So this is going to be a new type of article for the site – Beeps and Beers. Video games beep. Beers… well, ideally those get drank. When I first started gaming (I was four), I am guessing my primary liquids of choice were juice and milk. As I grew older and my late night gaming sessions often morphed into early morning gaming sessions, I began to find myself drinking more soda. While this was unarguably a less healthy transition, my caffeine-laden pops of choice (Mt. Dew, Surge, Jolt – basically there were nights where I am fairly certain that the combination of sugar and caffeine should have caused my heart to punch through my chest like an Alien chest-burster) saw me through many a game.
As I reflected on this recently while playing a game with a beer in hand (clearly I have not returned to my milk drinking days, despite the fact that it would be far better for me), I thought about how often I am playing a game and enjoy a craft beer. Now, I am not proposing that we try to pair the right games with the right beers, though you can likely do so. There is a certain bit of irony in the pair I am talking about today since anyone who has played Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End knows that there is a boat that gets wrecked in the early going. Pair that with the Shipwreck Porter I was drinking at the time, and we have the inspiration for Beeps and Beers.
Likely most of these articles will wind up shorter than this first one – but I wanted to set the scene before diving into what I have in mind for these posts. I play a lot of games – I have been for nearly 35 years now. I like a lot of different styles of games, and I will try just about any game at least once and do my best to give it an honest go. The same can be said of craft beer. Not that I’ve been drinking it for 35 years, mind you – just that I enjoy a lot of different styles and living in Michigan, we have a lot of outstanding breweries to choose from.
When I started Chalgyr’s Game Room several years ago, it was primarily to write reviews about games. Well now I plan to flip that script. For these articles I am going to write reviews on the beer I am drinking as I play a video game. Admittedly, video would probably be more entertaining (not that I’m terribly funny live and in person, but add beer and there is a very good chance you would see me go from playing video games poorly to playing them very poorly), but these posts are not flashbacks to college and the many hours we spend drinking cheap beers and playing Mario Kart 64 and GoldenEye.
Beeps and Beers is meant to be informal, but I will talk briefly about the beer I happen to be drinking and the game I happen to be playing. Basically tying together a couple of my favorite hobbies into an article that you (hopefully) will enjoy. Who knows? Maybe a good beer will help me to put up with playing a bad game along the way? If you are looking for deep insights here, you will likely come away disappointed. This is just an opportunity for us to talk about some games without having to toss scores at them and have a bit of fun with the articles in the process.
So the game in question is one that I wrote about pretty recently and there was a great deal that I liked a lot about Uncharted 4. It is quite possibly the most visually impressive game for the PlayStation 4 to date. I thoroughly enjoyed the game my first time through, but I did play it at a pretty casual level of difficulty. One thing I have found as I have gotten older is that my reflexes have not gotten better – something Chris likes to needle me about rather frequently. Well, that ribbing only got worse after he beat the game on its hardest available difficulty for the first time, so I decided to jack up the challenge myself and take a crack at it.
However, I had a sneaking suspicion that it was going to end badly, so I thought I would dull my temper (and my already questionable gaming skills) with a strong beer that also happens to be one of my favorites. One of the better known breweries we have here in Michigan is Arcadia Ales. I have only visited their Kalamazoo taproom once, but when I did, I made sure to walk off with several bottles of their Shipwreck Porter. I had had this particular beer once before, and really enjoyed it. Bourbon barrel aged porters and stouts are generally my favorite, and this is a very good Baltic-style porter that usually rings in at about 12% ABV.
Now, I enjoy craft beers. I do not however, claim to be an expert by any means. I have a wide range of tastes and just like in gaming, those tastes are often subjective. I am generally not going to sit around sniffing my beers and claiming to pick out all kinds of nuanced details, but by the same token, certain elements certainly tend to come to the forefront with different beers and the Shipwreck Porter is no exception. I get a little mixture of coffee, vanilla and chocolate when I smell it, and because the porter is aged for a year in bourbon barrels, it has a warm booziness both in the scent and on the tongue. I like this beer cool, but not overly cold – closer to the room temperature.
Now with a big, high ABV beer like this, I thought maybe there would be a high alcohol burn to it when drinking, but that is not the case. It is surprisingly smooth with a blackness to it that almost tinges on red if you put light behind it. The one thing I wish this porter had was just a little more thickness to it I suppose. I tend to sip this one slowly – which is probably for the best, because as I managed to wreck my boat (again, not intended for the time – I just picked this guy from my fridge because it was really kind of cool out that night and it sounded good), I dove into Uncharted 4.
I was actually surprised at how easily I navigated the first several levels. Of course, they were mostly introductory in nature and not meant to kick anyone’s tail right out of the gates. Sure enough, as I got further into the game, I found it much harder to progress. Chris of course had a good time with some of my more explosive deaths. Nate is one helluva acrobat, but he dies pretty quick when you get sloppy and let people shoot him a few times.
I find it hard to get mad when I’m enjoying such a good beer, which is probably for the best because while I would love to blame my poor performance on dulled reflexes, the fact of the matter is – it was just too much of a challenge for me at that difficulty. Still, I did not focus completely on the combat. I was enjoying looking around more. The first time I played Uncharted 4, I was wowed by the graphics – but sometimes the action just spurred me along too quickly to really stop and take everything in. This time I decided that I would try to better appreciate the scenery along the way, and there wre definitely small details I missed along the way the first time I played the game.
The Uncharted games have such a cinematic quality to them framed with breakneck action sequences that it can be easy to miss everything that Naughty Dog has put together here. I was so focused on game objectives the first time that I sometimes failed to really just take everything in. While my gameplay session lasted much longer than my beer, I have to say that I enjoyed it despite the fact that I knew fairly early on that I would likely get stumped down the line by the difficulty. This turned out to be accurate, but I still enjoyed the experience – both the beer (which is one of my favorites) and the return to the game.
Article by Nick