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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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Allagash Dubbel & Double Indemnity

Good Evening Drinkers,

Tonight we’re in for some double (dubbel) trouble with Allagash Dubbel Ale and the 1944 Billy Wilder classic noir Double Indemnity. A duo that makes you sit up, pay attention and appreciate the finer things. So let’s get started.

For those who are unfamiliar with the specifics of Double Indemnity, I wouldn’t worry too much. While the narrative is fascinating and deserves multiples viewings, the film’s  entirety serves as the archetype for all noirs, making it easily recognizable to any viewer. The stark black and white contrast, the slick voiceover, the beautiful femme fatale; Double Indemnity has all the tropes of a good noir because it’s one of the best. To summarize, this film follows an insurance salesman by the name of Walter Neff (“with two F’s, like in Philadelphia, if you know the story”) as he records his confession in helping a sexy (and deranged) woman kill her husband for the insurance money. The entire film is a flashback and the audience is only briefly reminded of this fact as Walter’s confident voice easily carries you from scene to scene, immersing you in the past. Not to mention the dialogue is very sharp and deeply layered with sexual tension as Walter Neff fires off a stream of superb one-liners. Now a lot of people have this sad assumption that older movies (re: black and white) are either dry or boring, in both story and style. However this is not the case for Double Indemnity. I’ve already mentioned the that story is captivating, but I also have to mention that the lighting design of this movie is equally incredible. Without the distraction of color, it is remarkable what one notices in terms of light. Every scene is deftly composed to underscore what the narrative. Neff’s troubled thoughts as to his crime are reflected in the half-shadows that cover frequently his face. Our femme fatale, however, is often shown is complete darkness, revealing her malevolent inner nature. If she is not the darkness, then she is lit gorgeously, projecting that outward air of beauty. Now I don’t mean to bog you down with these film-major details, but these are things worth paying attention too, especially in a classic like Double Indemnity. Oh also, it might be of interest to fellow Angelinos that this movie makes great use of the city’s geography. Without the traffic. And it rains.

These are my Los Angeles murderin' glasses. Do you like them, Mr. Neff?

So let’s talk about the other part of my dubbel-feature. Now for the sake of honesty, I’ll let you know that I will pretty much drink, and enjoy, anything that Allagash brews. I’ve had maybe six or seven of their beers and they have all been stellar. I’d try more of them, as I have with Sam Adams, but the price tag for Allagash beer tends to run a little high. But despite that, I picked up this Dubbel and it did not disappoint. For those unfamiliar with the many different genres of beer, a dubbel is a Belgian style that trends towards a brown ale with an average ABV of about 7%. To that end, Allagash’s Dubbel fits the bill quite neatly. It has a nice, brown color, a mild malty flavor and hints of that easily identifiable Belgian yeast (bananas, remember?). For a beer with a higher-than-average ABV and malty character, I was surprised at how easy it went down. In fact, I ended up finishing it faster than I intended, leaving me to wish I had a second in the fridge to carry me through the rest of the movie (not that the movie needed any help). But alas I only had the one, which means that I’ll be back at the store to pick up another one of these tasty beers. And as a general rule of thumb, if Allagash is the brewery, it’s good.

So that was my double trouble night. If I were feeling like a baller I would have done two movies with two dubbels, but I’m not that awesome. Maybe some other night. But I will say that this was one of the more complimentary combos I have done so far. A strong, thoughtful movie with a smooth but surprising beer. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m really happy with the combination and I would recommend that all of you give it a whirl sometime.

Keep drinking my friends!

 

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Allagash Dubbel:  
Very drinkable despite 7% ABV
Rich, brown color
Hearty, malty aroma and taste

Double Indemnity:
A classic noir by which many others are compared
Sharp writing and beautiful visual style
A great history lesson in LA geography (also watch Chinatown if you’re interested)

 

 

 

 

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