Monthly Archives: May 2013

Napa Smith’s Hopageddon Imperial IPA & The Omega Man

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today we toast to the end of the world! Maybe this would have been more appropriate back in December 2012 when the world actually ended but whatever. I do what I want. Today we’re cracking open a bottle of Napa Smith’s Hopageddon Imperial IPA and the 1971 post-apocalyptic movie The Omega Man. Charlton Heston. Beer. MAN MODE: ENGAGED!

So let’s get started, shall we?

The Omega Manfor those who are unfamiliar, is based off the same book which spawned the 2007 Will Smith movie I Am Legend. And the stories are ostensibly the same: plague wipes out humanity, last man on Earth fights creatures of the night, finds other survivors, makes cure, dies like Jesus. SPOILER! But I actually think the DVD box sums it more succinctly: “what price survival in a plague-ridden tomorrow?” And no, I’m not missing a word. They just screwed up their DVD box. Anyway, the film follows the surprisingly content (except for a few rote “he’s lonely” moments) Charlton Heston as he scours an abandoned Los Angeles for supplies. In the evenings, he holes up in his penthouse and fends off frivolous attacks from The Family: a band of cloak-wearing albinos who don’t like sunlight or technology. Apparently they’re psychotics or something but mostly they just seem like religious fanatics reacting to Charlton Heston’s relentless attacks. Actually, what’s weird is that for a group of weapon-hating crazies, they have no problems with knives, bows, spears and ballistas. Seriously. They made a ballista.

The pasty face of EVIL

The pasty face of EVIL

But seriously folks, this movie is pretty terrible. It’s mostly an excuse to have Charlton Heston on screen in formal dining wear and/or a track suit. Nothing really happens until the third act , everything is campy and very little make sense. I think the movie tries to make the argument that neither Charlton Heston nor The Family have the moral high ground, that this post-apocalyptic world has removed the humanity from everyone, in one way or the other. But that’s me stretching/the movie being really really blunt. Mostly the movie is about nothing.

Please note his lacy, velvet dinner jacket

Please note his lacy, velvet dinner jacket

But was our beer equally as silly? Yes and no. The bottle art is very silly in an awesome sort of way. It depicts flaming hops crashing into Earth. Kinda baller. But what is not silly about this beer is its hoppiness. Pouring a cloudy orange with a white, one-finger head, this IIPA lives up to its boisterous name. With the pour, you instantly get hit with a sharp, piney hop aroma. When you take a sip, that pine flavor continues but is also greeted with some nice, tart citrus along with some grass. As the beer warms, the 9.2% ABV gets more pronounced. Overall it’s a solid, hoppy Imperial IPA that is probably not best for you hop noobs.

So that was the end of the world. About six months off from the Mayans but whatever, can’t always be on time. We were blessed with a good beer to save us from our bad movie. But it’s not bad enough to be good, so I can’t really endorse it. But I do endorse this beer. Very hoppy but very good, so check it out if you see it!

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

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Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Napa Smith’s Hopageddon IIPA:
-Hazy orange pour
-Bright, hoppy aroma
-Complex hoppy flavor

The Omega Man
-Original I Am Legend movie but no better
-Muddy plot & themes
-Charlton Heston’s smile is scary

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Green Flash’s West Coast IPA & Chinatown

Hey there, Drinkers!

Tonight we head to the coast with Green Flash’s West Coast IPA and the classic Los Angeles film Chinatown. Originally, I was planning on watching Once Upon a Time in the West but that “West” is not exactly coastal. Also, three hours is a lot of time to dedicate on a weekday night. But fear not! I did not settle. Today’s combo was as beautiful as the Golden State and if you read below, I’ll tell you why!

The 1974 Roman Polanski neo-noir Chinatown was first introduced to me before I had any real film education or passion for the media. Rather, my dad introduced it to me as his favorite film and, after my first viewing with him, I think I heartily agreed. Flash forward about eight years and eight more viewings and my opinion is largely the same. Though I might contend that The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is ultimately my favorite film, Chinatown is a very (VERY) close second. For the uninitiated, Chinatown is fictionalized history of the birth of modern Los Angeles, as told through a murder mystery. I don’t want to say any more about the plot, as it’s hard not to tread on the hints and clues that are expertly left throughout the film. Instead, let’s just talk about the film as a film, shall we?

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At its most basic level, Chinatown is an engaging story which is gently unfolded through powerhouse performance. Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston are all impeccable and do great service to well-written script. What also is interesting is how Los Angeles, and the area around it, also exists as a character. Or characters. At its core, the film is about the creation of Los Angeles from a conglomeration of disparate geographical locations. What us modern Angelenos accept as a part of our daily lives (and commutes) lies at the heart of Chinatown. As might be obvious from the film’s title, the film is truly about geography. What happens where. What it does to people or what people do to it. How it changes people or people change the land. It’s a fascinating, albeit cynical, look at how cities are made and I say it’s required viewing for any resident of Los Angeles.

Faye Dunaway is the best. As per usual.

Faye Dunaway is the best. As per usual.

Finally, what is arguably most interesting about Chinatown is its take on genre. While these may seem like an esoteric discussions for non-film majors, what Chinatown did for the noir genre was quite revolutionary and stands out as a major cinematic milestone for that reason. While Chinatown embraces many of the tropes we have come to know and expect from noir films (the hard-boiled detective, the femme fatale, the intermingling of politics and passion, etc.), it simultaneously rejects many of the genre’s characteristics. Setting aside the obvious change to color photography, Chinatown is a bright and vibrant film. It rarely uses the harsh shadows and  strict lines of classic noirs and instead embraces the golden sunlight of Southern California. Chinatown also makes its hero Jake Gittes utterly reactionary. Of course he figures out the mystery, but much of what he learns is because he is told or is lucky. Sure he’s a bright, witty guy but he is not always in control of the situation. Also, he’s utterly broken by the end of the film, which is not exactly typical. There’s a lot more to discuss in terms of genre (I spent a few college classes on the subject) but those are the basics. Overall, Chinatown still stands out one of the great American films. It also has one of the most memorable closing lines in all movie history.  And it still remains my father’s favorite movie.

The most "noir" shot of the movie. And maybe the only one.

The most “noir” shot of the movie. And maybe the only one.

And for our LA movie, how about an SD beer? For this BAAM, I had Green Flash Brewing’s West Coast IPA. As to be expected, this IPA made generous use of the famed West Coast hops that define most American IPA’s. Pouring a cloudy copper color with a healthy two-finger head, the West Coast gave off a nice hoppy aroma. Not too powerful, but just enough to give you an idea of what was in store. When you take a sip, you’re pretty much in for a straight-up hoppy ride. It’s light, crisp and deeply flavored with pine and citrus. Probably grapefruit. While the beer is fairly bitter, it is definitely NOT one of the more bitter IPA’s out there, making it surprisingly easy to drink. Even with a 7.3% ABV, I was able to drink this beer pretty quickly. And I’m a notoriously slow drinker. Overall, this is a great, easy-drinking IPA that should satisfy both casual drinkers and hardcore hop-heads.

So there you have it, folks! A little trip down the West Coast from Los Angeles to San Diego. We paired a classic movie with broad appeal with an accessible IPA. Without a doubt, I would recommend either of these separately but when together, they make for a truly special evening.

Thanks for reading, Drinkers! If you haven’t already, be sure to hit that subscribe button on the right hand side, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Untappd.

And as always keep drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Green Flash Brewing’s West Coast IPA:
-Hazy copper color
-Mild hoppy aroma
-Pine & citrus hop flavor

Chinatown:
-Stunning performances all-around
-A great story beautifully told
-A great twist on the noir genrebotw_westcoastipa_1_t670_t658

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Alesmith’s Speedway Stout & Senna

Hey there, Drinkers!

Put down your drinks and put the pedal to the metal, because today’s BAAM is all about that checkered flag (also because drinking and driving is illegal & super dangerous)! We’re sipping on Alesmith’s delightful Speedway Stout and watching the 2010 racing documentary Senna. So let’s hit the pavement and roll right into tonight’s BAAM! (so many racing puns!)

As much as BAAM is about watching terrible movies in which many things explode, every now and then it is truly refreshing to engage in a film that captivates and mesmerizes. And it is only more invigorating when that film is an artfully done documentary that so beautifully captures, represents and respects its subject. Senna, the 201o documentary from filmmaker Asif Kapadia, is a loving remembrance to one of Formula One’s greatest legends: Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna. For the sake of disclosure, I have zero interest in auto racing and barely see the appeal of the sport. But regardless of you fall into that same disinterest category, the beauty of Senna is that it makes the viewer understand and feel the sport. The doc does a wonderful job of capturing the romance of auto racing.  The beauty, the glamour, the politics, the danger. All of it exists in this film and all of it is grounded in the painfully human story of driver Ayrton Senna.

So thoughtful. So beautiful.

So thoughtful. So beautiful.

What is most remarkable about this film is how unbelievably true it all is. As I told my roommate, Senna’s story is something you see in the movies because it is too perfectly dramatic for real life. The young upstart driver forces his way into the Formula One scene. With his first big break, he is disqualified due to a BS technicality that seems orchestrated by his calculating rival/teammate (who happens to be French). Yet despite the adversity, Senna becomes a three-time World Champion, an international celebrity and a hometown hero. And, on top of all that, he’s a God-fearing hottie! It is literally too good to be true. But it’s all true. I’m not educated enough to decry spin or slant but to my untrained eye, the film seems objective, honest and respectful of the facts without opinion or angle. Ultimately, Senna is an exceptional film about an exceptional man.

Frenemies

Frenemies

And could Alesmith’s Speedway Stout keep up with Senna? Short answer? Yes. END OF REVIEW!

Just kidding, Alesmith deserves more than that. This Speedway Stout, brewed with coffee for extra speediness, is a jet black (oil black, if we’re keeping with the racing theme) brew with as much character as Ayrton Senna. Pouring a deep black with a modest caramel head, Speedway gives off strong notes of caramel, chocolate malt and coffee. The taste brings more of the same but despite it’s heavy color, the mouthfeel is surprisingly mild. Speedway is supremely smooth and the carbonation is mild, making this the ultimate sipping beer. That and the 12% ABV. I mean, I’m not a fast drinker by any means but I was still drinking this 2 hours into this bomber. Big beer and big alcohol require a more leisurely pace, in my opinion

So while drinking a stout in a warm Los Angeles spring may not be the best idea, this beer ended up being the perfect companion to Senna. Both are rich in character and best enjoyed slowly. You don’t have to like Formula One racing or stouts to get into these bad boys either. While they offer something to the seasoned fanboy, they area also wholly accessible to the casual consumer. Maybe Senna is more easily accessible than Alesmith’s Speedway, but that’s mostly because driving really fast will always be more awesome than anything. Other than spaceships. Spaceships are the best.

So there you have it, Drinkers. A night of speed! Of action! Of character! But seriously, all joking aside, tonight was thoroughly enjoyable. And after nearly two years of BAAMing, I have to say that Senna was one of the few breakout surprise hits I’ve had the pleasure of viewing. Good thing it’s on Netflix!

And as always keep drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:Speedway-Stout
Alesmith’s Speedway Stout:
-Brewed with real, locally roasted coffee
-Deep, dark black pour with caramel head
-Strong notes of caramel malt, coffee & chocolate

Senna:
-The glamour & drama of Formula One racing
-An accessible film to an elusive sport
-A story that defies the “too good to be true” label

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We Recycle Movies Guest Review: Die Hard Trilogy

Hey there, Drinkers!

Sadly, there’s no new BAAM this week but there’s a good reason. And no, it’s not because I was too drunk to write anything. In fact, I wrote quite a bit. As a favor to my friend and fellow film blogger Anne, I’ve written a guest review for We Recycle Movies. WRM is dedicated to the fine art of Hollywood remakes and sequels. My contribution covers the original Die Hard trilogy of awesome. And how they get progressively less awesome as the series continues. And once you’re done reading my sweet review,  I highly recommend that you check out all of her previous posts. Especially if you want a little bonus film education. Lord knows I could use one.

Here’s the link to the review:
http://werecyclemovies.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/special-guest-post-from-gabe-die-hard/

So thanks for reading, Drinkers. BAAM should be back to its regularly scheduled drinking next week. But until then…

…keep drinking, my friends.

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Avery’s The Reverend Quad & The Exorcist

The power of Christ compels you, Drinkers!

That’s right, today’s pairing is Avery Brewing’s The Reverend and the 1973 classic The Exorcist. And let me tell you, coming from this mildly tipsy Jew, this Catholic combo was quite the show! So grab your holy water and hang onto you robes, BAAM is in for a devilishly good time!

The original 1973 version of The Exorcist is one of those films that most people classify under the “you must see this” genre. Actually, I’d say it’s probably one of the few horrors that fall under that  esteemed category, alongside  the likes of The Shining and The Ring (he said reluctantly). In fact, what all of these “must-see” horror movies have in common is how horror is simply the premise on which great filmmaking is produced. For The Exorcist, the movie isn’t particularly scary and isn’t focused primarily on the gory details of Regan’s possession. Rather, it uses the lens of horror to perform a psychological study on its characters and their demonically-strained relationships. The end result is a film that barely addresses the demonic arts for at least the first 45 minutes of the film and is largely a slow viewing experience. In fact, the pacing is so slow (and the dialogue mixing so…1970’s) that it’s quite difficult to get a grasp of where the movie is headed and how each character ties in. At many times, I found this ambiguity to be quite frustrating. As a modern viewer, I wanted a direct and obvious connection between the events of the first 10 minutes (which feel like something out of Indiana Jones sans action) and the events of the rest of the film. I also wanted clearer explanations of each character and their relationship to one another. Who are all these people living in Chris’ home? Who are all of priests that Father Karras? For the majority of the film, I was feverishly trying to connect the dots between character, place and event. Only until the end did the pieces (sort of) fit together, but not exactly to my complete satisfaction.

The significance of this statue is never explained

The significance of this statue is never really explained

What I also found frustrating about this film was its focus and subsequent abandonment on its principal characters. The beginning of the film focuses exclusively on Father Merrin who digs up something scary in Iraq. Then the film shifts its attention to Chris MacNeil in D.C. as she tries to understand what is happening to her daughter Regan. Then about two thirds of the way through the film, it shifts focus once again onto  psychologist/Jesuit priest Father Karras who struggles with his mother’s death while also calmly chatting with a demon-child. While the stories are carefully woven together, the end result is one of frustration and confusion, as you’re never really sure to whom you’re supposed to connect. Beyond not wanting Regan to remain possessed, it is  hard to care about these characters when we abandon halfway through the film. Briefly, on another note, I found the pace of the editing to be a bit inconsistent. At times, we were left with these uncomfortably long, lingering shows while at other moments, we would abruptly (and sometimes prematurely) smash into other cuts. That’s more of a personal taste thing for me but I wanted to point it out.

Dis bitch scary as Hell!

Dis bitch scary as Hell!

But I don’t want you to think that all of this griping means I did not like the film. On the contrary, the more I pick apart a film on a (pseudo) intellectual basis, the more it generally means I liked the film. For one, The Exorcist is expertly shot. Every frame brings the viewer anxiety and heightens the unsettling nature of the subject. Moreover, setting the muddy dialogue mixing aside, the sound effects are quite incredible. All audio that is not expressly human is accentuated and exaggerated. The end result if an eerie mix of every day sounds that make your skin crawl. And super scary demon-child voices. Quite a feat. But really, overall the film is still a classic. It is quite unsettling and an impressive reminder of what the horror genre can achieve when put in the hands of dedicated and adept filmmakers. It’s also fun to see how many times the girl’s mother says “Jesus Christ!” or “Oh God!” throughout the film. Nice little touch there.

Not actually in the official cut but is rather an incredibly famous deleted scene!

Fun Fact: This famous scene was not actually in the original cut but later added to remastered versions.

And our aptly paired beer from Avery Brewing? I have to say, The Reverend is an interesting beer, to say the least. This quad pours a cloudy, coppery-brown with modest one finger head. The Reverend gives off  a strong malty nose but your first sip may surprise you. For sporting a heart 10% ABV, the beer itself does not have a heavy body but is rather a tame mix of roasted caramel malt, molasses and fruit (cherries?). Those with more defined palettes will undoubtedly pick up hints of Belgian yeast and vanilla but I am not a gifted drinker. Suffice it to say that this beer is subtle, complex and is best consumed slowly. My 22 oz. bomber lasted me the two hour duration of the film (disclaimer: I’m a slow drinker) and I still felt the booze just a little when I stood up. Overall, the beer fit the movie quite well. Both are complex and multi-layered but are not above being simply enjoyed at face value. While The Exorcist can get a bit slow or frustrating at times, The Reverend was always there to keep me in good spirits.

Thanks for reading, drinkers! You can always join the conversation by leaving a comment, subscribing or following me on either Facebook, Twitter or Untappd.

And as always keeping drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:340
Avery Brewing’s The Reverend Quadruple:
-Cloudy, deep cooper pour
-Very malty nose
-Notes of caramel, molasses and cherry

The Exorcist:
-Expertly photographed
-Unclear who’s film this is
-Slow but satisfyingly unsettling

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