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Flying Dog’s Underdog Atlantic Lager & The Bad News Bears

Hey there, Drinkers!

Toda’s combo is all about celebrating the underdog. And nothing says underdog more than a sports movie. With that in mind, today we’re pairing Flying Dog’s Underdog Atlantic Lager with the 1976 kid’s (but not too childish) sports film The Bad News Bears. I’ll try my best to stay away from baseball puns or decrying any situation as being “bad news bears” for the duration of the post, but I make no promises…since the only thing that was foul about this BAAM were the balls.

Get it?

….am I trying too hard?

Anyway let’s get into it. In 1976, super actor Walter Matthau appeared in the bizarrely offensive-yet-heartwarming film The Bad News Bears. The film charts the efforts of Matthau’s perpetually drunk Coach Buttermaker as he trains a band of young misfit players known as the Bears. What today would be a movie filled with shenanaginry and lessons in teamwork, the original Bad News Bears is more of a lesson in adult-depression with hints of light child-abuse. Featuring the most inappropriate language you’ll ever hear a nine year-old say and plenty of underage drinking and smoking (all tolerated/enabled by adults), The Bad News Bears is kind of movie you can’t believe got made. With our modern sensibilities, this film is supremely inappropriate and offensive. And yes, that does provide some of the charm for today’s viewers but it also makes me a little happy that we largely don’t talk and act like we used to.

This is a nice summary of the movie

This is a nice summary of the movie

And as absurd as this movie is, there are two key elements I want to point out that I think are actually worth discussing. The first is how the film uses the Bears’ struggle for the pennant as a parallel for the coaches own sad lives. Buttermaker and his rival coach project their own failures as men onto their teams, hoping that a win will somehow redeem them. For Buttermaker, it’s a chance to a show the rest of the town that he isn’t just a drunk pool-cleaner. For the Yankees coach, the ferocity with which he leads the team is a nice reflection of his failures as a father. All of this is nicely evident during the final, championship game. It’s not very subtle, but it’s an unexpected nuance from this silly comedy.

Kids! With beer! Totally condoned!

Kids! With beer! Totally condoned!

The second point I’d like to briefly discuss is how there are very few consequences for characters’ bad behavior. The most obvious example of this is Buttermaker himself. This chain-smoking alcoholic does everything to make his team hate him, and yet love him without reservation. Maybe it’s because he’s the most real and honest adult in their lives. Despite managing to alienate almost everyone on his team, and verbally (and emotionally) abusing his ex-girlfriend’s daughter, he has a knack for cutting through the B.S. of youth sports. He tells kids to shut up, try hard and win. No sugar-coating and few kind words. And while he’s not exactly a role-model, he does have a few redemptive moments. But by and large, all the terrible things he does are pretty quickly forgiving with little-to-no discussion. I think this is mostly a result of quick story-telling but it’s just something to think about while watching this film.

Also, a young Tatum O’Neal and Jackie Earle Haley grace the screen, so that’s cool.

Coaching! With beer!

Coaching! With beer!

And fitting with our underdog movie, I popped open a bottle of Flying Dog Brewery’s Underdog Atlantic Lager. I don’t typically drink lagers and I think this was only the second beer I’ve had from Flying Dog (I usually go for their delicious and awkward-to-order Raging Bitch IPA) so this was a nice little experiment for me. Typically, I find lagers to be too light and straightforward in flavor for my tastes. And while the Underdog wasn’t a bad beer, I feel like it sadly fell into this category. Pouring a very light, clear color with a rapidly dissipating head, I found this beer to be refreshing but largely unconvincing.  The mild notes of grain, fruit and hops hard to notice and did little to liven up the beer. This might all be a result of my general dismissal of the lager style, because clearly the Underdog stands above most common lagers on the American market. But for me, when I drink a beer, I want something that excites my palette and brings me back in for another sip.

So there you have it folks! Lots of beer for today’s combo. Albeit mostly on screen and occasionally in the hands of children, but a beer-y night nonethless. And while, in my opinion, I found the beer to be a little lacking, the movie was just what I needed to lift my spirits. It warmed my heart, it made me smile and I made me thankful that kids today are not as overtly racist. Small blessings.

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

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Flying Dog’s Underdog Atlantic Lager:
-Clean, golden pour
-dissipating head
-Largely uncomplicated lager

The Bad News Bears:
-Walter Matthau is a great alcoholic
-Kids curse! Drink! Smoke!
-Actually nuanced story under its absurdity

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Anchor Brewing’s California Lager & Clueless

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today’s pairing is all about California and how it generally regards itself as a superior state to all others in the Union. So our pairing for today is the 1995 teen classic Clueless and Anchor Brewing’s California Lager. As an East Coast transplant, my feelings are mixed with regard to the “Best Coast” but at the very least, living in LA for five years has opened up a new perspective on things. Namely things pertaining to Clueless. And my perception of cold. Anyway, let’s get rollin’ with the homies in today’s BAAM!

In 1995, a highschool comedy titled Clueless hit the big screen. Roughly twelve years later, I actually watched it. And now I’m watching it again. For you. Because I love you.  Chronicling the like totally challenging life of Beverly Hills highschool student Cher, Clueless is a perfect combination of sincerity and satire. That rare breed of film that makes you laugh out loud in earnest while also making you want to punch yourself in the face because it’s so predictable and corny. And while much of the dialogue evokes involuntary eye-rolling, that eye-rolling becomes part of the joke in itself. Everything that happens is so over-the-top and unbearable that it becomes an integral part of both the tone and narrative itself. Maybe I’m over-thinking things, but Clueless is actually written very well. And I don’t just mean that it’s funny and engaging and the characters are fleshed out. I mean that at every point throughout the film, the film simply builds on its own absurdity and folds it into the narrative. Yeah, now I might definitely over-thinking Clueless.

People dressed like this in the 90's? As if!

People dressed like this in the 90’s? As if!

There’s actually a surprising number of things I could say about this film that make it special, but most of them have been said before or would take away from the movie’s simple and charming appeal. I could talk about its take on teen sexuality or its perceptions of women, or drug culture, or LA elitism, or high school social castes or charity work. Or maybe how this film what shot at my college… Or that NO ONE THINKS IT’S WEIRD THAT CHER AND JOSH HOOK UP AT THE END!

Okay, I get they’re not related but still. I’m a little skeeved out by it. I mean, thank goodness it’s Paul Rudd otherwise we’d have some issues.

I’m glad we talked about this.

What's the social etiquette on dating your ex step-brother?

What’s the social etiquette on dating your ex step-brother?

Today’s brew hails from San Francisco, California’s second best city for craft beer (sorry SF, but San Diego is a craft brewing titan). Coming from the talented brewers at Anchor Brewing, the California Lager is a light, golden beer brewed exclusively with California hops. For those who don’t know, the term lager refers to lighter beers that are lower in alcohol. This is opposed to an ale, which is typically darker and higher in ABV. Anyway, this California lager generally sticks to that format. It’s light, crisp, easy to drink and very refreshing. What sets it apart is its surprising hoppiness. Obviously it doesn’t reach IPA levels, but it is one of the more bitter and dry lagers I’ve had. I don’t typically go for lagers, as I like my beer to have more complexity and some body, but the California offered a nice change of pace to lighter end of the beer spectrum. And while the bitterness might be off-putting to someone who just wants a “regular” lager, I’d still recommend giving this one a shot. Could be good to try something new.

So there you have it folks, California. Maker of movies, brewer of beers, manipulator of reality. But seriously, tonight was a good, relaxing tribute to my now-adoptive state. It was golden, fun, smart and with a dash of intellectual self-mockery. Sounds about right.

For another perspective, check out what Beer Broad had to say about this brew.

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And as always keep drinking, my friends

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:cal-lager-bio
Anchor Brewing’s California Ale:
-Clear & golden
-Crisp, refreshing & dry
-Notable hoppy bitterness

-Overwrought dialogue that’s part of the joke
-Equal parts reverence & satire of Los Angeles
-And it’s true, everywhere you go has valet

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