Tag Archives: saison

Allagash Brewing Company’s 2013 Interlude & Phantom of the Paradise

Hey there, Drinkers!

In classic BAAM fashion, today’s pairing was originally going to be something special. Something elevated. We were going to drink a great beer while watching a critically-acclaimed film. Please note the past tense. What happened is that I realized the aforementioned critically-acclaimed film was over three hours long and thus I made a last minute change to an AWFUL (re. amazing) film that was only 1.5 hours long. And so today’s BAAM pairing was born: Allagash Brewing Company’s 2013 Interlude and the 1974 Brian De Palma cult-favorite Phantom of the Paradise. So grab your noise-canceling headphones and let’s get started!

Believe it or not, this is the second time I’ve seen 1974 Brian De Palma campfest that is Phantom of the Paradise. And while the film is generally regarded as a cult-classic, I’m not sure it’s a classic for the right reasons. Speaking broadly, it’s a pretty terrible movie. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is amazing. But terrible. Terribly amazing. Amazingly terrible. Long, convoluted story short, Phantom of the Paradise is an updated, “satirical” version of the The Phantom of the Opera crossed with the story of Faust (a man who sells his soul to the devil) all set in the world of 1970’s mega music labels and rock operas (no, this is not The Apple). In this version, a weird composer named Winslow Leach writes a cantata about the story of Faust, only to have it stolen by record mogul Swan. And as if that wasn’t enough, Winslow is then falsely imprisoned, has his teeth removed and then has his faced crushed by a vinyl press. Between the many confusing and elaborate musical numbers, we’re treated to a story of Swan’s continuing betrayal of Swan until we learn that Swan is in fact an agent of the devil/Dorian Grey/a murderous publicity-whore. Like every aspect of the film, it’s a jumbled amalgamation of stories, themes and movie references all snugly wrapped in  spandex leggings and liberally coated in facepaint.



As beautifully terrible as this movie is, there are a few moments where the actual filmmaking expertise of Brian De Palma shines through. There are a few sequences that are shown in split screen that are visually and aurally confusing, but are technically quite impressive, as they feature long, uninterrupted takes. And there is also some smart use of POV shots that help shake up the visual language of the film. Unfortunately, the movie is generally so overstated that these moments are quickly swallowed by the chaos. So while this movie is considered a cult classic to some, I’m not sure it really lives up to the niche hype. All that being said, you will still have a good time if you’re splitting a couple of high ABV beers with friends. It makes the whole experience go down a little smoother.

SwanPhantom of the Paradise - 4


So what about our boozy interlude for the evening? Well, Allagash Brewing Company is one of my favorite breweries (despite the high price on many of their bottles). Nearly every brew of theirs that I have tried is unique, complex and delicious. And the 2013 Interlude is no exception. The Interlude is a Saison (or Farmhouse Ale, depending on how you like to label things) that is brewed with some schmancy Brettanomyces yeast, aged in red wine barrels and cork finished. Pouring from a bomber, the beer was a hazy, reddish amber with a very thin head. Off the nose you’ll get distinct notes of red wine along with tart and sweet fruits (thanks to the Brettanomyces). When you take a sip, you’ll get a nice, tart acidic bite balanced against some tasteful sweetness (cherry?). It also has a bit of an alcoholic bite, as the beer runs between 8.5%-9% (depending on the year). With all of these intermingling flavors, you’ll also note that the beer is fairly light in body. With mild carbonation and a lighter body, the beer manages to refresh while still remaining complex. All things considered, it’s really a special brew that deserves slow sipping.

So there you have it folks,  a campy cacophony of a movie paired with a complex symphony of a beer. But together, they actually balanced each other out nicely. A strong, complex beer with a mindless camp musical. While I can’t strictly recommend watching Phantom of the Paradise, I won’t say I didn’t enjoy myself.

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


Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Allagash Brewing’s 2013 Interlude:
-Lovely, winey aroma
-Complex layering of sweet, tart & yeast
-Pricey, but worth it for an occasion

Phantom of the Paradise:
-Campy (satirical?) redux of Phantom of the Opera
Bizarre musical set-pieces with tights & facepaint


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Dogfish Head’s Noble Rot & Shaun of the Dead

Hey there, Drinkers!

In anticipation of the upcoming U.S. release of The World’s Endand everyone’s love of zombies, today we’re celebrating Shaun of the Dead. And fitting with the British theme of beer consumption in this film, and all the other films in the “Cornetto Trilogy,” I’ll be sipping on Dogfish Head’s Noble Rot (got it yet?). So let’s get started, shall we?

Released in the U.S. in 2004, Shaun of the Dead is one of those rare movies that jumps from cult favorite to modern ubiquity. Starring a then largely unknown Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Shaun of the Dead follows our unlikely heroes as they navigate a  sudden zombie outbreak. To call the movie a zombie-genre spoof though both denigrates this film and unreasonably elevates the genre. While Shaun of the Dead is ostensibly a satire, it is also a loving (and highly intelligent) homage to everything we know and love about the zombie genre. Romero and 28 Days Later  references aside, the movie takes pure joy in flexing the genre’s familiar muscles while also playing them for laughs. Even the visual style, which is remarkably distinct, has fun with the intensity and hyper-realism found in other zombie flicks.

Who knew the undead were so funny?

Who knew the undead were so funny?

There’s a actually a lot I’d like to say about this film but the sake of time and cohesion, I’ll try to remain brief. I do want to point out that there are few films that make you as keenly aware of the film’s planning than Shaun of the Dead. The film so expertly folds back in on itself, both in its writing and its visuals, that the viewer gets the sense that as silly as the film is, its creators took their jobs very seriously in the film’s making. From the mirrored, long single-takes to the secret foreshadowing drinking schedule of Ed, even down to the repeated little argument about whether dogs can or can not look up, Shaun of the Dead is a film that was clearly well-planned and expertly executed.

Do Cornetto's even exist in the U.S.?

Do Cornetto’s even exist in the U.S.?

Finally, I’d like to just make the point that this film is unabashedly British, which I love. Maybe this is because I’m an American and this film wasn’t made with the intention of being an international success, but Shaun of the Dead makes no attempts to Americanize itself in its language or humor. An obvious result of this is the ease with which the actors occupy their characters (also, they’re just good actors) and moreover, the comedy feels cleaner and truer to the tone the for which the film strives. Overall, Shaun of the Dead undoubtably ranks not only among my favorite comedies, but also among my favorite films.

It's not a spoof, it's Electro...prick

It’s not a spoof, it’s Electro

And while our zombies were rotting away on screen, how about Dogfish Head’s Noble Rot? To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect from this beer. I think I bought it because of the label was cool and it seemed like a good fit for the movie. Also, I figured that a $20 bomber from the “off-centered” brewers of Dogfish Head would be a pretty good. And I guess my intuition was correct because this beer was CRAZY GOOD! Ostensibly a saison, this beer is brewed with grape must (unfermented wine grape juice) which makes it a magical beer/wine hybrid. Pouring a beautiful clear, light gold color with tons of tiny bubbles, you’ll instantly start making comparisons to champagne. With a powerful white wine nose, backed up with a little bit of wheat, yeast and fruit, the beer has a distinct and delicious aroma. With your first sip, you’ll get all of those flavors in a lovely, subtle mix. It has the body of a lighter saison, and that grainy flavor you’d expect, but the grape must adds this fantastically smooth and sweet white wine aspect that you rarely find in a beer. And even with a hefty 9% ABV, the beer never weighs you down or feels too boozy. Rather, you get that relaxing sensation that comes from sipping a cool glass of white wine on a warm summer evening. So overall, I consider this beer a real winner.

So there you have it, folks. A simply rotten evening. A truly unique and delicious brew with a fresh and engaging zombie comedy. I think it’s about as good as BAAM gets in my book. And while the beer was a bit pricey, having a friend to share the experience (and tab) would only make the evening a little sweeter.

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

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Dogfish Head’s Noble Rot:
-Beautiful, clear golden pour
-Perfectly balanced blend of beer & wine
-High ABV but super smooth & crisp

Shaun of the Dead:
Everything you love about zombie movies, but smarter
-Expertly written, shot & acted
-Both a spoofy & loving homage to the genre


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