By now most beer fans will have heard about Vulcan Ale, the collaboration beer between Pluto’s Moon Beer Company and CBS Television (the rights holder to Star Trek), contract brewed at Harvest Moon Brewing. Actually the business arrangement is more complicated than that, as Vern Raincock of Delancey Direct, Alberta’s largest beer distributor, is one of the founders of Pluto’s Moon.
Now, a beer celebrating both Spock and the Town of Vulcan is a beer with sufficient back story to merit inclusion in a beer column or two. Shortly after its release in June, I included it in a CBC column looking at brewery-Hollywood collaborations (which was not posted online). And this week, my Vue Weekly column reviews Vulcan Ale (which you can read here).
The marketing hook and the intended audience on this beer is obvious. It was launched to time with the release of the latest Star Trek movie, as well as Vulcan’s centennial celebrations. They are not the first Star Trek-themed beer; they are not even the first Vulcan ale. My quick search found four others, including ones made by Paddock Wood (for a comic convention) and Cannery (I believe a 2012 precursor to the current project). The difference, for what it is worth, is that this beer is officially sanctioned by CBS to carry the Star Trek name and branding.
The more pertinent question is how it stacks up as a beer. It is brewed to be an Irish Red Ale, which is an accessible, unassuming style for the most part that seems to have no real connection to Spock himself. The appearance of the beer is spot-on, a dark copper with red accent. In the aroma there is a sweet caramel, medium fruitiness and brown sugar. The flavour draws out a light breadiness and toffee upfront with some berry fruitiness. In the middle, the beer sharpens with some graininess and the finish is moderately sweet. Overall, it presents as a well-brewed, satisfying red ale. It lacks the subtle crispness and quiet dry finish of the best examples of an Irish Red, and it seems a touch too sweet, but offers up an admirable interpretation.
I have been told by Pluto’s Moon both that Vulcan Ale is intended as a year-round product and they intend to release other similarly Star Trek-themed beer in the coming months. That is the reason they have sub-titled the beer as “Season 1; Episode 1″. One wonders what Star Trek character or event will be honoured next?