Trekkies everywhere have a reason to raise a glass: New York’s Shmaltz Brewing is planning to release three limited edition Star Trek beers this year, in addition to last year’s two releases that celebrated the franchise’s 50th anniversary.
While last year’s releases were debuted (in true fantastic nerd fashion) at Comic Con in San Diego, the new brews will be rolled out in 35 states throughout the country upon their release. While a television or movie-themed beer is nothing new, this made me wonder about the intersection of entertainment and alcohol. What other brands are leveraging the cult following and “fandoms” of television and movies?
Since 2013, this brewery has partnered with HBO to create and market a series of limited-edition beers. Their theme is everyone’s favorite show: Game of Thrones. With names relevant to the series such as “The Iron Throne,” “Bend the Knee,” and “Take the Black,” these brews bring die-hard fans and casual viewers alike closer to the mythical land of Westeros. Each year, a media blitz of beer reviews and “first looks” at the new releases leads to coverage for the products in a wide range of outlets, from lifestyle-focused publications like GQ to beer gospels such as Beer Advocate.
Of the successful partnership, Ommegang’s former Marketing Director Bill Wetmore said: “We take pride in producing super premium beers, and historically this has helped us target discerning consumers with more complex style preferences and taste profiles. The Game of Thrones fan base consists of interesting, intellectual and curious people, and that audience group is very much the Ommegang drinker.”
Terrapin Beer Co.
A cult following that rivals the Game of Thrones fandom belongs to a show also known for gratuitous violence and “walkers” (although these ones are just your standard undead zombies, as opposed to silent frozen beings. Equally as terrifying, though, and not conducive to restful sleep on Sunday nights.) Partnering with Skybound, the multimedia entertainment company behind the show, Terrapin Beer released The Walking Dead Blood Orange IPA. Described as being “made with blood orange peel, and a horrific amount of hops, this bloodthirsty red IPA will have you prepared for the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse.”
Additionally, the brewery released a “super limited” Blackstrap Molasses Stout based on the show’s current villain, Negan, and his weapon of choice that was responsible for last season’s not-so-popular cliffhanger. The connection here between the Georgia-based brewery and the show is organic: most of the show is based in Georgia and filmed in Senoia, a small town just outside of Atlanta. Additionally, the brewery’s beers have been featured in multiple episodes of the TV show since Season 2.
Both of these breweries have seen success with these beers, though their respective television partnerships have different foundations. Ommegang’s collaboration with HBO stems from the compatible aesthetics and ethos (brand look/style and “premium” qualities) of both entities, while Terrapin’s local connection to The Walking Dead was conducive to an organic, relevant partnership. However, though both shows are wildly popular and watched throughout the world, there’s a sense of exclusivity with these cult followings, which both brands appeal to with their limited-edition products. Therefore, striking the balance between niche and mass appeal while maintaining an authentic connection to the show makes an alcohol brand part of the “fandom.”