Animal House. Old School. The Bad News Bears. Road Trip. What do these movies all have in common? They’re likely to appear in the comments section below -- along with a dozen or so other movies about hard-partying people -- preceded by “you forgot.”
But I didn’t. This isn’t a list just concerned with movies in which beer is consumed, though every one of these films contains ample beer drinking. They’re movies that revolve around beer. Maybe beer is the movie’s McGuffin. Maybe the movie is set in the brewing world, or plays such a supporting role that it can’t be denied. With that set of criteria (and eliminating documentaries, with respect to Beer Wars), the field became surprisingly narrow (and surprisingly shitty, actually). These are the 13 best beer movies of all time. Did we forget something? Probably. But that’s what the comments are for (and see, I already got you started there).
13. Beer for my Horses (2008)
OK, look. This is a movie about Toby Keith fighting drug lords that I’ve seen far more times than I care to admit, and that isn’t really about beer... but has been included because this is the movie that made me realize that Toby Keith is terrifying -- and that this movie co-stars the also-terrifying Ted Nugent, Barry Corbin, and David Allan Coe -- and I don’t want him to be like, “Hey, internet writer, you didn’t include muh movie, so you and me have issues” and then steal my wife after he beats the shit out of me. But if that did happen, I bet he’d leave my mangled body with a six pack (one removed... for his horse) next to me.
12. Beer League (2006)
Ralph Macchio deserves better than this Artie Lange vehicle. Also, the public deserves much better than enduring the words “Artie Lange” and “vehicle” together in any capacity other than “Artie Lange was taken away in a police vehicle on charges related to Beer League.”
11. Beer (1985)
You very likely haven’t seen this movie, which centers more on beer advertising than on actual beer, but it involves David Alan Grier, which is reason enough to start drinking while you watch it. It does, however, star Rip Torn, who once beat the shit out of Norman Mailer, and who is also a fan of beer. Should this movie inspire you to watch that video, then it’s done its job. But should I have inspired you to watch it (here it is! Watch it now!), then you can skip this piece of crap.
10. Take this Job and Shove It (1981)
Back in the late '70s and early '80s, there were a lot of films about small town factories and the man coming to take over. This one's about a douchey corporate dude who returns to his home town to get the local brewery back into shape. It stars Barbara Hershey, the pilot from Airplane!, and monster truck Bigfoot. That's right. It's like Norma Rae, but co-starring a monster truck and enough rednecks to fill a convoy.
9. Another You (1991)
Gene Wilder as a mental patient pretending to be a brewery heir! Richard Pryor as... a Richard Pryor type! A movie so bad, these two never made another movie together!
8. The Saddest Music in the World (2003)
Canada, you so crazy... so crazy that you make a movie about a beer baroness during Prohibition who holds a contest to see which country’s the saddest, and it’s all old-timey and probably as pretentious as it sounds. But it does include a prosthetic leg being used as a drinking vessel, solidifying my theory that Isabella Rossellini requires in 78% of her films to include prosthetic limbs, or at least leg braces.
7. Young Einstein (1988)
Comedian Yahoo Serious occupied a weird space in the ‘80s, when Mick Dundee made everybody excited about Australia, a time when “put another shrimp on the Barbie” was the equivalent of saying “my wiiiiiiiiiiiife” in Borat voice nowadays. In this movie, through the magic of adding a couple letters, Einstein is transported to Australia where, among his various feats, he invents rock music, surfs, and splits atoms to put bubbles in beer. It’s... a movie!
6. Beerfest (2006)
I’m not here to throw shade at Super Troopers by any means. But let’s be real here: when you’ve got a movie about competitive beer drinking from the bro-life heroes behind that gem, you kind of expect it to do better than ranking somewhere between The Slammin’ Salmon and Club Dread on their list of movies. But hey, of the beer-focused films of 2006, this one’s better than the Artie Lange one!
5. What! No Beer? (1933)
This tale of beer runners during Prohibition is a lesser film in Buster Keaton’s (and Jimmy Durante’s) oeuvre, so why include it? Why, so I can maintain my legitimacy by including a Buster Keaton film and using the word oeuvre in a sentence, just in case my old film studies professor is reading this.
4. Drinking Buddies (2013)
I once read a quote that said that Jake Johnson looks like a Chicago beer rep, which is pretty on point, and stuck with me long into this perfectly above-mediocre rom-com about friends who work at a brewery, one of whom looks like Olivia Wilde. There are some laughs. It made me really think long and hard about how fun it would be to hang out with Anna Kendrick and just drink beers and sing songs and crack dick jokes all day. And how a movie about Jake Johnson about a Midwest beer rep would be pretty great. In fact, while I was watching this perfectly OK movie, I’m pretty sure I thought about everything except what was going on onscreen. Point is, if this is No. 4, the world really needs more beer movies.
3. Wake in Fright (1971)
This movie -- an Australian freakout that was long thought lost to time, but recently resurfaced -- isn’t about beer, per se. It’s about a milquetoast schoolteacher who gets stranded in the outback, then goes on a deranged bender of gambling, fighting, hunting, broing-out with Dr. Loomis from Halloween, and screaming at nothing in particular. Beer’s basically in every scene, though, and there are a lot of sequences of sweaty Aussies dumping it all over each other and then wrestling and shooting guns. It’s a weird movie, and not exactly a pleasant one. Beer should have gotten a “best supporting actor” Oscar. Also, the dude who directed this went on to direct First Blood. Then Weekend at Bernie’s. Then The Red Shoe Diaries. So… maybe his experience with Wake in Fright affected his choices?
2. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Burt Reynolds and his mustache. Haulin’ contraband. Which happens to be delicious Coors Banquet. Cruisin’ away from Buford T. Justice. Yakkin’ with Cletus on the ol’ CB. Getting’ down with hot Sally Field. This movie basically leaves the taste of beer in your mouth even if you’re not drinking it while you’re watching it. But why would you do that?
1. Strange Brew (1983)
Bob and Doug McKenzie -- with respect to poutine and syrup -- might be Canada’s greatest exports, and Strange Brew is their masterpiece (well, Dave “Not the Wendy’s Guy” Thomas and Rick “Please Make More Movies” Moranis’ masterpiece). It’s a movie so full of dumb-ass humor -- Hosehead the dog’s flight to Oktoberfest; the hockey fights; Doug drinking a building’s worth of beer, then pissing on a burning building to put it out -- that you don’t realize how smart it really is. This is, after all, a take on Hamlet, only Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the ones driving the plot, Hamlet is a brewery heiress, and Elsinore is a gigantic brewery. Hell, if this movie was three minutes long, it would be the greatest beer movie ever made, if only for the brothers’ cheap-ass cable-access take on Omega Man. Which, well, should have been its own movie. If they ever shoot it, let's hope it's in 3-B.
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