Star Trek: The Next Generation, the show which introduced us to the Borg, launched the career of Patrick Stewart, and gave us my favorite Star Trek movie (First Contact) turns 30 this year. To celebrate, the fine folks at Shmaltz Brewing and Federation of Beers bring us Star Trek Symbiosis, a collector's edition ale brewed with Centennial, Gladiator, and Amarillo Hops.
This ale takes its name from the eponymous TNG episode. This first season classic sees Picard and co. encounter two civilizations in an exploitative "symbiotic" relationship. One civilization, the Omarans have suffered from a deadly plague for generations. The Brekkians are the sole producer of felicium, the only drug which alleviates the plague symptoms. The Omarans dedicate all of their industrial output to the distillation of felicium. In turn, the Brekkans provide the Omarans with food, raw materials, and all of the other necessities of life. But Dr. Crusher discovers that the plague was cured centuries ago and "felicium" is nothing more than a powerful narcotic.
In order for the Enterprise crew to end this exploitative relationship, they must violate the Prime Directive and intervene in an alien society's internal matters. Picard finds a way to break the Brekkan's cycle of dependency without violating that sacrosanct Federation rule. I'm not going to spoil the ending by telling you how, even though you've all had three decades to catch this episode. Shoehorn in an anti-drug PSA between Tasha Yar and Wesley Crusher, and you have a solid first season episode. Sure, the props are hokey (I'm pretty sure the "felicium" was just lentils) and internal episode continuity errors abound, but nearly every show has its first season wrinkles. If the folks at Shmaltz Brewing were looking to choose an iconic episode to name their 30th Anniversary ale after, they didn't do a bad job.
The beer itself is delish. Big thanks to Shmaltz Brewing for sending some my way. Full disclosure: I'm not a big fan of hoppy beers. I find the bitterness antithetical to my refreshment goals. You'll not find any IPAs in my fridge. Instead, I gravitate more towards pilsners and hefeweizens, and I've always thought that you either fell into one camp or another. However, much like Picard did in this ale's namesake, Shmaltz found a third way. Symbiosis is a hoppy wheat ale that starts out with an herbal, almost floral introduction and finishes with prominent notes of coffee and tobacco. The tang of the hops are nicely balanced by the smoothness of the wheat.
Overall, I give this beer a 9/10. Star Trek Symbiosis is available in four-packs and on taps in 35 states. If you're looking for a full-bodied, refreshing beer, Shmaltz "makes it so!"