Welcome welcome welcome once again to your monthly pairing of craft beer and video games. This month we take another Jersey brewery putting out some dope beers in their first year of operation and pair it with a game Kris, of Stone Age Gamer podcast fame, and I have talked about quite a bit on the show. On the surface, based on name alone, I had this one down from the jump, but thought it was maybe a bit on the nose. So, I talked to Seth over at Icarus Brewing and asked his opinion. His first response was Battletoads which we will get to eventually. His next suggestion was what I had in mind and if it’s good enough for Seth, it’s good enough for me. So sit back and enjoy this month’s pairing of Yacht Juice and Kid Icarus.
As of this writing, Icarus Brewing is a little over six months old. In the rapidly growing New Jersey beer scene, they are setting themselves apart by putting out consistently dope beers and canning quickly. Their can designs are top notch and really stand out on the shelves. And while I have to go on a bit of a hike to get their stuff, it’s more than worth it. What I love about this beer in particular is the way it explores the NEIPA category that has stormed through craft beer over the last year. The turbid haze of most NEIPAs is not as pronounced here, however. The hallmarks of the style, juicy/tropical hops and low bitterness, are in full force. Brewed using Citra, Mosaic, and Columbus hops, Yacht Juice throws out tons of juicy citrus fruits and a bit of dankness. There are notes of melon in there and some drops of minerality. What I mean by that is there are notes of the water that is local to the area that sets this beer apart from other NEIPAs. (Sort of like how Jester King beers taste very much of the water from the Texas Hill County) It definitely adds to the overall impression this beer makes and sets it apart. There’s a touch of sweetness from the malt bill that balances the bittering present. In the wide range of NEIPAs I’ve had, I can’t say I’ve had one quite like Yacht Juice and that is a very good thing. It does things differently and encourages, hopefully at least, other brewers to explore the style a bit.
Regular listeners of the Stone Age Gamer podcast know that Kris and I have a deep love for Kid Icarus. Our love for this game stems from how it steps outside of what we consider the conventional classic style of NES game. Kid Icarus starts with a vertically scrolling stage, certainly unconventional for the style. The second stage drops back to side-scrolling and a bit more comfortability. The game switches between vertical and horizontal scrolling before a flying section. The variety in the game really sets it apart from its contemporaries. That’s not to say it does not have more traditional elements like powerups and stores and whathaveyou but there is a certain Kid Icarusness to the game. There are Eggplant Wizards for well, reasons, that turn Pit into a walking eggplant unable to attack until a hospital located in the castle is visited. So while it’s certainly a pain in the ass to be turned into an eggplant, it is awful nice of Medusa and the Eggplant Wizards to provide a cure for you. There’s also the little matter of not being able to scroll back down. Fall off a ledge and it’s instant death. And in regards of control, Pit controls like Pit. As keeping with the trend of the time, Kid Icarus controls like itself. In order to get good at Kid Icarus you had to play it like Kid Icarus. Kid Icarus did its own thing and nothing has quite come close to it. It’s sequels are also quite good but it is this original title that really set the bar and established Pit as a huge fan favorite.
So, why these two together? Well, apart from the naming of each representative including illusions to the story of Icarus, both examples encourage exploration of perceived norms and challenge others to do the same. In the realm of craft beer, innovation within the trend is paramount to success. A quick look at the history of craft beer shows a style coming to the forefront, Barrel-Aged Stouts/Goses/IPas/etc, and then a tremendous amount of innovation within that style. Even taking IPAs on their own, the amount of changability is staggering. What Icarus has done here with Yacht Juice is put their stamp, their signature, on the style of the day. So too did Kid Icarus. At the time of its release, Nintendo was not only creating the game but constantly changing that game. Nothing like Zelda existed before Nintendo. Nothing like Metroid existed before Nintendo. And nothing like Kid Icarus existed, or really has existed since, before Nintendo. So grab a can and a copy and enjoy these two artists that paint in a familiar style, with a different set of brushes. Make sure to follow me on twitter and instagram, @geekadedan, and to visit Icarus Brewing if you’re ever in Lakewood New Jersey. Hit up their social media as well, @icarusbrewing, and let them know what you think of their beers. Until next time… Prost!