Movie stats: Feel-Good Family Drama / 1993 / Warner Bros.
Brew stats: India Pale Ale / 7% ABV / Fremont Brewing – Seattle, WA
As a 90s kid, Free Willy was one of those magical movies that illustrated everything from adventure and nature to complex family themes in a really cool, somehow relatable way. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t an orphan and had no Killer Whale friend of my own to jump over me in a moment of majestic glory — for an hour and 52 min, I basically was young Jesse.
Re-watching the movie as an adult is a different, but still thoroughly enjoyable, experience. Especially with a beer in hand!
Sure, you could go straight 1990s Pacific Northwest and choose a Rainier, but Free Willy’s surprising depth calls for a more complex beer like Fremont Mod Pod IPA. It’s not anywhere near as old as the movie (Fremont Brewing itself is just over 10 years old), but it’s a local Pacific Northwest favorite.
Speaking of locale, the movie was actually filmed mostly in Oregon (and according to IMDB, Mexico!?), but it totally takes place somewhere in the Seattle area. Just like the waters of the Puget Sound (where our boy Willy was frolicking in the beginning of the movie right before he was kidnapped), Mod Pod also pours a bit hazy.
And the pairing goes beyond that. Again, the movie is from the 90s. Ignoring the obvious issue with evil whale-killing aquatic park owners (pretty visionary considering this was way before Blackfish), this cinematic Seattle region is still ruggedly fresh and untouched by Amazon and big tech.
Mod Pod may be a contemporary beer, but it has lushly juicy citrus flavors and a sprinkle of pepper spice that call back to when craft brewers were only just getting started with unique IPAs (well before Milkshakes and crazy fruit / pastry additives). The flavors simultaneously seem to both capture a sense of nostalgia while maintaining enduring modern appeal. Just like Free Willy.
And the can has an orca on it!