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.
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.
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!
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