Tag Archives: Matt Damon

Craft Artisan’s Nebulous Imperial IPA & Interstellar

Hey there Drinkers!

I know it’s been awhile but let’s dive right back into the BAAM groove. In today’s pairing we’re talking about SPPPAAAACCEE (space)! As some of you know, space is my favorite because it is, quite literally, the best. Which is why I was so excited to pair Craft Artisan’s Nebulous Imperial IPA (galaxy hopped…get it?) and 2014’s space adventure Interstellar. So fire up those rocket boosters and let’s count down to liftoff for the glorious return of beer and a movie!

Now I assume most of you have seen Christopher Nolan’s 2014 space odyssey Interstellarso consider this review a free-fire zone when it comes to spoilers. Briefly (which this movie is not), Interstellar is the story of a father’s journey through a wormhole in order to identify a potentially habitable planet for the residents of a dying Earth. The film is slightly more complicated than that, what with the time-bending singularities, supernatural future ghosts and SCIENCE but the the heart of the film is about fatherhood. And the film uses fatherhood as a prism through which we can understand the struggle for humanity’s continued existence. In this regard, the film is actually successful. At every stage, we see our hero Cooper (played by a one Matthew ‘Texas Twang’ McConaughey) as a father. Not a pilot or intergalactic traveler or a scientist, but a father who is fighting with everything he has to protect and return to his kids. And it’s sweet and powerful and genuine. In a lot of ways, the film feels like an attempt by writers Jonathan and Christopher Nolan to understand their own role as parents in a world that is increasingly dangerous and complicated. So kudos for ironing out your issues with us!

Space Dad is go for liftoff

Space Dad is go for liftoff

But where the film starts to flag (aside from its almost 3 hour running time) is its confluence of science and idealism. Not that the two are mutually exclusive by any means, but the movie struggles to reconcile these two primary driving forces. The first through-line of this film is hard science. Faith in fact and discovery, which the film convincingly relies on for most of the film. But as the movie progresses, that foundation of science is replaced by loftier, harder-to-pin-down ideas like love and time and transcendence. Which generally is fine but when it tries to conflate the two, the movie just gets…confusing. The film is truly beautiful and powerful from a distance, but once you start to pull on the threads a little, certain things don’t really add up or mesh. Like the urgency of Cooper’s mission or why this data they so desperately need isn’t really needed in the end or why surprise Matt Damon’s feels the need to just straight up murder everyone. I get it…but at the same time I don’t. I think, at times, Interstellar gets a little caught up with itself and, as a result, loses itself in its own grandiosity.

Space is real purdy

Space is real purdy

All that being said, the movie is still an incredible, visually exquisite ride, a true testament to Christopher Nolan’s confidence and craftsmanship. If you can find the time to just the film wash over you, you’re going to have an amazing experience. Also, quick shoutout to the best character in the film: TARS.

Hero bot!

Hero bot!

And our beer. Was it equally grand and cosmic in scope and scale? Unfortunately not really. The Nebulous Imperial IPA from Artisan Craft Ales is a solid DIPA but it does little to elevate itself. Pouring a hazy gold, you’ll get aromas of pine, resin and grain, fairly standard DIPA notes. You’ll get the same notes when you taste it, but with a little tart citrus thrown in the mix. The 80 IBU’s definitely stand out but the beer is still decidedly malty too, which is a little odd. With it’s medium body and nice lacing, the beer is definitely solid but nothing extraordinary (definitely almost wrote extraterrestrial…).

So there you have it, Drinkers! We’re back (from outerspace) with a mixed bag of a movie and a mixed bag of a beer. Definitely a good pairing, I just wanted a little more clarify from Interstellar and a little more individuality from my Nebulous Imperial IPA.

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

CRA_Nebulous

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Craft Artisan’s Nebulous Imperial IPA:
-Hazy, golden wheat pour
-Lots of pine on the nose
-Average DIPA flavor profile

Interstellar:
-Visually awe inspiring
-Some cross confusion in the end re. science/love
-A strong, beautiful film overall

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Lucky Hand Black Lager & Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today, we’re going to Vegas! Time to bet big and lose your life savings! We’re watching the 2001 classic update of Ocean’s Eleven and sipping on Lucky Hand’s Black Lager (their labeling is gambling themed, go with it). Beer, money, attractive men, Vegas…doesn’t that sound like the perfect BAAM? Hint: it was pretty sweet.

So let’s get started, shall we?

A quick disclaimer before we begin: I’ve never seen the original 1960 Ocean’s Eleven, so I won’t be making comparisons or assumptions about this modern reboot. So here we go, Ocean’s Eleven is Steven Soderbergh’s star-filled, quick-witted, hyper-stylish heist movie. And in many ways, it really is a classic heist movie. The first half of the film gathers our crew, explains their skills, lays out (most) of the details on the job and sets up how much of a dick our bad guy is. Hint: he’s a real dick. The second half of the film is the job itself, offering its little twists and turns and surprises, gently unfolding the hidden parts of the heist to the delight of the audience and the chagrin of the bad guy. But what’s interesting about this film is that it’s not really  about anything. The biggest impetus for the heist seems to be mostly because they’re bored and “it’s never been done before.” Our hero, Danny Ocean, is also motivated by the need to get his wife back (which happens way to easily and is kind of a dumb character point). But most of the reasoning is sidelined and deemed unimportant. In the end, the movie isn’t actually about much but since you have so much fun before the credits roll, you don’t really mind.

Brad Pitt tells Carl Reiner to steal things...just cuz

Brad Pitt tells Carl Reiner to steal things…just cuz

The real magic in this movie is, quite obviously, the casting. You have some of the biggest and more talented male actors in recent memory all sharing the screen together, quipping away at each other like there’s no tomorrow. Lead by the two kings of smooth, Brad Pitt and George Clooney, the film has an incredibly sharp wit and fast pace, making it easy to get caught up in the dialogue. Almost every line is expertly delivered and reveals something about the character, their history and their relationship with the people around them. The unfortunate side-effect of having so many talented actors is that only a few of them get enough screen time. Even Matt Damon the super actor seems underused, mostly because he just has to share his screen time with so many others. The other casualty of this intense screen-sharing is that only a few characters get a real history. Yes we get good, short anecdotes on most of Ocean’s 11, but the history of their relationships with one another is vague, leaving the audience to assume that all smart criminals are best friends and always know where to find one another. Maybe that’s the way it is in real life, but I’m not a super criminal so I can’t say for sure.

One other small thing to note before I move on is the film’s visual style. The first half of the movie has a very specific, highly-stylized visual character that seems to get a little lost as the film progresses into the heist. The visuals, coupled with the editing and soundtrack do give the movie a certain 60’s throwback vibe, but all of the truly interesting visuals step aside for narrative clarity in the latter of half of the movie.

But overall, the film is success. I think that’s mostly because Soderbergh understood that this film is more of a playground for his actors than anything else. It’s fun, quick and our heroes make a lot of money. Oh and the men are beautiful.

It's really unfair to guys like me that guys this actually exist...

It’s really unfair to guys like me that guys this actually exist…

So was our beer as Lucky as our movie? I’d say so. Lucky Hand is not a brewery  I heard of before and black lagers/schwarzbiers are not typically my bag. But I have to say that Lucky Hand’s Black Lager was a nice surprise. For those who don’t know, schwarzbiers are black in color but lack the same heavy, malty body of a stout or porter. Instead, the beers tend to be on the lighter end of the spectrum with regards to body. The Lucky Hand poured a deep black with a rich, caramel head, giving off strong notes of roasted malt. But with that first sip, you’ll be surprised to find the beer quite easy to drink. Moreover, those roasted malts are balanced quite nicely with some mild hopping. The end result is a low ABV beer that is both rich in flavor but light on the stomach, making it easy to take down the bomber I had to myself. As BeerAdvocate notes, these qualities make this beer a nice alternative for the typically heavier winter beers. So when the temperature dip below 70 here in sunny Los Angeles, Lucky Hand’s Black Lager is not a bad option.

So there you have it folks. A night with the cards all stacked in our favor. A great, fun, light movie with a great, fun, light beer. Definitely not a bad way to kick back and relax on a weeknight.

And as always keep drinking, my friends.
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Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Lucky Hand’s Black Lager:
-Deep, black color
-Nice hop/malt balance
-Surprisingly light & easy to drink

Ocean’s Eleven:
-A heist movie, for fun
-More about the character than the story
-A-list cast delivering sharp dialogue

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Beer and a Movie’s 21st Birthday!

Hey there Drinkers,

Tonight’s beer and a movie was a little special. It’s the 21st entry which means that we’re finally of age! And like any birthday party, we had some friends over and we drank beer. Since we were watching the 2006 Martin Scorsese Oscar-winning insta-classic The Departed, it felt only right to bring on the Sam Adams. With the “cold” weather rolling into Los Angeles, the Winter Variety 12 pack was not out of place and provided a little something for everyone. Oh and one of my friend’s brought over some Mickey’s, because that sounds Irish.

A little sampling of our evening.

To be honest, it’s hard to watch a movie with a group of people. Conversations fly and important screen moments get missed. Which is fine. This was meant to be a social evening and I like to think that I’m not some crotchety old man just yet, but listen, I just like to watch my movies. But moving on, The Departed is really everything you want out of a good, thoughtful (but not too thoughtful) movie. There’s action, suspense, murder, sex, attractive men, old men, Mark Wahlberg. It’s really got everything. Aside from that though, the movie has some of the strongest characterization and acting of anything mainstream of late. Every character we see in this well-paced 2.5 hour film is three dimensional. All of the actors bring their A-game (would you slack off if Scorsese was in the room?) and truly bring their characters to life. And while the film suffers from a few jarring edits (which I know were done intentionally, I just didn’t  like them), it flows seamlessly from scene to scene. You hardly even notice that they never actually experience Winter in Boston despite the film taking place over more than a year’s time. Hardly. Even. Noticed. And when it comes down to it, this movie is just hilarious. Everything that Mark Wahlberg says is priceless. Jack Nicholson is at the pinnacle of his crazy. And even the violence is so blunt that you can’t help but smile just a tiny bit after you recover from the initial shock. Well played Marty. Well played.

"I am actually from South Boston so don't you pull any of that Good Will Hunting shit with me."

You know who else really brings it every time? Samuel Adams. I don’t think I have ever had a mediocre beer from them. I’ve probably had eight or more of their beers and they are all incredible. Unfortunately, I’m wasn’t man enough to try all of the beers from the Winter Variety pack in one sitting, (more pairings to come!) I did get a chance to sit down with the Old Fezziwig Ale and the Black & Brew. I’ve actually had Old Fezziwig before in last year’s Winter mix so I was particularly excited by the Black & Brew, but we’ll talk about both. Black & Brew, as you can imagine, is a stout beer brewed with coffee. And, simply put, it tastes exactly like what you’d expect. The beer is unmistakably a stout with a deep, black color and rich, almost chocolatey flavor. But the kicker is that you easily identify the coffee in this very drinkable stout and it tastes great. The coffee isn’t overpowering either. Rather, it subtly accentuates what is already happening in the stout and really rounds out this perfect winter-time beer. And Old Fezziwig Ale? Another solid performer. This ale is spicier than the Black & Brew and uses some of the classic winter flavors like cinnamon and relies more on noticeable hoppiness. Not too hoppy mind you, just enough to give this beer more of a body, which is exactly what you want from a winter beer. But since I’m in LA and not layering up to keep out the New England chill, these beers gave a me a little taste of home.

So all in all it was a successful birthday party. Good beers, a good movie, good friends. You can’t really ask for more than that. And a special thank you to my friends who came out and supported this largely asocial activity. Be on the lookout for some more wintry Sam Adams combos (someone’s gotta drink ’em) as well as another classic film paired with another New England beer coming soon in the near future. And, as always, keep drinking my friends.


Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Old Fezziwig Ale
Classic winter spices  
Strong, full body
Nice, reddish color

Black & Brew
Lives up to its name 
Noticeable, but not overpowering, coffee flavor
Solid new brew from Sam Adams

The Departed                                                                                           
Meticulous characterization and performance
Huge, star-studded male cast
Marky Mark is a true Bostonian

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