Ultimate 6er | Summer Movie Beer Pairings
As we inch into the sunny days of May, the impending summer vacation for teachers beams like a beacon of hope, eclipsing the flickering fluorescent lights and mounting stacks of ungraded papers. As teachers, my wife (Sarah) and I use the summer months as we did as children – as a time for relaxation and recreation (albeit with supplemental jobs and some mandatory professional development trainings scattered about). But we travel, stay up a little later, work in our garden, and try to cram everything into that brief span when students aren’t around.
This post was Sarah’s idea, and she helped me create this post of our six most quintessential summer flicks and the beers that you should drink while watching them. These very good beers have some tenuous connection to the movie, which I will try to briefly explain while not spoiling these segue-to-summer masterpieces.
Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
Arrogant Bastard Ale | Stone Brewing Co.
Movies about teens are not complete without a popular asshole to hate. William Zabka, typecast as “the jerk” in most 80s teen romps (“The Karate Kid”, “Just One of the Guys” and “Back to School”) surrendered this role to a younger generation in the 1990s, but no one really filled the role properly until Peter Facinelli took on the role of Mike Dexter in this movie, which is why we pair it with Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale. Like Mike Dexter himself, this beer will kick your ass if you don’t give it its proper respect, but when taken in moderation (one 22oz-er) will get you through the movie and the evening feeling great.
The Sandlot (1993)
Gumballhead | 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
No activity, not even barbecuing or porch drinking, says summer in the old U.S. of A. like baseball… and no movie captures the love of baseball along with the innocence, adventure, and imagination of adolescence like The Sandlot. I remember playing backyard baseball with wads of Big League Chew that would barely allow for audible speech to be uttered. As a kid, a good wad of gum was almost as important as a glove and a hat. As an adult, nothing goes with baseball like beer. In this case, Three Floyds’ Gumballhead, a hoppy wheat treat that will have you reminiscing about the good old days in no time. You need to watch this movie and you need to try this beer or you will regret it… FOR-EH-VER.
Dazed & Confused (1993)
420 Extra Pale Ale | SweetWater Brewing Co.
Richard Linklater’s homage to 1970s high school life became a rite of passage for my generation. With a great classic rock soundtrack, I can’t hear songs like Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” or Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out For Summer” without conjuring scenes from this movie. This movie makes you want to go out and party, and this beer is perfect for that. A delicious and refreshing pale ale that is not too high in alcohol and not too overpowering on the malt, hops, or sweet fronts. This is a session beer, like Dazed and Confused is a session movie, good to finish and repeat many times over.
American Pie (1999)
Hopslam | Bell’s Brewery
This movie came out as just after I graduated from high school. The music, the clothes, the conversations, the people all resembled some part of my high school experience. (Everything except of the prom. Why are proms in teen movies always so unbelievably awesome? Any why do they always have amazing bands and choreographed dances?) The premise is four dudes trying to lose their virginity before they graduate high school, not exactly high art, but by this time of the school year I don’t need something that I have to think about. The movie is set in Michigan, so I’ve paired it with one of Michigan’s best craft beers, Bells Hopslam. This beer is released right around the beginning of February, and if you planned well you might still have one or two left over in May to enjoy while watching this film. This beer is too hoppy to chug and too good to want to, so any inclinations you had of reliving the high school days by breaking out the old beer bong will be soon curbed.
Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
Blue Paddle | New Belgium Brewing
This movie is hit or miss with some people. The movie has an all-star cast, and if you like the Stella-brand of humor (Michael Showwalter and Michael Ian Black) this summer camp melee is absurd, raunchy, and wonderful. One particularly ridiculous story line revolves around a rafting trip and saving a boat full of campers. Blue Paddle (reviewed by Tristan on Monday) fits with both the content and the spirit of this movie: the paddle obviously goes with river excursions and summer camps in general, but it is the off-beat spirit of New Belgium Brewing that makes this pairing so perfect. Looking specifically at Blue Paddle, they’ve crafted a beer that turns the typical American pilsner on its head and mocks what it stands for by blowing it out of the proverbial water in terms of quality. Bravo to both beer and brew.
American Graffiti (1973)
Blonde Ale | Mt. Carmel Brewing Co.
Before George Lucas was cruising the galaxy with Han, Luke, and Leia, he was cruising the strip in the SoCal suburbs with teens of the 1960s. This movie, though taking place as the summer comes to a close, encapsulates the freedom of having a car, the complications of relationships with the opposite sex, the power of the radio, and the absence of any semblance of responsibility associated with adult life. One of the main story lines revolves around Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), spends the evening second guessing his decision to go East for college, while being harassed by a gang of greasers who want to initiate him, amidst chasing down the blonde of his dreams who is cruising the town in an elusive white T-Bird. Mt. Carmel’s Blonde Ale accompanies this movie perfectly because whether Curt gets the girl or not, this tasty Blonde is refreshing and zesty. Perfect for a sipping a few cool ones at the local drive-in (deprived if you don’t have one close by) or in your AC watching the flick from the comfy confines of your couch.
We had a tough time getting this list down to six. Feel free to add your summer classics on in the comments section…and pair it with a beer if you choose.