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Top 20 Beer and Video Game Pairings


Donkey Kong SeriesBarrel Chested Barleywine – Barrel Chested is a big, burly barleywine that’s sure to put hair on your chest, if not your entire body. Upland’s beefy offering began as Donkey Kong did – with barrels. The buff ape with the name of an ass kicked off his career by hurling said barrels down a 2D set of platforms and ladders, woefully ignorant of their true value. Thankfully, Upland picked up the slack and has created a bold, boozy, bourbon barrel-aged barleywine boasting big woody aromas with notes of toffee and aged molasses. In the decades since his villainous inception, DK has become more of a family man, mellowing with age. It’s recommended to give this beer time to do the same!

Forza Motorsport 6 – Racer X – Racer X is 100 IBUs, but it’s so well balanced and good looking in a glass that you’ll hardly notice. Forza is similar – you’re going hundreds of miles an hour, but the game is fun, handsome and startlingly accurate. Forza’s consistency and replay value has helped it to become a backbone of Microsoft’s lineup, and the same can be said about Bear Republic’s beer, which regularly commands attention along with its equally drinkable little bro, Racer 5. Sure, Forza might not be as pretty as Gran Turismo, and Racer X’s artwork might not be as sexy as Bissell Bros. Swish, but we all know it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Mario SeriesBell’s 30th Anniversary Ale – 1985 was a big year for beer and video games. Bell’s Brewery first started producing brews that year, and Nintendo released Super Mario Bros. as a launch title on its NES system as well. Both institutions celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2015 in the only ways they knew how: Bell’s released a hearty, 11 percent ABV Imperial Stout and Nintendo released Super Mario Maker, where aspiring level designers can create their own levels using the original Mario Bros. 30-year-old engine. Both milestones are indeed worth celebrating, so why not combine them by drinking a Bell’s 30th while playing some old-school Mario levels? It’s a-me, Beerio!

Elder Scrolls Series – Wayfarer – Green Man’s alchemy skill is evident, as they have crafted a masterful potion. This beer embodies the Elder Scrolls spirit; be whatever you want to be and explore wherever strikes your fancy. Wayfarer isn’t trying to be anything more than a pleasantly drinkable IPA at a reasonable ABV. It’s not trying to paralyze you with hops, nor will it send you on a fetch quest for rat meat (fast food). It will fortify your willpower, endurance, and speechcraft, and it’s light enough to stack a few times, though you’ll see a drop in agility and intelligence if you guzzle too many. It’s well-suited for any quest, and so are you, because you’re the Hero of Kvatch.

Grim FandangoDecadent Imperial IPA and Euphoria Pale Ale – Matching up a beer with Grim Fandango’s stylistic flair and effortless charm was never going to be easy, but Ska Brewing’s aesthetic comes the closest. Grim Fandango, a point-and-click cult classic designed by gaming folk hero Tim Schafer, follows the noirish exploits of skeletal sleuth Manuel “Manny” Calavera in the Land of the Dead. Ska Brewing’s can artwork, seen here on Decadent and Euphoria, also features a skeleton as a main character. In this case, it’s a corporate bigwig named Pinstripe, and while the skeletal nature of both characters links them, it’s mostly the flavorful and interesting beers that Ska produces that makes them such excellent pairings with Grim Fandango. Drinking a Ska while playing such a terrific game is certainly far away from being a truly grim fandango.

Pac-Man 8-Bit Pale Ale – A pretty self-explanatory combination. Pac-Man was one of the earliest video game phenomenons, dating all the way back to arcade cabinets and employing the blocky, pixelated 8-bit graphical stylings of the time. Keeping with the them, Tallgrass’s 8-Bit Pale Ale also shows a heavily pixelated Pac-Man-like character licking his lips on this lovingly-crafted can design. While arcade games are rarely experienced today, 8-Bit Pale Ale’s timeless blend of five different hop varietals – led by Centennial and Cascade – will never go out of style.

Twisted Metal Series – Sweet Tooth – It certainly looks fun, but beware: beneath that sweet exterior lies a powerful beast. 9.4% ABV, to be exact. Those familiar with the Twisted Metal series will undoubtedly recognize the similarity between Sweet Tooth the vengeful, ice-cream-truck-driving killer clown from the depths of hell and Sweet Tooth the salted caramel Belgian Dark Strong Ale from Kansas. Though, if faced with the choice of which one we’d rather have in our mouths (a plastic disc or a yummy brew), we’d choose the beer every time.

Tomb Raider SeriesSeven Summits – Lara Croft has had a long career in games. With the first Tomb Raider game coming out in 1996, she has been baiting dinosaurs and spelunking catacombs for over 20 years. With a reboot series in full swing for the newest generation of consoles, one thing you’ve never seen Lara do is let her hair down and enjoy a nice tipple. But hey, that’s what you’re here for. Lara has been known to scale some landmarks at fairly high altitude, so pop open this aptly named collaboration between Devils Backbone and Wicked Weed. This Imperial Stout features robust yet smooth chocolatey flavors and clocks in at 10.5 percent ABV, helping you work though those tougher puzzles (or forget them altogether).

Oregon TrailWagon Party – Cinch-up your conestoga wagon-tops and keep watch for snakes… and drink this beer. It’ll help fight cholera. Minnesota’s Bauhaus Brew Labs has crafted a beer in the spirit of the journey westward, right down to the name. The California Common style emerged during the Gold Rush era, and this brewery has come on strong in the past few years, which some would consider the “golden age of beer” in America. Either way, this easy-drinking brew pairs well with this early, oft-educational video game about the travails and rigors of traversing the Oregon Trail. And if you don't die of dysentery or get swept up in the current of the Big Blue River along the way, there might be a California Common waiting for you at the end of the line.

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