Hey there, Drinkers!
Today’s pairing is one of those obvious and simple combos that we almost never strive for here at BAAM. In fact, the last (re. only) time we had as beautiful of a naming pair was all the way back in 2011 with Blue Moon & New Moon. But with age comes taste and today’s pairing is all about great taste. I watched David Lynch’s acclaimed 1986 film Blue Velvet while drinking Eagle Rock Brewery’s acclaimed Red Velvet Imperial Red with Rye. So let’s get it started!
Let’s begin with a disclaimer regarding Blue Velvet. Blue Velvet is one of those films that is generally regarded as one of the greatest films in recent history. It’s layered with meaning and heavy with artistry. And I’m not here to dispute that. Educated in film as I am, I fear I may not have the critical or artistic wherewithal to fully or dutifully review this film the way ‘real’ critics have in the past. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try! Okay now GO!
At its most base level, Blue Velvet is a neo-noir film. What does that mean? It means that the film builds off the foundational tropes of film noir (a mystery, an investigator, a femme fatale, high contrast, etc.) while adapting it with newer or more modern themes and styles. But what makes Blue Velvet a standout neo-noir film is its ability to adhere to noir tropes while undermining or destroying the genre at the same time. It’s not just a reactionary film, it’s a complete reinvention. The setting is a small town, the investigator is a college-aged man, the femme fatale a much older woman and, notably, the mystery is secondary to the film.
It’s funny, in a David Lynch sort of way, that the murder mystery is not really the driving force of the film. Sure, our hero Jeffrey hunts for clues and snoops where he shouldn’t, but really the investigation happens to him instead of Jeffrey being the active player. Moreover, any investigative beats are shown through exposition, almost as a flashback, rather than a major set pieces like a classic noir. They’re more a statement than a discovery, if that makes sense. Really, the film is more interested in the damaged psychology of our characters through unsettling voyeurism. Just as Jeffrey watches this murder mystery unfold in front of him, so too does the film unfold before the viewer.
There’s a lot more I could say about this movie but I think it’s actually better if you just experience it on its own. I will say that the film is 100% David Lynch (for those who are familiar with his humor, darkness and visuals) but it’s not as off-puttingly weird as some other films of his, namely Eraserhead (which you can skip, in my opinion). I know there can be hesitancy towards Lynch for many viewers (myself included) but I do think Blue Velvet is worth watching, if only to watch it is as an experiment in genre. But truly, it’s an interesting and engaging film that I would recommend.
Also, Dennis Hopper is crazy. But in a good-to-watch kind of way. Also Laura Dern.
So what about our beer? Was it Velvet-y good? Actually, yeah! It was damn good! For those who live in Southern California, you may have heard of LA-based Eagle Rock Brewery and its famed, very limited-release beer Red Velvet Imperial Red with Rye. The 2010 GABF Gold Medal Winner is only released a few times a year and instantly sells out in the entire LA metro area. I was lucky to grab two bombers the last time I visited the brewery. This brew pours a lovely reddish-brown with a two finger khaki head and leaves behind some beautiful lacing. Off the nose you’ll get notes of malt, pine, booze, caramel and rye. And when you taste it, you’ll taste all of those but in a perfectly balanced symphony. The malt plays nicely off the piney hops but is smoothed out by the rye. And sweet caramel notes also help undercut the hoppy bite from the 10.8% ABV. For such a hefty beer, it’s shockingly easy to drink. It’s smooth, delicious and complex. Really just an outstanding beer.
So there you have it, Drinkers! A night of stellar art and entertainment. We had an interesting and unique bit of filmmaking paired with some excellent beer craftsmanship. I have to recommend you give both a shot (though the Red Velvet may hard/impossible to find for many).
And always keep drinking, my friends.
Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
ERB’s Red Velvet:
-Nice reddish pour
-Perfect flavor balance
-Easy to underestimate the ABV
–A disruptive neo-noir
-More character study than mystery
-Disturbing depictions of sexual assault (just FYI)