One of the best things about having a spouse who is also a board gamer is that I don’t have to wait for official organized game days to play games. Anytime we are free on a weekend it’s quite likely we’ll be playing games. Many times we’ll have a beer or two while we play, and a while back I jokingly said that we should choose a beer that matched the theme of the game we were playing. We laughed, but then I thought about it some more and realized that this was something I wanted to do. A quick trip to my favorite local beer store and my idea came to fruition. Here is the first entry in my occasional series of board game and beer pairings.
CUPCAKE EMPIRE, paired with Bakery – Coconut Macaroons (The Bruery, CA)
I’m still really enjoying this game. It plays very quickly when played with experienced players, and it is a terrific light strategy game when you are short on time. I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s too random, or too luck-based, but I disagree. Sure, you’re rolling dice, but there are a lot of things added to the game to mitigate the luck involved in the dice. For example, you get bright idea tokens that can be used to buy improvements to streamline production or to reallocate your dice to the column where you want them to be. It also works really well with any number of players, although I haven’t tried the unofficial solo variant yet.
The beer was good, but very sweet. The coconut flavor comes through very strongly and it’s a bit boozy, but the flavors work well together. This is definitely a dessert, sipping beer. It’s not something I would drink on a regular basis, but I enjoyed trying it. If you aren’t a fan of coconut you should stay far, far away.
I should have gone a step farther and made cupcakes to eat with them and add an Opinionated Eaters angle, but that would have required more advance planning (and no, I cannot just use a mix. . . .). Maybe I’ll do that for our next game day, since no one who lives in my house should not be left home alone with cupcakes.
ROLL FOR THE GALAXY, paired with Space Cake Double IPA (Clown Shoes, MA)
I missed the boat on Race for the Galaxy when it first came out. By the time I got around to trying it everyone else had played a million times and played so fast I couldn’t figure out what the heck was happening. I’ve figured it out now, but when Roll for the Galaxy came out I decided to try it right away. I really enjoyed it after two playings and bought a copy, only to have it languish on the shelf for a couple of years. We finally brought it out a while back, and it has held up well. I was very frustrated by my dice roles in this particular game, but in the end my score wasn’t far off the winning score, so things were going better than I thought. I need to put this one into a more regular rotation; there are some really interesting synergies that I want to explore.
The beer is very good. It’s a hoppy, citrusy, bitter IPA, which is right up my alley. It’s a bit boozy at 9%, but it doesn’t overwhelm the flavor. I wouldn’t have more than one of these in a sitting, though, although maybe I would convince my opponents to do so. . . .
ZOMBICIDE, PAIRED WITH ZOMBIE KILLER HARD CIDER (B.NEKTAR, MI)
Zombicide is yet another game in the long list of games that I played a lot when it first came out but then has sat on my game shelf for far too long. I think of it every time I see someone else’s pimped out copy with painted miniatures, or see one of the many expansions for the game, but it’s still been sitting there waiting to get played. I enjoy a good zombie fight, but I wasn’t sure how well it would work with two players, but it turned out to be great. The game rules scale the game and have you play with more characters when there are fewer players, so normally in a two-player game you’d each start with three survivors.. However, we played a scenario that was specifically designed for two to three players – Might Makes Right – where you only start with one survivor each. (Well, technically we started with 3 survivors each, but when we were doing far too well we checked the rules for the scenario and saw that we’d missed that, despite not even having the cider open at that point. Oops. We started again).
You start the scenario with one survivor each, but you need five to win. You get additional survivors by revealing objective tokens, but then you have to get them all out safely. It was tough, but not impossible. We never managed to get any explosives, but we had some good weapons and some lucky roles, which helped.
There are a lot of things to remember in this game, but the rules are quite clear and it is easy to find what you are looking for. We learned originally from the rules, and it had been long enough that we needed a refresh, but we had no trouble getting up and running quickly (less my completely missing that very clear scenario rule. . .).
The cider was quite good. It wasn’t too sweet, despite honey being one of the ingredients. It also has tart cherries, which made it a bit pink and also kept it from being too sweet. It had good, crisp apple flavor. It tasted especially good, since we were victorious!
I’ve already got a few beers in mind for my next write-up, some obvious (I’m looking at you, Flower Power) and some that just match more of the theme. I think my ultimate goal will be finding beers that pair with games that we really need to get to the table. Any suggestions you have are more than welcome.