Wider distribution is a blessing of the modern age. Thanks to the efforts of craft brewers and Japanese game publishers, I was able to experience a limited release of a preferred brew, along with a title from my favorite game series that I missed out on nearly 30 years ago.
Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Pumking was one of the gateways to my love for pumpkin-flavored brews. The rich taste of baked pumpkin along with the spooky branding was an ideal match for this gourd-obsessed beer geek. However, when the brewery released a limited edition of Pumking in 2016, I missed out due to tight distribution in my neck of the woods. Fortunately, Southern Tier once again offered the Cold Pressed Coffee Pumking as a seasonal release.
Adding coffee beans to the brewing process has imparted some delicious nutty notes to Pumking. The warm flavors of allspice and clove are still present at the start, but now the body is a tasty mix of pumpkin bread and roasted coffee. The lingering taste is reminiscent of a slice of pumpkin pie, slightly-sweet vanilla latte, and a pinch of nutmeg.
It’s no secret that my favorite video game series is Castlevania. Over the years, I have made an effort to play each of the over 28 titles from Konami. However, one of the earlier releases has eluded my grasp… until now.
Originally released to Japanese arcades in 1988, Haunted Castle follows the hero Simon Belmont as he tries to rescue his wife from Dracula. This once-obscure arcade title was recently ported to the PlayStation 4 by Japanese publisher Hamster, as part of their Arcade Archives series.
Haunted Castle shares gameplay elements from other Castlevania titles, but there are some major differences when it comes to the sub-weapons (Simon has bombs now?) and the main weapon progression (leather whip>spiked flail>sword).
Along with the changes to the weapons, Haunted Castle manages to be even more difficult than its console cousins. This is likely due to the bitter cycle of milking quarters out of unsuspecting arcade goers in the ’80s (not to mention, poor game design in comparison to the console titles). On the plus side, Haunted Castle features an excellent FM synth soundtrack from Kenichi Matsubara, one of the composers for Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest.
Are there any obscurities from the worlds of beer and video games that you have recently enjoyed? Share those hidden gems in the comments!