Monthly Archives: March 2012

Rogue’s Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout & Much Ado About Nothing

Good tidings, imbibers!

That’s really all I have for my Shakespearean writing for tonight. I’m not that talented/esoteric/confusing to do this entire post in Shakespearean English, so you all will have to to deal with my modern colloquialisms. Anyway, tonight’s delightful duo is Rogue’s Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout and the Kenneth Branagh adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic comedy Much Ado About Nothing. Brief warning: I never read Much Ado About Nothing and have somehow avoided to learning anything about it at all, so I’m sorry that my analysis will be somewhat stunted.

The 1993 film version of Much Ado About Nothing was adapted, produced, directed and starred a certain man by the name of Kenneth Branagh. Mr. Branagh, who you may recognize from random roles in Harry Potter or Wild Wild West, is actually more famous for adapting a number of Shakespeare’s plays for the cinema. Much Ado About Nothing, a story about how people can be tricked/coerced into love and non-virgins should be killed, is one of Branagh’s many adaptations which stars a surprising cast. Denzel Washington plays the only black person in the entire film for no reason, Keanu Reeves plays a dick for no reason and Michael Keaton occasionally shows up for no reason. The film also features Emma Thompson, who is lovely in every role she takes on and, randomly, Kate Beckinsale (Underworld, anyone?) is also one of the leads. For what it’s worth, the cast does a pretty good job despite the clunky language. Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington are the most ill at ease with the script but they really do make a good effort. As can be expected, Kenneth Branagh is really the scene stealer, filling every minute of his screen time with sharp wit and big personality. And while it is very easy to see the “acting” in this film, the nature of Shakespearean language allows the audience to cut them some slack.

"I'm in a Shakespeare movie. Wow."

Another feature of the stage-to-screen adaptation is that it needs to be visually fleshed out. Since one of the most boring things you could possibly do is to watch a recording of a play, Branagh takes this opportunity to broaden the visual scope of the story. Though he regularly utilizes longer takes, honoring the difficulty of performing Shakespeare live, he also indulges in massive, sweeping shots that are, for lack of a better word, cinematic. We fly above the lush gardens of the Italian villa on numerous occasions, as well as view scenes from multiple points of view. This blending of stage performance and movie-scale scope actually works quite well.

Remind me why Denzel Washington and Michael Keaton are in this movie again?

You know what else works well? Beer. More specifically: beer brewed by Rogue. These guys are awesome. And while their Juniper beer was “meh,” everything else they brew is always fantastic, including their Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout. This big beer, with its strong aroma of chocolate and roasted malt is actually quite mild mannered. It sports a tame 6.1% ABV and is remarkably easy to drink; something not all stouts can claim. This is mostly due to the inclusion of oats into the brewing process. The oats help to smooth out the bitterness of the malt, making it very easy to drink. (On a similar note, I’ve been trying rye beers recently. The addition of rye has a similar, smoothing effect. Try it!). I can’t believe I’m saying this but I would actually recommend this beer to fairly casual drinkers. I realize that most people are wary of dark beers, but I think most people would find this oatmeal stout pretty appealing. In the unlikely case you don’t like it, just hand it over to me and I’ll finish it off for you.

So there you have it, Shakespeare lovers. A tale of confusion and love paired with a rich but not overwhelming brew. Both are appropriate for both the casual and the elite consumer, making it a worthwhile evening for anyone looking to kick back, relax and wonder what the hell Michael Keaton is talking about.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Rogue’s Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout:   
-Lovely nose of chocolate & roasted malt
-Remarkably smooth, thanks to the oats
-A great, easy-drinking beer for any drinker out there.

Much Ado About Nothing:
-A strong film adaptation from a not-so-easy-to-adapt playwright
-Mostly strong cast, with a few exceptions
-Actors were definitely “acting,” but who can blame them?

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Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale & Dogma

Hey there, drinkers!

Tonight we’re rediscovering our faith with the help of Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale & Kevin Smith’s 1999 film Dogma. We’ve got a great beer and a great movie paired up for you tonight, so I hope you listen to my Word and heed my infallibility when it comes to unnatural alcoholic-cinematic combinations. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tonight’s film is the religiously anti-religious Kevin Smith film Dogma. Equal parts religious lesson and sacrilegious comedy, Dogma utterly refutes religion by showcasing it in a very literal and sarcastic fashion. For those who are not indoctrinated, Dogma follows the quest of a Wisconsin Planned Parenthood employee who is tasked with stopping two angels (a very young and adorable Matt Damon & Ben Affleck) who wish to regain entrance to Heaven and obliterate all  existence in the process. In classic Kevin Smith fashion, the film is dominated by long-winded, articulate and absurd speeches that very plainly explain esoteric subjects. Biblical history is expertly intertwined with film nerd history, all with the biting edge of Smith’s “nothing-is-sacred” style of comedy. I mean, George Carlin plays an Arch Bishop and New Jersey is a portal to Heaven. You get the picture. Aside from the blunt exposition of plot and Christian mythology, the film is quite entertaining. All of the characters (and actors) acknowledge the absurdity of their plight and have a good laugh about it. There are literally dozens of “Jesus Christ!” exclamations that are uttered by Heavenly creatures, a not-so-subtle wink from the director to the audience. In addition, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, unadulterated by fame, give fantastic performances in roles that would otherwise be too absurd to be successful. In fact, Kevin Smith somehow assembled a fantastic cast for this film, given them insane roles, and made them successfully commit to those roles. And while no one would mistake this film for art, it really is a testament to Kevin Smith’s ingenuity and creativity as writer/director. For those of you who haven’t seen this film (and are not easily made uncomfortable by religious gaffs), I would recommend you see it as a master class in sarcasm.

And did I mention that Alanis Morisette is God? Seems fitting, right?

Jesus (aka Buddy Christ) loves you. And beer. And Kevin Smith.

And in keeping with tonight’s theme, I would have to describe Stone’ Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale as simply divine. This 8.7% whopper pours a thick, deep black with a big head that dissipates slowly. This black ale features big, roasty malt flavor that is balanced well by some sturdy hopping. Reviewers on Beer Advocate noted hints of grapefruit while I mostly tasted toasted malt, which probably means that I just don’t have a defined palette. But for a beer with an 8.7% ABV and a strong malt character, this beer is pretty easy to drink. Not to say that casual drinkers could just pick this up and go to town, but rather it doesn’t have a strong bite to it. It goes down smooth and leaves a nice, hoppy finish that hangs around for awhile. For such a crazy movie, I think this beer matches it pretty well. While the movie is funny enough as is, being a little tipsy by the film’s bloody conclusion doesn’t hurt it. Especially since the film drags a little at about two hours, having 22 ozs. of tasty, strong beer does not hurt.

So there it is, drinkers. A sublimely divine evening that left me with a smile on my face. Great beer. Good movie. It’s hard to ask for much more on a Friday evening. God bless craft beer.

 

 

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale:
-Deep, black color
-Solid, beige head
-Roasted malt flavor balanced with significant hoppiness.

Dogma:
-Sarcastic & cynical
-Star-studded cast
-A bit too much exposition, but it’s Kevin Smith, so what else do you expect?

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Speakeasy Brewing’s Payback Porter & The Lady From Shanghai

Hey there, drinkers!

This review has been a bit delayed but here we are, drinking a porter and watching Orson Welles. This is BAAM’s first porter review and the first porter I’ve had in a long while. And though I should probably be drinking a stout, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to pretty much ignore the holiday and drink whatever I felt like. I also felt compelled to take a break from watching crappy movies and went with a classic film noir because, you know, I should probably put that college education to use every now and then.

In unrelated news, I bought a growler. Drink local!

That's filled with beer!

Okay, now that that’s out of my system, let’s get started.

Orson Welles’ 1947 film noir The Lady From Shanghai actually has very little to do with Shanghai and has quite a bit to do with ladies. Actually, just one lady: Rita Hayworth. More specifically, a short, blonde-haired Hayworth typically sporting  a bikini. The 1940’s were an exciting time. Temporarily ignoring Rita Hayworth’s perpetual beach body, the film is a bit landmark in terms of the film noir. It features many of the classic noir tropes of high-contrast lighting, fatal women and strikingly dumb protagonists. While The Lady From Shanghai doesn’t rely on a a hard-boiled detective, it does place our hero in the middle of a murder scandal where everyone’s motives are a mystery. To its credit, the film does take a number of twists and turns that keeps the audience guessing as to each person’s motivations. From money to divorce to nuclear fears, each character, except Orson Welles of course, has hidden objectives that all literally shatter at the end when our killer is revealed. The film’s most striking scene is one that most of you are probably familiar with, regardless of whether or not you’ve actually seen the film. Orson Welles finds himself in a Mirror Maze as two other main characters start shooting at each other out of hate and, interestingly enough, love. The resulting visual is brilliant. Faces and guns reflect across every surface of the screen, placing the viewer in the center of the chaos and confusion.

And while I’ve probably just spoiled the conclusion with that clip, I’m actively trying not to talk about plot too much more. I don’t want to ruin the movie anymore than I already have and I also think it’s a fairly slow film, despite it being only about 90 minutes. So since I’m a considerate writer, I won’t bore you with the film’s long ass boat trip down the coast of Mexico. What I will say about this film is that it can be difficult to understand the dialogue due to the cadence at which people talk. Also, Orson Welles does a terrible Irish accent. Just saying.

Two more brief things I’d like to point out before moving on:
1) Visually, this film is quite engaging. Orson Welles was definitely a very creative man when it came to visual storytelling and was not afraid to try unconventional and risky lighting setups and camera angles.
2) This film has some great quotes. I’ll list a few
a) “It’s a bright, guilty world.”
b) “Personally I don’t like a girlfriend to have a husband.”
c) “This is going to be murder and it’s going to be legal.”
d) “You need more than luck in Shanghai. “

And for those of you who are curious about the Shanghai reference, it’s because Rita Hayworth’s character apparently spent some time in Shanghai and speaks Chinese at the end of the film…yup.

Under the censorship rules of the Hays Code, this bikini means that Rita Hayworth has to die.

So what does the The Lady From Shanghai have to do with Speakeasy’s Payback Porter? Though this film doesn’t expressly deal with revenge, the film is all about the complications of murders. And it takes place, in part, in San Franciscos which is the home of the Speakeasy Brewery. Now, I typically shy away from porters as I find that stouts are more my speed. However, this porter may put me back on the porter path. This dark (and I mean dark) beer is super duper malty with notes of coffee and chocolate. I typically associate chocolate malts more with stouts, but it was not amiss in this porter. While the beer was a bit maltier than I generally prefer, the beer is still fairly well-balanced. It’s not the most complex beer but it does the trick when you’re just looking for a hearty beer.

So there you have it, drinkers. It feels good to be back in the saddle. Drinking unfamiliar beers and watching classic films. And while this wasn’t my favorite noir, and I may not be totally sold on porters, I consider both to be a good experience. The Lady From Shanghai is definitely a must see for anyone interested in older films. Orson Welles is always great to watch and the visuals are very engaging. Besides, Rita Hayworth still looks great. It’s just a tad slow, but that’s probably because it wasn’t edited like The Bourne Identity. And the Payback Porter was not out of place either. It was strong and malty but was still a pleasure to drink. It also continued to taste pretty good as it warmed, which I always appreciate.

And so we conclude our 39th review (I think…if we exclude the recap reviews). In theory, I will be doing some sort of 40th review celebration that may or may not include my drinking  40 oz. of a terrible beer. We’ll see how classy I want to be.*

But until then, keep drinking my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Speakeasy’s Payback Porter:  
– Prominent notes of chocolate & coffee.
– Very, very malty. Almost too much so for my tastes. Almost.
– Warms quite well.

The Lady From Shanghai:
-Classic film noir without the classic detective hero.
-Memorable Mirror Maze. Seriously, watch the clip above.
-Rita Hayworth is one sexy lady. Don’t try to deny it.

 

 

 

 

*CORRECTION: IT TURNS OUT THAT THIS IS MY 40TH REVIEW. MAJORLY ANTICLIMACTIC. MANY APOLOGIES. I PROMISE I WILL NOT MISCOUNT AGAIN AND THERE WILL BE BIG BLOWOUT BASH FOR MY 50TH REVIEW. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS KEPT ME WRITING THESE REVIEWS AND FOR PUTTING UP WITH MY DUMB MISTAKES.

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Port Brewing’s Shark Attack Double Red Ale & Deep Blue Sea

Good evening, drinkers!

Tonight is all about the reds and blues. Blood and water. And beer. I just finished watching Deep Blue Sea while drinking Port Brewing’s Shark Attack Double Red. Before we begin, I have a few facts that I would like to list as a disclaimer for this review:

Fact #1: I just drank 22 oz. of 9% beer. I am tipsy. Sorry.
Fact #2: I originally wanted to watch Jaws, but I couldn’t find it anywhere (Internet fail!), so I settled for the second most famous shark-themed movie.
Fact #3: This movie was awful and featured LL Cool J. I will not treat it fairly in my review. Fair warning.
Fact #4: I’m still tipsy. Sorry.

Let’s begin!

I really should have watched this movie instead.

Despite Deep Blue Sea  being a god-awful film, I’ll assume that most of you have seen this movie. I’m not sure why, but most people I have come across seem to have seen this film. Or, at the very least, you have probably seen this scene. But that’s besides the point. This movie, for all of its wonderful Samuel L. Jackson eating scenes, is just plain terrible. The premise? Scientists have genetically enhanced three sharks in order to harvest their Brain Juice (we’re using capitals, get over it) in order to cure Alzheimer’s. But, surprise surprise, these sharks git all uppity and smart. Since eating people is preferable to getting their Brain Juice extracted, these three sharks decide to wreak havoc on a bizarrely constructed underwater laboratory staffed by some scientists, a badass shark wrangler and LL Cool J. Oh and Sammy L. is along for the ride because his pharmaceutical company is funding research it knows nothing about and the writers needed a way to explain everything to audience. Needless to say, science goes awry and man pays for its desire to play God.

Now at this point, I can only assume that you know how I feel about this film. Moving beyond the terrible premise, there really isn’t much to go off of. The characters are thin caricatures of what we expect from our cinematic heros, scientists and corporate suits. Little shocks the audience beyond the arbitrary killing of characters and the unlikely survival of LL Cool J, who somehow survives a shark bite that literally rips every other character in half. In contrast to my strong opinions about this film, I actually have very little to say about it. The narrative quickly dumps its “be careful of science” storyline for a pure shark-slasher flick that does little to excite its audience. In fact, I mostly just felt bad for the actors. They probably spent months feeling cold and wet to create a genuinely bad movie. Now that’s dedication.

Oh and did I mention that our Special friend Michael Rapaport is in this film? Yeah. And he kind of plays the same character. Just more annoying.

Shark 101: Don't be this guy.

But thank God for beer, am I right? This hoppy, but remarkably well-balanced 9% beer really helped me out with this film. There is nothing quite like 22 oz. of 9% ABV beer to make a bad situation hilarious, am I right? (I am, in case you were wondering). This Shark Attack Double Red poured a striking red color with a thick head that gives off a strong, piney aroma. While not as piney as, say, an IPA, you definitely taste the hops up front. However, unlike an IPA, this red dissipates into a nice, malty flavor that helps balance out that initial bitterness. Moreover, the strength of the alcohol is mostly masked by that initial hoppiness, making this beer fairly easy to drink (provided you enjoy hops). Also, I’d like to point out that this beer got significantly better as it warmed. As it reached room temperature, that malty balance really came forward and really helped the beer out. I haven’t had anything else from Port Brewing, but this Shark Attack has me hungry for more from this California brewery.

While I didn’t get to watch the movie I was originally intending to, this evening ended up being fine. I got to drink a good beer (with a high ABV!) and watch a terrible movie, which almost always means it’s a good night. However, I promise that the next review I do will be of a “good” movie. I think it’s about time that I get back to using that film degree and analyzing films that are more worthwhile.

Also, for those who are interested, BAAM is fast approaching its 40th review. And while my friends are suggesting that I go all out and do an Edward Forty-Hands (duct tape two 40 oz. bottles to my hands and drink, drink, drink!), I am looking for a less shameful alternative. So if you have any suggestions, please leave a comment below.

And, as always, keep drinking my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Port Brewing’s Shark Attack Double Red Ale:
– Hazy, deep red color
-Piney aroma & flavor
-Tastes better as it warms

Deep Blue Sea:
-What to do when super smart sharks attack!
-Remarkably, LL Cool J survives. Pretty sure it was written into his contract.
-Shark Brain Juice cures Alzheimer’s. Who knew?
 

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New Belgium’s Biere De Mars & Mars Attacks!

Evening, Drinkers.

Well, that was terrible.  Truly just awful. I mean, thank god for beer and having a friends to watch movies with (thanks Anne!) because otherwise I think I would have just turned Mars Attacks! off. Without exaggeration or hyperbole, this was the worst movie I’ve watched for BAAM. Keep in mind that this is stacked up against god awful heavyweights like Megapython Vs. Gatoroid and IroncladYeah, it was that bad. Yay! Let’s do a review!

Before tonight, I was actually kind of excited to see Tim Burton’s 1996 film Mars Attacks! I had managed to avoid seeing it over the years and I had only heard great things about it. I knew it was supposed to be a bit campy and zany, but most opinions seemed to rate the movie as quite funny and entertaining. I would rate my experience as the opposite of funny and entertaining. Without listing off the litany of issues I have with this movie (and we’ll just ignore the plot considering it doesn’t have one), I’ll just briefly talk about what bothered me most. Whether you know it or not, Tim Burton is trying to channel B-film legend Ed Wood in Mars Attacks!. Ed Wood is known for his horribly campy and cheaply made sci-fi and horror films, such as the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space. The thing about campy movies, and Ed Wood, is that they are unconsciously terrible. It’s not as if Ed Wood set out to make terrible movies. He actually believed in his work and committed to it whole-heartedly, allowing the audience to forgive the director and just laugh along with the movie. In the case of Tim Burton and Mars Attacks!, you can tell that Tim Burton is actively trying to be self-reflexively campy. The result is that the movie doesn’t feel campy at all. It’s just terrible. It feels like a waste of money and a good cast. No one is likable. Nothing makes sense and nothing is explained. It seems to me that purpose of the film is it’s own absurdity. Unfortunately, a film can’t stand solely on pointless absurdity. As a result, despite an excessive number of explosions and body-meltings, the movie drags. I kept checking my watch, hoping the movie was over. I really could keep talking about how awful this movie was, but it just makes me angry. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to my happy place. My happy, beer-filled place.

Oh but before we change subjects, let’s just list off the fabulous cast of this film:

Jack Nicholson          Rod Steiger
Glenn Close               Michael J. Fox
Annette Benning      Sarah Jessica Parker
Pierce Brosnan          Pam Grier
Danny DeVito            Natalie Portman
Martin Short              Jack Black

Why? Just why?

Dear god let’s talk about beer. Okay so tonight I cracked open a bomber of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series Biere De Mars. This clever twist on a Biere de Garde pours a hazy golden, copper color and instantly gives off a sweet aroma. Quite fruity with a distinct maltiness to it, this beer is actually quite light in its body. The beer is only 6.5%, which helps keep it fairly light but it’s not particularly complex in its flavor. It’s very easy to drink and it offers few surprises. Though the beautifully designed bottle (see below) spoke of spice, I didn’t really get that. To me, the beer was fairly simple and uncomplicated. Not in a bad way, just not in an extraordinary way. But that’s fine. New Belgium makes so many great beers that this one has a bit of a pedigree to stand up to.

So while the beer didn’t obliterate the memory of this awful, awful movie, it certainly helped me through it. This movie goes beyond non-sensical to just plain stupid. The films tries so hard to be campy while also acknowledging how campy it is. The end result is that the film gets twisted up in itself and delivers absolutely nothing. It’s safe to say that you can skip this one. And that I might have been better off sneaking this beer in to see John Carter.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
New Belgium’s Biere De Mars:
-Great hazy copper color
-Light body
-Fruity aroma & taste

Mars Attacks!:
-Great cast doing nothing but getting killed.
-Tim Burton wishes he were Ed Wood.
-Just go watch Plan 9 From Outer Space. You’ll be happier.

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