Gamer Buzz: Session Beer Trio and Halo: Master Chief Collection

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Since the debut of Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001, the Halo franchise has been the Xbox’s killer app. The tight gameplay, excellent vehicle mechanics, and gripping storylines have made the Activision series a “must have” for fans of first-person shooters and a comforting piece of nostalgia for those of us whose college entailed way too many LAN parties.

Xbox One’s Halo: Master Chief Collection is the ultimate expression of that nostalgia, combining all four numbered Halo titles into one complete package. Usually, there are a few duds in any game collection, but even the early games hold up well, especially considering how much games have advanced over the years. Halo 2, in particular shines – I still think it’s the best game in the series, and the Halo 2 maps brought us right back to the old college days of screen-watching, cheap pizzas, and crappy beer. The screen-watching and pizza came naturally, but we’re well beyond the cheapest-beer-you-can-find days.
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“Start grenading! You’ve got SO many grenades!”

Therein lies the problem: with four games and a (somewhat buggy) multiplayer make for a game that you can play for hours and hours on end, this could be troublesome if you’re drinking while you play. The Covenant’s going to have your ass if you’re swigging 9% double IPA’s during a marathon Halo session.

“I’m bad enough at this when I’m sober…”

After some exhaustive research, we found a few sessionable beers that pack some good taste without sniping your sharpshooting: a lager from SoCal’s Golden Road Brewery, one of Sam Adam’s new IPA’s, and a nice wheat beer from Oregon’s Hopwork’s Urban Brewery.
At 4.8%, 329 Days of Sun Lager from Los Angeles-based Golden Road Brewing. It’s a lighter, maltier beer than the hop-heavy IPAs that we’ve been sampling lately, which has been a nice change of pace. And the crisp, bready notes are refreshing, but no so complex that your attention is pulled away from the Covenant Elite that’s lunging toward you with an energy sword. We consider anything under 5% a session ale, but there is a caveat here: it’s so light and crisp that you may underestimate its effects – after four of these bad boys, my sniping started to go downhill fast.

“Quit camping! Piece of crap!”

If you want something hoppier, Sam Adam’s Rebel Rider Session IPA (4.5%) is the winner here. They’ve held off on jumping on the IPA train, but the Rebel Rouser makes it clear that it was worth the wait. A sweet citrus nose (think pineapple and peaches) is met with lemon and a slightly bitter finish. The combination is a bit more complex than the lager, so be prepared for a little distraction here. I found myself swishing it around in my mouth, sussing out the flavors when I should have been focusing on aiming my laser cannon. Again, this one took about four beers before my gaming went to hell.

“I’m not camping. I’m embedded.”

The true session beer, though, is the 3.8% Hop Hef from Hopworks Urban Brewery up in Oregon. I’d call it a hefeweizen, but they distinctly call it an “American-style” wheat beer, so we’ll just go with that. Made for the active set, the 3.9% ABV beer has a floral start then finishes with a notably sweet citrus kick. It’s as if you’re getting a wheat beer up front, then finishing with a pale ale. It’s a great combination, and the sub-4% ABV made this a killer brew for long-term gaming.

Bottom Line: You need to keep your wits about you when the human race is on the line. These sub-5% beers might be the only things keeping us from extinction.

Bottoms up and button mash responsibly!
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