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Beer and a Movie: Dracula A.D. 1972 and Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale

Welcome to the first in a new series of indeterminate length and frequency. In Beer and a Movie, I will pair two of my favorite things and review both.

The movie:

Dracula A.D. 1972

The Beer:

Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale

Regular readers of The Movie Advocate will know that I typically don’t give a shit about vampire movies, with Lost Boys being the main exception. The whole vampire thing just never clicked with me. However, I love Christopher Lee. He’s one of my favorite character actors, and I’m happy to watch him chew scenery as Dracula. Dracula A.D. 1972 is a Hammer Horror movie, which means that the cinematography and directing are well above average and it has awesome hot red blood.

The story opens in media res as Dracula is engaged in a brutal fight atop a stagecoach with Van Helsing. Dracula is done in and buried. Flash forward a hundred years to our set-up, Dracula being brought back to life in Swingin’ London.

If the set-up sounds familiar, that’s because it’s remarkably similar to Blackula, which also came out in 1972. I doubt that one was ripping off the other, but a better name for Dracula 1972 may well have been “White Blackula.” In practice though, the plot of Dracula plays closer to Blacula’s sequel, Scream Blackula, Scream; as a considerable portion of the movie deals with the elder vampire toying with his young impressionable underling.

Dracula A.D. 1972 hits all of the early 70’s genre movie clich├ęs. There’s the club scene, the completely forgettable rock band, and Crowleyan black magic. The difference is, they’re done rather well. As Dracula terrorizes London again, he must do battle with Van Helsing’s granddaughter, who is one of the hippies who unwittingly raised Dracula from the dead.

The first time I had Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale was a couple of weeks before the movie. I didn’t actually intend to order it. The bartender didn’t understand me and brought me one of these instead. It was a lucky mistake. I wasn’t sure if my initial enjoyment of the beer had to do with me being on vacation, not paying for it, or drinking it in the middle of the day as I watched a game of the NCLS, so I had to try it again to make sure. The ale comes in a 4 pack for the price of a 6 pack, don’t let that stop you from trying it though. The Nut Brown is well worth the extra cost, and it’s a fantastic autumn beer.

Most brown ales I’ve had recently have a very sugary aftertaste. I mind this less than a lot of people. Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown doesn’t share that distinction. Conversely, while there is a definite nuttiness to the beer, it is held in balance by the beer’s other flavors. I could taste the alcohol to a surprising degree on my first drink of the night; this was kind of unusual due to the relatively low ABV level of 5.0%. Again, I was somewhat surprised to the extent that I liked this beer, just like with vampires, I typically don’t go out for Nut Browns.

In many ways, Dracula A.D. 1972 is the perfect movie to enjoy with one of Samuel Smith’s Nut Browns. The beer has been brewed since 1758. I would reckon that Dracula as portrayed in the movie was definitely alive then, and could very well have popped over to Yorkshire for a pint. Like Christopher Lee, the beer appears to be very distinguished and refined in self important packaging with Victorian styling. Like Lee’s respectability being undermined for being an eminent horror actor, so too is this ale just a lowly beer. Like Dracula A.D. 1972, the Nut Brown may not be mind blowing, or even particularly interesting, but the only surprises were pleasant ones. Both movie and beer were very pleasing, comfortable, and well-crafted.

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