Arts & Entertainment

Dowd On Drinks: James Six-Pack

The late Ian Fleming’s super spy James Bond has taken on a patina of sophistication over the decades that makes most fans forget his humble origins.

In the first Bond novel, "Casino Royale," the character who became known for his knowledge and enjoyment of wines and spirits actually drank beer. (Pause here for startled gasps by those reading this sacrilege for the first time.)

The 21st and latest Bond flick, a version of "Casino Royale" that is true to Fleming’s novel rather than being twisted into a serio-satirical comedic mess that went under that title in 1967, has a definite beer tie-in.

Producers not only have the latest Bond actor, Daniel Craig, drinking beer, they have a six-figure deal with beermaker Heineken for a promotional partnership that includes a TV commercial shot on the Bond set featuring Bond girl Eva Green.

Quite a change for Bond who is remembered for some of his haughtier pronouncements. In 1962’s "Dr. No" he turned up his nose at a 1955 Dom Perignon champagne, snootily telling his villainous host, "I prefer the ’53 myself." Then, in 1964’s "Goldfinger," Bond says of a brandy he is served, "I’d say it was a 30 year old Fine indifferently blended, with an overdose of Bon Bois."

And, speaking of beer on film, the American Film Institute might cringe at this one, but the Miami Poetry Review has come up with its list of "The 10 Best Beer Movies Of All Time."

The catalyst for making the list is the current motion picture release of "Beerfest," which, says the MPR, "pays tributes to stupidity and the American pastime of over-drinking."

The AFI, by the way, is the organization of cinema buffs continually coming up with the 100 best love scenes, 100 best musicals, 100 funniest moments, etc. The MPR goes its own way with this beer film list:

1. "The Fatal Glass of Beer"

2. "Three Little Beers"

3. "The Lost Weekend"

4. "Leaving Las Vegas"

5. "National Lampoon’s Animal House"

6. "Blue Velvet"

7. "Smokey and The Bandit"

8. "Beer"

9. "American Beer"

10. "Sideways"

You may not have heard of some of these ("Fatal" was made in 1933 and starred W.C. Fields). Some you may think are about something else ("Sideways" being known as a wine movie). I’ll leave it up to the wags at the MPR to give you their reasoning. Their web address is Click on "film" on the left side.

Also on the brew front, beers and ales from 10 different states took top category honors in the 12th annual United States Beer Tasting Championship in Chicago. A total of 339 beers from 126 breweries were examined across 12 different beer categories. Within each category, the USBTC determined both a Grand Champion and the best entry from each of six U.S. regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic/Southeast, Midwest, Rockies/Southwest, California and Northwest/Pacific.

If you can’t think of 11 different categories, don’t despair. Even the most enthusiastic fan of the brewer’s art might have difficulty. For the record, the categories were barleywine, strong/old ale, imperial stout, stout, porter, brown ale, Scottish style ale, Belgian style ale, Belgian tripel, dark lager, Vienna/Marzen lager and spice beer.

You can get a rundown on the category and regional winners at