Annals Of Miscellany

Tasting the retrogaming themed microbrew, 8-Bit Pale Ale

By Ryan Smith • June 21, 2013

Traditionally, I’ve paired classic games with the cheap macrobrews of the midwest. Nothing accentuates a mustachioed plumber from Brooklyn or rough-and-tumble twin brothers from the inner city like a Pabst Blue Ribbon or a Miller High-Life—urine-colored brews with the flavor of watered-down gasoline offset by a slight hint of aluminum. Both are tolerable when served super-cold.

8-Bit Pale Ale

But I’m rethinking my choices after discovering a retro-game-themed microbrew at my corner liquor store yesterday called 8-Bit Pale Ale. Labeled “the official beer of retro-gamers” by the brewer, Tallgrass Brewing Company in Manhattan, Kan., the can is a marvel of pixel art that depicts a hops-based rocket ship and a Pac-Man-like character licking its lips.

I was so entranced by the brightly hued art on the can, I immediately bought a four-pack of 16-ounce tallboys and downed a can while playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!. My conclusion: It’s got a citrus aroma, a slightly bitter flavor, and an aftertaste with touches of grapefruit and caramel. I prefer my hoppy beers smoother, but 8-Bit Pale Ale worked well to dull the pain of getting my ass handed to me by Super Macho Man (who probably drinks Corona Light).

The trippy video advertisement above for 8-Bit Pale Ale might be my favorite part of the whole experience. It stars a rooster who plays a retro video game about a papercraft puppet who collects hops and eventually fights an anthropomorphic keg of beer. Can’t say I remember that one from the NES.

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13 Responses to “Tasting the retrogaming themed microbrew, 8-Bit Pale Ale”

  1. vinnybushes says:

    I’ve been eyeing this beer at the grocery store for while, but I wasn’t sure if it was just a cash grab or a legitimately good microbrew. I may have to give it a try.

  2. boardgameguy says:

    I’ve had other Tallgrass beers and find them to be generally high quality.

  3. DrFlimFlam says:

    I would love to try one that wasn’t a Pale Ale. Especially after the big nerd beer was in stock for half a breath (Ommegang and HBO’s publicity-drumming Thrones beer that never actually shows up in real stores by you).

    • Ryan Smith says:

      I was also one of those wants on a mighty quest for the GoT beer. Went to a nearby bar in Chicago just for that and they’d just run out of their barrel 15 minutes prior. They’d just gotten it in THAT DAY. Beer nerds + sci-fi fantasy nerds = woah.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

         I’m pretty ready for American micro-brew’s infatuation with the pale ale to be over.  Hoppy beers aren’t my favorite to begin with, though I’ll enjoy one on a hot summer day.  But the current level of hops brinkmanship seen on liquor store shelves is wearing thin.
         Since good nerd beers are hard to come by, just do what I do and manufacture a retroactive nerd history for your favorite beer.
         I’ve decided that the excellent Fatty Boombalatty by Furthermore is actually based off of a beloved Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book character who starred in a dismally-performing Colecovision game tie-in.

      • Bakken Hood says:

        A good pale ale, like Surly Furious out of Minneapolis, is fantastic.  A bad pale ale, like most of them, is an insult to beer itself.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          I live in Minneapolis, so Surly is a mandatory on any turf not directly controlled by Summit.
             I, perhaps wrongly, blame Surly for launching the current obsession with pale ales.

        • Bakken Hood says:

          You can’t get Surly outside of the Twin Cities, so few people outside of the upper Midwest have heard of it.  Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, one of the vanguards of the current microbrew craze, is a more likely culprit.

          Sierra Nevada, and moronic ex-frat boys that want to be smugly superior about their taste in beer despite not knowing a thing about it, so they assume bitterness=quality without expecting, you know, flavor.  Wannabe beer snobs that think tongue-scaling bitterness in their beer is a good thing are a sadly powerful lobby in the craft beer market.

    • CrabNaga says:

      I used to dislike IPAs and Pale Ales, but I’ve taken a liking to some of the ones I’ve tried recently. Specifically, Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale is pretty much my go-to six-pack these days.

      I’d definitely pick this up at least once, but I don’t think I’ve seen it around here (Maryland). It even has a good Beer Advocate rating (86%)!

      • Ryan Smith says:

        One of my favorites also with interesting/nerdy can art is Zombie Dust by Three Floyds.

      • B.K. says:

        If you like Lagunitas then I’d recommend their “Lagunitas Sucks”. It’s delicious.

  4. ChicaneryTheYounger says:

    Did someone say Pale Ale? I mean, obviously this isn’t going to be as good as PUNK (a strong contender for best beverage ever, it’s so delightfully tropical), or Green King (it’s a classic, I can’t fault it, even if it’s on the weak side). Probably better than Marston’s Pale Ales, though. As excellent as they are in general (quite possibly my favourite brewery), their Pale Ales tend to be rather weak and uninspiring. Their Oyster Stout is top three stouts for me, though.

  5. exant says:

    I love this beer. My city (Omaha) has it everywhere, and it’s on tap at Beercade, which is exactly what it sounds like: