As the great modern philosopher and free thinker, Homer J. Simpson once proclaimed:
“A woman is like beer. They look good, they smell good, and you’d step over your own mother just to get one!”
Beer, something that (ironically) I have massively cut out of my lifestyle over the last couple of years, is the main theme of this game review. From developer Auroch Digital and publisher Fireshine Games comes Brewmaster: Beer Brewing Simulator. A game that, wait for it… is all about brewing beer. But the big question is, does this go down smoothly like a locally brewed ale with subtle caramel undertones and a careful balance of hops, or does it leave a bad taste in your mouth like a piss-water, mass-produced excuse for a beer?
“Brew your perfect beer in this relaxing home brewing sim. Use a realistic chemistry simulation to brew hoppy IPAs to creamy stouts. Customise your brewing space, create recipes and label your beer, unlock new equipment and enter competitions. Learn to brew, refine your craft and become a Brewmaster!”
I have noticed that these sim-styled games fall into two categories. You either get stupidly OTT ‘sims’ that are nothing like a sim with the likes of Goat Simulator. Or you get really down to Earth and more ‘realistic’ sims that you really need to invest a lot of time into before you even get going proper. Then, when you do get into the latter, they are often either really good, or just outright shit. Thankfully, Brewmaster: Beer Brewing Simulator is one of those more realistic simulations that is actually really good. Not only is it good, it makes things relatively easy to follow too.
Make no mistake, Brewmaster is in-depth, very in-depth. There is so much to unpack with this game that I would need a separate article just to cover the different grains and malts that you can use to make your beer… and that is just two of the ingredients. Trust me, there are ton of things to cover in terms of ingredients before you even get to the actual brewing of the beer itself. I think that the best way for me to cover how Brewmaster works is to just talk you through the opening tutorial.
So then, there are two play modes here. There’s a Free Play Mode and this allows you to use any of the game’s ingredients and all of the various equipment to brew beers with 100% complete freedom. This mode is great to experiment with, but jumping into it straight away will get you lost in seconds as there is so much to do and so many variables to think about. The best way to play Brewmaster the first time around is to try out the Brewmaster Mode. This is a story mode where you have to follow a set path and hit certain goals.
Set in your own home, you start out by brewing a basic beer, just to get you used to the controls and how to weigh out and use each of the ingredients. Start by grabbing a brewing pot from the cupboard and fill it with water from the sink. Heat the water up on a hob, which does take time when you are trying to boil 21lt of cold water. Thankfully, you can fast forward time at any point via your handy watch, so you don’t have to wait around for 40 real minutes for the water to heat up. Once boiling, grab some malts from the fridge Don’t worry, the tutorial walks you through every step and makes things perfectly clear. Add the malts to the water and then get yourself some steepable grains and add that to your brew. Then, you’ll need some hops, so off you go to nab some and put them in your brew too. Let the whole thing boil for a while and you now have your wort mixture.
Once ready, you need to let the wort cool, get your handy time-skipping watch out again. Now cooled, take the wort mixture and pour it into a fermentation container, this is when you add the yeast. You then need to leave the brew to ferment for a couple of weeks. Again, you can fast forward time, now by using a calendar to skip forward how many days required. Once fermented, add corn sugar and your brew is almost ready. You then need to transfer your brew from the fermenting container to a conditioning container and leave for so many days, calendar time again. Now, your brew is ready for tasting. Take it to the tasting room and see how your beer turned out. Here, you get a full breakdown of just what your beer is. Did you make a light IPA or a darker stout? What is the ABV content? Is it a low-carbonated or a lively and bubbly brew? It tells you just what flavour profile you created and so much more, as each beer you brew is broken down into easy-to-understand elements. When following the opening tutorial you only make one type of beer (with some mild variation), but as the game progresses your beer-making skills will be tested fully.
Anyway, now you have a decent brew, you can then design the logo, name your beer, alter the font, what kind of bottle it comes in, which type of glass it should be drank with, etc. You can then submit your beer and, hopefully, pass the requirements to progress further in the game. Once the tutorial is done, you can advance to the next season and start all over again. Only this time, no tutorial to guide you and you are mostly on your own. I say mostly as you do have a guide who will help you out with your brewing as the game progresses. At the start of every season, you get an in-game magazine to read. This magazine will have job offers with specific goals to hit, recipes that you can follow and even handy little articles to read that fill you in on information about brewing techniques.
Pick a job, pick a recipe that fits that job’s requirements and get brewing. Check out the shop for new ingredients and equipment that will help you brew better and more varied beers. As you progress through the game, you’ll build up a nice collection of ingredients, equipment and skills to make some great beers. Build up relationships with local breweries and become known in the beer-making community. Get bigger jobs and make bigger batches of beer. Get away from recipes and start making your very own and unique beers. Yes, you can write your own recipes and create your own custom brews. You’ll soon be on the path to becoming a true brewmaster.
The gameplay loop really is just make new beers over and over. But it is the variety of ingredients and equipment that make that process far more interesting than I thought it would be. I have drank a few beers in my time and I do love a craft ale or two, yet I’ve never really thought about the work that goes into making them. Brewmaster: Beer Brewing Simulator does a great job of taking you through the process and teaching you a lot about making beer at the same time. There are stats and information everywhere here. Each of the individual ingredients is broken down into the elements that will make the beer what it is. Hover your cursor over some grains (as an example) and the game will tell you what flavours it provides, the SRM and more. What is SRM you ask? Well, I didn’t know until I played the game. This is a factor I really enjoyed with Brewmaster, you really can learn a lot about making beer and playing this has made me appreciate just what does go into getting beer made now.
Outside of the brewing, you can buy new items for your house and do a spot of decorating. This is a nice little distraction if you fancy a break from making beer. Plus, you can make your home your own and even get a few mementoes and awards of your beer-making antics to put on display.
£15 is what Brewmaster: Beer Brewing Simulator is going to cost you, I feel this is a very fair price too. For me, I honestly really enjoyed learning about the different ingredients used and the different brewing techniques. I got lost in all of the information the game throws at you and loved experimenting and creating my own brews. This is a nice and chilled-out game. I’m sure that is it not an exact representation of what making beer is like and I’m willing to bet that real brewers will be nit-picking this game apart for its inaccuracies. The game can definitely be forgiving at times too. There was one time when I accidentally left my brew in the fermenting container and without the lid on too, for more days than I should have and the beer still came out okay. I’m pretty sure that would be a useless and contaminated beer in real life. Just an example of how forgiving the game is.
It may not be a 100% accurate recreation of what home brewing is about, but Brewmaster does offer up a nice relaxing gameplay and even a few interesting lessons on the basics of making beer. Available now on PC and all the consoles, Brewmaster: Beer Brewing Simulator is a great relaxing game to play for a good price.