AB InBev on the Death of Craft Beer

AB-InBev Gives Craft Beer a “Couple Years”

AB-InBev has been getting some heat based on a video the released showing members of The High End talking about the death of craft beer coming within “a couple years time.” I certainly have some issues with the video and how the idea presented,  but that point isn’t one of them. The term craft beer might be dead in a few years. That could be for the best, and it could really hurt AB-InBev.

6_pack brewers association independent craft beer sealGoodbye Craft, Hello Independent

Enthusiasts of the craft beer industry have likely seen the branding around the Brewers Association’s latest campaign. The newest leg, “Seek the Seal,” implores beer drinkers to be on the look out for their Independent Craft Brewer Seal the next time that they’re out at a brewery, bar, or beer store. This seal denotes that a product is made by an independently owned brewer that follows the BA’s definition of a craft brewer, though that subject is getting murkier as the industry develops. Yes, the seal still features the term “craft” that the Brewers Association has been using to define itself for years, but the focus is now on that first term, independent.

The BA’s definition of what constitutes a craft brewery has largely been supported by the industry of small brewers, but that’s predominantly from an industry professional position. To the average consumer, craft beer is just high-quality beer, which can be seen as anything aside from the American macro lagers that just about everyone is familiar with.

The issue with craft beer is not the industry or the quality of the product for the BA, it is the term craft. Craft is too generic for where they see their mission statement pointing them. AB-InBev can and does make full flavored beer that some people really enjoy and see as high quality. They see it as craft. The BA’s specific definition does nothing for the average person grabbing a 6-pack on their way to a friends house to denote where they want consumers to look.

brewbound nielsen craft beer survey independent The Value of Independence

It’s not just the BA or the brewers that wants this clarity. In May of 2017, Brewbound and Nielsen collaborated on a survey of beer drinkers about what influenced their purchasing decisions. 81% of the 2,000 beer drinkers surveyed said that the terms “independent or independently owned” resonated with them and it was determined to be the most positively influential descriptor on the survey. Terms also included words like “sour” and “hazy” both of which negatively influenced purchasing decisions in 2017. Oh, how our tastes and trends have changed.

Americans like supporting others on their way to the “American dream,” especially if that dream involves making beer! When the average consumer sees a new IPA in the beer aisle with a clever name  and a list of hops used, most assume they’re supporting a local, small business when they buy it. The BA wants to make it absolutely clear to people the difference between an independent craft beer, and what the industry has labelled as “crafty” beer, breweries that want to be capitalize on the popularity of local brewers but are owned by large scale macro-breweries.

Whether Elysian, Ballast Point, or Blue Point are some of your favorite breweries out there or not isn’t the point. The Brewers Association is trying to make it as clear as possible whether your next beer purchase is supporting a locally owned craft brewer, or one of the largest beer companies in the world. It’s not a statement about the quality of their beer, it’s about the story behind it.

Craft Games and Indie Beer

Independent-Craft-Brewer-seal indie megaboothIndependence in Beer and Gaming

I work in the beer industry and follow the games industry. I have passion for each, and there’s more in common with them than you might think. Craft beer is produced by small and independent breweries that want to brew good beer and build a community. Indie game makers are small teams inspired to make something that they’ve dreamed up that isn’t out there. Both are characterized by passion. While you can make money in each of these endeavors, that’s never the main drive. It’s a need to create and a passion for the craft that keeps people going. Continue reading “Craft Games and Indie Beer”

Steamworld Heist is Exactly the Game I Didn’t Know I Wanted

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Steamworld Heist is a Future Classic

I recently played and beat Steamworld Heist, and I will assuredly be going back for more. It was one of my most genuinely quality game experiences that I’ve had in recent memory. It didn’t stand out to me because it appealed to me personally for any specific reason, it distinguished itself because it was the definition of being just plain fun. I would highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of whether they are typically interested in games. Here’s why.

Steamworld Heist Gameplay is Tight and Fun

Steamworld Heist is just a damn good game. It’s a turn-based, tactical squad game, akin to Xcom: Enemy Unknown, but in a 2D plane like the Worms games. It features only robots, protagonist steam-bots facing off against imperial adversaries, so there’s no blood and only cartoon violence. There are some tense tactical situations, but there’s no perma-death as the steam-bots can always be re-assembled. Each character has a likeable and cartoony personality and you end up with a crew of various outdated steam-bots on a noble mission against the ever powerful imperial forces. It sounds a little cliché, but the quality and approachability of the gameplay and the quality of the experience make this a game that everyone can enjoy.

Steamworld heist gameplay

The scrappy captain and the crew that she assembles echoes likeable sci-fi properties, and comparisons to the likes of Firefly are unavoidable. The similarities only make the game’s spirit more fun. I haven’t played anything that so effectively evokes memories of the well-meaning struggles of Mal and crew.

The phrase that just kept coming to my mind while I was having a ball playing through the campaign is that it’s just clean fun. In a world where games realistic graphics and competitive killing situations get the most attention, this is a diamond in the rough. The feelings of pure fun I had while playing it are shared with the greats like Super Mario 64.

Steamworld Heist Captain Piper Humor

Image and Form Evokes Classic Nintendo

While I’m not sure how much success Steamworld Heist had on the 3DS as a Nindie, I can completely see why Nintendo wanted it on the platform. Without any compromise, this game mirrors the quality of experience that gave Nintendo the reputation that they enjoy today, despite their more recent struggles.

I will always love Nintendo because of the experiences their consoles and games afforded me during my youth that sparked my interest in video games. The time I had playing Steamworld Heist strides side by side with some of my favorite gaming experiences. Sure, I probably won’t sink the hours into it that I do with the likes of Dark Souls games, but there would be no shame in doing so. Along with that, I would never introduce someone to modern gaming with a Dark Souls adventure, but Steamworld Heist would be a perfect way to jump into contemporary gaming.

All images courtesy of Image & Form Games

Enter the Gungeon Review- It Kicks Some Serious Ass, Seriously Fast

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My New Go-To Quick Play Game

I’ve been playing way more Enter the Gungeon than I anticipated that I would when I picked it up. I’ve also been more steadily busy recently and unable to devote the kind of attention to games like I gave to Dark Souls 3. I still want to play, but I want quick sessions that give me a full experience in not too much time. Enter the Gungeon is exactly what I want right now.

An Entrie Game Experience Every time you Sit Down

Enter the Gungeon is a humorous, roguelike, bullet hell indie game from Devolver Digital and Dodge Roll Games. Sounds weird, I know. You explore dungeons slaying monsters with your trusty firearms which range from generic starter weapons to Mega-Mans blaster and a lightsaber gun. The floors are procedurally generated and contain random chests which feature guns you can unlock in the lobby with the in-game currency. Each floor ends with a boss selected from a few possibilities that allows access to the next floor through a giant, bullet elevator.

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They Love Crazy Guns as Much as Borderlands

That elevator doesn’t stand out rocketing you between levels though, just about everything in this game is gun themed. They really went with the “Gungeon” theme. Bullets with arms and legs waddle toward you shooting pistols and machine guns. Fittingly, shotgun shells are armed with shotguns that spray large amounts of shots. Further down on the second floor, you’ll find large caliber bullets armed with high damage sniper rifles. If everything stuck to these conventions, it could get a little tiresome though. Luckily, there are still some more typical dungeon dwellers, like angry, magic-wielding, spell books and huge knights to fight. The best Gungeon dwelling monsters come with creative crossovers though.

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My favorite monster I’ve run into is the Beholster. It’s a clever take on the well know D&D giant, floating eyeball monster known as a Beholder. At least I think its well know enough for people to get it, I’ve never played D&D and I’ve definitely seen this thing a few places before. In the Gungeon, instead of each of his tentacles ending with another eye, they each hold a different huge gun so he can attack in a multitude of ways. That’s not an uncommon sight in the Gungeon though. In addition to being a roguelike, this is definitely inspired by bullet hell games.

Simple Combat that’s Hard to Master

Not a far shot from the Dark Souls games I love, rolling is crucial in Enter the Gungeon. Your arsenal includes a diving combat roll. While you’re in the air, bullets don’t hurt. Its a crucial skill to be able to duck and roll while firing away at enemies almost constantly. Face your fears and dive straight into a wall of bullets, if your timing’s on point, you’ll emerge unscathed.

The deepest I’ve made it is to a boss on the third floor. I’ve heard there’s 5 floors total and I’ve only unlocked 2 of the 48 Steam Achievements, so I’ve got some work left to do. I’ve played for almost 10 hours already and I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface. I just discovered an entirely secret floor you can unlock behind a fireplace on the first floor, and I doubt that’s all the game has hidden from me.

Secrets, Depth, and Plenty of Replaybility

It’s not a huge game, but it’s got plenty to offer for the $15 price tag. It could be exactly what you were looking for, it has been for me. I’m playing on my Alienware Alpha PC with a Xbox 360 controller and the game looks and runs great. I’m loving Enter the Gungeon so far, and I’m sure I’ll be putting quite a bit more time into it, I can’t wait to try out the local co-op with some friends.

Let me know what you think of Enter the Gungeon or the review in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Photo Credits: Devolver Digital, Dodge Roll Games, and in-game Captures from Enter the Gungeon