Tag Archives: Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams’ Dunkelweizen & Space Jam

Welcome to the Jam, Drinkers!

I know it’s been awhile but we’re back and we’re drinking! It’s Beer Week here in Los Angeles, which means that there are tons of cool events to be going to throughout the area for the next ten days. And while none of them are movie-related (as far as I know), we’re sticking to tradition and pairing Sam Adams’ Dunkelweizen (from their Fall mixer) with the 1996 “classic” Space Jam. If you’re not in LA, settle in and enjoy tonight’s review. If you live in LA, turn off your computer, go to your favorite bar and drink something local. Game on.

Man oh man have I not seen this movie in a loooong time. The 1996 Ivan Reitman-produced, Michael Jordan-starring, semi-animated film Space Jam brings up some old memories and some conflicted emotions. I think most people my generation saw this movie when they were young. It was one of those gimmicky movies that really captures its time. A time when you could slap Michael Jordan’s name to something and it was an instant success. A time when the Chicago Bulls were relavent (zing!). A time when a film’s plot was ancillary to the amount of fun it could provide. Because really, there’s almost no plot. For a two hour movie, there’s maybe 15 minutes of story. The rest is either hijinks or a basketball montage. To be fair though, I didn’t really expect much other than those two things, but if that’s all you’re going to do, at least do it well. Specifically, I feel a bit cheated by the Looney Toons. I love the Looney Toons. I still find the original cartoons hilarious. But maybe due to an updating in the writing staff or just because they’ve aged poorly, our favorite Looney Toons aren’t very funny. They feel like parodies of themselves. Bugs doesn’t even sound the same. All the cartoons say and do what they’re supposed to, but it all just feels stiff. It doesn’t have that fresh, insane energy of the original cartoons. Bugs doesn’t even dress up as a woman bunny! He has a girlfriend instead. YAWN. Atleast Taz and Wile E. Coyote are still pretty hilarious but that’s because they don’t talk. And why don’t they put Road Runner on the court? (S)He’s so fast!

I’m not feeling the love.

But I’ll ignore most of my gripes with this film simply because it’s not trying to be anything more than entertaining to kids. So we can just look past Michael Jordan’s odd willingness to sacrifice his freedom for some cartoons he’s just met (cartoons that forcibly remove him from reality and demand training), the mushy rules of cartoon basketball or how almost none of this film takes place in space. Ignoring those, and many other complaints, I just want to point out a few weird thing. One: the strange frequency of references to the film industry (union contracts, agents, likeness fees, Teamsters, etc.). I don’t think I got that when I was younger. Two: the oddly stoned alien (“I’m ready for another trip!”). It’s just a bit blunt…see what I did there? And three: Bill Murray. Did you remember that Bill Murray was in this? As himself? Zombieland premonition! But seriously, it’s hard to take this movie seriously. It’s meant for kids in the simplest of interpretations. It does little to be treat its audience intelligently and does not age well with the audience that saw it when they were seven. And, sadly, I have the suspicion that today’s youth would be too fond of this one. Sorry, Mike!

About as odd as it looks.

And was tonight’s Dunkzelweizen a slam dunk (now you’re getting it)? I’d say it was a decent two-pointer (sports knowledge!).  It was nothing special but it’s solid beer for an average night. This Sam Adams beer, fresh out of their Harvest Collection, is a darkish wheat brewed with Belgian yeast. The end result is kind of what you’d expect from that description: a medium-bodied wheat beer with some classic banany yeast flavor. There’s some fruity sweetness in there that’s balanced against the darker malts, making this beer fall right in the middle of the road in almost every regard. So while it doesn’t do anything special, it’s still a pretty good beer for when the evenings start to chill. But since I’m in LA, that won’t be for awhile.

So that’s the game breakdown, folks. We had a once-funny, now-frustrating film with a solid but ordinary beer. Not the best way to get back into BAAM but it’s hard to complain when you have a beer in your hand, a movie on your screen and Michael Jordan crushing Bill Murray’s hoop dreams. Very hard.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Samuel Adams’ Dunkelweizen:
-Pours hazy, medium brown
-Classic Belgian-yeast flavor
-Solid but unremarkable

Space Jam:
-Childhood classic, but the shine has faded
-Michael Jordan+Bugs Bunny=hijinks
-All kinds of Hollywood & NBA cameos. Charles Barkley anyone?

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Samuel Adams’ Dark Depths & Sphere

Evening, Drinkers!

In continuing with our theme of underwater movies that feature Samuel L. Jackson, we’re watching Sphere in the dark company of Sam Adams’ Dark Depths Baltic IPA. So grab your swimming gear and let’s dive in.

In 1998, the underwater psychological sci-fi mystery horror thrill known as Sphere came onto the scene. Based on a Michael Crichton novel, Sphere is the story of a group of scientists who investigate a mysterious spacecraft 1000 feet beneath the water. Not to spoil anything, but they find a giant sphere and mayhem ensues. And though we come to understand that the sphere causes people’s dreams to manifest in reality, the film is really more of a study in stress and paranoia. While the characters do manage to dream up some scary encounters with giant squid, jellyfish and some weird “nocturnal” sea snakes, these are not the real moments of drama. Rather, the moments when the characters start to accuse each other of lies, betrayal and confusion are the film’s strongest. Part of this might be due to the fact that the film has a more acting driven cast, as compared to a more action-themed cast. Leading the film you have Dustin Hoffman who, from time to time, actually is a fantastic actor. Obviously, Sphere is not one of finest moments but he does lend some legitimacy to our connection to the characters and their predicament.

Well this doesn’t seem to explain much at all…

Where the film falls flat is that leaves you feeling bizarrely unsatisfied. For the most part, all of the major questions are answered but something seemed terribly amiss to me when the credits began to roll. Some of the major questions regarding Samuel L. Jackson’s character are left unanswered; and for a film about a sunken spaceship, very little time is actually spent discussing said spaceship. It seemed to me that no one in the film was asking the big, glaring questions any normal person would. But I guess if you’re under the influence of an interstellar golden-swirly ball 1000 feet under the ocean, we can cut you some slack. This film is by no means great. It’s long and slow but it is a nice change of pace when it comes to sci-fi movies. Aside from the really annoying interstitial titles that felt like commercial breaks, most of my gripes with this film stem from lack in satisfaction with the answers provided. But I guess if we were to ever encounter an alien entity or an unknown spacecraft, I doubt all of our questions would be answered to our liking.

Now let’s go see Prometheus!

Creeper face.

And how was my descent into the Dark Depths? Well, like Sphere, it was an odd experience that left me with some questions. From my understanding, Baltic IPAs (BeerAdvocate labels this beer as a Baltic Porter) were born many years ago from shipping porters long distance by sea. The long travel time altered the nose and flavor of the original beer and inspired this style of beer. With that, I guess it explains the Dark Depths unusual flavor. It pours very dark with a chocolatey head that is reminiscent of a stout or porter. When you first taste it, you get hit with that rich maltiness of a porter. However, as the taste finishes on the back of your tongue, you get that hint of bitterness that you could identify as IPA-ish. It’s faint, but it’s definitely there. The whole experience is quite smooth and the 7.6% ABV doesn’t hurt either. And though the beer taste pretty good, I felt like the two aspects of the beer, the porter and the IPA, weren’t meshing as well as they should. It was good, but maybe I thought it should be better or more special than it actually was. But fortunately for me, Sam Adams makes about 239048 other fantastic beers, so I’ll be seeing them again soon.

So let’s come back up to the surface here and just review our thoughts here. Sphere was an interesting yet ultimately unsatisfying movie experience. The premise is interesting and the character interactions are pretty strong, but a lot of key questions are left unanswered. For Sam Adams’ Dark Depths, I was also left a bit confused by the combination of the malty smoothness of a porter with a fruity, bitterness of an IPA. It wasn’t a bad beer but I was left a bit perplexed.

And for those who are counting, our next BAAM review will be our 50th! Crazy! And it’s been pretty much a year since I started this thing too! Wild! Exclamation! And while I’m not sure if I’ll be a doing a big celebration for the big 5-0, I will try my best to make the review something special. And I’ll be thanking you all profusely. Sorry in advance.

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

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Samuel Adams’ Dark Depths:
-Deep, dark color
-Mostly porter with hints of IPA in the finish
-Good beer but not a great beer

Sphere:
-Claustrophobic sci-fi underwater nightmare mystery thriller starring Dustin Hoffman…
-Intriguing yet unsatisfying answers & conclusion.
-Surprisingly lack of sphere in Sphere.

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Beer & A Recap – Holiday Edition

Hey there drinkers!

Now that I’m back from my East Coast holiday adventures, I thought I’d give you a brief recap of all the beers I drank and all the movies I watched. My next BAAM combo will be in a separate post in the next day or so, this way you don’t have to read too much. Because reading is bad.

Anyway, let’s get started.

(By the way, I’m doing these from memory so just bear with me)

Beers I Drank:

Magic Hat #9
One of my favorite beers. It’s light but full of nearly inexplicable fruity flavor. Self-described as a “Not Quite So Pale Ale,” I have to agree that this a very accurate description of this Vermont Beer. Very hard to find here in Los Angeles but whenever I see it, I drink it.

Trout River Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
A very simple but fulfilling stout. I drank this after a chilly hike in the Green Mountain State and it really hit the spot. Smooth, flavor with strong notes of chocolate. Too bad I can’t get this in LA…

Anchor Steam Liberty Ale-
A very hoppy and rich ale that may be just a hair too hoppy for my tastes. Anchor Steam does some good stuff but their beers tend to be a little more bitter, so bear that in mind if you’re going to give this piny-tasting beer a shot. Otherwise a very solid beer.

Harpoon Winter Warmer-
Along with Sam Adams, Harpoon is pretty Boston beer royalty and this Winter Warmer is definitely up to snuff. I had a few of these with some friends at a local bar and I was shocked at how smooth this dark, winter ale was. With strong notes of holiday spices and a lovely brown color, this Winter Warmer may be one of my new favorites. Again, too bad I can’t get it in LA. I’m sensing a theme here…

Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection New World Tripel-
The shining beer moment of my trip home. Apparently, this season Sam Adams rolled out a new edition of beers called their Barrel Room Collection. These super classy beers are all sold in super classy bottles that pretty much force your hand into buying them. Seriously, see the picture to marvel at their beauty. Anyway, this New World Tripel was pretty much everything you want out of a great tripel. It was light in color, very grainy and citrusy in flavor and deceptively strong. New World Tripel is a whopping 10% ABV but it is remarkably easy to drink. For those willing to shell out a few extra bucks for a great beer and an easy buzz, I definitely recommend picking this one up.


Movies I Watched:

Clerks –
Kevin Smith’s first feature is a rambling, black & white, dialogue-heavy meander through the lives of a few New Jersey convenience stores clerks and the people that surround them. It’s very hard to say what this film is about as it covers topics ranging from Stars Wars, hockey, blowjobs and necrophilia. While the film is impressive in its allowance to its actors to just talk and talk and talk without the camera ever moving, the film really drags. Without a real, compelling narrative and generally annoying characters, I found myself not paying attention by the end of the film. Still, it’s an interesting bit of filmmaking from an independent standpoint, so it may be worth a watch for you cineastes out there.

Die Hard: With A Vengeance
Yeah! A real man’s movie! Yippe Kay Yeah Motherfucker! And now that that’s out of my system we can proceed. This third installment of the preposterously  still-marketable action series marks a departure from the previous two films in that it takes John McClane (who are we kidding, it’s Bruce Willis) out of the confined spaces of office buildings and airports and out into the streets of New York City. This sprawling action film also features Samuel L. Jackson as a guy named Zeus. Yup. Anyway, this film is successful at never really letting the action die down. For the 2+ hours of the film’s duration, the audience (and Bruce Willis) get very little rest as the plot is pretty much dictated through the action (something not really done anymore). And while the film is successful at carrying us along for the ride, the ride gets a little old after awhile. For the last 30 minutes of the movie, I really just wanted it to end. I wanted Bruce Willis to kill the bad guy and save the day, but it just took him so damn long to do it! I think there was room in there for about three distinct endings to this film. But other than that, it’s hard to complain about these sorts of action movie classics. Because really, who doesn’t love explosions?

Labyrinth (well, I watched most of it anyway)-
Have you seen this movie? Be honest with me. Have. You. Seen. This. Movie. If the answer is no, stop reading and go watch it. It’s…transformative. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie but it’s still very much worth seeing, if only to see how truly odd Jim Henson really was. Oh and to see David Bowie seduce a tween Jennifer Connelly. That’s also worth seeing. That and the Bowie musical numbers where he’s surrounded by creepy little gremlin muppets. Dance Magic Dance! Oh oh oh how I could forget?! Bowie steals a baby. Yeah, that happens too.

Inglorious Basterds
I realized that I had seen this before when I started watching but it was a long flight and I had time to kill. But really, I wanted to like this movie so much more than I did. I remember hearing about it from my friends who really enjoyed it, but I only got sparse and fleeting pleasure out of this Tarantino film. Undoubtably the writer/director has a great sense of style in terms of his writing and his visuals, but as I think I pointed out in my post on Jackie Brown, Tarantino gets so caught up in his style that he loses track of what he is really trying to achieve in his story. From a narrative standpoint, this films doesn’t really go much of anywhere. It slowly and clumsily hobbles from storyline to storyline amid bouts of relentlessly witty dialogue. Now, to his credit, Tarantino does get some great performances out of his cast. Not that anyone is particularly likable at all, but the actors’ performances are quite strong. Sure Brad Pitt’s character is a bit of a caricature and The Bear Jew loses all of his terror the second he opens his mouth, but in all, I think the all-around performances really helped carry an otherwise slow film. Oh and I think I might be in love with Melanie Laurent.

Crazy, Stupid, Love
A simple, predictable and heart-warming romcom with enough self-respect to take it easy on the “com.” Have we seen this story before? Absolutely! Do we, as American filmgoers, really care that we’ve seen this story before? Nope! When you have a star-studded cast and Ryan Gosling’s star-studded abs, it’s really hard  for this film not to be a winner. Yes, some of the performances are a bit flat (I’m looking at you Ryan Gosling, even though I think you’re great) and we pretty much know how things are going to turn out but that’s not really what this film wants to be. What this film serves more as a tasteful reminder that we should always be striving towards that impossibility of Hollywood love and romance. And it’s very successful. You kind of want to fall in love after you see this movie, as much as you secretly hate yourself for watching it. For me, it made me want to fall in love with Emma Stone (surprise!).

No but seriously, I think I might be in love with Emma Stone.

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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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