Monthly Archives: September 2013

Eagle Rock Brewery’s Manifesto Witbier & American Pie

Hey there, Drinkers!

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’ve thrown in the towel and am now just making arbitrary pairings. I mean, in what way is American Pie thematically linked to ERB’s Manifesto Wit? Was the beer just sitting in your fridge and you had no idea what to pair it with?  Well I have something to tell you, oh ye doubters and drinkers of little faith: yeah you’re mostly right. There are only so many Soviet-era films that I feel like watching casually (none) and I’ve had this beer sitting around for awhile. So yes, today’s BAAM is a bit of a stretch but…there is a connection. I swear. Just bear with me.

So todays’ film is the 1999 modern raunchy teen classic American Pie. In the interest of full disclosure: I was watching the unrated version (oooo so bad!) which is slightly different than the theatrical release. I assume this just means there were more boobies and no major plot additions but I’m just trying to be transparent here. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the film, or just haven’t seen it in awhile, American Pie (at least in my mind) ushered in a new era of mainstream teen comedies around the new millenium. Gone are the John Hughes tropes of earnest teen shenanaginry from the 80’s. This is the late 90’s now and all this movie cares about is SEX. Launching the American Pie franchise and a host of lesser, sex-fueled teen comedies that dominated the early 2000’s, American Pie chronicles the lives of four highschool seniors who make a pact to seize their sexual destiny and get laid by prom. If the plot sounds a bit rote, that’s because this movie made it popular. Sure, prom has long been seen as the culmination of all highschool films, but the narrative focus on sex as a path to success and self-worth seems a bit novel at this point.  And while this film is very (VERY) much about sex, and women as vehicles of sex, it’s also a lot more than that.

It's also about the desecration of baked goods

It’s also about the desecration of baked goods

This may sound a little weird but American Pie is actually a good movie. Yes it’s crass and crude but it still retains that earnest clarity that we love in teen comedies. By the end of the film, our heroes seem to understand that while sex is important, it’s not as important as everyone makes it out be. What is important is that they are at a unique moment in their lives. A moment on the cusp of transformation and that they are entering this new phase of life (aka college) together as friends with no real regrets, knowing that they’ve embraced the present. Sure this seems a bit overblown for a movie in which one of our protagonists bangs an apple pie but it’s true. In a weird way, American Pie quite successfully captures what it’s like to be a teen at the end of the 90’s.

Jason Biggs as Every Character He's Ever Played

Jason Biggs as Every Character He’s Ever Played

A few other quick things to note about this film.
1) It has a MASSIVE cast. So much talent with many faces that we still see on screens today.
2) It’s not really Jim’s movie. It’s Oz and Kevin’s.
3) It’s still horribly uncomfortable to watch.
4) It’s still funny and incredibly quotably.
5) It has a surprisingly accurate depiction of how webcams are now commonly in use today.
6) It includes the premise to Easy-A.

The original poster actually doesn't feature any of the male leads...

The original poster actually doesn’t feature any of the male leads…

And our loosely-related Manifesto Witbier from Eagle Rock Brewery? It’s actually a pretty solid brew. I don’t usually drink wheats because they can be a bit one-note and light for my tastes but the Manifesto is actually a surprisingly fulfilling wit. It pours a very light golden color with a big, frothy head (no jokes guys) with lots of carbonation. It gives off strong aromas of wheat and grain with a little underlying hints of citrus and yeast. Many reviewers also taste notes of coriander but I’m either not that discerning or I don’t know what coriander tastes like. With your first taste, that wheat is going to hit you the hardest, with the citrus and yeast playing in the background to break it up, adding some nice complexity. For a fairly light beer, weighing in at 5.7% ABV, it’s still somewhat substantial and I found myself enjoying it slowly. So even with my general hesitance towards wits and wheats, Eagle Rock Brewery again proves to be deceptively delicious and ever-surprising (which is why they’re my favorite LA-based brewery).

So if you haven’t put the connection together yet, I’ll spell it out for you. The boys in American Pie make a pact. A solemn vow. A manifesto, if you will, to take control of their destinies and write their own sexual fates. So there you have it, arguably the biggest reach in BAAM history but you know what? WHATEVER! I had a great time watching a fantastically awkward teen comedy while drinking a surprising delicious witbier. So if you take issue with my pairings then go read your beer/movie combinations somewhere else!

Wait…I take that back….please don’t leave me.
As always keep drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:SONY DSC
Eagle Rock Brewery’s Manifesto Witbier
-Very pale & a bit hazy
-Big, frothy head
-A more complex & substantive wit

American Pie
-A new, dirtier kind of classic
-Shockingly poignant…at times
-Good ol’ fashioned uncomfortably raunchy humor

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Shock Top’s Raspberry Wheat & Battlefield Earth

Hey there, Drinkers!

Tonight we reach for the stars in an attempt to create the worst BAAM of all time. But unlike some previous bad BAAM’s, today’s pairing was created with the exclusive goal of melting the brain and destroying the will to enjoy cinema. And so, in this spirit, I present to you BAAM’s Razzie edition featuring Shock Top’s Raspberry Wheat and the monumental failure of all cinematic failures, Battlefield Earth. For those of you who don’t know, the Razzies are the annual awards handed out the worst movies of the year. Battlefield Earth received the great distinction of Worst Movie in commemoration of the award’s 25th anniversary. Let’s get started, shall we?

(Apologies in advance: This post is wordy and ramble-y. Such are the side-effects of my anger with this film. Sorry!)

Released in 2000, Battlefield Earth is generally regarded as the worst movie every made. And not the lovable kind of worst-movie-ever that nerds like me label  amazing films like The Room and Troll 2 (seriously, those two are classics). Battlefield Earth is just straight up bad. Based on the L. Ron Hubbard novel (yes, that L. Ron Hubbard)  which falls outside of the Scientology canon, the film is ostensibly about a distant future in which humans revolt against their slave master aliens after a 1000 years of oppression. I use the word “ostensibly” for a reason though, because that logline is the very (very) frail frame on which this steaming pile of incomprehensible garbage rests. Setting aside many of the factors that contribute to this mess of a movie, including but not limited to the terrible acting, terrible effects, terrible costumes, terrible camera work and John Travolta, let’s just focus on how little sense this movie makes.

You can just tell this movie is great...can't you?

You can just tell this movie is great…can’t you?

So let’s just talk about the plot and its execution (a word I use with both definitions in mind). I’m going to begin with a quick lesson in typical feature film structure. Most standard films have something known as a “page 15 moment” in which the status quo is disrupted, catapulting our hero into the events of the rest of the film. It’s labeled as such because it typically arrives 15 pages, or 15 minutes, into the story. Battlefield Earth, being the avant-garde masterpiece that it is, ignores this rule and a launches itself into the drama within the first 30 seconds without setup or explanation. Nothing really happens to send our hero Jonnie on his journey. Rather, he just yells at an old man in rags and rides off into the mountains. The remaining two hours of the film fumbles through artificial and forced narrative points that simultaneously over-explain and complicate the story. For example, there are a number of scenes in which our villain, John Travolta, explains his nefarious plan to have humans extract gold for…some reason. Anyway, a part of that plan involves setting them free and starving them in order to identify a human’s favorite food (rat). This part of the plan makes no sense but it gets worse: in order to train the humans how to mine gold, the aliens super-educate our hero with ALL OF THEIR SUPERIOR ALIEN KNOWLEDGE. Who thought that was a good idea? Maybe I’m not doing the stupidity justice here but that’s both a testament to how stupid this movie is and my own inability to translate stupidity into something coherent.

Yup, definitely taking this movie seriously now

Yup, definitely taking this movie seriously now

This brings me to my principle gripe with this film: the alien overlords, the Psychlos, are the WORST SLAVE MASTERS EVER. You’d think that an advanced alien race that has taken over a large swath of the universe would know the ins and outs of enslavement but apparently they’re nOObs. They regularly allow prisoners to escape (on purpose!), they leave them unsupervised and allow them access highly restricted security offices. John Travolta even teaches a band of humans how to a fly a spaceship, gives them a bunch of mining equipment and then JUST LEAVES THEM IN THE WILDERNESS. He says that he’s “watching them” to make sure they extract his gold, but never seems to notice that his merry band of miners are literally flying all over the former United States collecting weapons and training to fly harrier jets. Weapons, I might add, that they easily bring deep into the alien’s fortress. Including a convenient nuclear bomb they somehow know how to rig. Finally, our hero and our villain have numerous occasions to kill each other and have easier lives but since they have a movie to make, they keep giving each other second (or fifth) chances. Truly, I don’t have the time or mental capacity to continue enumerating the reasons this film is awful, so just believe me when I say it’s just terrible.

Meh, I don't feel like killing you

Meh, I don’t feel like killing you

And our razzie beer for our Razzie winner? Well, it was pretty much what I expected. Shock Top’s Raspberry Wheat, an Aneuser-Busch brand, is pretty much just juice. Pouring a pale golden color, this beer has a strong nose of raspberry and little else. And that’s pretty much how the beer tastes too. It’s overpoweringly fruity with very little of that wheat flavor to back it up. I think I drank it in about five minutes because it was so light in both flavor and body. And given the movie, I probably could have drank a few more without ill effect. My assumption is that this beer is marketed as a fruity alternative to drinkers who don’t like “traditional” beers, hence why the beer only tastes nominally of beer. My suggestion? If you want a raspberry beer, grab Abita’s Purple Haze. Not only does it taste better, you’ll be supporting a smaller brewery.

So there you have it, folks. A raspberry of an evening. A terrible movie with a mediocre beer. Now someone cooler than I, someone with a normal social life, might say that this night was a wash but I disagree. I got to spend two hours with two friends yelling at John Travolta. And if that isn’t a good night, I don’t know what is.

Thanks for reading and as always keep drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:STRW_large_beer_with_glass
Shock Top’s Raspberry Wheat:
-Pale, wheat color
-Overpowering raspberry aroma
-Very easy to drink. Too easy

Battlefield Earth:
-Features the universe’s worst slave masters
-Plot makes zero sense
-John Travolta
Bonus: Academy Award Winner Forest Whitacker!


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Flying Dog’s Underdog Atlantic Lager & The Bad News Bears

Hey there, Drinkers!

Toda’s combo is all about celebrating the underdog. And nothing says underdog more than a sports movie. With that in mind, today we’re pairing Flying Dog’s Underdog Atlantic Lager with the 1976 kid’s (but not too childish) sports film The Bad News Bears. I’ll try my best to stay away from baseball puns or decrying any situation as being “bad news bears” for the duration of the post, but I make no promises…since the only thing that was foul about this BAAM were the balls.

Get it?

….am I trying too hard?

Anyway let’s get into it. In 1976, super actor Walter Matthau appeared in the bizarrely offensive-yet-heartwarming film The Bad News Bears. The film charts the efforts of Matthau’s perpetually drunk Coach Buttermaker as he trains a band of young misfit players known as the Bears. What today would be a movie filled with shenanaginry and lessons in teamwork, the original Bad News Bears is more of a lesson in adult-depression with hints of light child-abuse. Featuring the most inappropriate language you’ll ever hear a nine year-old say and plenty of underage drinking and smoking (all tolerated/enabled by adults), The Bad News Bears is kind of movie you can’t believe got made. With our modern sensibilities, this film is supremely inappropriate and offensive. And yes, that does provide some of the charm for today’s viewers but it also makes me a little happy that we largely don’t talk and act like we used to.

This is a nice summary of the movie

This is a nice summary of the movie

And as absurd as this movie is, there are two key elements I want to point out that I think are actually worth discussing. The first is how the film uses the Bears’ struggle for the pennant as a parallel for the coaches own sad lives. Buttermaker and his rival coach project their own failures as men onto their teams, hoping that a win will somehow redeem them. For Buttermaker, it’s a chance to a show the rest of the town that he isn’t just a drunk pool-cleaner. For the Yankees coach, the ferocity with which he leads the team is a nice reflection of his failures as a father. All of this is nicely evident during the final, championship game. It’s not very subtle, but it’s an unexpected nuance from this silly comedy.

Kids! With beer! Totally condoned!

Kids! With beer! Totally condoned!

The second point I’d like to briefly discuss is how there are very few consequences for characters’ bad behavior. The most obvious example of this is Buttermaker himself. This chain-smoking alcoholic does everything to make his team hate him, and yet love him without reservation. Maybe it’s because he’s the most real and honest adult in their lives. Despite managing to alienate almost everyone on his team, and verbally (and emotionally) abusing his ex-girlfriend’s daughter, he has a knack for cutting through the B.S. of youth sports. He tells kids to shut up, try hard and win. No sugar-coating and few kind words. And while he’s not exactly a role-model, he does have a few redemptive moments. But by and large, all the terrible things he does are pretty quickly forgiving with little-to-no discussion. I think this is mostly a result of quick story-telling but it’s just something to think about while watching this film.

Also, a young Tatum O’Neal and Jackie Earle Haley grace the screen, so that’s cool.

Coaching! With beer!

Coaching! With beer!

And fitting with our underdog movie, I popped open a bottle of Flying Dog Brewery’s Underdog Atlantic Lager. I don’t typically drink lagers and I think this was only the second beer I’ve had from Flying Dog (I usually go for their delicious and awkward-to-order Raging Bitch IPA) so this was a nice little experiment for me. Typically, I find lagers to be too light and straightforward in flavor for my tastes. And while the Underdog wasn’t a bad beer, I feel like it sadly fell into this category. Pouring a very light, clear color with a rapidly dissipating head, I found this beer to be refreshing but largely unconvincing.  The mild notes of grain, fruit and hops hard to notice and did little to liven up the beer. This might all be a result of my general dismissal of the lager style, because clearly the Underdog stands above most common lagers on the American market. But for me, when I drink a beer, I want something that excites my palette and brings me back in for another sip.

So there you have it folks! Lots of beer for today’s combo. Albeit mostly on screen and occasionally in the hands of children, but a beer-y night nonethless. And while, in my opinion, I found the beer to be a little lacking, the movie was just what I needed to lift my spirits. It warmed my heart, it made me smile and I made me thankful that kids today are not as overtly racist. Small blessings.

Thanks for reading and as always keep drinking, my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Flying Dog’s Underdog Atlantic Lager:
-Clean, golden pour
-dissipating head
-Largely uncomplicated lager

The Bad News Bears:
-Walter Matthau is a great alcoholic
-Kids curse! Drink! Smoke!
-Actually nuanced story under its absurdity

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