Ever had a taste of Heisler beer? Thought not, but I would be surprised if you haven’t seen it around. It is the most commonly used fictional beer on film and TV. Created by specialist prop supplier Independent Studio Services it has made hundreds of appearances in shows as diverse as Star Trek and Desperate Housewives, though it is probably most obvious in the American comedy series, ‘My Name is Earl’. It is not the only made up beer. Perhaps the most famous is Duff beer, the preferred tipple of Homer Simpson. It comes in several varieties, with Duff Light, Duff Dry and Duff Stout all having featured in the programme. They are not the only ones.
As in real life, the Duff brewery seems to create endless brands and increasingly exotic varieties having been spotted over the years, Lady Duff, Raspberry Duff, Tartar Control Duff, Duff Gummy Beers, Henry K. Duff’s Private Reserve, Duff Zero (non- alcoholic, retired), Duff Adequate / Le Duff (Canadian Duff) being some to look out for if you are a fan of the show. Not surprisingly some unscrupulous entrepreneurs around the world have tried to cash in by producing real life versions. This is expressly against the wishes of the programmes creator, Matt Groening who has concerns that it will encourage children to drink, but breweries in Germany, Australia, Mexico Chile and Yorkshire are amongst those who have tried to cash in.
It gets even weirder. In one episode of the cartoon series overpriced cans of Swedish Duff are sold, which are revealed to be fake, being ordinary cans with a couple of dots over the ‘U’ added in felt tip. So that means that the fake Swedish beer is really real fake beer which doesn’t exist, except some people have tried to make it.
If you are a beer ticker, there is no reason to give up your hobby when you are not in the pub. Hit the freeze frame button on the DVD and see how many invented brands you can spot. Maybe you will see Rettib in Red Dwarf or just plain Beer in South Park or Repo Man, but surely you want some more interesting names. All the following have been used and, as far as I know do not exist, though give it time and someone will no doubt have a go at making them. Bendeery English Ale, Flying Blue Magic Dog’s Mega-sucky Microbrew, Olde Frothingslosh Pale Stale Ale, Pißwasser, Wetnose Lager and Wharmpess Beer.
Fun as these are, they might be considered an admission of failure. There are plenty of real brands featured in films and TV and the chances are that the manufacturers have paid handsomely to get them there.
Think it is coincidence that Spiderman swings over a Carlsberg truck, or James Bond suddenly develops a taste for Heineken? One of the first examples was John Mills drinking Carlsberg in ‘Ice Cold in Alex’ although no money changed hands. It did, however, take 14 takes using real beer.
Try that with Wharm- pess.