North Coast Brewing’s Old No. 38 & Back to the Future Part III

Great Scott, Drinkers!

BAAM is back…to the future…yeah. Let’s just roll with that one. But yes! Another beer and a movie combo is rolling into station (I should just stop now) with North Coast’s Old #38 Stout and the third installment of Back to the Future trilogy. So let’s fire up the engine (okay I’m stopping now) and get into tonight’s review!

As a fair warning, I will announce that the entire Back to the Future trilogy made a formidable impression on my childhood and I still regard the entire series as one of my all time favorites. That being said, Back to the Future Part III was never my favorite. I was always more partial the second movie since there were flying cars and the like. But that’s besides the point. What I’m trying to say is that I may have difficult separating my childhood memories from tonight’s viewing but I’ll do my best to remain as professional as I always am in these reviews.

Now for the sad, lonely few who haven’t seen any of these films, the third one will pretty much make no sense whatsoever. While the film does attempt to refresh the audience’s memory as to the characters, events and “science” of the previous films but the trilogy’s history is not Part III’s primary focus. And I make that pun deliberately. As can be expected from a movie about time traveling to the old West, there are some historical inaccuracies that will nag you but, in general, they won’t bother you enough to detract from the entertainment of the film. Besides, it was the 80’s and no one cares anyway.

Flying steam-powered, time-traveling train from the late 1800’s? Check!

I have to say that one of the major differences in watching this film as a 20-something as compared when I did as an 8 year old is realizing that this movie is not about Marty McFly. Unlike Part I and Part II, this film is much more about Doc Brown in terms of both conflict and character. Where in the first film Doc Brown was the amusing, scientifically informed sidekick to our hero Marty, Part III is more interested in learning about who Doc Brown really is. What happens when he falls in love? What happens when his head and heart are conflicted? What happens when he drinks? Unlike many other trilogies that try too hard to keep their protagonists fresh, Back to the Future changes course and allows another character to take center stage. Of course Marty McFly is still important and serves as the grounding story for the complete trilogy, but he acts much more like an audience interpreter this time around. To a fault, actually. Many of Marty’s lines seem to knock the audience over the head with obvious facts or serve to remind the audience of what is at stake. More often that not, Marty spends his time pointing out the not-so-subtle connections between past, present and future. You’re my great-grandfather?! You’re Mad Dog Tannen?! It’s a refrigerator?! The unfortunate side effect of making Doc Brown the primary character in this film is that Marty McFly is forced to play second fiddle. A position that he doesn’t seem all too comfortable with.

The name’s Eastwood. Clint Eastwood.

There are a lot of things I could point out, both good and bad, about this film but for the sake of time I just want to mention one last thing I found amusing. It seems that every character we’ve ever met throughout the series has some historical counterpart in 1885 Hill Valley. They all have the same last names, all act the same, say the same things and are all played by the same actors. And while this is mostly a cute wink to the audience, it makes you realize that no one has left Hill Valley in over 100 years. And that there’s about four or five generations of repetitive parenting trickling through the ages. Just some food for thought.


The end of an era.

And how about our Old No. 38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co? Well, it’s still a bit too warm out to really be drinking stouts but I don’t really care so just sit down and keep reading. The Old No. 38, apparently named after a retired steam engine, pours a deep black with a thin chocolate-colored head. It’s actually quite a lovely black. I’d compare it to a few other dark stouts I’ve reviewed on BAAM like Old Rasputin or Old Engine Oil. Apparently in Beerland, old equals black. But where these two beers were big and rich, I found Old No. 38 to be a bit more mild mannered. You still get that great barley aroma and chocolate malt flavor like the other two, but this beer lacks a bit of a punch. Which is fine, in my opinion. It’s easy to drink and very smooth. The hoppiness is a bit a buried under the malt but all-in-all, the Old No. 38 is a solid stout. North Coast always makes great beer so I won’t be shying away from this one in the future….or the past!

So there you have it, drinkers. Back to the Future III and Old No. 38 Stout from North Coast Brewing. While neither is the best representative of their genre, Part III being the weakest film of the trilogy and Old No. 38 being a fairly tame stout, both are still easy to enjoy and are worth coming back to. And since I’m now tempted to go back (to the future!) to rewatch parts I and II (thanks Mom and Dad for your HBO Go account info!), I also find myself more interested in what North Coast Brewing has to offer.

Thanks for stopping by folks. And remember, keep drinking my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Old No. 38 Stout:

-Pure, deep black pour
-Classic, chocolate malt flavor
-Solid, go-to stout

Back to the Future Part III:
-Silly, but heartwarming attempt at a Western
-Finally Doc Brown’s turn in the limelight
-Still brings a smile to my face so many years

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