BUDWEISER - FIZZY, yellow Budweiser - now makes a bourbon-and-vanilla-flavored amber lager. If that's not a sign of the impending apocalypse, I don't know what is.

Not to worry. The End is precisely why we drink beer to begin with.

Drinking is all about enjoying life. It is hedonistic and intemperate. We drink for the moment, not the future. We drink because we know someday we won't.

We drink because, as the polka laureate tells us, in heaven there is no beer.

The people who make our beer certainly know this. That's why they put expiration dates on bottles. They demand we drink NOW, before it's too late.

Too late for what? Who knows. But I, for one, do not want alien civilizations sifting through my ancient remains only to find an unopened bottle.

Did this primitive bag of bones, a puzzled E.T. will telepathize to its googly-eyed pals, not possess a simple bottle opener?

No worries there.

True beer drinkers long ago commenced preparations for the Mayan apocalypse. And we still have a few more hours to go till Dec. 21, 2012. Here's a cache of beers to guzzle as we head for The End.

Stone Enjoy By 12-21-12 IPA: The California brewery produces a series of double India pale ales whose labels brazenly declare the "best by" date in bold lettering. Brewery president Greg Koch says drink up, because "the fuse is burning, the clock is ticking."

Troegs ¿Impending Descent? (Hershey): The latest in Troegs' ongoing Scratch Series is a "face-melting and palate-numbing" Russian imperial stout. The limited-edition brew will be tapped at Johnny Brenda's (Frankford and Girard avenues, Fishtown) on Friday, assuming we're still here.

Shock Top End of the World Midnight Wheat (Missouri): A witty online video campaign advises that "when there's only time for one more beer," make it a Shock Top. This one's made with wheat, chocolate malt and something called Mayan chili spice, which sounds like something that will only make you wish you were dead.

Elysian 12 Beers of the Apocalypse (Seattle): The brewery has been well-prepared for our demise, issuing doomsday beers each month of 2012. They're named for the imagined method of our demise: Fallout, Rapture, Blight, Nibiru (the planet that's supposedly on a collision path with Earth), and so on.

La Fin du Monde (Canada): The outstanding Belgian-style golden ale from Canada is French for "the end of the world." The Grey Lodge Pub (6235 Frankford Ave., Mayfair) will pour the stuff Thursday night through closing Friday . . . or the end of the world, whichever comes first.

The appropriately named Lucky's Last Chance (4421 Main St., Manayunk) will toast our Final Minutes with it when the clock strikes 12 Thursday night.

Dogfish Head Theobroma (Delaware): This "ancient ale" is a cacao-flavored brew of the sort that might have been savored by Mayans. Regardless of your belief in the afterlife, Resurrection Ale House (2425 Grays Ferry Ave., Grays Ferry) will be pouring it on draft tomorrow.

Brew Dog End of History (Scotland): A small batch of this extremely high alcohol ale (55 percent by volume, no kidding) was sold in 2010, in bottles stuffed inside dead squirrels (also no kidding). If you've been saving one for an appropriate occasion, this would be it.

Ommegang Ommegeddon (New York): Its label pictures a fiery nuclear blast. A glassful of this funky, hoppy wild ale will detonate your palate.

Rogue Dead Guy Ale (Oregon): Originally brewed to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead at a Portland bar, the full bodied ale is now one of the most widely sold microbrews in America.

Thirsty Dog Mayan Last Dog (Ohio): The honey-flavored chocolate stout "may be the last beer you ever drink," the brewery declares.

Lost Abbey Judgment Day (California): With the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse depicted on the label, the brewery warns: "There will be but one instance where the sunny blue pastoral skies turn sickly black revealing the imminent demise of every soul caught between heaven and hell . . . There will be a litany of screams from the departing souls riding bareback on the shoulders of the Black Horse . . . "

On that upbeat note, grab a bottle of this strong (10.5 percent alcohol) Belgian-style quadrupel and saddle up for the ride.

"Joe Sixpack" is by Don Russell, director of Philly Beer Week. For more on the beer scene, sign up for his weekly email update at www.joesixpack.net. E-mail: joesixpack@phillynews.com.