Welcome welcome once again to your monthly pairing of craft beer and video games. For this year, I decided to embrace the “indy” movement sweeping through craft beer. As more and more big names get scooped up by the mega-breweries like AB-Inbev and MillerCoors. (see Buddha, Funky and Weed, Wicked), The Brewers Association, among others, decided to create the independent breweries label that over 2,800 breweries now sport on their packaging. In light of this movement and some of the scummier tactics big time video game publishers have employed recently, looking at you again EA, all of the pairings this year will be independent beers from New Jersey and independent games.
So, how many things do we see in life where we think, “I really want to try, see, do, experience that thing” and then, for whatever reason, we don’t? Not because we no longer want to or because we got a bad review from someone but because life just happens. For me, it’s quite often unfortunately. It’s the price one pays for being interested in almost everything. What’s interesting to me is just how often those things we skipped end up being awesome. And how after we have the experience we think, “Why the hell didn’t I do this sooner?” It’s that spirit that inspired this month’s pairing, Regular Coffee from Carton Brewing and Jotun from Thunder Lotus Games.
Since moving back to the northeast a few years ago, Regular Coffee was one of the beers that was recommended as a must try. When I first moved away, Carton did not even exist and craft beer was not a thing I was into. Seven years away was a long time though, long enough for New Jersey to explode with new and interesting breweries making exceptional beer. Carton, who I’ve featured a few times in this series, is one of the standouts in the state for their innovative recipes and quality beers. They are a fiercely independent brewery doing things at their own pace and on their own terms. Regular Coffee is one of their signature releases and for good reason. To this point I’ve not tried a beer that more accurately captures its namesake. As the can states, a regular coffee in New Jersey is coffee with milk and two sugars served in a shitty paper cup. Any place worth their salt knows the term and if you order a regular coffee and receive a questioning look or, worse yet, plain black coffee, then that place no longer deserves your patronage. Carton took an imperial cream ale, a criminally underrepresented style, and added coffee from a local roaster along with other adjuncts. The result is a very well-balanced, coffee-strong beer that isn’t overly sweet. It definitely nails the taste of a regular coffee with the bite and bitterness up front balanced out by a mellow sweetness, a bit vanilla-like, on the backend. It’s a fantastic beer that I wish they brewed year round instead of only releasing in January.
Every now and again when I get bored I’ll browse the PlayStation store to see what’s come out that I might have missed. And every time I do, Jotun is a game that I stop on. There’s something about Norse Mythology that I can’t get enough of. In Jotun you play as Thora, a viking warrior recently deceased. The problem is that Thora’s death wasn’t nearly cool enough to get into Valhalla. As such, it is your job to travel the different realms solving puzzles and killing Jotun, giant elemental monsters, to impress the gods and gain entrance to that sweet afterlife with all the other viking badasses. The main campaign is light on combat and heavy on exploration through seriously gorgeous worlds. The entire game is hand-drawn and it shines bright because of it. Combat during exploration is minimal with a two or three hit axe combo and some magic spells granted to you by the gods throughout your quest. Boss fights though, are epic battles involving combat and puzzle solving. Jotun fill the screen and attack with very creative patterns and abilities. Beating a boss feels like an accomplishment in this game, a surprisingly rare thing in modern games. And while it isn’t perfect, the attack mechanic could be a bit speedier, nor long, maybe a bit over four hours if you really look around, Jotun is absolutely worth your time. It’s available on Steam, PS4, XBox One, and Wii U. Hopefully a Switch version will release eventually as this would be a perfect pick up and play title. As an aside, I love the fact that the main character Thora is a viking woman and that it does not affect the story in any discernible way.
Regular Coffee and Jotun represent two of the best examples of, “Why the hell did I wait so long” that I’ve ever experienced. That first sip was magic. That beer hit me in all the right ways, comfort food for a Jersey soul. Jotun too hit all the right notes. Gorgeous from start to finish with a ton of replayability. Putting these two together was a no brainer and something I hope you can find your way to experiencing. If you’ve made it this far please take a second to like and share this post and to follow me on twitter and instagram, @geekadedan. And don’t forget to check back next month for another pairing of independent beers and independent games. Prost!