02 Mar Joe Sixpack: Star Trek-inspired suds
Beer me up, Scotty.
And not just any beer will do. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the landmark sci-fi TV adventure, Star Trek has its own series of brews produced by a small group of fans based in, of all places, Vulcan, Alberta.
In recent months, the group — which calls itself the Federation of Beer — has worked with several breweries to produce sudsy tributes to Star Trek characters. Among their portfolio: The Trouble With Tribbles, a blond ale named for one of the program’s best-remembered episodes; and Red Shirt Ale, brewed in honor of the brave and predictably doomed men and women who donned red uniforms on ill-fated landing expeditions.
The latest is Klingon Imperial Porter, a strong, dark ale made by New York-based Shmaltz Brewing that just arrived in the Philadelphia market.
Licensed brands are nothing new in the beer world. Over the years, beer makers have turned out bottles of J.R.’s Private Stock, 4077th M*A*S*H Beer and Three Stooges Curly Light. Mostly, these beers were intended for collectors and eBay re-sellers; the liquid inside was an unremarkable afterthought.
Not any more. Beers made in honor of Game of Thrones, Star Wars and the Hobbit, for example, were all well-received by even the most particular palates.
Same goes for Star Trek beers.
“Just like the show itself, creative quality was our first goal,” said Vern Raincock, one of the founders of the Federation of Beer.
“If you look at the big picture, Star Trek has been around for 50 years,” he continued. “You’ve got some fans who are in the 70s, and others in their 20s who just saw their first Star Trek movie. That’s a huge audience, with a lot of differences. So it was important to produce a variety of beer styles that broaden your horizon. That’s no different than some of the concepts that Star Trek touched on.”
Though Raincock has a background in beer distribution, he and the other members of the Federation came together primarily as Star Trek enthusiasts. Their first brew was a small batch made for Vul-Con, the annual Star Trek convention held in the small Canadian town of Vulcan.
Over the years, their enterprise grew with formal licensing agreements with CBS-TV, which holds the Star Trek rights, and manufacturing and distribution deals with several breweries. The beers are made in limited batches of 1,000 to 1,500 cases, with two or three new brands hitting the market each year.
Of course, alcohol and Star Trek go together like Capt. Kirk and an alien hottie. How many times did we see Scotty lay into a bottle of single malt, or Quark, the Ferengi bartender, mix up a Cardassian Sunrise?
As for beer, well, there’s always Romulan Ale, the highly potent — and illegal — blue-colored ale. Raincock said he would love to brew a batch, but so far he hasn’t found a proper blue food coloring that will meet U.S. regs.
“They did make a Romulan Ale one time in Central America,” he said. “By all accounts, it was horrible and in the morning when you peed, your urine was emerald green.”
I don’t think that’s what they mean by “to boldly go…”