Tag Archives: Digital Draughts

Digital Draughts: Resident Evil 4 with Flying Dog Brewery’s The Fear

On Saturdays through the month of October, we will be cross-posting the latest video game and beer pairings from Chip’s new blog, Digital Draughts!  Normally written on a semi-monthly basis, Digital Draughts will feature frightening and fantastic pairing posts through October as a treat for you, dear readers!

Please be sure to subscribe to Digital Draughts for future beer and video game pairings, and follow the related Instagram account for all of the pours and plays between the main posts!


There are times when I encounter a new experience and I can immediately tell that my attitude has been altered.  A previously undiscovered book becomes a new manifesto for my reading preferences, or the first taste of a new cuisine refines my palate.  But not all life-changing moments feel as though your status quo has totally shifted.  It can take years of additional experience before the proper perspective can settle for a particularly transformative incident.

When I first tried the components for today’s pairing, I enjoyed each of them at face value: the latest in a beloved survival horror series and a solid seasonal beer from an established craft brewery.  Now, with over 11 years since my first play and nearly 8 years since my first taste, I want to revisit these experiences with an updated perspective.

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My love for pumpkin-flavored treats is a well-documented psychosis.  From my first taste of pumpkin pie as a child, I was hooked on the taste of gourd and spices.  So it makes sense that I would enjoy the seasonal beers of autumn as an adult.  However, restrictive distribution routes limited my first pumpkin beer options to bland offerings from domestic beer companies.  It took a massive relocation to provide me with the opportunity to try a pumpkin brew with a some bite to it.

It was the label that first drew me to Flying Dog Brewery’s seasonal beer. Ralph Steadman’s surreal and terrifying artwork of a snarling canine beast loomed from the packaging.  The side of the bottle featured an equally aggressive piece of copy; daring the drinker to, “learn to embrace THE FEAR that consumes you.”  I heeded their advice and took the challenge of this imperial pumpkin ale.

At the time, The Fear was unlike anything I had ever drank.  Instead of a sub par beer with cloying allspice/cinnamon flavor, I was treated to a hearty ale with intense flavors of ginger and baked pumpkin.  The Fear set a new standard for pumpkin beers, which I was surprised to be met so quickly by other delicious seasonal craft offerings.  With so many other interesting autumn brews on the shelf, my dance card became quite full, leaving little room for The Fear in the years to follow.  But I made sure to clear a recent evening to check in with the brew that started my journey down the dark path of pumpkin beers.

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The Fear pours cola brown framed with a red-orange hue and topped with a fizzy toasted marshmallow head. The spices used in this brew are at the forefront of the aroma, as a strong nose of ginger and nutmeg lead into mild notes of baked pumpkin with a dash of cinnamon.  The ginger continues to lead with a tangy bite at first sip.  This kick of spice quickly dissipates into a pumpkin bread body with a toasty finish and a hint of dark chocolate. As The Fear is an imperial ale, the piquant bite of 9.0% ABV is present, but well-balanced against the pumpkin pie flavor.

After sampling dozens of autumn brews over the years, I am pleasantly surprised to find The Fear stands out from the crowd.  Its strong ginger flavor and roasted pumpkin notes are still delicious and unique.  With a glass of this striking beer by my side, I was ready to hook up the GameCube and take on the mission to save the President’s daughter once again.

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Resident Evil 4 hit store shelves during the latter half of my junior year at college.  Around that time, I had found my gaming tribe at school and we were all eager for the latest in our preferred survival horror series.  Even though each of us had pre-ordered our own copy of the game, we all gathered at a single apartment to watch the game unfold.  Across multiple televisions in a single room, we each began our journey as Leon Kennedy.

Despite playing as a protagonist from a previous entry in the series, this game did not feel like the Resident Evil to which we were accustomed.  Instead of the foreboding hallways of a derelict mansion or the oppressive destruction of a city under siege, Resident Evil 4 dropped us in the wide open villages of rural Spain.  Gone were the mindless zombie enemies, replaced by mad villagers who could utilize weapons and actually dodge our attacks.  Even the core gameplay was changed; placing the camera over Leon’s shoulder and increasing the options within the combat mechanics.  The whole experience felt more like an action movie than a suspenseful thriller, which turned out to be exactly what we were looking for.

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I fell hard for Resident Evil 4.  I loved the increased action and expanded verb set, but also appreciated that the tension remained throughout the experience.  Even though Leon was a well-trained government agent, he was still regularly challenged by the maniac hordes of the Los Illuminados cult.  In addition to the main storyline, there were extra gameplay modes that kept me in great competition with my friends.  We regularly tried to compete for better scores in the Mercenaries survival mode and all of us raced to collect the tiny virtual figurines offered at the Shooting Gallery.  We played through the story again and again, trying to find every collectible, upgrade each weapon, and generally speed through the game with greater ease.

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Resident Evil 4 was a great game to discover and play with friends by my side.  But once I left college, I rarely found the time to replay this game that I had so enjoyed.  I dabbled with the sequels that followed, but there were so many other survival horror games spilling onto the market that I wanted to try.  To further complicate matters, there was a distinct split in the survival horror genre following Resident Evil 4.  Some games leaned into the action elements, forgoing any sort of suspense and subtlety and focusing on mowing down horrific monsters with bigger and bigger guns.  The other side of this coin gave up on empowering the player; purposefully placing you in terrifying situations with little resources or hope of surviving.

As it turned out, I started preferring the more cerebral and suspenseful horror games, which pulled me further away from the series that started me on this path.  So I was very curious to see how my feelings had changed towards Resident Evil 4 after playing so many other titles within the genre.

Right from the start I noticed one thing had changed drastically since the last time I played Resident Evil 4: my skill level.  I am downright terrible at this game.  I struggled to make well-aimed shots at my enemies, often wasting piles of bullets and dying repeatedly to basic scrubs that were previously no problem.  Despite this refreshed difficulty, I am still enjoying the tension provided by the combat.  Every encounter with basic enemies is a challenge to effectively eliminate targets while avoiding being overrun.  It’s a balance that remains impressive even years later.

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The visuals and sound design are equally stunning, in spite of their age.  The expressive character models and amazing lighting still look good, even when upscaled from the GameCube’s A/V output.  The story and voice acting have not aged as gracefully, with some truly hammy lines popping up time and time again.  The main villain of the game sounds like a discount-store Dracula impersonator, and some of our lovable ally’s dialogue has only become more uncomfortable over time (“I see the President has equipped his daughter with ballistics, too”).

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Quick-time events continue to be a massive frustration, often creating easy-to-fail scenarios that contribute nothing worthwhile to the game.  I was surprised how little I enjoyed the boss encounters when playing again.  Instead of feeling like clever puzzles or strategic battles, fighting major enemies felt like obnoxious bullfights; running around a tight arena and unloading massive amounts of ammo in lumbering meat walls. Alternatively, my love of the item management system has only become more acute; every moment spent arranging ammo and recovery items in that briefcase felt like a delightful little puzzle game break.

Overall, Resident Evil 4 doesn’t hold the same sense of wonder from the idyllic days of playing with my friends in college.  I no longer have the time to invest in this massive game and its many additional modes.  However, playing Resident Evil 4 after so many other lackluster survival horror titles makes me further appreciate what an impact it had on my personal taste and video games as a whole.  This game became my benchmark for quality of design and the joy of play in the survival horror genre.  I am pleased to find that Resident Evil 4 remains as that standard even after so much time has passed.  Minor complaints aside, I still recommend Resident Evil 4 for anyone looking for a great action title or survival horror game, which pairs very well with the spicy bite and tasty pumpkin notes of The Fear.

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Digital Draughts: Bloodborne with Adroit Theory Brewing Company’s BLVCK Celebration

On Saturdays through the month of October, we will be cross-posting the latest video game and beer pairings from Chip’s new blog, Digital Draughts!  Normally written on a semi-monthly basis, Digital Draughts will feature frightening and fantastic pairing posts through October as a treat for you, dear readers!

Please be sure to subscribe to Digital Draughts for future beer and video game pairings, and follow the related Instagram account for all of the pours and plays between the main posts!


Not all experiences are inviting.  There are many of life’s little moments that are meant to challenge us; to intrigue lesser known aspects of our being.  These engagements take a bit of flexibility on the user’s part.  An open mind, a grain of salt, and perhaps a spoonful of sugar are all good tools for such experiences.

The result of these events varies.  The experience could reveal a newfound passion, or reaffirm a suspected revulsion.  But no matter what the outcome, the user and their perceptions are changed.  Recently, I challenged my palate with a game from a series universally known for its adversity, combined with a beer from a company known for esoteric brewing.

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After our delightful visit to the Adroit Theory Brewing Company, Laura and I have been on the lookout for any of their bottled brews at our local stores.  As many of their beers are small batch and limited release, the options outside of their Tasting Room are meager by comparison.  However, there are still a handful of Adroit Theory brews to be found in the wild, such as their imperial porter, Black Celebration.

Brewed as a collaboration with drum and bass DJ Damian Higgins (aka Dieselboy), Black Celebration (stylized as “BLVCK”) was brewed with maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, black lava salt, and then aged on oak staves.  From this point, some of this complex brew was bottled, while another batch was further aged in rum barrels before bottling.

At first glance, the bottles for Black Celebration seem very minimalist; clean lettering on a matte black label.  There is some flourish to distinguish each variety (gold lettering on the Oak Aged and silver lettering on the Rum Barrel Aged), but little else to make this bottle stand out on the shelf.  Upon closer inspection, the secret of Black Celebration is revealed.  A large alchemical sigil is embossed in glossy black across the label; visible only in certain angles of light and immediately apparent to the touch.

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For reasons of personal taste (both in barrel flavors and label colors), I selected the Rum Barrel Aged variety of Black Celebration.

Black Celebration matches its name in appearance.  From bottle to glass, this brew pours coffee black with a foamy mocha head.  As the beer opens up, a powerful scent of smoked vanilla and sea salt overwhelms the air.  The flavor is intense: a rich maple syrup start gives way to a smoky molasses and burnt wood body.  Finishing notes of roasted pork and spiced rum consummate the experience: bitter, rich, and powerful.

Black Celebration is most certainly an esoteric beer.  While it features the roasted malt and dark chocolate notes of a classic porter, the additional brewing components and barrel aging further the complexity of this beer.  Fans of strong dark beers may be intrigued by this brew, along with folks who enjoy the unique crossroads of savory and sweet dishes.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this powerful beer.  The slightly meaty notes and molasses flavor complement the natural roasted flavors of a porter, while the rum aging provides a welcome spicy kick.  Black Celebration is a perfect way to prepare for the challenging streets of Central Yarnham.

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In the past, I have bounced off of From Software’s Souls series.  I made a valiant effort in Dark Souls and its sequel; trying to learn the challenging ebb and flow of their intricate systems.  But in each case, I hit a massive wall of difficulty that drove me to toss my controller away in frustration (literally and figuratively).  I appreciated the nuanced gameplay and unique dark fantasy setting of Dark Souls.  There was simply something lacking that kept me from truly engaging with this series.  Apparently, that crucial element was Gothic horror and a Lovecraftian narrative.

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Bloodborne takes place in the Victorian-era city of Yarnham, where a plague has turned its citizens into beasts of varying ferocity.  Some of Yarnham’s inhabitants became aggressive maniacs, while others fully transitioned into giant wolf-like creatures.  As the Hunter, players must survive against the monstrous townsfolk while seeking out a cure-all known as Paleblood.  However, the reasons to seek this elixir are rather tenuous, as there is no clear explanation for the quest, or how the Hunter came to Yarnham in the first place.  The game simply opens with a grisly blood transfusion viewed in first-person, and visions of a horrifying creature made of viscera stalking from the shadows.

Following this cryptic prelude, The Hunter wakes up in an abandoned surgery ward; making their way into Central Yarnham on the night of “The Hunt.”

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I will be frank with you, reader: the start of Bloodborne is unforgiving and cruel.  The path leading through Central Yarnham is long and filled with mobs of crazed citizens, hungry for blood.  Any one of these maniacs has the ability to catch you in a combo that will quickly kill you, so the frequent packs of enemies typically spell certain death.   These basic enemies are often combined with ranged attackers, quick-striking dogs, plus-sized abominations, and no checkpoints leading up to the boss encounters.  In short, you will die in a regular and bloody manner on your way through this cursed city.

If this experience sounds completely unappealing, trust me- I understand.  I struggled to stick with this game in the opening hours.  Watching my Hunter die over and over again to the same frustrating enemy encounters was very disheartening, and I nearly gave up on Bloodborne altogether.  However, once I made it past the first major boss encounter, the game became exponentially more enjoyable.

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Following a frantic and tragic battle with a fellow Hunter, Bloodborne offers branching pathways, multiple character builds/options, and an engaging and mysterious narrative. The history of the once-great city of Yarnham and its Healing Church slowly unfolds as the player further explores this foreboding world.  The visuals of Bloodborne are equally haunting and beautiful.  The power of the PlayStation 4 is put to incredible use; providing gruesome details on every monster and amazing lighting effects on each surface.  I often found myself taking a moment to appreciate the grim scenery of Yarnham, taking care to clear an area of any potential threats before such respite.

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Having enjoyed both Bloodborne and Black Celebration, this combination should be an easy recommendation.  The engaging narrative and visceral combat of this game pair nicely with the rich molasses and smoky maple flavors of this dark brew.  However, the antagonistic opening of Bloodborne and the uniquely savory notes of Black Celebration prevent a universal endorsement of this challenging pair.

But if you can overcome such challenges, then a dark and delicious treat awaits you, good Hunter.

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Inevitable Spinoff Blog Incoming! Digital Draughts is Live

Earlier this year, we debuted a new column here at Games I Made My Girlfriend Play called Digital Draughts.  As the resident beer geek of GIMMGP, Chip was eager for the chance to combine two of his passions into a single series: craft beer and video games (together at last!).  With the success of these articles, we have decided to dedicate a new blog for Chip’s video game and beer pairings!

Written on a semi-monthly basis, Digital Draughts highlights the pairing of specific brews with certain titles. Typically, the beers and games will be novel experiences, with certain exceptions made for time-tested combinations.  Some of these pairs will be a match made in heaven, while others may be the couple from hell.

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Along with regular pairings and reviews, Digital Draughts will feature other tidbits on beer and video games for your reading pleasure.  To kick off this momentous occasion, the latest article features a field trip to the fantastic Adroit Theory Brewing Company; where esoteric and barrel aged beers thrive!

So please be sure to follow Chip’s new blog (which features Laura’s fantastic photography) and share the good news with your friends as well: Digital Draughts is live!

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Digital Draughts: Uncharted 4 with Heavy Seas’ Plank IV

Historically, the best series come in sets of three.  For films; Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Die Hard are typically enjoyed during the first three movies.  Many television shows start to lose interest after a third season.  Even a vertical tasting of wine usually includes bottles from three particular vintages for comparison.  Let’s face it: humans seem to appreciate collections in triplicate (especially writers when trying to make a point).

When it comes to video games, the Rule of Threes starts to get a bit muddy.  Beloved gaming heroes like Mario and Link have long since surpassed their third game, yet they continued to be adored by the gaming public. Meanwhile, some characters languish well beyond their glorious trifecta of earlier titles; overstaying their welcome and becoming a joke among the community.

When Laura and I played Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception nearly five years ago, the series seemed to have met its logical, albeit unsatisfying, conclusion.  At the time, we didn’t even entertain the idea of a fourth Uncharted title coming to pass, as there was no obvious plot carrot dangled before us.  As luck (and the appearance of a new Sony console) would have it, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was released earlier this year.  Naturally, this was one of the games that cemented our decision to purchase a PlayStation 4.

Eager to see how the fourth game in a previous series of three would fair, Laura and I started the game on its day of release; making sure to have an appropriately themed brew to accompany this adventure.

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For the last several years, Heavy Seas Beer (brewed by the Clipper City Brewing Company) has experimented with the unique influence of wood aging on beer.  Dubbed the Uncharted Waters series, this line of beers features different styles aged in specific barrels or wood.  Some examples include Blackbeard’s Breakfast (an imperial coffee porter aged in bourbon barrels) and Red Sky at Morning (a Belgian-style saison aged in Chardonnay barrels).  These beers are typically offered as limited releases over the course of the year.

Appropriately named, Plank IV is the fourth in a series of beers aged on woods that have rarely been used to produce unique beers.  Released in 2011, Plank I was an English ale aged on kilned poplar wood planks. Plank II in 2012 was a German Doppelbock aged on a combination of poplar and eucalyptus wood. Plank III in 2014 was a Belgian Tripel aged on Jamaican allspice wood.  For the fourth in this series, Heavy Seas took a Belgian Quad and aged it on four different woods: planks of kilned poplar, kilned cherry, Jamaican allspice, and Cuban cedar.

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The result is a very complex and rich beer that pours with a cola brown color and cherry red hues.  Plank IV has a strong odor of dates, cinnamon, and maple syrup, with a smoky hint from the wood aging.  The taste matches the nose; starting with a tart raisin flavor that leads to a rich allspice body.  There is a lingering smoked finish, that gives way to a vanilla bean aftertaste.

As implied from its origin, Plank IV tastes like a beer with a unique history.  This is no mere Belgian Quad.  There are unique notes of smoked wood and aged spices mixed with the expected dried fruit and dark sugar flavors.  This beer is an ideal match for the swashbuckling narrative and complex backstory of Nathan Drake’s latest, and presumably final, adventure.

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Of all the game series Laura and I have enjoyed together, Uncharted is the only one that has been a mutual experience from the start. Sure, there are plenty of games that I have shared with Laura (and vice versa), or titles that we individually played while occupying a shared space. But every moment of play in the world of Uncharted has been as a team.

When we last left our hero Nathan Drake, his adventuring career seemed to have come to an end. The third game showcased that if left unchecked, Nathan’s pride would lead him to ruin. Thanks to the advice of his mentor (and a few too-close calls), Drake reconciled with his wife, Elena, and started a semi-lucrative career in salvage.

Uncharted 4 opens three years later, with a glimpse into the Nathan’s current life. His days are spent rescuing cargo from damaged freight ships, while his nights are filled with domestic bliss; playing video games with Elena to decide who cleans the dishes. All things considered, Nate should be happy with his new situation. But there is a part of him that misses the old thrill of adventure, made evident by a clever combat tutorial in the form of a toy shooting gallery that Nathan has set up in his attic.

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So it comes as no surprise that Nate eagerly agrees to join his thought-to-be-dead brother on a massive treasure hunt involving mercenaries, criminals, and pirates.

For the most part, the core gameplay in Uncharted 4 is mostly unchanged from previous entries in the series, which is just how we like it. Nathan Drake still spends most of his time traversing exotic locales and ancient ruins via jumping, climbing, and (in our case) repeatedly falling to his doom. Developer Naughty Dog has introduced some new tools, such as the climber’s spike and grappling hook. These items add new verbs to Nathan’s movement repertoire, which enhance the tradition of fun movement puzzles and enjoyable action sequences.

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Alternatively, manual vehicle sequences are an unwanted and cumbersome addition to Nate’s means of travel. Poor handling and strange inertia make every moment spent driving an automobile very frustrating, which is compounded by certain terrain that is designed to be hazardous. When your car already handles like a drunk walrus, the inclusion of muddy hills only makes things worse. Fortunately, Nate doesn’t have to take the driver’s seat in every vehicle, and the moments spent shooting from the passenger side are genuinely fun.

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There is a shift in the combat to a stronger focus on stealth gameplay, which fits into the greater narrative of Drake and Company being severely underpowered when compared to the Shoreline private military company (the main baddies of Uncharted 4). While this makes for some very satisfying takedowns, it further emphasizes a problem I had with the previous Uncharted titles: combat arenas. Most of the enemy encounters bring the narrative to a screeching halt, tasking players with clearing every potential threat from an area instead of trying to avoid them altogether. I understand that in certain situations, it makes sense for Drake to take out all enemies to make progress, but repeating this action in nearly every combat scenario makes the game drag at certain points.

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Minor combat grievances and major vehicle complaints aside, Uncharted 4 is an excellent game. The increased power of the PlayStation 4 has provided Naughty Dog with the tools to make a beautiful and impressive world. The transition between each gameplay moment and cutscene is seamless, making for a more cohesive narrative than many of its video game peers.

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Without getting too deep into Spoiler Territory™, what beings as a narrative about a treasure hunter coming out of retirement transforms into a very heartfelt and engaging story about family; both biological and marital. Initially, Drake uses his brother’s resurfacing as an opportunity to have one more big adventure like those from his past. In order to do so, he lies to his wife about his plans, thinking that he is protecting her by keeping her separate from this part of his life. What Nathan discovers is that at its core, marriage is a partnership. Elena is the best teammate for which Nate could have asked, and her involvement would only strengthen his chances at finding a lost pirate treasure to save his brother.  She literally and figuratively saves Nathan on this quest, which gives him the final push to figure out what truly matters in his life.

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Like many other fourth titles after a trilogy, I expected Uncharted 4 to feel like a tacked-on expansion to the series.  I figured there would be some marginal improvements to the visuals and gameplay, along with a story that feels like so many other action movies and video games.  However, Uncharted 4 exceeded all of my initial expectations, and turned out to be my favorite in the series.

The upgraded visuals have set a new standard for video games, while the mechanics are polished to near-perfection.  The story is earnest in a way that avoids being on the nose; with complex characters and relationships that seem wonderfully out of place in an action-adventure game.  Both the treasure hunting setting and the engaging narrative are a perfect complement to the rich flavor and wood-aged notes of Plank IV.  I would definitely recommend this pirate-themed combination.

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Digital Draughts: Firewatch with New Belgium Brewing Company’s Ranger IPA

Summer is the time for adventures.  As the chilly April showers wane and the May flowers burst into blossom, June is an ideal month to write a new and exciting chapter in the story of our lives.  For many of us, the warmer months don’t provide the same amount of boundless time as the summer vacations of our youth.  In spite of this, we will carve out weeks from our busy lives to make a pilgrimage into unknown territory both near and far.

While the spike in temperature and daylight hours fills my heart with longing for fresh wilderness, a similar wanderlust grows in my gaming appetite.  I seek out unique and compelling narratives that stray from the well-worn path of annual releases.  Historically, the results of such journeys are rather divisive.  I could discover a delightful game that provides an interesting twist on traditional mechanics, or I could find a disappointing title that fails to deliver both in gameplay and plot.

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Despite the known risk of a wasted summer day, I decided to invest in just such a story-driven indie game that takes place in the Wyoming wilderness in 1989.  And as with any journey into the unknown, I made sure to bring supplies from a tried-and-true brewery.

Of the numerous craft breweries that cover the rolling hills of these United States, the New Belgium Brewing Company stands out as one of my favorites.  I tried their flagship beer Fat Tire many years ago while traveling with my girlfriend-now-wife.  At the time, the delicious amber ale was not being distributed in our home state, so we relied on our various roaming friends to deliver rations of Fat Tire whenever they would visit.

Since those halcyon days, New Belgium has made their way into our neck of the woods, and we couldn’t be more pleased.  They regularly release delicious seasonal experiments such as the Heavy Melon Lime Ale and the Pumpkick Spiced Ale (brewed with pumpkin and cranberry).  Their variety packs often include a tasty limited re-brew of a discontinued beer from their 25 year history.  And their year-round beers include some of my top brews of all time, including the 1554 Black Lager and the Shift Pale Lager.

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Counted among New Belgium’s year-round beers is the Ranger IPA.  This India pale ale serves as a tribute to the brewery’s Beer Rangers; their brand and brew ambassadors who, “span all states from the Pacific to the Atlantic.”  This beer is made with three different hop varieties (Cascade, Chinook, and Simcoe) which impart distinct flavors during the brewing process (citrus, floral, and fruity, respectively).  Ranger is also dry-hopped with Cascade, which means even more hop aroma and oils are imparted in the final product.

The result is a beer that pours with a brilliant golden color, orange sunset hues, and a powerful resinous hop aroma.  There is a strong odor of pine on the nose, with hints of grapefruit in the background.  Despite the intense hop scent, Ranger starts with the smooth taste of toasted bread.  This malty flavor quickly gives way to the expected pine-hop crispness and finishes with a mild citrus flavor, leaving a lingering sweetness of oranges.

I will admit, I am not a Die-Hard Hop Head™.  I have to be in a particular mood for a hoppy punch to the face.  That being said, the malt profile of Ranger IPA serves to balance the bold hop character, resulting in a sessionable beer that makes an ideal companion for a virtual trek through the woods.

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The wilderness of national parks can represent many things.  For those who visit, the various flora and fauna could mean an opportunity to experience a world outside of the suburbs and cities.  Land that is mostly untouched by man’s progress with a hint of danger and the unknown.  For those who tend to these parks, the forests and streams are a responsibility.  It is a ranger’s job to protect these lands from visitors who would do harm, whether through ignorance, maliciousness, or just plain laziness.  They are educators and caretakers, stewards and evangelists.

The protagonist of Firewatch comes to the Shoshone National Forest as both visitor and ranger, but this protected land represents something else to him: an escape.  From developer Campo Santo’s website:

“The year is 1989. You are a man named Henry who has retreated from your messy life to work as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness. Perched atop a mountain, it’s your job to find smoke and keep the wilderness safe.

An especially hot, dry summer has everyone on edge. Your supervisor, a woman named Delilah, is available to you at all times over a small, handheld radio—and is your only contact with the world you’ve left behind.

But when something strange draws you out of your lookout tower and into the world below, you’ll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making interpersonal choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have.”

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While Firewatch opens with a very raw and emotional glimpse into the complexities of Henry’s life, the bulk of the game is spent exploring the gorgeous vistas of the Shoshone National Forest.  As a novice fire lookout, Henry (and the player, by extension) will get a lay of the land rather organically through the functions of the job.  With each day of the game’s plot, Henry is tasked by Delilah to investigate any abandoned campfires or law-breaking visitors to keep the park safe.  There is no mini-map or overbearing quest marker to lead the player to each major destination or plot point.  Just like Henry, I had to rely on the in-game map and compass to find my way.

There were times when this method of exploration proved frustrating.  My progress from the watch tower to certain areas became a stuttering mess as I checked the map dozens of times to orient Henry in the correct direction.  But on a whole, this minimalist approach to navigation contributed to the game narrative.  I spent so much time exploring this beautiful game that the occasional logistic confusion didn’t sour the experience.

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Since so much of this game’s appeal lies in how its story unfolds, I am going to avoid a deep dive into this powerful narrative.  Suffice to say, Firewatch kept me engaged from start to finish.  The real strength of the narrative comes from the conversations between the main characters, Henry and Delilah.  Thanks to the voice actors’ heartfelt performances, I was thoroughly invested in the interpersonal drama as it unfolded across a simple handheld radio.  Additionally, most of these conversations take place without interrupting gameplay, which keeps the story moving at a constant pace.

Now that I have completed this digital walk through the woods, I can confirm that Firewatch was exactly the sort of adventure I needed.  The gorgeous visuals and engaging narrative provided a unique experience.  The story doesn’t drag or overstay its welcome, which makes a perfect compliment to a sessionable beer like Ranger IPA. I would recommend this combination, especially to those of us who are looking for a worthwhile experience off the beaten path.

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Exciting Things Are Happening

There are several new developments going on around GIMMGP Headquarters, fair readers. Some fresh content on older blogs, a beautiful new art project, a tactical rebranding, and the debut of an Instagram account.  Let’s get to it!

PokemonPower1.1Longtime readers of GIMMGP may recall the creation of a Tumblr blog back in 2012 called Please Take One.  This site serves as a digital archive for Chip’s collection of rare and odd video game brochures.  After an extended hiatus, Please Take One is back to regular updates, and with Pokemon content, no less!  For the next several months on Please Take One, you will see multiple posts from the six “issue” run of Pokemon Power!  These mini-magazines were included as inserts in Nintendo Power back in 1998.  Pokemon Power features excerpts from the Official Pokemon Strategy Guide, fan art, a comic adaptation of the anime, and other neat goodies.  Be sure to follow Please Take One for all sorts of rare and nostalgic gaming brochures!

Meanwhile, over on Laura’s professional website, a new art project has appeared!  Titled the, “Tarot Deco Project,” this new series will feature gorgeous and gilded versions of the classic cards.  Laura plans to produce a piece for every card in the traditional tarot, starting with the Major Arcana.  Be sure to keep an eye on her website for regular updates, and check out her Instagram account for insight into the creative process for each piece!

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Finally, things are chugging along for Chip’s video game and beer pairings.  The next several combinations are planned and in the works, with many tasty brews being paired to games both relatively new and delightfully old.  He has also launched an Instagram account to share images of beers and games outside of the full length pairing posts.  With so much going on, this project has been rebranded Digital Draughts, to celebrate the delicious taste of a draught beer combined with the joy of our preferred digital pastime.  Please be sure to keep your eyes and palates here for future Digital Draughts posts, and follow the related Instagram account for all of the pours and plays between the main posts.

As always, thank you to all of our followers and regular readers over the last five years.  We look forward to sharing all sorts of creative collaborations and gaming goodness with you!

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Digital Draughts: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft with Brewery Ommegang’s Gnomegang

There was a time during my childhood that one night out of every week was deemed, “Poker Night.”  My father would invite his friends over for an evening of high-class booze, middle-tier snacks, and low-stakes poker.  It was a means to unwind, forget about work, and catch up with your buddies in a comfortable environment.

Now as an adult, I regularly try to emulate this tradition in my own home (albeit with much nerdier tabletop games).  But the world has changed drastically in the decades since my youth.  The idea of a “regular 9-to-5” has been replaced with shifting schedules and off-hour projects.  Many of us deal with hour-long commutes between our homes and jobs, thanks to the high cost of living around major city centers.  Plus, with the increased availability and quality of online gaming, many of my peers are turning to digital versions of classic games to engage with their friends.

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So as my own gaming gatherings are becoming more irregular, I thought I would (finally) take my friends’ advice and try out their preferred virtual tavern game.  And what better drink to have at a fantasy-themed bar than a Belgian-style blonde ale with “gnome” in its name?

Gnomegang was originally brewed in 2010 as a collaboration between the fantastic Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York and the rather magical Brasserie d’Achouffe in Belgium.  The story goes that an ingenious gnome revealed himself to humans in Belgium in 1982 and helped Brasserie d’Achouffe brew its first beer.  Many years later, one such gnome visited Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown and the resulting beverage was the aptly named Gnomegang.

Gnomegang

No matter what the real story behind this whimsical brew may be, what makes Gnomegang stand out is the use of a yeast strain directly from Brasserie d’Achouffe.  This special ingredient imparts a very fruity and spicy character to this rich blonde ale. Gnomegang pours with a cloudy golden color, a yellow-orange hue, and a fluffy white head.  The beer has a strong, sweet odor of clove and banana, with a hint of wintergreen hiding among the fruit and spice.  The first taste on the palate is of lemon candy, that gives way to a rich and sweet body, similar to overripe fruit.  The beer finishes smooth, with the lingering sweetness of yellow cake, whipped cream, and a hint of clove.

Gnomegang is a delicious addition to Brewery Ommegang’s catalog of Belgian-style beers. The strong fruit and spice flavors from the Chouffe yeast mingle with the creamy mouthfeel of this drink.  Fans of European-style wheat beers and sweeter blonde ales will be right at home with Gnomegang, although one should take care to avoid quaffing this beverage.  The high alcohol content of 10% ABV is well-hidden by the rich sweetness and hearty spice taste.  Without even paying attention, a novice could slug back one-too-many Gnomegangs while playing cards at the virtual table, leaving themselves wide open to attack in Hearthstone.

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Since its release in 2014, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has been ever-so-stealthily making its way onto my friends’ handheld devices.  It started with a small comment from my long-time friend, Jeremy, who had downloaded the game onto his smart phone as a means to enjoy a collectible card game with his far-away friends.  “You should totally download it,” read his text.  “We can finally play cards again!”  This was certainly a true statement: Hearthstone provided the means to play a fantasy-based card game with my best friend who was several hours away.  Despite this convenience, I was satisfied to wait and play tabletop games with my friends during my next visit to my parents’ homestead.

The next suggestion came from my local buddy, Rob.  He lauded the metagame of deck-building and talked about how his own community of players found it easier to play Hearthstone over their phones, rather than try to schedule a night of in-person gaming. He explained that the variety of cards and strategies available were top notch, allowing players to craft complex strategies and play styles according to their own gaming proclivities.  I was certainly impressed by the various expansions and play types, but I stayed the course of my tabletop roots and avoided Hearthstone once more.

HearthstoneWhispers

What finally broke my resolve was the same thing that originally drew me to Magic: The Gathering- totally awesome horror lore.  The latest expansion of Hearthstone hit the market earlier this year, and it was a loving tribute to the stories of H.P. Lovecraft.  With the release of Whispers of the Old Gods, there was no hope left for me.  The chasm of collectible card gaming and horror flavor yawned before me, and I fell headfirst into its maw (read: I downloaded Hearthstone onto my iPad).

At first, I was rather impressed by Hearthstone.  The game provides a great single-player training ground for newcomers to learn the rules and experience the thrill of victory. The artwork on the cards is gorgeous, and the user interface is very well-designed.  The little animations on the playing grounds keep things interesting, while the action of tearing open a new pack of digital cards is very satisfying.  Plus, there are all sorts of little nods to the history of the Warcraft series, with my favorite being the exclamation of, “Job’s Done!” anytime I finished a turn.  However, after playing through the initial single-player offerings and trying my hand at battling online, my enthusiasm for the game started to wane.

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At first, I thought it might be the lack to physical cards that contributed to my lack of interest.  Or it could be the fact that I wasn’t invested enough in the game to pay for additional single-player content.  But I think the real reason why I was not enthralled by Hearthstone is because despite its best efforts, this game does not emulate the joy of getting a gaggle of friends together to play cards.  I certainly appreciate the tavern-influenced interface of the game.  The soundtrack to Hearthstone features some of the best game music I have heard in years (no surprise, since it comes from LucasArts veteran Peter McConnell).  Even with these fun flourishes, I simply prefer gathering a group of friends around a large table, pouring a few rounds of beer, and playing cards until the wee hours of the morning.

So while I certainly recommend the combination of Gnomegang and Hearthstone, this duo isn’t for me.  I fully admit that the rich fruit and spice flavors of Brewery Ommegang’s beer is an ideal companion to the tavern games atmosphere of Hearthstone.  I would just prefer to enjoy this Belgian-style blonde ale in the direct company of friends, holding a hand of cards, and planning my next epic play.

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Digital Draughts: The Ignition Factor with Jailbreak Brewing Company’s Welcome to Scoville Jalapeno IPA

As an adult with some modicum of disposable income, I have started to seek out games that I may have missed as a child.  Most of these titles are oddities from the 16- and 32-bit eras, when print magazines would preview too many games for me to directly experience. In a similar fashion, I have started to seek out brews that I may have missed in the last few years.  Most of these beers are eccentric concoctions from well-loved breweries that I passed over for more conventional offerings.

This is how I came to try an India Pale Ale brewed with jalapeno and cilantro alongside a Super Nintendo game about firefighting.

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Officially opening their doors in 2014, Jailbreak Brewing Company is a relative newcomer on the craft beer scene.  Named after the owners’ escape from the “imprisonment” of dreary desk jobs, Jailbreak makes a point to use regional and fresh ingredients in their brewing process.  While some of their beers focus on more traditional styles, such as the Infinite Amber Ale and the Big Punisher Double IPA (both delicious), many of their brews are interesting intersections of beer and food.  For example, Jailbreak’s seasonal releases include a chocolate-coconut porter and a key lime pale ale (appropriately named Desserted and B.Limey).

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In addition to these rather rich irregularities, Jailbreak offers a beer with savory ingredients on their year-round list.  Welcome to Scoville is an IPA that is brewed with garden fresh jalapeno peppers and cilantro.  Just like its container, this beer is a vibrant yellow-orange color with a goldenrod hues.  The nose is strong pepper spice with some herbal notes, reminiscent of a hot salsa with extra cilantro.

With such a powerful aroma, I was expecting an acidic scorcher with a bold citrus-hop finish.  Instead, I was surprised to find a floral hop start that gives way to a mild chili body.  It finishes very smooth, with no real bite to speak of and the lingering flavor of Mexican food.  Unlike other beers brewed with peppers that lean into the heat of their ingredients, Welcome to Scoville focuses more on the cilantro in its mix to provide a herbal brew that tastes like a meal.

While some folks may enjoy this rather foody beer, I did not care for Welcome to Scoville. The cilantro overpowers every sip with a herbal dryness that competes with the hops, which are underwhelming from the start.  Any potential heat from the jalapeno is also muted, which makes the finish more earthy vegetable than intense spice.  These characteristics make Welcome to Scoville stand out from other pepper-infused brews, but it ultimately fell flat for me.  How appropriate that The Ignition Factor would also leave me cold.

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The 1990s were a time of rampant experimentation in video game development.  Both publishers and designers were eager to try out all sorts of unique gameplay and themes on the consoles of the day.  For example, the same issue of Nintendo Power (in this case, #70 from March 1995) provided maps/strategies for an excellent robot action-platformer, secret codes for a claymation fighting title, and coverage of a licensed basketball game featuring the Looney Toons.

Nestled in the same issue was a brief preview for The Ignition Factor, a game where players take control of a firefighter in various rescue situations.  This two-page spread featured just enough information to intrigue my younger self, but not enough coverage to move this game onto my “Must-Have” list (alongside Chrono Trigger and Donkey Kong Country 2).  To make matters worse, The Ignition Factor never showed up in my local rental store, so this title fell by the wayside until September 2015, when it magically appeared on the Wii-U Virtual Console.

Upon launching The Ignition Factor from my Wii-U Menu, I was treated to a title screen truly meant for 1994.  The game’s stone logo sat on a pitch black void, literally crackling with electricity in anticipation of a new player.  With a hit of the Start/+ button, the rocky letters exploded into a screen covered in debris and flames.  The drama of the ’90s was in full swing and I was ready to play this forgotten Super Nintendo classic.

IgnitionFactorItems

Unfortunately, The Ignition Factor proved to be a lackluster game.  Mired with finicky controls and unintuitive navigation, trying to save people trapped in a fire was a frustrating exercise.  Each stage opened with such potential- I could choose which tools my digital firefighter would carry to assist his heroic journey.  However, carrying more than three items would weigh my avatar down and slow his progress to a sluggish crawl.  As the levels became more complex and demanded a greater variety of tools, I was stuck navigating back-and-forth to a minimal amount of NPCs spread across sprawling maps to swap items as needed.

IgnitionFactorOnFire

This sort of purposeful strategic gameplay would not have been so bothersome if the actual firefighting was inherently fun.  The default fire extinguisher carried by the main character fired in a strange arc that meant the fires directly in front of him would not be quelled.  To make progress in any direction, I needed some space to maneuver and extinguish these respawning flames.  Couple this with a painfully long animation of catching fire whenever a flame is touched, and it makes for a less-than-engaging time.  Even worse, the spouts of fire would only be visible when the firefighter moves into a new room.  Mashing the fire extinguisher button became mandatory when traveling through doors, lest your plucky firefighter be caught aflame and launched backwards.  As a result, I came to rely quite heavily on save states to navigate this maddening experience.

While many people may attribute these frustrating elements to the limited design rules of 1994, it is worth noting that other oddball games succeeded at interesting top-down gameplay during this time.  Zombies Ate My Neighbors provided unique theming and fun mechanics with appropriate challenge, and it hit store shelves an entire year before The Ignition Factor.

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In the end, both of these experiences left me disappointed.  I had hoped that The Ignition Factor and Welcome to Scoville were unique gems that I had somehow overlooked.  As it turns out, this frustrating game and overly herbal beer were just oddly shaped rocks that I happened to walk by on the road.  I would not recommend this combination.

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Digital Draughts: Grim Fandango Remastered with Stone Brewery’s Xocoveza

The right drink can enhance an established experience.  Take food pairings as an example.  I already enjoyed the rich and meaty taste of a smoked turkey leg.  But when I added the toasty and bitter chocolate flavors of New Belgium’s 1554 black lager to the meal, each edible was taken to another level.  The bitter malted notes from the beer heightened the “hammy” sweetness of the meat, while the smoked salty taste of the turkey brought out a stronger coffee flavor in the lager.

Just as I have been trying out new beers with my favorite foods, so too have I been searching out appropriate brews for my most beloved games.  During my pairing quest, I look for common threads in the styles of beer and the aesthetic of video games.  As it turns out, the release of a beer based on Mexican hot chocolate happened to coincide with my purchase of a game inspired by the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos.

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Originally bottled in 2014 as a limited release 22-ounce offering, Xocoveza (pronounced “Sho-Co-Vay-Za”) comes from the mind of homebrewer Chris Banker.  His award-winning milk stout was inspired by the spicy and sweet flavors of Mexican hot chocolate. This beer was so well-received by the drinking public, that Stone has turned this once-in-a-lifetime brew into an annual release, aptly named, “Stone Xocoveza for the Holidays and New Year.”

At the risk of sounding pretentious, Xocoveza is a complex beer.  This is a stout that has been brewed with cocoa, coffee, dried pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Even though these ingredients play well together in various smaller combinations, there is certainly a risk of overwhelming the palete with too many factors.

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Xocoveza offers a dark and creamy pour, with a frothy head that calls to mind a caffè mocha.  Even at pouring distance, a cinnamon aroma permeates the air.  A closer smell only intensifies the cinnamon nose, along with a rich cocoa and vanilla odor.  The first taste is very similar to Mexican hot chocolate; dark cocoa and cinnamon with a hint of pepper spiciness.  As the smooth stout goes down, coffee and nutmeg take over, leading to a malty finish.

Xocoveza is an excellent beer.  It is well-balanced, providing a chocolaty sweetness that doesn’t overpower the bitter coffee and spicy pepper flavors.  Fans of dark beer and coffee drinkers will be right at home with this holiday brew, while folks who enjoy something a little sweeter will also find something to enjoy with this smooth and delicious stout. Xocoveza currently stands as my top brew of 2016, and it pairs very well with Grim Fandango Remastered.

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From the moment Grim Fandango Remastered was announced at E3 2014, I was ecstatic. The original stands as one of my favorite games of all time, never leaving my top ten list since its release in 1998.  Over time, it became increasingly difficult to play Grim Fandango; as PC gaming technology grew exponentially, the support for this CD-ROM title waned at a similar pace.  In the years leading up to the release of the remastered version, I was relying entirely on the efforts of Grim Fandango’s dedicated fans to provide unofficial patches to get the game running on anything past Windows 98.  But thanks to the efforts of Tim Schafer and his crew at Double Fine (along with the compliance of Disney/LucasArts), my frustrating days of cobbling together fan fixes and mods to play this classic title were coming to a close.

Not satisfied with simply overcoming the accessibility issues of Grim Fandango, Double Fine Productions remastered the entire game for modern machines.  The team went to great efforts to retrieve the original assets for the game, ensuring that the visual fidelity was preserved in the leap to new technology.  As a result, the remastered version features repainted, hi-res character models, along with new dynamic lighting effects.  Composer Peter McConnell returned to conduct the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for a live re-recording of the already beautiful soundtrack.  Double Fine even reached out to the modding community of fans for the original game to get their help in adding point-and-click controls for the computer and tablet versions of Grim Fandango Remastered.

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Despite all of these tweaks and improvements, Tim Schafer and his team worked very hard to preserve the original narrative of Grim Fandango.  None of the game’s scenes have been rescripted or removed; no new characters or plotlines added.  The result is akin to a Criterion Collection release of a classic film (right down to included developer commentary), and I absolutely love it.

The remastered visuals and soundtrack are a fantastic upgrade to an already outstanding game.  The film noir story of travel agent Manny Calavera and his epic journey of crime and corruption in the Land of the Dead has aged wonderfully.  During my time playing, Laura became equally engaged with the story, even as a passive viewer.  She did point out the one aspect that has not aged gracefully: adventure game logic.  While I was breezing through the game (having played it over a dozen times in the past), Laura would ask questions that showcased the potential difficulty for players who didn’t grow up with LucasArts.

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For example, I had no trouble in figuring out that I needed to ask for a Robert Frost balloon animal from a festival clown, to hide under a pile of bread crumbs on the Department of Death roof, to scare away a flock of pigeons, so I could steal their eggs to raise as tiny messengers for an underground revolution.  To this sequence of events, Laura simply stared in confused frustration, regularly uttering the phrase, “How could anyone have guessed that?”

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Even with these old school head-scratcher puzzles, Grim Fandango remains a fun and worthwhile experience.  The remastered visuals and music have honed the already impressive content to perfection, and the updated controls allow players several options to maneuver Manny on his adventures.  The mix of film noir with Mexican folklore provides a unique and wonderful world, which matches the dark cocoa and vibrant cinnamon spice of Xocoveza.  I highly recommend this combination.

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Digital Draughts: Destiny with Dogfish Head’s Kvasir

For 2016, we are debuting a new column here at Games I Made My Girlfriend Play: Digital Draughts.  As the resident beer snob of GIMMGP, Chip is always on the lookout for new brews to sample.  He also believes that a great gaming experience can be enhanced with the right beverage.

Written on a semi-monthly basis, Digital Draughts posts will highlight the pairing of specific brews with certain titles.  The beers and games will typically both be new experiences for Chip, with certain exceptions being made for time-tested combinations. Some of these pairs will be the match made in heaven, while others may be the couple from hell.  Either way, Chip will review new games and beers for your reading pleasure.

To kick off this series of articles, Chip has chosen a modern beer based on an ancient recipe and a futuristic game with flourishes from the fantastic past.  Prosit!


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Over the life of this blog, it has been well-established that I enjoy making lists.  I am a rather meticulous person; using lists to keep track of things I enjoy, things I despise, and those things that I have yet to experience.  For this inaugural Digital Draughts post, I chose the game and the beer that sat at the top of their respective, “Cool-Looking Things to Try” lists.

Kvasir is a beer that has been on my radar for some time.  I am a big fan of Dogfish Head and their Ancient Ales.  The beer nerd in me loves the idea of using archeology and science to resurrect brewing recipes from the past.

For Kvasir, Dogfish Head enlisted the aid of biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern to reproduce a long-forgotten beer from Scandinavia.  From their website:

“The recipe for Kvasir was developed with the help of chemical, botanical and pollen evidence taken from a 3,500‐year‐old Danish drinking vessel. The vessel, made of birch bark, was found in the tomb of a leather‐clad woman Dr. Pat says was probably an upper-class dancer or priestess. The analysis pointed to the ingredients used in this unique brew: wheat, lingonberries, cranberries, myrica gale, yarrow, honey and birch syrup.”

Just reading over that description blows my mind.  The thought that a brewery would use such complex food science just to replicate a beer recipe is amazing.  And instead of using the results of this experiment to produce a single keg of beer for an exclusive party, Dogfish Head is sharing this experience with the world.  Thanks to their efforts, we get a glimpse into ancient Scandinavian history through our taste buds.

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Kvasir is certainly a unique brew.  This beer pours with a fizzy head and a gorgeous red-orange color.  There are golden and pink hues that shine as light passes through the glass.  The nose is very sharp; of herbs and tart berries with a hint of honey.  At first sip, there is the crisp bite of cranberry with a bit of effervescence.  As the ale settles across your tongue, the mouthfeel of a hearty wheat beer is present.  The finish leaves no lingering alcohol flavor (despite a 10% ABV), and the aftertaste of a mulled white wine comes to mind.

I won’t lie: Kvasir is not a beer for everyone.  There is little-to-no hop character, so Die-Hard Hop Heads™ may be left wanting.  The crisp fruit flavors and effervescence makes Kvasir a great beer for fans of mead and mulled wine, or for folks who enjoy wheat beers and lambics.  Overall, I really enjoyed this flavorful brew, and this Ancient Ale paired quite nicely with Destiny.

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As 2015 was winding down, Laura and I had an important decision to make.  It’s the sort of conundrum that faces any couple who has been married for a few years, and once we have chosen a path, it would affect our lives for years to come.

Of course, I am talking about selecting which console would bring us into the next generation.  What did you think I meant?

There is a hard rule in our home concerning the purchase of video game consoles: there has to be at least five worthwhile games available for the system before we invest.  We were already proud owners of Nintendo’s Wii-U, so the time had come to pick our second favorite child.  In the end, there were more console-exclusive games for the PlayStation 4 that we wanted to play.  After drafting such a list for the PS4, we tossed it out the window and just bought Destiny instead.

Both Laura and I are veteran fans of Halo, but we wanted something with a bit more flourish than the latest installment of Master Chief’s existential crisis.  Destiny had the gameplay of our favorite first-person shooter, with a deeply immersive sci-fi world.  Plus, a complete edition of the game had just hit the market with the release of The Taken King, so win-win.

Since starting our respective characters in Destiny, the differences in the way Laura and I play have been more apparent than ever.

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Laura approaches Destiny as a creative loner.  She enjoys exploring the gorgeously rendered landscapes on each planet in the Solar System.  She takes the time to examine the flavor text of every weapon, scouring over the lore and history of this fantastic universe.  Destiny meets her enthusiasm with an engaging story of a mysterious interstellar being and its ancient adversary.  The missions she is given are meant for a team of Guardians, but with skill and patience, Laura continues to make progress in the main story.  She is the Awoken Huntress; she travels alone and with grace.

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I approach Destiny like I am roaming a gigantic playground with my friends.  I refuse to play this game without at least two companions by my side, ready to shoot some badguys and blow stuff up.  I normally skip all cutscenes, crafting my own story of traveling the galaxy in search of the biggest and loudest rocket launcher.  I am always chucking weapons and gear that don’t enhance my ability to make a flashy entrance with a big explosion.  I am the Derpy Warlock, and I will fit this car through that door.

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Destiny has provided Laura and I with the option to play as we wish, and that is fantastic.  The game is an interesting intersection of first-person shooter gameplay with the trappings of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.  We enjoy the tense and often hectic firefights, as well as the deep world-building that frames the entire experience.  Destiny has a sense of a developed universe, as if Bungie took the time to write an entire alternate future/history for this world before unleashing it upon the market as a game.  This feeling of a lost and magical realm pairs quite well with the ancient-made-modern flavors of Kvasir.  I would definitely recommend this combination.

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