Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Beers of SNL

Saturday night marks the season premier of Saturday Night Live. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it's not as good as it used to be. People have been saying that about the show since it began. It's the same as it always was, you just remember the good things, you block out the rest and forget that the 3 things you remember from a particular season took place over the course of 25 shows. That's what I love about the show, you just never know when a "More Cowbell", "Ambiguously Gay Duo", "Lazy Sunday" or "Wayne's World" are going to happen. With each show, you really just hope for one or two funny skits, a good bit on Weekend Update and maybe a laugh somewhere else along the way. All the while, maybe the next skit is going into the pantheon of great skits. With the DVR you can knock out an SNL episode in 45 minutes.

So that's what I look forward to with each new season, one or two great skits, a couple of screwups and some decent political satire (politicians do a pretty good job with that themselves nowadays, amiright). But, the premiere each year also brings you new cast members (though I don't think so with this season). Which of the new people is going to be the next Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Phil Hartman or Chris Farley, who's going to stick around forever and who's going to be so awful they just disappear sometime mid season? These are all questions that will be answered over the course of the season.


Drinking a wide variety of beers as I do, is much like digging through an SNL season finding out who the stars are and who the duds are. So with that in mind let's come up with my favorite SNL cast members of all time paired with my favorite beers I'll be enjoying regularly during this upcoming television season. Note: The SNL cast members are rated in the order of their greatness, the beers are not. Also, this list is based only on their work on SNL not any subsequent work such as "Best Defense", "Jingle All the Way" or "Jack and Jill".

Jon Lovitz – Goose Island Sofie
Lovitz is probably a controversial pick, but he was an excellent cast member. He wasn't that valuable, he wasn't one of the glue guys that you couldn't do the show without, he would just make it into one or two sketches a week, but he was excellent in every one and could usually do something to get a laugh. Sofie isn't an everyday beer, but has a very specific purpose with a great meal or fun evening sitting around the house sipping on a great sour beer. It's not quite the one of a kind that Lovitz is, but it's my choice for a light sour beer.

Andy Samberg – Tallgrass Halcyon
I've gone on and on about Halcyon and I freely admit it's not a great fall or winter beer. But, sometimes you just want a beer that's light that you can drink 4 or 5 of in one night. Samberg is just as light as Halcyon, he's not going to do any hard hitting political satire, but he's going to strike a silly or light note that's sometimes needed.

Norm MacDonald – Sam Adams Octoberfest
Norm MacDonald's reign on the Weekend Update during the OJ trial may have been one of the greatest 3 or 4 months in the history of Saturday Night Live. His jokes during that period eventually got him fired by OJ's buddy, Don Ohlmeyer, but he went down swinging. I loved him on Weekend Update, but he also killed with the Burt Reynolds on Jeopardy skits. Sam Adams Octoberfest is also only great in the one venue, the Fall, but it dominates the fall months for me. When I think of Marzens, I think of Sam Adams Octoberfest.

Adam Sandler – Firestone Walker Double Jack
Maybe it was that I was the perfect age when Sandler was on SNL, but I don't think I looked forward to seeing anyone in a skit than I was to see Sandler. Everyone only remembers the one Canteen Boy with Alec Baldwin as the scoutmaster, but that was one of the greatest recurring skits SNL has ever done. And I may be the only person that found the O'Herlihy boy skits funny* and they're pretty much lost to history, but those were kind of perfect sketches for the show. Speaking of perfect, Firestone Walker Double Jack, the best double IPA you can buy in KC. Like Sandler was on SNL, it's the star of double IPA's in the area and is something to look forward to.


John Belushi - Left Hand Milk Stout
Belushi did everything in those early seasons, he was a glue guy. But he was also the star of the show with great, big characters that had a touch of sweetness. Left Hand Milk Stout is the star of the stouts for me, at least the everyday stouts. And since the temperature's going to dip, stouts become even more important. Milk Stout is important to have around when you need a heavy, big flavor but with just a touch of sweetness.

Eddie Murphy – Lagunitas Brown Shugga
The Eddie Murphy era on SNL is unlike any other. Murphy's era is the only one that Lorne Michaels had nothing to do with, the show was run by Dick Ebersol in those years which is why much of the Eddie Murphy era doesn't get shown on clip shows. In any case, Eddie Murphy dominated the show. It was built around him and why shouldn't it have been? He was one of the few people to ever have been a movie star while they were on the show. He was also the #1 comedian in America at the time. Without Eddie Murphy, SNL would be a long lost memory. Brown Shugga is my star of the winter months (it should be available in a couple of weeks and last through February). I drink it more than anything else and it's so good that it's probably the beer I most look forward to. And like Murphy, without Brown Shugga, Lagunitas might not be as prevalent in KC as it has become.

Bill Murray, to me, is the best of the kinda silly crew (like Sandler or Samberg or Carvey). I don't think he carried much political clout, but he was just so funny in everything. He could make anything funny. Like Murray, Little Sumpin' Sumpin' is so good it makes wheat beer, a lighter beer, seem great and as substantial as any other beer.

Will Ferrell – Boulevard Tank 7
Will Ferrell was in so many sketches in his era because he could do anything. He could be the star of a sketch or just a background character. He could be the straight man or the punch line. He had no boundaries. That's what I think of with Tank 7, something I always want to have around to go with a meal, or to be what I drink while watching a movie or what I serve when someone comes over or what I want to bathe with, whatever floats my boat any particular day.

Chris Farley - Boulevard Sixth Glass
Farley was just so big on SNL, I guess he couldn't help but be big. But, he was also so good, he could be a secondary or tertiary character in a scene. But, he really shone when the spotlight was his. The Chippendales dance contest, Matt Foley or Bennett Brauer were all great sketches/characters that no one but Farley could pull off. Like Farley, the Sixth Glass is just so big, it could play a secondary role as a dinner pairing, but it really shines as your primary focus in an evening when you sit down to watch a movie. 

Phil Hartman – Lagunitas Censored
For the most part I don't like impressionists, they might amuse me a little bit, but they're generally not my cup of tea. But Phil Hartman was funny as an impressionist unlike anyone else in the history of SNL. But, he was so much more than that, which alone would have put him in the top 10. He was capable of playing anything and did so perfectly. I don't think his highs were as high as some of the top 10, but he was in so many skits, making them better, he was invaluable to SNL. Like with Hartman, I was a bit skeptical about Censored. It came to town in the second wave of Lagunitas beers and it was the one in that wave that I was least excited about. Now, it's one of my favorites and it's so versatile. It goes with nearly any meal, it's great to just sit around to drink, it's great as an outdoor beer, it's great in the summer, it's great when it's cold out. If I were to build my beer fridge around one beer, I'd make it Censored just like if I had to build an SNL cast, my first pick would be Phil Hartman (you know, if he was alive).

I'm sure that you'd probably  pick a different 10 people or different 10 beers. Everybody's list is going to be different. But, this is what I'll be drinking during this network television season from the bad shows I watch to SNL. Some honorable mentions go to Mike Myers, Kristin Wiig, Billy Crystal, Dan Ackroyd, Great Divide Hoss, Boulevard Long Strange Tripel, Boulevard Bully! Porter and Founders Double Trouble.

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