Shredder (2003); Bayern Brewing Groomer Winter Marzen

First a little fear…

In this troubled world of ours, there are conflicts that have raged for years, decades, even centuries.  Israel and Palestine have waged violent battle that has long teetered on the edge of full scale war.  The Chinese Emperor built a wall 4,000 miles long to keep out invading Huns.  More recently, tensions have begun to openly erupt into violence between the Western World and certain Middle Eastern factions.  But behind all of these, there was once a far more serious battle that was played out on a yearly, seasonal basis in every corner of the civilized world and quite possibly in your own backyard…skiers vs. Snowboarders.

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 Things started off innocently enough…skateboards had really come into their own and this got people thinking “what better way to slide down a hill than sideways?”  But not so fast; hills had always been slid down face-forward…could the two ever see eye-to-eye?  Well…I suppose we now know the answer is yes.  Once unthinkable, terrain parks at your local resort are now used about 50/50 between the snow sports and when the Olympic Games embraced both sports, it could only mean the feud is over.  But I miss those days…the days when winter adrenaline junkies were at odds and battle lines were drawn.

“Two plank wanks!”, rose the cry from goggled goons with “4:20” stickers on the front of their snowboards.

“Out of control knuckledragers!”, came the fevered reply from neon decorated Nordics.

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 They were the best of times, they were the worst of times.  Shredder is set right in the middle of those turbulent “Who owns the hill?” times; when resorts either had “No Snowboarding” signs posted in their lots to keep out the beer swilling, green haired freaks or had to deal with the backlash from stuffy, spoiled season ticket holders complaining that their ski tips were getting scratched in line for the lift.  But in Shredder, the war of snow sliding has taken an all too serious turn.  A turn that leads to murder.  That’s right folks…a lunatic is on the loose; his edges are sharp and he is ready to carve.

A group of teenage snowboarders (I know…just hang in there), are heading to an abandoned ski resort.  Apparently, the father of one particular rich-bitch type is thinking of buying the place and has decided the best way to scout out his investment would be to have her and some friends “shred” the place for awhile and get a feel for the hill.  But what they find is not your usual run of the mill abandoned ski resort.  Not by a long shot.

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 First, is the fact that this is one of those “yeah, it’s been abandoned for years, but everything still works if you flip this one switch and, oh yeah, we left everything you could ever need behind in case anyone comes by years from now and might want to buy the place” sort of abandoned lodges.  Second, however, is the fact that this lodge comes with one other added surprise.

A murdering skier!  Gnarly!

This skier, clothed in a pitch black ski outfit that a Nordic Ninja could be proud of, is bound and determined to put an end to the meddling kids once and for all.  Linked to a tragic event triggered by snowboarders in the past, this psycho is out to make sure that these boarders follow each and every one of the “Skiers Responsibility Code”.  No…seriously…that is the motivation behind the murdering rampage.  You see, these boarders just don’t yield the right of way and ski within their abilities the way that they should.  Now they must die.

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 And die they do…one by one, in some mildly interesting ways, but for the most part, just like the teenage victims in every other slasher film you have ever witnessed.  A few chops of an axe, a tightly stretched cable across the ski runs, a good, old-fashioned hanging, and a few other yawn inducing deaths are all overshadowed by the completely horrible acting and “Worst Of The Year Award” winning dialogue.  The cast is ridiculous (a Disney voice-actor, an ex Power Ranger, a “Saved By The Bell: New Class” alum, and some daytime soap talent), the acting is bad even for them, and the basic premise and script for the film are mind-numbing.

Worst of all, is the fact that the slew of “extreme” sports films of the last couple decades have all at least featured the crappy actors being replaced by professionals during the scenes in which they perform their sport.  The idea here is to make the viewer believe that the character you see is actually a good participant of his/her sport.  Spoiler alert: Vin Diesel doesn’t really jump motor-bikes and para-sail off cliffs…or…I don’t really know what else, I’ve never actually watched one of those ridiculous XXX films.  Shredder does not let itself be hindered at all by this convention, however and instead chooses to cast people who cannot in any way actually snowboard, and then in the snowboarding scenes replaces them with what I’m guessing are supposed to be “actual” snowboarders…who can barely snowboard themselves.  If at all.

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 All of this together leads to the same conclusion.  This is the sort of film that, seriously people, just does not need to be made.  With the exception of the time in which it was made lending a bit to the relevance, there is no justifiable reason to have taken the time and resources of making a film and squandered them on this sort of flick.  But, will you care? Probably not.  If you are still reading, you are most likely either a skier or a snowboarder.  If this is the case, you have already decided that you will have to see this movie, and the more I make it sound horrible, the more you probably will want to see it.  I know this, because you are like me.  I began snowboarding around 23 years ago (long enough to have been around when snowboarding was not accepted or supported in any mainstream way and was the overwhelming minority), and I simply had to watch this film.   You will too.  It is okay, I understand.

If for some reason you have made it this far and are not a snow-slider?  Turn back now, there is nothing here for you, and not even the inside humor of this horrific portrayal of both snow enthusiast’s sports will prove interesting to you.

…then a little beer!

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Bayern Brewing Groomer Winter Marzen (5.3% ABV) – Missoula, MT

So what do you drink while watching a slasher flick set on the ski slopes?  Why Bayern’s Groomer of course!  What better than a brew originally brewed to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Montana’s Snowbowl Ski Resort, named after a snowcat that levels off the mountains runs and is released seasonally during the “ski season”.  Off to the bottle shop I went!

Now, Bayern is renowned for its authentic Bavarian brews (known as “the only German Brewery in the Rockies”); and when I say authentic, I mean it.  Bayern follows the strict, nearly 500 year old, code of the Reinheitsgebot…the German Beer Purity Law.  Amongst other things, this legal restriction stated that the ONLY ingredients allowed in the production of Bavarian beer were water, barley and hops.  While I am not here to argue the merits or restrictions of such a thing, suffice it to say that in today’s crazy craft beer climate of experimentation, rule bending and borderline whackjobery (why can’t it be a word?), this is a serious commitment.  I was VERY excited to check out this seasonal offering from such purists…

…and it is a pretty decent beer.  I know, I know.  All the hype and I say it is just “pretty decent”?  Well, it is true.  There is nothing particularly stand out about Groomer, and if totally truthful it is a bit of a twist on a marzen style (this is to say, a bit off-style).  When taking my notes on this one, what kept coming to mind was “easy-drinking” and while this is not a bad thing at all, it is unfortunate that it is the most notable quality of the brew.

Groomer pours dark mahogany brown; significantly darker than your traditional Marzen’s copper color.  The head is a half-inch of cream colored foam that had little retention before diminishing to surface lacing.  The aroma was spot on what I was expecting from a Marzen…bread, toasted malts, caramel and sweetness.  Under it all was a sort of grassiness from the hops.  While the aroma was pleasant, it was also very unassuming and light.

On the tongue, light molasses and brown sugar hits first with an impact almost as light as the nose.  There is a definite nuttiness with smooth caramels riding on the back of pervasive grains.  What I don’t find here that is often a characteristic of the Marzen style is any toast and breadiness.  The flavor exits with a light but spicy hop note that sits on the tongue…this was a surprise, as I was expecting a malty aftertaste and lingering sweetness.  Again, Marzen?  Not 100%, but the flavors are pleasant and the beer is, here we go, easy drinking.

I hate that in this world of beer we often get so fixated on labels and styles, but if you are putting out some amazing Bavarian brews as your specialty and moreover, have decided to do so in the most strict, traditional ways…  While Groomer might not be an exemplary example of the style, or an exemplary beer for that matter, it is quite approachable.  I could see a beer such as this serving as a great choice for someone that isn’t completely sold on the German/Bavarian lager styles.  It is very unassuming, and in that meekness Groomer is going to have a broad appeal for many.

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