Monday, June 29, 2015

Top 10 Movie & Beer Pairings: Halfway Through 2015

I like my movies like I like my beer, big pitcher. These are two topics I can talk about with non-beer geeks or non-movie freaks until they unfriend me from all social media with tears of boredom stained on their keyboards. So far in 2015 I've seen 41 movies (thanks MoviePass) and I've tried 129 beers (thanks Untappd). 

Here are, in Letterman style order, my 10 favorite movies of 2015 so far, along side their best beer pairings: 

10. Mad Max: Fury Road and SingleCut Bon Bon 2x TNT

Explosions on the screen and explosions in my mouth. That's the theme with these two. Every summer there is always at least one film that is a must see in the theaters. This year its definitely Mad Max. Its a two hour long action packed combination of a fight scene and a car chase. This one definitely won't be as good watching at home. SingleCut's double i.p.a. Bon Bon 2x TNT may just be my favorite beer I've tried this year. It is packed with flavor, its bitterness is present but not over-powering, and it finishes clean without an aftertaste. Much like Mad Max, Bon Bon TNT is much better on tap than bottled. Get your hands on it as soon after released as possible, this as with most i.p.a.'s is significantly better the fresher you drink it.

9. Mommy and Parallel 49 Gypsy Tears

Mommy is a Belgian film about a mentally disturbed teenager and his trouble single mom. The acting was dramatic and evoked shock, anger, and sadness.  It was one of the most original screen plays I've seen this year. Parallel 49 is fast becoming one of my favorite breweries. If you are a pumpkin beer fan don't miss their chocolate pumpkin "Lost Souls" if they release it again this fall, its amazing. Gypsy Tears is smoother than Morgan Freeman's voice and Emilia Clarke's skin. It falls somewhere perfectly in between an amber and a red ale. A great compliment to a sad film. 

8. Jurassic World and Anderson Valley Summer Solstice

Epic blockbusters and summer seasonals go little gimpy tyrannosaurus hand in hand. Jurassic World isn't going to win any Oscar's for best acting or screenplay but its just as big and thrilling as the original. Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice has become one of my very favorite beers and the summer version is just about as good. They have a unique spice that distiguishes Anderson Valley from other seasonals.  I had forgotten just how great their Solstice beers were, just as I had forgotten how fun it is to watch dinosaurs eat people.

7. Pitch Perfect 2 and Other Half Beat it Nerd! 

There are a ton of Pitch Perfect haters, and that's fine, but I laughed my ass off just as much during the sequel as I did in the original. Yeah its bad acting, yeah the story line is far from perfect, but its a super funny comedy during a year of comedy drought so its high on my list. Beside the fact that the name is Brilliant, Other Half brewery's Beat it Nerd is a fantastic i.p.a. It packs a hoppy punch without leaving your face pretzeled in a rough aftermath. Dork out with this movie-beer combo. 

6. Spring and Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale

Go see Spring. It will unlikely be on anyone else's top 10 list, but trust me, see it. The character development for a movie of this kind is unparalleled. WARNING do not watch a preview or trailer for this movie. Watch it without knowing anything about it or it will ruin the experience and honestly it might no longer be worth watching. You'll want to stay sharp for this film so you'll need caffeine but you'll need to also stay loose so you'll need booze. The solution, Peak Organic Espresso Amber ale. A clutch option for a coffee beer in the warmer months when you want something lighter than a stout or porter. 

5. Ned Rifle and Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot 

Remember Aubrey Plaza, that weird, hot girl from The Office? Well she's even weirder and hotter starring in Ned Rifle. This movie is filled with a collection of manic blithering idiots. You won't want to look away for a second for fear of missing something psychotic. So pour yourself a Blithering Idiot before you sit down and start the movie. This barley wine is a sipping brew. Its drinks much like scotch or whiskey served neat. Its strong, yet calming, the perfect companion for enjoying this film. 

4. Wild Tales and Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin

Wild Tales is a compilation of several short stories where the overlying theme is revenge and people completely losing their shit, their minds, and their self control.  Its a foreign film with subtitles, but in case that's a turn off for you let me reassure you that this movie is badass even with the volume on mute.  To fully engage in such a wild cinematic experience you need an equally exciting beer. Ballast Point has packed a spicy habanero kick into their champion i.p.a. the Sculpin without compromising the hops flavor or the overall palate balance. There's no chance of a dull night with this pairing. 

3. While We're Young and Boring Big Yawn I.P.A.

Boring, Oregon, population a solid handful of people. The most exciting things to do there are getting gas and a doughnut on the drive up to a day of skiing or snowboarding on Mt. Hood, or getting gas and a slice of pizza along the drive back home. Despite how boring the town actually is it makes up for it with a killer brewery. I've never had the opportunity to enjoy it on tap, but their Big Yawn i.p.a. is fantastic from the bottle.  My number three film pick is very similar.  It is not a boring movie by any means, but its about a married couple that starts to find their lives getting very stale. They happen to befriend a couple half their age, and things start to get pretty crazy from there. In my opinion its the best acting I've seen from Ben Stiller so far to date. 

2. Ex Machina and Grimm Gradient 

This combo will leave a sour taste in your mouth, in a good way. Ex Machina is definitely the film with the best chance of competing against the end of the year released Oscar contenders for best picture, compared to anything out so far. If you enjoy a good suspense thriller, you'll love this portrait of a modern day mad scientist and his creation of artificial intelligence. I couldn't create a solid list of pairings without including at least one sour beer. Grimm's Gradient is a masterpiece, full of blackberry flavor while maintaining the structure of a beer, this is no St Ides malt liquor fruit punch. The other nice thing about this beer is that it can be training wheels for those of you new to the sour world because it doesn't go full blast level 10 sourness, its more of a level 6. 

1. Inside Out and Small Town Not Your Father's Root Beer

This years most original screen play, most unique concept, funniest, and most star studded film I've seen so far is a cartoon. Its a psychology lesson from the point of view of the different voices in our head, and its hilarious. Watch it with your children, or if you don't have any watch it with your inner-child and get in full character with the right beverage. Small Town brewery's Not Your Father's Root Beer is one of the most talked about beers of the year. And while the debate continues as to whether or not it should really be classified as a beer, the consensus is that its the most delicious way to get buzzed via a root beer that actually tastes just like a root beer. What the heck, go full on kid mode and make it into an adult root beer float, you'll thank me later. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Pimpin' Life Hack #2: The Perfect Excuse to Drink Early

Step 1. Stay calm. Act like its perfectly normal to start your day off with a beer.

Step 2. Give your doubters an American history lesson.

Step 3. Pour your coffee loving company a nice porter, stout, or coffee cream ale. I'd recommend Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, AleSmith Speedway Stout, or Carton Regular Coffee.

Step 4. Say nothing, wait for them to speak first.

Step 5. Bask in the glory of breakfast of champions.

Step 6. Don't over celebrate, if you're with a true coffee addict they'll likely need more caffeine or they'll soon get cranky and spoil your morning shindig.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ending Up In Places You Never Thought To Go: Mississippi

(That hot piece of astronaut pictured above is my girlfriend, I know, I know, we wished we could bring the suit home too)

So the plan was to meet up with friends who were flying in from Portland, Oregon to celebrate one of their birthday's in New Orleans. Which turned into learning that another old friend had recently relocated from L.A.(Cali not Louisiana) to Mississippi, of all places. Her new pad was apparently only a three hour drive to The Big Easy, so a flight-to-road-trip-to-flight was in the works. All of this planning done, and then turns out my Mississippi homie couldn't actually end up getting off from work. But, with a little help from Google, Mississippi was still on the menu when I found there was a NASA space center only an hour and a half from Nola! Boom time, I was going to see some rockets. 

(That's me, crash-landing the spaceship simulator, I must have died at least 4 times)

If you ever get the chance, definitely take a tour of the NASA Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi. Our guide really brought the region to life for us. He had enchanting stories, and not just about rocket ships, but about Mississippi, the people, and the culture.  He told tales of his uncle the moonshiner, and of his grandmother who kept asking him to "go tell them NASA boys they're going to break her good China if they don't quiet down with those test launches."

(A multiple award winning taste of Mississippi next to a photo of the space shuttle launch station)

Now I have nothing bad to say about New Orleans.  The people, food, music, pretty much everything there was fantastic! However, if we're talking beer, and this is a beer blog, so we probably should, Mississippi wipes the floor with them.  We tried over a dozen New Orleans area Louisiana brews from six different breweries. Abita dominated the market so we tried six of theirs. Shout out to Nola for their Hopitoulas IPA which was very good. That said, Mississippi brewery Lazy Magnolia's Southern Pecan was hands down the best beer of the trip. If you try it, let it warm up a bit, there's a world of a difference as the pecan sweetness really pops when its not as cold. 

Moral of this story, if you've never been, go to New Orleans! Its one of the coolest cities on the planet. Take a couple hours out of your trip and explore Mississippi as well. There is just so much culture and personality there; and oh yeah, there's a friggin' NASA space center to explore.