Beer Geek

5 killer beers for 'The Walking Dead' (and other zombies)

Oct. 12, 2012 at 2:07 PM ET

AMC, Getty Images stock /
No need to be an angry zombie. Watch your favorite undeads with a nice, cold brew.

Season 3 of AMC's zombietastic “The Walking Dead” debuts this Sunday, and it has me thinking (as usual) about beer. Specifically, which brews would be the best companions for surviving the zombie apocalypse. After all, you really can’t call it “surviving” without tasty beer.

The beers I’d choose would depend on the nature of the zombies that were trying to make a meal of me. Not all zombies are created equal.

For instance, the walking dead of George Romero's “Night of the Living Dead” are underachievers, at least compared to some of today's undead go-getters. They don’t run, they can’t climb, they lack the even basic intelligence and they don’t respond to gunshots. They’re even afraid of fire.

Under these conditions, I would go for New Hollands Dragons Milk, which is one of my all time favorite beers.  Its rich Bourbon barrel notes and chocolaty body would be the perfect respite from spending a day power walking away from ghouls.  I enjoy it best at room temperature, which is a good thing, as I’m not sure if I’d have a mini-fridge in my tree fort.

Of course I’d have to change up my strategy if I were hanging out in Raccoon City, as the Tyrant virus-infected monsters from the “Resident Evil” series are far more unpredictable.  Sometimes they'll be loafing along, easy to pick off with a pistol, and then the next one you meet comes rushing at you and starts gnawing on your neck - they definitely keep you on your toes.

In this case, I recommend something that won’t bog you down. As a guy who prefers his beers dark and flavorful, I'd probably opt for Full Sail Brewings Session Black Lager, a crisp and refreshing Schwarzbier brewed with dark malts. With an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 5.3% and notes of chocolate and coffee with a pleasantly bitter finish, you could treat yourself to one of these without totally diminishing your lock-picking skills.

The Tyrant virus zombies are tough enough, but the fast-moving Rage-infected maniacs from “28 Days Later” are an even tougher lot to deal with, and while they wouldn't have me sipping on an O’Doul’s, they would probably keep me on the move. I’d save the bottles for Molotov cocktails, and would instead unwind with a low-ABV canned treat, like 21 Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon, a refreshing 4.9% wheat beer brewed with watermelon.  Not only does it come in a lightweight and durable container, its crisp and fruity flavor will help cool you off after a full day of running for you life - let's face it, survival can be very tiring.

Taking things one step further,“The Crossed” comic series breathes new life into the zombie genre by depicting a world ravaged by a virus that strips people of all decency, leaving only the worst of human traits – murder, torture, cannibalism - to name a few of the nicer ones in the comic. Unlike other zombie apocalypses, these creatures don’t just eat brains – they use their own to come up with clever ways to contaminate others.  For instance, infection is spread through bodily fluids, so they douse bullets with their own blood before shooting the uninfected.

With zombies this depraved, relentless and capable, there’s really no hope. I’d probably just pour a Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout into my favorite snifter and wait for the inevitable.  With an ABV of 18% and huge notes of chocolate, caramel and dark fruits to sooth my shaking nerves, hopefully I won’t be feeling any pain when the zombies descend upon me.

Of course, the belle of this week's dead-butante ball is “The Walking Dead,” who are a middle of the road bunch when it comes to zombies.  While they might creep up on you and have some smarts - at least compared to Romero's undead dummies - they're not so clever or aggressive that you can't take a breather in the basement of the CDC or hole up on a farm and have a minute to unwind (at least until you check the barn).

With a home base comes the ability to have larger bottles, opening a whole host of craft beer possibilities.  Under these circumstances, I'd go with a rich, satisfying sipper, like Uinta Brewing's Labyrinth Black Ale, an Imperial Stout brewed with licorice sticks and aged in rye whiskey barrels. This 13.2% ABV bombastic brew pours like motor oil and coats your palate with notes of chocolate, licorice, caramel, oak and whiskey.  A beer this good makes the unraveling of civilization a little more agreeable. I’d just be careful when popping the cork – walkers have good ears.

Of course, all of these suggestions assume that you'll be able to scavenge up some beer at all.  Truth be told, after hunters and doctors, homebrewers will probably be the most popular folks when the inevitable zombie apocalypse hits.  As long as they can find some grains and a couple of pots, these folks will be whipping up brews with whatever they can find.  A corn-wheat blackberry wild ale? Hey, when the world is falling apart, that sounds pretty good to me.

What beers would you hunker down with in the bunker when the zombies start to roam?  

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