Board Game and Craft Beer Pairing

beerIt has long been a contention of mine that the craft beer industry has a lot in common with the contemporary board game world. While they may seem far apart both are the smaller cousins of a much larger industry, both are growing steadily, and both are made by people who take an immense pride in their work.

It’s also no secret that many board game nights, like any social occasion, can be enhanced with the addition of a little booze. So with that in mind Play is Important presents its pairing guide for board games and craft beer.

1.Worker placement games with farms and a Saison.


This one is the most natural pairing of them all. There are countless eurogames out there with deeply bucolic themes, and the Saison is the king of agricultural beers. Historically brewed in Wallonia during the autumn months for consumption by itinerant farm labourers in the summer, let the fizzy fruit and spice of this beer, the greatest of Belgium’s gifts to the world, transport you into the game. As you send your labourers out to toil in the fields harvesting grain take a sip of your chosen brew and become your meeple. An ideal pairing for hot sunny board game sessions in the garden.

Recommended games: Agricola, Carcassonne, Village

Recommended beers: Brasserie Fantome Fantome Saison, Brewdog Electric India, Alechemy Saison D’etre

2.Hidden Roles/Traitor Mechanics with a Black IPA.


The Black IPA is a tricksy style, pouring rich and black like a classic stout but giving the hop heavy aroma of a traditional IPA you never quite know where you stand. The confusion doesn’t stop on the palate either with bitter sweet fruit notes of an IPA dancing with rich coffee and dark chocolate notes. The thrilling mystery of the Black IPA works in tandem with the paranoia of a hidden role game. If you can’t even trust the beer in your glass to be honest with you how can you trust your friend on the other side of the table?

Recommended Games: The Resistance (or Avalon), Dead of Winter, Battlestar Galactica

Recommended Beers: Beavertown Black Betty, Stone Sublimely Self Righteous, Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet

3. Storytelling games with a Barley Wine


This confusingly named style is so called for its strength, ranging from roughly ten to thirteen percent it matches its fermented grape friend ABV point for ABV point. Sweet and treacle like these beers demand to have time taken over them. Feel the thick boozy liquid trickled down the back of your throat tickling awake your dormant vocal chords. Feel the sweet toffee flavours roll over your tongue as it begins to loosen. These beers will slowly begin to work their magic on you as you and your tablemates concoct adventures as wild and bold as your chosen Barley Wine.

Recommended Games: Tales of the Arabian Nights, Once Upon a Time, Gloom

Recommended Beers: Alesmith Old Numbskull, Cromarty Anniversary Ale II, Brewdog Clown King

4. Any living card game or trading card game with a Stout.


For the most part these kind of card games are duels. You and your opponent have spent time crafting your deck, honing it, understanding it. You will sit opposite each other and lock yourselves in battle but unlike most other games it’s something of your own devising that’s out there fighting. These games leave you at your most exposed. For this you need reinforcement. You’ll be at the table for a while so you need a strong robust full bodied beer that will excite your taste buds and fill your belly. The rich texture and smoky flavours of a good Stout will keep you focused and strong.

Recommended Games: Android Netrunner, Dice Masters, Magic: The Gathering

Recommended Beers: Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, Alesmith Speedway Stout, Brew by Numbers 08/02 (Imperial Stout)

5. Cooperative games and bombers or growlers of IPA


Far and away the most popular style in the craft beer world the IPA has come along way from its colonial British roots. A good IPA demands everything that a hop has to offer, it wants its full fresh scent, its rich bursts of fruit and its sharp refreshing bitter finish. The fruit quenches your thirst while the bitterness keeps you focused and as you share glass after glass from your flagons of ale a sense of camaraderie builds. You drink from the same bottle, you think with one mind and you will solve this puzzle.

Recommended Games: Space Alert, Pandemic, Lord of The Rings: The Card Game

Recommended Beers: 8 Wired Fresh Hopwired, The Kernel IPA Citra, Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale


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