I absolutely love a good game of poker; it's one of the most pleasurable pastimes in life. I love discreetly sneaking a peek at my cards and pretending not to care about them, I love competing against like-minded players, and I love placing a bet. It's such a brash thing to do -- Hemingway-esque, even -- and I always take a celebratory sip of beer afterward. This celebration may be a tell, but I don't care, because the most crucial element of a good game of poker for me is the beer itself.
It must be low in alcohol content, as I find drunkenness at the poker table not only annoying, but counterproductive to the point of being there. After all, it's as much a game of wits as one of luck. But the beer must be good, full-bodied and flavorful, so as to stand up to the seriousness of the situation. In short, it must be a session beer -- a quality beer that can be enjoyed during prolonged periods of thoughtful leisure.
Here are some of my favorite session beers to drink while playing poker; I've found them to be conducive to both camaraderie and strategy alike.
Colorado Native AC Golden Brewing, Golden It is drinkable and malty, with a crispness characteristic of a lager and the deep amber hue of an ale. The fact that it's brewed with 99 percent locally sourced ingredients means one can drink it with a clear conscience, and in poker, a clear conscience is key.
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The Limited Edition Lager Series Full Sail Brewing, Hood River, Oregon I love that Full Sail features a seasonal line of lagers -- not a very common style of choice in the craft beer world. It's always a pleasure to see lagers done well, and the folks at Full Sail nail it every time. The most recent Number Five is amber in color, refreshingly complex in flavor and thick in the mouth. It's a lager that you can chew on while planning your next move.
90 Shilling Odell Brewing, Fort Collins A go-to beer in Colorado, 90 Shilling is toasty and cozy, and slightly darker than its drinkability implies. It has an old-school feel to it and is a perfect complement to a slow-paced game of cards.