Tag Archives: Barley wine

Stone’s Old Guardian Barley Wine & The Cabin in the Woods

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today we’re getting Ancient with Stone’s Old Guardian oak-smoked barley wine style ale and the 2011 sci-fi horror/slasher Whedonverse film The Cabin in the Woods. It’s a big, bold pairing filled with blood n’ booze! And while that sounds like any episode of Game of Thrones, I promise that this combo is something special. And equally badass. So let’s get started, shall we?

The Cabin in the Woods is, interestingly enough, a film nerd’s dream. Created as both an adoration and parody of the horror/slasher genre, Cabin is pretty much a wall-to-wall cinematic reference. From the broad strokes of genre trope (abandoned cabin, young people, zombies, etc.) to technical details (camera references to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)Cabin in the Woods expertly walks the line between satire and cliche. I won’t discuss much of the plot, but suffice it to say that at its core, the film is every horror movie ever made. Young, attractive people wander off the beaten path, display risque behavior and suffer the horrifying consequences. But where many other filmmakers have just stuck to the formula, Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon have bent those genre stereotypes into something new and utterly self-reflexive. Without revealing too much, Cabin is built on a premise that explains and/or justifies every horror movie ever. The cliches of movies past become the narratives hooks that drive the story forward without patronizing the audience. Rather, they became the moments of levity that make an otherwise gruesome film completely HILARIOUS!

Shot-for-shot lift from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Shot-for-shot lift from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre

There are actually a lot of things I want to point out about this film but since I am a wordy writer, I figure a list will be more efficient. Let’s go!

-Before Chris Hemsworth was Thor, he was a Sociologist major jock. Though this film was released after Thor, it shot a few years before. Hollywood be crazy!
-When this came out in theaters, it was the first film I saw on the big screen in over a year. (I was unemployed at the time). My friends and I laughed at all the movie references while the rest of the audience was dead silent. Aaawwkkward.
-Joss Whedon’s dry sense of humor is SPLATTERED all over this film. If your unfamiliar with his writing style, watch anything of his. Literally anything.
-A Firefly Reaver can be seen during the monster massacre scene. How awesome is that?!
-Boobs are acceptable in this film because they make a statement about the use of female nudity in this genre…what am I talking about?! Boobs are always great!
-Character stereotypes exist for a reason. Because they prevent the end of the world.
-If you think it’s Sigourney Weaver’s voice, it probably is.
-All in all, this movie is actually quite well shot and well acted. Who knew?

But seriously folks, this is one of those movies that exists for pure entertainment. Even if you’re not a big horror fan or into blood n’ guts (I’m not), this film is actually quite good fun. Yes, it does get a bit bloody at times but for the most part, it all serves the purpose of parody. You don’t even have to know most of films Cabin references to enjoy it. It is so intelligently constructed that any viewer should be able to identify it as both parody and reverence for one of the most overwrought genres in cinema.

References on references

References on references

And Stone’s Old Guardian Oak-Smoked Barley Wine Style ale(that’s a mouthful)? Well let me tell you, it is quite the beer. As with everything that Stone brews, it is a BIG beer. Pouring a beautiful, deep amber color with a tan head and remarkable lacing (the foam left behind on the edge of the glass), the Old Guardian is a beer to behold. While the nose is fairly mild, hinting at rich barley and refined hops, the beer itself is quite potent. With your first taste, you’re hit with substantial malty flavor. Toasty deliciousness fades into a respectable hoppiness that is prominent without overpowering the palette. It finishes with a bitter, boozy bite brought on by the 11.5% ABV. As with most Stone beers, this is not for the feint of heart. The Old Guardian is a powerful beer that is complex and yet thoroughly enjoyable. Not to mention quite pretty to look at. In the end though, it left with me an impressive buzz. In short, this beer is not to be underestimated. Maybe try it with a friend. Or don’t be a lightweight like me. Either way works.

So in case you haven’t figured it out, today’s thematic link was the Old Guardian protecting us from the Ancient Ones from The Cabin in the Woods. If that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, go watch the movie. And pick up this beer. I promise that the fun (and blood) will complement the alcoholic haze of this tasty brew. Truly a wonderful pairing that I would recommend to both the casual consumer and the seasoned connoisseur…though maybe the beer isn’t so casual.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:IMG_79591-189x300
Stone’s Old Guardian:
-Beautiful pour
-Mild, malty nose
-BIG (and balanced) taste with significant booziness

The Cabin in the Woods:
-A nerd’s best friend
-A Whedon film to its core
-Surprising balance of respect and parody for the genre

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Beer Valley’s Highway to Ale & Easy Rider

Hey there, Drinkers!

Tonight…I’m drunk on a very strong barleywine out of Oregon and watching an American classic about stoner bikers traveling across the country. So, in a word, tonight is all about America. Now, that actually comes off as mildly sarcastic and cynical but the truth of the matter is that tonight’s combo is, truly, about Americana.  So let’s get riding with Beer Valley’s Highway to Ale & Easy Rider.

The 1969 Dennis Hopper-directed film Easy Rideris one of those films that, as s film student, you discuss as being a formative moment in American cinema without ever really watching it. On the surface, I get that. It’s fairly easy to talk about Easy Rider in terms of its visual and narrative style as a break from “traditional” American filmmaking without actually watching much of the film. You can kind of get the idea from just watching one scene. Easy Rider is largely plotless and uses jarring flash-cut transitions, which stands in contrast to the “seamlessness” of most mainstream American films from that time. However, after watching this film, I came to realize that this film not only serves as a stylistic change of pace for American filmmaking but also acts as a document of a country at odds with itself. Produced and released in the throes of the late-60’s counterculture, Easy Rider is less about its protagonists’ drug-fueled journey from Los Angeles to New Orleans and more about their perspective on a country that is at war with itself and its past.

America on wheels

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper play stoner-bikers who are carrying cocaine (?) across the country with a delivery in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. But that’s not really what the film is about. It’s mostly just an excuse to have our characters on motorcycles. In fact, you’d really only catch this plot if you were paying close attention. As cliche as it sounds, the film is more about the journey than it is about the destination itself. As the two easy riders motor across the country, they encounter a hippie commune, an alcoholic alien conspiracy theorist (played incredibly by Jack Nicholson), racist sheriffs, adoring tweenie girls and two friendly whores.  But again, the film is not exactly about these people but what aspect of the country the reflect. You have the traditionalists who want to shave our long-haired protagonists, the blissfully ignorant-yet-curious youth, the disenchanted professional and the drifters. You have untouched landscapes, small American towns, bustling urban landscapes. Every sequence in this film seems to represent, and accurately capture, a different slice of  an America that is colliding with its own past. And while the film itself is not too exciting and the ending wholly unnecessary, it is still an important and engaging film. For those in the right mindset, I think this film can really speak volumes about this nation. But to the more casual viewer, you will probably get pretty bored of looking at Peter Fonda’s perfectly formed chin and Dennis Hopper’s thick-ass mustache. For me, I didn’t fall in love with Easy Rider (I have a problem with plotless films) but I think I can still appreciate what it does with regard to both its unconventional narrative style and its presentation of an important crossroads in American history.

Kinda the film’s attitude towards everything

And now that we’re done with that surprisingly serious and “well thought out” review of Easy Rider, let’s talk about a very strong beer that still has me reeling. I am, of course, talking about Beer Valley’s Highway to Ale barleywine. I’ve reviewed some barleywines in the past (here and here) but I think this is strongest one I’ve tasted so far. Weighing in at a heavy 10.5% ABV, this may be the second strongest beer I’ve every had (number one being the incredible Allagash Curieux). And even though I’ve had stronger, this is probably the booziest beer I’ve ever had, meaning that I could both taste and feel the alcohol moreso than in other high ABV beers. Though you get distinct notes of malt, caramel and fruit, the most defining characteristic of this beer is its bitter booziness. And, to be honest, I found this beer to be a little much. I’ve been on a bit of an IPA kick recently, so I’m no stranger to bitterness but I found this beer to be on the harsh side. Other drinkers on Beer Advocate described this beer as “smooth” but I only found that smoothness once the beer warmed up a bit. In fact, I think I began to enjoy the beer much more once it had been out of the fridge for an hour or so. That may be just a result of me having consumed more alcohol, but I found that the flavors mellowed out a bit as the beer warmed, cutting into the harsh bitterness of this barleywine. For you curious drinkers, I’d say give this one a shot but bear in mind that this beer is not for the feint of heart. It’s strong, flavorful and packs a bit of a punch. If you’re  a more casual drinker, I’d suggest working your way up to this one. Or maybe just try a sip from your friend’s cup. That might be a safer option for everyone.

So that’s it, folks. Truly an interesting evening. Easy Rider and Highway to Ale left me with mixed feelings. Easy Rider is a great cross-section of this country in the later 1960’s but it kind of drifts in and out of the point that it wants to make. And as for the barleywine? It’s definitely an experience. It’s a good beer in my opinion, but only once you’ve let it sit out for awhile. Straight out of the fridge it can be a bit overwhelming but if you give it some time, it’ll give you something to think about.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Beer Valley’s Highway to Ale:
-Drunk-inducing 10.5% ABV
-Tasty beer but a bit harsh
-Warms incredibly well. I’d suggest giving it time

Easy Rider
-The conflicted side of the counter-culture
-Plotless, directionless and proud of it
-Jack Nicholson is crazy and fantastic

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Irondale’s Bully Maclary’s Mor Barley Wine & Ironclad

Hey there, drinkers!

Tonight we dropped an iron curtain across BAAM with Irondale’s Barley Wine and the enigmatic 2011 film Ironclad. Haven’t heard of either? That’s fine. I’m here to educate you. Remember? Actually, let’s get one thing straight. A large portion of tonight’s education does not come from me or my brain. Rather, it comes from my good friend Anne, who joined me for tonight’s BAAM. Her surprisingly thorough knowledge of 12th century (12th, right?) English history is quite remarkable and serves to only further illuminate her awesome nerdiness. For those interested in all things not related to English history, I suggest you check out her film blog, We Recycle Movies. It’s pretty sweet. Expect a BAAM-WRM crossover in the future. Anyway, let the education commence!

So I just finished watching Ironclad which is about….wait…what…what just happened? Seriously, does anyone know what just happened in this movie? I think I saw Paul Giamatti and a few other famous people whose faces I recognized…But really, can someone help me out with what the hell just happened in this two hour, disappointingly battle-scarce medieval bit of English “history.” And I really do mean “history” with quotation marks because, from what Anne has told me, and from my own working knowledge of history, I’m pretty sure none of this movie is based on facts. As far as I know, King John the Douchebag signed the Magna Carta and happily lived out the rest of his years as a powerless king before dying of dysentery. However, Ironclad contends that post Magna Carta-ing, King John the Crazy Pants decided to hire a bunch of Danish mercenaries (really? Danish?) to help retake his country (with the Pope’s blessing) only to be routed by about 20 dudes in a castle and a French army that seizes the English crown. But those are trivial facts. Let’s talk about this as a movie. Well, for one, this film certainly does love its blood. Despite there not being much fighting, the few scenes of violence certainly do overcompensate. We’re talking about severed limbs, spouting blood, split skulls, intestines laid out for display…it’s all there except for one, crucial aspect of medieval filmmaking. Boobies. I mean, what movie of this historical era doesn’t randomly thrown some breasts on screen? Game of Thrones, anyone?! I mean, come on! Why so much blood if there’s only going to be one (1) pair of boobs on screen for the whole two hours? And they’re not even Kate Mara’s!  By the way, did I mention that Kate Mara is in this movie? Anyway, it seems hardly worth it if you ask me. Also, one other quick gripe I have with this film besides the excessive gore, lack of female nudity, blatant disregard of history and the fact that this movie making no sense whatsoever…what is the film’s obsession with moats? Time and time again, characters in the movie reference the fact that the primary castle in the film lacks a moat. Whoopty do! No moat! Let’s move on with our lives and siege towers!

Okay. That’s enough. Quick synopsis of my feelings of this movie: what just happened? There. You have it. Don’t watch this movie.

"I am Paul Giamatti and I do not understand why I am in this awful movie! I also gesticulate with my fists!"

Okay let’s throw a little sanity into the mix and talk about beer. So, for you avid BAAM readers, you’ll know that this is only the second barley wine that I’ve consumed. And I have to say that the style is very intriguing. I still havent’t really figured out what they’re all about but I’m interested enough to continue trying. So let’s talk about Irondale’s Bull Maclary’s Mor Barley Wine (long name, right?). For a beer with 9% ABV and so rich in flavor, it is remarkably smooth and easy to drink. Its rich, almost chocolatey finish helps calm down the beer’s more excitable early flavors that I found difficult to identify (though, to be honest, that might have just been because I was trying so hard to not pay attention to this movie). It’s actually almost a bit sweet, which is something I didn’t expect but I didn’t really mind either. Overall, it felt like a good beer to have on a chilly winter evening. Hearty, filling and yet not overbearing. The kind of beer that dulls your senses enough to make you not hate yourself for watching a movie like Ironclad.

So, there you have it folks. I’m pretty sure you can intuit my feelings on the movie. The beer I think I would come back to, though I’m compelled to experiment with more barley wines to help me further understand what this style is all about. But, in all, it was quite the educational evening. I learned some more about barley wine. I learned quite a bit about English history from my friend Anne. And I also learned that no self-respecting castle shows up for a fight without a moat.

Happy drinking, friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Irondale’s Barley Wine:
Rich, full-bodied flavor
Chocolately finish
Impressively smooth and drinkable.

History has no bearing on historical films
Oh yeah, there were Knights Templar in this movie
What just happened again?


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