Video Game Beer Pairings
It's dangerous to go alone! Drink these!on September 18, 2014 at 8:00 am
Passion is something everyone should have in life. It helps people have goals. It helps form social connections with those who share similar interests. It can drive us to be better people.
I have many passions. Perhaps too many, but I manage my passion addiction through careful use of a “job”. It doesn’t give me enough time to overindulge in them. Good for my employers, I guess.
When I’m not waxing poetic about the whimsy in one game or bashing another for having heavy jumping physics, I like to cook food and I LOVE beer. The fragrance of hops is as intoxicating as, uh… alcohol.
Poor word choice aside, pairing beer with food is common. Pairing it with a night of gaming? Not so much. At least, not deliberately choosing a style of beer to go with a particular genre. But I think it can be a crucial component for enhancing the experience in interesting ways.
When you really sit down and think about it, it makes a bit of sense. The flavor of a smartly chosen brew can help invoke the crucial emotions necessary to help fuel immersion. Scent is also a powerful tool in memory, so the aroma of a pint may help form better neural links when playing games. Or that might just be the alcohol taking effect.
Either way, you don’t want to drink a smooth sipper while playing a shooter or an American Macro while playing a puzzle game! What kind of insanity would that lead to? Right? RIGHT?!
Alright, look. I realize I’m trying to merge two of my nerderies into one article. You may be lost, but that’s okay. If you don’t know much about beer, then stick around and use this as a primer. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try some new things. If you’re already well versed in the world of beer, then I hope this encourages you to think about what beers would go best with your favorite games. And if you think you don’t like beer? Then you haven’t been drinking anything worthwhile. Take notes.
Horror – Imperial Stout
Fall is creeping in quicker than you realize and there is no better way to spend a crisp Autumn evening than turning the lights out, letting the cool air in through a cracked window, and queuing up a good scary game.
You’re going to need a beer that’s as dark as those hallways you’ll timidly walk down. A complex sip that will inspire the necessary epiphany to solve that weirdly out-of-place puzzle in that mansion no one could ever have possibly lived in (seriously, who locks their doors with chess pieces then hides them?). Oh, and something boozy to steel your nerves. You’ll need an Imperial Stout.
Stouts are typically an intimidating style for those not indoctrinated into beer. Its black-as-night appearance threatens your taste buds before the drink ever hits your lips. People fear it will be overwhelmingly bitter and strong, but that’s actually not the case here.
Stouts don’t typically feature as much bitterness, due to the fact that the presence of hops is extremely minimal. Instead, stouts rely on huge, roasty malts to flavor the beer. These malts can tend to produce a beer that actually errs on the sweeter side of the spectrum, bringing out massive chocolate and coffee notes. It’s why the style is such a common dessert pairing.
What makes Imperial Stouts – also referred to Russian Imperial Stouts – special? More alcohol, of course. The style often ranges anywhere from 9-12% ABV. It’s powerful hooch.
So, when that cold shiver drags its fingernail down your spine, take a sip of a strong Imperial Stout and you’ll suddenly be able to press on a little further against the ghouls, ghosts, and monsters of the night.
Imperial Russian Stout (Stone)
Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout (North Coast Brewing)
Expedition Stout (Bell’s)
Cocoa Psycho (BrewDog)
Looking for an even boozier drink for those REALLY scary games?
Black Ops (Brooklyn Brewery)
Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin XV (North Coast Brewing)
Something for Halloween?
Warlock (Southern Tier)
Puzzle – Saison
Puzzle games are something that even the most casual of gamer plays. “Tetris” and “Bejeweled” are the most ubiquitous. Even if I have to begrudgingly admit it, many free-to-play mobile titles are popular, as well. So, we need a beer that even people who think they aren’t a fan of beer will enjoy. Enter: The Saison.
Saisons are my preferred beer of choice for introducing people to what beer is like outside of MilCoorBud Lite. These beers are extremely effervescent, have fruity and/or spiced flavors, and are extremely refreshing and easy to drink. They can range anywhere from being fairly low in alcohol to being relatively high, about 5-8%.
The fun thing about saisons is that they reveal a greater amount of their character the more you drink them. As soon as you think you “get” it, you’ll come up with another revelation a sip later. This goes hand-in-hand with puzzle games, as they slowly open up their breadth of ideas and depth the more you play. Well… the good ones do, anyways. I guess that also goes for the beer.
Saison Dupont (Brasserie Dupont)
Saint’s Devotion (Lost Abbey)
Saint Athene (Saint Somewhere)
Sorachi Ace (Brooklyn Brewery)
Fighting – Session India Pale Ale
Ooo, boy. Should we even be drinking while we play fighting games?
Yeah, sure. Why not.
You definitely don’t want something that has a high ABV, but you want something that has bite. Something to wake up your senses and loosen you up just enough that you’re able to execute combos flawlessly, without making you sloppy.
Luckily, we have Session IPAs. A fully hopped beer that keeps all of the fragrant, floral, citrus flavors of IPAs, but makes it so you can drink more than a few in a sitting without reeling from all the booze. A perfect “Lite” beer for those who actually enjoy the flavor of beer.
Maybe this is obvious, but I don’t think I’d recommend this if you’re going to be playing in a tournament. Unless you’re a master of Drunken Stick. Also, I’m not sure of many venues that would allow booze…
Anyways, Session IPAs are still a relatively new style. Purists often scoff at them, since their lack of alcohol often comes from a lack of balanced flavors, since there is a lot less sugars for the yeast to convert into alcohol. Don’t worry, the really good beers in this style have gotten around these problems.
All Day IPA (Founder’s)
Ponto (Pizza Port)
Sunshine Daydream (Fat Head)
Bitter American (21st Amendment)