The final episode of Game of Thrones season two airs this Sunday, and we are huge fans of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books and HBO’s epic adaptation of them. We’ve got recommendations on what to serve during your finale viewing party no matter who your favorite characters are!
In Part two of the series (part one is here) we will look at some of the show’s most loved and hated characters and pair each with a craft beer that captures the character’s spirit or would be a beer we think that character would drink on the night before battle.
The world of A Game of Thrones is not a typical black-and-white fantasy world where the noble knights ride against the evil sorcerers, and that is one reason it has become so popular. It presents a textured world where every character’s morality is tested. Regardless, most of the characters in HBOs show can be divided between hero and villain fairly easily.
Spoilers follow for the first two seasons of the HBO show. You’ve been warned.
Rogue Dead Guy Ale
Patriarch of the noble Stark family and benevolent ruler of the north, Ned gets harangued into moving half of his family south to help the beleaguered king survive a shadowy insurrection. Ned is a man of honor and light in a very dark and dangerous environment, and he plays right into the same pitfall that his predecessor does. Instead of a mysterious poisoning though he gets beheaded, publicly, and in-front of his daughters.
The Dead Guy Ale is a German Maibock; a traditional Spring beer that is strong, like Ned, and more hoppy and complex than a standard malty bock beer. The Dead Guy uses an ale yeast however, making it a stranger among the lagers that surround it in the Maibock category.
Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project Lovely Saint Winefride
Ned’s son, just come of age, has been crowned King of the North and he wages a war of vengeance against his father’s killers. Robb is just, even-tempered, and either a tactical genius or extremely lucky as his armies are undefeated. He is selfless in his pursuit of justice, almost. He swore to marry a rival’s daughter to cement a needed alliance, but he then falls in love with a mysterious healer/campfollower/nobel woman. Oh Robb.
St. Winnie from Pretty Things is rustic brown lager like what would be served to the nobles and merchants who could afford such a technologically advanced beer. The flavor is dominated by a rich maltiness, just the thing you would want beside the fire after a long march through the riverlands. We think it is a very fitting beer for the Young Wolf.
Stone Brewing Old Guardian
Fan-favorite Tyrion is the black-sheep of the villainous Lannister family. A dwarf who has found himself thrust into one impossible situation after the next since his incestious brother and sister couldn’t keep their pants on during a trip to the north. Tyrion wields his wit and intellect like a swordsman wields a blade, and he wears his stature and family like armor. Hedonist at heart, Tyrion is a wine-man, but he would sure not turn down a horn of fine ale.
The Stone Old Guardian is a barley wine with the typical Stone big hop punch. It is known for aging very well, and the cellars below the Lannister’s castle surely have casks of barleywine among the more traditional wines from Westeros. Perhaps the most appropriate beer pairing for Tyrion would be the occasionally released version of Old Guardian that’s been aged in red wind barrels.
Jon is the bastard son of Ned Stark and a mystery woman. Hated by his father’s wife, and with no place in the society he marches off to the Wall at his first opportunity to join the brotherhood of the Nights Watch. Every bit as honorable and head-strong as his father, he has gotten into all kinds of trouble since arriving at Castle Black. He has nearly been banished (or worse) for attacking his superior officer (and superior asshole Allistar Thorne), he’s saved the Lord Commander from a dread wight, he’s angered creepy old polygamist, and he’s led men to the slaughter and fallen in love with an enemy combatant, and soon the entire fate of the wall will rest on his shoulders.
Jon is surely a beer drinker. Several scenes have him enjoying a dark beer with meals at Castle Black, and as steward to the Lord Commander he would often fetch and share ale with his lord. The ale on the wall was most likely a strong stout, dopplebock, or other workman’s beer with enough calories to keep the crows going and enough alcohol to keep them warm. The Allagash Black is a belgian-style stout that uses wheat and oats to increase the body, and candi sugar to up the alcohol content. Perhaps a little refined for a Nights Watchman, but Jon is the steward to the Lord Commander.
New Holland Brewing Dragon’s Milk
The Mother of Dragon Dany has seen more than her share of pain, struggle, and horse hearts since being exiled from Westeros as a small child. After being sold to a brutish conqueror by her sniveling brother she fell in love, discovered her inner strength, and managed to hatch a trio of dragons the likes of which had not been seen for hundreds of years. She and her rag-tag band of supports have wondered the eastern wastelands and gotten embroiled in the strange politics of an exotic city. Oh, and someone stole her dragons, and she is pissed off about it.
This article was supposed to highlight beers that would be (reasonably) available in Los Angeles, but Dragon’s Milk stout from New Holland was just too perfect to not include. We’ve never sampled the oak-aged stout but the internet reviews position it as a very well made stout with a sweetness that adds further complexity to the flavor.
A thematically appropriate substitution that is available in California is the Storm King imperial Stout from Victory; after all, Dany is one of the Stormborn and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Flying Dog Ales Raging Bitch
There would not be much of a tale to tell if Cersei hadn’t started the whole plot moving, first with her murder of Jon Arryn, and then her attempted murder of Bran Stark. She wants the throne more than anything besides her brother, and she has not yet shown the limits that she will push to keep her tenuous grasp on power. First a Queen, then a Queen Mother, Cersei has lied, manipulated, seduced, and killed to achieve her status, and she is holding on to what she has won. Her malicious and cruel son Joffrey is even worse; at least Cercei thinks her decisions through with ruthless efficiency.
The Raging Bitch is a Belgian-style IPA that achieves a balance between the bitterness of American hops and the funky-fruitiness of the Belgian yeast. And while Cersei would never be caught drinking an ale, no matter how refined, the style would fit nicely with beers that could be brewed in the prosperous port city King’s Landing.
Bud Light Chelada
Joffrey has redefined what it means to love-to-hate a character on a TV show. Blood pressure around the world goes up when his petulant rants begin, and Jack Gleeson deserved ALL OF THE EMMYs for a roll that will undoubtably ruin the rest of his life as he will never be able to escape strangers uncontrollable rage towards him. He is an evil, spoiled, sociopath with a Napoleon complex and he loves nothing more than abusing his power. When he, on a whim and against all advisement, had Ned Stark beheaded in season one, he started a war that will cost thousands of lives and scar the realm forever. In a series known for the shade-of-gray characters, Joffrey is all black, with no redeeming qualities, and he makes his mark on the world with blood and sorrow.
I know we said this would be a list of craft beers, but Bud Light Chelada is the most irredeemable beer in America. It is the bastard offspring of Bud Light and Clamato. That’s tomato juice, clam juice, and “beer.” There is nothing in that can but false promises, artificial flavors, and sorrow. Much like the young King himself. Both the boy-king and the beer make us shudder and want to vomit a little.
Port Brewing Shark Attack
Patriarch of the rich-and-ambitious Lannister family, Tywinn is a ruthless military genius who can’t seem to keep his children out of his own way long enough to achieve his goals. He has rebuilt the Lannister name and fortune after his father nearly squandered both, and he will wipe out entire families and whole villages to advance his agenda. He surrounds himself with ruthless and powerful men, but he trusts no one but himself.
Shark Attack is a double red ale that has a huge malt body and a ton of citrusy and piny hops. This is a beer that Tywinn would probably enjoy as it is rich, strong, and costly. The ale has a distinct red hue that calls to mind the crimson colors of the Lannister crest, and it is about as bitter as Tywinn himself.
The Bruery Mischief
Jamie, son of Tywinn and consort to twin sister Cersei, is the vision of a noble knight in shining armor seen through the twisted lens of Martin’s world. He is called Kingslayer behind his back after assassinating the king he was sworn to protect. He is the greatest swordsman in the realm, and yet he tried to murder a small child when his indiscretion were discovered. He has his father’s by-any-means-necessary drive and he is deeply devoted to his sister, no matter how twisted her ambitions are. He lead an army against the young Robb Stark and was not only defeated he was embarrassed and captured, and now he is nothing but a weight on his family. But he is too proud and too cunning to be relegated to the periphery of the story; his thread has been picked back up in recent episodes, and he will shine again in season three.
Mischief by Orange County’s The Bruery is a Belgian-style strong golden ale that carries the lively effervescence of a Belgian pale ale with a strong malt background and intense hop aroma. The unfiltered ale’s flavors are complex and the finish lingers on.
You Win or You Die
There is a taste of some character-driven suggestions for what to bring to or serve at your Game of Thrones finale viewing! Just scratching the surface really, but there are just so many characters in the series that it would take weeks of posting to cover everyone’s favorites. We want to hear about who we left out or your best Westeros-and-beer pairings in the comments!