For those of us who are fans of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies, this past winter the Extended Edition box set was released on Blu-Ray and DVD. These movies were previously available as stand-alone extended editions, but I decided to wait for the box set to come out before buying any of them versus buying them separately like I did with The Lord of the Rings. As a way to further promote the theatrical release of The Battle of the Five Armies in late 2014, Central City Brewing in Canada and Fish Brewing in the United States won the rights to release Hobbit-themed beers to celebrate the movies. Finally, hop heads and Hobbit heads could join together and rejoice over some great beers while reliving over 9 hours of extended edition Middle Earth glory.
In this post, I’ll give a breakdown of each beer paired with an extended edition movie and give my thoughts on both. Although I’ll try not to spoil too much of the extended pieces, it’s safe to assume that this article contains at least a few spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen the movies. It’s been a while since I’ve read the book, so I won’t make reference to it or even get into a book vs. movie argument, but one can safely assume that these beers could pair up nicely with the print version as well. If you are still interested in trying these specific beers, you may be out of luck but I’ve given some great substitution suggestions at the end of each pairing if you’d like to give them a go anyways.
The Hobbit Extended Trilogy comes with all three movies and six extra discs loaded with bonus footage. Everything from crew experiences, to battle scenes, and interviews and candid footage of the actors is on these discs. Admittedly, I haven’t watched all of it, but I really did enjoy the breakdowns of the battle scenes where they talked about how they were filmed and the process they went through to get the shots they wanted. The beers I have were the Central City ones, which were the same recipes as the Fish Brewery versions, save the Gollum Precious Pils which was brewed traditionally as a 5% abv (alcohol by volume) Pilsner instead of the Imperial strength 9% abv version from the USA. Rumor had it that the head brew master in Central City preferred the more traditional version and requested to brew that instead of the Imperial one.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Paired with Gollum Precious Pilsner
I’ll start by saying that there is some warranted criticism on the slow start to this movie, but as bit of a Hobbit head myself I still enjoy watching every minute of it. With the extra 13 minutes added to the movie, there’s an important plot point or two revealed early on in the film and some scenes that really add of lot of character and explanations as to the complicated relationship between the Dwarves and the Elves, both culturally and specifically with Thranduil. Much like the extended editions of The Lord of The Rings, I felt these extra minutes added a bit more to the storyline and lore of the world and enhanced this specific arc to the overall story. If you feel like the 2 hours and 49 minute version was too long, those added 13 minutes might not add much, but if you enjoyed the movie, then this is a nice enhancement and in my opinion the best version of the movie out there. Oh, and did I mention there’s Dwarf bums in it?
The nice thing about the lower alcohol version of the Pilsner is that it’s easy to drink a couple bottles while watching the movie. Since there are some slower parts you don’t want to be drinking anything overly heavy if you want to make it to the end without a little beer snooze. This movie largely focuses on character building while we get to know the Dwarves more as a company and Bilbo manages to find his courage by the end of the show, so the beer really helps set your palate to appreciate Peter Jackson’s approach to storytelling in this film. The Pilsner has a simple herbal and lemon aroma with hints of hay that are all featured in the flavour with a slightly crisp finish and bitter aftertaste, still tasting pretty good for a one year old beer of this style and showing only hints of staleness. Gollum Precious Pils pairs perfectly with the incredibly and haunting riddle scene with Gollum and Bilbo, which to me was the highlight of the movie. Like the creature Gollum, it hints at the once intelligent and nice Smeagle with a clean approach while showing the truly obsessed tortured creature in Gollum that we see much more of in the LOTR trilogy in its more complicated insides and bitter finish. If you’d like to mimic this pairing and can’t find the beer, try Pivo Pilsner from Firestone Walker or Prima Pils by Victory Brewing as excellent alternatives to the style since they’ll mimic this pairing quite nicely.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Paired with Smaug Stout
The second movie of the Trilogy in my opinion was a good split of filler movie and pure awesome film making, rounding it out to a pretty great movie at the end of the day with by far the best CGI rendition of a dragon I’ve ever seen on the big screen. Smaug was perfect in every way and the interaction between the dragon and Bilbo (and the dwarves) was by far the highlight of the entire Trilogy for me. I’ve watched those last 30-40 minutes many, many times and I’m still enthralled with each pass. Everything from the movement, the facial expressions, and finally, Benedict Cumberbatch’s hallowing voice made it perfect and worth the price of the box set alone. The extended version includes 25 added minutes of footage to the existing 2 hours and 41 minute movie. It includes a very interesting and comedic scene between Beorn and the Dwarves that should have been included in the regular cut, as well as a whole lot of dizzy Mirkwood scenes that I could actually have done without. Beyond that, a few scenes are extended and then, poof out of nowhere, we learn the fate of Thráin, tying up some previous storyline dialogue and the fate of many Dwarven rings of power. Again, most of these add to the experience of the movie, but I found the Mirkwood parts a bit prolonged and pointless, so it was a bit of a tossup as to whether or not the original cut was better.
This movie, as titled, is all about the journey to fiery and destructive Smaug and the eventual confrontation with the Dwarves. It seemed fitting to pair it with the habenaro spiced Smaug Stout, which so happens to be an Imperial strength 8.5% abv beast of a beer infused with habenaro chili peppers. The craft beer has flavors of black licorice, cayenne, chili powder, dark coffee and dark chocolate with hints of caramel all while coming through in a surprisingly balanced fashion. I’d say the best way to enjoy this beer is to pull the bottle out of your fridge at the beginning of the movie to let it warm up closer to room temperature. About 45 minutes in, start to sip on it slowly while saving the last gulp for the memorable finishing dialogue “I am fire, I am death” finale, which so happens to quite likely be how you’ll feel after such a strong, balanced, potent beer. As Smaug belts out flames of death, your mouth won’t be too far behind when the habenaro peppers kick in! As an alternate, you can seek out a locally made chili beer or another spicy stout like Rogue Sriracha Stout which will recreate the same fire feeling in your belly.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Paired with Bolg Belgian Style Tripel
The third movie is a bit of a thrill ride, mixed in with some frustration, sadness, and a whole lot of war action. Much like the third installment of the Lord of the Rings, the battle scenes here are phenomenal and a pure pleasure to watch. Tied into these are some great showdowns between sworn enemies, so this is why I chose to pair the movie with the Bolg Tripel, which is a Belgian Strong ale that packs a big alcohol punch. In the extended edition, we are treated to an added 20 minutes of footage on top of the shorter 2 hours and 24 minute original release that includes a lot of cut battle scenes and sequences that continued the tradition of the previous movies’ quirky dwarven fighting style. As well, we actually get to see some of the “good” armies fight each other before all orcish hell breaks loose on them. I can’t fathom why these scenes were removed from the original cut, other than to appease a shorter film request. They were excellent additions to the final Trilogy installment all while adding a bit of fun to an otherwise serious movie. Scenes that likely took days and days to film were added in or extended, not just small plot points to round out the story, so if you buy any extended edition version at all, be sure to make it this one as it is excellent!
Overall, the Bolg Belgian Tripel is strong like the Gundabad Orc himself, at a mighty 9.5% abv, doused in an impressive logo and ready for consumption. It has fruity pear aroma with hints of toffee and caramel while featuring a boozy flavour that highlights big notes of toffee up front with a warming coriander and clove finish that’s quite bittersweet, much like the end of the movie. It’s a fitting beverage that balances the sweetness of victory, the strength needed to endure in battle (liquid courage), the warmth of a strong ally, and the bitterness of loss in war. The beer is very potent in strength, so don’t rush this one, instead savour it over the battle scenes and ultimate demise of Bolg himself. Good alternate choices to this beer are Westmalle Tripel which is an authentic Trappist Beer or La Fin Du Monde by Uniebroue, which is quite fitting for this movie as well and is an amazing beer in itself.
Pairing beers with movies is always a lot of fun, so I encourage you to share any other great ones you’ve tried and why you thought it worked well in the comments below!