Tag Archives: farmhouse ale

Allagash Brewing Company’s 2013 Interlude & Phantom of the Paradise

Hey there, Drinkers!

In classic BAAM fashion, today’s pairing was originally going to be something special. Something elevated. We were going to drink a great beer while watching a critically-acclaimed film. Please note the past tense. What happened is that I realized the aforementioned critically-acclaimed film was over three hours long and thus I made a last minute change to an AWFUL (re. amazing) film that was only 1.5 hours long. And so today’s BAAM pairing was born: Allagash Brewing Company’s 2013 Interlude and the 1974 Brian De Palma cult-favorite Phantom of the Paradise. So grab your noise-canceling headphones and let’s get started!

Believe it or not, this is the second time I’ve seen 1974 Brian De Palma campfest that is Phantom of the Paradise. And while the film is generally regarded as a cult-classic, I’m not sure it’s a classic for the right reasons. Speaking broadly, it’s a pretty terrible movie. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is amazing. But terrible. Terribly amazing. Amazingly terrible. Long, convoluted story short, Phantom of the Paradise is an updated, “satirical” version of the The Phantom of the Opera crossed with the story of Faust (a man who sells his soul to the devil) all set in the world of 1970’s mega music labels and rock operas (no, this is not The Apple). In this version, a weird composer named Winslow Leach writes a cantata about the story of Faust, only to have it stolen by record mogul Swan. And as if that wasn’t enough, Winslow is then falsely imprisoned, has his teeth removed and then has his faced crushed by a vinyl press. Between the many confusing and elaborate musical numbers, we’re treated to a story of Swan’s continuing betrayal of Swan until we learn that Swan is in fact an agent of the devil/Dorian Grey/a murderous publicity-whore. Like every aspect of the film, it’s a jumbled amalgamation of stories, themes and movie references all snugly wrapped in  spandex leggings and liberally coated in facepaint.



As beautifully terrible as this movie is, there are a few moments where the actual filmmaking expertise of Brian De Palma shines through. There are a few sequences that are shown in split screen that are visually and aurally confusing, but are technically quite impressive, as they feature long, uninterrupted takes. And there is also some smart use of POV shots that help shake up the visual language of the film. Unfortunately, the movie is generally so overstated that these moments are quickly swallowed by the chaos. So while this movie is considered a cult classic to some, I’m not sure it really lives up to the niche hype. All that being said, you will still have a good time if you’re splitting a couple of high ABV beers with friends. It makes the whole experience go down a little smoother.

SwanPhantom of the Paradise - 4


So what about our boozy interlude for the evening? Well, Allagash Brewing Company is one of my favorite breweries (despite the high price on many of their bottles). Nearly every brew of theirs that I have tried is unique, complex and delicious. And the 2013 Interlude is no exception. The Interlude is a Saison (or Farmhouse Ale, depending on how you like to label things) that is brewed with some schmancy Brettanomyces yeast, aged in red wine barrels and cork finished. Pouring from a bomber, the beer was a hazy, reddish amber with a very thin head. Off the nose you’ll get distinct notes of red wine along with tart and sweet fruits (thanks to the Brettanomyces). When you take a sip, you’ll get a nice, tart acidic bite balanced against some tasteful sweetness (cherry?). It also has a bit of an alcoholic bite, as the beer runs between 8.5%-9% (depending on the year). With all of these intermingling flavors, you’ll also note that the beer is fairly light in body. With mild carbonation and a lighter body, the beer manages to refresh while still remaining complex. All things considered, it’s really a special brew that deserves slow sipping.

So there you have it folks,  a campy cacophony of a movie paired with a complex symphony of a beer. But together, they actually balanced each other out nicely. A strong, complex beer with a mindless camp musical. While I can’t strictly recommend watching Phantom of the Paradise, I won’t say I didn’t enjoy myself.

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


Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Allagash Brewing’s 2013 Interlude:
-Lovely, winey aroma
-Complex layering of sweet, tart & yeast
-Pricey, but worth it for an occasion

Phantom of the Paradise:
-Campy (satirical?) redux of Phantom of the Opera
Bizarre musical set-pieces with tights & facepaint


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Ovila Abbey Saison & Vicky Christina Barcelona

Hey there, drinkers.

Tonight is BAAM’s last entry from Hollywood, CA. I’m still sticking to Los Angeles, but I’m moving tomorrow, so it seems only fitting that we’re talking about a movie that takes us away to somewhere new. Tonight, we’re watching Woody Allen’s 2008 film Vicky Christina Barcelona and drinking the collaborative beer Ovila Abbey Saison. What’s the connection? Well, according to the bottle, the monks of New Clairaux and the brewers at Sierra Nevada created this beer to help support the restoration of a Spanish monastery. And the confluence of Spain and the U.S. is subject of our discussion for tonight. That and Woody Allen. We’ll probably talk about him as well…

For those unfamiliar with this film, here’s a quick overview. Vicky Christina Barcelona is a film about beautiful people (Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz) in a beautiful place (Barcelona) doing beautiful things (each other). What’s not to like? Actually, in general, there isn’t much not to like. The acting is good, the writing is sharp and poignant (if a bit heady) and the scenery is beautiful (Javier Bardem, anyone?). Though the subject matter is a bit familiar, as our cast of characters finds themselves impossibly in love with the wrong people, the story still feels fresh with Woody Allen’s unique sense of style. That being said, there are certain aspects of his style that I found distracting and a bit irritating. Most egregious is the voice over. I am both a fan and a hater of voice-over, so my own feelings on this subject are quite complicated. However, for this film, the voice over seems redundant to the actual narrative and really only serves to a fill spaces between scenes and inform otherwise lovely photography. Rather than let the audience enjoy watching the characters of the film explore Barcelona and, in turn, explore their own feelings, Woody Allen tells the audience exactly what is going on in his characters’ heads and why. And though, at times, it gives us a good laugh, it mostly just makes us feel like we’re too stupid to understand the intricate workings of Woody Allen’s brain. Other than that, the film is quite fantastic. The acting is stellar. Penelope Cruz steps up to play the crazy Spanish lady, as always, and Javier Bardem successfully seduces everyone in the audience. To be honest, I kind of want to go to Barcelona now, as the city itself becomes a character (hence its name in the title).  Vicky Christina Barcelona is definitely worth a viewing, even if you have a complicated relationship with voice over. A few other quick points that I have to point out. The soundtrack for this film is perfect. It’s really quite lovely and seems to capture all of the topsy-turvy emotions of the film. Also, the editor needs to make up her mind. Stylistically, this film is all over the place to the point where it stands out (and not in the good way). We have split screens, crossfades, wipes and long takes. It’s very inconsistent and it bothers me. Those who have taken film classes will know what I’m talking about. Those who haven’t taken film classes, I’m sorry but you’ll just have to trust me.

Love triangle? Screw that. We're going for a love pentagon.

Anyway, let’s talk about beer. I’ll say this straight off just to clear the air: I really enjoy saisons (farmhouse ales) but this one disappointed me. This 1 pt 9.4 oz. bottle of 7% ABV beer was one of the more uninspired and uninteresting saisons I’ve had. Generally speaking, in my opinion, a saison is a very flavorful and exciting beer. While typically quite drinkable, saisons I’ve had run in the 7-8% range. I like saisons because they offer a great alternative to “typical” beers as they can be quite floral and full in their flavor. However, Sierra Nevada’s Ovila Abbey Ale falls short of that benchmark. While I definitely get the Belgian yeast, there really isn’t much else going on in this beer. The flavors were muted and uninspiring. Though easy to drink, I found myself drinking quite slowly as the beer rarely drew me back for more sips. I mean, I did finish the beer, but it took me longer than expected and I wasn’t left wanting more. The beer wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t that great. As a beer that advertises itself as a saison, I have to say I was let down. I found this beer more to be in the vein of a Belgian-style ale but it still was a bit lackluster. Sorry kids, I don’t mean to be a downer, but I don’t think I’ll be buying this one again.

So there we have it. BAAM’s final Hollywood entry. Future BAAM combos will be coming from the hills of Glendale/La Canada, which really won’t change anything at all about this blog. However, I will be closer to my favorite beer purveyor, Galco’s, so that’s good news for me. I once had a film professor tell me that if Woody Allen ever stopped making movies (he averages about one a year, an unheard of turnaround rate),  Woody would probably die. And I think I agree. Woody Allen knows how to do nothing else except make movies. But unlike Woody Allen, I think I’ll live without buying this beer again.

Happy drinking!


Tonight’s Drinking Notes:
Ovila Abbey Ale:
Lackluster saison 
Distinctive Belgian yeast flavor
Easy to drink, but not much else

Vicky Christina Barcelona
Pretty people and pretty places
Familiar story but still exciting to watch
I think Javier Bardem seduced me


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