This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the original Star Trek series debuting on TV. Now it is an empire that spans movies, TV, video games, comics, books, and even beer—but we’ll come back to that in a minute.
“Star Trek: The Original Series” only lasted three seasons, canceled after low ratings. However, its ‘80 episodes enabled it to live on in syndication, building what became an incredible fanbase of Trekkies (or Trekkers). The show even spawned conventions where the stars of the shows and movies appear for panels, presentations, and autograph signings. William Shatner famously mocked these events in a 1986 skit on “Saturday Night Live,” where he told the convention goers to “Get a life!” It’s a classic.
The millions of Star Trek fans out there have seen six different TV series totaling 726 episodes. There have also been 13 movies, including the recent J.J. Abrams reboots. The best among the TV series’ was “The Next Generation,” followed closely by “Deep Space Nine.” The best of the movies has undoubtedly been “The Wrath of Khan.”
Star Trek truly did “boldly go” where no show had gone before. The “Original Series” debuted in a time of turbulence in America. It used the guise of a sci-fi show to discuss some of the most divisive issues of the 1960s.
One episode in season three, “Plato’s Stepchildren,” featured an incredibly controversial interracial kiss between Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura. Today something like that doesn’t faze us on TV, but in 1968 creator Gene Roddenberry took a huge risk by including that on his show. The episode was even blacked-out in some markets.
The diverse cast was full of gripping characters. Captain James T. Kirk still stands as one of the best captains in all of fiction, and Spock, his straight-laced Vulcan science officer, has developed into a unifying force present in most of the TV series and movies in the 50 years of Star Trek. Sulu, Scotty, Uhura, Checkov, and my favorite, Dr. McCoy, have all been characters that have endured, even as the actors who originally created them have died or no longer play them on screen.
Perhaps the most famous drink from Star Trek is Romulan Ale, a blue alcohol known for its potency, and used throughout the series for toasts and special occasions (despite its illegal status). Unfortunately, I can’t get my hands on any Romulan Ale since we apparently won’t encounter them until 2152. Instead I got my hands on some Star Trek Golden Anniversary Ale, brewed by Shmaltz Brewing in Clifton Park, New York.
I had Edition No. 1, called The Trouble with Tribbles after one of the most famous episodes from the original series. It’s a medium-bodied ale with malts that give it a slight bread-like mouthfeel with mild sweetness. The brewery used “intergalactic”-themed hops including, Comet, Polaris, Aurora, and Admiral, giving it a nice blended hoppiness. The beer is a little cloudy so, as brewer Drew Schmidt said, it can “preserve the ambiguity of good and evil.”
At just 5 percent ABV, you can enjoy a couple of them while watching your favorite Star Trek TV series or movie without the hangover that comes from having too many Romulan Ales.