15 Nov 2011

Bear Republic Racer 5 and Football Manager 2012

The beer

Racer 5 is an American-style IPA.

It's made by Bear Republic, a Californian brewery.

Underneath a pristine white cloud, golden fogs and orange mists swirl in the glass.

Wafts of caramel-sweetness, Belgian waffle-like in nature, hit your nose as you draw close and the crystal malt performs its duties.

There's very little of the tropical fruit aroma that other west coast IPAs are famous for. Well in this bottle I'm drinking, anyway.

Similarly, the hop character is not as big as I might have expected, not the brutal assault on the tastebuds I had anticipated, but drying nonetheless, offsetting the more dominant, sweeter flavours.

The game

Football Manager 2012 is a life-ruining football management simulator.

I have no doubt it has been cited in divorce cases and devastated otherwise healthy relationships.

It is dangerously addictive for anyone interested in football.

When you find yourself devoting a lot of thinking space to a game – when you're not actually playing it – you know you're in a bad place.

It should be boring. If you stripped away the graphical interface, it would be a spreadsheet of formulae and cascading numbers. A bit like when Neo comprehends the true nature of the Matrix.

But, oh, what algorithmic beauty!

The match

Football Manger 2012 release day.

The annual internal struggle is upon me again: to buy or not to buy?

The desire is strong. But as a grown man, can I justify the purchase? Can I devote the time that it deserves? Will I devote the time anyway and potentially screw up some actually important stuff in my life?

I hold out for about five minutes and then begin the download. I'm nervous and excited.

Playing Football Manager 2012 is the perfect game to be accompanied by some contemplative beer drinking. You control the pace, it requires a bit of reading and you only need one hand to play it.
At this stage I've given in to pure indulgence, so I figure I need a beer that reflects my state of mind.

Racer 5 ticks the boxes – it looks kinda fun, is of a style I'm likely to dig, and is rare enough in the UK that it feels special and a bit decadent.

I pick my club based on some long-established criteria: lower league club, young squad, potential for growth and a chairman looking to move on. Inevitably this always seems to see me selecting Port Vale. Every year.

I crack open Racer 5 and am initially a little disappointed.

There's not the big hop kick I was looking for and it feels a little thin.

I set about shaping the club in my image. Loan signings and free transfers for key positions, set up a rigorous training regime, refine my tactics and scrutinise my squad to pick out potential stars.

I'm engrossed, and it's a little while before I realise how much I'm actually enjoying Racer 5.

It didn't quite fulfil expectations – I probably need to drink it fresher – but it's sublimely balanced, smooth and satisfying, with enough going on to make it interesting.

Now, if I can only get my team to play football like that...

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