Monthly Archives: May 2014

Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour & In Bruges

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today we’re taking a trip to Belgium. An irreverent, booze-soaked trip to Belgium. Inspired by a recent article I read about sour beers and summer weather, I’m sipping on a Flemish sour today while watching the entirely unexpected film In Bruges. So let’s get started, shall we?

A brief  overview of our film: In Bruges was released in 2008 and stars Colin Farrell along with most of the cast of the Harry Potter movies. The setting? The quaint, medieval Belgian town of Bruges; a town which we are repeatedly told is either a dream or a fucking shithole (pardon the language, I’m just channeling the characters). The story revolves around two hitmen, one old and one young, who must hide out in Bruges for two weeks after a job goes wrong. But the movie isn’t really about murder or hitmen. It’s about reconciling with your past and figuring out if there’s hope in your future. It’s also about love, forgiveness, hope and dwarves. Oh and I did I mention that it’s a dark, twisted comedy? Really, the whole essence of In Bruges is that it largely defies definition. Yes it’s a hilarious, unapologetic comedy but it’s also deeply disturbing and sad. Without giving too much away, a lot of people die in this movie and it’s all quite graphic (really, this isn’t for weak of stomach).

Truth

Truth

The movie is also a nice reminder that Colin Farrell is indeed an actor. His performance is really quite astounding and unexpected. Farrell’s character, Ray, is essentially an overgrown child who knows only about guns and drugs. And that’s not to say he’s stupid (which he kind of is) but it’s more that he never had a reason to emotionally grow up. He throws tantrums, he hates museums and can’t help but discuss the alarming rates of midget suicide with a dwarf actor he meets. He’s hilarious and also utterly depressed. Being a child, he has no way of dealing with the very adult realities that are facing him. Which is where Brendan Gleeson’s Ken comes in. Oddly, Ken becomes a sort of father to Ray, dragging the begrudging Ray around to all the old churches while also caring deeply for Ray’s emotional well-being. It’s a heartfelt, if not strange relationship that is the true core of the film. There is actually quite a lot to discuss in this movie but for the sake of time, I’ll just recommend that you watch it. It’s extremely well-written and well-acted. Also be prepared for some heavy English/Irish accents. Fair warning.

Also, there's ice cream

Also, there’s ice cream

And our Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour from Brouwerij Van Steenberge? Delightful! Now some of you might be thinking “Sour? Why would I want to drink a sour beer?” That’s a fair question but I’d suggest you try one out first before passing judgement. Sour ales, a Belgian tradition of sorts, might be better categorized as tart. Or even vinegar-y but that also does not inspire confidence. Really, a great sour is the perfect mix between sweet and sour. And Monk’s Cafe fits the mold perfectly. Pouring a dark brown color, you’ll immediately get notes of sour cherry, vinegar and maybe a little woodiness (maybe oak, maybe cherrywood). When you sip it, you’ll first be shocked by how light this brown beer is. Interestingly enough, most sour’s have very light bodies that make them very easy to drink. You’ll also get hit with some fruity sweetness at the top that fades into sour cherry laced with alcohol (don’t worry, it’s only 5.5% ABV). It’s not entirely complex but it’s a bright flavor profile that will have you standing at attention. Really, a good sour stands apart from other beers and begs the question “is this really a beer?” Yes it really is a beer and yes it is really good.

So there you have it, Drinkers. A night out in Belgium without ever leaving your too-warm apartment. It’s really a great combination. An unexpected movie full of levity and darkness paired with an unexpectedly delicious beer. A beer that is both light and dark and waiting to be discovered.

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

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:monks-cafe
Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale:
-Dark brown pour
-Strong, sour cherry flavors
-Easy to drink, a great introduction to the style

In Bruges:
Sharply written & acted
-Dark, funny & bloody
-Great cast, no Harry Potter magic though

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Anchorage Brewing’s Galaxy White IPA & Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today we venture into the uncharted sectors of the galaxy aboard the Starship Enterprise with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan while sipping on an out-of-this-world White IPA (sorry, had to). So let’s get moving up to warp speed and have ourselves an adventure, shall we?

Full disclosure: I’m not much of a trekkie. I know some of the basics and have seen the two newest iterations of the Star Trek movie franchise but my true understanding of the original shows and movies is very limited. But fortunately, I think that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is an easy way to slip into the universe. Rather than assuming the viewer is a well-informed fan, Khan does a good job of balancing fandom with explanation. We get a good understanding of who Admiral Kirk is (and was) and the rules and history of this universe are tastefully sprinkled throughout the film. Not that that same attention to detail is really extended to the set decoration (so many unmarked flashing green and yellow lights!) but overall, I finished the film with a solid understanding of how things work. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have questions (like why Kirk’s son is even a part of this movie or why Khan, a super smart dude, is so easily outwitted by Kirk) but that’s all besides the point. Mainly, this film is about fun. And SCIENCE!

Mad Max and Khan shop at the same store

Mad Max and Khan shop at the same store

The main conflict in Wrath of Khan surrounds something called the Genesis Device. Basically, it can create life out of nothing within minutes by restructuring matter at the subatomic level. Aside from that not making any sense whatsoever, the Genesis Device can naturally be turned into a weapon. In a silly design flaw, the device can also lay waste to living material. And that’s what Khan wants to do. Rut roh! Actually, it’s unclear what Khan plans to do other than kill Kirk. Populate some rando planet? It’s vague. But whatever. The Genesis Device also seems to be able to create planets via explosion technology but the details are unimportant. Just go with it. And honestly, I think that’s the best way to enjoy this movie. If you think too hard about large parts of Khan, things don’t always add up. But that’s okay. For an early 80’s movie about space adventures based off a long-running TV show about more space adventures, this movie is pretty solid. So just go with it and you’ll have a good time.

Oh also, Kirstie Alley

Oh also, Kirstie Alley

And what about our beer? Anchorage Brewing Company’s Galaxy White IPA? I have to say, this was quite the drinking experience. Poured from a corked and caged bomber, the Galaxy was a hazy yellow with a 1-2 finger head. With a mix of citrus and spice (brewed with peppercorns!) on the nose, I found it very inviting. With a sip, you get all of those citrus notes but balanced against a lovely oak finish and some nice, light malt flavors. Also, as this is an IPA, you get some good, hoppy bitterness in there. On top of all this, this beer sits at a comfortable 7% but comes off a little stronger than that. Which, in my opinion, is only a good thing. It wasn’t the best warming beer but that’s mostly a product of my slow drinking habits. I have much to work on. But really an outstanding beer that I will be returning to next time I stop by the liquor store.

So there you have it, drinkers. An intergalactic adventure with breaks for American and Romulan ales (what the movie, you’ll get it). We had a good movie to let wash over you while sipping on an exciting and engaging beer. Also, it’s just fun watching the old Star Trek movies and see which parts JJ Abrams lifted to put in the new movies. Some movie trivia there for you nerds!

Thanks for stopping by and as always keep drinking, my friends. de_1319_lg

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Galaxy White IPA:
-Hazy yellow pour
-Citrus & spice aroma
-Complex but balanced flavor profile

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
-Good fan service with good world introduction
-Simple, fun and engaging
-Khan! KHAAAN!!

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Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Porter & Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Ahoy, Drinkers!I probably could have sailed around the world a few times since my last post but all that matters now is that I’m back and I’m drinking! And I’m back real hard with a hearty Ballast Point Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter while watching some silly fun in the form of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. So let’s drop sail and catch the wind, shall we?Fun fact: the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, the aforementioned Black Pearl, was released over 10 years ago. 10 YEARS AGO! How bonkers is that? Compounding that crazy is the fact that Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom (aka two of the most beautiful people around) look pretty much the same. Boy do hot people have it easy. But aside from a few dated CG moments that stand out to our modern eyes, the movie pretty much holds up. It’s simple, swashbuckling fun thanks almost exclusively to Johnny Depp (and Geoffry Rush. He’s kinda amazing). Aside from the sword fights and explosions (of which there are plenty), the movie is really held together by Depp. His Captain Jack Sparrow is funny, confident, self-interested and unfiltered. For such a popcorn movie, it’s a surprising display of acting ability. Especially when compared to his very attractive co-stars who sadly can not keep up.
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I’m a better actor than ye, savvy?

And while many of the emotional and character beats throughout the film make no sense whatsoever, the even pace and remarkable comprehensible plot help us suspend all manner of our disbelief. I mean, if we’re rolling with cursed quasi-zombie pirates, then why shouldn’t Orlando get the girl? Or why shouldn’t Jack Sparrow get spontaneously let go moments after avoiding his own hanging? Sure. Why not. Whatever. But really, overall, this movie is good bit of fun. I can’t speak for the rest of franchise (as I’ve actively avoided it) but for some glamorized pirate fun, you could do a lot worse than The Curse of the Black Pearl.*Fun side note, the curse in the film actually has nothing to do with the Black Pearl. The curse is tied to Cortez’s Aztec gold which is stowed away in a cave. The Black Pearl is just a remarkably fast ship with raggedy sails. The more you know!

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Also, this movie is a weird costume drama

And our scurvy-fightin’ brew? Well, for starters, this beer would not cure scurvy. There is no vitamin C in it, as far as I know. Also, it’s not rum, so it’s not exactly a pirates favorite drink. But that’s all besides the point. Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter (bit of a mouthful, ain’t it?) is just another example of this brewery knocking it out of the park. As I’ve said in the past, Ballast Point is one of my favorite breweries not only because they just make good beer, but also because make interesting beer. And while coffee or vanilla porters are not that unusual, the delicate balance of those flavors is this dark beer is truly impressive. As you’d hope, the porter sports strong notes of chocolate, malt and coffee grounds. But balanced out with those stronger, more harsh flavors is the light sweetness of vanilla with just a hint of a coffee kick. And it all goes down smooth with a thick, almost chewy texture (that’s a good thing in this case). With a 10% ABV, it’s a wonder this beer doesn’t taste too boozy on top of all of these other flavors. In fact, the alcohol can sneak up on you, so I’d recommend sharing a bomber with a friend, unless you have a sober friend to helm your ship back to port. Overall, it’s really a great brew for you dark beer fans.So there you have it folks, BAAM is back on the high seas of occasional beer-blogging. We had a fun, light movie with a fun, heavy beer. A good balance for when you’re trying to get back in the groove. Hopefully I’ll be posting a little more frequently now so, if I’ve won you back, stay tuned for more!

And as always keep drinking, my friends!

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Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea:
 -Dark, thick pour
-Rich coffee & chocolate aroma
-Careful balance of sweet vanilla

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:
-Johnny Depp
-Pirates
-Keira Knightley (need I say more?)

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