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Beer in Entertainment: From the big screen to the small screen, beer abounds

Spring has sprung and while this is typically a time for the resurgence of beer and brewery events, unfortunately we have to take this time to ditch the crowds for our couch. It’s no surprise that many of us are finding ourselves binge watching significantly more Netflix than we used to. Instead of covering beer events this month, I thought I’d use this opportunity to take a look at the history of beer drank by our fictional friends over the years. 

As the popularity of craft beer rises, there are a handful of celebrities, actors and musicians eager to get their name on a beer of their own. Frank Sinatra was one of the first celebs to do so in the ’60s when he appeared as the poster boy for Budweiser. Flash forward a few decades to the ’90s — surely you’ll remember the OG brother band Hanson. The trio founded their own brewery in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, called Hanson Brothers Beer Co. On tap you’ll find an American Pale Ale called “MMMHops” after their hit song “MMMBop,” which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Chart May 24, 1997 (and peaked at #1 in my heart forever). Other musicians to get their hand in the craft beer scene include Fat Mike of punk band NOFX who started the “Punk in Drublic” festival, an annual punk-rock craft beer & music festival. Comedian Tom Green, Entourage actor Adrian Grenier, and WWE’s Stone Cold Steve Austin also have collaborations with US craft breweries. 

If you’ve traveled anywhere outside of Rhode Island and mentioned your home state, you’ve likely been asked: 1. How do you like living in New York? And 2. Is Quahog a real town? The animated FOX series “Family Guy” (written and produced by RISD graduate Seth McFarlane) is set in a fictional town called Quahog. While the town itself does not exist, an accurate depiction of the Providence skyline can be seen looming over the Griffins’ suburban home. Protagonist Peter Griffin is often seen drinking Pawtucket Patriot Ale with his buddies at The Clam. He even worked at (and was fired from) the brewery in one episode. While the brewery is named after Pawtucket, it is thought that the beer is actually a parody of the Boston company Sam Adams, for obvious reasons. In a famed crossover episode with “The Simpsons” titled “The Simpsons Guy”, a Duff beer label (Homer’s beer of choice since 1989) is discovered underneath the Pawtucket Patriot Ale label. A court case ensues between the animated competitors, which highlights the many similarities between the two shows. While no version of Pawtucket Patriot Ale is available in real life — you can enjoy a Duff beer at Moe’s Tavern in Universal Studios, Florida! 

In the world of fictional beer, there is one name that — if you’re watching closely — pops up quite a bit. Heisler Beer has been featured in dozens of popular TV shows – “Bones,” “Parks and Recreation,” “New Girl,” “Brooklyn Nine Nine” and “The Good Place” to name a few. Heisler “Gold Ale” is the name given to a prop beer produced by supplier Independent Studio Services, hence its prominence in network TV. The Gold Ale has a classic look similar to popular domestics, and has been seen in both cans and bottles. The FX comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” starring yet another RI native Charlie Day — has also featured Heisler Beer, however they favor a less popular prop beer called Brockman Beer, which has also been seen in Texas Chainsaw 3D. The popular comedy, now in its 14th season, has even sparked an entire line of nine beers from Odd Side Ales Brewery in Grand Haven, Michigan, all featuring popular jokes from the show.