We may take it for granted, but the fictional beers of TV and movies are some of the best loved brands in existence. Some of these beers have achieved the brand recognition and affection that major commercial beers can only dream of.
Some TV shows and movies will feature beers are a convenient plot device, but others take the time and effort to cultivate a bona fide beer brand, with tag lines, brewery scenes/episodes and a detailed history. It’s always fun to see characters drinking fictitious beers on screen. As there is no real product or company to protect, the scope for biting satire, commentary or simply plain inventiveness, is unlimited.
We searched long and hard and found 15 of the most prominent, well-loved and interesting fictional beers from TV and film. See how many you recognize!
Possibly the most famous fictional beer of them all, Duff is Homer’s drink of choice and features in countless episodes. As a cheap, mainstream beer, Duff is a parody of the popular Budweiser, Coors and Miller brands. In fact, there are several close parallels to Budweiser in particular (similarities include sponsoring stadiums: Duff Bowl / Bud Bowl; doggy mascots: Suds McDuff / Spuds MacKenzie). During one episode, Homer and Barney tour the Duff brewery, where it is revealed that Duff, Duff Light and Duff Dry are, in fact, the exact same beer.
While Simpsons creator, Matt Groening, has never licensed the name for a real beer, that hasn’t stopped canny brewers trying to cash in on the recognition value, with a number of Duff beer scams. There are, of course, a variety of Duff-branded novelty merchandise for sale, including a Duff energy drink in a beer-like can.
This excellent comedy sci-fi series from the BBC is set 3,000,000 years in the future and features Lister, a 20th century lager-swilling Liverpudlian, as the last survivor of the Red Dwarf mining ship.
Through many ingenious plot devices, Lister manages to obtain sufficient quantities of his favorite lager on a regular basis – both to accompany his favorite beef vindaloo and to simply help him retain his sanity. The beer is always depicted in cans and is brewed by the Jupiter Mining Company.
3. Buzz Beer – The Drew Carey Show
A long-running storyline in The Drew Carey Show involved this beer/coffee mixture. Initially brewed in Drew’s garage, it was sold at the Warsaw Tavern, the bar frequented by Drew and his friends. According to Lewis in the show, “the combination of caffeine and alcohol should be more addictive than heroin, but so far sales haven’t borne that out”.
This is a good example of life imitating art. Since the show aired, there have been several actual caffeinated beer products released for consumption. The highest profile product was ‘BE’ from Budweiser. In recent times, the trend for these products is reversing due to bad press and concern over its appeal to young people.
4. Girlie Girl Beer – Married With Children
This was Al Bundy’s favorite beer from the long-running TV show. The beer was the staple beverage of the “NO MA’AM” (National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood) club that met in Al’s garage to discuss beer, women and other such matters.
In one particular episode of Married With Children, the Girlie Girl Beer’s mascot is replaced with a picture of Yoko Ono, much to the distaste of the NO MA’AM club.
5. Panther Pilsner Beer – The Three Stooges
The slapstick comedy trio worked at the fictitious Panther Pilsner Beer company in their famous Three Little Beers short movie. Interestingly, this beer inspired a real-life imitation for some time. Packaged in retro-styling, the beer was sold as The Three Stooges Beer, from the Panther Brewing Company. It doesn’t seem like the brewery is still in operation, unfortunately.
The excellent short movie featuring Panther Pilsner Beer is available for online viewing:
6. Alamo Beer – King of the Hill
Alamo Beer is the beer swilled by Hank Hill and his buddies in King of the Hill and comes with the tagline “From the lukewarm headwaters of the mighty Brazos River”. According to Hank, it even won the Munich Beer Festival of 1849.
It has featured prominently in various storylines in the show, including one where the beer sponsored the Super Bowl. Another involved an investigation into tainted supplies of Alamo Beer in Mexico (perhaps inspired by the myth of the tainted Corona beer).
7. Romulan Ale – Star Trek
Star Trek – through its various incarnations – has featured many types of alcoholic beverage (Klingon Blood Wine and Andorian Ale are two exotic varieties). However, perhaps the most famous of them all is Romulan Ale. Throughout the Star Trek series, the potent blue liquid is referred to in mythical terms. The beverage is hard to procure, illegal in many parts of the Star Trek galaxy and guaranteed to deliver a raging hangover to anyone who imbibes! Although Romulan Ale has formally crossed over into the real world, there have been attempts to recreate it – the usual recipe consists of Blue Curaçao, Creme de Banana and cream soda/ginger ale.
Another popular Star Trek beverage, Synthale, is shown in several episodes (mostly in Deep Space Nine). Unfortunately, we never learn much about it, other than the fact that it closely resembles usual beer/lager in appearance.
This successful American sit-com – a spin-off from Happy Days – ran from 1976 until 1983. The lead characters worked as bottlecappers for a Milwaukee brewery, with Shotz Beer being the main brand. In the real world, of course, Milwaukee is home to Miller Beer, a rather popular brand itself.
To help jog your memory, here’s the opening title sequence from the show:
9. Butterbeer – Harry Potter
Butterbeer is a low-alcohol drink popular among the youger wizards in the ‘ target=_blank>’ target=_blank>’ target=_blank>’ target=_blank>Harry Potter series of books and movies. According to the Harry Potter lore, it can be served cold or hot, but has a warming effect either way. The price of a Butterbeer is two sickles, at the Hog’s Head inn.
Described by author J.K. Rowling as “a little bit less-sickly butterscotch”, it certainly sounds like a unique brew. For any adventurous types out there, you might like to attempt some of the inventive butterbeer recipes that have been devised.
10. Bendërbrau Cold-Fusion Steam Beer – Futurama
There are lots of interesting and unusual beers in the Futurama universe. One of the most memorable is Bendërbrau, a beer brewed inside of Bender. It’s closely modeled on the steam beers of San Francisco (such as Anchor Steam). While this beer was never officially released publicly, the Futurama writers are keen amateur brewers and made a real version for themselves. Other fans of the sci fan animated show created an interesting brewing project based on Bender!
Some of the other beers featured on Futurama include Pabst Blue Robot, Sam Adams’ Head Boston Lager, St. Pauli Exclusion Principle Girl Beer and Löbrau Beer.
11. Newton & Ridley – Coronation Street
Coronation street is the UK’s longest running TV soap opera. Set in a fictional town in Manchester, the characters regular socialize in their local pub, the Rovers Retrun. The most popular drink was an ale, brewed by Newton & Ridley.
Interestingly, the Coronation Street producers are set to capitalize on the brand value of their creation by launching Newton & Ridley beer to mark the show’s 50th anniversary in 2010. It remains to be seen how successful the beer will sell outside of tourist shops.
This cult 1983 movie revolves around the Elsinore Brewery, where the two lead characters gain employment inspecting beer bottles for mice.
The movie’s plot involves a nefarious brewer with a secret plan to take over the world by putting a drug in Elsinore beer which, while otherwise rendering the consumer docile, makes him or her attack others when stimulated by musical cues. Made in Canada, this movie is a lot of fun and worth watching for the silliness and stupid humor value!
13. Jenkins – Eastenders
For those not in the know, Eastenders is a long-running, gritty urban soap opera on the BBC, set in the East End of London. Much of the action centers around the local pub – the Queen Victoria (usually referred to as ‘the old Vic’). The pub has played host to countless fights, disasters, reunions and other lowlights in the characters’ drudge-filled lives. With so much focus on the pub, the producers needed some fictional beverages to serve. Jenkins is one of the most prominent brands on display behind the bar, although several others have been observed (see if you can guess their inspiration): Stolenberg 1940, Fordham’s Ale, Devlins, North Export and Thames Bitter.
Director Quentin Tarantino likes to fill him movies with a completely realistic world. As part of that, he included a number of fictional brands in Kill Bill. It helps to build the artificial world in which his characters inhabit, and is a level of detail that many filmmakers simply ignore.
Tenku Beer can be seen advertised on billboards in Kill Bill. Some of the other fake products to be observed include Go Juice and Red Apple Cigarettes.
Finally, we finish the list with another legendary beer from an animated TV show, Family Guy. Pawtucket Patriot Ale is the local Quohog, Rhode Island beer and is Peter Griffin’s favorite ale.
The Pawtucket brewery is featured in one episode and appears to be akin to the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, with an eccentric brewer – Pawtucket Pat and his band of Chumbawumbas.
What’s your favorite fictional beer? Are there others from TV or film that we missed? Leave a comment and let us know!