Movies and beer have long been part of day-to-day business at Asheville Pizza and Brewing’s mothership location on Merrimon Avenue. But the brewery/discount cinema/pizzeria is giving that concept a twist in April when a new weekly series of beers will debut, each of them paired with a vintage comedy film.
The idea started when company President Mike Rangel wanted to celebrate National Humor Month, says brewery spokeswoman Anne Fitten Glenn.
Along with its usual lineup of second-run features, the Merrimon location has offered special movie features, sometimes in honor of the anniversary of a film’s release or the birthday of a star or director. Recently, the theater has had one-off screenings of Shaun of the Dead and the Woody Allen comedy Manhattan. Rangel says those shows generally pack the 145-seat theater.
With the list of classic comedies finalized, the company’s brewers went to work, coming up with recipes that would match the films. Most of the Asheville Brewing crew knew the movies well, Rangel says.
Finally, Asheville Brewing turned to its customers, who submitted potential names for the beers via Facebook and Instagram. More than 1,000 responses poured in. “It was a lot of fun going through them,” Rangel says. The chosen names creatively reference a line or a character from the films. Winners received a $40 gift card, two tickets for the show and two Asheville Brewing T-shirts.
The films will play on Thursday nights in April, and tickets are the same as always: $3 a person. Showtime is 7 p.m. Movie tickets are now on sale at the bar for all four films.
The beers will be on tap at both the Merrimon location and the downtown brewery on Coxe Avenue. Only 7 barrels of each beer were made, Glenn says. For customers who want to take some home, growlers will be sold.
The series begins April 6 with The Princess Bride, first released in 1987, directed by Rob Reiner and starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, André the Giant and Christopher Guest. The story follows a young farmhand who must rescue his kidnapped love.
The beer for that film is Ashe Brew Wish, named by Geneva Green out of 400 entries. It’s a passion fruit sour blonde made with a touch of rose hips and is 5.9 percent ABV.
Next on April 13 is Fast Times at Ridgemont High with Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Judge Reinhold in a coming-of-age story about wild Southern California students. Cameron Crowe wrote the book on which the film is based after going undercover at a San Diego high school and later wrote the screenplay.
The new beer that week is Aloha Mr. Hand, named by Andre Rodriguez and JP Teague out of 170 entries. It’s a pineapple cream IPA with a coconut water infusion and weighs in at 6.2 percent ABV.
The series continues April 20 with 1998’s Half Baked, starring Dave Chappelle and Jim Breuer in a tale of stoners who sell marijuana stolen from a lab to raise funds to bail a friend out of jail after he accidentally killed a diabetic police horse by feeding it junk food.
Its tie-in beer is Abra-Kolschdabra Hemp Pale Ale, named by Ryan Webb out of 180 entries. The brew was made using crushed hemp seeds and nugget hops.
The series concludes April 27 with 2004’s Napoleon Dynamite. Jon Heder, in his feature film debut, stars as the title character, an eccentric 16-year-old who lives with his unemployed older brother and dreams his days away when he’s not tangling with bullies. The film led to a short-lived animated series on Fox.
The brew for the final film is Tater Tot Saison, named by Jenn Webb out of 300 entries. It was brewed with a Belgian yeast blend and malts including pilsner, Vienna and flaked wheat, then hopped with Centennial, Lemondrop and Citra, and finally dry-hopped for extra aroma. Asheville Brewing head brewer Pete Langheinrich describes it as having “a nice balance between tart and smooth.”
Another movie and small batch beer series is planned for September. Rangel is unsure what the film genre will be, but is currently considering science fiction or action-adventure.
“This was fun, mixing beers with movies,” he says. “People can forget how much better it can be to see a movie on the big screen with like-minded people.”