I was planning to continue my drink-thru of the Chimay family of trappist ales this week. Since learning that there are only six true trappists being made today, however, I thought I’d go stock up. Off to our surprisingly well-supplied Kroger then. When I got there, however, I saw something unexpected.
If you’re scratching your head, obviously you’re not a golfer (or a Star Trek fan). Romulan Ale is the occasionally illegal alcoholic beverage of choice of the various iterations of the Star Trek universe. It’s a potent brew offered up in the likes of 10 Forward and Federation speakeasies across the universe. It is the object of several online recipes (including this virgin one!) and an energy drink. And there it was, nestled between the Rochefort and the Westfalle.
Some additional background: I actually came late to true appreciation of the Star Trek universe. My dad was a colossal Star Trek fan, so, as perhaps my first act of rebellion, I grew up a colossal Star WARS fan. Thus as I grew up, my Star Trek knowledge came only from what I failed to willfully ignore (notably excepted were the Q episodes, which will blow your MIND, man). It wasn’t until college that I opened my mind to the other “Star”-prefixed franchise, the one more focused on foreheads and protocol than on blasters and mysticism.
Therefore I know all of three things about Romulan Ale: It is made by Romulans, it is (sometimes) illegal, and it is blue.
This Romulan Ale fulfills one of those criteria.
Aside from the fact that it’s called “Romulan Ale,” there’s no information on the Romulan Ale bottle or carton. Unless the decorative Romulish writing provides some information on ABV, there’s no way to tell anything about what it is you’re drinking. The internets reveal that it’s the product of Cerveceria la Contancia in El Salvador (A nation known for its Trekkies; “La Trek,”they call it.), and that it may have been made for The Star Trek Experience in Vegas.
So clearly Romulan Ale has some stellar credentials. It’s in the beer section, but I’ve got no idea if this blue concoction (it comes in clear bottles) is malted grain and hops or merely the dread “flavored malt beverage,” and the color hints at the latter. Obviously I had to buy a sixer.
Romulan Ale comes out a surprisingly dark blue – like Dawn dishwashing liquid. It’s not fizzy, which is promising, and it’s got a thin-to-nonexistent head. Take a sniff, and you smell beer. Not hops, not malt … a generic “beer” smell.
The first drink was weird. Ever reach for a class of what you think is pop and get, say, water or orange juice? It was that kind of shock. I guess I was still expecting some Zima derivative, but Romulan Ale is in fact a beer. Just what kind of beer, however, it’s hard to say.
My wife tried a swig. “This tastes kinda like Budweiser,” she said. I’d only had one drink at that point, so I figured that was probably an oversimplified first impression. But as I continued, I had to admit that, well, it didn’t really taste like anything.
As I continued to drink, it became more and more clear that Romulan Ale exists in order for wacky nerds to show up to their nerd parties and say “Hey guys! Guess what I bought!” And that’s cool, because I go to that kind of party. Further, it is definitely beer, but it makes no claims beyond that. It’s not bad beer by any means (although you get that sweet-ish mass pilsener aftertaste), but if you were drinking it in the dark you would not know it from any other serviceable sixpack. This is a novelty beer (not that you needed me to tell you that).
In an example of things coming full circle, my dad was down to visit this weekend. When I came back from the store, I said, “Hey Dad! Guess what I bought!” He loved it. Took two bottles back home with him: One to drink, one to display in his office. Dad’s not much of a drinker either, so he’ll probably leave them both unopened. And that’ll make him happy, because the bottles say “Romulan Ale” and they’re blue. In a way, my dad’s who this beer is for, and I’m glad I found it for him.
Romulan Ale: It tastes kinda like Budweiser.