BEER CLINIC :: Oscar Pairings

by Dr. Carol Westbrook on January 22, 2014

The Academy Awards 2014 nominations for best picture were announced a couple weeks ago. I am trying to see all of them before the winners are announced at the Oscar ceremony on March 2. So far I have seen almost all of them, accompanied by popcorn and a coke. They are all so good that I plan to see each of them at least once more. But I’ll wait until they are available for home viewing on Netflix or on DVD, when I can kick back and enjoy them with a cold beer–and popcorn of course.

To those of you who plan to do the same, here are the beers that I recommend for each of these wonderful films. I’d like to hear your beer picks, too. Enjoy the movies!

imagesAmerican Hustle
A classic American story of con men and political corruption. What pairs best but a classic American IPA? There are so many excellent ones, including drafts from the nearby microbrewery. For bottled beers in this genre, my picks are:  Harpoon’s Harpoon IPA, Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, and Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA.

Captain Philips
For this true yarn of captains and piracy, I would drink what captains drink. Boston Lager, of course, from Samuel Adams Brewery. I would imagine that pirates drink Guinness stout, from a mug of course.

 Dallas Buyers Club
Of course we will be drinking a classic Texas craft beer when we watch this film. And what says “Texas” more than Shiner Bock? A malty, America-style dark lager, flavored with German hops.   You can drink this one from the bottle.


imagesFor this movie we want a low-gravity beer, with a sweet finish. That means a low alcohol wheat beer, flavored with spices and fruit. There are many choices, and most are summer beers. Here are some suggestions: Bell’s Oberon, a classic wheat beer flavored with orange. Kona’s  Wailua Ale, a wheat beer brewed with passion fruit.

Scarlett Johanson’s voice won my heart as Samantha, the intelligent operating system who is all woman.  This calls for a girly beer that is sweet and light, like Samantha.  Among the multiple options are Festina Peche, Dogfish Head, a 4.5% Berliner Weisse flavored with tart peach; and Pineapple Kolsch, from Cigar City Brewing, flavored with (you guessed it) pineapple, and only 5% ABV.


indexBudweiser, Coors or Miller light. Drunk from the bottle.  As they do in the film.

This movie is a human interest story that starts in England and ends in the US.  The perfect pairing is New Belgium’s Fat Tire Amber Ale, which is a classic American craft beer that was inspired by a trip to Europe.  According to the brewers, the beer has “a sense of balance and…. pairs well with people,” as does Judi Dench, the leading lady who has been nominated for Best Actress.

12 Years a Slave
For this film we looked for a beer that was strong, but required patience to age, and was preferably from the South. Lexington Brewing Company’s Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale hit the spot. This beer is aged for up to 6 weeks in freshly-decanted bourbon barrels, and is very strong (8.2% AV) with a marvelous finish, like the movie.

The Wolf of Wall Street 

imagesHarsh, over-the top, full of foul language, and thoroughly entertaining. We need a very hoppy double IPA to drink with this film. Stone’s Ruination IPA, at 100+ IBUs and 8.2% ABV, was the obvious pick. An alternative suggestion is Dogfish Head’s 90 minute IPA, at ABV 9% and IBU 90.



Dr. Westbrook’s invaluable book, Ask an Oncologist is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

admin February 6, 2014 at 9:37 am

Josh Smith from Bell’s Brewery writes:
“Thank you for … including our beer in your post. I do want to point out though that Oberon is not flavored with oranges in any way. The citrus notes come from not only the hops used but also our house yeast.”


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