Monthly Archives: March 2013

Guest Review: Passover Double Feature

* Hi there, drinkers. Please enjoy this week’s BAAM courtesy of Anne from We Recycle Movies, a blog I highly recommend. If you’d like to submit a guest review, please let me know in the comments. Happy Passover!

Shalom, drinkers!

Gabe is observing Passover this week, which means that he cannot drink beer. Fortunately for all of you, Episcopalians do not have to follow dietary restrictions during Lent, so I was totally free to write a guest blog. I was so excited that I decided on a double feature. I even went with a Passover theme! First up were The Prince of Egypt and He’brew IPA, celebrating the animated history of the Jewish people. After that came the combination of The Ten Commandments and Saison de Lente, which turned out to be an epic undertaking. Two bombers and 5 hours of movie watching later, here is my review:

The Prince of Egypt is an animated re-telling of the book of Exodus. The story follows Moses. I’m pretty sure we’re all at least vaguely aware of his story: baby in the bulrushes, Egyptian prince, Jewish prophet, Let My People Go, Ten Commandments, Foundation for Judaism. Obviously, since this is a kids’ movie, they felt the need to change some things. In the first half of this film, Moses is basically that annoying-but-charismatic frat guy who kept bugging you in college: he races chariots, drops water balloons on priests, and goads Ramses a lot. Prophets: they’re just like us!

Moses: Prince of the Bros

How to Cure a Hangover of Biblical Proportions

Since it came out in 1998, it is of course a musical. And I have to say right up front, most of the music aged well. The only song that really bothered me was “Believe.” The first time I heard it, the song came across as uplifting and hopeful, but it gets overused. Eventually I was just hoping the little Jewish kids would stop singing and start schlepping. Jerusalem is a long walk from Egypt!

What part of Exodus is this from again?

What part of Exodus is this from again?

Our second Passover movie, The Ten Commandments, is a three and a half hour long epic from the 1950s, in the same extremely long vein as Ben HurThe Robe, and King of Kings. Charlton Heston plays Moses as a kind of Biblical action star. He spends the first half of the movie shirtlessly seducing at least 3 women and conquering countries. Once he becomes a prophet, he starts wearing robes and yelling in a booming voice. He’s definitely more forceful and vengeful, and when we get to the creation of the Ten Commandments and the golden idols, Moses throws those tablets down with FORCE. Prophets: they’re just like Arnold Schwarzenneger?

It was a solid spectacle, but I felt the length. The first act dragged (we get it, Moses is hunky and charismatic and Ramses is not). The second half was pretty action-packed though, what with all of the plagues and Red Sea partings and pillars of fire and whatnot. The special effects didn’t age well, but it’s a 50 year old movie so really the fun of it is trying to figure out how they pulled it off with no CGI. I honestly don’t know if this is the best family Easter or Passover celebration though, if only because sugar-high kids hopped up on chocolate eggs and maccaroons will not be able to sit through all three and a half hours

Overall, it was fun to re-watch both movies. You have to admit that the book of Exodus adapts into a pretty great story, especially if you leave out those pesky 40 years wandering the desert. It’s got romance, drama, secret identities, plagues, and acts of God. Now, onto the beer!

YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

First up was He’Brew’s IPA, which I have to say wasn’t my favorite. I get that IPA’s are supposed to be hoppy, but the hops overpowered every other taste in this beer. It pours amber and clear with a solid head and lacing. As it got warmer it got more citrus-y, but overall it was still too flat and bitter for me. I like my IPAs like I like my films: full of character. (nnnnneeeerrrrrrdddd)

Saison de Lente was next. This beer is clearly not brewed by Catholics, because if it was it would have a sad little kid poking at a piece of fish on the label instead of an Easter egg. Anyway, it poured with little head, cloudy and straw-colored. Smelled yeasty but spicy. It tasted spicy and yeasty as well, though not as flavorful as I would have liked. It did get better as it got warmer. I enjoyed it more than the IPA, and it was more drinkable, but still mostly just ‘eh.’

So there you have it, drinkers. Thank you to Gabe for allowing me to write this week, and thank you for introducing me to good beer.  Before I knew Gabe, I thought beer just tasted like beer, which is to say like guilt and sourness. Now I know that beer can taste like citrus or spice or cinnamon AND hops, which it turns out do not taste like guilt or sourness. Hooray for Gabe!hebrew-hop-manna

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
The Prince of Egypt:
-Standard 90s animated movie with biblical themes
-Cannot. Get. That. Song. Out. Of. My. Head.
-When you believe, somehow you will! Now you will! You will when you belieeeeve!

The Ten Commandments
-Charlton Heston was the Ryan Gosling of the 50’s: no shirts
-This is the most action-packed biblical adaptation ever
-De Mille made himself the voice of God. No one was surprised

He’Brew Hop Manna:Saison de Lente
-I either need to learn more about IPAs or drink less sucky ones
-Gabe should probably re-review this and get back to me (Why? Because I’m Jewish?)
-I don’t like my beer tasting like a pinecone

Saison de Lente:
-Not made by Catholics
-Spicier and more drinkable, but still kinda blah
-Two bombers in one night is two bombers too many. I can’t feel my face

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The Lost Abbey’s Judgement Day & Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today is Judgement Day, which means you should get your drinking in early before the world kablodes. But seriously, today’s BAAM is the Judgement Day combo where we watch Terminator 2: Judgement Day and sip on The Lost Abbey’s Belgian quad Judgement Day. Big beer. Big explosions. Great weekday drinking. Let’s get started, shall we?

I’m going to assume that most of you are reasonably socially adjusted and have seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day, aka the seminal action movie of the 1990’s. The far more popular sequel to The Terminator, T2 (as it is affectionately called) is the pinnacle of 90’s action. There are explosions, computers, guns, a badass mom, more explosions and two different kinds of grenade launchers. Literally this movie has everything. And while the award-winning special effects have not aged well, the action is still as visceral and exciting as it was in its original theatrical release. If you leave your modern perspective behind (a perspective that includes knowledge of Arnold’s political career and a basic understanding of computer science), the movie still holds up fairly well. Looking past the ever-cheesy dialogue (let’s face it, James Cameron has never been known for his writing), the film is pretty damn good and pushes some boundaries. Most obviously, Sarah Connor is a complete baller. She never wears a bra and she kicks total ass while still grappling with the realities of less-than-stellar parenting skills. And while the film still requires the presence of a “male” savior (he is a robot….), Sarah Connor still stands atop the list of cinema’s strongest female heroes (along with Ripley from the Alien franchise).

sarah-connor

BAMF

I hate to point out flaws in a classic but I’m going to anyway. Deal with it. Deep in my nerdy core, there are certain questions that gnaw at me. Like why the T-1000 defaults to the cop-look when he could easily just keep changing forms. And where the F@$% did John and Sarah got those explosives?! They certainly didn’t come from their random gun stash on the Mexican border. Or, more fundamentally, why don’t the machines just keep trying to kill Sarah Connor earlier in her life? Why wait until John is born? I’m just unclear as to why they wait so long. Robo-logic problem. But that’s more just me being nit-picky and not a fan of time-travel as a plot device. Overall, Terminator 2 is a bit silly mostly because of it’s age but the action still holds up. The practical and special effects are still impressive and the action is still visceral and exciting. Moreover, the story of a mother and son at odds because of their fate still rings truer than most action films we see today. My opinion? T2 is always worth another viewing.

So much ass waiting to be kicked

So much ass waiting to be kicked

And The Lost Abbey’s Judgement Day was a perfect fit for our movie. Not only was the name actually appropriate (unlike most BAAM combos), the beer was a long-lasting drinking companion; perfectly suited to last the two hour movie. Pouring from a bomber, Judgement Day is beautifully black in color with a lovely chocolate head. With a stout’s roasted malt aroma, accented with fruity sweetness (from the raisins with which this beer is brewed), this beer was surprisingly complex despite the brute force of the 10.5% ABV. Though the beer is described  as a Belgian quad brewed with raisins, I’m not sure I got any particular Belgian-y flavor. Though, to be honest, I’m not even sure if a Quad is supposed to retain that classic Belgian flavor. What I can say is that this Quad is a noticeable step up from a Tripel, which are already strong beers. Briefly stated, this beer is not for the feint of heart and is best enjoyed over a LONG period of time. It warms fairly well and the substantial ABV will definitely hit you. It certainly hit me…

So there you have it, drinkers. Judgement Day!  A powerful, action-packed film with a powerful, booze-packed beer. I would definitely recommend either, or both, for repeated viewings and tasting. Moreover, I’d suggest enjoying both of these with a friend or two. Nothing says friendship like beer and explosions! Trust me, you’ll be back…

(sorry, had to)

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

090711 LostAbbey JudgementDay

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
The Lost Abbey’s Judgement Day:
-Rich, black color
-Caramel/chocolate head
-Malty taste with noticeable raisin sweetness

Terminator 2: Judgement Day
-Classic, nearly-non-stop action
-Special effects haven’t aged all that well
-Strong, female lead that still surpasses her contemporaries

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Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye IPA & Ruthless

Hey there, Drinkers!

Tonight we get ruthless with our BAAM combination. Nothing says Friday night like drinking a beer by yourself while watching a random 1940’s version of Wall Street...right? Maybe? Anyway, while little about this evening was particularly ruthless, there’s still a review to write! So let’s get to it!

(that may have been the least enthusiastic sounding intro I’ve ever written…but onwards!)

Tonight, for your viewing pleasure, we have the 1948 film Ruthless. While I promise I was mostly paying attention to this, I have to admit that I don’t understand what most of this movie was about, what happened or why. In the vein of Citizen Kane, most of this film is told largely through flashbacks that skip years and traverse the entire lifespan of one Horace Woodruff Vendig. It begins when Horace escapes from his broken home and is taken in by a wealthy family and follows Horace’s story of consumption and greed. A brilliant investor and manipulator of the stock market, Horace’s insatiable desire of wealth bleeds over into his personal life as he collects and discards female companions. Generally speaking, Horace is not a good guy and we don’t like him. Which, among many other reasons, is why I didn’t particularly like this film. Horace really has no redemptive moments and never fully learns his lesson (a conclusion we as American-moviegoers have come to expect). Rather we spend two hours learning about the life and times of a vulture-capitalist we largely understood from the get go. There is little growth in the film beyond the women Horace spends his time with and the diminishing respect from his best friend Vic. And from the perspective of plot, it’s just hard to stay engaged. A number of the more heated bits of dialog center around Wall Street deal making that is never well explained. With an influx of lingo I didn’t understand, I found myself tuning out and caring less about the events on screen.

The mustache means he's bad

The mustache means he’s bad

All of this isn’t to say that the film is bad. To its credit, it is shot well and the acting is solid. Sadly however, the pacing if fairly slow and there is little development or forward momentum to keep the viewer engaged. Rather it feels more like an extended character-study of a stoic Gordon Gekko predecessor. And while I should point out that (sadly enough) many of the film’s concerns about shady stock market dealings still ring true today, the film is mostly a slow slide into boredom rather than a biting criticism of greed.

I guess this poster is accurate...sort of

I guess this poster is accurate…sort of

So was our Ruthless Rye IPA as timid as our film? I don’t think so, but maybe ruthless was the wrong adjective. With such a strong name, I was expecting a beer that would knock me on my ass with big flavor and bold hoppiness, neither of which are characteristics I attribute to rye beers. Typically speaking, based on my limited experience, rye beers are smooth and a bit grainy. But not this beer. For one, this is a rye IPA, meaning that it presents a bright, piney bitterness that comes from hops just like any other IPA. But actually I found this hoppiness that was a bit biting at first but mellowed out as the beer warmed. And while I got a little bit of that rye smoothness at the finish, I wouldn’t  describe it as a standout note for this beer. If I hadn’t seen the label, I might have even simply called this beer a solid IPA. Don’t get me wrong, Sierra Nevada brews some great beers, but I just don’t think this one did anything special for me. However, it does make me want to try other rye IPA’s so I can speak more intelligently about the genre. So there’s that.

So there you have it folks, not a particularly ruthless evening but nevertheless enjoyable. I think both of tonight’s selections struggled a little with defining what they were about, but that is not to say that they are bad or not worthwhile. I say if you have the time or the curiosity to give them a try. What’s the worst you could happen? Lose a little time and drink a beer? Doesn’t sound like  a bad Friday at all to me!

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:2012-01-24-RyeIPA
Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye IPA:
-Clear, amber pour
-Strong, bitter hoppiness at front
-Slight rye finish but lacking

Ruthless:
Solid film, just not too engaging
-Hard to follow timeline
-Little growth in primary character

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