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Abita’s Purple Haze & Dazed and Confused

Alright alright alright, Drinkers!

Tonight we’re kicking it back and taking things slow with Dazed and Confused while sipping on a tasty Purple Haze from Louisiana’s Abita Brewing. My memory may may be a bit hazy (I had to, sorry) but I think tonight was quite the success. Let’s find out why, shall we?

The 1993 cult high school movie, Dazed and Confusedis one of those movies that I think most people saw when they were too young to really get what was going on. Or they know about it, never saw it and pretend like they have seen it. Or maybe that’s because they got a contact high from the film strip and forgot it all but that’s another issue. Directed by Richard Linklater (I reviewed his famous Before Sunrise about a year ago), Dazed and Confused is at once a typical coming-of-age high school flick and a confounding piece of cinema. Most obviously confounding is the cast. This massive ensemble film includes many actors that we have come to know over years including Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Park Posey, Joey Lauren Adams and Matthew McConaughey, who literally hasn’t changed in 20 years.

But what struck me more was the lack of a structured narrative. In fact, the film is actually quite directionless, which seems fitting. Taking place on the last day of school for a group of rising freshmen and seniors, the audience is tossed into a world of incredibly high teens who seem to have some weird aggression problems, all of whom really have no plan for the future.

Milla has zombies in her future. Lots of zombies.

And while focus-less films typically frustrate me to no end, I wasn’t as bothered by Dazed and Confused. I think what it came down to for me was that this film didn’t try too hard to look like it wasn’t trying too hard. If that makes sense.  Let’s make a comparison, shall we? The Big Lebowski is ostensibly about nothing, right? Well the Coen brothers, as brilliant as they are, tried very hard to create a plot about nothing (don’t hate me, Dudes). And while some people love this film, I tend to disagree. The opposite can be said of Dazed and Confused. This is a movie about a bunch of teens with nothing to do and just enjoying it. And the film itself reflects that. We weave in and out of characters’ lives, there is no major problem to be resolved and not everyone has to get the girl at the end. It’s kind of cool actually. Yes, this film is a bit…meandering but it works. For me. And while my high school experience was is in no way represented in this film, I did feel a certain kinship with most of the characters as they fail to figure out what their lives are all about. I also have to say, briefly, that this film is reminiscent of many of Linklater’s other films. From Before Sunrise to A Scanner Darkly, Linklater seems to be interested in characters that are floating through existence, occasionally searching for something more. Dazed and Confused is no different.

Oh and I also have to point out this one line where a female character compares decades:
“Maybe the 80’s will be like radical or something. I figure we’ll be in our 20s and it cant’ get worse.”
Oh it gets worse, darling. It gets worse.

Kind of how you feel after watching this movie.

So we were dazed, confused and hazy? Sure! Why not? Tonight’s tasty beer was brought to you by the Abita Brewing Company and it actually matched the film quite well. As Abita explains on the label, their Purple Haze is a wheat lager with an added raspberry puree that goes into the brew after filtration. When you crack open the bottle, that added raspberry is immediately apparent in the nose. You get a nice sweet, tartness that excites your palet. But what’s cooler is that when you give this beer a pour, you can actually see a slight purple hue in this otherwise light-golden beer. With that first sip, you get a nice balance of light wheat flavor and subtle fruitiness. And on top of that, it’s really just a refreshing beer. Maybe the kind you want one or two of when school gets out for the summer (Just kidding kids! Don’t drink until your 21!). But seriously, Purple Haze is a nice clean, crisp beer for those toasty summer nights.

So there you have it, folks. A hazy but enjoyable evening. We watched a not-too-serious and heavily substance-abused (on screen, not me) reflection on high school while sipping on a sweet little raspberry beer. Neither tries too hard to be anything other than it is and, in the end, that helps them both. Rather than hitting us over the head, both pieces of entertainment leave us with enough room to breath. To think, or not think, about the choices we make and the future that awaits us this summer.

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

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Abita’s Purple Haze:
-Strong raspberry aromatics
-Subtle purple hue to the pour
-Refreshing, not-too-fruity taste

Dazed and Confused:
-Lovingly irreverent of high school
-Kids in the 70’s drank and smoked…a lot. Should I be surprised?
-Tons of stars before they were stars


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Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale & Dogma

Hey there, drinkers!

Tonight we’re rediscovering our faith with the help of Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale & Kevin Smith’s 1999 film Dogma. We’ve got a great beer and a great movie paired up for you tonight, so I hope you listen to my Word and heed my infallibility when it comes to unnatural alcoholic-cinematic combinations. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tonight’s film is the religiously anti-religious Kevin Smith film Dogma. Equal parts religious lesson and sacrilegious comedy, Dogma utterly refutes religion by showcasing it in a very literal and sarcastic fashion. For those who are not indoctrinated, Dogma follows the quest of a Wisconsin Planned Parenthood employee who is tasked with stopping two angels (a very young and adorable Matt Damon & Ben Affleck) who wish to regain entrance to Heaven and obliterate all  existence in the process. In classic Kevin Smith fashion, the film is dominated by long-winded, articulate and absurd speeches that very plainly explain esoteric subjects. Biblical history is expertly intertwined with film nerd history, all with the biting edge of Smith’s “nothing-is-sacred” style of comedy. I mean, George Carlin plays an Arch Bishop and New Jersey is a portal to Heaven. You get the picture. Aside from the blunt exposition of plot and Christian mythology, the film is quite entertaining. All of the characters (and actors) acknowledge the absurdity of their plight and have a good laugh about it. There are literally dozens of “Jesus Christ!” exclamations that are uttered by Heavenly creatures, a not-so-subtle wink from the director to the audience. In addition, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, unadulterated by fame, give fantastic performances in roles that would otherwise be too absurd to be successful. In fact, Kevin Smith somehow assembled a fantastic cast for this film, given them insane roles, and made them successfully commit to those roles. And while no one would mistake this film for art, it really is a testament to Kevin Smith’s ingenuity and creativity as writer/director. For those of you who haven’t seen this film (and are not easily made uncomfortable by religious gaffs), I would recommend you see it as a master class in sarcasm.

And did I mention that Alanis Morisette is God? Seems fitting, right?

Jesus (aka Buddy Christ) loves you. And beer. And Kevin Smith.

And in keeping with tonight’s theme, I would have to describe Stone’ Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale as simply divine. This 8.7% whopper pours a thick, deep black with a big head that dissipates slowly. This black ale features big, roasty malt flavor that is balanced well by some sturdy hopping. Reviewers on Beer Advocate noted hints of grapefruit while I mostly tasted toasted malt, which probably means that I just don’t have a defined palette. But for a beer with an 8.7% ABV and a strong malt character, this beer is pretty easy to drink. Not to say that casual drinkers could just pick this up and go to town, but rather it doesn’t have a strong bite to it. It goes down smooth and leaves a nice, hoppy finish that hangs around for awhile. For such a crazy movie, I think this beer matches it pretty well. While the movie is funny enough as is, being a little tipsy by the film’s bloody conclusion doesn’t hurt it. Especially since the film drags a little at about two hours, having 22 ozs. of tasty, strong beer does not hurt.

So there it is, drinkers. A sublimely divine evening that left me with a smile on my face. Great beer. Good movie. It’s hard to ask for much more on a Friday evening. God bless craft beer.



Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale:
-Deep, black color
-Solid, beige head
-Roasted malt flavor balanced with significant hoppiness.

-Sarcastic & cynical
-Star-studded cast
-A bit too much exposition, but it’s Kevin Smith, so what else do you expect?


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Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot Ale & The Company Men

Evening, Drinkers!

Tonight’s BAAM was just inches away from being a day drinking special (which would have been oddly fitting), but I decided to keep it classy and leave my beer consumption for after 7 pm. Now, judging from the title, you might be a little confused about tonight’s combo. Wilco Tango Foxtrot seems oddly militaristic and The Company Men seems like a benign enough name devoid of guns, but the two actually have quite a bit in common. Lagunitas described their Limited Release Wilco Tango Foxtro Ale as a “jobless recovery ale,” a subject which The Company Men deals with directly. And in light of our socio-economic/political times, (and my recent escape from unemployment) this pairing seemed particularly poignant. Apologies in advance if my political beliefs rise to the surface, as this is a blog about beer and movies and not about politics. But let’s started.

While it seems that many people have heard of The Company Men, not many people have seen it. This 2010 non-indie indie movie has a star-studded cast addressing the issues that we as Americans seem to be wrestling with each day. The cast features a litany of abnormally attractive and successful actors including Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Rosemarie DeWitt (one of my personal favorites). The successful cast of The Company Men delves into issues of unemployment, executive pay, corporate greed and American manufacturing while grounding these subjects in deeply human stories. While at times the narrative uses a bit too much corporate jargon, the story itself is presented in layman’s terms. Staggeringly successful and loyal employees at a transportation manufacturing company (primarily ships) are laid off and forced to come to terms with their own affluent, Boston lifestyles and the lifestyles of those above them on the corporate ladder. Having been overpaid their whole careers, men like Ben Affleck have a difficult time adjusting to life without the luxuries on which they have to rely. And while the film only briefly touches on issues of class and wage disparities, it does address the excessive compensation of corporation’s top executives in relation to the layoffs of lower-level employees. Tommy Lee Jones’s character is one of these overpaid executive and seems to have a conscious about the whole situation, though never really takes a stand. In one of his more poignant moments, he suggests that the CEO, his boss and old friend, sell a Degas painting in order to raise revenue and satisfy stockholders in stead of firing employees, a scene that illustrates the gap between executives and their employees. There’s a lot to be said about this film and its argument against corporate greed, but that could take awhile, so we’ll move forward in the hopes that you’ll actually go watch the movie. In terms of actual craft however, I felt this film was a bit clunky. While it’s held together by strong performances from some of the best actors around, the editing style is choppy and jarring. Sequences slam in to one another, distorting time and relationships in a frustrating way that breaks the narrative. For example, apparently Tommy Lee Jones’s character gets a divorce? It’s unclear, but it happens and it’s frustrating. While each scene and sequence is generally quite beautiful and meaningful, they do not always mesh together cleanly. Another quick point I’d like to make before moving on is this film’s contention that American manufacturing is still the backbone of our economy. Not to get overly political, but this conceit is a bit naive and nostalgic. While it makes us viewers feel proud, it is not really honest in a film that takes the time to prove its honesty. And while I feel that the manufacturing industry is important to our economy, I’m not convinced that it holds the same redemptive qualities that it does for our fictional protagonists.

It's hard to make jokes about films with shots this dramatic.

So did our Wilco Tango Foxtro jobless recovery ale help us get through the unemployment blues? Well, it certainly was a pick me up. Sporting a hearty 7.85% ABV in a hefty 22 oz bottle (a bomber, if you want to be cool like me), this beer can turn any bad day around. While the bottle makes a note of this beer’s maltiness, I found that the beer’s hoppiness was its defining flavor characteristic. This brown colored ale has an almost IPA-esque floral hoppiness to it that can be a bit bitter at first. However, you do notice the aforementioned malt when that hoppiness dissipates into a balanced and smooth finish. It’s actually a bit surprising when you experience that transition, but Lagunitas somehow makes it work. So for the IPA-shy, I don’t know if this is beer for you. But those of you who are willing to trying something a bit more bitter, I would definitely give this one a shot.

While unemployment is nothing to celebrate, BAAM’s first economic downturn-themed review was quite a success. With a thoughtful, if at times clunky, movie to watch and a interesting, balanced beer to drink, I’m sure you’ll feel a little better by the end of the evening, regardless of how much money you’re bringing in.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
The Company Men:
-An earnest, however liberal, look at corporate greed and unemployment.
-Tommy Lee Jones plays the ever-elusive, well-intentioned corporate VP with a heart of gold.
-Ben Affleck’s character is much older than Ben Affleck appears. To a fault.

Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot Ale:
-Gorgeous, brown color. Minimal head.
-Bitter hoppiness at the front. Smooth, mellow maltiness at the finish.
-Not sure I get where the name is coming from…

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