I’ve never been to Oregon, but I feel as though I have. There was the time I spent a summer in the Puget Sound right after college. The scenery in that region wasn’t far off from what I know about Oregon. My record and beer collections are loaded with representatives from Oregon. I even own the first season of Portlandia. I’ve never been, but I think I know Oregon a little.
First and foremost, it’s a great piece of film-making. It’s a simple road trip story featuring a young couple. There’s plenty of story there even without any dialogue. The boy tries to entice the girl into his van with his banjo. She’s pissed at him for some reason but eventually relents. Obviously, she’s cool with it. She’s just not quite sure where it’s all going.
Eventually, inspiration hits and the couple maps out a trip that will allow them to see all the landmarks featured on Deschutes labels. What results is a trip where they learn more than the value of craft beer. No, the beer epiphany isn’t the only discovery for the couple.
The story is sweet even with the not-so-subtle inclusion of the Deschutes labels and corresponding landmarks. Craft beer is bigger than beer or the beer industry. There are the aforementioned epiphanies, but more importantly there is craft beer’s relationship to life and living. The time and expertise that went into brewing the beers the couple drink in the short are greater than the effects of throwing back a few cold ones. This is something handmade yet magical that becomes a part of their story.
Anything artisanal has this advantage over anything corporate or industrial. Where the makers of industrial, rice-adjunct lagers have done all they can to strip personality from their products, breweries like Deschutes have multiplied and exploited it in order to keep that human element in beer alive. Beer is a living, breathing thing that enriches our lives with pleasure in the form of aroma, flavor, mouthfeel…and a little booze doesn’t hurt either. The personality and humanity in every bottle is a part of those moments and experiences that shape. Why fill that time with watery domestics?
The film says all this to me. Of course, I’m a bit more attuned to such things as these are my obsessions, but filmmaker Chris Hornbecker has a knack for finding the magical in images of humanity. This sweet love story/beer ad isn’t the only example of his craft. Check the Wolf Parade (RIP) video for “Yulia” as evidence that he is not a one-hit wonder. From what I’ve found using my expert Google search skills, he’s a photographer whose eye is incredibly adept at capture just those perfect moments you’ll never see in a Budweiser commercial.
The music didn’t escape me either. I knew the band, but I didn’t know the band. Turns out that it’s a song, “Beach House”, by a Seattle band called The Cave Singers. Born out of the ashes of the now-defunct-yet-beautifully-named Pretty Girls Make Graves, The Cave Singers combine authenticity with expert storytelling to make “Landmarks” a truly compelling and universal story. You know, that moment in a young relationship when neither person is sure what’s happening or where it’s all going… Then, there’s that moment when one or both take a chance. Discoveries are made and love flourishes.
The music beautifully captures the sense of discover Hornbecker is trying to convey. That kind of discovery is rarely associated with keggers of industrial lagers. It’s never at the bottom of that can of Natty Light. This kind of humanity and relationship fits better with something that takes as much care as the artists who wrote, directed, shot, and performed such a lovely piece.
I don’t know that Deschutes’ arrival in my state two weeks ago could cause this same sort of discovery. Aside from the things I experience raising my daughter, a lot of discovery is starting to escape my grasp. That’s where the soulfulness of things like craft beer and indie rock enrich my life a bit.
Deschutes’ beers are full of soul. I could be a sucker for marketing, but every beer of theirs I’ve had has not disappointed. The ephemeral quality of a Deschutes beer, whether that be the roastiness of Black Butte or the crisp, floral aromas of Hop Henge, they always deliver a sense you’re tasting something memorable, something real.
The cynics among you will point out that I’m going over the top with this Deschutes video thing, but I’d argue that you’re not allowing yourself to enjoy these moments. I’m talking about the moment a song hits you in a way that you just want to play it over and over. Or that time a truly great craft beer fist reached your palate. What about that moment you smiled uncontrollably at the moment a film took you back to a time when you truly fell in love?
Maybe this describes Oregon. It more than likely does not. Still, it’s nice to think that there’s an Oregon like this out there. Thanks Deschutes for making some pretty great beer and thanks for commissioning this short film. You made my week.
1I love Stan’s blog and he’s one of the most thoughtful and generous
beer bloggers there is. However, I can’t help but be a little disappointed at the comments celebrating the fraction of a second the female character’s breasts are exposed. It was a lovely moment that was completely lost by a couple of his commenters. That’s fine if they got their rocks off on a little nudity, but I suspect they’d miss the importance of that same moment if it happened right in front of them. This kind of shit makes me loath the boy-dominated beer scene and worry for my daughter… Then, I have a beer and I don’t care anymore. It won’t ruin my enjoyment of this nice piece of art.
Granted, Goose Island is now owned by a decidedly non-craft beer brewing company, but it’s still craft beer. The video below captures that craft beer spirit and pairs it with an obvious Sufjan Stevens track. If only all craft brewers would do this sort of marketing. I could get behind a Stone promo with The Soft Pack playing in the background or maybe a Portland brewer paired with The Thermals. Sufjan Stevens now lives in Brooklyn, but his music probably shouldn’t be used for any brewery outside of Illinois or Michigan. Music about a locale should go with beer from that same city or region. (H/T BeerNews.org)