Welcome welcome welcome once again to your monthly pairing of craft beer and video games. This month, as the last few weeks of summertime fade away and we get ready for the 31 Days of Halloween push here at Geekade, I struggled a bit to decide which Jersey beer I wanted to highlight. See, October and November are already planned. Not written (who has that much time?), but planned out and set in stone. December will end up being one of the seasonal beers that dominate the market at the end of the year. So that left September. And I knew what beer I wanted to write about, Morning Bell from Kane, but I couldn’t quite nail down the game. Pairing something with Morning Bell could go down a number of different roads but I think, once I decided on Journey to Silius, it made a ton of sense. (for reasons we will get to later) Make sure to follow me on twitter and instagram, @geekadedan, and let me know what you think. So without further ado, let’s get to it and jump down the rabbit hole.
Morning Bell is released every now and again from Kane Brewing in Ocean, New Jersey. Kane opened in August of 2011 and has been consistently churning out some of the best beer in the state. This beer is an Imperial Milk Porter, so a big porter brewed with lactose for sweetness and body, with a ton of coffee from local coffee roasters Rook Coffee, also in Ocean. And that’s what hits you with this beer. It is without question, the MOST coffee beer I’ve ever had. The aroma is just straight up coffee. Really, really fucking good coffee. It’s one of the few times with a beer that I’ve stopped to just smell it. I got this beer on tap, at a Mexican restaurant, with my family, and had to be snapped back to reality by my kids knocking over a ton of shit on the table because one, it’s a restaurant and for some reason every restaurant in New Jersey (everywhere?) has a ton of shit on the table, and two, well, they’re kids and they have a tendency to wreck things. I was just sitting, smelling this beer, lost to the world and everything around me, that’s how intense the coffee is. The rest of the beer does not disappoint. It is way more full than a Porter usually is thanks to the lactose, has a good amount of chocolate in the sip, and it hits a nice balance underneath all of that coffee. It’s a beer I wish was more readily available and one that just knocks it out of the park in a big bad way.
Released in 1990 for the NES, Journey to Silius, known as Rough World in Japan, is a game that was originally developed and based on The Terminator, but the licensing fell through. So, after changing a bunch of assets, and leaving a final boss that looks suspiciously like a Terminator, Sunsoft released Journey to Silius into the wild. Sunsoft, one of the most criminally underrated developers of the NES era, did much more with this title than release a Contra clone as some have claimed. What they did with JTS was take the run right, shoot shit genre, and add depth and detail. It’s a short game, five stages, but one that will make you stop a few times just to appreciate what is going on. Sometimes it’s the graphics that make you stop and admire the depth Sunsoft put in. Sometimes it’s the music that is unlike any other game on the NES. Sometimes, it’s the way the character moves left to right that looks so smooth and different from any other title of that era. Maybe it’s the bigger than fuck bosses that fill the screen. There are so many moments in this game that push the limits of what the NES should have been capable of. So many little things that make you stop and almost take you out of the game. It’s hard but never too hard, like most NES titles. If you’ve never played Journey to Silius you owe it to yourself to track down a copy.
So, why these two together? The simple answer is their ability to make you stop in your tracks and ignore everything else going on around you. Sure, there are lots of games or beers where you might think, “damn, this is good.” But the ones that make you totally stop, really properly stop, are few and far between. Both of these do just that. And what makes them even more impressive is that they are simple in their execution. They take what has been done before and just do it to a whole other level. If you can grab a bottle of Morning Bell, sit down with it and Journey to Silius, just make sure you have some time on your hands.