It’s dusty and on the top shelf. It’s the wonderfully strange, lesser-seen one you’ve been raving on about, perhaps onto deaf ears. Equally, it’s the extra-special, mysterious one you’ve heard rumours about for ages and just know you’ve gotta try but struggle to locate. Your appetite whetted, you want in on the secret and its potent powers. Alas, how do you go about this? Sometimes cult brews are as hard to find as copies of cult films, and that’s why we’ve set you the challenge of navigating your way through the bonafide cult classics of cinema in all their accessible glory—with a sprinkling of good luck on finding the (sometimes) mystery sources of each refreshment pairing, in today’s edgy and delectably demonitive selection.
It could be that you’re partial to trends that shock as much as they delight; fleeting treats that tantalise the senses with their innovation, concoctions that stay with you for days. Perhaps you like to dabble with hops and barley that beg an acquired taste. It’s likely, then, that your cinematic endeavours will also meander slightly rogue from time to time. Goodbye Netflix-abundant Judd Apatow, Christopher Nolan and bodega-heavy Budweiser, Carlsberg; hello names you’ve never heard of but you will enjoy dropping casually amongst your arthouse cronies as you gather for the cult classics arm of your marathon, armed with that exclusive four-bottle pack that’s been barrel-aged in monastic chartreuse and is available to collect by appointment only.
A Clockwork Orange
Beer: Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
Sippy, sippy. The Korova Milkbar is the place where all your worst nightmares are poured, consumed and unleashed on the poor, unsuspecting public in this dark and absurd fantasy thriller. Providing you’re not a sociopath, it’s likely that you will be successfully be put off snacking from the get-go with this one, but you sure are gonna need something stronger than a pilsner to get you through this fantastic but brutal odyssey of delirium and violence. Based on the excellent novel by taboo-troubadour Anthony Burgess and starring Malcolm McDowell as an impeccably-played lunatic sadist, a torturous gang on a relentlessly gross rampage of raping and pillaging is captured and forced to undergo conversion treatment. OK, it’s time to crack one open and take a quenching sip with your poor, old gawking open mouth. This paired stout bears somewhat dystopian characteristics of its own: Proud and cascading slowly, beautifully when poured, it has an in-can widget and leaves a creamy froth atop its brown sugar main body. It may or may not resemble the Korova Milkbar’s drug-laced ‘milk-plus’ cocktail. So take it easy on the Nitro, else you’ll be talking Nadsat (fractured adolescent slang composed of Russian and Cockney rhyming slang spoken by the fictional gang) mid sesh.
Beer: Blue Velvet by Olde Hickory Brewery
In David Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet, college prep Jeffrey Beaumont asks the eager high-schooler Sandy if she’s ever tried Heineken. No, she answers, but her police-detective dad likes Bud. Maniacal, gas-huffing Frank meanwhile enthuses that he only drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon, adding that he’ll “fuck anything that moves.” Isabella Rossellini is divine, Kyle MacLachlan hilarious long before his turn in Sex and the City. Dennis Hopper plays Frank, the nitrous oxide-scoffing sadomasochist who forms the stuff of nightmares in this memorable pastiche of 50s noir glam and 80s thriller—a film so titular in cult circles that a brewhouse launched in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina mastered its own poison and ode to the weirdest film of the 80s, with a nod to 90s brand and merch-mania and the unmistakable freakiness of 90s neo noir.
Withnail and I
Beer: Cumbrian 5 Hop by Hawkshead Brewery
“A pair of quadruple whiskies and another pair of pints, please!” They’re the opposite of lushes, but still, these loveable rogues seem to make their dirty and destitute life of drab London pub-drinking and sudden swanning to borrowed, damp country abodes seem luxurious. It must be something about the received pronunciation and warming Cockney lilts of Withnail (Richard E Grant) and I (Paul McGann)’s highly-quotable lingo and those swishing tweet coats. To be completely honest, you should be guzzling moonshine or lighter fluid to really reflect the style of these unruly protagonists’ drinking habits, but I’d encourage stretching to the lovely golden splendour of this multi hop—Goldings, Bramling Cross, Fuggles, Citra, Amarillo—from Cumbria. A “ceremonial and non-metropolitan county of northwest England,” according to Wikipedia, where our heroes go to sozzle themselves come rain or shine in a loveable British classic. “I demand to have some booze”’ is probably not how to go about ordering your country pub tankards of this marmalade-accented and herbal pour, but most Brits will know exactly where you’re coming from and who you’re quoting and will likely send you away with your own keg especially for your viewing.
Throw a curveball to your Binge Session and go hardcore basic here. Still, this is a controversial, polarizing, titillating, bold and memorable cult classic. I’m just not sure whether to sip or watch as both 1995’s Showgirls and party-girl Corona are just so much. They have both attracted—and lauded—good and bad attention in huge amounts over the years, occasionally making a re-entrance into their respective scenes and having people hands up lovin’ or hatin’ on their asses. Paul Verhoeven’s erotic thriller follows a down and out dancer turned stripper as she becomes entangled amongst various hustlers, lowlives and outrageous characters such as the brazen Crystal Chandelier in 90s Las Vegas. It makes you eye-roll and leaves a tacky taste in the mouth, it’s cheap and it’s colourful and it delivers: fast entertainment that promises nothing of real heft but is so to the point it can never truly gross you out. Get over yourself and get grabbing that last box of Corona at your local bodega for some rip-roaringly, dazzlingly funny dialogue and sex scenes starring our fave, Kyle MacLachlan.
Beer: Westvleteren XII Trappist Ale
Whether or not this pairing selection’s backstory is true—oh, you know, just a casual Trappist monk-brewed ale, which was voted best beer in the world and sold to support the middle of nowhere monastery some 95 miles outside of Brussels—it’s got me shivering in suspense and heading for the European mainland. The plot of this pilgrimage-demanding drink seems as suspicious and daunting as the ballet school where dark corners are rife and strange occultic goings-on disturb its young resident ballerinas. Welcome to Suspiria. It’s over dramatic call for attention slots in perfectly with the intense soundtrack and mind blowing chiaroscuro—that’s light and dark—of the color palette in Dario Argento’s 1977 German-set horror masterpiece. The 2018 Luca Guadagnino remake starring Dakota Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia Goth and the untouchable Tilda Swinton is said to have been such a vicesal filming experience that Johnson went to rehab post-shoot, but I testify that she was just dazed, shell-shocked and numbed from the disaster that was the Fifty Shades franchise, like the rest of us. But that’s for another Binge Session.