Streaming and Suds #25 – It’s a Lemon Party

Crossdrinker: Whiskey Sour - Jessup Farm Barrel House - Streaming and Suds

I can remember my first alcoholic drink. It was back in college when a teammate of mine made me a Whiskey Sour. As classy as a Whiskey Sour can be for one’s first adult beverage, this wasn’t some high-end concoction. My teammate basically made a half and half blend of Jack Daniel’s with one of those sugary, pre-made mixes. There was no shaking involved or ice. Just two ingredients dumped into a cup. It was boozy all hell and sweet, but with enough touch of sour to cut through. For some odd reason, I’ve always held an affinity for the cocktail. On the other hand, my first experience with a beer-like substance was a 40 of St. Ides. That was not as pleasurable.

This moment of reminiscing was brought upon my purchase of Crossdrinker: Whiskey Sour from Jessup Farm Barrel House. Jessup Farm Barrel House, which has connections to Funkwerks, specializes in beer blending and barrel aging. They just don’t use whiskey barrels, but also bourbon, oak, wine, and rum to name a few. If you haven’t been to the barrel house, it is worth checking out. The brewery is set up in a 133-year old restored barn. This gives the brewery and tap room a very rustic yet charming feel.

The Sundance Film Festival in Utah is taking place right now. For those who don’t know, it is the largest independent film festival in the states. The festival has been seen as a taste-maker in the world of cinema. A lot of directors have made a name for themselves at this festival. There have even been Oscar-nominated films to come out of it. Yet, with anything, popularity changes things. What was once a festival that celebrated small-budgeted films has become, some might say, infested by Hollywood.

Even with the large studios encroaching on the event, there are still plenty of small films that screen there. One of the films that premiered there last year was Lemon, starring Brett Gelman. If you are a comedy nerd or a fan of alt-comedy you are probably familiar with Gelman. He’s been a fixture of Comedy Death-Ray Radio (NSFW but worth listening to) and Comedy Bang! Bang!, has a long list of appearances in comedic shows and films, and was recently in season two of Stranger Things. Gelman has a very particular voice (and look) when it comes to comedy, and Lemon is his first starring role.

Crossdrinker: Whiskey Sour - Jessup Farm Barrel House - Streaming and Suds

Crossdrinker: Whiskey Sour: The Basics

Crossdrinker: Whiskey Sour: The Details

This cocktail inspired ale is a blend of an imperial brown and a dark quick sour that is aged in whiskey barrels and fermented with whole lemon puree. I’ve previously done a review of a cocktail inspired ale. That ale was based on a Manhattan, a drink I quite enjoy when made with rye. But as I mentioned before, I have a fondness for Whiskey Sours and I had to see if this beer could deliver.

The tan head on this is monstrous. I waited a few minutes after my initial pour for the head to die down a bit. On my second try I poured slowly, yet the head quickly rose toCrossdrinker: Whiskey Sour - Jessup Farm Barrel House - Streaming and Suds the top. After several minutes of waiting the head slowly receded leaving behind some thick lacing around the edges, and little foam mountain floating in the middle of my glass. The color of the ale is a dark brown. A dark walnut color.

Tart lemons are the first thing to hit your nose. Which makes sense being what’s based on. That was followed up by an earthiness that was sort of musty. After a few more sniffs I was able to distinguish some oak barrel notes, and some hints of whiskey. The whiskey notes didn’t have that sweetness of a bourbon.

On the taste I first noticed to some oaky tannins followed by lemony tartness. There was a perceptible notice of booze that came through. As it warmed and opened up I could sense the malty goodness of the imperial brown ale that was used. Perhaps a little nutty. I also got hints of some sour funk in the aftertaste.

The mouth feel is quite nice. It’s medium-bodied that has a slight fizz on the tongue. While there is some sweetness the ale finishes very dry. There is also a pithy bitterness at the end. I’m assuming that comes from using a whole lemon puree.

Lemon (2017)

Lemon - Streaming and Suds

  • Director: Janicza Bravo
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Total Running Time: 1hr 23mins
  • Rating: NR
  • Availability: Hulu (can be rented on Amazon and iTunes)

Lemon is co-written by married couple Brett Gelman and Janicza Bravo (the director). It is a curious film to say the least. Bravo does a masterful job in creating a visual style on her first feature film, but the life force of it falls flat. This is a comedy that tries to be weird for weirdness-sake. An indy film out indy-ing all the other indy films. The anti-comedy film that doesn’t come back around where the unfunny becomes funny. There are some moments of laughter, but they few and far between.

Gelman stars as Isaac, a failed actor teaching an acting class whose life is falling apart after a break-up with his blind girlfriend (the always great Judy Greer). He fawns overLemon - Streaming and Suds his star pupil, Alex (Michael Cera), while putting down Alex’s acting partner Tracy (Gillian Jacobs). Jealousy takes over Isaac as Alex gets a role in a film, while he’s appearing as the face for Hep C ads and auditioning for incontinence commercials. He also has to deal with his domineering family who all seem to hate one another, yet still celebrate Seder together. Seeking to make changes in his life he begins seeing a make-up artist, Cleo (Nia Long), that he met on an audition.

The affectless performances in this film remind of Napoleon Dynamite (a film I still get angry about). The soundtrack is what you would expect from a quirky indy film. But there are some nice comedic moments. Isaac goes to Cleo’s Jamaican family cookout. There he gets high with her cousins and uncles, and soon finds himself being convinced that he has to help Cleo’s wheel-chair bound aunt escape. At Seder Isaac’s family gathers around the piano as they sing “A Million Matzo Balls.” In the background Isaac’s sister is doing her best Cher impression. Then there’s a scene towards the end involving a cell phone and a toilet. It’s gross and cringe-worthy, yet hilarious.

Overall

Does Crossdrinker: Whiskey Sour come close to its inspiration? Nah, not really. It has those lemon notes you would expect, but there’s more to it than that. If more of the whiskey notes shown through it could have come closer to its cocktail homage. A lighter beer style might have been better suited. But that doesn’t make it a bad beer. It’s a unique and enjoyable beer. I can honestly say I’ve never had a beer like it before. Jessup Farm Barrel House are like mad scientists when it comes to their blends, which makes for an adventurous time drinking.

Lemon might be for you if you’re looking for a more adult version of Napoleon Dynamite. This film definitely seems to be in Gelman’s comedic realm, but it never quite reaches its potential. There are many comedic actors in this film that I admire, and I was disappointed that many of the performances felt off and off-putting (and not in humorous way). I can say that Lemon actually tried to have a cinematic look, and just didn’t let the camera roll as the actors riffed as many jokes as possible. Sometimes you end up being in not the right mood for what you’re watching, and this could be an example of that.

Adam M. Bruns

About Adam M. Bruns

Adam M. Bruns is an award-winning filmmaker (it was a short about a puppet who wants to get a sex change) with an MFA in Motion Pictures and Television from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Besides craft beer, his hobbies include film, TV, comic books, writing, drawing, cooking, and feeling the constant, crushing sense of disappointment from watching his favorite sports teams (the Buffalo Bills, the Baltimore Orioles, and Syracuse University Basketball). Some have called him a modern-day Renaissance Man…ok, that was just his mother.

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