When it comes to fake beers, a few favorites have always dominated the conversation. There are cartoon classics like The Simpsons’ Duff (and its fancier imported counterpart, Düff) and King of the Hill’s Alamo. The movies have Strange Brew’s Shakespeare-quoting Elsinore, and TV is filled with everything from homebrewer/DEA agent Hank Schrader’s Schraderbräu to classic SNL parodies like Schmitts Gay and AM Ale.
The aforementioned are all fantastic fake brews, but we thought it was about time we dig deeper into Hollywood’s long history of avoiding product-placement (and fees) by making up beer brands -- complete with elaborate labels -- for its characters to enjoy.
Here are some of the best fictional brews pop culture has to offer.
AMC’s adaptation of Garth Ennis’ intensely perverse and ultraviolet comic Preacher is full of hidden gags, and the beer constantly chugged by deranged priest Jesse Custer and his Irish vampire buddy Cassidy is no exception. But none (not even Bane of Ratwater, which we can only assume is a barrel-aged brew related to mainstay Ratwater whiskey) are as inspired as Jesse’s go-to tallboy, Glue Rooster. Maybe it’s the suggestion that it’s made of chicken bones. Or maybe it’s because it looks like every other tallboy hipsters adopt when they think their go-to cheapie has become too popular. Either way, Glue Rooster is the American lager the world needs.
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More TV shows and movies than we can count
What do Mark Zuckerberg, Lorelai Gilmore, Rodney Ruxin, the Workaholics, and evil Denzel have in common? They’re all big fans of Heisler, one of the most prolific fake beer brands in film and TV. It’s actually a fake brew made by a prop house that’s used so often, it is now to fake beer what “555” is to fake phone numbers, appearing in everything from Gilmore Girls, Heroes, and The League to The Social Network and Training Day. Were it real, we’d recommend the slogan “The Samuel L. Jackson of Beers.” Though there’s actually already one of those too, if you watch Chappelle’s Show…
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It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Another fake beer created as a royalty-free stand-in by a prop company (fun fact: the designer named it after herself!), Haberkern is a classy, European-looking brand that has shown up in several shows. But it has perhaps been made most famous by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia -- and while it can probably be to blame for many, many terrible things enacted by The Gang, it also very likely inspired Lethal Weapon 5, Chardee McDennis, and the ethereal lullaby that is “The Nightman Cometh”...so it’s kind of a wash.
Supposedly the beer of choice for the U.S. Naval Academy football team that Magnum quarterbacked in 1967, this Maryland-brewed altbier was the private investigator's fave. A classy German-style American beer from the 1980s that also puts hair on your chest and promotes mustache thickness? Count us in!
The Drew Carey Show
Before Drew Carey slimmed down and assumed the neuter-crazy mantle of Bob Barker, he was just a blue-collar dude in Cleveland whose buddies created an extremely popular coffee-based micro-brew. Weirdly, more than 20 years later, Cleveland is now ascending in status as one of the nation’s best cities for craft beers, with coffee-tinged offerings popping up left and right. You realize what this means, don't you? Drew Carey is a modern day Nostradamus.
Girlie Girl Beer
Married… With Children
Before he was the grumpy elder statesman of Modern Family, Ed O’Neill was Al Bundy, a sexist ’80s mutation of Archie Bunker who, for reasons unknown, named Girlie Girl Beer the official drink of his anti-woman group “No Ma’am.” (No, the show hasn’t aged well.) That is, until Yoko Ono became its official spokeshuman. Things only get worse from there!
Three Little Beers
Long before Donkey Kong started chucking casks at vaguely stereotypical Italian plumbers, Larry, Curly, and Moe invented the gag of transforming wayward beer barrels into agents of chaos in Three Little Beers. The short finds the Stooges working at the Panther Pilsner brewery, where they promptly forget to latch the back of their delivery truck while being pursued by the fuzz up a big hill. It’s a legendary gag -- one that’s still recycled to this day.
Look, we’re not saying that this Colorado-brewed strong ale from the future (look, Colorado beer is even popular in space!) should have drawn any suspicion prior to cracking a can. But given that the Alien series’ Weylan Yutani company is best known for manufacturing murderous cyborgs and funding ill-fated missions onto hostile murder-planets -- we aren’t exactly surprised that drinking a beer brewed by the corporation immediately results in a small creature bursting out of some poor bastard’s chest.
The films of Robert Rodriguez
Just as Tarantino slips Red Apple cigarettes into all of his movies, fellow Grindhouse nerd Robert Rodriguez has featured his signature Chango beer in pretty much every film he’s made -- from Desperado to Sin City, to Machete, to Once Upon a Time in Mexico (sorry, Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl -- maybe when you’re 21). Its primary flavor note, according to most characters, is urine -- and not in that refined way that wine aficionados use “cat pee” as some sort of complimentary flavor note.