23 October 2012

The Beeroes of Harkenwold: Putting the "Geek" in Hoosier Beer Geek

Talk to most craft beer enthusiasts and you'll find that they're adventurous people. That's one of the reasons they're into better beer; they like the unexpected treasures that they often find in their pint glasses. Indeed, being into craft beer is sort of like reading those "make your own adventure" books that were available when we were kids. Don't like this beer? Well, turn the page and you might find another that suits you...

Yes, better beer enthusiasts thirst for adventure, sometimes in more ways than one. Let's take role-playing games for example. I'm not a hardcore gamer like some of my friends, but I do enjoy a good Dungeons & Dragons session from time to time. So once a month, I gather with some fellow D&D and beer geeks to quench my thirst for adventure. Along with our Player's Handbooks, character sheets, and dice, we always bring some brews to drink while we're vanquishing enemies, negotiating with shopkeepers, and protecting the helpless.

It just so happens that two of my fellow D&D adventurers are also two of the newest additions to the Knights of the Beer Roundtable. Megan and Kristin are craft beer enthusiasts with great passion for the local beer scene, so they were a natural fit to join the KOTBR. And they're also a natural fit for our new monthly feature, "The Beeroes of Harkenwold." Each month, Megan, Kristin, and I will give you our thoughts on our gaming beers...with a geeky twist of course. If this isn't your thing, we're cool with that. We at Hoosier Beer Geek have written plenty of stuff that has annoyed our readers, so we're used to the criticism. But we also know that we have kindred spirits out there who will enjoy what we have to say. So suit up in your chain mail, grab your longsword and shield, and prepare yourself for the first encounter.

First up is Megan, who is the druid of the party. She's kind of like Storm from the X-Men in that she can harness nature to kick our enemies' asses. As you'll see, however, she seems to have spent a bit too much time in the San Fernando Valley in the '80s.

Pipeworks Brewing Company Ninja vs. Unicorn Double IPA

So, like, our posse had an epic day of battling. There were these gnarly carrion crawlers (which I DON'T recommend killing at close range...slime much?) and we were totally wiped after hours of combat. We usually get together post-combat to grab some pints, but our Dwarf was nowhere to be found. We knew he was totes at the Lucky Gnome Tavern, probably getting frisky with some grodie halfling. I volunteered to round him up, and sure enough...a halfling wench on each knee, gag me with a greatsword. I grabbed his ale and told him he had FIVE minutes to get his second wind on.

I was immediately blown away by the label on this Double IPA by Pipeworks Brewing. I was mesmerized by the trippy colors, especially the maniacal unicorn. Being an Elf druid shapeshifter, I could totally be that unicorn anytime I wanted, whatevs. My first sniff was full of hoppy aromas, lots of pine and some citrus. I could feel a surge to my charisma as soon as I took a sip. Lots of malty smoothness to balance the crisp, floral hop flavors. A powerful punch with a smooth finish! This was such a rad brew that I was oblivious to the fisticuffs that broke out. Next time our Dwarf better do a perception check first to see if his little hussies have boyfriends...duh.

Next up is Kristin, who is our cleric of the Deva race. Kristin is our healer and energizer. Those of you who are D&D nerds know that Devas are immortal. Holy shit, that's a lot of time to drink a lot of beer!

Baxter Brewing Company Stowaway IPA

As a Deva, I've lived many lifetimes, remembering each as vividly as yesterday. When our ranger came to me with the Baxter Stowaway IPA, I was hesitant, as I have had thousands of brews, and I've become more and more critical over my lifetimes. He was insistent, and knowing I had a soft spot for animals--the logo boasted a moose--I had no choice but to try the hoppy libation.

This beer was nothing short of legendary. Being of large stature, the 6.9 ABV gave me a nice feeling of warmth, which is important after a long day of battle. The canned beer poured a beautiful orange color, and the nose was nothing but simple and citrusy, a favorite of mine. The hop notes were clean and enjoyable, and after a few, it was time to call it an evening.

Although I'm known for my less than stellar rolls, this beer deserves an 18 from a d20.


And finally, yours truly, the ranger, the master of the bow, the man who makes William Tell look like an amateur:

Boatswain Chocolate Stout and O'So Brewing Company Night Train Porter

Our trusty cleric brought along a bottle of Boatswain Chocolate Stout; she'd procured it from a merchant called Trader Joe, who apparently sells quality wares at prices that allow travelers to leave his shop with a decent amount of coin left over in their money pouches. This beer poured with a murky brown color and was redolent of the finest cacao beans from the deep jungles of Eluria. Alas, the mouthfeel was watery and the flavor left much to be desired. Boatswain Chocolate Stout reminded me of a pretty but dull-edged rapier: lots of sharp promise but no bite to match.

We did, however, find a much worthier beer than Boatswain's Chocolate Stout: O'So Night Train Porter. This, my friends, is what a dark beer should be. Creamy, rich, hoppy, chocolatey, earthy...as I poured a tankard of this brew down my gullet, I felt so comfortable and at home, much like how I usually feel exploring the depths of the forests of Harkenwold. I was crestfallen that I did not have another bottle of this beer from a duchy in the north called Wisconsin.


For more information on the breweries:

Pipeworks Brewing Company, Chicago, Illinois

Baxter Brewing Company, Lewiston, Maine

Rhinelander Brewery, Rhinelander, Wisconsin (Brewer of Trader Joe's Boatswain brands)

O'So Brewing Company, Plover, Wisconsin

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