BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Even a veteran Starfleet officer would have a hard time turning down a pint of Vulcan Ale, a new "Star Trek"-inspired IPA perfect for a crisp autumn night of stargazing.
In "The Conscience of the King," the 13th episode of the original series of "Star Trek," Dr. McCoy asks Mr. Spock if he'd care for a drink. "My father's race was spared the dubious benefits of alcohol," the stoic half-Vulcan replies. But perhaps he would make a rare exception for Vulcan Ale, the latest "Star Trek"-themed Federation of Beer collaboration.
I had a chance to boldly go where no Starfleet officer has (presumably) been before: an October launch party for the new beer at The Way Station, a "Doctor Who"-themed bar in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights. This marked the first time the beer was available in the United States. While it's only logical to discuss the beer itself, a few words about how the beverage came to be might help set the scene. [Ring in Oktoberfest with These Space Beers]
Federation of Beer is not a brewer, but rather a marketing outfit that specializes in beer. Back in 2012, Federation of Beer co-founder Vern Raincock had the idea to make a "Star Trek"-themed beer, and used his knowledge of the industry to do so. The original Vulcan Ale was an Irish red ale from Harvest Moon Brewing Co. in Montana. The new iteration, Vulcan Ale — The Genesis Effect, comes from the Shmaltz Brewery in upstate New York. (Shmaltz also brews the delightfully irreverent He'brew beer.)
When I asked Raincock why he wanted to create Vulcan Ale, he simply responded, "It was logical," in true Vulcan fashion. While brewing, distributing and consuming beer is not exactly the same thing as exploring the galaxy in a starship, Raincock still saw some similarities between the two. For both enterprises, you need courage, curiosity and good friends backing you up, he said.
Vulcan Ale — the Genesis Effect is a red IPA, and as such, it's a fairly hoppy beer. (Appropriately enough, some of the hops included in the brew are called Galaxy, Warrior and Comet.) However, the hops are not overwhelming, and it has a rich, slightly sweet flavor underneath. Like most red ales, The Genesis Effect has a full body but feels surprisingly drinkable, even to this Starfleet cadet's lager-seasoned palate. The only part of the beer that I didn't find pleasant was the aftertaste — more flowery hops, although this will be a plus rather than a minus to the IPA crowd.
I also spoke with Andy Heidel, owner of The Way Station, who eagerly volunteered his space for the beer's U.S. debut. "We have the best collection of nerds in the tristate area," he said, gesturing to the packed bar full of costumed patrons watching (and quoting) "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." "We all grew up with Star Trek in one form or another," he said.
I pointed to the TARDIS-shaped bathroom in the back and asked whether Heidel himself prefers "Star Trek" or "Doctor Who." "They're entirely different animals," he replied with Sarek-like diplomacy. 'Doctor Who' is fantasy-set in a sci-fi world. Star Trek is pure sci-fi."
A fascinating response.