In the Netflix hit series Stranger Things, Chief Jim Hopper shies away from hops and appears to be a loyal Schlitz drinker.
Hopper can’t be blamed, he lives in mid-1980s small town Indiana, a time when microbreweries were barely even a concept. He’s unlikely to have been into the double IPA Short’s Brewing Company brewed called Chief Hopper.
Today, however, breweries have hopped on the Stranger Things bandwagon like many viewers, and brewed beers based on the series, which debuted in late October. There are likely to be even more as the series continues.
Short’s in Bellaire, Michigan, is one of the many breweries that brewed Stranger Things themed beers, and it wasn’t just Chief Hopper. The inventive brewery made three show-inspired beers, each more eccentric than the next, each featuring labels depicting scenes and characters from the show.
Chief Hopper was the first, released last January, clocking in at 9.2% alcohol by volume. Short’s head pub brewer Ryan Hale brewed up the beer in honor of Chief Hopper.
“He is just a total badass, plain and simple,” he said. “Vic Secret is similar to Galaxy so you get some nice passionfruit and pineapple flavors and aromas. Chief Hopper also has Simcoe and Centennial which provides a complimenting citrus and pine.”
For the brewery’s second beer, they released Run, a reference to the time Winona Ryder’s character had spell that word out in christmas lights.
The idea for the beer came before the idea for the name, said Short’s Barrel Program Head and Creator of Funk Mick McQuiston. Short’s received a few beer ideas from Detroit-based Two James Distillery, and McQuiston wanted to try a sour beer with them. The second Stranger Things beer spent eight months in barrels then another two in a tote with dried orange and cherries.
“I knew the beer would have to be big, so I figured a sour stout would be a fun way to go,” he said. “As the beer was finishing up, and we needed to flesh out a concept for it, I had just finished watching Season 1. I was already leaning for a darker label on this one and the Demagorgan inspiration seemed like a good fit."
The third beer is a nod to one of the main characters and her affinity for Eggo waffles. Called Upside Down, the nut brown features 12 cases of waffles along with five gallons of local, northern Michigan maple syrup. The name is also a reference to the alternate universe in the show.
“I thought the drier brown ale would accompany the Maple syrup sweetness and biscuity flavors from the waffles well,” said pub brewer Luke Whitley.
“I didn’t really know if [the waffles] would work in a beer, but I thought it was a safe bet that it would add a nice biscuity backbone to the beer.”
The MindFlayer – the big bad cloud in Season 2 – has had a namesake beer since at least 2015.”
With seemingly plenty of Stranger Things fans within the company, Short’s Brewing will likely be making and releasing many more themed beers in the future.
And the Northern Michigan brewery is far from alone. Many other breweries from across the country brewed up beers for the release of the show, including Vermont’s 14th Star Brewing, which was featured in October’s Veteran’s Day story.
14th Star brewed up a few beers similar to Short’s including their own Chief Hoppers Single Hop IPA, as well as Eleven’s Eggo Dream Cream Ale – again based on the character Eleven’s deep love for the frozen treat. Especially timely, 14th Star also named a beer after one of the Season 2 episodes, Will the Wise’s Fireball Red Ale, a heated red ale with cinnamon and red chilies.
Massachussetts based Lamplighter Brewing Company released a canned dark saison called The Upsidedown with a label depicting the bicycle riding main characters of the show.
North Carolina’s Big Boss Brewing Company went big with their Stranger Things beers, brewing up five for the show’s premiere, including the Eggo and syrup Belgian blonde 11, a hazy IPA with coffee and donuts named after Chief Hopper, the rye pale ale Winona Rye’der, and a “dark imperial farmhouse style stout” called the Demogorgon.
Season 3, whenever it might be released, will be sure to bring more beers. The MindFlayer – the big bad cloud in Season 2 – has had a namesake beer since at least 2015, when Brazos Valley Brewing in Texas had the idea, likely because of the name’s roots in Dungeons & Dragons.
It seems like Nancy’s Rocket Fuel and a play on the amazing duo of Steve and Dustin are ideas still there for the taking. Let's see which breweries step forward and are inspired by their fandom.