Tag Archives: noir

Eagle Rock Brewery’s Red Velvet & Blue Velvet

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today’s pairing is one of those obvious and simple combos that we almost never strive for here at BAAM. In fact, the last (re. only) time we had as beautiful of a naming pair was all the way back in 2011 with Blue Moon & New Moon. But with age comes taste and today’s pairing is all about great taste. I watched David Lynch’s acclaimed 1986 film Blue Velvet while drinking Eagle Rock Brewery’s acclaimed Red Velvet Imperial Red with Rye. So let’s get it started!

Let’s begin with a disclaimer regarding Blue VelvetBlue Velvet is one of those films that is generally regarded as one of the greatest films in recent history. It’s layered with meaning and heavy with artistry. And I’m not here to dispute that. Educated in film as I am, I fear I may not have the critical or artistic wherewithal to fully or dutifully review this film the way ‘real’ critics have in the past. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try! Okay now GO!

At its most base level, Blue Velvet is a neo-noir film. What does that mean? It means that the film builds off the foundational tropes of film noir (a mystery, an investigator, a femme fatale, high contrast, etc.) while adapting it with newer or more modern themes and styles. But what makes Blue Velvet a standout neo-noir film is its ability to adhere to noir tropes while undermining or destroying the genre at the same time. It’s not just a reactionary film, it’s a complete reinvention. The setting is a small town, the investigator is a college-aged man, the femme fatale a much older woman and, notably, the mystery is secondary to the film.

But there are musical numbers!

But there are musical numbers!

It’s funny, in a David Lynch sort of way, that the murder mystery is not really the driving force of the film. Sure, our hero Jeffrey hunts for clues and snoops where he shouldn’t, but really the investigation happens to him instead of Jeffrey being the active player. Moreover, any investigative beats are shown through exposition, almost as a flashback, rather than a major set pieces like a classic noir. They’re more a statement than a discovery, if that makes sense. Really, the film is more interested in the damaged psychology of our characters through unsettling voyeurism. Just as Jeffrey watches this murder mystery unfold in front of him, so too does the film unfold before the viewer.

Do you get the theme?

Do you get the theme?

There’s a lot more I could say about this movie but I think it’s actually better if you just experience it on its own. I will say that the film is 100% David Lynch (for those who are familiar with his humor, darkness and visuals) but it’s not as off-puttingly weird as some other films of his, namely Eraserhead (which you can skip, in my opinion). I know there can be hesitancy towards Lynch for many viewers (myself included) but I do think Blue Velvet is worth watching, if only to watch it is as an experiment in genre. But truly, it’s an interesting and engaging film that I would recommend.

Also, Dennis Hopper is crazy. But in a good-to-watch kind of way. Also Laura Dern.

Like nitrous-fueled crazy

Like nitrous-fueled crazy

So what about our beer? Was it Velvet-y good? Actually, yeah! It was damn good! For those who live in Southern California, you may have heard of LA-based Eagle Rock Brewery and its famed, very limited-release beer Red Velvet Imperial Red with Rye. The 2010 GABF Gold Medal Winner is only released a few times a year and instantly sells out in the entire LA metro area. I was lucky to grab two bombers the last time I visited the brewery. This brew pours a lovely reddish-brown with a two finger khaki head and leaves behind some beautiful lacing. Off the nose you’ll get notes of malt, pine, booze, caramel and rye. And when you taste it, you’ll taste all of those but in a perfectly balanced symphony. The malt plays nicely off the piney hops but is smoothed out by the rye. And sweet caramel notes also help undercut the hoppy bite from the 10.8% ABV. For such a hefty beer, it’s shockingly easy to drink. It’s smooth, delicious and complex. Really just an outstanding beer.

So there you have it, Drinkers! A night of stellar art and entertainment. We had an interesting and unique bit of filmmaking paired with some excellent beer craftsmanship. I have to recommend you give both a shot (though the Red Velvet may hard/impossible to find for many).

And always keep drinking, my friends.



Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
ERB’s Red Velvet:
-Nice reddish pour
-Perfect flavor balance
-Easy to underestimate the ABV

Blue Velvet:
A disruptive neo-noir
-More character study than mystery
-Disturbing depictions of sexual assault (just FYI)

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Allagash Dubbel & Double Indemnity

Good Evening Drinkers,

Tonight we’re in for some double (dubbel) trouble with Allagash Dubbel Ale and the 1944 Billy Wilder classic noir Double Indemnity. A duo that makes you sit up, pay attention and appreciate the finer things. So let’s get started.

For those who are unfamiliar with the specifics of Double Indemnity, I wouldn’t worry too much. While the narrative is fascinating and deserves multiples viewings, the film’s  entirety serves as the archetype for all noirs, making it easily recognizable to any viewer. The stark black and white contrast, the slick voiceover, the beautiful femme fatale; Double Indemnity has all the tropes of a good noir because it’s one of the best. To summarize, this film follows an insurance salesman by the name of Walter Neff (“with two F’s, like in Philadelphia, if you know the story”) as he records his confession in helping a sexy (and deranged) woman kill her husband for the insurance money. The entire film is a flashback and the audience is only briefly reminded of this fact as Walter’s confident voice easily carries you from scene to scene, immersing you in the past. Not to mention the dialogue is very sharp and deeply layered with sexual tension as Walter Neff fires off a stream of superb one-liners. Now a lot of people have this sad assumption that older movies (re: black and white) are either dry or boring, in both story and style. However this is not the case for Double Indemnity. I’ve already mentioned the that story is captivating, but I also have to mention that the lighting design of this movie is equally incredible. Without the distraction of color, it is remarkable what one notices in terms of light. Every scene is deftly composed to underscore what the narrative. Neff’s troubled thoughts as to his crime are reflected in the half-shadows that cover frequently his face. Our femme fatale, however, is often shown is complete darkness, revealing her malevolent inner nature. If she is not the darkness, then she is lit gorgeously, projecting that outward air of beauty. Now I don’t mean to bog you down with these film-major details, but these are things worth paying attention too, especially in a classic like Double Indemnity. Oh also, it might be of interest to fellow Angelinos that this movie makes great use of the city’s geography. Without the traffic. And it rains.

These are my Los Angeles murderin' glasses. Do you like them, Mr. Neff?

So let’s talk about the other part of my dubbel-feature. Now for the sake of honesty, I’ll let you know that I will pretty much drink, and enjoy, anything that Allagash brews. I’ve had maybe six or seven of their beers and they have all been stellar. I’d try more of them, as I have with Sam Adams, but the price tag for Allagash beer tends to run a little high. But despite that, I picked up this Dubbel and it did not disappoint. For those unfamiliar with the many different genres of beer, a dubbel is a Belgian style that trends towards a brown ale with an average ABV of about 7%. To that end, Allagash’s Dubbel fits the bill quite neatly. It has a nice, brown color, a mild malty flavor and hints of that easily identifiable Belgian yeast (bananas, remember?). For a beer with a higher-than-average ABV and malty character, I was surprised at how easy it went down. In fact, I ended up finishing it faster than I intended, leaving me to wish I had a second in the fridge to carry me through the rest of the movie (not that the movie needed any help). But alas I only had the one, which means that I’ll be back at the store to pick up another one of these tasty beers. And as a general rule of thumb, if Allagash is the brewery, it’s good.

So that was my double trouble night. If I were feeling like a baller I would have done two movies with two dubbels, but I’m not that awesome. Maybe some other night. But I will say that this was one of the more complimentary combos I have done so far. A strong, thoughtful movie with a smooth but surprising beer. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m really happy with the combination and I would recommend that all of you give it a whirl sometime.

Keep drinking my friends!


Tonight’s Tasting Notes:

Allagash Dubbel:  
Very drinkable despite 7% ABV
Rich, brown color
Hearty, malty aroma and taste

Double Indemnity:
A classic noir by which many others are compared
Sharp writing and beautiful visual style
A great history lesson in LA geography (also watch Chinatown if you’re interested)





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