Monthly Archives: April 2012

Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA & Raging Bull

BAAM is back, bitches!

We’re coming out swinging after our week long hiatus for Passover with a well-regarded beer and a well-respected movie. That’s right, it’s a night of RAGE (!) with Scorsese’s boxing classic Raging Bull and Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian-style IPA. So let’s hop in the ring and get started.

Martin Scorsese’s 1980 Oscar winning Raging Bull chronicles the thoroughly depressing rise and fall of 1940’s-50’s boxing legend Jake La Motta and his inability to be a sane human being. In his quest to become world middle-weight champ, Jake manages to physically destroy every relationship he has (seriously, he hits pretty much everyone he loves). Unable to contain his rage (wonder where the title came from…) and control his paranoia-fueled jealousy, Jake manages to ruin two marriages and his relationship with his brother, played by everyone’s favorite Joe Pesci. And while the story is compelling and the acting is top notch (it’s truly one of De Niro’s finest performances), what is most striking about this film is its visual style. Photographed in haunting black and white at varying frame rates, the film effortlessly dips between painful realism and beautiful surrealism. Within the longer fight sequences, the audience is treated with overwhelming close-ups, dream-like slow-motion and a sort of horrified revelry in the blood of boxing. Every shot stands on its own as a great work of filmmaking. If you were to watch the film without the sound, I think you would still find the film easy to follow and beautiful to watch. Not to overstate anything, but Raging Bull truly is a great film (though a bit slow at times) that I would recommend to anyone, even if you’re not a “sports movie” fan. In fact, this film hardly qualifies as a sports movies, as it focuses much more intently on the fractured emotional states of Jake La Motta than on the actual matches themselves. Long story short, watch this movie. It’ll…wait for it…knock your socks off.

I swear I’m funny…

He's seen better days, but you haven't seen a better movie.

And now for our Raging Bitch. I’ve actually seen this beer, and many others by Flying Dog Brewery, at a few beer shops but I’ve held off on buying them mostly because I don’t like their labeling. I’m pretty sure most people would agree with me when I say that their packaging does not make their product appealing. However, on the suggestion of a friend, I decided to bite the bullet and pick up a Raging Bitch. But this is where I kind of have to end my review. See, from what I can tell, my bottle was spoiled. After a few sips and double checking against reviews on Beer Advocate, I think that this is really the only explanation for the mildly carbonated, generally flavorless and stale beer. I got none of the piney, hoppiness of the IPA, nor did I get any of the banana-y characteristics of a beer brewed with Belgian yeast. Moreover, this beer was supposedly 8.5% but, for me, it tasted very weak. So, for the time being, I’ll give Flying Dog the benefit of the doubt and not condemn this brew to a BAAM thumbs down. Of course I was disappointed to drink a spoiled beer, but I guess it means I’ll have to give this one a shot in the near future. Sorry everybody, but that’s just way it goes.

And so BAAM’s comeback night was a bit of a swing and a miss. Raging Bull was right on the money, delivering the one-two punch of fantastic acting and unbelievable cinematography. However, Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch couldn’t handle the punches with the spoiled bottle I drank. I definitely want to try this beer again for all of its positive reviews, but I’m out of boxing puns for now and I have many other beers to try. Catch you next time!

But until then, keep drinking my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA: 
-Unfortunately received a bad bottle, so there isn’t much I can say here. Sorry kids.
-And by kids I mean young adults who are over 21 years of age. Just to clarify.
-And by young adults I pretty much mean anyone over 21. I don’t discriminate.

Raging Bull:
-Powerful performances from every cast member.
-Striking black & white photography. Truly beautiful.
-Lots of sweaty De Niro. Winning!

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Uinta’s Detour Double IPA & Away We Go

Good evening, drinkers!

Tonight we’re taking a little trip with the pseudo-indie film Away We Go and Uinta Brewing’s Detour Double India Pale Ale. After a good day and a fun weekend to which to look forward, sometimes it’s nice to just let your mind wander with a good movie and a good beer. The alcoholic icing to your proverbial cinematic cake. So hop in the car (but don’t drink before you do that, that’s bad) and take a Detour with me for tonight’s review.

"We swear we're really an indie movie. I mean, look at our trendy poster!"

The 2009 Sam Mendes “indie” flick Away We Go features a delightfully bearded John Krasinski (The Office) and a delightfully delightful Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) who decide to explore North America in search of the perfect home for their unborn child. Abandoning their yuppie-rustic abode in what I assume must be the Portland area, Burt and Verona visit friends and family all across the United States and, briefly, Montreal. Each family they encounter has its charm and its overstated quirks and/or sorrows. Burt’s parents are grossly self-centered, Verona’s old boss has no control over her tongue, her sister is angrily single, Burt’s “cousin” is disturbingly new wave, their college friends lament their inability to have children (despite their many adorable adopted kids) and Burt’s brother’s wife has abandoned him and their daughter. To look at the world of married life and love through the lens of this film, it’s fairly bleak, which serves to sort of explain Verona’s refusal to marry Burt. However, in their own way, each odd couple Burt and Veron encounter informs them as to the life they want their child to have. The film’s somewhat pessimistic (and often hilarious) view towards conventional coupling serves to reinforce its importance by the film’s conclusion.

Burt and Verona truly love each other. They know exactly what they want their lives to look like without ever knowing the specifics of how to get their. And so despite the film’s at times inconsistent tone (swinging dramatically between heartfelt and absurd and hilarious) and its pointedly indie soundtrack (Alexi Murdoch ftw!), it ends up being a very rewarding and earnest examination of love and parenthood. It’s sweet. It’s funny. It’s sad. It’s messy. It’s all the things that are real to us outside of a movie theater. So, much to my surprise, I really liked this film. I could have done without the scattered title cards but beyond that, the film has pretty much everything you want out of a non-Katherine Heigl romcom.

Also, I should point out that this film was co-written by Dave Eggers, who is a great novelist and the founder of McSweeny’s. When you realize this, the movie makes a lot more sense.

With a shot like this, you know this film is going to be adorable. And filled with vagina jokes.

And how was our little Detour? Well, like the film, I was pleasantly surprised by this double IPA. Touting a beefy 9.5% ABV, I was expecting this beer to come roaring out of the gate with big, bold IPA flavor. However, to my delight, this coppery beer was smooth and not too boozy. It still had that distinctively bitter, floral aroma and taste of an IPA but without being overwhelming. Compared to some other IPA’s I’ve had, this double IPA was actually less bitter. Anne, of We Recycle Movies, who joined me for this BAAM review, noted that she actually enjoyed this beer more than other IPA’s that I’ve forced her to drink. And while I still don’t think the uninitiated should dive straight into this beer, I do believe that this is not a bad beer to take a sip of it you’re curious about the style.

So I think our road trip was quite the success. The beer was easy to drink, very flavorful and left me a bit tipsy, which is always nice. The movie was heartfelt, earnest, funny and had just enough Hollywood unbelievability to make it a great viewing experience. Truth be told, both the beer and the movie left me with a smile on my face and that’s really what it’s all about.

Until next time, keep drinking my friends!

Oh and a quick note on next week: Friday night marks the beginning of Passover. Being the good Jew that I am, I will not be drinking any beer during the holiday (gasp!). This means that I will not be doing any reviews until after the 14th. Sorry everybody, but duty calls.

 

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Uinta’s Detour Double IPA:
-Crisp, coppery color
-Distinctly IPA in its aroma
-Surprisingly smooth & non-bitter despite high ABV

Away We Go:
-Knowingly delightful
-Truthfully funny
-John Krasinski is so shaggy. But it works.

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