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Stone Spotlight Series Sprocket Bier & The Lego Movie

Hey there, Drinkers!

How are you doing today? Feeling AWESOME? Because I’m not sure if you know this but EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! That’s right Drinkers, today we’re pairing up The Lego Movie with our appropriately themed Sprocket Bier hailing from Stone’s Spotlight Series. So strap in (or snap in? Too much?), grab your glass and get ready!

When I first saw The Lego MovieI had my doubts. How could you ever turn my beloved, story-less childhood toy into a movie? Didn’t you see what they did to Battleship? (Hint: no one did, that’s the problem). But I have to say that The Lego Movie truly defied my expectations and instantly turned me into a rabid fan. For those of you who don’t have small children or do but still somehow haven’t seen this movie, the film follows the adventures of an ordinary Lego construction worker as he gets hurled into a plan to save the universe from an evil businessman. At its core, the story itself extremely familiar and predictable. Throughout his trials, our hero learns about himself before saving the world, making friends and getting the girl. Pretty straightforward stuff, right? Nope! What makes The Lego Movie special isn’t its story but its execution.

At home with your Legos

At home with your Legos

First and foremost, the film’s attention to detail in its writing and visual is astounding. If you’re familiar with Legos, you know how detailed a world you can create with plastic bricks and the same goes for the movie. Every shot is teeming with bright, fun and well-thought-out details that make this fantastical world seem alive and familiar. Combined with the fun of seeing the familiar bricks comes to life in fun ways (water is a good example), you can tell that filmmakers took great pains to stay faithful while also maximizing their own pleasure in creating this movie. And the same can be said for the writing. It’s sharp, witty and moves at hyperspeed. I’ve now seen it twice and I still feel like I’m missing jokes. All of this combined with a stellar cast and an entertaining stop-motion-esque visual style  boils down to is a film that radiates love and respect for the toys many of us have grown up with.

Also, Batman!

Also, Batman!

There’s actually quite a bit more I could say about this movie but for the sake of time, I’ll just strongly suggest you watch this movie (my roommate is watching it while I’m writing this, if that’s any indication). Yes, the movie gets a bit preachy and its themes can hit you over the head (repeatedly) but that’s really a minor flaw for a film that is ostensibly for a young audience. Moreover, this movie is so fun and funny that it kind of earns a pass. Also, that damn song  is just so addictive!

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So did our beer just SNAP into place? Mostly, yes. This interesting beer has an interesting history, so let’s start there. Apparently, this Sprocket Bier was the winner of the first Stone Spotlight Series brewing competition. Brewers from several companies teamed up and battled it out in a blind taste test. The winner, our Sprocket, earned large-scale brewing and distribution from Stone. The winner, Sprocket, is a self-described ‘black rye Kölsch-style ale.’ And honestly I didn’t really know what the meant. Kölsch’s are typically lighter in color with a little bit of hoppy bitterness. And frankly, I’m not sure what part of that description applies to this beer. Pouring a deep black with red highlights, the beer comes off as malty, herby and smooth (from the rye). It is surprisingly light for such a dark beer (maybe that’s the Kölsch?) and when combined with the relatively low 5.45% ABV, it makes for an easy sipper. So while this beer maybe isn’t as wild as our movie, it does go down easy.

So there it is, Drinkers. An AWESOME!!! movie with a decent beer. Lots of fun was had and no regrets were made. Thanks so much for reading and please remember to send in any suggestions you might have for future BAAM pairings.

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

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Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Stone’s Sprocket Bier:
-Black pour, red highlights
-Surprisingly light body
-Simple, malty flavor

The Lego Movie
-AWESOME!
-SPACESHIP!
-BATMAN!

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BAAM’s Two Year Anniversary Special: The Apple

Happy anniversary, Drinkers!

Today’s post celebrates BAAM’s second birthday! I can’t believe it’s been two years since I started this silly little drinking adventure but here we are: with developed palettes and terrible taste in cinema. In celebration, I invited a few friends over to share some beers and introduce them to the horrendous 1980 film The Apple. Since there were a few different beers on hand for the event, I’ll just give a brief overview of each one while also providing a more in-depth review of the film…if there’s any depth to be had. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Now since most of you are normal, well-adjusted people I am going to assume that none of you have even heard of  The Apple so I’ll summarize. The Apple is a musical allegory for Adam and Eve set in a a futuristic dystopian 1994 in which a music mogul has taken control of the world due to the overwhelming popularity of his song “Bim.” The lyrics to said world-dominating song are as follows: “Hey hey hey, Bim’s on his way.”  Ostensibly the film follows the disparate lives, successes and failures of couple Bibi and Alphie who choose different paths after they are offered a major record deal with music mogul Mr. Boogalow but we all know that’s just a bunch of crap. This film is mostly just an excuse for expensive musical numbers.

The price of success

The price of success

If you watch this movie, which I recommend you do, you’ll realize that about 80% of the film is an incomprehensible, fever-dream of musical sequences that only loosely relate to the plot. The other 20% is filled with bad acting, shiny spandex and face paint. But this is not a movie you watch to understand. You watch The Apple to be confused and then to rip on it. In fact, heckling is encouraged in my book. If you watch this on your own, you won’t have any fun. So be sure to bring a friend when (not if) you watch this masterpiece of garbage. I guarantee you won’t regret it. GUARANTEE!

The film's namesake Apple

The film’s namesake Apple

And the beers we sampled? It was a nice mix, representing my beer-drinking history and geography from Boston to Los Angeles. I even had a few more beers that we didn’t get to but that’s fine. Just more beer for me and more BAAMs for you! Here’s a quick breakdown of what was consumed.

Sam Adams’ Summer Ale:
-Required summer drinking for any Bostonian
-Light wheat flavor, easy to drink
-Noticeable lemon-y notes that some may find overpowering
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Eagle Rock Brewery’s Populist IPA
-The IPA that made me fall in love with IPA’s
-Fantastic local Los Angeles brewery with real care for their craft
-Super hoppy but fairly soft on the palette

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Stone’s IPA
-A solid, San Diego IPA
-Hop-forward aroma and taste but not unforgiving
-A great entrance into the IPA world
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So again, I want to thank each and every one of you sticking with me these past two years. BAAM has always been a great excuse for me to try out great beer and watch random movies, but it’s your comments and support that make it thoroughly gratifying. So cheers to another successful year of BAAMing!

Remember: drink local, drink with friends and watch bad movies.

And as always keep drinking, my friends.

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Stone’s Old Guardian Barley Wine & The Cabin in the Woods

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today we’re getting Ancient with Stone’s Old Guardian oak-smoked barley wine style ale and the 2011 sci-fi horror/slasher Whedonverse film The Cabin in the Woods. It’s a big, bold pairing filled with blood n’ booze! And while that sounds like any episode of Game of Thrones, I promise that this combo is something special. And equally badass. So let’s get started, shall we?

The Cabin in the Woods is, interestingly enough, a film nerd’s dream. Created as both an adoration and parody of the horror/slasher genre, Cabin is pretty much a wall-to-wall cinematic reference. From the broad strokes of genre trope (abandoned cabin, young people, zombies, etc.) to technical details (camera references to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)Cabin in the Woods expertly walks the line between satire and cliche. I won’t discuss much of the plot, but suffice it to say that at its core, the film is every horror movie ever made. Young, attractive people wander off the beaten path, display risque behavior and suffer the horrifying consequences. But where many other filmmakers have just stuck to the formula, Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon have bent those genre stereotypes into something new and utterly self-reflexive. Without revealing too much, Cabin is built on a premise that explains and/or justifies every horror movie ever. The cliches of movies past become the narratives hooks that drive the story forward without patronizing the audience. Rather, they became the moments of levity that make an otherwise gruesome film completely HILARIOUS!

Shot-for-shot lift from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Shot-for-shot lift from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre

There are actually a lot of things I want to point out about this film but since I am a wordy writer, I figure a list will be more efficient. Let’s go!

-Before Chris Hemsworth was Thor, he was a Sociologist major jock. Though this film was released after Thor, it shot a few years before. Hollywood be crazy!
-When this came out in theaters, it was the first film I saw on the big screen in over a year. (I was unemployed at the time). My friends and I laughed at all the movie references while the rest of the audience was dead silent. Aaawwkkward.
-Joss Whedon’s dry sense of humor is SPLATTERED all over this film. If your unfamiliar with his writing style, watch anything of his. Literally anything.
-A Firefly Reaver can be seen during the monster massacre scene. How awesome is that?!
-Boobs are acceptable in this film because they make a statement about the use of female nudity in this genre…what am I talking about?! Boobs are always great!
-Character stereotypes exist for a reason. Because they prevent the end of the world.
-If you think it’s Sigourney Weaver’s voice, it probably is.
-All in all, this movie is actually quite well shot and well acted. Who knew?

But seriously folks, this is one of those movies that exists for pure entertainment. Even if you’re not a big horror fan or into blood n’ guts (I’m not), this film is actually quite good fun. Yes, it does get a bit bloody at times but for the most part, it all serves the purpose of parody. You don’t even have to know most of films Cabin references to enjoy it. It is so intelligently constructed that any viewer should be able to identify it as both parody and reverence for one of the most overwrought genres in cinema.

References on references

References on references

And Stone’s Old Guardian Oak-Smoked Barley Wine Style ale(that’s a mouthful)? Well let me tell you, it is quite the beer. As with everything that Stone brews, it is a BIG beer. Pouring a beautiful, deep amber color with a tan head and remarkable lacing (the foam left behind on the edge of the glass), the Old Guardian is a beer to behold. While the nose is fairly mild, hinting at rich barley and refined hops, the beer itself is quite potent. With your first taste, you’re hit with substantial malty flavor. Toasty deliciousness fades into a respectable hoppiness that is prominent without overpowering the palette. It finishes with a bitter, boozy bite brought on by the 11.5% ABV. As with most Stone beers, this is not for the feint of heart. The Old Guardian is a powerful beer that is complex and yet thoroughly enjoyable. Not to mention quite pretty to look at. In the end though, it left with me an impressive buzz. In short, this beer is not to be underestimated. Maybe try it with a friend. Or don’t be a lightweight like me. Either way works.

So in case you haven’t figured it out, today’s thematic link was the Old Guardian protecting us from the Ancient Ones from The Cabin in the Woods. If that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, go watch the movie. And pick up this beer. I promise that the fun (and blood) will complement the alcoholic haze of this tasty brew. Truly a wonderful pairing that I would recommend to both the casual consumer and the seasoned connoisseur…though maybe the beer isn’t so casual.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:IMG_79591-189x300
Stone’s Old Guardian:
-Beautiful pour
-Mild, malty nose
-BIG (and balanced) taste with significant booziness

The Cabin in the Woods:
-A nerd’s best friend
-A Whedon film to its core
-Surprising balance of respect and parody for the genre

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Stone’s Vertical Epic 12.12.12 & 2012

Good tidings, Drinkers!

In honor of 12/12/12, Anne from We Recycle Movies and I celebrated the only way we know how: drinking great beer while mocking a movie we’re barely watching. Great premise, right? And since the date was too significant to be subtle with our pairing, we chose Stone’s final Vertical Epic and the tidal wave of cinematic crap that is Roland Emmerich’s 2012. So let’s get crackin’!  (that’s a joke about 2012…because the planet’s crust cracks a lot and earthquakes happen…I’m funny, I promise)

But where to begin with 2012? How about 2009? Sure, why not. That’s when SCIENCE determeined the Earth was going to blow up or melt or split apart or whatever. Briefly, 2012 charts the Earth’s Mayan-fortold demise as told through the eyes of a bunch of random people we never really care about. I think the planet’s core is melting because the planets are aligned and thus the Earth’s crust is thinning and shit gets real…I think. To be fair, Anne and I were loudly ignoring this film and instead mostly talking about the new trailer for Pacific Rim (which I contend looks like a shiny version of Godzilla vs. Voltron). We also talked a lot about Zoe Saldana who, we later realized, was not in this movie. We’re not racists but in our defense, Thandie Newton really looks like Zoe Saldana. But I digress. 2012 has all the elements of a “good” disaster movie, such as explosions, famous landmarks being destroyed, conspiracy theorists, black actors, giant boats…. You know, the usual. However, I think Roland Emmerich got so caught up in his own delusions of Earth’s grand demise that he forgot to make the rest of the movie.

Rut roh!

Rut roh!

But to be serious for just a (brief) moment, I think the major failing of this movie is really its characters. I didn’t really relate to any of them or find them interesting. They felt more like characters I was supposed to like, not characters I actually liked. It’s an assumption that can really just hollow out a movie’s emotional core. Fortunately, the movie had plenty o’ splosions and other natural atrocities to compensate for my boredom. But even then, the over-the-top destruction of the planet is also distancing. I couldn’t connect. There are only a handful of moments when the destruction resonates on a personal level, making the “we survived!” conclusion even less compelling. Finally, as noble as Roland Emmerich’s “Africa-is-the-birthplace-of-humanity” overtones are, it’s so obnoxiously blatant that you can’t help but laugh. Well…continue to laugh, since I pretty much laughed at this whole movie.

The...drama?

Who needs human drama when you have SUPER VOLCANOES?!

Good thing we each had bombers of 9% ABV Vertical Epic to get us through the night! The last of the series, the 12.12.12 Vertical Epic does feel like a pinnacle of beer. It pours a deep, dark brown with a lovely mocha-colored head. While Stone’s label rattles off a host of spices brewed with this Belgian-inspired ale, the most distinctive notes I tasted were chocolate malt, all-spice and cinnamon. That last one really came out as the beer warmed, transforming the beer into something completely new by the end of the bottle. And although the beer was dark and strong (what other kind of beer does Stone brew?), I have to say that it’s remarkablely accessible. The beer was easy to drink, not too bitter and not too filling either. Sure, it’ll get you buzzed, but you won’t really notice the booze unless you’re drinking on an empty stomach (which we were….woops!).

Overall, I’m really glad I got to taste the final Vertical Epic. Sadly, I’ve missed the previous Vertical Epics but I don’t doubt that Stone has plenty of good beer planned for us in the years to come. Or days, if the Mayan calendar (or Roland Emmerich) is correct. Either way, you better make sure that you’re friends with a pilot. Or John Cusack. Either will do.

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

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:VE
Stone’s Vertical Epic 12.12.12:
-Deep, rich brown color
-Chocolate malt, cinnanom & all-spice
-Changes, and improves, as it warms

2012:
International cooperation! Form of: BIG BOAT!
-Hollow characters
-Roland Emmerich successfully destroys the world the for…3rd time?

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Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale & Dogma

Hey there, drinkers!

Tonight we’re rediscovering our faith with the help of Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale & Kevin Smith’s 1999 film Dogma. We’ve got a great beer and a great movie paired up for you tonight, so I hope you listen to my Word and heed my infallibility when it comes to unnatural alcoholic-cinematic combinations. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tonight’s film is the religiously anti-religious Kevin Smith film Dogma. Equal parts religious lesson and sacrilegious comedy, Dogma utterly refutes religion by showcasing it in a very literal and sarcastic fashion. For those who are not indoctrinated, Dogma follows the quest of a Wisconsin Planned Parenthood employee who is tasked with stopping two angels (a very young and adorable Matt Damon & Ben Affleck) who wish to regain entrance to Heaven and obliterate all  existence in the process. In classic Kevin Smith fashion, the film is dominated by long-winded, articulate and absurd speeches that very plainly explain esoteric subjects. Biblical history is expertly intertwined with film nerd history, all with the biting edge of Smith’s “nothing-is-sacred” style of comedy. I mean, George Carlin plays an Arch Bishop and New Jersey is a portal to Heaven. You get the picture. Aside from the blunt exposition of plot and Christian mythology, the film is quite entertaining. All of the characters (and actors) acknowledge the absurdity of their plight and have a good laugh about it. There are literally dozens of “Jesus Christ!” exclamations that are uttered by Heavenly creatures, a not-so-subtle wink from the director to the audience. In addition, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, unadulterated by fame, give fantastic performances in roles that would otherwise be too absurd to be successful. In fact, Kevin Smith somehow assembled a fantastic cast for this film, given them insane roles, and made them successfully commit to those roles. And while no one would mistake this film for art, it really is a testament to Kevin Smith’s ingenuity and creativity as writer/director. For those of you who haven’t seen this film (and are not easily made uncomfortable by religious gaffs), I would recommend you see it as a master class in sarcasm.

And did I mention that Alanis Morisette is God? Seems fitting, right?

Jesus (aka Buddy Christ) loves you. And beer. And Kevin Smith.

And in keeping with tonight’s theme, I would have to describe Stone’ Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale as simply divine. This 8.7% whopper pours a thick, deep black with a big head that dissipates slowly. This black ale features big, roasty malt flavor that is balanced well by some sturdy hopping. Reviewers on Beer Advocate noted hints of grapefruit while I mostly tasted toasted malt, which probably means that I just don’t have a defined palette. But for a beer with an 8.7% ABV and a strong malt character, this beer is pretty easy to drink. Not to say that casual drinkers could just pick this up and go to town, but rather it doesn’t have a strong bite to it. It goes down smooth and leaves a nice, hoppy finish that hangs around for awhile. For such a crazy movie, I think this beer matches it pretty well. While the movie is funny enough as is, being a little tipsy by the film’s bloody conclusion doesn’t hurt it. Especially since the film drags a little at about two hours, having 22 ozs. of tasty, strong beer does not hurt.

So there it is, drinkers. A sublimely divine evening that left me with a smile on my face. Great beer. Good movie. It’s hard to ask for much more on a Friday evening. God bless craft beer.

 

 

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale:
-Deep, black color
-Solid, beige head
-Roasted malt flavor balanced with significant hoppiness.

Dogma:
-Sarcastic & cynical
-Star-studded cast
-A bit too much exposition, but it’s Kevin Smith, so what else do you expect?

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