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Lucky Hand Black Lager & Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today, we’re going to Vegas! Time to bet big and lose your life savings! We’re watching the 2001 classic update of Ocean’s Eleven and sipping on Lucky Hand’s Black Lager (their labeling is gambling themed, go with it). Beer, money, attractive men, Vegas…doesn’t that sound like the perfect BAAM? Hint: it was pretty sweet.

So let’s get started, shall we?

A quick disclaimer before we begin: I’ve never seen the original 1960 Ocean’s Eleven, so I won’t be making comparisons or assumptions about this modern reboot. So here we go, Ocean’s Eleven is Steven Soderbergh’s star-filled, quick-witted, hyper-stylish heist movie. And in many ways, it really is a classic heist movie. The first half of the film gathers our crew, explains their skills, lays out (most) of the details on the job and sets up how much of a dick our bad guy is. Hint: he’s a real dick. The second half of the film is the job itself, offering its little twists and turns and surprises, gently unfolding the hidden parts of the heist to the delight of the audience and the chagrin of the bad guy. But what’s interesting about this film is that it’s not really  about anything. The biggest impetus for the heist seems to be mostly because they’re bored and “it’s never been done before.” Our hero, Danny Ocean, is also motivated by the need to get his wife back (which happens way to easily and is kind of a dumb character point). But most of the reasoning is sidelined and deemed unimportant. In the end, the movie isn’t actually about much but since you have so much fun before the credits roll, you don’t really mind.

Brad Pitt tells Carl Reiner to steal things...just cuz

Brad Pitt tells Carl Reiner to steal things…just cuz

The real magic in this movie is, quite obviously, the casting. You have some of the biggest and more talented male actors in recent memory all sharing the screen together, quipping away at each other like there’s no tomorrow. Lead by the two kings of smooth, Brad Pitt and George Clooney, the film has an incredibly sharp wit and fast pace, making it easy to get caught up in the dialogue. Almost every line is expertly delivered and reveals something about the character, their history and their relationship with the people around them. The unfortunate side-effect of having so many talented actors is that only a few of them get enough screen time. Even Matt Damon the super actor seems underused, mostly because he just has to share his screen time with so many others. The other casualty of this intense screen-sharing is that only a few characters get a real history. Yes we get good, short anecdotes on most of Ocean’s 11, but the history of their relationships with one another is vague, leaving the audience to assume that all smart criminals are best friends and always know where to find one another. Maybe that’s the way it is in real life, but I’m not a super criminal so I can’t say for sure.

One other small thing to note before I move on is the film’s visual style. The first half of the movie has a very specific, highly-stylized visual character that seems to get a little lost as the film progresses into the heist. The visuals, coupled with the editing and soundtrack do give the movie a certain 60’s throwback vibe, but all of the truly interesting visuals step aside for narrative clarity in the latter of half of the movie.

But overall, the film is success. I think that’s mostly because Soderbergh understood that this film is more of a playground for his actors than anything else. It’s fun, quick and our heroes make a lot of money. Oh and the men are beautiful.

It's really unfair to guys like me that guys this actually exist...

It’s really unfair to guys like me that guys this actually exist…

So was our beer as Lucky as our movie? I’d say so. Lucky Hand is not a brewery  I heard of before and black lagers/schwarzbiers are not typically my bag. But I have to say that Lucky Hand’s Black Lager was a nice surprise. For those who don’t know, schwarzbiers are black in color but lack the same heavy, malty body of a stout or porter. Instead, the beers tend to be on the lighter end of the spectrum with regards to body. The Lucky Hand poured a deep black with a rich, caramel head, giving off strong notes of roasted malt. But with that first sip, you’ll be surprised to find the beer quite easy to drink. Moreover, those roasted malts are balanced quite nicely with some mild hopping. The end result is a low ABV beer that is both rich in flavor but light on the stomach, making it easy to take down the bomber I had to myself. As BeerAdvocate notes, these qualities make this beer a nice alternative for the typically heavier winter beers. So when the temperature dip below 70 here in sunny Los Angeles, Lucky Hand’s Black Lager is not a bad option.

So there you have it folks. A night with the cards all stacked in our favor. A great, fun, light movie with a great, fun, light beer. Definitely not a bad way to kick back and relax on a weeknight.

And as always keep drinking, my friends.
Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Lucky Hand’s Black Lager:
-Deep, black color
-Nice hop/malt balance
-Surprisingly light & easy to drink

Ocean’s Eleven:
-A heist movie, for fun
-More about the character than the story
-A-list cast delivering sharp dialogue


Filed under Review