There’s always a temptation, when you love two things, to attempt to bring those two things together. Most of the time, as with wine and cheese, peanut butter and banana, or drinking gin and attending yard sales, the pairings complement each other; improving your experience of both things.
But if you’re not careful, as with my unfortunate attempt to combine roast beef sandwiches and hot tubs, things can go hideously wrong and end up permanently ruining your enjoyment of both things.
And so, when I recently finally acquired copies of the theatrical version of the original Star Wars trilogy, it was with trepidation that I attempted to find the right tasty, Canadian beer to enjoy while watching each of the films. I considered my choices carefully, and I think I came up with some successful combinations, and so I pass that wisdom on to you.
Star Wars (aka Episode IV: A New Hope) and Central City Brewing’s Red Racer India Pale Ale
The first installment of this legendary series was obviously a game changer, but I decided to avoid pairing it with a beer that “changed the way we think about beer,” (if such a thing exists), and instead opted to find a beer that would suit the movie’s peppy, pleasing, action-packed pace. That’s why I chose Red Racer India Pale Ale from Central City Brewing. Obviously it’s got a name that suits the movie’s fast pace, but it also manages some intriguing citrus and grapefruit hop flavours that lend themselves to the movie’s more complex sub-plots and context. The beer is sort of an approachable brand of exciting, much like the genre-defying sci-fi action classic, and it’s available in consumer-friendly 355mL size cans, meaning it would draw in fans of the IPA genre, but would also appeal to more mainstream drinkers. Finally, it’s got sort of a bitter sweet finish, much like the first Star Wars finishes on a high note but leaves you immediately wanting more of the series.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Dieu Du Ciel’s Péché Mortel
The second installment of the trilogy is decidedly darker than the rest of the series, accordingly it needs a decidedly dark beer. What better beer to pair it with than what is arguably Canada’s best Imperial Stout (Imperial, get it?!)? Péché Mortel is a dark, bitter, and rich beer and, taking place at a dark time for the Rebellion, Empire Strikes Back is also a rich film that’s ultimately pretty bitter. Furthermore, much like repeated viewings of Empire offer a greater appreciation of that film, you’ll seem to discover something new and interesting with every pint of Péché Mortel, too. However, just as Empire deals with Luke struggling to understand the allure of the dark side, you too will learn that Péché Mortel’s rich, chocolate-y coffee flavour can be as seductive as the Dark Side and, at 9.5%, can also lead to very bad things if you’re not careful. Also, spoiler alert: This beer is your dad.
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of The Jedi and Black Oak Nut Brown, Beau’s Bog Water, and Amsterdam Framboise.
This movie has a lot going on and its fans and detractors alike will note its almost ADHD-inducing introduction of myriad aliens, creatures, and characters and its various settings. Accordingly, I opted to pair this movie with a small three-beer flight to mirror the movie’s variety of flavours. Black Oak Brewery‘s Nut Brown Ale has a robust nuttiness, so it works well with Jedi, because this movie–with Jabba’s court of weirdos, the desert monster pit, and the forest creatures–is certainly robust and a little nutty.
Similarly, Beau’s All Natural Bog Water, a winter seasonal made with wild, harvested bog-myrtle from a nearby 10,000 year-old peat bog, is uniquely suited to the feel of the movie. The beer’s earthy, fruity flavours lends themselves to the woody ambiance of the forest moon of Endor and it really isn’t too hard to imagine someone in a cantina in the Star Wars universe ordering a mug of Gruit.
Lastly, to round out the trio, is Amsterdam Brewery‘s Framboise, a pinkish, thoroughly raspberry-flavoured offering that is so sweet that it’s reminiscent of hard candy. Just as this beer might start to become a little much after repeated drinking, so too are the cutesy and almost cloyingly sweet Disney-esque elements of the film like the Ewoks.
For the proper Jedi experience, drink from each glass in this flight at random to experience the sometimes enjoyable and sometimes not-quite-right sequences of this visually rich film that just might try to do a little too much at once.
The Prequel Trilogy and Bud Light
If you have to watch Phantom Menace, Attack of Clones, or Revenge of The Sith, you’re going to want to pair these movies with something that’s equally watered-down that also panders to a less mature audience; so why not crack open a Bud Light? Both are big budget productions that ultimately deliver unsatisfying results and both leave you craving something that’s much, much better. However, much like you’ll probably put up with the insipid performances of both the stilted actors chosen to play pre-Vader Annakin if there is absolutely nothing else on, you’d probably grab a cold Bud Light out of the fridge if you were completely parched. Neither are the real deal, but they’ll do in a pinch.
As for Episode VII, your guess is as of course as good as mine. So what Canadian beer would you opt to sneak into the theatre for your viewing of the next installment of the now-Disney-owned saga?