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Beer & Board Games: Kingdom Builder (Part 1: Beer)

It had been two months since the last beer and board game experiment1, and people itched to play more. Justin had a suggestion: this time, a “Eurogame.” Fewer, or no, dice. Tiles. Wooden pieces. Thinking. We decided to play Kingdom Builder, the 2012 Spiel des Jahres winner.

We had another impetus: Erik from What’s Going On In Buffalo? had asked to come to the next game night. Anyone can tour the brewery, sample some beer, chat with us, he reasoned. Here he would go undercover, Jane Goodall style.

It probably worked too well.

No, we did not drink from the spray bottle

No, we did not drink from the spray bottle

The players

  • Carly Anne Bushen, Buffalo Beer Goddesses
  • Dan Conley, Community Beer Works
  • Justin Frost, KegWorks
  • Alex Placito, Old First Ward Brewing Co
  • Erik Wollschlager, What’s Going On In Buffalo?

The beer

Since we would play Kingdom Builder we decided to make the theme “a beer you can build an empire on.”

Justin: Ballantine IPA

Justin brought this because it had history: Ballantine was “craft” before craft was a thing, an IPA floating in a sea of lagers, until at last the brewery closed. Pabst brought it back very recently and Justin brought it because he wanted “something with some age behind the label.”

For my part, I remembered Ballantine from Frasier, where Marty Crane drank it constantly until it ceased production. They wrote an episode about it. Don’t say TV doesn’t have culture.

Alex took a sip and said that he liked it, but felt he would “really love it fresh.” Carly thought it up her alley, as she “[was] over the highly flavored… nonsense” of a lot of craft beer. As someone with Fuller’s London Bitter as her favorite beer, this worked well.

“Such skunk,” Alex commented. “I kinda like that,” Carly responded. Justin noted that we might not notice it as much “if the mountains were blue.”

Erik and I refrained from commenting, instead just drinking it down. I liked it for its drinkability: closer to macro lager than most, but with a good amount of malt and hops to back it up.

Erik: Smoke & Dagger (Jack’s Abby)

The game, midway through the first turn

The game, midway through the first turn

Erik chose the beechwood-smoked schwarzbier because the name has a medieval theme. Justin sniffed. “Beechwood.” Sniff. “Smoked.” Sniff. “Schwarzbier.”

Alex noticed that the head immediately died, “collapsing like a dying star.” Then he took a sip and declared it “delightful.”

Carly agreed, saying she liked it much more than she anticipated. She expected dirt but instead got what Alex described as “old convenience store coffee.” But in a good way2.

Alex even said he thought it rivaled Schlenkerla, high praise indeed.

Alex: Saison (Allagash)

Alex brought this beer because he “wanted to… empiiiirically taste how good it is?” He just wanted to drink it. I’m not one to complain: Allagash, finally back in the area, makes great beer.

“This tastes like Fruit Loops,” Alex said. “But not in a bad way3.”

I thought it tasted very dry, surprisingly so compared to many saisons I’ve had recently. Alex told me that saisons should taste dry: if they don’t, then likely it tastes that way due to the esters from the yeast covering up the dryness.

Dan: Fire & Blood (Ommegang)

I brought Fire & Blood because of the Game of Thrones association: after all, don’t most people in the show/books4 want to build an empire? Oh, and also I had just gone to Ommegang. That the bottles stared me in the face as I checked out helped.

Alex thought it tasted very dry. I thought it had lots of bitterness, more from astringency than hops. Alex pressed me: where did the astringency come from? I couldn’t really tell him.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I found odd about the beer. Alex pointed out it contained ancho chiles (the “fire”: I wondered where the “blood” entered in) and, lightbulb-like, I immediately knew he had put his finger on it.

The game

How did we fare during the game? Tune in next week to find out!

  1. Well, not so much “experiment” as “excuse to play fun games with cool people.” 

  2. Craft beer, man. We can make anything a positive description. 

  3. See? 

  4. Tyrion kills Dumbledore #readthebooks