Tag Archives: horror

Pretty Things’ Babayaga Stout & The Blair Witch Project

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.

Not having a good night

Not having a good night

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.

Lot's of looking at people's backs

Lots of looking at people’s backs

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


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Christmas Crossover Special: Black Christmas, Black Phoenix & The Beer That Saved Christmas

Hey there, Drinkers!

Tis the season for gift giving, sleigh bell ringing and black beer drinking. And once again in celebration of the holidays, I’ve teamed up with Anne from We Recycle Movies to watch some terrible holiday-themed slashers while drinking a few good beers. Since Anne’s blog is all about sequels and remakes, we watched the two iterations of Black Christmas while sipping on Bootlegger’s Black Phoenix (it’s black…and phoenix’s live again…nevermind) and also The Beer That Saved Christmas (aka the beer that saved us the pain of watching these movies). So sit down, enjoy those chestnuts roasting over that open fire and prepare for a black Christmas!

Let’s begin at the beginning. The original Black Christmas was released in 1974 and subsequently….actually I don’t think it did anything after that. To horror fanatics, I think it ranks as a sort-of spiritual predecessor to Halloween, as the films are surprisingly similar (albeit that Halloween is a much better film). But beyond that, the film doesn’t hold much water. Or blood. The film, which follows the deadly targeting of a sorority house, very rarely elevates itself beyond creepy but usually relegates itself to the mundane. The film slowly meanders between its uninteresting characters and largely ignores the murders, which is very odd for the genre. Occasionally the film veers off-course entirely and does very little to reincorporate itself into the central plot. The scariest parts of the movie are actually its phone calls. A’la Scream, the girls of the house are harassed by unnerving, sexual and animalistic calls that the police generally disregard until the end of the film. For the most part, there is very little that really captivated me with this movie but there are two points that are worth mentioning. One, the film very directly deals with the issue of abortion. Our heroine finds herself unintentionally pregnant and makes the difficult decision to have an abortion, a conviction she firmly holds on to throughout the film. Second (SPOILER ALERT), you never find out who the killer is. There a few suspects but they are all cleared/killed by the end of the film, and with only two shots of the killer himself (all shadowed and highlighting only his eyes), you never actually learn who the killer is or his motivation. A fact that I found infuriating. But maybe some people find that genre-defying. I found it lame.

One of two shots of the killer

One of two shots of the killer

And the 2006 remake of Black Christmas? Yeah it’s pretty terrible. In this version, the film takes the mythology of the original and over-explains everything. See in the original, the mystery killer keeps mentioning the names “Billy” and “Agnes,” two characters we never meet. In the 2006 version we know right away who our killer is: Billy. Billy is a yellow-skinned cannibalistic killer who is raped by his mother, who gives birth to his oddly man-like daughter Agnes. Oh and Billy made Christmas cookies out his mother’s skin. Whatever. Anyway, all of this story is WAY over-explained in stupid flashbacks that mostly serve to gross us out while cheaply delivering plot. The rest of the film follows the various murders of these sorority sisters and the occasional douche-y boyfriend that gets caught in the way. And while this film provides our bad guys with “motivation,” the film really isn’t any better than the original. Actually, it’s probably worse. The acting is terrible, the kills are kinda silly and the bad guys are just really lame. It does feature Katie Cassidy before she was Laurel Lance on Arrow (great show, not a good actress), so that’s a fun fact. And finally, it’s simply not scary. Yeah it’s a little gross but that’s only a small factor when it comes to successful horror movies. Overall, I’d say don’t waste your Christmas on these movies. Maybe watch something a little more wholesome.

blah blah this movie blah blah

blah blah this movie blah blah

And ours beers? Pretty solid actually. The first we had was Prairie Artisan Ales’ The Beer That Saved Christmas (that’s a mouthful) . This brew is an Old Ale, a style of beer I didn’t even know about. Apparently, these beers can be very fruity and malty, which is pretty much how I’d describe this one. Pouring a deep, almost rust-colored brown, you’ll get a sweet, malty nose and lovely tan head. When you taste it, you’ll get a very interesting and bright pop of flavor. I tasted a nice mix of cherry, red wine and oak barrel (this beer is barrel aged). What is most interesting is that big splash of character almost immediately disappears into a smooth, light finish. And for a 10% brew, you get almost no booziness. It’s hard to say that this beer was extraordinary but it certainly was interesting. If you’re looking for something different this holiday season, I’d say give this one a shot.

As for Bootlegger Brewery’s Black Phoenix, this brew held up as a solid coffee stout with a nice little twist of chipotle spice. Pouring a deep black with minimal chocolate-lacing, you get a well-balanced mix of roasted malts, coffee flavor and a hint of chipotle. None of these flavors hit you over the head and the 6.7% ABV keeps this beer under control. For a beer with some many potentially big flavors involved, I found this coffee stout to fairly mild-mannered and easy to drink, which makes it a good alternative for those looking for something a little lighter when you’re perusing the stout aisle at your local beer store.

So there you have it, Drinkers! A Black Christmas! As per usual with these holiday specials, the movies were pretty awful but the beer and the company really made the night a winning combo. Be sure to show Anne some love and check out her review of the movies which will probably hold the same level of disdain as my own review. Thanks as always for reading and have a happy holiday season!

And as always keep drinking, my friends!
Prairie-The-Beer-That-Saved-Christmas-Oak-Aged-Old-AleTonight’s Tasting Notes:

Bootlegger’s Black Phoenix Chipotle Coffee Stout:bootlegger
-Clean black pour
-Very malty, nice hint of coffee
-Spicy little twist

Prairie’s Beer That Saved Christmas:
-Big, bright opener
-Mild, smooth finish
-Surprisingly not boozy

Black Christmas (1974):
-No killer reveal
-Shag carpets

Black Christmas (2006):
-Too much exposition
-Gratuitous grossness
-Sad remake to a sad original

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Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale & Pumpkinhead

Hey there, Drinkers

It’s still October (who knew?!) so that means we’re still drinking pumpkin beers and watching horror movies. And in true BAAM form, we’re sipping on a delightful beer from Dogfish Head while watching an awful movie. Truly awful. Like just straight up, not-accidentally funny bad. So let’s get started, shall we?

Now some of you might be familiar with a little movie called Alien (1979) or its sequel Aliens (1986). Oh you’ve heard of them? Good! Because Pumpkinhead (1988) is a terrible version of these movies. Set in rural Appalachia. And not scary. And dumb. And cheap. For real guys, this movie is the poor man’s ripoff of Alien. The poorly-named Pumpkinhead creature (something about the graveyard it comes from?) looks almost exactly like the Xenomorph and even sports the same cicada-like sound. And you know who our kinda sorta protagonist is? It’s BISHOP! FROM ALIENS. GGAAAHHHHH!

Oh and there’s a flamethrower too.

Before he was a robot, he was a hillbilly

Before he was a robot, he was a sexy hillbilly

So maybe let’s talk about what makes Pumpkinhead not an Alien movie.
1) It does not take place in space.
2) Pumpkinhead is a demon, not an alien. A demon that is summoned by a gross yet spritely witch.
3) There are city kids, all of whom are annoying and you don’t care about.
4) Pumpkinhead is dumb and inconsistent. It likes to pick up its prey, drop them and then either leave them on the ground or drop them by a front door. It also stabs a guy with a shotgun and throws a motorcycle in the air. But it can’t get through wooden walls without the ramming power of a cross. Whatever.
5) Apparently Pumpkinhead is somehow connected to our villain turned hero Bishop though that’s never really explored or explained. All you need to know is that if you hurt our character, you also hurt Pumpkinhead (who also bursts into flames when defeated…). Again, whatever.

Totally NOT the Alien

Totally NOT the Alien

But there are two good things that I can about this movie. The first is that the creature effects are actually pretty solid. The creature looks fairly “believable” and moves naturally, which can be a challenge for many other monster movies. The second positive thing is that this movie ends. It may be the longest, least-scary one and half hours ever, but it does come to a conclusion. So there’s that. And now I’m moving on.

Not a fairy tale. And this scene doesn't exist.

Not a fairy tale. And this scene doesn’t exist.

So let’s talk about something good, shall we? How about something amazing? Does that suit your fancy? Well good, because paired with this awful movie was Dogfish Head’s incomparable Punkin Ale. Pumpkin ales are nothing special this time of year. It seems like every brewery has their take on the classic seasonal brew. But what sets this brown ale apart is that it deviates from the classic pumpkin flavor and instead leans heavily on a complex mix of spices and real, hearty pumpkin meat. You’ll get big notes of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg but none of these overwhelm the palate. Instead, with a little reinforcement from some brown sugar and pumpkin, you get a very carefully constructed beer that is never boring. Visually, the beer is quite lovely to behold. It pours a rich copper color with a dissipating head. Overall, this is one of the best pumpkin beers around and only continues to prove that Dogfish Head is one of the best.

So there you have it, folks. Another classic BAAM combo of salvaging a terrible movie with a fantastic beer. I really can’t recommend watching this movie (even for laughs) but I can say that if you see some Punkins at your local beer store, buy as much as you can afford.

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale:
-Rich, complex spice combo
-Full-bodied but not heavy
-Perfect pumpkin ale

-Rural Alien
-Every character is terrible
-At least the creature looks cool…ish

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Stone’s Old Guardian Barley Wine & The Cabin in the Woods

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today we’re getting Ancient with Stone’s Old Guardian oak-smoked barley wine style ale and the 2011 sci-fi horror/slasher Whedonverse film The Cabin in the Woods. It’s a big, bold pairing filled with blood n’ booze! And while that sounds like any episode of Game of Thrones, I promise that this combo is something special. And equally badass. So let’s get started, shall we?

The Cabin in the Woods is, interestingly enough, a film nerd’s dream. Created as both an adoration and parody of the horror/slasher genre, Cabin is pretty much a wall-to-wall cinematic reference. From the broad strokes of genre trope (abandoned cabin, young people, zombies, etc.) to technical details (camera references to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)Cabin in the Woods expertly walks the line between satire and cliche. I won’t discuss much of the plot, but suffice it to say that at its core, the film is every horror movie ever made. Young, attractive people wander off the beaten path, display risque behavior and suffer the horrifying consequences. But where many other filmmakers have just stuck to the formula, Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon have bent those genre stereotypes into something new and utterly self-reflexive. Without revealing too much, Cabin is built on a premise that explains and/or justifies every horror movie ever. The cliches of movies past become the narratives hooks that drive the story forward without patronizing the audience. Rather, they became the moments of levity that make an otherwise gruesome film completely HILARIOUS!

Shot-for-shot lift from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Shot-for-shot lift from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre

There are actually a lot of things I want to point out about this film but since I am a wordy writer, I figure a list will be more efficient. Let’s go!

-Before Chris Hemsworth was Thor, he was a Sociologist major jock. Though this film was released after Thor, it shot a few years before. Hollywood be crazy!
-When this came out in theaters, it was the first film I saw on the big screen in over a year. (I was unemployed at the time). My friends and I laughed at all the movie references while the rest of the audience was dead silent. Aaawwkkward.
-Joss Whedon’s dry sense of humor is SPLATTERED all over this film. If your unfamiliar with his writing style, watch anything of his. Literally anything.
-A Firefly Reaver can be seen during the monster massacre scene. How awesome is that?!
-Boobs are acceptable in this film because they make a statement about the use of female nudity in this genre…what am I talking about?! Boobs are always great!
-Character stereotypes exist for a reason. Because they prevent the end of the world.
-If you think it’s Sigourney Weaver’s voice, it probably is.
-All in all, this movie is actually quite well shot and well acted. Who knew?

But seriously folks, this is one of those movies that exists for pure entertainment. Even if you’re not a big horror fan or into blood n’ guts (I’m not), this film is actually quite good fun. Yes, it does get a bit bloody at times but for the most part, it all serves the purpose of parody. You don’t even have to know most of films Cabin references to enjoy it. It is so intelligently constructed that any viewer should be able to identify it as both parody and reverence for one of the most overwrought genres in cinema.

References on references

References on references

And Stone’s Old Guardian Oak-Smoked Barley Wine Style ale(that’s a mouthful)? Well let me tell you, it is quite the beer. As with everything that Stone brews, it is a BIG beer. Pouring a beautiful, deep amber color with a tan head and remarkable lacing (the foam left behind on the edge of the glass), the Old Guardian is a beer to behold. While the nose is fairly mild, hinting at rich barley and refined hops, the beer itself is quite potent. With your first taste, you’re hit with substantial malty flavor. Toasty deliciousness fades into a respectable hoppiness that is prominent without overpowering the palette. It finishes with a bitter, boozy bite brought on by the 11.5% ABV. As with most Stone beers, this is not for the feint of heart. The Old Guardian is a powerful beer that is complex and yet thoroughly enjoyable. Not to mention quite pretty to look at. In the end though, it left with me an impressive buzz. In short, this beer is not to be underestimated. Maybe try it with a friend. Or don’t be a lightweight like me. Either way works.

So in case you haven’t figured it out, today’s thematic link was the Old Guardian protecting us from the Ancient Ones from The Cabin in the Woods. If that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, go watch the movie. And pick up this beer. I promise that the fun (and blood) will complement the alcoholic haze of this tasty brew. Truly a wonderful pairing that I would recommend to both the casual consumer and the seasoned connoisseur…though maybe the beer isn’t so casual.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:IMG_79591-189x300
Stone’s Old Guardian:
-Beautiful pour
-Mild, malty nose
-BIG (and balanced) taste with significant booziness

The Cabin in the Woods:
-A nerd’s best friend
-A Whedon film to its core
-Surprising balance of respect and parody for the genre

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