At one point, Bob says, "He saw Jedi 17 times, eh!" What isn't obvious now, is that Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) opened in May 1983, while production of "Strange Brew" had wrapped five months earlier, in December 1982. Not only hadn't the McKenzie brothers seen "Jedi" - but they couldn't refer to it by its full title, since the "Revenge"/"Return" issue was still up in the air while they were filming.
The basic plot as well as many of the name of the brewing company are references to William Shakespeare's "Hamlet". The castle in "Hamlet" was Elsinore. The heir to Elsinore's father was murdered by her uncle, who then comes to her as a ghost. In Hamlet, the uncle's name was Claudius, and in the movie he is named Claude.
Before filming, all of the major breweries wanted the McKenzie brothers to appear in beer advertisements. The filmmakers had the promise of Molson's Brewery, but once the brewery found out that there was a joke in the film about putting a mouse in a beer bottle so that a complaint can be made in order to get free beer, they distanced themselves from the film. The filmmakers were also banned from filming in a Brewers Retail store, and from using the name "Brewers Retail". They ended up building a replica of the store at a cost of more than $45,000, and calling it "The Beer Store". Ironically, Brewers Retail later changed the name of its stores to "The Beer Store", and they continue to operate under that name.
The name of the brewery in this film is Elsinore Brewery. Max von Sydow, who played the Brewmeister in this movie, was also in the film The Seventh Seal (1957). In that film he and his squire were heading towards the village of Elsinore, but decided not to because the plague was there.
A sequel to the film, entitled Home Brew, was planned for production in 1999 when financing fell through at the last minute. Co-written by Dave Thomas and Paul Flaherty, Flaherty was also going to direct, and Dan Aykroyd was on board to play the part of friend Rick Ripple. Principal photography was to begin on July 19, 1999 in Toronto. At one point, Todd McFarlane was to step in as executive producer to revive financing for the film, but never followed through.
The plot, according to a Maple Palm release, would feature Bob and Doug, now working as garbage men, being convinced by a fast talking insurance salesman (Aykroyd) to get into the microbrewing business.
The role of Brewmeister Smith was written with Max von Sydow in mind. But Rick Moranis and 'Dave Thomas' (vq) thought actually enlisting him would be impossible. It turns out that Freddie Fields, then-president of MGM had just produced Victory (1981), which starred von Sydow. So he sent the esteemed actor the script. Instead of hashing it out with Fields, von Sydow ran it by his son, who was a huge SCTV (1976) fan and encouraged his father to take the role.
Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas hired Steve De Jarnatt to write the first draft. Initially, Thomas told De Jarnatt that he wanted to base the film's story on Hamlet but he ended up being too faithful to the play and was told be more creative with the parallels to it. Moranis and Thomas' agents sent the script to various Hollywood studios and a few days later they had a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer based not on the script but on record sales, "the breakout potential, and the fact that it was being advertised on a television show", Thomas remembers. They were unhappy with the script because Bob and Doug were improvised characters done in their "comic voices" and they felt that nobody but themselves could write for these characters. Thomas began rewriting the script without Moranis who was now uncertain about doing the film. After working on the first 50 pages, Moranis took a look at what Thomas had done and they worked together rewriting it. However, they were not sure just how much they could legally change and did most of the changes in the first third of the script, including the addition of Bob and Doug's science fiction film, Mutants of 2051 A.D., Bob and Doug watching it in a movie theater, and causing a riot. Thomas remembers that the script was "far more bizarre and conceptual in the beginning ... if we had been able to rewrite the whole thing, we would have made the whole thing like that".
Lynne Griffin's character Pam Elsinore must have just turned 18 to inherit the company as outlined by the lawyer. But her birth date on the video game is in 1959. Her character would have been 23 when the movie was filmed in 1982. Lynne Griffin was actually 30 at the time.
While not a direct novelization, a book shaped like Bob and Doug's ubiquitous beer bottles was published as a promotional tie-in for the movie. The book touted its "ingredients" as "A mellow blend of choice cartoon tidbits and the finest photo-snippets aged in goatskin bags." It also featured a fake library card insert with the signatures of famous Canadians who had allegedly checked the book out, including hockey player Bobby Hull and author Margaret Atwood. Being only available for a short time, the book is currently out of print.