Yet another reason to love 2016: It marks the 25th anniversary of the birth of gay beer.
Of course we know from the Six Beer Theory that the difference between a gay man and a straight man lies in a simple six pack, and maybe a suggestive video or two. But exactly what’s the difference between a gay beer and a straight beer?
Rampant speculation to the contrary (see the In Bruges section below), just one thing makes a gay beer gay: marketing.
So just who were the unlikely visionaries to first grasp the vast potential of pink brew a quarter century ago? None other than Adam Sandler and Chris Farley.
Pop a cold one and follow along with us now for a short history of gay beer, culminating in the ultimate queer craft beer experience in Portland. After all, it was Portland where the connection between craft beer culture and LGBTQ life was born, where we rejected the swill of marketed big beer for the tasty wonders of local micro brews, enjoyed together with friends. Check out the cheeky Travel Portland Zine, The Portland Beer Book, for more, and its comprehensive guide to LGBT life in the city.
Beer’s on tap–drink up!
1991: Schmitts Gay
In this ad parody from SNL’s 17th season, buddies Adam Sandler and Chris Farley gleefully find that all they need to turn their crappy house-sit into a full-on gay house party is a little Schmitts Gay beer.
1993: Pride Beer
Los Angeles entrepreneur Bert Swartz debuts the short-lived Pride Beer.
After years of antigay policies, Coors begins an about-face embrace, beginning with the 1993 organization of its LGBT workers into Lesbian and Gay Employee Resource (LAGER), and followed in 1995 by its extension of same-sex partner benefits. In 2001 dynasty heir Scott Coors (himself openly gay) launched a feather-ruffling LGBT print ad campaign.
British beer titan Guinness commissioned this revolutionary ad featuring a same-sex couple in 1995—then after an ensuing backlash in the UK tabloid press, pulled the ad and denied it ever exited until 2012, when it became a viral hit.
1999: Gay Pride Beer
A New Hampshire brewer receives approval to bottle Gay Pride Beer.
2004: Pride Lager
A California brewer gets the nod to produce Pride Lager.
2008: In Bruges
With one simple line (“One gay beer for my gay friend, one normal beer for me because I am normal”) from the 2008 movie In Bruges, Colin Farrell sparked rampant speculation about what constitutes a gay beer. Fruity flavoring? The shape of the glass? Or is it just an Irish thing?
2011: Purple Hand Beer & Salamandra
Mexican brewer Minerva claimed (by now we know incorrectly) that it had launched the world’s first gay beers with the introduction of its Purple Hand Beer and Salamandra Honey Ale labels.
It’s ambiguous at best, but when Budweiser’s Coming Home ad appeared less than a year after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, many saw its main characters as gay lovers reunited after military service.
2015: Queer Beer
No ambiguity here. We end our history just as we began, with another parody — this one a Super Bowl ad spoof by web superstars Bria and Chrissy, starring gay web megastar Davey Wavey as one of a winning team of steamy football players (and proud Queer Beer drinkers) who can’t keep their hands off each other.
2016: The Portland Beer Book
Beer has come a long way since Schmitts and Coors. We now have fabulous craft micro beers, with the weird and wondrous city of Portland leading the way. The city has created a zine, The Portland Beer Book, to help you discover its unique beer culture, which is as welcoming to LGBTQ as to straight.