Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Zombie Diaries 2 and Pyramid Dischord Black IPA

I’ve broken into a bright patch of movie watching.  I’m excited beyond all belief because I’ve got a series of movies I’ve never seen to review.  There are five new ones that I got from my wonderful wife for my birthday!  Today’s review is of the movie Zombie Diaries 2.  My faithful readers will remember my review of the first Zombie Diaries movie where I handed out 2 ½ dead hands for the movie and 2 ½ beers for Victory’s Baltic Thunder.  I’m hoping tonight will be different than that dull and exhausting evening months ago.  To ensure things get off on the right foot I’m pairing the movie with a surprising good beer from a brewery I had formerly written off as sub par.  Discord, a black IPA from Pyramid’s spring sampler is that beer!  I needed a case of beer to hold me over until the IIPA I brewed (Infectious Bite Imperial IPA) was ready to drink and this was the best thing I could find for cheap.  Let me get off my pedestal for a second to tell you all that despite my judging and poo poo-ing Costco actually has great deals on great beers.  Oh man I feel dirty.  Okay to the movie!
Immediately some of my skepticism is washed away.  I was lulled into a false sense of security by the original Zombie Diaries cover and have since learned never to build up a movie based on cover art alone.  But Zombie Diaries 2 has very good camera and sound quality while maintaining that raw feel of a first person point of view.  They are able to capture the realism without making you seasick and nauseous.  The film follows a group of army reservists who are documenting the situation in the months following the outbreak.  This movie is still a low budget movie and there are a few holes in the plot but off the bat I’m pretty impressed.
The beer is Pyramid’s Discord.  I love black IPAs as they are one of my favorite styles of beer.  They can have a great range of alcohol content, IBUs, hoppiness (not the same as IBUs or bitterness), and body.  I’ll take this opportunity to go on my hop rant!  For those that don’t know, IBUs are International Bitterness Units and while they are a good measure of bitterness of the beer they don’t tell the whole story.  When during the brewing process the hops are added to the beer plays a huge role in the way they flavor the beer.  For example just a half ounce of high alpha acid hops at the beginning of a 90 min boil will give over 3 times the IBUs as if there added in the last 10 minutes of the boil.  However, bitterness is not the whole story.  A beer could be very bitter without being very hoppy.  The essential oils of the hops are very volatile and boil off when cooked for long periods of time.  This means much of the flavor and especially aroma are lost during the boil.  Here’s a good example.
A 5 gallon batch of 1.055 OG beer (approximately 5% abv) with 2 ounces of Chinook hops in the first 90 minutes of the boil and then not hopped for the rest of the brewing process will be INCREDIBLY bitter but without noticeable hop flavor or aroma.  IBUs would be about 126.75 (it’s said 100 is the most IBUs that can go into a beer).

That same beer with 3 ounces of hops throughout the last 15 minutes of the boil and dry hopped on a massive 4 ounces of hops will be full of that sticky resiny hop goodness without being overly bitter.  Bitterness will clock in at about 58.24 IBUs.
Why do I go on about this now?  Because, I find the above facts to especially important for black IPAs.  American IPA’s have been pushing the boundaries on how much hops you can put into a beer even to the point of making high power, super bitter beers that are way out of balance but wonderful for what they are.  A Black IPA is trying to do something different.  The best Black IPAs are trying hard to be Russian Imperial Stouts and Double IPAs without being too much of either.  There’s a fine line where the hop portion of the Double IPA overshadows the roasted matliness of the beer.  And there’s a line where the malt is too much and doesn’t let the hops stand out.  For the best example of this style of beer try to find Midnight Sun’s XXX or Oak Aged XXX.
Before I dive deep into my review of the beer let me tell you a little more about the movie.  Special effects are miles away from the first film.  It’s not Dawn of the Dead 2004 but its good!  There’s plenty of headshot splatter and the makeup is pretty good for low budget.  To keep with the “hand held” camera theme they splice in the occasional footage of people in bio suites and Army personnel rounding people up, separating them, executing them, and burning them.  It’s a creepy little trick that really worked.  I even liked the characters.  The film has no name actors that could have been people you went to high school with.  But that’s the beauty of it.  It’s very real.  It makes the good guys more relatable and the bad guys more frightening.  This movie does a lot with a little and I’m really impressed.
I’m also impressed by this beer.  It’s not the best Black IPA I’ve had but it’s certainly not something I expected from a giant like Pyramid.  Yes I just called Pyramid a giant.  That makes Dogfish Head look like Philip Morris!  You know how I know they’re big?  Because when you put the word “Pyramid” into google and hit “I’m feeling lucky” instead of getting a websites about ACTUAL PYRAMIDS…….you get the brewery!!!  Oh those amazing things that Egyptian slaves built thousands of years ago…no no no I meant the beer.  But I digress.  According to the website this beer is only available between February and March and is brewed with 2-Row Pale, Munich, Black Malt, Carafa II and Crystal malts, and hopped with tons of Nugget, Zythos, Mt. Hood, Falconer’s Flight and Cascade hops, bringing our stats to 6.5% ABV and 69IBUs!!!
It pours a deep dark brown with a light tan head that fizzled away after a few minutes.  The aroma was forcefully hoppy but not a “punch you in the face” hoppiness like some IPAs.  There is a nice layer of citrus and pine above noticeable toasted malt background.  The taste is where this beer really kicks me.  It’s got tons of grapefruit, and nectarine but also a dry biscuit like flavor.  The roasted malts mesh perfectly with the hops like ballroom dancers on my tongue.  It’s got medium body and enough alcohol kick to things up and make your cheeks rosy after a couple of beers.  The beer is well crafted and well rounded.  It’s not quite as intense as I normally like my black IPAs but it’s incredibly drinkable and very satisfying.  I would put in the same category as New Belgium’s 1554.
The things that made the first Zombie Diaries movie good made the second one even better.  Yes a few scenes were trotting down and already beaten path.  Despite the a few “wait a minute they did that in the first movie” moments this movie really makes its mark as original and disturbing.  In the first Zombie Diaries film I was shaken and physically sickened by the way surviving humans are portrayed as the biggest danger.  For days I walked around with a false sense of security in the moral fortitude of my fellow man.  But the more I thought about it (and I thought about it for weeks) the movie was right.  Tragedy and disaster can in some cases give birth to heroes.  But, it can also turn normal people into monsters.  The movie has a really twisted evil “Lord of the Flies” type feel.  But it was realistic.  I loved the ending.  It really tied everything in and hit me with that last devastating blow to faith in people.  This is a movie for people who are tired of zombie movies like the “Day of the Dead” remake where a couple of kids and a little ingenuity can control a zombie outbreak.  This movie is real and raw!  Not for the faint of heart!

The Beer:
Aroma – 8/12
Appearance – 2/3
Taste – 16/20
Palate – 3/5
Overall – 7/10
Total = 36/50

The Movie:
Production – 4/5
Plot – 4/5
Gore – 3/5
Zombies – 3/5
Overall – 3.5/5


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