Hey there Drinkers,
Tonight we take a walk in the woods with Pretty Things’ Babayaga Stout and the 1999 horror film The Blair Witch Project while I’ll be doing my best to avoid witch jokes. Which jokes? Witch jokes. (okay, it’s out of my system now). So hang on to your wool hats, lace up your hiking boots and grab a glass. Let’s get started.
In 1999, the low-budget horror film The Blair Witch Project hit the scene and blew everyone’s mind. Well, everyone but mine since I didn’t watch the movie until this pairing. But that’s beside the point. While the film is not the first to use the now obnoxiously ubiquitous found-footage style, it did help popularize the format. More interesting though is the general consensus that The Blair Witch Project was the first film to fully utilize the power of the internet to generate interest. At the time, the online marketing campaign was so original and engaging, many viewers truly believed the film was real and not a work of fiction. They were wrong but it is interesting to see how much we’ve grown as cinematic and online consumers in the past 15 years. But now let’s talk about the movie itself.
Shown through the camera lenses of three amateur documentarians, The Blair Witch Project is, in essence, a film about getting lost in the woods. And a damn terrifying story at that. And just like feeling lost in the woods, the film does little to orient you. The camera whips around casually and dips into long bouts of complete darkness after the sun has set. Unlike more recent found-footage films, TBWP does little to gloss up its look or clarify the setting. Rather, it just dumps the viewer out in the woods alongside the characters. A side effect of this is that the audio is inconsistent and we rarely see who speaks. Our heroine director Heather quite literally lives behind her videocamera, a realistic touch that also has major character and story relevance.
And for scares, this movie is of the slow-burning terror variety. What makes this movie so successful at making our skin crawl is that we never have more information than the characters. We see only what they see which, more often than not, is nothing. And we hear only what they hear, which is typically distant and indistinct. It’s a sense of removal, anxiety and complete ignorance that freaks us out more than any monster or blood ever can. I’m just impressed that the actual filmmakers avoided using classic jump scares or spooky monsters at all. Instead, we never really see much of anything. Just some creepy twig sculptures and a bloody tooth. That’s it! And I’ve never been more scared!
And our spooky stout? So good! Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project is a small brewery based in my home state of Massachusetts. So when I saw their Babayaga Stout in my local beer shop here in Los Angeles, I just had to buy it. For those who are wondering about tonight’s connection, Babayaga is a supernatural creepy woman from Eastern European mythology. As for the beer itself, my bottle was labeled as having been bottled in 2011 so I assume some aging had taken place over the years. But when I opened my bomber, I immediately got hit with a delightful wave of coffee and malt aromas. With a pour, you’ll find that it has a dark brown-black color with a thin, chocolate-colored head. When I first tasted it, I double checked the label to confirm that this was indeed a stout because it was much lighter-bodied than I was anticipating. This made it easier to drink and highlighted the lovely malt, molasses and chocolatey flavors in the beer. It wasn’t as roasty as other dark beers which made it perfect for the warm LA summer. Overall, a really outstanding stout.
So there you have it folks, a night of witches and their brew. We had a genuinely scary movie that has held up over the years with a delicious beer that had been bottled in 2011. Thanks for reading and always feel free to suggest pairings for future BAAM posts.
And as always keep drinking, my friends.
Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Pretty Things’ Babayaga Stout:
-Deep, rich dark pour
-Lovely malty aroma without much roast
-Lighter bodied than other stouts
The Blair Witch Project:
-Simple, smart & effective
-Scary without classic scares
-The first true internet-era film