Halloween Crossover Special: Alesmith’s Horny Devil & Idle Hands

Hey there, Drinkers!

Guys, I did it again. I’m sorry, but I did…I watched another terrible movie. In celebration of Halloween and in keeping with BAAM tradition, We Recycle Movies and I found a terrible slasher movie and shared a spooky beer. Only this movie was real bad. Not even redeemably bad. Just good ol’ fashioned bad. So if that’s something you’re interested in, keep reading! If not, be kind and ready anyway, because you’re a good person. Up for our 2014  Halloween Special is Alesmith’s Horny Devil Belgian Strong paired with the forgettable 1999 Idle Hands. Let’s get it started!

Since 2012, BAAM and WRM have been teeming up to watch some not-so-classic holiday slashers while softening the blow with high ABV beers. And while this year we sadly didn’t have time for our usual double (or triple) feature, today’s pairing is in the same spirit. Our spooky movie? The understandably forgotten 1999 film Idle Hands starring such actors as Seth Green, Vivica A. Fox and a pre-super hot Jessica Alba. Anne from WRM effectively summed up this movie when she it was a horrible attempt to unify the popular genres of the 90’s: stoner film, self-aware slashers and edgy teen comedy. Such a combination is really only going to produce two outcomes. The first result looks something like Scream, which is, by most accounts, a good movie. The second possible result would look exactly like Idle Hands. Idle Hands is unequivocally a bad movie. In a nutshell, oh hero stoner/slacker Anton has his right hands possessed by the devil. Said hand forces him to murder pretty much everyone around him. Oddly, Anton seems to take most of the murder in stride, especially when his two (murdered) best friends come back as zombies to help him fight his own devil hand. He also doesn’t realize that his parents’ corpses are in the living room for, apparently, several days.

Dat. Hair.

Dat. Hair.

But let’s really sink our fingernails into this movie. What makes it so bad? Is it the stupid concept? Maybe. What about the cast? Oh just awful. And their acting? Yikes! Our lead, played by Devon Sawa (recently seen in Nikita), is really just annoying. He overacts an underwritten role and his character is painfully clueless (as opposed to the charmingly stoned sort of clueless the writers were going for). Even Jessica Alba, who is a real actress, was terrible. In addition to her awful 90’s haircut, her line reading is painful. Not to mention her inexplicable attraction to the blood-soaked Anton to whom she has never spoken. And then there’s Vivica A. Fox who is in the movie for a grand total of 5 minutes. Apparently, she’s from a secret order of druids (?) who are dedicated to casting out the devil hand. Maybe. It’s unclear? Regardless, she’s one-note, underserved and makes no sense, much like this entire film. I know I’m skipping a lot here but I’m really trying to protect you from this movie. The faster you forget that it exists, the happier your life will be.

Bonus: Fred Willard is in this movie and he dies immediately. Take that as you will.

IH4

Helpful stoner zombie friends!

And what about our devilish beer? Is it weird to say “thank God” for Alesmith’s Horny Devil? I think not. Alesmith, which is one of my favorite SoCal breweries (and was featured in last year’s BAAM Halloween Special), knows how to make an exciting beer and the Horny Devil is no exception. This Belgian-Style Strong hits all the notes you want from this type of beer. It pours a lovely orange-amber with a beautiful 1-2 finger head that leaves behind some nice lacing. Off the nose, you’ll get the classic aromas of Belgian yeast, banana and citrus. And with your first sip, those aromas will pull through with the addition of some notes of wheat and candi sugar. All of this is nicely balanced against the wicked 10% ABV. Really just an overall fantastic beer that I have to recommend.

So there you have it drinkers. A movie you should forget about and an outstanding beer to aid in the process. Special thanks as always to Anne for enduring yet another awful movie with me. Be sure to check out We Recycle Movies for her take on the film. And if you like what you read, you should tune into her extraordinary series My Year With Katea 52 week blog series about Katherine Hepburn. Needless to say, Anne is really smart.

And always keep drinking, my friends!
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Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Alesmith’s Horny Devil:
-Well-balanced Belgian
-Notes of banana, citrus, wheat & sugar
-10% ABV, so you may want to share

Idle Hands:
-Makes no real sense in terms of character, geography or life
-Young (bad actress) Jessica Alba
-Seth Green is the best part of this movie. Seth. Green.

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Allagash Brewing Company’s 2013 Interlude & Phantom of the Paradise

Hey there, Drinkers!

In classic BAAM fashion, today’s pairing was originally going to be something special. Something elevated. We were going to drink a great beer while watching a critically-acclaimed film. Please note the past tense. What happened is that I realized the aforementioned critically-acclaimed film was over three hours long and thus I made a last minute change to an AWFUL (re. amazing) film that was only 1.5 hours long. And so today’s BAAM pairing was born: Allagash Brewing Company’s 2013 Interlude and the 1974 Brian De Palma cult-favorite Phantom of the Paradise. So grab your noise-canceling headphones and let’s get started!

Believe it or not, this is the second time I’ve seen 1974 Brian De Palma campfest that is Phantom of the Paradise. And while the film is generally regarded as a cult-classic, I’m not sure it’s a classic for the right reasons. Speaking broadly, it’s a pretty terrible movie. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is amazing. But terrible. Terribly amazing. Amazingly terrible. Long, convoluted story short, Phantom of the Paradise is an updated, “satirical” version of the The Phantom of the Opera crossed with the story of Faust (a man who sells his soul to the devil) all set in the world of 1970’s mega music labels and rock operas (no, this is not The Apple). In this version, a weird composer named Winslow Leach writes a cantata about the story of Faust, only to have it stolen by record mogul Swan. And as if that wasn’t enough, Winslow is then falsely imprisoned, has his teeth removed and then has his faced crushed by a vinyl press. Between the many confusing and elaborate musical numbers, we’re treated to a story of Swan’s continuing betrayal of Swan until we learn that Swan is in fact an agent of the devil/Dorian Grey/a murderous publicity-whore. Like every aspect of the film, it’s a jumbled amalgamation of stories, themes and movie references all snugly wrapped in  spandex leggings and liberally coated in facepaint.

BEEF!

BEEF!

As beautifully terrible as this movie is, there are a few moments where the actual filmmaking expertise of Brian De Palma shines through. There are a few sequences that are shown in split screen that are visually and aurally confusing, but are technically quite impressive, as they feature long, uninterrupted takes. And there is also some smart use of POV shots that help shake up the visual language of the film. Unfortunately, the movie is generally so overstated that these moments are quickly swallowed by the chaos. So while this movie is considered a cult classic to some, I’m not sure it really lives up to the niche hype. All that being said, you will still have a good time if you’re splitting a couple of high ABV beers with friends. It makes the whole experience go down a little smoother.

SwanPhantom of the Paradise - 4

 

So what about our boozy interlude for the evening? Well, Allagash Brewing Company is one of my favorite breweries (despite the high price on many of their bottles). Nearly every brew of theirs that I have tried is unique, complex and delicious. And the 2013 Interlude is no exception. The Interlude is a Saison (or Farmhouse Ale, depending on how you like to label things) that is brewed with some schmancy Brettanomyces yeast, aged in red wine barrels and cork finished. Pouring from a bomber, the beer was a hazy, reddish amber with a very thin head. Off the nose you’ll get distinct notes of red wine along with tart and sweet fruits (thanks to the Brettanomyces). When you take a sip, you’ll get a nice, tart acidic bite balanced against some tasteful sweetness (cherry?). It also has a bit of an alcoholic bite, as the beer runs between 8.5%-9% (depending on the year). With all of these intermingling flavors, you’ll also note that the beer is fairly light in body. With mild carbonation and a lighter body, the beer manages to refresh while still remaining complex. All things considered, it’s really a special brew that deserves slow sipping.

So there you have it folks,  a campy cacophony of a movie paired with a complex symphony of a beer. But together, they actually balanced each other out nicely. A strong, complex beer with a mindless camp musical. While I can’t strictly recommend watching Phantom of the Paradise, I won’t say I didn’t enjoy myself.

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

Allagash-Interlude-Sour-Ale-e1393785733410

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Allagash Brewing’s 2013 Interlude:
-Lovely, winey aroma
-Complex layering of sweet, tart & yeast
-Pricey, but worth it for an occasion

Phantom of the Paradise:
-Campy (satirical?) redux of Phantom of the Opera
Bizarre musical set-pieces with tights & facepaint
-BEEF!

 

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Eagle Rock Brewery’s Red Velvet & Blue Velvet

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today’s pairing is one of those obvious and simple combos that we almost never strive for here at BAAM. In fact, the last (re. only) time we had as beautiful of a naming pair was all the way back in 2011 with Blue Moon & New Moon. But with age comes taste and today’s pairing is all about great taste. I watched David Lynch’s acclaimed 1986 film Blue Velvet while drinking Eagle Rock Brewery’s acclaimed Red Velvet Imperial Red with Rye. So let’s get it started!

Let’s begin with a disclaimer regarding Blue VelvetBlue Velvet is one of those films that is generally regarded as one of the greatest films in recent history. It’s layered with meaning and heavy with artistry. And I’m not here to dispute that. Educated in film as I am, I fear I may not have the critical or artistic wherewithal to fully or dutifully review this film the way ‘real’ critics have in the past. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try! Okay now GO!

At its most base level, Blue Velvet is a neo-noir film. What does that mean? It means that the film builds off the foundational tropes of film noir (a mystery, an investigator, a femme fatale, high contrast, etc.) while adapting it with newer or more modern themes and styles. But what makes Blue Velvet a standout neo-noir film is its ability to adhere to noir tropes while undermining or destroying the genre at the same time. It’s not just a reactionary film, it’s a complete reinvention. The setting is a small town, the investigator is a college-aged man, the femme fatale a much older woman and, notably, the mystery is secondary to the film.

But there are musical numbers!

But there are musical numbers!

It’s funny, in a David Lynch sort of way, that the murder mystery is not really the driving force of the film. Sure, our hero Jeffrey hunts for clues and snoops where he shouldn’t, but really the investigation happens to him instead of Jeffrey being the active player. Moreover, any investigative beats are shown through exposition, almost as a flashback, rather than a major set pieces like a classic noir. They’re more a statement than a discovery, if that makes sense. Really, the film is more interested in the damaged psychology of our characters through unsettling voyeurism. Just as Jeffrey watches this murder mystery unfold in front of him, so too does the film unfold before the viewer.

Do you get the theme?

Do you get the theme?

There’s a lot more I could say about this movie but I think it’s actually better if you just experience it on its own. I will say that the film is 100% David Lynch (for those who are familiar with his humor, darkness and visuals) but it’s not as off-puttingly weird as some other films of his, namely Eraserhead (which you can skip, in my opinion). I know there can be hesitancy towards Lynch for many viewers (myself included) but I do think Blue Velvet is worth watching, if only to watch it is as an experiment in genre. But truly, it’s an interesting and engaging film that I would recommend.

Also, Dennis Hopper is crazy. But in a good-to-watch kind of way. Also Laura Dern.

Like nitrous-fueled crazy

Like nitrous-fueled crazy

So what about our beer? Was it Velvet-y good? Actually, yeah! It was damn good! For those who live in Southern California, you may have heard of LA-based Eagle Rock Brewery and its famed, very limited-release beer Red Velvet Imperial Red with Rye. The 2010 GABF Gold Medal Winner is only released a few times a year and instantly sells out in the entire LA metro area. I was lucky to grab two bombers the last time I visited the brewery. This brew pours a lovely reddish-brown with a two finger khaki head and leaves behind some beautiful lacing. Off the nose you’ll get notes of malt, pine, booze, caramel and rye. And when you taste it, you’ll taste all of those but in a perfectly balanced symphony. The malt plays nicely off the piney hops but is smoothed out by the rye. And sweet caramel notes also help undercut the hoppy bite from the 10.8% ABV. For such a hefty beer, it’s shockingly easy to drink. It’s smooth, delicious and complex. Really just an outstanding beer.

So there you have it, Drinkers! A night of stellar art and entertainment. We had an interesting and unique bit of filmmaking paired with some excellent beer craftsmanship. I have to recommend you give both a shot (though the Red Velvet may hard/impossible to find for many).

And always keep drinking, my friends.

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Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
ERB’s Red Velvet:
-Nice reddish pour
-Perfect flavor balance
-Easy to underestimate the ABV

Blue Velvet:
A disruptive neo-noir
-More character study than mystery
-Disturbing depictions of sexual assault (just FYI)

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Avery’s Salvation Belgian-Style Golden Ale & Terminator: Salvation

Hey there, Drinkers!

Are you ready to get saved? FROM ROBOTS?! I hope so, because in today’s BAAM we’re not watching Saved! but rather Terminator Salvation while drinking Avery Brewing’s Salvation Belgian-Style Golden Ale. Why robots and not pregnant teens? One word: Explosions. So strap in, grab a beer and travel through time for today’s review. Let’s get started.

In 2009, The Halycon Company rebooted the Terminator franchise the only way modern moviemakers know how to reboot an action franchise: with Christian Bale. But gone was the setting of pre-apocalyptic America and in its place was the post-Judgement Day world. I remember when Terminator Salvation came out I was SO excited to finally see the world that had only been hinted at in previous movies. No longer was Skynet just going to be a few skin-clad Terminators and a bunch of early 90’s computers. Instead, we were going to see something bigger and darker. And to the film’s credit, it does do a decent job of showing that. The film, while mostly centered on the human element, does give us a few glimpses of Skynet’s world along with a few obligatory shots of a decimated Los Angeles. Realize I haven’t mentioned anything about the narrative (yet). That’s mostly because this film is more visual than anything else. From a purely visual standpoint, the film is actually quite exciting. The camerawork and editing is top-notch and the visual effects are of the same high quality we expect from our other blockbusters. And interestingly enough, the film creates a distinctive visual style that many other action movies lack. With long, uninterrupted shots and a heavy focus on its character’s faces, the film is actually quite visceral and strives for human connection. Unfortunately, the writing and narrative make that…well let’s say challenging.

Human. Machine. Themes.

Human. Machine. Themes.

The real problem with the writing in Terminator Salvation is that it’s just. so. deliberate. Where am I? What happened here? Who are you? I’m John Connor, leader of the Resistance. We have to find John Connor. On and on and on! The whole movie is just a series of single, expository lines with a few general platitudes about ‘Humanity’ interspersed throughout. And imagine all of this delivered in Christian Bale/Batman-lite gruff speech. Yikes. There is exactly ONE good line in the whole movie and it’s “The devil’s hands have been busy” and that’s about as good as it gets. Similarly, the narrative is fairly lockstep predictable with the expected nonsense that comes with blockbuster movies and time-travel. Nonsense like why don’t the robots kill their #1 target, Kyle Reese, when they have him captured? Or how do the human resistance still have warplanes? A lot of major decisions don’t really make any sense or aren’t explained, so you’re left just shrugging your shoulders and waiting for the next explosions to kick off.

EMPHATIC SPEECHES!

EMPHATIC SPEECHES!

Overall, the movie is fine. It’s not terrible but it’s not great either. For what could have been a big, dramatic reboot of the franchise, I think this film falls a little short. Sure it looks pretty, but it don’t talk too pretty.

Did I mention robots?

Did I mention robots?

So was our beer the Salvation of the evening? I think so. Avery Brewing’s Salvation Belgian Style Golden Ale is a solid Belgian that can carry you through most movie-watching experiences, good or bad. Pouring a true golden color with a two-finger head and some nice lacing, beer is visually everything you would expect from a golden Belgian. With the pour, you’ll get that classic Belgian yeast aroma along with some mild hints of citrus, grass and malt. And that same goes once you take a sip. Lots of yeast with just little drops of sweet, citrus, grass and malt all tied together with some very fine, light carbonation. It’s actually a very easy beer to drink (quickly) despite the 9% ABV, though I wouldn’t say the beer does anything special. But I find that can be the case for a lot of Belgian-style ales, so maybe I’m biased. But overall a solid beer from a great Colorado brewery.

So there you have it, Drinkers! An evening of pure Salvation. We had an action movie with a passing grade and a solid Belgian-style beer to help us muscle through the dialogue. Not a bad evening by BAAM standards. As usual, thanks for reading and please feel free to suggest any future combos.

And as always keep drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:Avery-Salvation
Terminator Salvation:
Strong, well-defined visuals
-Sub-par writing & narrative
-Helena Bonham Carter & Common are both in this movie

Avery’s Salvation:
-Lovely golden pour
-Strong notes of Belgian yeast
-Solid brew but nothing extraordinary

 

 

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Stone Spotlight Series Sprocket Bier & The Lego Movie

Hey there, Drinkers!

How are you doing today? Feeling AWESOME? Because I’m not sure if you know this but EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! That’s right Drinkers, today we’re pairing up The Lego Movie with our appropriately themed Sprocket Bier hailing from Stone’s Spotlight Series. So strap in (or snap in? Too much?), grab your glass and get ready!

When I first saw The Lego MovieI had my doubts. How could you ever turn my beloved, story-less childhood toy into a movie? Didn’t you see what they did to Battleship? (Hint: no one did, that’s the problem). But I have to say that The Lego Movie truly defied my expectations and instantly turned me into a rabid fan. For those of you who don’t have small children or do but still somehow haven’t seen this movie, the film follows the adventures of an ordinary Lego construction worker as he gets hurled into a plan to save the universe from an evil businessman. At its core, the story itself extremely familiar and predictable. Throughout his trials, our hero learns about himself before saving the world, making friends and getting the girl. Pretty straightforward stuff, right? Nope! What makes The Lego Movie special isn’t its story but its execution.

At home with your Legos

At home with your Legos

First and foremost, the film’s attention to detail in its writing and visual is astounding. If you’re familiar with Legos, you know how detailed a world you can create with plastic bricks and the same goes for the movie. Every shot is teeming with bright, fun and well-thought-out details that make this fantastical world seem alive and familiar. Combined with the fun of seeing the familiar bricks comes to life in fun ways (water is a good example), you can tell that filmmakers took great pains to stay faithful while also maximizing their own pleasure in creating this movie. And the same can be said for the writing. It’s sharp, witty and moves at hyperspeed. I’ve now seen it twice and I still feel like I’m missing jokes. All of this combined with a stellar cast and an entertaining stop-motion-esque visual style  boils down to is a film that radiates love and respect for the toys many of us have grown up with.

Also, Batman!

Also, Batman!

There’s actually quite a bit more I could say about this movie but for the sake of time, I’ll just strongly suggest you watch this movie (my roommate is watching it while I’m writing this, if that’s any indication). Yes, the movie gets a bit preachy and its themes can hit you over the head (repeatedly) but that’s really a minor flaw for a film that is ostensibly for a young audience. Moreover, this movie is so fun and funny that it kind of earns a pass. Also, that damn song  is just so addictive!

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So did our beer just SNAP into place? Mostly, yes. This interesting beer has an interesting history, so let’s start there. Apparently, this Sprocket Bier was the winner of the first Stone Spotlight Series brewing competition. Brewers from several companies teamed up and battled it out in a blind taste test. The winner, our Sprocket, earned large-scale brewing and distribution from Stone. The winner, Sprocket, is a self-described ‘black rye Kölsch-style ale.’ And honestly I didn’t really know what the meant. Kölsch’s are typically lighter in color with a little bit of hoppy bitterness. And frankly, I’m not sure what part of that description applies to this beer. Pouring a deep black with red highlights, the beer comes off as malty, herby and smooth (from the rye). It is surprisingly light for such a dark beer (maybe that’s the Kölsch?) and when combined with the relatively low 5.45% ABV, it makes for an easy sipper. So while this beer maybe isn’t as wild as our movie, it does go down easy.

So there it is, Drinkers. An AWESOME!!! movie with a decent beer. Lots of fun was had and no regrets were made. Thanks so much for reading and please remember to send in any suggestions you might have for future BAAM pairings.

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

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Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Stone’s Sprocket Bier:
-Black pour, red highlights
-Surprisingly light body
-Simple, malty flavor

The Lego Movie
-AWESOME!
-SPACESHIP!
-BATMAN!

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Dogfish Head’s Chateau Jiahu & Red Cliff

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today we’re getting ancient with today’s BAAM. We’re traveling back about 1800 years to China’s Three Kingdom’s period to watch John Woo’s Red Cliff, and then hopping in the DeLorean roughly another 7000 years to try Dogfish Head’s ancient Chinese-inspired Chateau Jiahu. A pairing of history, culture and beer! What else do you need? Let’s get started, shall we?

Red Cliff is the 2008 period war film from legendary action director John Woo. Taking place at the dawn of China’s Three Kingdom’s period in the early 200’s AD, the film catalogues both sides of the build up to the massive battle at Red Cliff along the Yangzte River. On one side, you have the arrogant and ambitious Prime Minister Cao Cao (our bad guy) and on the other, you have the shaky alliance of Liu Bei and Sun Quang. And while Liu Bei and Sun Quang appear in the film, their side of the story is mostly filtered through their host of generals and a tactician named Kongming. The cast is actually HUGE and can be hard to keep track of over the course of the 2.5 hour movie, but after a while you can start to identify characters as much by their wardrobe as by their names.

Good dudes looking good

Good dudes looking good

The plot itself is fairly straightforward and is can related to us in equally straightforward terms. The narration, dialogue and even the visuals do very little in the way of subtly. But then again, what about a war of hundreds of thousands of soldiers is subtle? What I meant to say is that the way characters speak and how they are characterized does little add to depth or intrigue to them. Rather, they simply state their beliefs, intentions and plans. Even our bad guy is unabashedly blunt in his arrogance and ignorance. And in the few times when information isn’t relayed to us directly through dialogue, the visuals and their juxtaposition can a bit on the nose. To highlight the differences between how the two armies prepare for war, we are treated to a rapid-cut sequence showing the good guys training and the bad guys laughing maniacally at a sport games. And while all of the visuals are stunning, at times their blunt nature got to be a bit grating.

Can you tell he's the bad guy?

Can you tell he’s the bad guy?

I should point out that John Woo still very much knows what he is doing. His visuals are crystal clear, his action is frenetic without losing the audience and the production design is absolutely nuts. It really is a beautiful movie but, at times, it gets caught up in its own visual melodrama. But overall, this movie is a classic example of an epic.

Dat epic production design

Dat epic production design

And how about our ancient brew? For those of you who are unfamiliar Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales project, what they do is essentially adapt ancient recipes from archaeological study and historical research and then provide them to us, the drinking public. Chateau Jiahu is based of the residue left behind in pottery jars in Neolithic Northern China. Brewed with rice, honey, fruit and hawthorn berry, this beer is definitely an interesting change of pace for the curious drinker. Pouring a clear, golden yellow color, you’re immediately hit with a wave of sweet fruit, honey and grape aromas. When you sip, at first you’ll be treated to a light, almost white-wine flavor. As you swallow, you’ll start to feel the sweet, almost sticky honey flavor along with that light, rice body. Really, the beer takes like a very sweet, honeyed white wine. In some ways, it’s similar to Dogfish Head’s Noble Rot, which is also a wine-like beer. But be warned, this sweet, light beer comes with a healthy 10% ABV that will sneak up on you. This beer is delicious but is definitely very different than most of the other beers you’ll find out there. If you’re not into sweeter beers, then maybe you should pass on this one. But if not, then drink away!

So there you have it, Drinkers. A match made in ancient China. An epic, if blunt, movie with a beer that largely defies convention. Both are worth your time and will make for a memorable evening.

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

jiahu

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Dogfish Head’s Chateau Jiahu:
-Beautiful, clear golden pour
-Very sweet, honey & grape flavor
-Sneaky 10% ABV

Red Cliff:
Epic, in every sense
-Beautifully shot action
-A bit blunt in its storytelling

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New Belgium’s Wild2 Dubbel (Lips of Faith Series) & The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Hey there, Drinkers!

I see you made it past that mouthful of a title and are ready get a little wild! In today’s BAAM we’re headed west with New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Wild2 Dubbel and the classic John Wayne Western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. So grab your spurs and sit down at the saloon. Let’s get it started!

In 1962, director John Ford released yet another Western with John Wayne. In all, the duo worked together on 24 films, which helps explain certain notions and archetypes we all take for granted regarding the genre. And in a lot of ways, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a classic Western. You have the balance between law and bandit, the specter of an encroaching railroad and the intersection of intellectual ideals with harsh, real-world practicalities. It has all themes and characters we recognize so easily. And even some of the sayings we all know…pilgrim. A large part of this comes from John Wayne, who seems to play himself more than he ever plays a character. And that’s not really a bad thing. He’s not exactly a great actor in this movie but his comfort in the role of the smirking yet troubled rancher is really all he needs to play off the more serious and idealistic James Stewart (who is always just awesome). And with a colorful (and wildly intoxicated) supporting cast of a tough-as-nails young woman, a drunken newsman, a cowardly marshal, a trusty black ranch hand, a heartless criminal and unnamed Mexicans, you really have all the makings of a classic Western.

That's a nice belt you got there, Pilgrim

That’s a nice belt you got there, Pilgrim

But really what makes this movie interesting, aside from the on-screen chemistry of John Wayne, James Stewart and Vera Miles, is how different it is from other Westerns. Most notably, this movie is told almost exclusively as a flashback. It’s actually quite Citizen Kane-y in that respect where the film is propelled by the mysterious return of a popular man who then must explain his past, shedding light on the man he is today. But aside from that structural difference, what makes this movie special is how morally and politically conflicted it is. While many Westerns are famous for their moral ambiguity, this movie takes another angle by pitting American democratic ideals against the iron of a handgun in a very literal, political fashion. James Stewart’s character relentlessly defends the law and promotes the strength of the democratic system, and yet he is utterly powerless when he tries to execute those laws. Meanwhile, John Wayne’s character embraces the DIY system of frontier justice and yet is never rewarded or recognized for his ‘just’ acts. It seems a bit standard nowadays but it’s quite unapologetic with its views. While the film generally supports the American ideals of liberty, voting rights and a free press, it regularly complicates and undermines these institutions.

And for what it’s worth, it’s also just a fun move that I recommend to any fan of the genre.

Eastern Man, Western Justice

Eastern Man, Western Justice

And our wild beer? The Wild2 Dubbel from New Belgium’s experimental Lips of Faith series is definitely an interesting brew. I poured from a 22 ounce bomber into a tumbler and was immediately impressed by the rich, dark golden brown color and the lovely, khaki head. Visually, it’s an appetizing beer. And with that pour, you’ll get some classic Belgian Dubbel hints of yeast and rich maltiness. And for the most part, that’s the taste you get as well. With a medium body, the beer is particularly malty with just hints of dark fruit and pepper. There’s a little odd spiciness in the finish that I can only assume comes from the schisandra with which the beer is brewed. Overall, it’s a solid dubbel. I’m not sure it’s as WILD as the Lips of Faith series generally promotes itself to be but really nevertheless a solid brew.

So there you have it folks, a wild night in the American West. A classic Western film and a Colorado brew all via a California palette. Thanks for reading folks and remember that you too can suggest pairings for the next BAAM!

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

New-Belgium-Wild2Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Wild2 Dubbel:
-Gorgeous pour
-Classic dubbel profile with a little spiciness
-A solid dubbel, but nothing revolutionary

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:
All the Western tropes we love
-Conflicted American ideals
-John Wayne as John Wayne, the cowboy

 

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