The Best Beer from All 50 States

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With more than 4000 breweries in the U.S. alone, picking an absolute favorite beer can be an impossible challenge. In honor of National Drink Beer Day, we’re raising our glasses to them all—and sharing some of the country’s best brews.

1. ALABAMA // GOOD PEOPLE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Birmingham, Alabama

The good people at Good People sold their first keg of beer on July 4, 2008—and haven’t slowed down since. Their lineup, which include five year-round and four seasonal brews, leans heavily toward the IPA side, though fans of the brand tend to treat their Coffee Oatmeal Stout (a.k.a. C-O-S) like a dessert.

2. ALASKA // MIDNIGHT SUN BREWING COMPANY

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

You don’t have to travel to Anchorage to get a taste of what the city’s oldest brewery has to offer. Midnight Sun ships its beer—including its popular Deadly Sins series, which includes a Gluttony Triple IPA and a Belgian-style Pride Strong Ale—as far east as New York City.

3. ARIZONA // FOUR PEAKS BREWING COMPANY

Location: Tempe, Arizona

Trading in cows for hops, Four Peaks lives on what used to be the site of Tempe’s historic Borden Creamery. Though it’s an all-American kind of company, they’ve got a talent for perfecting international beer styles; Kilt Lifter, a malty, Scottish-style ale, is a particular standout.

4. ARKANSAS // OZARK BEER COMPANY

Location: Rogers, Arkansas

Officially founded in 2013, Ozark promotes itself as making “honest beer” for honest people—and they deliver on that statement. The brewery’s small but eclectic lineup is a reflection of its surroundings, with a session-brewed American Pale Ale that boasts notes of grapefruit and cut grass.

5. CALIFORNIA // RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING COMPANY

Location: Santa Rosa, California

When it comes to local beer, Californians are truly spoiled for choice. And the stuff they’re brewing up is some of America’s best, with brands like Arrogant Bastard, Firestone Walker, and AleSmith calling The Golden State home. But Russian River is doing things just a little bit differently. Based in Sonoma County, an area better known for its vino (the brewery used to be owned by Korbel), the company is using traditional winemaking processes to brew its barrel-aged beers, including Temptation, a sour blonde ale that’s aged in chardonnay barrels.

6. COLORADO // OSKAR BLUES BREWERY

Location: Longmont, Colorado

Oskar Blues Brewery

If beer were a popularity contest, Coors Light would take down most of its competition. But just because it’s the second most popular beer in America doesn’t mean that it’s the best Colorado has to offer. In Longmont, Colorado (about 35 miles north of Coors' home in Golden), Oskar Blues has been leading the craft-beer-in-a-can game since the early aughts—so much so that they recently opened satellite breweries in Brevard, North Carolina and Austin, Texas. And it all started with their signature beer, Dale’s Pale Ale, a strong pale ale that goes anywhere a can can.

7. CONNECTICUT // NEW ENGLAND BREWING CO.

Location: Woodbridge, Connecticut

New England Brewing Co. favors simplicity above all else, as evidenced by their slogan: “Drink it. It’s good.” They take a similarly straightforward approach with their menu of canned craft beers, with their G-Bot, an intense Double IPA, being one of their most sought-after brews.

8. DELAWARE // DOGFISH HEAD CRAFT BREWED ALES

Location: Milton, Delaware

Like the little brewery that could, Dogfish Head has parlayed what it calls its “off-centered ales for off-centered people” into a nationwide obsession. While their 90 Minute IPA is a go-to choice for heavy hops lovers, it’s the brand’s frequent pop culture collaborations—like Bitches Brew, the iconic Imperial Stout they created in honor of the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ album of the same name—that have gained Dogfish an obsessive following.

9. FLORIDA // FUNKY BUDDHA BREWERY

Location: Oakland Park, Florida

Funky Buddha

Founded in 2010, Funky Buddha is still a relative newcomer. But they’re changing the craft beer game in South Florida by taking a culinary approach to beer-making, as evidenced by seasonal varietals like Blueberry Cobbler Ale, More Moro Blood Orange IPA, and Sweet Potato Casserole Strong Ale.

10. GEORGIA // CREATURE COMFORTS BREWING COMPANY

Location: Athens, Georgia

The Creature Comforts brand is “driven by the promise that a curious mind leads to better living.” Which also leads to better beer. According to BeerAdvocate, four of Georgia’s five best beers are coming out of the Athens-based brewery.

11. HAWAII // MAUI BREWING CO.

Location:  Lahaina, Hawaii

Founded in 2005, Maui Brewing Co. takes much of its inspiration—and some of its ingredients—from its enviable surroundings, resulting in smooth brews like the floral Bikini Blonde Lager and the toasty CoCoNut PorTeR.

12. IDAHO // GRAND TETON BREWING COMPANY

Location: Victor, Idaho

At the base of the Tetons, Grand Teton has been welcoming thirsty travelers to its brewery for nearly 30 years. Whether you’re prone to a signature brew like Old Faithful Ale, a seasonal Trout Hop Black IPA, or a cellar reserve like Double Vision Doppelbock, the company swears its difference is in the glacial run-off water it uses in its brewing process.

13. ILLINOIS // GOOSE ISLAND BEER COMPANY

Scott Olson, Getty Images

Location: Chicago, Illinois

It says something about Goose Island that, nearly a quarter-century after pioneering the concept of bourbon-aged beer, their annual Black Friday release of (very limited) Bourbon County Brand Stouts is still one of the beer world’s most exciting events, with imbibers standing in line for hours to get their hands on a single four-pack.

14. INDIANA // 3 FLOYDS BREWING CO.

Location: Munster, Indiana

Leaving “normal” to its fellow brewers, 3 Floyds’ focus is on crafting unique, artisanal-minded beers like the well-rounded, Scottish-style Robert the Bruce ale—or its barrel-aged, star anise-tinged version of that, Spazzerack! 

15. IOWA // TOPPLING GOLIATH BREWING COMPANY

Location: Decorah, Iowa

In 2009, Toppling Goliath founders Clark and Barb Lewey made the leap from experimental home brewers to official ones. Their beers—including their flagship Dorothy’s New World Lager, a California Common lager—are distributed throughout northeast Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin.

16. KANSAS // FREE STATE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Lawrence, Kansas

When Free State opened in 1989, it became the first legal brewery to open in Kansas in more than a century. They’ve taken that distinction seriously, crafting a unique lineup of draft and bottled beers, like the Old Backus Barleywine Ale, which only gets better with age.

17. KENTUCKY // AGAINST THE GRAIN BREWERY & SMOKEHOUSE

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Against the Grain isn’t kidding about its name. In the less than five years they’ve been in business, the beloved brewpub and smokehouse has concocted hundreds of beers that are as unique in name as they are in flavor: In addition to three varietals of 5 Roses: A Rick Astley Joint, there’s Wilford Whimley, Instant Placation Libation, Sho’nuff, and Marty McFly P.A.

18. LOUISIANA // PARISH BREWING COMPANY

Location: Broussard, Louisiana

Embracing its roots, Parish Brewing mixes old-school brewing techniques with local ingredients to produce small batches of Cajun Country ales, like Canebrake, its golden Louisiana wheat ale brewed with Steen’s sugarcane syrup.

19. MAINE // MAINE BEER COMPANY

Location: Freeport, Maine

Beer. It’s what’s for dinner at Maine Beer Company. After finding great success with Lunch, a pine-tinged IPA in 2011, the company launched Dinner, its first Double IPA, in 2014. The beer, which garnered a perfect 100 score with BeerAdvocate, isn’t easy to get your hands on; subsequent brewery-only releases of the ale have sold out in hours.

20. MARYLAND // UNION CRAFT BREWING COMPANY

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

The best way to get your Union Craft fix is straight from the tap room, where the brewery makes a community event out of beer-tasting. And they’ve succeeded in making their brews approachable, with a year-round supply of Baltimore-focused canned brews, like the hop-heavy Duckpin Pale Ale.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // TREE HOUSE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Monson, Massachusetts

In a small red barn in the tiny town of Monson, Massachusetts, there’s a huge beer thing happening. In just five short years, Tree House Brewing has managed to take the craft beer world by storm with its small-batch, well water-crafted ales, like the chocolate-covered maple candy-like Good Morning and the That’s What She Said Milk Stout.

22. MICHIGAN // FOUNDERS BREWING CO.

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

“We don’t brew beer for the masses” is the mandate at Founders, winners of six World Beer Cup, four European Beer Star, and three Great American Beer Festival medals. Let that sink in over a cold bottle of Founders Imperial Stout.

23. MINNESOTA // SURLY BREWING COMPANY

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

In 2011, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed what came to be known as the “Surly bill” into law, which essentially made it possible for Surly to serve its beer on site. Beer lovers everywhere rejoiced. And the brand has continued to expand its offerings—and distribution chain—with brews like CynicAle, Abrasive, Hell, and Overrated!

24. MISSISSIPPI // SOUTHERN PROHIBITION BREWING

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi

With beers like Jack the Sipper, Mississippi Fire Ant, and Pow! Rye in the Kisser, Southern Prohibition is upping the craft can game by mixing cool art, fun names, and easily drinkable brews.

25. MISSOURI // PERENNIAL ARTISAN ALES

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Founded in 2011, Perennial is a microbrewery created with the “adventurous craft beer drinker in mind.” The company sources local, seasonal, and organic ingredients to create its menu of handcrafted, small-batch beers, including its barrel-aged Abraxas Imperial Stout, with hints of cacao nibs, vanilla beans, ancho chiles, and cinnamon.

26. MONTANA // BIG SKY BREWING CO.

Location: Missoula, Montana

Big Sky Brewing began life, at least conceptually, as a public access TV show called Beer Talk. From there, the idea morphed into a draft-only brewery, and now a full-scale brewery that produces about 50,000 barrels of the sudsy stuff per year, each name (like Pygmy Owl Itty Bitty IPA and Moose Drool Brown Ale) a nod to the nature that surrounds the brewery.

27. NEBRASKA // NEBRASKA BREWING COMPANY

Location: La Vista, Nebraska

After years of experimental home-brewing, Paul and Kim Kavulak opened the doors to the Nebraska Brewing Company brewpub in 2007. In the years since, they’ve set the standard for brewing in the Cornhusker State, with more than a dozen canned craft, reserve bottle, limited-edition barrel-aged, and seasonal brews, including 311 Amber Ale, which they created in collaboration with the Omaha-founded rockers of 311. 

28. NEVADA // BIG DOG’S BREWING CO.

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

In the midst of Sin City, Big Dog has been brewing up some truly creative, small-batch beers—like the bold War Dog Imperial IPA and rich Black Lab Stout—for nearly 25 years.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // SMUTTYNOSE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Hampton, New Hampshire

Named for Smuttynose Island, Smuttynose Brewing is bringing a taste of The Granite State to seemingly every corner of the world. Their more than two dozen varieties of year-round, seasonal, and large-format bottled beers—including the award-winning Baltic Porter and Wheat Wine Ale—are available in more than two dozen states across the country, plus parts of Europe and Asia.

30. NEW JERSEY // KANE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Ocean, New Jersey

On the coast of New Jersey, Kane is a relative newcomer, but they’ve made a pretty big impact in their five years in business. Particularly with their Corked & Caged beers, a complex collection of small-batch beers in large format bottles, like the local wildflower honey-brewed Apiary saison.

31. NEW MEXICO // LA CUMBRE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

La Cumbre doesn’t have the unlimited advertising budget of its mass-produced colleagues—and they’re OK with that. They’d much rather devote their resources to finding the best ingredients, and giving their brewers the time they need to perfect each drop of beer produced. La Cumbre’s penchant for classic beer styles shows in its Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen Bavarian-style wheat beer, and Red Ryeot.

32. NEW YORK // EVIL TWIN BREWING

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Evil Twin Brewing

With nearly 250 breweries statewide, the competition to be one of New York’s finest isn’t easy. But Evil Twin has been making a quick run for that title since first launching in 2010. Originating in Denmark, the brand made the jump across the pond to a spot in Brooklyn a few years back and has been amping up production ever since. In 2012, they launched more than 40 different beers. And today, you can find them in more than 40 different countries (not to mention top restaurants around the world like Momofuku Ko and Eleven Madison). And if you believe what BeerAdvocate says, three of New York’s 10 best beers come from Evil Twin—including the first and second spots, which belong to Imperial Biscotti Break Bourbon Barrel Aged and Evil Twin Double Barrel Jesus, respectively.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // FOOTHILLS BREWING

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Because freshness matters, Foothills does much of its business in the Southeast. It’s here that you’ll find a major demand for the brewer’s creative handcrafted concoctions, especially its seasonal brews like Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout. (Its year-round Jade IPA is also a popular choice for its peppery finish.)

34. NORTH DAKOTA // FARGO BREWING COMPANY

Location: Fargo, North Dakota

The good news: As one might hope, the folks at Fargo Brewing couldn’t resist a small nod to the Coen brothers’ movie. They swear that they’d “give our left foot for another pint” of their Wood Chipper IPA. The bad news: You’ll have to make your way to the Great Plains to taste it.

35. OHIO // FAT HEAD’S BREWERY

Location: North Olmsted, Ohio

Before becoming one of Ohio’s most acclaimed breweries, Fat Head’s got its start on the South Side of Pittsburgh. In 2009, the brand teamed up with brewer Matt Cole and made the move to Ohio. Early acclaim for their uniquely crafted collection of formats—from German-style lagers to fruit beers—led to a quick expansion and the brand now boasts locations in Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon, and North Olmsted and Cleveland, Ohio.

36. OKLAHOMA //  PRAIRIE ARTISAN ALES

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

The brainchild of two suds-loving brothers, Prairie Ales was founded as a self-funded endeavor in 2012. Since then, the duo has experimented with all sorts of amazing ingredients and types of beers, and has received unprecedented acclaim for what they’re doing. All but one of BeerAdvocate’s picks for the 10 best Oklahoma brews belong to Prairie Ales, with four of their BOMB! Imperial Stouts topping the list.

37. OREGON // DESCHUTES BREWERY

Location: Bend, Oregon

Founded as a brewpub in 1988, Deschutes’ main focus has always been on quality over quantity, but they’ve been fortunate enough to find both. More than a quarter-century later, the brand is still evolving. Their beers, including a Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale, can be purchased in most cities across the country. And Deschutes isn’t done yet: They recently announced that they’ll be opening an east coast brewery in Roanoke, Virginia.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // VOODOO BREWERY

Location: Meadville, Pennsylvania

Voodoo Brewery has been producing some of the country’s quirkiest microbrews for than a decade, and the beer world has taken notice. Their Big Black Voodoo Daddy Imperial Stout took home a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival.

39. RHODE ISLAND // PROCLAMATION ALE COMPANY

Location: West Kingston, Rhode Island

The smallest state is packing some big beer flavor with Proclamation Ale, which was founded by Dave Witham in 2014. And his impact was felt pretty much immediately, with a lot of love being shown for his unique brews, including Derivative: Galaxy.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // WESTBROOK BREWING COMPANY

Location: Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

Westbrook defines its mission this way: “to make the most interesting, drinkable, and generally awesome beer possible.” Always game to experiment with new ingredients and brewing techniques, it’s clear from their lineup of beers—like Poppin’ Pils, Weisse Weisse Baby, and Shane’s Big DIPA—that these brewers are having fun.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // CROW PEAK BREWING

Location: Spearfish, South Dakota

Founded in 2007, Crow Peak says that it’s been “crafting South Dakota’s beer culture” with its rich brews, including a Pile O’ Dirt Porter and Canyon Cream Ale.

42. TENNESSEE // WISEACRE BREWING CO.

Location: Memphis, Tennessee

Wiseacre is the product of brothers Davin and Kellan Bartosch’s longtime fascination with great beer (they count the time they stole their parents’ rental car and drove to Boston’s Sam Adams Brewery in 1997 as a formative part of their journey to Wiseacre). Their fun-loving attitude carries over to their cans of beers, which boast creative names and packaging, like the Gotta Get Up to Get Down Coffee Milk Stout.

43. TEXAS // JESTER KING BREWERY

Location: Austin, Texas

Fans of Jester King have learned to expect the unexpected from this farmhouse brewery that uses well water, local grains, and native wild yeast in their brewing process.

44. UTAH / UINTA BREWING CO.

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Founded in a former mechanic’s garage in 1993, it didn’t take long for Uinta’s reputation within the industry to grow. By 2001, they had outgrown their space, and were able to customize a 26,000 square foot brewery that allowed them to maximize production of their Utah-inspired brews, like their flagship Cutthroat Pale Ale, which is named after the official state fish (the Bonneville cutthroat trout).

45. VERMONT // THE ALCHEMIST

Location: Waterbury, Vermont

One of the smallest operations on this list, The Alchemist is a tiny, family-run brewery that specializes in one beer: Heady Topper, an unfiltered, American Double IPA.

46. VIRGINIA // HARDYWOOD PARK CRAFT BREWERY

Location: Richmond, Virginia

Founded in 2011, Hardywood’s dedication to crafting truly unique beverages didn’t go unnoticed by beer lovers. Five years after the company’s founding, Hardywood has already won a slew of awards for its naturally conditioned, unpasteurized, and unfiltered lineup of beers, including a few more experimental beverages, like its top-rated, bourbon barrel-aged Hardywood Foolery Milk Stout. Hardywood was also recently named Virginia’s Top Brewer by RateBeer.

47. WASHINGTON // FREMONT BREWING COMPANY

Location: Seattle, Washington

“Sustainability” is the key word at Fremont, Seattle’s seven-year-old, small-batch brewery that promotes “activism through beer.” Which means that they conserve energy as much as possible in the brewing process and implement various zero-waste production processes. They also source a variety of local ingredients, both toward that cause and as a way to give back to the community. All of which makes for a collection of award-winning beers, like the Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop Ale, which Men’s Journal recently named one of the 101 Best Beers in America.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // MOUNTAIN STATE BREWING CO.

Location: Thomas, West Virginia

Mountain State is “West Virginia born and brewed”—and proud of it! As one of West Virginia's oldest microbreweries and tap rooms, the company is doing its part to make a name for the state on the beer scene, and they’re succeeding. Brews like Cold Trail Blonde Ale, Almost Heaven Amber Ale, and Miner’s Daughter Stout are complex yet approachable for even newbie microbrew drinkers.

49. WISCONSIN // CENTRAL WATERS BREWING COMPANY

Location: Amherst, Wisconsin

Central Waters may not be the only brewery to hop on the barrel-aging bandwagon, but they're clearly doing something right. Special, brewery-only releases have resulted in long lines and quick sellouts—and even an uptick in the local tourism industry. In January, the Stevens Point Journal wrote that “Like any rock star worth its froth, these beers attract dedicated fans with some making seven-hour drives, others booking flights and reserving so many hotel rooms that folks at the nearby Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau have noticed a coinciding spike in occupancy rates.” Who knew beer could be good for business?

50. WYOMING // SNAKE RIVER BREWING

Location: Jackson, Wyoming

Snake River may be Wyoming’s oldest brewery, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not open to change. In 2011, after nearly 20 years of bottling their beer, they made the (eco)conscious decision to switch to cans. Their dedication to the environment goes even beyond that; in 2006, they received USDA Organic Certification for their OB-1 (Organic Beer Number 1), a brown ale made from all-organic malt and hops. That’s what we call responsible consumption.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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10 Facts About Real Genius On Its 35th Anniversary

Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

In an era where nerd is a nickname given by and to people who have pretty much any passing interest in popular culture, it’s hard to imagine the way old-school nerds—people with serious and socially-debilitating obsessions—were once ostracized. Computers, progressive rock, and role-playing games (among a handful of other 1970s- early '80s developments) created a path from which far too many of the lonely, awkward, and conventionally undateable would never return. But in the 1980s, movies transformed these oddballs into underdogs and antiheroes, pitting them against attractive, moneyed, successful adversaries for the fate of handsome boys and pretty girls, cushy jobs, and first-place trophies.

The 1985 film Real Genius ranked first among equals from that decade for its stellar cast, sensitive direction, and genuine nerd bona fides. Perhaps fittingly, it sometimes feels overshadowed, and even forgotten, next to broader, bawdier (and certainly now, more problematic) films from the era like Revenge of the Nerds and Weird Science. But director Martha Coolidge delivered a classic slobs-versus-snobs adventure that manages to view the academically gifted and socially maladjusted with a greater degree of understanding and compassion while still delivering plenty of good-natured humor.

As the movie commemorates its 35th anniversary, we're looking back at the little details and painstaking efforts that make it such an enduring portrait not just of ‘80s comedy, but of nerdom itself.

1. Producer Brian Grazer wanted Valley Girl director Martha Coolidge to direct Real Genius. She wasn’t sure she wanted to.

Following the commercial success of 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds, there was an influx of bawdy scripts that played upon the same idea, and Real Genius was one of them. In 2011, Coolidge told Kickin’ It Old School that the original script for Real Genius "had a lot of penis and scatological jokes," and she wasn't interested in directing a raunchy Nerds knock-off. So producer Brian Grazer enlisted PJ Torokvei (SCTV) and writing partners Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz (Splash, City Slickers) to refine the original screenplay, and then gave Coolidge herself an opportunity to polish it before production started. “Brian's original goal, and mine, was to make a film that focused on nerds as heroes," Coolidge said. "It was ahead of its time."

2. Martha Coolidge’s priority was getting the science in Real Genius right—or at least as right as possible.

In the film, ambitious professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton) recruits high-achieving students at the fictional Pacific Technical University (inspired by Caltech) to design and build a laser capable of hitting a human-sized target from space. Coolidge researched the subject thoroughly, working with academic, scientific, and military technicians to ensure that as many of the script and story's elements were correct. Moreover, she ensured that the dialogue would hold up to some scrutiny, even if building a laser of the film’s dimensions wasn’t realistic (and still isn’t today).

3. One element of Real Genius that Martha Coolidge didn’t base on real events turned out to be truer than expected.

From the beginning, the idea that students were actively being exploited by their teacher to develop government technology was always fictional. But Coolidge learned that art and life share more in common than she knew at the time. “I have had so many letters since I made Real Genius from people who said, 'Yes, I was involved in a program and I didn’t realize I was developing weapons,'" she told Uproxx in 2015. “So it was a good guess and turned out to be quite accurate.”

4. Val Kilmer walked into his Real Genius audition already in character—and it nearly cost him the role.

After playing the lead in Top Secret!, Val Kilmer was firmly on Hollywood’s radar. But when he met Grazer at his audition for Real Genius, Kilmer decided to have some fun at the expense of the guy who would decide whether or not he’d get the part. "The character wasn't polite," Kilmer recalled to Entertainment Weekly in 1995. "So when I shook Grazer's hand and he said, 'Hi, I'm the producer,' I said, 'I'm sorry. You look like you're 12 years old. I like to work with men.'"

5. The filmmakers briefly considered using an actual “real genius” to star in Real Genius.

Among the performers considered to play Mitch, the wunderkind student who sets the movie’s story in motion, was a true genius who graduated college at 14 and was starting law school. Late in the casting process, they found their Mitch in Gabriel Jarrett, who becomes the third generation of overachievers (after Kilmer’s Chris and Jon Gries’s Lazlo Hollyfeld) whose talent Hathaway uses to further his own professional goals.

6. Real Genius's female lead inadvertently created a legacy for her character that would continue in animated form.

Michelle Meyrink, Gabriel Jarret, Val Kilmer, and Mark Kamiyama in Real Genius (1985).Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Michelle Meyrink was a staple of a number of ‘80s comedies, including Revenge of the Nerds. Playing Jordan in Real Genius, she claims to “never sleep” and offers a delightful portrait of high-functioning attention-deficit disorder with a chipper, erratic personality. Disney’s Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers co-creator Tad Stones has confirmed that her character went on to inspire the character of Gadget Hackwrench.

7. A Real Genius subplot, where a computer programmer is gaming a Frito-Lay contest, was based on real events.

In the film, Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite) plays Lazlo Hollyfeld, a reclusive genius from before Chris and Mitch’s time who lives in a bunker beneath their dorm creating entries to a contest with no restrictions where he eventually wins more than 30 percent of the prizes. In 1969, students from Caltech tried a similar tactic with Frito-Lay to game the odds. But in 1975, three computer programmers used an IBM to generate 1.2 million entries in a contest for McDonald’s, where they received 20 percent of the prizes (and a lot of complaints from customers) for their effort.

8. One of Real Genius's cast members went on to write another tribute to nerds a decade later.

Dean Devlin, who co-wrote Stargate and Independence Day with Roland Emmerich, plays Milton, another student at Pacific Tech who experiences a memorable meltdown in the rush up to finals.

9. The popcorn gag that ends Real Genius isn’t really possible, but they used real popcorn to simulate it.

At the end of the film, Chris and Mitch build a giant Jiffy Pop pack that the laser unleashes after they redirect its targeting system. The resulting popcorn fills Professor Hathaway’s house as an act of revenge. MythBusters took pains to recreate this gag in a number of ways, but quickly discovered that it wouldn’t work; even at scale, the popcorn just burns in the heat of a laser.

To pull off the scene in the film, Coolidge said that the production had people popping corn for six weeks of filming in order to get enough for the finale. After that, they had to build a house that they could manipulate with hydraulics so that the popcorn would “explode” out of every doorway and window.

10. Real Genius was the first movie to be promoted on the internet.

A week before Real Genius opened, promoters set up a press conference at a computer store in Westwood, California. Coolidge and members of the cast appeared to field questions from press from across the country—connected via CompuServe. Though the experience was evidently marred by technical problems (this was the mid-1980s, after all), the event marked the debut of what became the online roundtable junket.