s Corona. But let me explain the two part thinking that went into tonight’s movie selection. One: The corona is a layer of the sun. Simple enough. Second: Cheap beer is a guaranteed way to bring a beer-lover to tears. And thus Tears of the Sun.

But let’s give Bruce Willis the benefit of the doubt and discuss this 2003 action-drama set against a bloody civil war in Nigeria. We start the movie “somewhere off the coast of Africa.” Seriously. That’s what the lower-third reads. So we’re sitting happily on an aircraft carrier somewhere in the Atlantic and/or Indian Ocean and Bruce Willis is looking tough. The mission? Extract an American doctor before an extremely well-armed, well-uniformed and well-organized group of rebels arrives at her location and kills everybody. Of course, this being a dramatic movie and all, things go awry. Bruch Willis has a change of heart and his team ends up escorting a bunch of refugees out of Nigeria and/or Africa (I think the filmmakers just assumed that all of Africa was the same but used Nigeria to sound more legit). Other than the blanket-categorization of entire continent, my main complaint about this film is that it confuses pacing with thoughtfulness. A good 50% of the film is spent in a quiet study of Bruce Willis’s face. And while the photography is quite beautiful, the movie is painfully slow and could be shortened by a good thirty minutes.

Oh also, why is this movie called Tears of the Sun? Seriously, someone please tell me why.

 

Bruce Willis ruminates on why this movie is two hours long.

And I guess we should talk about Corona Extra. I’m going to wager a guess and say that all of you have tried a Corona before so I’m not going to bore you too much. Fortunately, there isn’t much to say. Corona is exactly what you would assume a cheap, light beer would taste like. It’s kind of like fizzy, mildly alcoholic water with an odd aftertaste. I will say that it is better than other cheap light (lite) beers but that really isn’t much to brag about.

That’s all I really have to say actually. Again, it probably looks like I’m phoning it in but I promise you that I take these combos (not at all) seriously. Tears of the Sun wasn’t a bad movie and Corona wasn’t a good beer but I can’t really complain. I spent my evening curled up with a beer in hand and a movie on my TV and that’s all any of us can really ask for.

 

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Corona Extra: 
Unnaturally golden color.
Mild, harmless flavor.
Hints of carbonation.

Tears of the Sun:

Bruce Willis looks stern, as per usual.
Thoughtfully slow, but without the thought.
Lovely photography.

 

 

 

 

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