Welcome welcome once again to your monthly pairing of craft beer and video games. On the day this article goes live, April 30th 2017, Demented Brewing Company will be celebrating their two year anniversary. In that two year history, Demented has gone from new kid on the block to being named New Jersey’s best craft brewery by NJ.com and winning best flavored beer for their Astarte at the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival. (rated the #2 beer festival in the country) The homies at Demented are putting in solid work making dope beers. The only real negative is that with being a new brewery, not much of their stuff makes it into cans and onto store shelves. Thankfully though, Scarlet Night does. And this month its being paired with a retro game suggested by the brewery itself. Without further ado I humbly present to you Demented Scarlet Night and Ghosts ‘N Goblins.
The American Red Ale is somewhat hard to describe in terms of hardline style guidelines. It lives on the periphery not even having a dedicated class at the Great American Beer Festival. (the be all, end all of beer awards in the states) Red Ales are lumped in with Amber Ales, which is fine I suppose, but does a bit of a disservice in my opinion. Most Red Ales are hoppier and drier than their Amber cousins who finish a bit sweeter and more malt-forward. Regardless of style notes, what matters most is if a beer is tasty or not, and this beer is most definitely tasty. Scarlet Night is brewed with five different malts to get that dark caramel color. Those malts give this beer a homemade dark bread and caramel nose that is balanced out by the floral hops. It’s a seriously great-smelling beer that delivers on that promise in the taste. Taking a sip brings that same bready sweetness with the floral hops, a bit of earthiness, a surprising bit of coffee-like roast, and some fruit. Overall it’s pretty damn complex and highlights exactly what is so awesome about this style of beer. It’s a ballsy move to come out heavy with an American Red when the rage is hazy IPAs and big, adjunct laden Stouts. (not that there is anything wrong with those, mind) Demented tagged themselves as the makers of intensely flavorful ales and it shows. To do a Red well takes a fair amount of skill. That balance between sweet and bitter is paramount to making this style work and Demented just nailed it. All of the flavors are big but work together so damn well. You owe it to yourself to seek this beer out. Sometimes seeking out those things on the fringes brings about big rewards.
Oh Ghosts n’ Goblins. You frustrating, beautiful, impossible, rewarding, pain in the ass fucking game. I’m not sure that I’ve ever played a game this hard since it’s initial release. I mean, when this game came out I was in elementary school. There is no earthly reason a kid who could barely wipe his own ass should have been trying to play this game. And yet, I did. Over and over and over and over again. I was determined to make progress. I was determined to rescue my princess. I was determined to destroy the demon that kidnapped her and I was determined to keep my armor on the whole time. I failed. A lot. But it never mattered. Failure in Ghosts n’ Goblins is a certainty. Because of this, Ghosts n’ Goblins has always lived just outside of the big franchise neighborhood. The people that love it REALLY love it and the rest remember it as the game that made them smash a controller or seven. A good deal of the love for Ghosts n’ Goblins comes down to the main character Arthur. There was something so damn charming about a knight trying to rescue his princess who was captured by a demon during their night picnic. (because night picnics are the best picnics, obviously) Getting hit and having to fight in your boxers made the character so vulnerable. The music was also top notch. BUT, it wasn’t just the character design that gave this game a cult following. It was the fact that it was so damn difficult. Being able to make it past even the first fucking stage was a badge of honor. And upon completing the game (instant legend status) Ghosts n’ Goblins rewards the curious player who has enough patience, or stubbornness, to make it through the over the top challenge.
So why these two together? Because sometimes existing a bit left of center is good. Both this beer and this game are not what was or is considered the #mainstream. Both are a bit off the beaten path. Most drinkers know what an American Red is and have probably had a few and most gamers know what Ghosts n’ Goblins is and have probably played a few minutes. However, both deserve so much more of your time. Both reward you for venturing out and challenging yourself to understand something that’s not “the big thing.” I promise the journey is worth it. I promise that if you give them the time, you will find deep, complex experiences in both this beer and this game. What better way to experience them than together? Grab yourself a four pack, you’ll need it, and a copy of Ghosts n’ Goblins and see what life is like on the fringes. That’s it for this month. Check out Demented Brewing Company on facebook, twitter, instagram and the like and make sure to follow me on twitter and instgram, @geekadedan, for lots of pictures of beer and games. Take a second to like and share the article and check back next month when I pair another New Jersey brewery with a classic game. Prost!