Tag Archives: belgian

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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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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Boulevard Brewing’s Long Strange Tripel & Dr. Strangelove

Hey there, Drinkers!

Let’s get STRANGE! Today we’re drinking Missouri’s Boulevard Brewing’s Long Strange Tripel and watching Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove. It’s been a little while since I’ve seen this movie and I’ve never even heard of this brewery before, so I was ready for a bit of a weird night (get it?). But fortunately I was pleasantly surprised. So let’s get started, shall we?

Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is one of those classics that everyone is supposed to see at least once in their in life. A bizarro satire of the Cold War arms race infused with real worry concerning the possibility of nuclear war, the film sits in the unique position of being both perfectly attuned to its time while also remaining a timeless lesson in the risks of war. For those who are unfamiliar with the film, it loosely tracks the aftermath of an Air Force commander’s decision to nuke Soviet Russia in effort to “preserve our precious bodily fluids.” I say loosely because the film is actually less about the actual events and more about the myriad of wild characters that occupy the film. In a strange, twisted way, the film does a great job of simply extending real Cold War rhetoric to it’s next absurdly logical step. For example, the idea of nuclear deterrence is carried beyond that basic idea to completion: purposeful mutually-assured destruction in the form of a “Doomsday Device.” In a weird, scary way, it makes the argument if one person can’t win the war, then NO ONE gets to win.  I’m realizing that it’s hard to describe the satire (or any satire, for that matter) without you having seen it but ultimately, the film achieves that perfect balance of laugh-out-loud comedy and coming dangerously close to our own history.

Bombs are hilarious!

Bombs are hilarious!

What dragged Dr. Strangelove down for me is its pacing. While the film is funny and poignant and well-acted, there are several long (LOOONNGG) stretches where we simply watch Airmen rattle through military jargon as they fly into Russia. Sure, it lends some realism to an otherwise absurd film, but it really can drag at times. In contrast, the film’s titular character Dr. Strangelove only appears in two scenes that are not exceptionally long even though we wish they were. He steals those scenes, but I wanted more of him and less of planes flying. But that’s mostly just personal taste. Overall, the film is a quick 90 minutes of historical fun that I’d suggest you enjoy sometime.

Come at me with your sharp political satire, bro!

Come at me with your sharp political satire, bro!

And our Long Strange Tripel: was it as strange as our movie? It’s actually been awhile since I’ve had a tripel so it took me a few sips to remember what I should be expecting but I refreshed pretty quickly. Pouring a lovely hazy golden color, I was thoroughly impressed by the massive, three finger head. It was frothy, pure white and took its time to dissipate, leaving behind some lovely lacing. From the glass, you get a nice, grainy aroma with hints of Belgian yeast. With your first sip, you’ll get more of that wheaty graininess infused that banana-y Belgian yeast. I also found the beer is smoother than expected with sweet highlight notes of fruit and citrus. However, none of these flavors dominated the palette one way or the other, making the beer a good, middle-of-the-road easy drinking beer. So if you want something a bit yeasty and on the strong side (9% ABV), I’d say you could do a lot worse than Boulevard Brewing’s Long Strange Tripel.

long-strange-tripel

So there you have it, Drinkers! A strange night! Actually it wasn’t all that weird, to be honest. It was nice. A classic satire and a surprisingly drinkable complex beer. A little mix of high and low brow, which is something that everyone needs from time to time.

Remember, if you like what you’re seeing here, be sure to Like, Subscribe and Follow all across the various social media.

Oh also, as a heads up, I’m about to start a brand new job on a TV show that’s moving into production shortly, so I’m not sure what my schedule will be like. I will try my best to keep getting BAAM’s up regularly but bear with me as I find my footing with the new schedule.

And as always keep drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:Boulevard-Long-Strange-Tripel
Boulevard Brewing’s Long Strange Tripel:
-Lovely golden, orange pour
-HUGE, foamy, white head
-Notes of grain, yeast and fruit

Dr. Strangelove:
-Sharp satire perfect for the era
-Amazing characterization
-Drags a bit when not making jokes

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The Lost Abbey’s Judgement Day & Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today is Judgement Day, which means you should get your drinking in early before the world kablodes. But seriously, today’s BAAM is the Judgement Day combo where we watch Terminator 2: Judgement Day and sip on The Lost Abbey’s Belgian quad Judgement Day. Big beer. Big explosions. Great weekday drinking. Let’s get started, shall we?

I’m going to assume that most of you are reasonably socially adjusted and have seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day, aka the seminal action movie of the 1990’s. The far more popular sequel to The Terminator, T2 (as it is affectionately called) is the pinnacle of 90’s action. There are explosions, computers, guns, a badass mom, more explosions and two different kinds of grenade launchers. Literally this movie has everything. And while the award-winning special effects have not aged well, the action is still as visceral and exciting as it was in its original theatrical release. If you leave your modern perspective behind (a perspective that includes knowledge of Arnold’s political career and a basic understanding of computer science), the movie still holds up fairly well. Looking past the ever-cheesy dialogue (let’s face it, James Cameron has never been known for his writing), the film is pretty damn good and pushes some boundaries. Most obviously, Sarah Connor is a complete baller. She never wears a bra and she kicks total ass while still grappling with the realities of less-than-stellar parenting skills. And while the film still requires the presence of a “male” savior (he is a robot….), Sarah Connor still stands atop the list of cinema’s strongest female heroes (along with Ripley from the Alien franchise).

sarah-connor

BAMF

I hate to point out flaws in a classic but I’m going to anyway. Deal with it. Deep in my nerdy core, there are certain questions that gnaw at me. Like why the T-1000 defaults to the cop-look when he could easily just keep changing forms. And where the F@$% did John and Sarah got those explosives?! They certainly didn’t come from their random gun stash on the Mexican border. Or, more fundamentally, why don’t the machines just keep trying to kill Sarah Connor earlier in her life? Why wait until John is born? I’m just unclear as to why they wait so long. Robo-logic problem. But that’s more just me being nit-picky and not a fan of time-travel as a plot device. Overall, Terminator 2 is a bit silly mostly because of it’s age but the action still holds up. The practical and special effects are still impressive and the action is still visceral and exciting. Moreover, the story of a mother and son at odds because of their fate still rings truer than most action films we see today. My opinion? T2 is always worth another viewing.

So much ass waiting to be kicked

So much ass waiting to be kicked

And The Lost Abbey’s Judgement Day was a perfect fit for our movie. Not only was the name actually appropriate (unlike most BAAM combos), the beer was a long-lasting drinking companion; perfectly suited to last the two hour movie. Pouring from a bomber, Judgement Day is beautifully black in color with a lovely chocolate head. With a stout’s roasted malt aroma, accented with fruity sweetness (from the raisins with which this beer is brewed), this beer was surprisingly complex despite the brute force of the 10.5% ABV. Though the beer is described  as a Belgian quad brewed with raisins, I’m not sure I got any particular Belgian-y flavor. Though, to be honest, I’m not even sure if a Quad is supposed to retain that classic Belgian flavor. What I can say is that this Quad is a noticeable step up from a Tripel, which are already strong beers. Briefly stated, this beer is not for the feint of heart and is best enjoyed over a LONG period of time. It warms fairly well and the substantial ABV will definitely hit you. It certainly hit me…

So there you have it, drinkers. Judgement Day!  A powerful, action-packed film with a powerful, booze-packed beer. I would definitely recommend either, or both, for repeated viewings and tasting. Moreover, I’d suggest enjoying both of these with a friend or two. Nothing says friendship like beer and explosions! Trust me, you’ll be back…

(sorry, had to)

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

090711 LostAbbey JudgementDay

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
The Lost Abbey’s Judgement Day:
-Rich, black color
-Caramel/chocolate head
-Malty taste with noticeable raisin sweetness

Terminator 2: Judgement Day
-Classic, nearly-non-stop action
-Special effects haven’t aged all that well
-Strong, female lead that still surpasses her contemporaries

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Bacchus & The Kid With A Bike

We’re back, Drinkers!

Now that I finally have internet in my new apartment, I thought I’d celebrate in the only way I know how: with a brew in my hand and a movie on my screen. Tonight’s combo brings us across the pond to Beer Heaven: Belgium. The home of some of the best beers in the world, Belgium is also known for occasionally putting out some great films. Who knew? And since we’ve talked about Belgian or Belgian-style beers in the past, I thought it would be appropriate to pay tribute to their other cultural contributions. So let’s hop on that bike and go for a spin!

For starters, The Kid With A Bike is a 2011 Cannes Grand Jury Prize winning Belgian film directed by the prolific and talented Dardenne brothers. This French-language film follows the painful story of Cyril, a young boy who is abandoned by his father and taken in by a hairdresser. Cyril is an enigmatic mix of depression, denial, independence and longing. It’s mix of character traits that makes sense given his abandonment but is still impressive to see. The young actor, Thomas Doret, portrays all of these emotions so naturally and hauntingly. Cyril is desperate for attention and guidance while also constantly shutting out everyone who tries to help him. The only exception to this is a local thief who briefly acts as an older brother ends up just using him to help steal money. At every moment, you feel like Cyril is capable of so much growth but in the end, he always shuts himself down and hurts those around him. It’s frustrating, confusing and most importantly, real.

Definitely not a creepy drug dealer.

That hair definitely means he’s not drug dealer

It doesn’t really do much good to go any further into the plot. First, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Second, there’s not much else to say. This is much less about the story and more about the characters. Yes, the events shape the characters and their relationships, but the moments are short. Catalytic. The majority of the film can be found in the quiet moments in between. At the dinner table with Cyril and Samantha, his guardian. In the long bike rides. In the silences where character’s faces seem to only say “I don’t know how to deal with this situation so I’m just not going to say anything.” Overall, it’s a brave bit of filmmaking. The Dardenne brothers trust in their actors and their visuals so completely that the film really has very little else to fall back on. If what I’m describing sounds like a boring film, that’s only because I’m not doing it justice. It truly is an engaging (and quiet) film that is both painful and rewarding to complete.

It does have a happy ending...sorta

I promise it does have a happy ending…sorta

And our Bacchus Belgian beer? Quite tasty, actually! Bacchus however is not your typical “Belgian” beer. Most Belgians have a distinct banana-y yeast flavor that is immediately recognizable. Instead, this beer falls into the genre of Flanders Oud Bruin (Old Brown Flanders). I’ll admit that I’m not as familiar with Flanders-style beers (except that the three I’ve had in my lifestyle are awesome!) but if I’m not mistaken, the Bacchus is a fair representative of the style. It pours a nice ruby-brown color with a modest head and lots of tiny carbonation. The smell that hits you once you pour is the one you’ll be tasting, so hopefully you enjoy strong notes of cherry and citrus. The beer is a bit on the sweet side but has a hint of a sour bite mixed right in the middle. Yes, the profile is not exactly complex but it is quite tasty. The sweet, fruity flavor combined with a mild ABV of 4.5% makes this beer very easy to drink without becoming a guzzler. Or maybe I’m just a classy fellow.

So there you have it, drinkers! A quick trip to Belgium! We had a strong movie with a modest beer that I think worked out quite well. Where the beer was sweet but one-note, the film was tough but deeply complex. I’d definitely recommend checking out both of these, if only to make yourself feel culturally superior to your friends.

Seriously, when’s the last time they watched a movie in French?

And as always my friends, keep drinking!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:bacchus
Bacchus:
-Ruby/brown pour
-Strong cherry aroma & flavor
-Simple but tasty

The Kid With A Bike:
-Quiet but powerful
-Fantastic performances without much dialogue
-Apparently Belgium makes good movies. The more you know

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Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA & Raging Bull

BAAM is back, bitches!

We’re coming out swinging after our week long hiatus for Passover with a well-regarded beer and a well-respected movie. That’s right, it’s a night of RAGE (!) with Scorsese’s boxing classic Raging Bull and Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian-style IPA. So let’s hop in the ring and get started.

Martin Scorsese’s 1980 Oscar winning Raging Bull chronicles the thoroughly depressing rise and fall of 1940’s-50’s boxing legend Jake La Motta and his inability to be a sane human being. In his quest to become world middle-weight champ, Jake manages to physically destroy every relationship he has (seriously, he hits pretty much everyone he loves). Unable to contain his rage (wonder where the title came from…) and control his paranoia-fueled jealousy, Jake manages to ruin two marriages and his relationship with his brother, played by everyone’s favorite Joe Pesci. And while the story is compelling and the acting is top notch (it’s truly one of De Niro’s finest performances), what is most striking about this film is its visual style. Photographed in haunting black and white at varying frame rates, the film effortlessly dips between painful realism and beautiful surrealism. Within the longer fight sequences, the audience is treated with overwhelming close-ups, dream-like slow-motion and a sort of horrified revelry in the blood of boxing. Every shot stands on its own as a great work of filmmaking. If you were to watch the film without the sound, I think you would still find the film easy to follow and beautiful to watch. Not to overstate anything, but Raging Bull truly is a great film (though a bit slow at times) that I would recommend to anyone, even if you’re not a “sports movie” fan. In fact, this film hardly qualifies as a sports movies, as it focuses much more intently on the fractured emotional states of Jake La Motta than on the actual matches themselves. Long story short, watch this movie. It’ll…wait for it…knock your socks off.

I swear I’m funny…

He's seen better days, but you haven't seen a better movie.

And now for our Raging Bitch. I’ve actually seen this beer, and many others by Flying Dog Brewery, at a few beer shops but I’ve held off on buying them mostly because I don’t like their labeling. I’m pretty sure most people would agree with me when I say that their packaging does not make their product appealing. However, on the suggestion of a friend, I decided to bite the bullet and pick up a Raging Bitch. But this is where I kind of have to end my review. See, from what I can tell, my bottle was spoiled. After a few sips and double checking against reviews on Beer Advocate, I think that this is really the only explanation for the mildly carbonated, generally flavorless and stale beer. I got none of the piney, hoppiness of the IPA, nor did I get any of the banana-y characteristics of a beer brewed with Belgian yeast. Moreover, this beer was supposedly 8.5% but, for me, it tasted very weak. So, for the time being, I’ll give Flying Dog the benefit of the doubt and not condemn this brew to a BAAM thumbs down. Of course I was disappointed to drink a spoiled beer, but I guess it means I’ll have to give this one a shot in the near future. Sorry everybody, but that’s just way it goes.

And so BAAM’s comeback night was a bit of a swing and a miss. Raging Bull was right on the money, delivering the one-two punch of fantastic acting and unbelievable cinematography. However, Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch couldn’t handle the punches with the spoiled bottle I drank. I definitely want to try this beer again for all of its positive reviews, but I’m out of boxing puns for now and I have many other beers to try. Catch you next time!

But until then, keep drinking my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA: 
-Unfortunately received a bad bottle, so there isn’t much I can say here. Sorry kids.
-And by kids I mean young adults who are over 21 years of age. Just to clarify.
-And by young adults I pretty much mean anyone over 21. I don’t discriminate.

Raging Bull:
-Powerful performances from every cast member.
-Striking black & white photography. Truly beautiful.
-Lots of sweaty De Niro. Winning!

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