Tag Archives: Scarlett Johansson

Eagle Rock Brewery’s Stimulus Belgian Ale & Don Jon

Hey there Drinkers!

Let’s get stimulated! Open up a bottle, crank the Barry White and awwwww yyeeaahhh! That’s right folks, today we’re drinking Eagle Rock Brewery’s Stimulus while watching Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s 2013 film Don Jon. And yes, I will be discussing sex and porn, so if you’re uncomfortable with that maybe you should skip to the beer review portion of today’s BAAM. Otherwise, let’s get it on!

For those of you who don’t know, Don Jon was written and directed by the professionally trendy/attractive actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He is also the star. Already a well-established and accomplished actor, JGL shows his chops in all fields in this movie. Just for the sake of understanding, Don Jon follows the life of JGL’s Jon, a stereotypical Jersey playboy with a dependency on porn, which complicates his emerging love life with the professionally sexy Scarlett Johansson (aka Barbara Sugarman). The movie is fast, electric and funny. We instantly understand who Don Jon is; his loves, interests and troubles. The first few minutes are a remarkable bit of character explanation aided by some fun voice-over and a few porn clips. It’s on the nose but that’s how the movie wants to be. Actually, for a movie filled with purposefully vapid characters, everyone feels distinct and fleshed-out. The only exception is Johansson’s swift and abrupt ride on the crazy train. We’re briefly shown that she can be demanding of her men (no Swiffering!) but it doesn’t feel like enough to warrant how she characterized later on as a woman who ceaselessly demands things from her men.

These people are way too attractive

These people are way too attractive

Aside from the sharp, humorous writing, it’s also a great display of deliberate editing. Like Jon’s muscles and the porn he watches, everything in this film is heightened and exaggerated. A show for us to behold. And the editing reflects this. Generally speaking, the editing stands out and highlights the absurd repetitions of his life. His road-rage filled car rides, his church confessions, his trips to the gym. All of these, along with his porn problem, are part of his routine and become the visual routine of the film. And for a first time director, it’s actually quite impressive to watch.

Very impressive to watch

Very impressive to watch

Finally, I just want to point out that this film has, at least in my opinion, an earnest look at love and sex. While in many movies, sex seems like a side effect of love, Don Jon treats sex as its own, important part of the human experience. And yes at times its crude but that doesn’t make it less true. For a movie about porn, it has a lot of interesting things to say about sex.

Also Julianne Moore gives sex advice

Also Julianne Moore gives sex advice

And was our beer just as stimulating? Yes it was! This was actually the second time I’ve enjoyed this beer from Eagle Rock Brewery (one of my favorite breweries), so I already knew what to expect. This Stimulus Belgian Amber is brewed with Intelligentsia  Coffee, which serves as the primary flavor for the beer. It pours a beautiful golden amber color with a tame, white head that quickly dissipates. Off the nose you’ll get hints of coffee, malt and just a little bit of sweetness. When you take a sip, you’re going to get that lovely amber mouthfeel that is fairly light and smooth. And while you don’t really get that classic Belgian flavor, you will be treated to a tasty mix of coffee, toffee and malt all balanced out with just a hint of sweetness. It’s also not very hoppy, making it smooth and easy to drink with a 6.6% ABV. Really just another winner from ERB. If you’re ever in the Los Angeles area, I highly recommend grabbing a bottle or stopping by the brewery for a pint.

So there you have it folks,  a stimulating movie with a stimulating beer. A pairing about love in its many forms. And a great excuse to look at Joseph Gordon-Levitt without a shirt. Thanks for reading everyone and please have a fun, safe 4th of July.

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:ERB_Stimulus_small
ERB’s Stimulus Belgian Amber:
-Perfect golden amber color
-Strong notes of good coffee
-Well balanced, easy to drink

Don Jon:
-Fast, in every way
-Sharp, funny writing
-Strong directorial vision



Filed under Review

Ovila Abbey Saison & Vicky Christina Barcelona

Hey there, drinkers.

Tonight is BAAM’s last entry from Hollywood, CA. I’m still sticking to Los Angeles, but I’m moving tomorrow, so it seems only fitting that we’re talking about a movie that takes us away to somewhere new. Tonight, we’re watching Woody Allen’s 2008 film Vicky Christina Barcelona and drinking the collaborative beer Ovila Abbey Saison. What’s the connection? Well, according to the bottle, the monks of New Clairaux and the brewers at Sierra Nevada created this beer to help support the restoration of a Spanish monastery. And the confluence of Spain and the U.S. is subject of our discussion for tonight. That and Woody Allen. We’ll probably talk about him as well…

For those unfamiliar with this film, here’s a quick overview. Vicky Christina Barcelona is a film about beautiful people (Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz) in a beautiful place (Barcelona) doing beautiful things (each other). What’s not to like? Actually, in general, there isn’t much not to like. The acting is good, the writing is sharp and poignant (if a bit heady) and the scenery is beautiful (Javier Bardem, anyone?). Though the subject matter is a bit familiar, as our cast of characters finds themselves impossibly in love with the wrong people, the story still feels fresh with Woody Allen’s unique sense of style. That being said, there are certain aspects of his style that I found distracting and a bit irritating. Most egregious is the voice over. I am both a fan and a hater of voice-over, so my own feelings on this subject are quite complicated. However, for this film, the voice over seems redundant to the actual narrative and really only serves to a fill spaces between scenes and inform otherwise lovely photography. Rather than let the audience enjoy watching the characters of the film explore Barcelona and, in turn, explore their own feelings, Woody Allen tells the audience exactly what is going on in his characters’ heads and why. And though, at times, it gives us a good laugh, it mostly just makes us feel like we’re too stupid to understand the intricate workings of Woody Allen’s brain. Other than that, the film is quite fantastic. The acting is stellar. Penelope Cruz steps up to play the crazy Spanish lady, as always, and Javier Bardem successfully seduces everyone in the audience. To be honest, I kind of want to go to Barcelona now, as the city itself becomes a character (hence its name in the title).  Vicky Christina Barcelona is definitely worth a viewing, even if you have a complicated relationship with voice over. A few other quick points that I have to point out. The soundtrack for this film is perfect. It’s really quite lovely and seems to capture all of the topsy-turvy emotions of the film. Also, the editor needs to make up her mind. Stylistically, this film is all over the place to the point where it stands out (and not in the good way). We have split screens, crossfades, wipes and long takes. It’s very inconsistent and it bothers me. Those who have taken film classes will know what I’m talking about. Those who haven’t taken film classes, I’m sorry but you’ll just have to trust me.

Love triangle? Screw that. We're going for a love pentagon.

Anyway, let’s talk about beer. I’ll say this straight off just to clear the air: I really enjoy saisons (farmhouse ales) but this one disappointed me. This 1 pt 9.4 oz. bottle of 7% ABV beer was one of the more uninspired and uninteresting saisons I’ve had. Generally speaking, in my opinion, a saison is a very flavorful and exciting beer. While typically quite drinkable, saisons I’ve had run in the 7-8% range. I like saisons because they offer a great alternative to “typical” beers as they can be quite floral and full in their flavor. However, Sierra Nevada’s Ovila Abbey Ale falls short of that benchmark. While I definitely get the Belgian yeast, there really isn’t much else going on in this beer. The flavors were muted and uninspiring. Though easy to drink, I found myself drinking quite slowly as the beer rarely drew me back for more sips. I mean, I did finish the beer, but it took me longer than expected and I wasn’t left wanting more. The beer wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t that great. As a beer that advertises itself as a saison, I have to say I was let down. I found this beer more to be in the vein of a Belgian-style ale but it still was a bit lackluster. Sorry kids, I don’t mean to be a downer, but I don’t think I’ll be buying this one again.

So there we have it. BAAM’s final Hollywood entry. Future BAAM combos will be coming from the hills of Glendale/La Canada, which really won’t change anything at all about this blog. However, I will be closer to my favorite beer purveyor, Galco’s, so that’s good news for me. I once had a film professor tell me that if Woody Allen ever stopped making movies (he averages about one a year, an unheard of turnaround rate),  Woody would probably die. And I think I agree. Woody Allen knows how to do nothing else except make movies. But unlike Woody Allen, I think I’ll live without buying this beer again.

Happy drinking!


Tonight’s Drinking Notes:
Ovila Abbey Ale:
Lackluster saison 
Distinctive Belgian yeast flavor
Easy to drink, but not much else

Vicky Christina Barcelona
Pretty people and pretty places
Familiar story but still exciting to watch
I think Javier Bardem seduced me


1 Comment

Filed under Review