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North Coast Brewing’s Old No. 38 & Back to the Future Part III

Great Scott, Drinkers!

BAAM is back…to the future…yeah. Let’s just roll with that one. But yes! Another beer and a movie combo is rolling into station (I should just stop now) with North Coast’s Old #38 Stout and the third installment of Back to the Future trilogy. So let’s fire up the engine (okay I’m stopping now) and get into tonight’s review!

As a fair warning, I will announce that the entire Back to the Future trilogy made a formidable impression on my childhood and I still regard the entire series as one of my all time favorites. That being said, Back to the Future Part III was never my favorite. I was always more partial the second movie since there were flying cars and the like. But that’s besides the point. What I’m trying to say is that I may have difficult separating my childhood memories from tonight’s viewing but I’ll do my best to remain as professional as I always am in these reviews.

Now for the sad, lonely few who haven’t seen any of these films, the third one will pretty much make no sense whatsoever. While the film does attempt to refresh the audience’s memory as to the characters, events and “science” of the previous films but the trilogy’s history is not Part III’s primary focus. And I make that pun deliberately. As can be expected from a movie about time traveling to the old West, there are some historical inaccuracies that will nag you but, in general, they won’t bother you enough to detract from the entertainment of the film. Besides, it was the 80’s and no one cares anyway.

Flying steam-powered, time-traveling train from the late 1800’s? Check!

I have to say that one of the major differences in watching this film as a 20-something as compared when I did as an 8 year old is realizing that this movie is not about Marty McFly. Unlike Part I and Part II, this film is much more about Doc Brown in terms of both conflict and character. Where in the first film Doc Brown was the amusing, scientifically informed sidekick to our hero Marty, Part III is more interested in learning about who Doc Brown really is. What happens when he falls in love? What happens when his head and heart are conflicted? What happens when he drinks? Unlike many other trilogies that try too hard to keep their protagonists fresh, Back to the Future changes course and allows another character to take center stage. Of course Marty McFly is still important and serves as the grounding story for the complete trilogy, but he acts much more like an audience interpreter this time around. To a fault, actually. Many of Marty’s lines seem to knock the audience over the head with obvious facts or serve to remind the audience of what is at stake. More often that not, Marty spends his time pointing out the not-so-subtle connections between past, present and future. You’re my great-grandfather?! You’re Mad Dog Tannen?! It’s a refrigerator?! The unfortunate side effect of making Doc Brown the primary character in this film is that Marty McFly is forced to play second fiddle. A position that he doesn’t seem all too comfortable with.

The name’s Eastwood. Clint Eastwood.

There are a lot of things I could point out, both good and bad, about this film but for the sake of time I just want to mention one last thing I found amusing. It seems that every character we’ve ever met throughout the series has some historical counterpart in 1885 Hill Valley. They all have the same last names, all act the same, say the same things and are all played by the same actors. And while this is mostly a cute wink to the audience, it makes you realize that no one has left Hill Valley in over 100 years. And that there’s about four or five generations of repetitive parenting trickling through the ages. Just some food for thought.

The end of an era.

And how about our Old No. 38 Stout from North Coast Brewing Co? Well, it’s still a bit too warm out to really be drinking stouts but I don’t really care so just sit down and keep reading. The Old No. 38, apparently named after a retired steam engine, pours a deep black with a thin chocolate-colored head. It’s actually quite a lovely black. I’d compare it to a few other dark stouts I’ve reviewed on BAAM like Old Rasputin or Old Engine Oil. Apparently in Beerland, old equals black. But where these two beers were big and rich, I found Old No. 38 to be a bit more mild mannered. You still get that great barley aroma and chocolate malt flavor like the other two, but this beer lacks a bit of a punch. Which is fine, in my opinion. It’s easy to drink and very smooth. The hoppiness is a bit a buried under the malt but all-in-all, the Old No. 38 is a solid stout. North Coast always makes great beer so I won’t be shying away from this one in the future….or the past!

So there you have it, drinkers. Back to the Future III and Old No. 38 Stout from North Coast Brewing. While neither is the best representative of their genre, Part III being the weakest film of the trilogy and Old No. 38 being a fairly tame stout, both are still easy to enjoy and are worth coming back to. And since I’m now tempted to go back (to the future!) to rewatch parts I and II (thanks Mom and Dad for your HBO Go account info!), I also find myself more interested in what North Coast Brewing has to offer.

Thanks for stopping by folks. And remember, keep drinking my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Old No. 38 Stout:

-Pure, deep black pour
-Classic, chocolate malt flavor
-Solid, go-to stout

Back to the Future Part III:
-Silly, but heartwarming attempt at a Western
-Finally Doc Brown’s turn in the limelight
-Still brings a smile to my face so many years

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Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout & Battleship Potemkin

Evening, Drinkers!

Tonight, we’re getting serious with some serious beer and some serious film history. We’re drinking North Coast’s universally loved Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout while watching the 1925 classic Russian propaganda film Battleship Potemkin, directed by the typically dense Sergei Eisenstein. And while I know that Rasputin’s time was much earlier than the days of the Soviet Revolution, the two bits of culture seemed a natural fit. And I was not disappointed.

Now, most of you have probably heard of Battleship Potemkin but have never seen it, nor do you know anything about it. And, for the most part, that’s fine. It’s typically a film reserved for film students, along with Eisenstein’s more graphic and…interesting film Strike. However, I would put money down that you are all familiar with one specific scene that is about as iconic as they come. Ever seen a movie in which a  baby carriage roll down a set of stairs? Yeah. That’s from Battleship Potemkin. There are probably a dozen or more films that directly reference this scene, known as The Odessa Stairs. Relatedly, there are probably another dozen or so films that show a person getting shot in the eye which is also from the same scene in Battleship Potemkin. Anyway, is this Communist propaganda film enjoyable or, at best, understandable? Actually, it’s both. While director Sergei Eisenstein is known for his very intense opinions on the purpose of cinema and the art of editing (collision editing, as many call it now), this film is relatively straightforward. While there are plenty of excessive shots that repeat information to the audience, tension is built fairly effectively. And though the translated subtitles are clunky, the story is pretty easy to follow even without dialogue: disgruntled sailors join the workers of Odessa in defiance of the Czar’s tyranny. Sure, at times, it’s great to see the hypocrisy of the film in the light of history (how dare the Russian army kill one of its own!…Clearly no Communist would do this during WWII…) but I love watching propaganda films. They shed so much light on how a nation viewed itself or, at the very least,  how a nation wished it looked. Either way, the film is quite a bit of fun from a historical sense. It’s definitely not a great crowd-pleaser, nor is it a first date movie, but for you budding cineastes out there, it’s definitely worth the viewing.

Yeah, you've seen this before. But if you haven't, there's something wrong with you.

So let’s move onto tonight’s second classic: North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. This 9% ABV bad boy pours black as night. Literally. It’s impeccably black in color with a thick, caramel-colored head that just invites you to take a drink. Giving off a strong aroma of roasted malt, this beer goes down smooth and leaves you with a delicious, warming sensation that just makes you smile. For those who like darker beers, this one is unparalleled. Just one sniff and you’ll be sold. And even for those who aren’t into the heavier beers, Old Rasputin is fairly approachable. Maybe you wouldn’t drink the whole thing yourself, but its lack of bitterness and smooth finish make it very easy to drink. Simply put, this is a great beer and I would recommend that you try it. Still don’t believe me? Check out  G-LO’s review of Old Rasputin over at It’s Just The Booze Dancing for a second opinion. All the guys over there sound smarter than me anyway, so I assume they know what they’re talking about.

Oh, in an unrelated story, you should watch the video below. Skip to 1:00 and enjoy some Russian history.

Alright so that about does it for tonight. Classic Russian cinema, classic Russian-inspired beer and…classic…Russian-themed…funk? Not too sure about that last one. Anyway, I wasn’t too sure how this night would turn out. I was nervous going into Battleship Potemkin, as similar films can be dry, boring and slow. However, with a great beer in hand, this film was a pleasant surprise. It was enjoyable and educational. The best kind of evening.

HEADS UP NEWS FLASH BREAKING STORY ALERT: BAAM and We Recycle Movies will be doing a Valentine’s day themed crossover review next Friday. We will be watching some awful movies and drinking some beers that I have never tried, so it’ll definitely be a lot of fun. So stay tuned for that!

Keep drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes: 
Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
Rich, black color
Thick, full body
Remarkably smooth & easy to drink

Battleship Potemkin
Easy to follow, despite bad translating
Iconic piece of cinematic history
Unabashedly propaganda. Is there any other kind?


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