High on Hops: Star Wars Beers From Across the Galaxy
Sci-Fi lovers from all over the world gathered in Anaheim, California last week for the Star Wars Celebration convention. Billed as “the ultimate fan experience,” this tenth official gathering of the Star Wars faithful featured panel discussions, live shows, vendors galore and more cosplayers than Tattooine has womp rats.
The Star Wars films live on because the themes presented in the movies have become part of our daily lives, influencing a generation of thinkers, artists and craftsmen. That distinguished group includes everyone from NASA scientists busy in their lab building “droids,” to your friendly neighborhood craft brewer.
Star Wars themed beers have filled a popular niche in the brewing community because of the associated nostalgia factor, as well as the collectability of Star Wars-related paraphernalia. It crosses boundaries and goes outside of the core niche of beer nerds into the equally obsessive realm of movie fandom.
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While wines from George Lucas’ Skywalker Vineyards are fully licensed alcoholic memorabilia for collectors and connoisseurs, there are no officially sanctioned Star Wars beers. The brewers who choose to incorporate the themes of Jedi and Sith in their branding do so under the banner of parody and the chagrin of their lawyers. Many of these have limited availability due to the inevitable threat of a lawsuit, looming like an Imperial Star Destroyer overhead.
Imperial Stout Trooper
New England Brewing Co.
A delicious Russian Imperial Stout, the Dark Side is strong with Imperial Stout Trooper. After receiving a cease-and-desist letter, New England Brewing responded by adding a pair of Groucho Marx glasses to the Stormtrooper visage on the label. That graphic design change made first editions even more rare and collectible on the beer trading market.
Officially representing the term “Organic Brown Ale”, OB-1 is a sessionable English-style Brown with a name that harkens back to the wise old hermit originally made famous by Englishman Alec Guiness.
Empire Brewing Co.
This German style Mai-Bock was the most recent Star Wars themed brew to draw the unwanted attention of Lucasfilm. The small brewery officially refers to it as Strikes Bock, by Empire, and doesn’t recognize the resemblance to the release title of Episode V in the Star Wars saga.
The Dark Side
Terrapin Beer Co.
Athens, Georgia’s Terrapin Beer Co. released a beer early in its Side Project series named for the all-compassing evil in the Star Wars universe. Described on the label as “black as the underside of Vader’s cape,” this Belgian Style Imperial Stout is a formidable brew.
Since parody is ultimately how these brewers are able to use recognizable trademarks in their beer names, beers inspired by the ultimate Star Wars parody, Space Balls, should also be included in this round up. Two breweries have created beers named Dark Helmet. The Brew Kettle’s is (appropriately) a schwarzbier while Westbrook’s is a black rye lager.
With a new sequel film set for release in December and a yearly release schedule for additional films planned for the foreseeable future, Star Wars isn’t going anywhere. And as long as breweries keep making Star Wars related beers, that galaxy doesn’t have to seem so far, far away.