Editor’s Note: I’m posting this at 30,000 feet using United’s wifi. It was as close to space as I could get. Also, technology is amazing. Shout out to Louis C.K.
I saw Star Wars for the first time when I was in eighth grade. I was home sick, and my parents worked so my dad rented all three on VHS (VHS!) and told me not to get up unless I was changing the tape. If you don’t remember 8th grade it is a vulnerable time for a young man. Shit is changing, and you’re still not sure you want it too. Plus High School is just around the corner, and anyone saying they weren’t nervous about that was a lying sonofuvabitch. We were all searching for our inner Force even if we didn’t know what that meant yet.
In recent years the phenomena of May 4th being celebrated as a holiday has sprung up. As in, May the Fourth Be With You. If you haven’t seen the movies you probably still get the joke. This year, Blind Lady Ale House opened up special at 3pm to screen all three original movies, and tap Ninkasi’s new beer Ground Control Imperial Stout. Ground Control is a bit different from any other beer you’ve ever had in one very unique way. The crazy bastards up in Oregon sent the yeast used to brew this beer up into blue, past the ozone and into space. If there was ever a beer to drink while watching Star Wars this is it.
Myself, another Bearded man and one Un-Beard showed up at BLAH right at 3pm. There wasn’t a huge crowd which kind of surprised me. I realize not everyone can go out on Monday afternoon, but this was Star Wars…and beer. Most of the people there were wearing related movie paraphernalia, and a few even had Vader masks. There were a few dads with their son’s which seemed pretty cool. The movie was on a pull down screen in the dining room and two TV’s in the bar area. We got chalices of Ground Control and settled in near the popcorn machine.
Our location was poorly chosen. The popcorn machine was like a beacon of light in the space darkness attracting passer-byers of all shapes and volumes. This was definitely not a theater rules situation. Yes, we could see all three screens but we were also continually being distracted or having our view obstructed by popcorn-eaters. Rookie BLAH mistake. Won’t happen again. When the movie started there was some applause, then groans as it skipped and went right to blue screen. Moment’s later after some advance technical skills employed by the bartender (wiping off the dvd on his shirt) we were back in business. All was right with the force.
The crowd continued to grow casually. By the time Han showed up on-screen, to cheers from the crowd, there was almost a full house. BLAH isn’t set up as a movie theatre so the sound wasn’t great, but there is something endearing about watching a classic film in a classic bar. No one was at the bar accidentally. No matter how different we looked, how far askew our political views or sports team preferences, how much of a stranger we may have been we were all connected through Luke, Leia, Han, C3PO, R2D2 and Vader.
The Ground Control Imperial Stout was a dangerous form of strong. At 10.5% ABV it packs a punch that is noticeable at first but by the third or fourth sip goes down smooth and easily. It is meant to be sipped over time, enjoyed, cherished but it is so easy to drink that may be hard to to do. Despite the space yeast the beer didn’t help me defy gravity via levitation or increase my Force abilities which was a bummer. I’ll give it a pass considering it is the first space beer Ninkasi, or anyone, has done, but next time I expect levitation.
By the end of A New Hope BLAH was packed. The after-work crowd of Star Wars & beer fans had arrived. It wasn’t just nerdy young men, but couples and families as well. It felt like a community. We had reached our limit of Ground Control imbibing and also safely transporting ourselves so we left during Empire.
It has been 20 years since my first viewing. I still watch Star Wars at least once a year. They still hold up. Besides just being great movies they also remind me of that time in my life as a sick eighth grader. I remember how every teen moment felt like the biggest thing ever, and how cool my Dad was for renting me Star Wars. Next year I hope to be at Blind Lady Ale House again. I may have to buy a Vader mask. May the fourth and the Force be with you. And also with you.