August 3, 2015

Let's Talk About Beer: Evil Twin - Fire Water

I have a few loves in my life. First and foremost my family. But a close second and third are beer and spicy hot food. And at least those two don't hide my car keys after they finish eating dinner in their high-chair.

Most times when it comes to beer and that kind of heat, if you are enjoying them both it is as two separate elements. Beer and BBQ. Beer and hot wings. Beer and some crazy-ass Thai dish that feels like it's burning a hole right through your tongue.

But sometimes the most enjoyable way to consume beer and heat is as a cohesive, single beverage. One of my favorites was the Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale which used anaheim chiles and cinnamon. Now anaheim chiles are not all that hot, so the 11.11.11 was mild but quite enjoyable. On the other end, also from Stone, was Punishment. The heat in that was akin to a nuclear blast and such that you needed another beer at the same time to quell the heat.

I don't find that quite as enjoyable. With beer, the only thing I enjoy in an "overpowering" fashion is hops. When you allow outside flavors to completely take over a beer, I feel like you lose part of what makes beer so enjoyable. The real trick with heat (or anything extra) when it comes to beer is to have one complement the other. That goes for fruit, bourbon barrel aging, whatever.

Which brings me to Evil Twin Brewery and their new release called Fire Water. If you aren't familiar with Evil Twin, it's a gypsy brewery started in Copenhagen, Denmark by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, who has since moved to Brooklyn. If the name Bjergsø sounds familiar, it's because Jeppe has a twin brother Mikkel. Mikkel Borg Bjergso runs Mikkeller. Oh, and because they hate one another.

Fire Water is a pale ale that has had jalapeno peppers added. Now, that may sound intimidating to some but you have to remember that the jalapeno isn't that much hotter than the anaheim chili. So you aren't talking about tear-inducing heat with this beer.

The first taste is that of any finely-crafted pale ale. And then the jalapeno hits. But it's interesting; the jalapeno gives you a hint of sweetness at first. That tails into a heat that isn't overwhelming at all. It lingers on the back of your tongue and while you notice it, it is not an unpleasant sensation. Even as it builds over drinking the bottle, it never reaches a point where it becomes uncomfortable.

Jeppe has really found the right balance with Fire Water. You notice the heat, but it never overwhelms the beer or the experience of drinking the beer. Which is the problem I had with Punishment. This is a good beer to drink while relaxing in the shade on a summer's day or while eating a burger. Or just because you like good beer.

Fire Water is a limited release. So if you can find it, buy it.


Beer: Evil Twin Fire Water

ABV: 5.5%

Style: Pale Ale / Chile

Price: Between $10 - $12 for a 22 oz. bottle

Recommendation: Strong Buy

Review: Time Bandits (1981)

“God isn't interested in technology. He cares nothing for the microchip or the silicon revolution. Look how he spends his time, forty-three species of parrots! Nipples for men!” – Evil Genius (David Warner)

Director: Terry Gilliam

Writers: Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin

Producers: George Harrison, Denis O'Brien, Terry Gilliam and Neville C. Thompson

Studio: HandMade Films

Major Stars: David Rappaport, Sean Connery, Ian Holm, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Shelley Duvall, David Warner, Kenny Baker, Ralph Richardson, Craig Warnock

There are few directors that take more risks than Terry Gilliam. He is uncompromising in what he wants to show and how to show it. His films reward careful viewing and punish the lazy movie-goer. If you only watch Time Bandits with a casual eye, you'll miss out on an unique sci-fi film that is loads of fun to watch.

Gilliam tackles a theme no less than the evils of modernization. From the get-go, we see our protagonist, 10-year old Kevin (Warnock), ignored by his parents because they are obsessed with their television or the latest kitchen gadgets. Kevin is a dreamer, who reads books about ancient Greece and the Middle Ages. After a bizarre dream, he stays awake to see if it was a dream. Instead, a gang of dwarfs fall out of his closet.

They are on the run from the Supreme Being because they stole his map. A map that shows holes in time and space that one can use to travel anywhere. And when the Supreme Being finds them, Kevin joins them as they flee. Gilliam sets all this up in less than 10 minutes, which is how a film should work. It's amazing how many films screw around for 20-30 minutes before they get to the story itself.

The dwarfs are led by Randall (Rappaport). They worked for the Supreme Being until he demoted them, so they stole the map and decided to commit robberies in different times to become rich. Kevin is looking for something else; a father figure that pays attention to him. As they travel through time, they meet various people like Napoleon (Holm), Agamemnon (Connery) and, unfortunately for them, the Evil Genius (Warner). He wants the map to break free from his castle and destroy the Supreme Being, so he tries to lure the group to his castle that is stuck in the Time of Legends.

It's no mistake that Kevin finds the father figure he wants in Agamemnon; it's the time period in the movie most removed from modern technology. Just as it is no mistake that the Evil Genius is obsessed with technology. Gilliam makes the case that technology binds us and denies us our freedom and he hits that theme throughout the movie. Even the ending, as abrupt, shocking and arguably cruel as it is, is about liberating ourselves from technology and embracing the freedom our minds can provide.

There are parts of the film that are genuinely hilarious. Napoleon is obsessed with the height of great military leaders. Warner plays the Evil Genius so well that every scene with him gets a laugh or two. Ralph Richardson, as the Supreme Being, steals the end of the movie with his portrayal of the Almighty as a slightly absent-minded but all-powerful bureaucrat.

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