Thursday, March 29, 2012

REC 2 and De Struise Brouwers' Black Albert

So I was a little skeptical about the sequel to REC.  REC was so well done and so perfect as a standalone, that I thought that nothing could be done to improve upon it.  But after seeing this film I think perhaps I was wrong, and maybe all things can be improved upon.  Maybe the Mona Lisa could use a nose job.....or a boob job.  Maybe the Eiffel Tower could be a little taller....or a little less French (as it is, it's a giant anti-American middle finger).   I’ll apologize to France as soon as they apologize for Grey Poupon.  And the beer of beers to pair it with…..Black Albert.  De Struise Brouwers’ Black Albert has become my elusive golden goose.  First acquired by my thoughtful wife after overhearing excited mumbles of its limited quantities in our local beer store, she quickly rummaged the shelves, located, and purchased the $15 bottle of beer (11.2 oz!).  Since that day I have searched beer store near and far but have only once found one other bottle.  And so it shall be for the rest of my life.  I will chase that ghost with such resolve that a lesser man would crumble in defeat.
So REC 2 picks up right where REC left off.  It’s the same evening of the outbreak only this time you have the perspective of a local S.W.A.T. team brought in to restore order (or something like that).  The four S.W.A.T. guys enter the building with a man from the Ministry of Health.  It’s not long before they find themselves attacked and confused.  REC 2 progresses a bit more in the “exorcism” direction and less in the “zombie/infected” direction.  In this film the infected people are jerkier and seem to have powers?  Not crazy magical powers like throwing fire, more like walking on the ceiling or hanging upside down powers.  It was just enough to push it out of the purist’s zombie genre but not enough to make it ridicules.
This film also takes a much different feel from the first.  The first one was focused on fear and escape.  The confusion was part of what made it so mysterious and scary.  But, this film didn’t have that.  Instead, this film focused on action and execution.  For example, instead of running around and screaming (which was scary), our characters are engaged in specific tasks with armor and weapons.  It’s the same difference between The Hills Have Eyes and The Hills Have Eyes 2.  With one it’s civilians that are trying to escape.  Most audiences will relate to the characters in the first film and will have a bond with them.  This makes the movie even more terrifying.  Halfway into watching it, it feels like your running from the mutated people.  When they send in Marines or S.W.A.T. it becomes harder for most audiences to relate or feel pity for the characters.  This doesn’t make the movie any less awesome, it just changes the direction a bit.
There really is no good time to stop and pour this beer.  The movie continues at a pretty constant pace right from the opening scene.  I try to rush and open the bottle between attacks.  I don’t think I’ve ever wrote about the proper way to pour a beer.  I’m going to take this opportunity to share what I feel is the proper way to pour a beer.  For Black Albert I’m using my Great Divide deep tulip snifter.  I pop the beer and immediately pour a few ounces down the center of the glass.  This should make the beer foam up a decent amount.  Depending on the amount of foam and agitation I then slowly pour the beer down the side of the glass, tilting it at a 45 degree angle.  I adjust pour speed to increase/decrease the head until I have all but a half inch of beer left in the bottle.  Now (depending on beer type) I use the remaining half inch of beer to swirl up all the yeast settled in the bottom of the bottle and I pour that into the beer.  This isn’t appropriate for all styles so know your beer!
Now for the tasting notes.  The beer is pitch black, like tar.  There’s a healthy one inch creamy dark brown head that fizzles down to a quarter inch after a few minutes.  It’s viscous and opaque, like a black hole that captures all sunlight and reflects none!  After one sniff I’m intoxicated by its amazing aroma.  Sell my old clothes I’m off to heaven!  Rich burnt sugar and charred malts swirl with ripe fruit like figs, dates, and plums.  There’s chocolate…no….FUDGE!  Bitter chocolate and husky grains are massaged by warm baked bread.  You can almost feel the heat from this 13% abv monster as you smell it.  The anticipation is too much.  I dive in for a deep sip, letting it swish over my tongue.  All of the sudden I’m on top of a mountain!  I’m skiing the Alps shirtless during a thunderstorm and an avalanche.  It’s that good.  There’s the rich maltiness that you would expect from any Russian Imperial Stout, but there’s a lot there that you wouldn’t expect.  I’ve found that with other Belgian style Russian Imperial Stouts the “Belgian” character is overwhelmed by the other flavors.  I’m not sure how De Struise Brouwers did it, but they were able to slam in more malt flavors than any other beer I’ve tried without losing that special yeast character that sends this beer off into the sunset riding its Belgian horse with no name.  Seriously!  There’s burnt sugar, deep roasted malts, blackened barley mixed with chocolate……..FUDGE!!!  It’s got a rich fudgy texture that blissfully sends you into buzzed with a smile.  If you’ve got Sherlock Holmes detective skills and a twenty burning a hole in your pocket than go ahead and seek out this beer!
Three sips and a smile later and I’m back in into that horrifying apartment.  The man from the Ministry of Health is really a Priest sent from the Vatican to stop this epidemic before it spreads.  The rest of the film is spent trying to get the blood of the original possessed girl.  Without that blood there will be no antidote and no cure.  I’m not going to give away the ending but I will say that there is already a REC 3 not yet released in the US and REC 4 is soon to hit theaters in countries that aren’t America sooooooooo the plot goes on!  I found only one fault with this movie.  They spliced in footage from a group of kids that sneak into the house behind a fireman and the husband of one of the women inside.  This part seems disjointed and forced and did little to add to the movie.
There were some wonderful parts that included some supernatural special effects that I was surprised and please by.  Overall this movie was wonderful.  While it strayed a little far from “zombie” it still had all the great elements that a zombie movie has.  Put this one in your must watch list and put Black Albert in your must drink list!

The Beer:
Aroma – 10/12
Appearance – 3/3
Taste – 18/20
Palate – 5/5 
   Overall – 9/10
Total = 45/50

The Movie:
Production – 5/5
Plot – 4/5
Gore – 5/5
 Zombies – 4/5
  Overall – 4.5/5


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