FTL paired with Ommegang Take The Black Stout

I had always wanted to try Ommegang’s Game of Throne themed beers since I’m such a fan of the show and books. I hadn’t been able to so far because I had to order them online and they’re rather expensive. Fortunately, my brother who lives in a more metropolitan area than me was able to find one and surprised me with it last week. It certainly lived up to the high expectations I had for it. Unfortunately, I could not say the same for the fame I tried to play. Feudalism looked like a fun medieval city builder, but it crashed seven times before I gave up and demanded a refund from Steam. Out of options, I decided to pair it with FTL, one of my (and a lot of other people’s) favorite indie game.

FTL is a rogue-like space adventure game. You are a messenger ship for the Federation and are tasked with delivering a message of an impending Rebel attack to the Federation headquarters. Along the way, you encounter a variety of alien species and engage in jolly old space combat with pirates, rogue A.I., and Rebel ships. The combat is the most interesting part of FTL. You’re given an aerial view of your ship, which is divided into several rooms, such as an engine room, weapons room, pilot bay, etc. You then fire your weapons at the enemy ship on the other side of the screen. Their ship is also divided into these same rooms and you choose which systems you want to target. Destroying the enemy shield then opens up the rest of the ship to be attacked. Disabling the enemy’s weapons system prevents them firing at you. Or you can be a monster, destroy their oxygen, and watch them suffocate. The combat is easy to start, but gradually becomes more and more tactful as you play on. It becomes difficult to manage your systems, deal with enemy boarders, and target enemy systems simultaneously.

Sadly, you don’t get to pilot your ship and fly it around space. Rather, you open a map, click on a glowing star, and are whisked away to a new location. You’re informed of any off-screen images through text boxes, which are surprisingly effective. For example, your ship runs across an escape pod. Do you jettison it into space, or open it up? Opening it up may earn you a new crew member…or unleash a deadly monster upon your unwitting crew. It’s important to travel to as many locations as possible. Most locations have either ships to fight, a store to repair your ship and purchase supplies, or side quests. Side quests earn you scrap or sometimes even a new ship. Scrap is the game’s currency, and you earn it by completing quests and destroying ships. Scrap can upgrade your ship or let you purchase new weapons, defenses, crew members, and other augmentations to your ship.

The only real flaw in FTL is that you live and die by the random number generator. You could easily have a run of bad luck and spend all your money simply repairing your ship and be absolutely obliterated by advanced ships later in the game. The game is also surprisingly long for a rogue game. It can be a little frustrating to spend over two hours on a ship, only to have it tossed away by bad luck or an overpowered ship. Still, there is a lot of replayabililty in FTL. You may have died after two hours, but you’ve unlocked a new ship or a new weapon for you to try out on your next runthrough. Each ship is distinct enough to keep multiple playthroughs fun.

Just like FTL and the show it’s based on, Ommegang’s Take The Black Stout is fantastic. It’s dark and heavy, with hints of coffee and caramel. Ommegang didn’t simply make a mediocre beer and slap a Game of Thrones tag on it for extra sales. Take The Black Stout is the best stout I’ve had in my life and I look forward to sampling more of Ommegang’s brews.

Simply put, both the game and the beer are a must have. For only twenty dollars on Steam, FTL is a steal. It contains hours of entertainment and has a vibrant community. FTL also has a fantastic electronic soundtrack and beautiful art design. The beer may be harder to find, but it would be well worth the time and money spent, especially if you’re a fan of dark beer. If you haven’t experienced either the beer or the game, go out and do so now.

~Ryan Dodd

Kholat Paired With Great Lake’s Brewing: Lake Erie Monster

I’ve always been a fan of horror games and heavy beers. Whether it be the terrifying Emily Wants to Play or the clever F.E.A.R., the horror genre has always inspired me with its  (usual) creativity and intense environments/atmosphere. So what better way to kick off my first entry into Janet and Ryan’s awesome collaborative effort than to pair the Great Lake’s Brewing Company and Kholat?
Kholat is a beautiful first person survival horror game that is at times similar to the genre’s best and, at others, unique in and of itself. Based on the chilling true event of the Kholat Syakhl, or “dead mountain” incident on the Dyatlov Pass (where nine students went missing and were all found dead over four months), Kholat craftily creates an incredibly eerie world that adds to the horrific. As you progress through the game, your biggest nemeses are lurking ephemeral creatures that follow you, and, if you’re caught, kill you.
The game itself is fairly difficult, and it incorporates survival elements (you use your compass and will die if you wander aimlessly for too long). Without direction, you will find yourself wandering for lengths of time, wondering if you are heading in the proper direction. Couple that with the enemies that want to send you to your death, and you’ve got a challenging experience on your hands. But what really sets this game apart from its horror counterparts is that its setting, perfectly white and windy, blends with immaculate precision to the soundtrack,  thus creating a truly memorable experience. It also doesn’t hurt that Sean Bean himself narrates
the game.
My beer of choice is a powerful representation of the wonderful brewing companies that I’m proud to have in Cleveland. The Great Lakes Brewing Company, a native of Ohio, pumps out a delectable and powerful beer known as the Lake Erie Monster every summer. An Imperial IPA with a 9.1% ABV, the Lake Erie Monster is full of hops and tropical fruit flavors. Created with Simcoe Hops, the beer permeates a pleasing aroma. Be careful, however, because it is far too easy to consume a few too many Lake Erie Monsters and find yourself as lost as your character in Kholat.