Saturday, 29 June 2013

Review: Beer Hunter The Movie


For several years I've heard of the Beer Hunter movie being in the making, I watched clips that were available online, one of the most interesting of them the cab driver clip.

This clip really shows what kind of person Michael Jackson were, and it triggered my curiosity towards this film project that seamed to be never ending. And then one day social media updated me. After all these years finally the film was finished and a screening was set up. Being rather busy myself at the time I called my co-writer Kjetil and told him to get in touch with the director John R. Richards. That resulted in this excellent interview (link) and that again resulted in me deciding to try to get some local bars to screen the movie. You can do the same by ordering a screening DVD here.

So it just turned out that Mikal Tengesdal of Melkebaren in Sandnes were the first to get ahold of the film, and that's how we ended up arranging the Norwegian premiere of Beer Hunter: The Movie - The Story of Michael Jackson at Melkebaren June 24th 2013.

This is Mikal Tengesdal owner of Melkebaren.


The material I had seen on the net varied a bit in quality, and it seams like the movie had been filmed with several different cameras, no wonder thinking of how many years there were between the oldest and the newest clip. So that put aside I expected a close look on who Michael Jackson really was. I expected something that was clearly an independent DIY movie, a labor of love. Michael passed away in 2007 and there are still movie trailers for this film on youtube saying "coming in 2010" at the end. So I was really curious to see what it had become. And as a lover of independent movies and DIY culture (Do-It-Yourself), I was really into supporting John R. Richards work.

People enjoying the movie at Melkebaren.

The film:

The film starts out with mostly old clips from 2005 and gives you an up close and personal view of Michael as we follow him on his travels around the world, visiting breweries, tasting beers and at festivals. I don't really want to spoil anything for anyone. But we meet a Michael who is somewhat of a character, with his wild hair, witty comments and never ending thirst for beer. Now all that sets the stage for what I would call the "In memoriam" part. Where the movie talks more of Michael Jackson's legacy. There's no denying of the importance of Michael's work and the movie really shows that. You can argue that the quality of the sound mix and image isn't 100% throughout this movie, but that's not what this is about as far as I see it. This is John R. Richards doing the best with what he got from his journeys with and without Michael. Many of the scenes were probably only meant to be published through the Rare Beers Club, online or on cd-rom. So don't expect any super HD.

For a craft beer lover and a beer geek it's very insightful to see this inside look at the world of commercial craft beer brewing. John gives us a behind the scenes view throughout the movie, something that seams very fitting. But even if this movie is about Mr. Jackson it's also a movie about John, who has worked on this project for 8 years now. The 15-minute beer break in the middle of the movie was perfectly timed, so everyone could take a wiz and grab another beer. There's no doubt that the beer world lost a great star when Michael Jackson passed, but I'm very pleased to see the likes of Sam Calagione, Greg Koch, Garrath Oliver & Tomme Arthur paying their respects to this man and his work.

Haffy, Mikal & Kjetil after the movie.


The conclusion from me is that if you're a craft beer geek you have to watch this movie. It's a warm and heartfelt look behind the scenes of the last years of Michael Jackson's life. A man that no doubt lived by the beer and will live on in the hearts of brewers and beer drinkers for decades to come. I would also like to thank Mr. John R. Richards for persisting to complete this movie and never giving up, I can't imagine that it was an easy road to walk. So gather your beer geek friends at a local pub or at the local brewery and arrange a screening. Grab some great beers, maybe some of Michael's favorites? At our screening the beer program was Anchor Steam Beer, followed by Chimay Blue and for the finale Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. I think most of the 30 people that showed up at our screening had a really good time cause the atmosphere was great, at the end of the movie the room was filled with applause before everyone went on with their lives. After all the screening was on a Monday...

No coincidence...

So how does one rate this? I prefer the simple Roman way: Thumbs up!

Mikal Tengesdal of Melkebaren had the following to say about the movie:

"Beer Hunter Movie: A movie about the last few years in Michael Jackson's life, my opinion is that he was a well respected guy with great knowledge in not only beer but also on whisky. That he also got Parkinson's was new for me and he hid that well, and still he had such a busy life, that was really impressive. I thought it was a nice movie and it was nice to see how well respected he was with the big brewers like Garrett Oliver and Sam from Dogfish among others."

Thanks to Mikal and Melkebaren for being apart of this screening!

- Haffy

PS I want to leave you with this sweet little clip from the film, it will put a smile on your face...

More clips and trailers here: Beer Hunter Movie Youtube Channel

Friday, 28 June 2013

Interview: Mikal Tengesdal of Melkebaren

The Milk Bar as it's called in English is getting better and better. And I'm not talking about the milk bar from Clockwork Orange where Alex gets his drug laced milk drinks. But even if there aren’t any knives in the drinks they serve at the milk bar in Sandnes, I'm sure you can find something that will sharpen you up! I still remember my first visit some years ago as a young "beer hunter", I wasn't sure. But now there's an ever-bigger focus on quality products and knowledge, the bartenders are even educated in beer, and that makes it a joy to order refreshments from the bartenders at Melkebaren. After talking to Mikal for a while it strikes me that this is a man with a vision, and I know that this won’t be the last time that us in Die By The Beer talk with Mikal for this blog.

As a facebook friend Mikal and me usually interacts when Norwegian law is the topic, to be specific alcohol law. Sandnes is at the edge of the bible belt of Rogaland, and the enforcers of the law follow a strict and old fashioned line over there. It's the typical way of a small town right? Even though Sandnes isn't that small, come on! Even under all this pressure from the rule riders in their little town, Mikal and Melkebaren has managed to make a name for themselves, and that speaks volumes. Especially when Mikal does all he can to follow those laws. Mikal is definitively not jumping on the "The end justifies the means" bandwagon, and I respect him for that. Even though I probably wouldn't do the same in his shoes.

There's no point writing any of the stuff Mikal talks about in the video interview, so without further ado here's Mikal Tengesdal the owner of Melkebaren in Sandnes... (Applause)

As always, please watch in max resolution, head-bang to the intro tune and rate, follow, comment and so on if you support this blog!

- Haffy

Friday, 14 June 2013

Darwin and Beer

How beer proved the theory of evolution and destroyed god!

Beer! The beverage of the gods. For millennia it has been drunk to get close to the spirit world. Medieval monks drank it to get closer to god. Vikings drank it before battle, glorifying the day they would fight, eat and drink in Valhalla. The Romans made it. The Egyptians perfected it by their standards, the Babylonians was the “first” and their hymn to Ninkasi, the goddess of brewing, also is the first written recipe for beer in recorded history written some 4000 years ago, though brewing goes even further back in time.

Grain was the first domesticated crop that started the farming process somewhere between 10 000 to 15 000 years ago. Along with carefully planned agriculture came the importance of information; when to sow, harvest and store seeds for next year’s crop. The written language was a result of the need to store this information. Symbols came first, then more complex letters and sentences. With the written language came knowledge and wisdom, math, history, economy. The folklore, myths and the mysteries of nature and the universe could also be written down, even if they were mostly wrong. Grain laid the very foundation for all civilizations that ever was, and ever will be. The hunters spear became a finger in the sand, a chisel against hard rock, a knife carving wood, a pen against paper, a binary code. But how do we know this? Where does this information come from? From the written language off course, and through different translations of historic documents, paintings, hieroglyphs and archaeological findings we can track human civilization back to the very beginning of it. Using empirical evidence (knowledge acquired by means of observation or experimentation), the history reveals itself separating myth from fact (though this can sometimes be a hard nut to crack, and especially when religion is involved.)

So, back to beer. The ancients might have known how to make beer and wine, but they did not understand the process of which turns liquid bread into an alcoholic beverage. Their take on it was to keep the liquid at a right temperature, use grains that were ready to sprout and then time would do the rest. Actually up until recent history we knew nothing of the process which takes place on a microscopic scale in the fermenter. Not until the French emperor Napoleon III (nephew to N. Bonaparte) asked the famous chemist and fellow chees eater Lois Pasteur if he could find out why some wines would be spoiled and taste worse than others. To make a short story even shorter; what unveiled itself when Pasteur looked into the microscope was a new world of microorganisms that would change biology and our look on the natural world completely. This was back in the mid-19th century, and it didn`t take long before wine and beer and breweries could produce a better quality product with a more stable production. It not only had a huge impact on the breweries, but also on medical microbiology which have changed how humans live, living longer and healthier lives.

What Pasteur discovered was yeast; a unicellular microorganism that uses organic compounds as a source of nutrition, and do not need sunlight to grow. Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (ale yeast), being the yeast we are talking about here, turns hexose and disaccharide sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol, among other things. Saccharomyces Pastorianus (lager yeast) is the bottom fermenting yeast, yet the difference between those two are S.P`s ability to turn certain disaccharides into more fermentable monosaccharaides. Other than that they are more or less the same species of yeast. There are of course other types in which I`m not going further into.

Several yeasts strains, in particular Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (ale yeast), have been widely used in cell biology and genetics. This is largely because S. C. is a simple eukaryotic cell (all multicellular organisms are eukaryotes, including humans), and is used for the study of fundamental cellular processes such as the cell cycle, replication, recombination, cell division, and metabolism, in short terms how the cell works, but most importantly it is also the first eukaryote to have its entire genome fully sequenced as part of the Genome Project. Considering it consisting of 12 million base pairs, the project took years, but was extremely important finally leading to the Human Genome Project identifying and mapping the approximately 20,000–25,000 genes of the human genome.

Darwin would have been proud. What this study did was to map the entire DNA sequence of each chromosome in the organism. Today this has been done on humans as well, and now we have hard solid facts about what makes us tick, and not to mention where we come from giving doctors a better chance to fight diseases like Alzheimer and cancer. Even though the theory of evolution, as revealed in Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species that came out in 1859, was a well-established fact, with empiric evidence supporting if from many fields of science, the Genome Project put the final nail in the coffin of the last god (who turned water into wine) in a long line of dead gods. We know now that that wine probably was a bit sour and spoiled due to our friends the microbes, and possible the perpetrators were Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus.

We can trace our species back in time from a complex human body to what must have been a single celled organism around 3, 7 billion years ago. We can see what genes we share with other animals giving us a clue to how animals evolve, which genes are active and which are not, all thanks to beer, or at least the little bugger that’s responsible for the process that takes place in the fermenter. As the brewer says; the brewer only sets the conditions and the guidelines for the beer. It`s the yeast cells that actually brew it.

So next time you feel like opening the bible or some other religious mumbo jumbo for some moral lectures on other peoples sexuality or sinful behavior, have a beer instead, say a stout. It won`t roast you for your sins, but it might give you a roasted after taste with some hints of bourbon, coffee, vanilla and chocolate, full bodied and a nice buzz.

- Kjetil

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Visit to Bryggselv Stavanger

Bryggselv is Norway's leading homebrew shop, they were started back in 2010 by Erik Schønsee. And now finally the shop in Oslo isn't the only one, cause May 4th this year a shop in Stavanger was opened. So I decided to pay them a visit to get the story from their own mouths. As a long time costumer of, I think Bryggselv have the best choices in malts, yeast and hops and also by far the fastest and friendliest service in Norway. It also helps that their prices are very competitive. Whenever I've needed some brewing advice, they have gladly helped me out and saved my brewday. So I'm really happy to have Bryggselv open a shop just down the corner from where I live.

The location of the shop is leased by Villgjær homebrewers Atle Eikenes Hansen & Nils-Henrik Stokke. And the hired help is the forever smiling homebrewers from Boulder Brewing; Hege Pedersen Ingebretsen and Aleksander Baustad. In this video you'll get to know all of them except Nils. I know it's a bit funny to hear a bunch of Norwegians speaking English to each other, so damn it if you're a non-Norwegian living in the Stavanger area and reading this. Take this as your call to pay Bryggselv a visit and to learn how to brew yourself. If you're a girl or a woman and think this male dominated environment seams scary, do not worry, Hege will be there to help you get started.

Now get your ass down to Verven 24 B and get started, it might be slightly tricky to find the door but if you look between the motorcycle club and the dive shop you'll find a little shop of awesomeness...

- Haffy

Please watch this video in full screen and with max resolution!