So once again, we find ourselves here at Geekade celebrating the 31 Days of Halloween with a plethora of articles, videos, podcasts, and more. All month long the crew has been talking about things that scared the pants off of them/brought them great joy in regards to the horror genre. And so too will we intrepid readers, dive headlong into the world of craft beer and video games to pair some of the “best” NES horror games with fall/seasonal beer. (let’s be honest though, scary NES games were all pretty terrible, charmingly so, but terrible) And thanks to the seasonal creep effect, it’s even possible you will find some of these beers on your local liquor store shelf right now. (even if you are reading this in summer…)
A Nightmare on Elm Street / Dogfish Head Punkin
Perhaps the easiest two to pair together, Nightmare and Punkin represent two of the most popular entries in their respective genres. The game for the NES is a side scroller with an interesting sleep meter that when full makes the game harder. Your job is to collect Freddy’s bones to throw into a furnace at the end of the game. Which you won’t make it to because it’s silly hard and controls like garbage. Nightmare on Elm Street was the breakthrough film for many involved, most notably launching the careers of Wes Craven, Robert Englund, and Johnny Deep. DFH Punkin similarly launched the DFH company and shot owner Sam Calgione into craft beer superstardom. Released in the fall every year, Punkin remains a go-to pumpkin beer and one of the better examples of the style. It doesn’t hit you over the head with anything crazy. It is simply a well made beer, perfect for cool fall evenings.
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde / Elysian Punkuccino
In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, you start off controlling Dr. Jekyll on the way to church to marry his blushing bride Ms. Millicent. As you take damage your life meter drains and your anger meter fills. When your anger meter maxes out, you transform into Mr. Hyde. As Hyde, your objective is to kill as many enemies as quickly as possible in order to satiate your rage and transform back in Dr. Jekyll. Jekyll moves left to right and Hyde move right to left and if ever the two should meet, it’s game over. It was a neat concept that was ultimately flawed in execution. Still, I feel that when paired with Punckuccino, it would make for an interesting experience. It is a blend of a pumpkin ale with cinnamon, nutmeg, and Stumptown coffee. The resulting beer is a delicious coffee/pumpkin experience that leans more on the coffee than the pumpkin. It’s definitely one I grab every year when I want a changeup from the norm.
Dracula / Great Lakes Nosferatu
The movie version of Bram Stroker’s Dracula starring Gary Oldman and Winona Rider (the hot mom from Stanger Things for all you youngsters out there) is an incredible cinematic experience. The 8 bit version of the game… not so much. It plays very much like any generic platformer with a small variety of weapons. It’s okay on its own but much better paired with the excellent Nosferatu. Released every September, Nosferatu is a big Red Ale. Big on the caramel malts, big on the piney hops, big on awesome. It is such a well balanced beer that hits you with sweetness, cuts through that with hops, and finishes with earthy sweetness again. It is a wonderful example of what an Imperial Red should be and something that can make even the most mediocre of platform adaptations tolerable and dare I say, even enjoyable.
Jaws / Boulevard Funky Pumpkin
Jaws the movie terrified me as a little kid. So much so that even now, as a grown ass man, I have trouble with the ocean. Jaws the videogame may not have been as scary but, as far as anything made by LJN is concerned, was pretty good. There are various elements at play here including sailing, side scrolling as a diver, mini-games, and a first person finale against Jaws. It’s quite frustrating at times and overall a bit silly, what with the fighting of jellyfish and all, but overall a decent mix. And the same can be said for Funky Pumpkin. My favorite of the newish pumpkin beers, this is a spiced sour beer with pumpkin. It is all at once tart and puckering with the familiar pumpkin pie spices. If you have ever wanted pumpkin pie with a kick, this is it. Plus, sometimes sour beers are described as having “bite” and well, Jaws, bite… I’ll show myself out…
Friday the 13th / Off Color Dino Smores
But not before I make perhaps the second easiest pairing on this list. Friday the 13th is one of the best horror franchises to ever grace our home video setups. This game though, is the hottest of garbage. It is so bad it’s good. In the game, players control one of six different characters each with varying stats as you try to make your through Camp Crystal Lake and kill Jason all the while avoiding killer wolves and bats. If the counselors or kids die before you beat Jason three times it’s game over. There are tons of hidden rooms that are impossible to find, side scrolling game play with terrible controls, and punchout-esque fights with a teal and purple Jason. And his mother’s head is floating. It’s awful. Dino Smores though, is amazing. A Russian Imperial stout that is brewed with graham and marshmallow, it tastes like a S’more. It is the perfect campfire beer and the perfect beer for this game.
So there it is. Five truly awful NES horror titles and five wonderful beers that will make them all the more palatable. I hope you enjoyed these pairings are able to try some out for yourself. What are your favorite game and beer pairings though? Drop me a line @geekadedan on twitter or instagram and let me know what classic horror titles go with what fall beers. Until next time…