Monthly Archives: November 2012

Ballast Point’s Tongue Buckler & The Buccaneer

Yarr, Drinkers!

After a botched Thanksgiving special BAAM with We Recycle Movies, due to a movie that was literally unwatchable, we’re back to our regular scheduled drinking. Tonight’s we’re hitting the high seas with the 1938 DeMille epic (is that redundant?) The Buccaneer while sipping on some potent Tongue Buckler from Ballast Point Brewing.  So your raise your sail and your glass for tonight’s combo!

It’s been awhile since we’ve done a classic, so tonight I decided to go with the 1938 Cecil D. DeMille film The Buccaneer. Taking place during the historically irrelevant War of 1812, The Buccaneer follows the tribulations of a Louisiana privateer caught between loves and loyalties. When principaled yet swashbuckling Jean Lafitte is propositioned by the British Navy to aid in the war against the fledgling United States, he is thrown into a military and political maelstrom that has ramifications for the entire nation. Though Lafitte is established as a merciless pirate, he has a certain soft spot for American flags and Dutch women. Struck with a certain level of patriotism, mostly because the Louisiana government refuses to arrest Lafitte and his men, Lafitte finds himself a devout American willing to defend New Orleans. There’s a certain amount of back and forth on the allegiances but I don’t want to spend more time on plot. Needless to say America wins and everyone important falls in love with who they are supposed to. What I want to say is that this film is actually pretty good. Old epics have a tendency to be a bit melodramatic (and a tad but racist) but this one strikes a good balance between love, drama, politics, humor and action. And racism. And yes, it is still melodramatic but only in small bits. For the most part, this film is actually a lot of fun. Lafitte is easily lovable and the political drama is engaging enough to pull through the otherwise excessive two hour running time.

The drama! The excitement! The Buccaneer!

What I want to make a point of actually is the humor of this film. For what should be a serious film about political and national affiliations, The Buccaneer does a fantastic job of mixing this drama with great humor. Laffite, like any self-respecting pirate (privateer!), always has a clever retort. His men are equally clever and Gretchen, his Dutch indentured lady-slave/love interest always manages to toss in a humbling line. And Andrew Jackson is friggin’ hilarious. And a baller. As is Dominque. He’s cool too. Beyond the humor, I want to briefly point out that the film does dare to suggest that the United States is imperfect. While the U.S. is still undoubtably the preferable nation to England in this film, The Buccaneer makes a point of showing that the U.S. is a fallible entity. It also takes the time to note that America is comprised of people who have crawled out of the sewers from the rest of the world. Quite the selling argument!

America is the best! Even when they shoot their own loyal pirates…I mean privateers!

And how was our swashbuckling Tongue Buckler from Ballast Point Brewing? Damn good. This is only the second time I’ve had this beer, as it seems a bit tricky to track down but boy is it a good ‘un. Boasting a healthy 10% ABV, this Imperial Red pours a hazy coppery-red color with a modest creamy head. The nose gives off strong, sweet maltiness that you could drink in. And good thing you can! The Tongue Buckler is a crazy malt-fest with just the right amount of bitterness to balance it out. It’s a nice mix of sweet maltiness, boozy grains and hoppy bitterness. It’s actually quite impressive. It’s definitely not for the feint of heart and the full 22 oz. was actually a bit difficult to complete on my own. Definitely doable, just….challenging. It’s mostly that the beer gets boozier as it warms and the high ABV gets to you after awhile. But overall, the beer is remarkably smooth and definitely tasty.

So tonight’s BAAM? Quite a success I have to say. A solid, classic film with the mix of drama, comedy and action we all crazy paired with a strong yet balanced beer. The movie is worth checking out, if you’re feeling a little old school and the beer is definitely worth a taste, though I might suggest trying it with a friend. And for the record, Ballast Point makes some other incredible beers. If you see some of their beers, do me a favor and pick one up. You won’t regret it. In fact, I have another one of their beers in my fridge already.

Thanks for reading everyone and have a great Thanksgiving. Remember to drink locally and responsibly this holiday season. And as always keep drinking, my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Tongue Buckler:
-Super malty flavor
-Lovely copper-red pour
-High ABV that borders on too much booze

The Buccaneer:
-Great mix of everything we love about film
-Huge, lovable cast
-Actually critiques the U.S…a little

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Wychwood’s Scarecrow Ale & Batman Begins

Hey there, Drinkers!

How are of you doing? I’m doing SUPER! Thanks for asking! Why, do you ask? Because I’m watching Batman Begins and drinking beer! It takes very little to make me happy. But seriously, it’s been awhile since we’ve done this. Probably too long. And while our guest review and our Halloween special were pretty amaze-balls, sometimes it’s nice to get back to basics. One beer. One movie. One me writing a review. And speaking of basics, let’s dive right into Batman 101.

Many years ago, all the way back in 2005, a one Christopher Nolan introduced the world to a re-imagined superhero who had been sorely mistreated by the 1990’s. Batman Begins provided a fresh, dark and grounded Batman and launched an absurdly successful franchise as a result. Now, in my opinion, this film is the best of “Dark Knight” trilogy simply because of this fact (sorry TDK fans). Though the film is, by definition, a bit bombastic, it still manages to keep its feet planted firmly on ground. Well, except when Batman is flying around but that’s not what I mean. Rather, the film manages to keep itself simple, clean and unpolluted by the potential energy of Batman’s legacy. The gadgets are pretty standard, the plot clear and the enemies fairly sensical. Actually, I think the decision to stay away from Batman’s more iconic adversaries in this film is one of its best features. While familiar to hardcore Batman fans, baddies like Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul (and a cameo by Victor Zsasz) are largely unknown to the broader public, allowing the director more freedom in their reinvention and affording the ability to escape preconceived notions. It also means that they’re not stupid and gimmicky like Mr. Freeze/Fries.

No, I will not CHILL OUT!

And while I mostly have nothing but praise for this film, I do want to point out an inconsistency I noticed after seeing this movie about 34 times. Gotham is generally presented as a city with no moral compass and no legal order. The mob seemingly owns the police force and the justice system. It’s open. It’s blatant. That’s the point. But there are still people who are fabulously wealthy. The city still seems to operate normally. People still become cops or lawyers and are fighting for something. It’s just unclear what, considering the level of corruption. People haven’t abandoned this city? And really no one can do a thing about it? Falcone operates so openly that it’s insane to think that the city, the state or the federal government is literally powerless. Of course I’m just being nit-picky but what else are you going to say about a movie that you otherwise find expertly well-made and supremely entertaining? I mean, really. The story is great. The action is great. The casting is great. The pacing is great. And, on top of that,  Joffrey Baratheon is in it! What else do you want? Explosions? We got tons of explosions! Liam Neesom being a baller? Plenty of that too! Seriously. I mean The Dark Knight was good but this…this is great.

There are even ninjas!!

So we know the movie kicked ass but was the beer up to snuff? Sadly, it was a little lackluster. The Scarecrow golden pale ale brewed by UK Wychwood is a light, mild-mannered ale. Aka the opposite of Batman. It pours a simply golden color with minimal head and a standard grassy aroma. That aroma is followed by a similar taste that is only lightly balanced with a hint of bitterness. Sadly, the little flavor there is dissipates pretty quickly, leaving you with the impression that this is really just another light beer. It was easy to drink and I’d prefer it over the other crappy beers most Americans drink, but it’s still nothing to go out of your way for. I don’t think I’ll be grabbing another one of these any time soon.

When I think about it, the movie and the beer do have one thing in common: Batman totally kicks the crap out of Scarecrow. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Yes, Batman knocks Dr. Crane around a little, it’s actually Rachel Dawes whose is badass enough to taser that fool in the face. Though I guess it wasn’t enough to keep him out of the other two movies. But I’m okay with that. I like Cillian Murphy (did you see Sunshine?). But I digress.  Sometimes you get a great movie with a dud beer. But it never hurts to keep experimenting. Check out new beers. Watch unfamiliar movies or go back to old favorites. Never stop exploring. Never stop drinki….wait. Disregard that last comment.

Anyway, thanks for reading and be on the lookout this weekend for another terrible holiday slasher special featuring Anne from We Recycle Movies.
I’ll give you a hint: murder turkeys.

And as always, keep drinking my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Wychwood’s Scarecrow:
-Simple golden color
-Basic grainy malt flavor with minimal bitterness
-Flavor dissipates quickly

Batman Begins:
-A dark, fresh start for America’s most troubled superhero
-Remarkably grounded despite the high-flying action
-The best in an unbelievable franchise

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