Hop Notes: 'Star Wars' inspired beers are a great way to celebrate the opening of 'The Force Awakens'

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By: Eric Strader
ericstrader69@gmail.com

Eric Strader/Flavor 574

As a “Star Wars” geek, I have fond memories of watching the movies as a kid and collecting everything “Star Wars” that you can imagine. My own children found my “Star Wars” picture books several years ago, and knew the whole plot and all of the characters before ever even seeing the films. Now, I will get to watch Episode 7 with my kids, including my son who is only two years older than I was when the original episode premiered.

My geekiness for beer and “Star Wars” collides yet again this week as I will open some of my favorite “Star Wars” themed beers. Probably the most well known is New England Brewing Imperial Stout Trooper (Russian Imperial Stout, 8.5% ABV), which was first released in 2006. The beer not only has a name inspired by the movie, but the label also sports a character looking much like an Imperial Stormtrooper — okay, it is a Stormtrooper. Lucasfilm Ltd. sent the brewery a cease-and-desist letter, so New England Brewing Co. responded with classic humor. In 2010, they added Groucho glasses to the label, thus disguising the Stormtrooper.

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Because of both my love for the movies and my quest for good beer, I have acquired several of these bottles, including the original 12 oz. bottles with the original label, and a few bottles since then with the incognito Stormtrooper on the label. The release usually occurs about this time each year, and I know that many “Star Wars” beer geeks have been hoping for a coinciding release. However, the brewery is a bit behind this year. For the first time, cans — yes you read that right — of Imperial Stout Trooper will be making their way into Connecticut distribution the last week of December and the first week of January. This should be in time for your third or forth viewing of the new movie, and if you have a sister-in-law that lives in Connecticut like I do, you may be in luck. 

Empire Brewing Co. in Syracuse, N.Y., also had some legal troubles with Lucasfilm over their Empire Strikes Bock (Maibock, 6.5% ABV). They were forced to chance the name to Strikes Bock by Empire Brewing Co. in a legal agreement. Although this beer will not be available in time for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” it will be ready in time for Star Wars Day on May 4.

“Star Wars” beer geeks can also enjoy local drinking as well. I just learned that Bare Hands Brewery in Granger will be releasing their Galaxy Imperial IPA (10% ABV) again this Friday, Dec. 18, to coincide with the new movie. It is brewed with Galaxy hops from Australia, and I had a chance to grab a couple of bottles from the last release. If you are heading out to see the movie in the South Bend area, stop by for one of these on the way.

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B. Nektar Meadery in Ferndale, Mich., has released their Episode 13 B. Nektar Strikes Back (17.5% ABV) a couple of times now, and I was lucky to grab a bottle from Drake Party Center in Kalamazoo, Mich., a couple of months ago. This mead was aged in bourbon barrels and has seen fairly limited distribution in 375 ml corked bottles. Mead is different from beer, but in this case it is well worth the mention. Episode 13 is sweet, with strong notes of honey and bourbon, and not surprisingly the alcohol is highly present.

The label reads: “It is a dark time for the rebel army. The evil empire has tightened its grip and has silenced the rebels’ voice. In an effort to strengthen their cause, the rebels sent out thousands of bottles across the galaxy. But the Imperial troops are hot on their trail. The revolution begins today. Help us B. Nektar fans… You’re our only hope.”

Other breweries such as Thorn St. Brewing in San Diego serve beers such as Chewbacca Dopplebacca (8.9% ABV); The Menace Imperial IPA (9.7% ABV); and Far Far Away IPA (with galaxy hops, 7% ABV. Toppling Goliath Brewing Company in Decorah, Iowa, brews Light Speed (American Pale Ale, 5.8% ABV, 70 IBUs), with both Millennium hops and Falconer’s Flight hops and was previously known as Millennium Falcon.

I’m sure there are many other “Star Wars” inspired beers out there. If you are aware of any others, let us know in the comments.

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