Monthly Archives: June 2012

Anchor Brewing’s Summer Wheat & I Know What You Did Last Summer

Hey there, drinkers!

We’re still in summer mode here at BAAM and we’re getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July! And what better way than to drink a relaxing wheat beer and watching a 90’s slasher film that, for no apparent reason takes place on Independence Day? I can’t think of any better alternatives. None whatsoever. Let’s begin!

Ful disclosure: I’m generally not one for the slasher genre. I find them a bit dull, predictable and not particularly scary. And I think it’s safe to say that the annoyingly titled 1997 slasher film I Know What You Did Last Summer fits the bill quite well. After a night of irresponsible underage drinking and pre-marital sex, four teens accidentally hit some dude with their car. Logically, they decide to dump him off a pier rather than notify the police and ruin their upcoming college careers. Let’s take a moment to note that this film takes place in the wealthiest and whitest, small fishing town in the United States. Fact.

I miss 90’s fashion

Anyway, a year later, a hook-wielding killer comes to town to exact his revenge. The film does a pretty good job of concealing the identity of the killer, throwing the audience off by killing of our top suspects pretty quickly. However, all this clever planning collapses when (SPOILER ALERT) it turns out that the killer is really just the random guy they hit the year before. Surprise! But let’s talk about why we really watch slashers: the kills. Unfortunately, the deaths in this film are neither too gruesome or inventive. Obviously, it’s still not a great movie to show your kids but you know what I mean. The most gruesome and graphic death is the first kill and all the other ones are pretty boring or implied (re: off screen). For the most part, they are all variations of “Person gets stabbed with hook. Unfortunate death ensues.” Oh and I haven’t even mentioned the dialogue yet. Ryan Phillippe’s improbably named character, Barry, violently snaps between douchebag and rage while Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt read stock romantic lines like “I understand your pain.”

Okay so maybe some of you have a soft spot for this movie. I know a lot of people from my generation grew up with slashers like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream, but that doesn’t make them good movies. Yeah sure, the film is mildly entertaining in a mindless sort of way, but there have to be better slashers out there that are more satisfying in their dialogue and their deaths.

…okay so maybe not so much with the dialogue, but maybe they must have other redeeming qualities.

Okay now I get it

And our summer slasher beer? Tonight we tried San Francisco-based Anchor Brewing’s Summer Wheat, a nice attempt at a simple light beer with a little bit of wheat body. I say attempt on purpose though. To be honest, I found the flavor of this beer to be a little lacking. That well-known wheat flavor from beers we love like Blue Moon was mostly absent. In its place was just a mild graininess that I did not find particularly satisfying. Simply put, it was kind of plain. I hate to say it, knowing that Anchor Brewing makes so many other great beers, but this Summer Wheat lacked that distinctive wheaty flavor and didn’t back it up with enough of a malt character. Instead, you get a light and mild beer that is easy to drink but not particularly satisfying. Sorry folks.

So that’s it! Our summer continues as we get ready for the 4th with a little blood and beer. However, it hurts me to say that the combo wasn’t too fulfilling. I Know What You Did Last Summer comes off mostly as an excuse to have pretty people on screen (just like any other self-respecting summer movie) while Anchor’s Summer Wheat fails to stand up to the other heavy hitters of the wheat beer world.

Stay tuned later this week, because I hope to get out a 4th of July special that may or may not actually come out on the 4th. We’ll see?

Either way, keep drinking my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Anchor’s Summer Wheat
-Pours a light straw color
-Thick, lingering foam head
-No strong wheat or malt character

I Know What You Did Last Summer
-Classic slasher setup
-Uninspired kill scenes
-People wore funny clothes in the 90’s

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Review

Beer and an Outdoor Screening Special: Eagle Rock Brewery’s Populist & Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Hey there, sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies and dickheads!

Tonight we’re doing something different and headed out on the town to an outdoor screening here in Los Angeles. There are a number of outdoor series running throughout the city, but tonight’s festivities were provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, also known vaguely as “the Academy.” Yes, that Academy is now offering outdoor movie screenings on its property in Hollywood for the delightfully Summery price of $5. From what I gather, they’ve recently redone their property and now there is a beautiful lawn that’s just perfect for screenings. Not to mention the bumpin’ surround sound. But enough pimping the Academy, they don’t need the free publicity. For those of you who are interested in future screenings this summer, check out their site for more information. But for now, let’s talk about the evening.

Tonight’s “theme” really is about doing it local. Summer is all about getting outside, spending time with friends and exploring the world around you. For me, that means hitting up local screenings and drinking some of the finest local beer you can get. So I grabbed a rare bottle of Populist, made by the beautiful people at Eagle Rock Brewery and got cozy with my fellow Angelinos for Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. So let’s cut class and see what we have in store.

Sadly, we didn’t have string lights but it was still a sweet venue

For the zero of you who have never seen the 1986 John Hughes mega-classic high school film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I ask how you have survived so long without this cinematic gem. I’m not going to go into the plot too heavily or overstate it’s humor, because I think that’s familiar territory for most of you. But I haven’t seen this movie in a number of years and I was struck by how fresh the film still felt. The jokes were still on point, the characters still nuanced and playful, and Charlie Sheen still looked strung out. Of course over the years, you forget a lot of the little moments that make the movie so wonderful, like the little looks and faces the actors give one another, as if egging each other on in their roles. And while you could break down and quantify why this film is still so beloved, its standout feature is its earnesty. Sure the characters are a bit exaggerated at times, but at their core, each of the principle characters is deeply uncertain and scared. In  a sense, the film really ends up being more about Cameron, Ferris’s BFF, as he is really the only character to undergo a major change. For the angsty that still lives inside of all of us, Cameron is our point of contact throughout the film and can’t help but fall in love. This ability to play with humor and angsty universal truths is writer/director John Hughes’ trademark and, for me, Ferris Bueller strikes just the right balance. Not to mention it features arguably one of the greatest movie sequences of all time.

And it’s about time I got around to Eagle Rock Brewery. I’ve been coming to this place for a little over a year now and I still can’t get enough. Housed in a small, nondescript warehouse just off the freeway near where I went to college, this local brewery was one of the catalysts that sparked my interest in craft beer. And their West Coast IPA, the Populist, is the IPA that re-introduced me to the style. Tonight was the first time I had tried the bottled (they only recently started selling bottles, so until this point I’ve either had this at the tap room or out of my growler) and I still loved it. Populist manages to capture that bright, hoppy flavor of IPA’s without any excessive bitterness. The result is a hazy orange beer that is piney and floral. What I love most is that it retains that big, bold flavor without feeling heavy or too intense. And with a well-masked 7% ABV, this is a great beer to have with dinner or to slowly sip under the stars and in front of the silver screen.

Drink local!

So thanks for joining me on this unconventional BAAM tonight. There really was no question that tonight’s combo was going to be a real winner. Great local beer? Check. Timeless teen comedy? Check. Enjoying an evening under the stars with friends? Check. For those of you who do live in Los Angeles, I highly recommend you check out both of the places I’ve mentioned here. The Academy screenings go all the way through August and it’s a cheap way to have a great evening (plus free parking!). As for Eagle Rock Brewery, why wouldn’t support a local business that’s making great products? And for those who aren’t in LA, just grab yourself a local beer, find Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on Netflix and have a great night.

And, as always, keep drinking my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
ERB’s Populist IPA:
-Big, hoppy flavor
-Not overly bitter
-The IPA that started it all for me

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:
-Timeless humor & high school sentiment
-Subtle & loveable characters
-Most kickass German heritage parade of all time

Leave a comment

Filed under Review, Special

Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest & The Endless Summer

Hey there, Summer Drinkers!

Summer officially begins tomorrow, which means it’s time to bust out the surf board and crack open a nice, cool lager. Fortunately for you all, I’ve got both on tap for tonight with the 1966 surfing classic The Endless Summer and Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest.  So hop on, catch a wave and let’s get surfin’,

Now I don’t imagine many people have seen or heard of this film, but I’d wager that many of you have seen the poster. It’s an iconic image with bright colors that we have all seen in college dorms across the country. Objectively, it’s a beautiful poster that, impressively enough, captures the essence of what the film is all about: the ease, excitement and hope of a proverbial “endless summer.”

Pretty sweet, right?

But let’s dive into the substance of this film. Ostensibly, The Endless Summer is a documentary about two surfers, Mike and Robert, who follow summer around the globe in search of great surfing. But to call this movie a documentary isn’t really accurate. Sure, it features real people doing real surfing in real places, but the real flavor of the film is found in the narrator’s loving and quirky storytelling. The narrator, who is also the filmmaker and surfer Bruce Brown, simply converses with the audience. He tell stories, jumps around in time, delivers one-line zingers and provides excessive commentary. It seems as if his intention is not to educate people about surfing, but rather to simply have people share in his love of the sport. Bruce Brown even ends his film with an understated “I hope you enjoyed my film” before cutting quietly to a black screen. Bruce gives us all the important details about the surfing conditions, but he’s really more interested in conveying the whole surfing attitude. Mike and Robert aren’t surf snobs who are fed up with the perfection of Hawaii. Rather, they’re regular guys who love surfing who just want to do a little exploring on the side. Interestingly enough though, we never hear them speak. In fact, we probably only hear synched sound about three times throughout the entire film. Rather, Bruce Brown simply talks over the entire film, providing colorful commentary and occasionally racist anecdotes. But ultimately, The Endless Summer is as much about surfing as it is about finding a state of nirvana. Mike, Robert, Bruce and all the wonderful characters we meet along the way are really searching for the things that make them happy. And if they don’t find that, then they go looking for the next best thing and make the most out of that. And in that way, The Endless Summer truly is a timeless classic.

It’s also a bit of an advertisement for Hawaii but it’s hard to argue against that one.

There are also some tasteful bikini jokes.

And did our pursuit of the perfect wave also produce the perfect summer beer? Not really, but perfect is a tough standard to strive for. I was sipping on Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest tonight and I have to say that it was a good summer beer. This tame 5% lager has everything you want in a summer beer. It’s light, crisp, refreshing and it goes too fast. Before I even knew it, I had finished off this clear, golden beer. Maybe I was just dehydrated from work, but I think it’s more because this beer is almost too light and refreshing, since you don’t really stop to appreciate it. Before I apparently guzzled this bottle down, I got some nice sweet notes with hints of hops at the finish.  It’s a very “clean” beer, for lack of a better word. Nothing extraordinary but definitely a good alternative to any other light beer you’re probably going to be drinking this summer.

Not a bad way to kick off the summer, am I right? We watched one of the most loved and iconic summer movies of all time with a simple, tasty summer beer. And while I recommend that everyone set aside 90 minutes to enjoy The Endless Summer, you might need two or three Summerfests to last you through it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good beer, you might just need a few more than you’d expect. But that’s what summer is all about: sitting back, relaxing and just soaking it all in.

Happy summer, Drinkers.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Summerfest:
-Very clear, golden color
-Soft hints of sweetness and hops
-Almost too easy to drink. Buy two.

The Endless Summer:
-Quintessential surfing & summer movie
-Strikingly simple & beautiful visuals
-Unusual, highly personal “documentary”  style

Leave a comment

Filed under Review

50th Review Special: Ayinger’s Celebrator & The Longest Day

Hey there, Drinkers!

Tonight’s BAAM is a very special one.  As you may or may not be aware, tonight’s review marks the 50th combo I’ve done here at beer and a movie. Moreover, this post is almost exactly one year from when I wrote my first. On June 13th, 2011, I wrote a review of Abita Amber and Bad Lieutenant and now, one year later, here we are. It has been a hell of a year and I just wanted to thank all of you for sticking with me. I’ll offer more thanks later on, but for now let’s set up our BAAM.

Since I’m a very clever person and I occasionally plan these things, I’ve managed to incorporate our one year anniversary and 50th review directly in tonight’s film The Longest Day. Not only was this film released in 1962 (50 years ago…get it?), it also is all about June 6th, which is pretty close to today. For those who don’t know their major historical events, June 6th was D-Day. For those of you who are laughably ignorant, D-Day was when the Allied forces of World War II landed on the beaches of France, marking the start of the push towards Berlin. Kind of a big deal. But moving on from that little date-related cuteness, we’re celebrating our 50th review with The Longest Day and a tasty German beer (German…are you getting it, yet?) known as the Celebrator. So let’s get celebrating, shall we?

The Longest Day, which was recommended to me by the ever-knowledgeable Anne of We Recycle Movies fame, is a WWII epic in the classic sense and so much more. This sweeping 3-hour long film covers the entire course of D-Day from all sides of conflict. Moving effortlessly between spaces, the film showcases everyone from the German high command to the average footsoldier. While, at times, it is hard to keep track of all the characters in the film, the characters themselves are not what is really important. While the cast is fantastic (John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, etc), what is notable about the characters is that each one feels unique and, more importantly, human. Contrary to many other war epics, the filmmakers were not afraid of showing small moments of mundanity or averageness. A vast majority of the soldiers, on both sides of the war, are not heroes. They are ordinary men put in extraordinary circumstances. They gamble, they get bored, they drink, they don’t know what’s going on. And though the film lacks the grittiness and blood of more modern WWII films, The Longest Day still manages to hold its own when it comes to character.

Sean Connery also makes a guest appearance. He’s sassy.

But what this film is really about is visual scope. Holy crap, it’s insane. In a time before computers did the heavy lifting for filmmaking, everything that a director wanted on camera had to actually be there. Sometimes we forget this when we watch older films, but when you stop to think about it, there had to be thousands of extras running through explosions and gunfire on an actual beach during production. It’s incredible. One shot in particular, during the assault on Ouistreham, lasts a least a minute without a cut and arcs across an entire city filled with extras actually engaged in battle. Buildings explode. Men die. The camera crosses a river. It’s really just impressive. Another point I’d like to note for this film is its “fairness” to both sides of conflict. While I don’t think anyone would argue that the Nazi’s have been discriminated against in their cinematic portrayal, it was refreshing to see a take on the German military that was not monochromatic. Throughout the film, German officers express their frustration with Hitler’s leadership and lower ranking soldiers actually express their opinions, rather than just saluting and shooting guns. Rather than presenting the usual faceless demons of the Nazi military, the audience is given human faces and personalities to attach to the warmachine. Even more interesting is that the Germans actually speak German! Unlike many other war movies of the time, characters actually speak their native languages and the audience is left to deal with subtitles, which I appreciated.

But now I’m rambling a bit. Overall, I enjoyed this film far more than I expected. Sure it feels a bit long with a 178 minute running time, but it remains quite captivating throughout. The characters are rich, the action is strong, the scope of the film is immense and it’s easy to watch. What’s not to like?

Always the badass, even when his soldiers push him along in a cart like a wuss.

And our German Celebrator? I’ll start off saying I really should have had two these. Three hours is a long time to nurse one beer. I probably made it 30 minutes before I went dry, so bare with me as I try to remember. The Celebrator, which comes adorned with cute little goat charm on the bottle’s neck, is a doppelbock, meaning it’s a stronger version of the traditional Bock lager. This brew pours almost black with hints of red when it catchs the light. With a nice, soft malty nose, the beer promises to be a tasty treat from the start. When you sip it, you gets hints of dark sweetness (think molasses) and roasted malt. Maybe a little bit of chocolate and fruit in there as well. However, the flavor isn’t overpowering and the whole thing goes down remarkably smooth. I know I say this about a lot of beers, but this one was particularly easy-to-drink. I could have easily drank a few these without feeling overwhelmed (though I’d be a bit tipsy). And if, for some bizarre reason, you don’t trust my opinion, BeerAdvocate gives it some of the highest ratings I’ve seen on a beer, and those guys actually know what they’re talking about.

So that was our celebration! While we probably should have had one or two more Celebrators, I still managed to have quite an enjoyable evening. And though The Longest Day was the longest movie I’ve done for BAAM, I didn’t ever get that bored or lose interest. The film manages to keep track of so many moving elements, distinct characters and large action sequences that you never really tire of what the film is offering. It’s a bit of a commitment to watch, but maybe that’s what makes it worthwhile.

I want to thank all of you for sticking with me here at beer and a movie. I never really imagined doing this for a year or hitting 50 reviews. A lot has changed for me since that first review but BAAM has been one of those constants that has kept me on an even keel. I truly enjoy doing these reviews and getting your feedback makes it even more worthwhile, not mention it’s a great excuse to drink good beer.

Please don’t hesitate to send me comments, critiques or suggestions for future reviews. If you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe here on WordPress or through the Facebook page. You can also follow me on Twitter @beerandamovie1.  And be sure to tell your friends, because drinking alone is a little sad. 

Thanks,
Gabe

And, as always, keep drinking my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Ayinger’s Celebrator:
-Beautiful dark beer with red accents
-Complex sweet & malty flavor
-Easy drinking beer with a backbone

The Longest Day:
-Huge but strong cast
-Epic filmmaking in every sense
-Germans speak German, shocker.

2 Comments

Filed under Review, Special

Samuel Adams’ Dark Depths & Sphere

Evening, Drinkers!

In continuing with our theme of underwater movies that feature Samuel L. Jackson, we’re watching Sphere in the dark company of Sam Adams’ Dark Depths Baltic IPA. So grab your swimming gear and let’s dive in.

In 1998, the underwater psychological sci-fi mystery horror thrill known as Sphere came onto the scene. Based on a Michael Crichton novel, Sphere is the story of a group of scientists who investigate a mysterious spacecraft 1000 feet beneath the water. Not to spoil anything, but they find a giant sphere and mayhem ensues. And though we come to understand that the sphere causes people’s dreams to manifest in reality, the film is really more of a study in stress and paranoia. While the characters do manage to dream up some scary encounters with giant squid, jellyfish and some weird “nocturnal” sea snakes, these are not the real moments of drama. Rather, the moments when the characters start to accuse each other of lies, betrayal and confusion are the film’s strongest. Part of this might be due to the fact that the film has a more acting driven cast, as compared to a more action-themed cast. Leading the film you have Dustin Hoffman who, from time to time, actually is a fantastic actor. Obviously, Sphere is not one of finest moments but he does lend some legitimacy to our connection to the characters and their predicament.

Well this doesn’t seem to explain much at all…

Where the film falls flat is that leaves you feeling bizarrely unsatisfied. For the most part, all of the major questions are answered but something seemed terribly amiss to me when the credits began to roll. Some of the major questions regarding Samuel L. Jackson’s character are left unanswered; and for a film about a sunken spaceship, very little time is actually spent discussing said spaceship. It seemed to me that no one in the film was asking the big, glaring questions any normal person would. But I guess if you’re under the influence of an interstellar golden-swirly ball 1000 feet under the ocean, we can cut you some slack. This film is by no means great. It’s long and slow but it is a nice change of pace when it comes to sci-fi movies. Aside from the really annoying interstitial titles that felt like commercial breaks, most of my gripes with this film stem from lack in satisfaction with the answers provided. But I guess if we were to ever encounter an alien entity or an unknown spacecraft, I doubt all of our questions would be answered to our liking.

Now let’s go see Prometheus!

Creeper face.

And how was my descent into the Dark Depths? Well, like Sphere, it was an odd experience that left me with some questions. From my understanding, Baltic IPAs (BeerAdvocate labels this beer as a Baltic Porter) were born many years ago from shipping porters long distance by sea. The long travel time altered the nose and flavor of the original beer and inspired this style of beer. With that, I guess it explains the Dark Depths unusual flavor. It pours very dark with a chocolatey head that is reminiscent of a stout or porter. When you first taste it, you get hit with that rich maltiness of a porter. However, as the taste finishes on the back of your tongue, you get that hint of bitterness that you could identify as IPA-ish. It’s faint, but it’s definitely there. The whole experience is quite smooth and the 7.6% ABV doesn’t hurt either. And though the beer taste pretty good, I felt like the two aspects of the beer, the porter and the IPA, weren’t meshing as well as they should. It was good, but maybe I thought it should be better or more special than it actually was. But fortunately for me, Sam Adams makes about 239048 other fantastic beers, so I’ll be seeing them again soon.

So let’s come back up to the surface here and just review our thoughts here. Sphere was an interesting yet ultimately unsatisfying movie experience. The premise is interesting and the character interactions are pretty strong, but a lot of key questions are left unanswered. For Sam Adams’ Dark Depths, I was also left a bit confused by the combination of the malty smoothness of a porter with a fruity, bitterness of an IPA. It wasn’t a bad beer but I was left a bit perplexed.

And for those who are counting, our next BAAM review will be our 50th! Crazy! And it’s been pretty much a year since I started this thing too! Wild! Exclamation! And while I’m not sure if I’ll be a doing a big celebration for the big 5-0, I will try my best to make the review something special. And I’ll be thanking you all profusely. Sorry in advance.

Thanks for reading and, as always, keep drinking my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Samuel Adams’ Dark Depths:
-Deep, dark color
-Mostly porter with hints of IPA in the finish
-Good beer but not a great beer

Sphere:
-Claustrophobic sci-fi underwater nightmare mystery thriller starring Dustin Hoffman…
-Intriguing yet unsatisfying answers & conclusion.
-Surprisingly lack of sphere in Sphere.

Leave a comment

Filed under Review