Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Beer Drinking Games

As promised in a previous beer game-related article, I will neither encourage nor glorify irresponsible drinking. I will however, gladly share with the readers the many wonderful games which may happen to involve drinking. I just hope that people don’t misuse this knowledge and get dangerously silly playing them. But have a little silly by all means. Life is too short.
Let’s begin with some standard drinking games and their rules and highlights. I will also give ratings based on the playability and danger aspects of each.

TV based games.
There have been a few of these developed in recent times and they are easy to play. But beware, they can easily descend into lager-fuelled madness if you are not careful. The rules are simple; pick a TV show and sit all participants evenly around the television set. Decide on three or four ‘cues’ that players must be alert to. Upon identification of the ‘cue’, all players must drink – amounts to be decided upon beforehand. Repeat until program has concluded or when all beer has been exhausted. Or when all players have been exhausted.

Here are a few examples. And a few warnings. Home & Away. Players must skol a beer every time Alf says ’Flamin’ or ‘Strewth’ or each time a young & dumb girl gives a shocked or vacant stare upon hearing some life-changing news in the surf club cafe which is accompanied by foreboding background music. Sea Patrol. Drink every time the ships propeller is seen winding up or when someone uses the ships radio. Law & Order. Players drink every time the deep tonal two note BOOM- BOOM is heard. Do not apply this game style to Big Brother if you decide to drink whenever someone says anything banal or inane.

Physical Games.
My personal favourite is Dent The Can. A simple game in which an empty can is taken by a player and bashed into his or her own forehead. The can is then passed to the person on his or her left. This player repeats the forehead bashing. On their own forehead. The can is passed again to the left. The first person to bleed wins.

Word based games.
These can be the most fun you can have while drinking because the chances of someone cocking up and saying something hilariously funny and stupid is not only high but these chances increase as the game goes on.

I went to the Shop ... This game is a simple memory based word game in which players create a shopping list which is added to at each turn. The first player begins the game by saying; ‘ I went to the shop and I bought an apple’. The next player adds an item as well as repeating the first, i.e.; ‘ I went to the shop and I bought an apple AND a banana’. Players take turns, each adding a new item and repeating each preceding item until someone stuffs up. Then they have to drink. The game is made more interesting by changing the shopping location to, say, The Marital Aids Warehouse, from which players can choose from such fun supplies as ‘a Jumbo tub of Keep-It-Up-Cream’ or ‘King Kong Butt Plug’.

Categories. Nice and simple but very enjoyable once participants have had a few. Just pick a category and each player gives one example in turn until someone repeats an example or cannot think of one. E.g. Car Manufacturers; Holden, Ford, Lada, etc. Or Brownlow Medallists; Skilton, Hird, Dipierdomenico. Or words for Boobies; Yar-Yars, Funbags, Norcs. This is also a great game to play with kids as it improves word skills and vocabulary volume.

The best drinking game of all, however, is ZOOM. Beautifully constructed, intricately regulated and intoxicatingly addictive, ZOOM combines every necessary element to ensure hours of lager frenzy, full-bore, fall-over drunk fun. And then some.

The game is played thusly. A Grand Poo Bah is nominated and he or she controls the game. The Poo Bah can abdicate at any break in the game. The game is broken up into innings which are controlled by the Pooh Bah. Each innings is divided into top and bottom halves. The Grand Pooh Bah begins the frivolities by saying; "It’s the bottom of the first, the ball is live and ...( He looks into the eyes of any one player and says...) ZOOM! The play is now in the hands of the person who has been ‘zoomed’.

This player has THREE options. He can ZOOM any player except the player who has ‘zoomed’ him, he can play the ‘ball’ back to the player who ‘zoomed’ him by saying SCHWARTZ, or he can ‘sell the dummy’ by looking at another player and by saying PERFIGLIANO thus returning the ‘ball’ to the person who actually ‘zoomed’ him. Simple, eh? But wait, there’s more.
You cannot ZOOM a ZOOMER, you cannot SCHWARTZ anyone except the person who just ZOOMed you and you can only PERFIGLIANO a player other than the one who just ZOOMed, SCHWARTZed or PERFIGLIANO’d you. These indiscretions will cost you a drink. Get it? But I know you want more!

At all times during the game the following rules are in permanent effect. You cannot swear or point your finger. That’ll cost you a drink. Pointing must be effected by raising your elbow in the direction of the player you are accusing. If you are deemed to have made a false accusation, that’ll cost you a drink. Swearing because you failed to correctly accuse, that’ll cost you a drink. If your ZOOM, SCHWARTZ or PERFIGLIANO is deemed to be either ambiguous, that is, not directly directed in the exact direction of the intended recipient, or too slow, you will be found guilty of CHINESE EYES or GROSS HESITATION respectively. Either of which will cost you a drink.

In addition, the Grand Pooh Bah must correctly ‘call’ each phase of play. Beginning with the bottom of the first, he will follow with the top of the first, then the bottom of the second, top of the second, bottom of the third, top of the third, etc. He may wish to deliberately throw in a fake call – in other words, go from the top of the fifth to the bottom of the seventh for example – to either see if players are concentrating, or because he is thirsty and wants to have a drink.
The Grand Pooh Bah must also have the final verdict on any and all accusations and challenges.

This is possibly the most entertaining game to play or watch in the history of interesting games to ply or watch and can be enjoyed on many levels. The pointing, the swearing, the drinking, the gross hesitations, the tongue-twisting, the drinking, the Chinese eyes, the drinking, the Pooh Bah-ing, the falling over and the drinking. This game is not for the faint of heart. But it is fun.

Feel free to send in your own favourite drinking games and any match reviews of games you might try as a result of seeing them described here. Good luck and good drinking.

Beer Blokes.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Beer Games

We don’t like to sit on our laurels here at Beer Blokes – mainly because we don’t have any laurels. Actually we don’t really know what a laurel is. Is it a bit like a flowers? No, that’s florals. Isn’t it the fat bloke in the old movies with Hardy? Anyway, we don’t rest on them.

We begin a new series here where we will review and rate beer. What’s that I hear you say, “But Professor, you already provide some of the most insightful and informative treatises on beer in the world ever! What could you mean?” Good question and here is a good response. This time we will endeavour to document, in every detail, the wonderful world of beer games.

I have recently enjoyed some quality time with beer in the form of online beer related interactive games. And, as it always seems to do, beer got me thinking. As a young man, I enjoyed the fun and frivolity of drinking games – challenging your mates and your own limitations and looking forward to seeing who would chuck first, but I don’t want to be seen to be encouraging irresponsible consumption of alcohol in any form. Don’t need that sort of heat.

Instead, in this first instalment of the new series, I will look at online beer games only. Regular readers of this nonsense will know that I am partial to the odd product or twenty from Launceston in Tasmania – that’s the floaty-away bit underneath the land down under for our overseas readers – specifically the fine beers from J Boag & Son. Boags Draught is something of the lifeblood of the Beer Blokes Brewing Co. because it is reasonably priced, the labels come off in seconds under hot water and it is a damned fine beer. They also have a very good website.

You may have seen or heard of the Boag’s advertising initiative ‘Tester Reserve’. This is a neatly produced advertising campaign based around the average bloke signing up as a reservist taste tester for Boag’s Draught. You get some dog tags and the odd e-mail and access to a very good interactive section of the website. And you are encouraged to test beer regularly.

The first beer game is a mission simulator in which reservists must move through an animated/comic strip type scenario to get to the beer. Along the way you get harassed by bouncers at the door, the old chook selling tickets for the meat tray raffle, the pissed old bloke tellin’ stories and so on. At each interruption you have to choose from three options – one of which will move you along quickly, the others will either delay you or cost you cash, or end the simulation.

Beer Bloke Rating; Playablity – Very Easy. Fun Factor; Very High. Boobies Value – Some Cartoon Cleavage. Overall; Highly recommended.

The newest addition to the section is the Interactive Pub Crawl in which reservists just have to get to the pub. Then the next. And the next. And pick up a mate along the way. And avoid the traps like the God Botherer, the Bouncer, the Annoying Ex-Girlfriend, the dog turds and pot holes. You can also pick up extra points by collecting stubbies, dog tags, stars and stuff along the way. Slabs of Draught are also parachuted into the combat zone for added excitement and bonus points.

Easy to play, this game is a cracker. The animation/digital photo combo works a treat and the military style wargame set up is great. The only drawback is that, as the game goes on and you try to knock off the top score, the game can get ‘staggery’ and slows right down if too much is happening when you are trailing along all four mates. In fact, it becomes like a real pub crawl, in that you begin smoothly and then everything suddenly sows right down and the whole thing becomes a game of stamina instead of skill. Or itcould just be my PC.

Slabs and Draught merch are up for grabs and just getting a score in the top twenty or so is a feat to be proud of. My best is 29th so far and I am NOT happy. But I did win a shirt.

Beer Bloke Rating; Playability – Easy early on. Gets a tad annoying as you get further in. Fun Factor – Very High. A good laugh. Boobies Value – None. Overall. Recommended.

So get on board and have a crack – think carefully before deciding what to do at the pool table in the Mission Simulator! – and see what you think. Good beer fun for all.

If any Blokes out there know of any beer games – or any online games that could be beer related (like, you could have a beer whilst or after playing) let the Blokes know and we will road test them.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

London Calling Part One


Well well well (three holes in the ground). When I moved to London in February, I thought it would be a great opportunity to experience Real Ale in it’s element. But a couple of months before leaving, I started having some stranger than normal reactions to beer and after some experimentation and a chat to my doctor he strongly suggested I cut back on yeast… ‘Sorry Peter, I know it’s Christmas Eve, but Santa’s not coming this year…’ Needless to say I was gutted, and while scotch on ice has become my drink of choice, I am happy to put up with the side effects and strange looks of ordering ‘a half pint’ of any new Real Ale I haven’t had before.

The smaller quantities make me more appreciative - and appreciative I have been.
The English pub scene is massive. Compared with Australia, the volumes of alcohol consumed in pubs here are also truly amazing. I work in the heart of the finance district and most pubs are packed most nights. Rather than trying to drink their weekly quota on Saturday night as we Aussies often do, the poms are much more obliged to spread it out over the course of the week. This is certainly helped along by a more encouraging attitude towards the midweek hangover in the workplace.

While London is clearly the home of Real Ale, Londoners seem to favour the mainstream beers, particularly with a very warm Summer. Fosters (yes I know nobody drinks it in Australia), Becks and Amstel are the popular choices. Nevertheless, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is alive and well, with a bubbling community out there passionate to keep Real Ale off it’s death bed. In an average English pub lager taps generally outnumber real ale hand pumps 2 to 1, but most pubs still offer multiple options from the hand pump – a great effort given the need to turnover a keg a week to maintain freshness. Depending on how it’s been looked after and the time since the keg was tapped, there is typically a lot of variety in taste of the same ale from pub to pub. However most bar staff (often coached from the other side of the bar) are pretty good at getting the best flavours out of the beer.

I’m like a kid in a candy shop, and looking forward to adding more boutiques to the list as I get out and about in the next few months. But from my 4 months on English soil, here are five which have gained my nod of approval:

Tribute Premium (Cornwall) – English Bitter – Amber smooth, with a distinctive flavour I can’t put my finger on - toffee and ‘maree biscuity’. It’s bloody great.
Timothy Taylor ‘Landlord’ (Yorkshire) – Classic Strong Pale Ale which is drinkable in many multiples. Always refreshing with lovely hoppy flavours which make it a popular regular for many.
Greene King IPA – Another lovely hoppy beer and a 3.6% ABV makes it very easy to drink. Brilliant with a curry.
Fullers London Pride (London) – London pride goes toe to toe with the big boys for popularity – meaning it’s always fresh. Probably the most mainstream Ale – but an excellent London Bitter.
Blue Anchor (Helston, Cornwall) – Brilliant little old standalone pub brewing it’s own beers. The Christmas Ale was a treat.

Real Ale is an essential part of English culture. There’s something very nostalgic about it. I can’t put a finger on why, but it just feels right having a pint of ale in a glorious old English pub. Especially when it’s cold outside. Drinkers preferences may be moving towards fizzy, ice cold beer, but something in my own gut tells me that the hearts and stomachs of English beer drinkers will never let Real Ale die.

Peter ‘Bear’ Behrendorff
London Correspondent

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Beer Music

After filling the Commodore with petrol the other day I was standing at the till forking out the equivalent of my first mortgage payment when I saw the Impulse Buy Display. You know the sort of thing. Lollies and chocolate and cigarette lighters in the shape of hand grenades. And CDs. Really, who buys their CDs from a petrol station? "Just nickin’ down the BP for some LPG and Green Day, love!" "O.K. darl, just make sure you don’t pay any less than twice normal retail!"

One particular offering which caught my eye was Best Ever Beer Drinking Songs. Now, not sure if this means best songs to drink beer to, songs you can only listen to if you’re pissed, songs written by pissed songwriters or songs that are so shit you should use the disc as a coaster. But it got me thinking about beer, as many seemingly insignificant day-to-day things do. And I thought it would give me a chance to have the readers contribute something so that I don’t have to come up with ALL the funny stuff.

I propose starting a list of Real Beer Songs. These might be songs that are best sung when beered, or that you can only sing when blind or that contain references to beer. If you can be arsed sending something in, try to give some sort of reasoning behind your choices. It can be well known music or outside the mainstream or even something your Grandpa made up and sang to you when he got on the Singing Sauce.

A few of my personal favourites for example; Mental As Anything, The Nips are getting Bigger ... ‘Started out, just drinkin’ beer; Didn’t know how or why all the while I was doin’ it.’ Or; Weddings, Parties, Anything, ‘Rosy and Grey’; ... ‘and drink some Guinness from a tin; ‘cos my UI cheque has just come in.’ Or something simple like ACCA DACCA’s ‘ Have a drink on me.’

So pull out those old 45s and 33s - that’s record player records for the young ‘uns or your old tapes and jot down a couple of classics. We may even get a metrosexual record producer called Trentt with a poncy ponytail who smells like a girl to pay us a keg o’ cash to distribute the finished product. And our ads will have a really big disclaimer at the end; DEFINITELY NOT AVAILABLE IN PETROL STATIONS !!!