Five Movies for Beer Lovers (and Where to Watch Them)

Still from
Burt Reynolds in 'Smokey and The Bandit' / Alamy
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Beer is often treated as comic relief in popular culture. On the silver screen, it’s the stuff of frat parties and roadhouse indulgence. Burps, chugs and buffoonery seem to sneak into scrips where lagers and ales are part of the scenery. Dig into some movies, however, and you’ll see that beer can play an important role in developing plotlines and relationships and be emblematic of the grit that keeps hard-working characters moving forward.

In recent years, several documentaries about the beer industry were released, including Beer Wars, The Beer Jesus from America, Brewmaster and Crafting a Nation. These often focus on the struggle of small breweries in a global billion-dollar industry, chasing dreams or highlighting the bombastic personalities that exist in the craft beer space.

Independent films like Beerituality showcase how beer is a religion for some.

8 Films for Wine and Food Lovers (And Where to Watch Them)

Beer has also snuck into several movies as backgrounds. In the 2009 remake of Star Trek, for instance, the engineering room of the U.S.S. Enterprise is actually an Anheuser-Busch brewery in California. Toast to that with a glass of Romulan ale.

No matter the style in your glass or where you choose to imbibe, these five films show that beer plays an important part of Tinseltown’s interpretation of life.

1. Strange Brew (1983)

Still from "The Adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew", with Director, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas
‘Strange Brew’ / Alamy

Two deadbeat brothers, Doug and Bob McKenzie, played wonderfully and convincingly by Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, try to defraud a brewery in hopes of getting free beer; but soon they uncover and unravel a sinister plot to brainwash humanity through tainted pints. Goofy, yes, but there are also tender moments, kindness and a desire to do what’s right no matter the cost. Sometimes, we get the heroes we deserve. If nothing else, watching Max von Sydow play an evil brewery owner is as satisfying as a drinking well-crafted Oktoberfest lager.

Where to watch it:

2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Kate Ashfield, Simon Pegg, Penelope Wilton and Nick Frost in film still from "Shaun Of The Dead", 2004.
‘Shaun Of The Dead’ / Alamy

Most of us can relate to the overwhelming desire Shaun and his friend Ed, played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, respectively, have to get to the pub for a proper pint when their lives descend into chaos. Amid the zombies and comedy, the movie gives us poignant moments of missed connections, complicated family dynamics, tender farewells and the power of enduring friendships. Similarly, The World’s End, which also stars Pegg and Frost but swaps zombies for aliens, revolves around an epic pub crawl but is ultimately about finding one’s purpose in life.

Where to watch it:

3. Beerfest (2006)

Still from "Beerfest" film.
‘Beerfest’ / Alamy

Maybe there isn’t a lot of higher learning or emotional depth to this comedy heled by Broken Lizard, the comedy group behind Super Troopers, but it’s a two-hour escape from reality centered around a secret global beer-drinking competition. Actually, there’s a hydrology lesson involving a drinking boot, so there is some learning amid the laughter.  

Where to watch it:

4. Shawshank Redemption (1994)

‘Shawshank Redemption’ / Alamy

Obviously, this is not a movie about beer, but it shows how sometimes a drink can be more than a drink. Traditionally called a “lawnmower beer,” the cold pint after a long, hard day of work always tastes better than other beers. In the Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, strikes a deal with the prison guards overseeing inmates working on tarring a roof in the spring of 1949.

“All I ask is three beers a piece for each of my coworkers,” he says. “I think a man workin’ outdoors feels more like a man if he can have a bottle of suds.”

Over the course of two minutes in the film, the simple act of drinking an icy, Bohemia-style beer brings a sense of normalcy to chaos, levity to harshness and freedom to the imprisoned.

Where to watch it:

5. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Film still of Burt Reynolds and Sally Field from "Smokey and The Bandit".
‘Smokey and The Bandit’ / Alamy

Scarcity breeds desire in beer, and that principle is on full display in this star-studded comedy in which our heroes smuggle hundreds of cases of Coors beer over state lines. The movie has inspired countless real-life beer runs and even more Burt Reynolds-style moustaches.

Coors is available nationwide these days, of course, but there are still drinkers willing to go to great lengths and stunts to get their hands on coveted bottles. Fire this up before your next beer adventure.

Where to watch it:

Published on March 21, 2022
Topics: Handpicked