Beer, in many ways, might be the Platonic ideal of a geek’s beverage. It comes in a huge, collectible swath of varieties; its production is a heady scientific process with a million tiny factors to obsess over; and it pairs really well with an evening of board gaming or Daredevil binge-watching.
In a big way, all beer is geeky. But it a more specific way, these five beers are, like, super mega geeky.
Ommegang Game Of Thrones: Three-Eyed Raven.
With its reputation for earthy, flavorful, back-to-basics recipes and its old-world branding; Cooperstown, NY’s Ommegang Brewery was kind of a natural choice to brew a slew of Game Of Thrones-themed beers. Regardless of specific gravity, all of Ommegang’s brews are rich and dense with spicy aromas and firm textures, and the simple act of pouring one has a naked atavism to it – as though you should be pouring it into a hollowed-out horn instead of a glass, and looking around nervously to make sure Sandor Clegane doesn’t decide to eat every f@#%ing chicken in this room.
And though none of Ommegang’s Game Of Thrones beers can really match the quality of its more longstanding successes – its Three Philosophers quad, its Rare Vos amber, and its Gnomegang blonde can easily be held aloft as prime examples of the craft – they’re all solid beers, as perfectly paired with a GoT episode as an Old Fashioned does with a Mad Men episode (made with Whistlepig Rye, which, sure, might not be strictly authentic from a dramaturgical standpoint, but try Whistlepig and tell me it isn’t worth it).
Lost Abbey Witch’s Wit.
Crafted at its flagship brewery in San Marcos, CA; Lost Abbey’s seasonal witbier doesn’t really connect to a specific fandom like many of the other beers on this list, but the brewery’s overall theme and aesthetic marry well with all manner of fantasy ephemera. Most notable is the artwork that adorns all of Lost Abbey’s labels which wouldn’t seem out of place on a Magic: The Gathering card or the cover of a fantasy novel.
The image on Witch’s Wit’s label – one of a witch being burned at the stake – is a mournful one, but the beer itself is as crisp and refreshing as any witbier deserves to be, with plenty of citrus notes (it’s brewed with grapefruit and orange zests, after all) and a light finish that still leaves you feeling satisfied and full. Though with a manageable alcohol level of 4.8 percent, it’s still easy to down the better part of a 22-ounce bottle of Witch’s Wit without impairing your judgement – so you can keep sipping it through an evening of D&D or Pathfinder and not worry about falling asleep and leaving drool stains on your character sheet.
Alesmith Evil Dead Red.
In general, red ales don’t seem to stand out much, even when they’re good; even a red ale from your favorite brewery is probably not going to top your list of favorites. But Evil Dead Red is an outlier here; where many red ales tend to be fairly simple, without a lot of strong or complex flavors, Evil Dead makes that simplicity work, balancing the slight bitterness of its hops with the caramel sweetness of its malts. And for those turned off by hoppy beers, take note that the hops here aren’t that bitter; they really lend it more of a grassy, citrus quality.
Alesmith, based in San Diego, brews this beer every Halloween, but there always seems to be plenty left over; I got a bottle in February at my FLBS, and there was plenty on the shelves to spare. So what we’ve got here is a great year-round horror-themed brew. Oh, and its alcohol content is 6.66 percent. Because EVIL!
Clown Shoes Undead Party Crasher.
Man, is there a story behind this brew. Clown Shoes – based in Ipswich, MA – created a beer called Vampire Slayer. As in “Buffy The.” They didn’t put pictures of Buffy on it or anything; in fact, the picture on the label was of a dude slaying a vampire, in direct contravention of the Buffy mythos (well, at least until Fray came out in 2001, but let’s avoid that rabbit hole for now). But when word spread that Vampire Slayer was being discontinued because of a trademark dispute, it seemed obvious what had happened: 20th Century Fox, or whoever owned the Buffy trademark, had sent them a cease-and-desist letter, claiming that “vampire slayer” was protected by intellectual property laws. Right?
Yeah, except that’s not what happened at all. In fact, Clown Shoes was sued by a different booze company – a winery that sold vampire-themed red wines, as well as a beer called Vampire Pale Ale. According to a blog post on Clown Shoes’ website, that winery was demanding financial restitution, claiming that Vampire Slayer was stealing market share from Vampire Pale Ale. Thus, what once was Vampire Slayer is now Undead Party Crasher, a dense, delicious imperial stout with a label that depicts the same not-blonde, not-female slayer from the original label… slaughtering a horde of zombie trademark lawyers.
Brewed by what is arguably America’s premier craft brewery – Escondido’s Stone Brewing – in conjunction with FARK creator Drew Curtis and Geek & Sundry’s own beer aficionado, Wil Wheaton, this beer might be the best on the list, depending on your tastes. Malty and sweet with a darkness that almost seems to absorb any ambient light in the room (and, at 13 percent alcohol by volume, any ambient sobriety as well), W00tstout practically serves its two main flavor profiles to you on a platter: Pecans, added during the brewing process, and bourbon, from its bourbon-barrel aging process. But saying this beer tastes like pecans and bourbon is like saying a supreme pizza tastes like tomato sauce. There’s so much more going on here.
Despite that complexity, this is a great all-around brew for beer lovers and noobs alike; its malty attack appeals to beer nerds tired of seeing shelf after shelf of IPAs locked in a perpetual hoppiness arms race, and its sweetness and surprisingly light finish appeal to your friends who never developed a taste for beer (probably because of that same IPA proliferation). As I mentioned in those parentheses in the last paragraph, this is a strong beer with a high alcohol content, so if you’re drinking it on game night, take care to pace yourself.
Which beer do you like to pair with your favorite board games? Let us know in the comment section below.