The Best Pop Culture Franchises for Inspiring Craft Beer

rj

The influx of craft beer into pop culture over the last few years has been nearly impossible to miss. From drastic product placement by multiple Bay Area brewers in HBO’s Silicon Valley like Drake’s Brewing and Russian River Brewing Company, to the 10+ versions of Simpsons-inspired Duff Beer available around the globe, the craft beer and entertainment industries are getting cozier by the month.

The crew of Silicon Valley have a beer nearby with high frequency
The crew of Silicon Valley keeps craft beer nearby with high frequency

Whether or not you are a fan of craft beer or pop culture, it’s easy to appreciate the creativity and hard work that goes into brewing up the next great pop culture franchise or creating a really great beer.

“Craft beer fans are among the most passionate people I’ve ever met, and the same goes for fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, and comic book superheroes,” says Mitch Steele, brewmaster of San Diego-based Stone Brewing. “It’s a natural fit to combine the two.”

Even special events are melding together. Fans who went to San Diego Comic-Con could attend a hero-themed beer festival during the uber-popular entertainment industry event.

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Cheers to you, Darth

In honor of this growing relationship, it feels like an appropriate time to rank the pop culture franchises on their ability to inspire quality craft beer. By tapping into beer-geek favorite sites RateBeer and Untappd, we can rely on beer drinkers everywhere to help guide us through this complicated landscape.

Note: Rankings are based on a combination of ratings from Untappd and Ratebeer.com. Themed beers need to have reached a certain quantity of ratings to be considered for the list. Find information here on how Untappd and RateBeer determine their rankings.

Star Wars

sierra_empire

It likely comes as no surprise that the most popular entertainment franchise in the world has influenced some top-notch brews. The bigger surprise came with the small number of eligible beers. Yet, Star Wars was a clear winner, boasting two of the highest rated beers researched, including a 99th-percentile beer from craft beer powerhouse Sierra Nevada. Now, the question becomes: when will Yoda have his own beer? Or should we say, “when his own beer, Yoda shall have? Hmm.”

SW Imp Stout
May the force be with you
  • Imperial Stout Trooper – New England Brewing Co.
    • Untappd: 3.93 | RateBeer: 3.77 / 98%
    • Barrel-Aged Version: 4.33 | 4.05 / 95%
  • Empire Strikes Black – Sierra Nevada Beer Camp #6
    • Untappd: 4.18 | RateBeer: 3.87 / 99%

Breaking Bad

Everyone’s favorite failed science teacher turned meth dealer has unsurprisingly been a hit with brewers around the country (chemistry, anyone?). Walter White’s brother-in-law/pseudo-nemesis, Hank Schrader, even brewed his own beer within the show: Schraderbräu. While you can actually find some Schraderbräus out there, they haven’t received enough ratings to make the cut. Maybe it’s for the best because now you can focus on these highly rated brews from breweries in California, Texas, and of course, New Mexico.

bearpanel_breakingbud
Hop bomb from CA-based, Knee Deep Brewing
  • Breaking Bud IPA – Knee Deep Brewing Company
    • Untappd: 3.97 | RateBeer: 3.76 / 98%
  • Heisenberg – Austin Beerworks
    • Untappd: 3.7 | RateBeer: 3.31 / NA
  • Heisenberg’s Dark – Marble Brewery
    • Untappd: 3.71 | RateBeer: 3.33 / NA

Game of Thrones

The popular HBO series partnered with New York’s Ommegang Brewery before its first season to distribute an officially-licensed beer series. Each new season of Game of Thrones brings a new beer for fans to sip while watching the globally celebrated franchise. This unique approach has led to a variety of beers that deliver both quality and quantity. While some of the beers are higher rated than others, the entire catalog should not be written off as “kitschy” by beer drinkers.

  • Iron Throne Blonde Ale
    • Untappd: 3.69 | RateBeer: 3.6 / 94%
  • Take the Black Stout
    • Untappd: 3.68 | RateBeer: 3.58 / 93%
  • Fire and Blood Red Ale
    • Untappd: 3.56 | RateBeer: 3.51 / 89%
  • Valar Morghulis Dubbel Ale
    • Untappd: 3.74 | RateBeer: 3.67 / 96%
  • Three-Eyed Raven Dark Saison Ale
    • Untappd: 3.72 | RateBeer: 3.64 / 95%
  • Seven Kingdoms Hoppy Wheat Ale
    • Untappd: 3.75 | RateBeer: 3.74 / 97%

The Walking Dead

Zombie-themed beers are some of the most prevalent within the craft beer + pop culture landscape. There are Zombies taking Manhattan, White Zombies, and even Zombie Dust (a top 50 beer in the United States per Untappd). However, only a couple of zombie-themed brews honors the cult hit comic/TV show, The Walking Dead. Fans of the comic/TV series can be proud of having at least two distinct beers recognizing the franchise.

The Walking Dead craft beer label - Blood Orange IPA
Blood oranges? Clever...
  • Walker (strong ale) – Dock Street Brewpub
    • Untappd: 3.51 | RateBeer: 3.08 / 48%
  • The Walking Dead (Blood Orange IPA) – Terrapin Beer Co.
    • Untappd: 3.7 | RateBeer: 3.47 / 86%

Star Trek

The Star Trek franchises have boldly gone where few brewers have gone before, delivering an interesting variety of inspired beers. Like the show itself, you can find a “Captain Kirk” level of quality and a “Whatever the people in Enterprise were named” level of quality. Fans can blame Canada’s Federation of Beer for dropping Star Trek in the rankings, due to the brewer’s lower ranked, officially-licensed Star Trek beers. On the flip side, Stone Brewing saves the day for the final frontier with an extremely creative ode to Star Trek by referencing a specific type of grain that was featured during a specific episode of the original series.

Stone Quadro
The Trekkie-inspired Belgian-style quad from Stone Brewing
  • Quadrotriticale Belgian Ale – Stone Brewing
    • Untappd: 3.74 | RateBeer: 3.54 / 91%
  • Vulcan Ale – The Genesis Effect (Red Session IPA) – Federation of Beer
    • Untappd: 3.54 | RateBeer: 3.29 / 66%
  • Vulcan Ale (Irish Ale) – Federation of Beer
    • Untappd: 3.2 | RateBeer: 3.01 / 39%
  • Klingon Warnog Roggen Dunkel – Federation of Beer
    • Untappd: 3.31 | RateBeer: 2.89 / 29%

Harry Potter

Like Game of Thrones, the Harry Potter franchise has teamed up with a specific brewer, Florida Beer Company. This series of beers stems mostly from commercial intent, with the below brews available at Diagon Alley, an eating/shopping destination within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. The beers achieve mostly average ratings, but one has to wonder if the passionate fandom of the franchise bumps up the scores. Either way, if you want to imbibe a beer based on the glasses-wearing wizard, your best bet is to head to Florida.

Harry Potter craft beer
Hogwarts
  • Hog’s Head Brew (Scottish ale)
    • Untappd: 3.6 | RateBeer: 3.11 / 45%
  • Dragon Scale (Vienna lager)
    • Untappd: 3.6 | RateBeer: 3.38 / NA
  • Wizard’s Brew (stout)
    • Untappd: 3.78 | RateBeer: 3.68 / 89%

The Simpsons

The world’s favorite cartoon family has more than its fair share of branded merchandise. Fans can find just about every type of Simpsons branded product they can dream up. Homer Simpson’s beverage of choice, Duff Beer, is no exception. Across the globe, beer drinkers can find a Duff Beer to quench their thirst. However, the only versions with enough ratings to qualify for the rankings come from the same brewery that white labels beers for the Harry Potter franchise, the Florida Beer Company.

The Simpsons homer and moe drink beer

Duff Beer consistently delivers poor ratings on RateBeer and Untappd, even beyond the versions from the company that makes its money by brewing for entertainment franchises. Maybe this is by design? After all, Homer is a blue-collar everyman who drinks Duff in one of the diviest bars in the history of television. Is there a better brew to throw back after a long day of being exposed to nuclear radiation? Probably not.

  • Duff 
    • Untappd: 3.25 | RateBeer: 2.57 / 13%
  • Duff Lite
    • Untappd: 3.11 | RateBeer: 2.65 / 18%
  • Duff Dry
    • Untappd: 3.56 | RateBeer: 2.44 / n/a

As the fling marriage between craft beer and pop culture continues to grow, there will be more chances to add to and adjust these rankings. If you feel any deserving beers or breweries were left out, please reach out via Twitter and state your case! The bottom line is that we are all just a little bit thirstier. Meet you over at Moe’s or Quark’s.

Feeling thirsty? We taste-tested Ommegang Brewery’s Game of Thrones beer, and this is what we thought.

rj
Marketing for FANDOM. Also an amateur dad, writer, musician, snowboarder, yogger, guitarer, and hooper. Debatable expert at celebrating my major fandoms: Game of Thrones, The Simpsons, Silicon Valley, fancy beer, Cleveland baseball, and the Green Bay Packers. Currently Watching: The Leftovers