This might surprise you, coming from someone who lived Jay's Upstairs to the hilt for a decade, but the last time I barfed from drinking too much beer was in 1989, and it was on a ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki. Applying brilliant logic, I determined it would be more cost-effective to gun four or five 12 percent Danish beers from the duty-free shop than pay ferry-disco prices to maintain my buzz all night. I briefly regained consciousness a few hours later to find myself hurling my guts over the railing into the Baltic. Getting a good bit of it on my pants as well, or maybe it was there from earlier, but either way it was a shame because I didn't have a change of clothes and I had to make my way home from the ferry terminal in crusty yellow chaps, essentially, of the previous night's buffet.
Don't really have a point with that story. Nor can I tell you exactly why I chose some beer-related movies over others in a crowded field for this list in honor of the upcoming Garden City BrewFest. Completely off-topic is this wonderful Magnetic Fields lyric I want to share: "I see that kiss-me pucker forming / But maybe you should plug it with a beer." Anyway, here they are in declining order of beerelevance.
Great documentary, albeit of interest chiefly to Missoulians and baby-boomers in particular. Kegger fetes the '70s heyday of the Aber Day Kegger, the mother of all American beer busts, which mixed hundreds of kegs and thousands of people to make thousands of drunk people in ankle-deep beer mud with Bonnie Raitt performing. From the glorious stock footage, very well shot, this annual event looks like the best time ever. Amazingly, it was all to raise money for the UM Mansfield Library, and, depressingly, nothing even remotely like it will ever happen in Missoula again.
Strange Brew (1983)
One of those movies you feel like you've seen even if you haven't, or maybe never want to, or want to again, simply because you've been around people quoting it endlessly in bad Canadian accents your whole life. You hoser! Take off, eh! Toque, toque, toque! This is seriously the only "Canadian" movie some people can name.
The Saddest Music in the World (2003)
Another one, appropriately, from our northern cousins. At the peak of the Depression, Winnipeg beer baroness Lady Port-Huntley (Isabella Rossellini) announces a contest to determine which country has the most depressing music. Destitute immigrants descend on Winnipeg to compete for the whopping cash prize, which also comes with a bonus plunge into a vat of golden nectar. Because it's a Guy Maddin movie, Rossellini also has two artificial legs (ever since a lover's drunken father mistakenly amputated them), made of glass, and filled with beer. Contains the marvelous all-purpose racial epithet "foreign onion-peeler."
Blue Velvet (1986)
Speaking of Isabella Rossellini, this David Lynch movie merits a mention solely for its perverse product placement of Pabst Blue Ribbon—not, as the menacing Frank reminds us, a libation to be savored at room temperature. Is Blue Velvet behind PBR's enduring hipster cachet? Discuss with teammates when the company sponsors your totally retro tetherball tournament this spring.
Not as good as Super Troopers, but streaks better than Club Dread, Beerfest finds the Broken Lizard gang wandering around Europe trying to scatter a loved one's ashes and stumbling across "a Fight Club with drinking games." Despite the title and notional subject matter, as always the humor here is more stoner than lager-lout, and the ending leaves the door open to a most entertaining THC-quel.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Hard to believe, but 40 years ago college students back east could actually pay for school by road-tripping west and returning with cases of Coors to sell to friends at marked-up prices. Or so it says in Dan Baum's excellent biography Citizen Coors. Having recently seen a documentary about the "clean flicks" video-editing industry, I can't help but wonder how the truckload of Coors so central to the plot of Smokey and the Bandit could be spirited away for a clean-flick version without reducing the movie to an incomprehensible 20 minutes.
Only mentioning this one for the scene where James Bond (Roger Moore) hitches a ride to a nuclear weapon stashed in a circus cannon with a kindly German couple who try to force their picnic feast down his throat. The "Und Bier?" line became a running joke for my friend Donovan and me in sixth grade, both of us still a few years away from beers not sanctioned by our respective fathers in occasional supervised bonding situations.
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Between rinsings with strong spirits, a suicidal Nicolas Cage occasionally sips a beer for pleasure, or uses the bottle as a stand-in penis to make love to his prostitute girlfriend before finally croaking to a Sting soundtrack. Perfect! The beer-drinking parts, in comparison, seem downright wholesome, but also make Cage's character look like a double loser for not killing himself quickly enough.