Beer Barrel Polecats is the 88th short subject starring American slapstick comedy team the Three Stooges. The trio made a total of 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures between 1934 and 1959.
Unable to find a bottle of beer anywhere in their town, the Stooges decide to brew some of the stuff themselves. Unfortunately, Curly ends up selling a bottle at a black market price to a detective, landing the trio in jail. Curly tries to smuggle a barrel of beer in jail under his overcoat, but the barrel explodes under the heat of lights while the trio has their mugshots taken.
While in prison, the Stooges begin to plot their escape (recycled footage from In the Sweet Pie and Pie), and end up destroying the saws being used to whittle down the iron bars in their cell. A few days later, the Stooges have a run-in with a fellow convict (Joe Palma), leading them to knock the warden (Vernon Dent) out cold, and landing them on the rock pile. While hammering away, the boys stumble on an old friend also in the clink, Percy Pomeroy (Eddie Laughton), and work together to flee the prison (recycled footage from So Long Mr. Chumps). They are ultimately captured, and sent to solitary confinement.
The scene then cuts to 1986, where the trio are finally released as senior citizens, in which Curly quips upon leaving "You know what I'm-a gonna do? I'm gonna get myself a tall, big, beautiful bottle of beer!" He gets beaten up by Moe & Larry and then thrown back into jail, while Moe & Larry walk away.
Curly Howard suffered a series of minor strokes prior to filming Beer Barrel Polecats. As a result, his performance was marred by slurred speech, and slower timing. He had also lost a great deal of weight by the time filming began. Though his performance was more spirited than most post-stroke films, he was unable to maintain the vitality for the duration of the normal 4-5 day filming schedule. To compensate for an unavailable Curly, director Jules White utilized footage from In the Sweet Pie and Pie and So Long Mr. Chumps, which featured a healthier and heavier Curly. Upon hearing that Curly's absence temporarily halted production on the profitable Stooge shorts, Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn forbade the ailing Stooge from taking any future time off to regain his strength. It was a disastrous course of action that would culminate with Curly suffering a debilitating stroke on the set of Half-Wits Holiday in May 1946.
- A colorized version of this film was released in 2007. It was part of the DVD collection entitled "Hapless Half-Wits."
- The first part of the film seems to suggest it was inspired by Laurel and Hardy's first feature, Pardon Us, in that Curly, like Laurel, unwittingly tries to sell beer to a cop, and as a result, he and his two companions go to jail. On other part, the unfilmed scene of the Stooges tries to escape from the prison inspired by Wheeler and Woolsey's 1932 feature, Hold 'Em Jail.
- When the Stooges drop their iron balls that are chained to their legs, the sounds that are heard are once again the NBC Chimes, a gag recycled from the team's 1937 short Back to the Woods.
- The title Beer Barrel Polecats is a pun of the song "Beer Barrel Polka."
- It was never really explained as to why the Stooges were searching for Pomeroy in the "So Long Mr. Chumps" stock footage or how the footage fit in with the rest of the film.
- Solomon, Jon (2002). The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion. Comedy III Productions, Inc. pp. 271. ISBN 0-9711868-0-4.
- Fleming, Michael (2002) . The Three Stooges: An Illustrated History, From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons. New York: Broadway Publishing. p. 39. ISBN 0-7679-0556-3