Hey there, Drinkers!
I see you made it past that mouthful of a title and are ready get a little wild! In today’s BAAM we’re headed west with New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Wild2 Dubbel and the classic John Wayne Western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. So grab your spurs and sit down at the saloon. Let’s get it started!
In 1962, director John Ford released yet another Western with John Wayne. In all, the duo worked together on 24 films, which helps explain certain notions and archetypes we all take for granted regarding the genre. And in a lot of ways, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a classic Western. You have the balance between law and bandit, the specter of an encroaching railroad and the intersection of intellectual ideals with harsh, real-world practicalities. It has all themes and characters we recognize so easily. And even some of the sayings we all know…pilgrim. A large part of this comes from John Wayne, who seems to play himself more than he ever plays a character. And that’s not really a bad thing. He’s not exactly a great actor in this movie but his comfort in the role of the smirking yet troubled rancher is really all he needs to play off the more serious and idealistic James Stewart (who is always just awesome). And with a colorful (and wildly intoxicated) supporting cast of a tough-as-nails young woman, a drunken newsman, a cowardly marshal, a trusty black ranch hand, a heartless criminal and unnamed Mexicans, you really have all the makings of a classic Western.
But really what makes this movie interesting, aside from the on-screen chemistry of John Wayne, James Stewart and Vera Miles, is how different it is from other Westerns. Most notably, this movie is told almost exclusively as a flashback. It’s actually quite Citizen Kane-y in that respect where the film is propelled by the mysterious return of a popular man who then must explain his past, shedding light on the man he is today. But aside from that structural difference, what makes this movie special is how morally and politically conflicted it is. While many Westerns are famous for their moral ambiguity, this movie takes another angle by pitting American democratic ideals against the iron of a handgun in a very literal, political fashion. James Stewart’s character relentlessly defends the law and promotes the strength of the democratic system, and yet he is utterly powerless when he tries to execute those laws. Meanwhile, John Wayne’s character embraces the DIY system of frontier justice and yet is never rewarded or recognized for his ‘just’ acts. It seems a bit standard nowadays but it’s quite unapologetic with its views. While the film generally supports the American ideals of liberty, voting rights and a free press, it regularly complicates and undermines these institutions.
And for what it’s worth, it’s also just a fun move that I recommend to any fan of the genre.
And our wild beer? The Wild2 Dubbel from New Belgium’s experimental Lips of Faith series is definitely an interesting brew. I poured from a 22 ounce bomber into a tumbler and was immediately impressed by the rich, dark golden brown color and the lovely, khaki head. Visually, it’s an appetizing beer. And with that pour, you’ll get some classic Belgian Dubbel hints of yeast and rich maltiness. And for the most part, that’s the taste you get as well. With a medium body, the beer is particularly malty with just hints of dark fruit and pepper. There’s a little odd spiciness in the finish that I can only assume comes from the schisandra with which the beer is brewed. Overall, it’s a solid dubbel. I’m not sure it’s as WILD as the Lips of Faith series generally promotes itself to be but really nevertheless a solid brew.
So there you have it folks, a wild night in the American West. A classic Western film and a Colorado brew all via a California palette. Thanks for reading folks and remember that you too can suggest pairings for the next BAAM!
And as always keep drinking, my friends.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:
–All the Western tropes we love
-Conflicted American ideals
-John Wayne as John Wayne, the cowboy