Two of my favorite things are MINIs and beer. And they actually do have a connection in MINI folklore. As a MINI enthusiast, you probably know the story of MINI designer Frank Stephenson using a beer can as a last-minute exhaust tip on the clay mock-up of the original MINI. This design accident was kept in the final design.
So that got me thinking: if MINIs were beers, which beer would they be?
The original Mini is so British that is has to be an old and popular English ale. Bass Brewery was founded in 1777 and holds the first Britsh trademark for the red triangle. Bass Pale Ale is a widely popular quintessential British beer, ubiquitous and appealing to all classes. Kind of like the classic Mini.
MINI Hardtop 2 Door
Boddingtons Brewery isn’t quite as old as Bass, founded “only” in 1853. Boddingtons Pub Ale is also a very popular British ale. It was one of the first beers to be sold in cans containing a nitrogen beer widget. Like regular beer with a bit of technology, just like the new MINI. The widget gives the ale a thicker, creamier texture which parallels the MINI to the traditional ale and Mini. Could Volcanic Orange have been inspired by the yellow Boddingtons Pub Ale can?
MINI Hardtop 4 Door
Fuller’s London Porter is one of the best-selling beers in the UK. It’s a bit heavier and has a more substantial flavor than a traditional English ale. The story goes that porters were popular with the transportation workers in London, hence the name. The new MINI Hardtop 4 Door with its extra doors can be considered more of a people porter than the original MINI Hardtop.
The convertible is such an American vehicle and just says “Summer”. Samuel Adams Summer Ale is the beer equivalent, a popular American easy-drinking ale with a bit of zest.
Ah, the new MINI Clubman. Whereas the old MINI Clubman might have been a PBR or some trendy IPA, the hipsters have moved on. Narragansett Lager is a “premium lager” with a long history (like the Mini Clubman Estate) whose popularity is now surging among the hipster class. It’s often sold in larger 24 oz cans. Haven’t heard of the old ‘Gansett? You probably don’t drive a Clubman, either.
The SUV is truly an American phenomenon. It’s typically a big, heavy, and substantial vehicle. Rogue Mocha Porter is a dark, thick, and heavy beer with chocolate and coffee flavors. It’s one of the most popular American porters. As mentioned above, the porter style was so named because it appealed to people who hauled things around the city. It’s pretty obvious that if the MINI Countryman were a beer it would have to be a popular American porter and thus a Rogue Mocha Porter. The Countryman even came in a Light Coffee color. A no-brainer.
The MINI Paceman was marketed in the US as a trendy, art-and-design, urban vehicle. It was always more about form than function. Likewise, Stella Artois in the US is considered a bit of a posh beer where form also plays a big roll. It’s almost always served in an eponymous chalice with the bartender using a special tool to scrape off the foamy head for the perfect presentation. As an actual beer it’s a lightweight, just like the Paceman’s functionality as an SUV.
The MINI Coupe is such an anomaly. With only two seats, it’s not a practical daily driver for most people. In a way, it’s sort of a luxury instead, often a second car kept just for pleasure. Its shape is unlike anything else on the road. With the extra body reinforcements and rear spoiler, it’s heavy. Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is the MINI Coupe in beer form. It’s a luxury, not a daily-drinking beer. It’s rich and full-bodied due to generous amounts of chocolate. Even the bottle has a unique and unmistakable shape. Both seem to exist for sheer pleasure.
Like the MINI Convertible, the MINI Roadster begs to be taken out on a sunny day. To the beach. It’s fun, not serious. If the two-seater Roadster were a beer it would be a Corona Extra with a lime. You have probably seen the TV commercials with the young couple sitting in Adirondack chairs on the beach with cold Coronas in their hands, the slogan “Find Your Beach” displayed overhead. How do you suppose they got to the beach? I’m pretty sure they motored there in a MINI Roadster with their cooler full of Coronas in the boot.
Finally, the ultra-rare MINI Clubvan. This limited-production modal has its roots in the utilitarian Austin and Morris Mini Van which were popular vehicles for the working class. The modern MINI Clubvan brought along a bit of that practicality, but with a bit of flair and exclusivity. Whereas the original Guinness Stout was popular with the working class, St. James’s Gate Brewery produced a very limited-edition beer called Guinness The 1759. This Guinness is not a stout, but an amber ale. It was only sold in a larger bottle complete with cork. This choice seemed obvious as both are larger, posher, limited-production versions of their working-class originals.