To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek last year, Shmaltz Brewing with Federation of Beer under license by CBS Consumer Products, created two golden ales. This year, the Clifton Park, N.Y. brewery has produced their fifth limited edition Star Trek beer, the “Star Trek: The Next Generation 30th Anniversary Ale: Symbiosis,” as an homage to the TNG episode with the same name (S01E22).
Viewers may remember in this episode, the Enterprise-D crew follows up on an unusual distress call from a broken-down freighter and soon finds itself in the middle of a trade dispute between races of two planets. One culture, the Ornarans has been exploiting another culture, the Brekkians, by trading a supposed life-saving drug, felicium, in exchange for “all of life’s necessities.” Captain Picard has a difficult decision — whether to uphold the Prime Directive or rescue the Brekkian civilization from a drug-addicted demise.
The Symbiosis ale drinker also has a hard decision at hand, albeit significantly less dire: Is this a malty pale ale or a hoppy wheat ale? (It seems several beer rating sites have their own way to type cast this particular beer; but since Shmaltz calls it a hoppy wheat ale, who are we to argue?)
As casual craft beer reviewers, Chuck Garrett and I also uphold our own kind of prime directive: We attempt to steer clear of interference by other beer reviewers’ opinions before we make our own. We also don’t try to dissect the subtleties of hidden herbs, fruits or obscure hops. We merely give our honest impressions based on our love for craft beer and our experience as home brewers.
Symbiosis ale pours clear with a light yellow to golden color. We understand how it could be possibly construed a golden ale. But it’s more on the pale side of golden. There’s a light head which quickly dissipates. After a steady sniff, Symbiosis has a light, but subtle smell of hops.
This ale hits the tongue with ample carbonation without being fizzy. It starts out clean and crisp with a light malt taste and finishes with a hint of citrus. There’s a slightly bitter end, almost like lemon zest rather than fruit. We lean toward calling this one a pale ale based on our impressions of color and taste. Any flavors normally attributed to wheat beers weren’t apparent to us during this tasting.
At 5.5 percent ABV (alcohol by volume), Symbiosis can hardly be called a low-alcohol beer, but its light, crisp taste makes it seem “sessionable.” Still, it would make the perfect afternoon refreshment for an end-of-summer barbecue or a Star Trek: Discovery viewing party.
Symbiosis keeps to its namesake. It provides mutual benefits to two groups of beer drinkers, the hoppy beer lover and malty beer lover. Star Trek fans who love craft brew, have a mutual beneficial relationship with Shmaltz Brewing. They make Star Trek craft beer. We drink Star Trek craft beer… and enjoy it responsibly, of course.
We’ll be interested to learn if in 2018 Shmaltz Brewing will create a special limited edition brew for the 25th anniversary of Deep Space Nine. We’re hoping for another episode homage for DS9 similar to the TOS and TNG commemorative brews. Possibly an IPA or amber ale?
Where to find Symbiosis
In a perfect universe, future releases of Shmaltz’s Star Trek brews would be more widely available. At least here in Arizona, any Shmaltz beer isn’t easy to find. We have searched independent liquor outlets, explored beverage warehouses, and combed through specialty food stores. We’re hoping we won’t need to warp to the fourth planet of the Delos system to buy more. It’s a continuing mission.
Shmaltz gives a little more information on their website, which lists a handful of local wholesalers state-by-state, with the caveat, “Please contact your local wholesaler for a list of retailers that carry our chosen beers.”
As with all of Shmaltz’s Star Trek brews, Symbiosis is a limited edition seasonal beer. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be others. Shmaltz tells us they have a new Trek recipe still being finalized that is slated to come out in late fall.
A long line of Star Trek beers from Shmaltz
Symbiosis is the fifth Star Trek beer put out by Shmaltz, and joins Vulcan Ale, a red session IPA, Klingon Imperial Porter, and two 50th Anniversary ales, The Trouble With Tribbles and Voyage To The Northeast Quadrant. Read our 2016 review of Shmaltz Brewery’s The Trouble with Tribbles.