Monthly Archives: January 2013

Deschutes’ Red Chair Pale Ale & The Spy Who Loved Me

Hey there, Drinkers!

My family is off skiing and I’m working 10 hour days, so I think that means it’s time for another BAAM. And this time around, we’re hitting the slopes with little bit of Bond action and some northwestern beer. Ignoring the fact that there’s only about 90 seconds of skiing in our movie and our beer actually has nothing to do skiing (though, in my defense, the titular Red Chair on the label does look like an old ski lift), tonight is exactly what we needed. Good beer, classic 007 action and some good ol’ fashioned objectification of women. So let’s dive in, shall we?

And yes, “dive in” is proper word play as tonight’s film centers largely around water despite 50% of the film taking place in Egypt. BOOM! CLEVER-BOMB!

For those unfamiliar with Bond film canon, the 1977 The Spy Who Loved Me is the 10th Bond film and third starring the mostly adequate Roger Moore. When nuclear submarines begin to disappear, Bond is tasked with tracking down who is responsible. Meanwhile, the subtly named Russian spy Agent XXX is assigned the same mission. When their missions (and sex parts) cross paths, they team up to take down a crazy-aquaphile who wants to blow up the planet so he can live underwater.

It’s a thin plot. Don’t worry about it.

Though the film showcases some pretty amazing locales, including some very dramatic night-scenes at the Giza pyramids, it’s first half largely moves us between different sexcapades for our hero. Seriously, I don’t remember Bond having this much sex in other films. Usually it’s one or two hotties but this time around I feel like Bond was macking on everyone. Of course his main squeeze, Soviet spy Agent XXX aka Anya Amasova is the fairest of them all in her ever-revealing outfits. And, of course, she’s the worst spy in the world. I’m pretty sure she does nothing cool in this movie, despite being Soviet Russia’s “top agent.” In fact, she’s so bad that Bond regularly chastises while she performs basic tasks…like driving. Silly superspy women, am I right?

Silly lady, spies only wear tuxedos!

Silly lady, spies only wear tuxedos!

What else is there to say about this film? It does have the requisite number of explosions and exotic locales. And it does have its fair share of sweet Q-made gizmos (hello there, submarine car!) but it never seems to all come together. The film is frustratingly long and feels overly segmented. The first half of the film is in Egypt in pursuit of some microfilm and then, suddenly, we’re at sea onboard a submarine-swallowing freighter in the throes of a nuclear power struggle. It’s a bit jarring and silly, even by Bond standards. Not to mention that Bond’s way-too-forward sexual advances almost made me feel uncomfortable. And this is in a Bond movie we’re talking about, where sexual exploitation is pretty much expected. So that says something. Finally, I just have some questions I want to ask our antagonist Mr. Stromberg.

1) Why do you need to try to kill Bond with literally every vehicle type? Motorcycle. Car. Helicopter. Submarine. Mini-submarine. Giant boat. Shark. Can’t you pick one and stick with it?
2) Why does your main henchman have metal teeth? And why is he indestructible? Where did you even find this guy?!
3) Why does your escape pod have extremely expensive champagne and casual reading literature? Do you retire there often?
4) Why is there a bottle of Tabasco on your table next to the crystal goblet that probably cost you $100,000? I’m really just curious.

Jaws just wants a hug!

Jaws just wants a hug!

And how about our totally (un)related beer?! Well, for one, I always love me some Deschutes. They’re a great brewery and I recommend you check out their brews. And tonight’s beer, the Red Chair Pale Ale, is a testament to this brewery’s chops. I’m typically not a fan of pale ales as I find them too bitter without some of the complexity found in IPA’s. But the Red Chair was a nice change of pace. Sure, it had that strong hoppy bitterness you expect from a pale ale, but it is supported by some nice maltiness that balances the flavor profile. In fact, as the beer warmed, I found that the bitterness mellowed out in favor for a smoother, maltier flavor. Very intriguing, I know. Overall, this copper-colored beer, which sported a minimal head and a modest 6.2% ABV was a smooth, delicious drink. Very easy to enjoy and very easy to have more than one. A real winner.

So that’s it, folks. A good beer,  afine movie and a good end to a Wednesday. I should point out that no matter how blech this Bond film was, it was still a Bond movie and thus, by definition, I loved it. They’re just so easy to love. Which can also be said of our Red Chair. Easy. Fun. Lovable. Like any woman Bond lays eyes on (other than Moneypenny. No one likes her).

deschutes-red-chair

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Deschutes’ Red Chair:
-Clean, copper color
-Little head, dissipates quickly
-Nice balance of bitter hops & smooth malts

The Spy Who Loved Me:
-Disjointed narrative
-Beautiful scenery (and ladies)
-Too much womanizing, even for Bond

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Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA & Speed Racer

Start your engines, Drinkers!

Let’s put the pedal to the metal and get ready for an excessive number of racing idioms for tonight’s combo of Speed Racer and Racer 5 IPA. So strap in, buckle up, hop in the driver’s seat, put it into drive and let the rubber hit the road!

That covers most of them, right?

So since we watched a good movie last week, I thought it would be appropriate to watch something equivalently terrible. I must warn you though, if you’re sensitive to bright or flashing colors, this review (or film) may not be for you. Seriously, the film is seizure inducing. In what we’ll assume was a “stylistic choice,” the 2008 movie Speed Racer  is more closely related to rainbow vomit than it is to cinema. Everything in the world of  Speed Racer is bright, flashing and obnoxiously loud. While ostensibly this was meant to capture the cartoon quality of the original cartoon, it mostly just ends up being distracting. I watched this movie with a few friends and between our witty criticisms, we frequently remarked “OOOO LOOK AT THE COLORS!!!!” and “what’s happening again?” But if colors aren’t the type of thing to get your riled up and annoyed, don’t fret! There’s plenty more in the movie that you can upset you!

Shiny

Shiny

There’s things like the rote dialogue, the stiff acting, the obnoxious kid brother/chimp duo, the incomprehensible driving sequences, physics, the talking head dialogue wipes, the purposefully cheap CGI…oh and Christina Ricci’s wardrobe. Who wears knee-high leather boots/heels while flying a helicopter?!  But at the very least, you get to see Korean pop star Rain (full name) kung-fu some people! And Matthew Fox is a ninja. Who knew. Consolation prize?

But seriously, the only thing this film does well is emulate the cacophony of mediocre Japanese animation. But since this is an American film from 2008 and not a Japanese cartoon from the 1960’s, it mostly just feels like an insincere sham as opposed to faithful update to the once-popular TV series/manga. Moreover, most of the stylistic choices in this film, from its odd cross-cutting to its bizarre changing animation styles, end up being more distracting that helpful. The end result is a visually exhausting pile o’ poo laid on top of an entirely predictable and boring plot. Go Go Speed Racer!

So...what's happening again?

So…what’s happening again?

Thank goodness our beer wasn’t garbage! In fact, Bear Republic’s Racer 5 (get the connection?) IPA was quite wonderful. This wheat-colored IPA pours a modest head and gives off some of that classic IPA hoppiness. With your first sip, you’ll find that despite that hoppy smell, the beer itself is not too bitter or piney. Yes, it still has that pine and citrus flavor you find in all IPA’s, but it’s not as strong as you’ll find in some others. And underneath that, you’ll get a little malt backbone and almost no booziness despite the 7% ABV. As a result, you get an IPA that’s well-balanced and easier to drink than most. Actually, I was drinking it with some non hop-heads and they actually managed to enjoy themselves, which I took as a good sign. So if you’re looking for an easy-drinking IPA, maybe you should take Racer 5 for a spin.

So that’s it, drinkers.  We’ve crossed the finished line! Quite the achievement, I have to say. Especially considering that the movie was over 2 hours long and I only had one bomber of Racer 5 to split. But as much as I like to rag on this movie, I did manage to enjoy myself…since I ragging on this movie. But seriously, just being able to share some beers with friends while laughing at a movie is really all you need out of an evening. Don’t you agree?

And as always my friends, keep drinking!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:racer-5
Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA:
-Golden wheat color pour
-Classic IPA flavors but not too bitter
-Great IPA for the uninitiated

Speed Racer
-COLORS!
-Did you know Susan Sarandon is in this? And John Goodman?!
-MORE COLORS!

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Bacchus & The Kid With A Bike

We’re back, Drinkers!

Now that I finally have internet in my new apartment, I thought I’d celebrate in the only way I know how: with a brew in my hand and a movie on my screen. Tonight’s combo brings us across the pond to Beer Heaven: Belgium. The home of some of the best beers in the world, Belgium is also known for occasionally putting out some great films. Who knew? And since we’ve talked about Belgian or Belgian-style beers in the past, I thought it would be appropriate to pay tribute to their other cultural contributions. So let’s hop on that bike and go for a spin!

For starters, The Kid With A Bike is a 2011 Cannes Grand Jury Prize winning Belgian film directed by the prolific and talented Dardenne brothers. This French-language film follows the painful story of Cyril, a young boy who is abandoned by his father and taken in by a hairdresser. Cyril is an enigmatic mix of depression, denial, independence and longing. It’s mix of character traits that makes sense given his abandonment but is still impressive to see. The young actor, Thomas Doret, portrays all of these emotions so naturally and hauntingly. Cyril is desperate for attention and guidance while also constantly shutting out everyone who tries to help him. The only exception to this is a local thief who briefly acts as an older brother ends up just using him to help steal money. At every moment, you feel like Cyril is capable of so much growth but in the end, he always shuts himself down and hurts those around him. It’s frustrating, confusing and most importantly, real.

Definitely not a creepy drug dealer.

That hair definitely means he’s not drug dealer

It doesn’t really do much good to go any further into the plot. First, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Second, there’s not much else to say. This is much less about the story and more about the characters. Yes, the events shape the characters and their relationships, but the moments are short. Catalytic. The majority of the film can be found in the quiet moments in between. At the dinner table with Cyril and Samantha, his guardian. In the long bike rides. In the silences where character’s faces seem to only say “I don’t know how to deal with this situation so I’m just not going to say anything.” Overall, it’s a brave bit of filmmaking. The Dardenne brothers trust in their actors and their visuals so completely that the film really has very little else to fall back on. If what I’m describing sounds like a boring film, that’s only because I’m not doing it justice. It truly is an engaging (and quiet) film that is both painful and rewarding to complete.

It does have a happy ending...sorta

I promise it does have a happy ending…sorta

And our Bacchus Belgian beer? Quite tasty, actually! Bacchus however is not your typical “Belgian” beer. Most Belgians have a distinct banana-y yeast flavor that is immediately recognizable. Instead, this beer falls into the genre of Flanders Oud Bruin (Old Brown Flanders). I’ll admit that I’m not as familiar with Flanders-style beers (except that the three I’ve had in my lifestyle are awesome!) but if I’m not mistaken, the Bacchus is a fair representative of the style. It pours a nice ruby-brown color with a modest head and lots of tiny carbonation. The smell that hits you once you pour is the one you’ll be tasting, so hopefully you enjoy strong notes of cherry and citrus. The beer is a bit on the sweet side but has a hint of a sour bite mixed right in the middle. Yes, the profile is not exactly complex but it is quite tasty. The sweet, fruity flavor combined with a mild ABV of 4.5% makes this beer very easy to drink without becoming a guzzler. Or maybe I’m just a classy fellow.

So there you have it, drinkers! A quick trip to Belgium! We had a strong movie with a modest beer that I think worked out quite well. Where the beer was sweet but one-note, the film was tough but deeply complex. I’d definitely recommend checking out both of these, if only to make yourself feel culturally superior to your friends.

Seriously, when’s the last time they watched a movie in French?

And as always my friends, keep drinking!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:bacchus
Bacchus:
-Ruby/brown pour
-Strong cherry aroma & flavor
-Simple but tasty

The Kid With A Bike:
-Quiet but powerful
-Fantastic performances without much dialogue
-Apparently Belgium makes good movies. The more you know

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