Game of Thrones has a million marketing tie-ins, and one of the most unique products we’ve seen from a television show so far is the Game of Thrones beer collection. In collaboration with Brewery Ommegang, the Game of Thrones beer collection features a different seasonal beer launched in limited releases. So far, there have been 5 beers: Iron Throne, Take the Black Stout, Fire and Blood, Valar Morgulis, and the recently-released Three-Eyed Raven. From a brunette ale to a dark saison hybrid, each beer is unique in theme and flavor.
But how do these beers measure up? Are they for beer aficionados only, or will fans of the show who enjoy a casual beer also enjoy them? We decided to pit our resident brew expert, Tushar, against beer newbie (but Game of Thrones fangirl) Mia to bring you their thoughts on the three most recent Game of Thrones beers.
Fire and Blood
Named after the words of House Targaryen, Fire and Blood bills itself as a red ale with fruity, malty notes. As implied by the name, the beer has a red hue.
Mia – Beer Newbie
The first thing I noticed is that it doesn’t have the dark beer smell which, to me, is unappealing, so that’s a plus. The first time I tried this beer, I distinctly remember saying the name was unfortunate, because it tasted like blood and burned dirt. This time around, I guess I’ve grown a taste for beer, because I actually tasted fruity notes. There is a lot of flavor in this brew, but luckily, no bitter aftertaste. It is a lighter beer than I expected from the color. Overall, I would drink this beer again, though it’s not my all-time favorite.
Tushar – Beer Journeyman
This brew actually came randomized with one of three different labels for each of Daenerys’ dragons. Looks like Mia got Drogon on hers, but mine was Viserion looking angry as hell.
Fire and Blood is brewed with ancho chilies to give it a bit of a kick. But don’t worry, you’re not going to burn your face off or be breathing fire when anyone utters Dracarys. The ancho gives Fire and Blood a short-lived punch (presumably the fire) that decays pretty quickly and gives way to some mild fruity sweetness and malt flavor. This is called a red ale (naturally, the blood) but the red ales that I’ve had over the years vary wildly in hoppiness and fruitiness – the only consistent characteristics is that they were darker than ambers, not as heavy as darks, and had a range of fruitiness from bottom to top.
Mia’s experience, at least the second time around, did have her finding those fruity notes characteristic with a red ale, but that spice and heat to me differentiates Fire and Blood. With the spice from the ancho and that red ale sweetness, I’m sure this would get the seal of approval from House Targaryen.
I could definitely marathon some Game of Thrones and enjoy this brew on the fine spring Sunday evenings while the show takes over my TV at 9pm.
Valar Morghulis was created for fans, by fans with an online contest determining the style and name of the beer. An Abbey Dubbel ale, Valar Morghulis is malty and has notes of caramel, toffee, ripe fruits and burnt sugar.
Mia – Beer Newbie
I had the fortune to try this beer at the San Diego Comic Con ceremonial keg tapping event last year. I wasn’t excited about going to a beer tasting, but I was excited about Game of Thrones. Suprisingly, this was the first beer that I’ve ever tried that was almost enjoyable. It’s got a much lighter flavor, so it’s not as intense as some of the other beers I’ve tried, but not watered down, either. To me, it tastes almost summery. Is it delicious? No. Is it tolerable for getting drunk on beer? Yes. Of all the beers, this is the one I’d purchase again. The only downside is it’s hard to pronounce.
Tushar – Beer Journeyman
Delicious. Straight up and down. Fire and Blood is advertised as a Dubbel, which is a Trappist style ale known for being a bit on the heavier side with fruit flavors. For those of you who beer regularly in more of a crafty way, this would be close in style to those chalices of Chimay Red you enjoy so much. I found Valar Morghulis to be more flavorful than other dubbels I’ve had, with strong notes of cherries and other dark fruits, and it was surprisingly easy going down. Even pouring it slow gave it a head of foam in my glass that stayed through the entire drink and tasted only moderately carbonated. It’s a delicious brew, but not something I could kick back and sip on bottle after bottle. So while this one isn’t something that should be the entire of a beer night, I would love to stock a few more bottles of this limited edition offering.
While the beer’s very good, not sure how the name ties into the style. Sure, valar morghulis means “all men must die” in Valyrian, but not sure of the connection of an abbey dubbel to the House of Black and White or the Faceless Men. Then again the name and style were determined by fan contest, so that’s kind of expected.
Either way, Valar Mozugis – “all men must drink.” There’s a little lesson in High Valyrian for you kids from Tushar of the House Nene, first of his name, Mayor of Brown Town and Protector of the Realm.
The newest beer in the Game of Thrones collection, Three-Eyed Raven is a Dark Saison ale, a hybrid style. It is almost black in color, this brew is yeasty, peppery, and crisp.
Mia – Beer Newbie
This is not a beer for a beer newbie. Three-Eyed Raven is VERY dark, bitter, and heavy. For me, it left a beery aftertaste that was bitter and unpleasant. Unlike the other two beers, I couldn’t discern any deeper flavor other than bitter beer. (Bitter like Bran? Who knows.) It tasted awful to me, but hey, I’m the Jon Snow of beer, so what do I know? Both me and my drinking partner couldn’t finish this beer.
Tushar – Beer Journeyman
Like Mia said, this isn’t a beer someone just starting out in their beer journey should take their opening sips with. Pouring dark like the wings of the raven itself, this beer does have some sweetness to it that can get lost in what some could consider a bitter finish. I didn’t experience the extreme bitterness Mia did – I found the hoppiness and spices characteristic of a Saison, even though those flavors were toned down a bit here. At the same time it did not have the heaviness that comes with a dark beer like Ommegang’s Game of Thrones beer #2, Take the Black Stout.
Three-Eyed Raven is a dark saison ale, which actually I don’t think I’ve ever tried before. Generally the saisons I’ve had (also called farmhouse ales) have been much lighter in color, hoppy and spicy with a good bit of carbonation. Take a look at Ommegang’s own Hennepin as an example – it’s light with citrus and spice flavors. So what’s the deal with this one? Ommegang’s Mike McManus answers that one: “When we zeroed in on Bran’s storyline with HBO, we knew this was the perfect opportunity to brew something with many different characteristics and attributes – a beer that’s not truly one thing or another. It is definitely the most unique beer in the series to date, which is very exciting.”
He went on to say more on how it associates to Bran – “We’re certain those fans will be just as surprised by the complexity of Three-Eyed Raven as they were by Bran’s discovery at the end of season four.” OK, Mike, we see where you’re going here. You could say it’s a… Stark… departure from the first four brews. Maybe with a dual personality between dark and saison like the old man and the raven?
Mia Moore / Tushar Nene
@xoMiaMoore / @tusharnene
So you watch Game of Thrones and maybe have delved into reading the five published books of A Song of Ice and Fire. At an average of a thousand pages each, the casual reader probably wouldn’t be able to survive a round of trivia on Quiz-Up. Luckily for the future George R. R. Martin scholars, there are some pretty serious A Song of Ice and Fire fans here at Sub-Cultured who want to help you on your first, second, and third re-read. Collectively we’ve probably read the whole series over 20 times and have spent hours discussing and analyzing our favorite theories and characters. It’s too much, we know, but it does mean that we’ve accumulated some good tips on how to digest the infamously dense series.
1) Get the Audio Books
To the purists who love experiencing books as word on a page, I’m one of you, I promise. But the audio books as narrated, nay, performed by Roy Dotrice (who had a small role on Game of Thrones as the pyromancer Hallyne) are an experience unto themselves.
The masterful actor gives each and every one of the 200+ characters their own distinct voices with accents to match their origins as well as melody to the many songs in the series. If the HBO adaptation disappointed you because of its deviations from the text, the audio books will bring the words and world just as alive as watching a multi-million dollar production. Plus, if re-reading the whole epic seems daunting, maybe 100 hours of audio is less so. Ok, maybe not. But the audio tracks will free your hands up to go about your life while taking in the saga in a new way. For a sample, check out the recording of the infamous fight between Gregor Clegane and Prince Oberyn.
2) Pick up the short stories and The World of Ice and Fire.
While waiting for the 6th book of the series, The Winds of Winter, stay in-universe with several novellas about some long-dead Targaryen royalty.
Tales of Dunk and Egg
So far this is a trilogy of short stories that take place about 100 years before the events of Game of Thrones and includes the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall and his Squire, the future King Aegon V (brother of Maester Aemon). The current novellas are The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, and The Mystery Knight, but Martin has promised that more are coming after the trilogy is published as a single collection later this year.
There are also two novellas, The Princess and the Queen and The Rogue Prince (both originally published as part of separate anthologies) about the oft referenced Dance of Dragons, a war between Princess Rhaenyra and her younger half-brother and future King Aegon. Both are “written” by Archmaester Gyldayn.
The World of Ice and Fire
These are all excellent additions to the canon, but the real cornerstone to any dragon-obsessed fan’s collection is the World of Ice and Fire compendium. While, disappointingly, it only includes sparse information about the houses of Westeros and lands beyond, the devotion the book has to the Targaryen kings and kin makes it a must-read for those who want to track the many instances of repeated history in the main series. Plus, the art is unbelievable.
3) Get a map
The next few tips will be devoted to developing your own theories and analyzing the most popular ones. For this, a map is essential. Westeros and Essos are huge continents. So some of what you hope will happen or could happen in a certain time frame is simply impossible because everything and everyone is so damn far apart. It’s taken 5 books to grow a rideable dragon and without one, it may take an entire novel for a character to get from The Wall to Dorne.
The Lands of Ice and Fire map collection is beautiful. I have the full map of Westeros hanging on my wall for quick reference and also because I’m a bit nuts. The collection came with maps of several major cities as well as a second world map, which tracks all the major characters’ movements in the first five novels. But you may want make marks of your own to do incredibly necessary things like tracking the estimated sightings of long-lost Nymeria’s wolf pack. There are so many pieces in this game to win the Iron Throne; keep track of them!
4) Check out this fan-compiled timeline
Obviously there is so much going on in Westeros at once that it can be difficult to keep in mind the fact that many of the point of view chapters in each book are happening simultaneously. There are often clues in the text, but we can only imagine how difficult it would be to keep track of the events of A Feast for Crows and A Dance of Dragons, which run on parallel timelines. Luckily for re-readers, you don’t have to! A Song of Ice and Fire‘s fandom is a huge and devoted community, and several fans were nice enough to work together to make an estimated timeline of every event from the first five books and available chapters from the sixth book available to us.
5) Remember these essential questions when developing theories: What characters know about it and what purpose would it serve?
Do you think Maggie the Frog will be revealed as Jon’s true mother? Have you theorized that character X is probably Syrio Forel in disguise? WHO IS COLD HANDS?
Listen, it doesn’t matter how wacky your theory is, but remember that these are novels, so twists and turns must serve some sort of narrative or produce a bit of character development.
For example, one of the most popular theories is that Prince Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark are the parents of Jon Snow. One of the many reasons that this theory is so solid is because it passes these two qualifications: it keeps up the “ice and fire” motif, it opens up a whole lot of possibilities for Jon and if it’s true, some living characters could definitely know about it. For one, the two Reed children, whose father was at Ned’s side when Lyanna died, are in the perfect position just beyond The Wall to let Jon know that everything he knew about himself was a lie (kidding!). And honestly, what is the purpose of revealing Jon’s parentage if he never finds out?
6) Join a Discussion Community
Maybe if, after every time you finished the series, you started from the beginning again, you’d catch every prophecy and clue and hint for things to come. We think that’s a little much. We love A Song of Ice and Fire but it doesn’t have to be the last books that you ever read. For that reason, different online communities are perfect. You’ll never remember everything, but re-reading with a horde of other fans will make the whole thing a lot more fun. We’re fans of the Reddit of Ice and Fire and the discussion boards from Tower of the Hand (which hosted a big re-reading event not too long ago)
There are some pretty serious writers out there who love dissecting the text way more than we’d ever be willing to! Below is a list of our favorite blogs
The War and Politics of Ice and Fire for some unparalleled in-depth analysis of military strategies and political moves.
ASOIAF University A collection of metas (critical essays or analysis), gathered from across tumblr
GRRM’s Blog Goes without saying that checking in with the big man is a good idea
The Great Northern Conspiracy Begin with this popular and in-depth theory, but beware how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Inn at the Crossroads Ok, not a critical blog, but one that has created detailed recipes for the dishes that are described in the books.
7) Pay attention to dreams and prophecies
Most readers are usually just as surprised as Ned was to find out that the main character in the first book was beheaded and then completely shocked to read the events of the Red Wedding two books later. However, as most people who have re-read the series are eager to point out (whether you invite them to or not), there’s tons of foreshadowing, including dreams and loaded conversations between characters, that should have warned you that something was going down at The Twins. Unfortunately, that means you probably shouldn’t skim through Bran’s 10th wolf dream, even if it means having to suffer through a description of Summer chomping down on a small animal for the 10th time.
What about you, ASOIAF community? Any advice for your fellow fans?
Okay, man. The shakes are back and I need some sort of ASOIAF goodness now that my withdrawal has kicked it into high gear. To help myself cope with the three+ months left of waiting for the show to air season 3 (cause let’s be honest, GRRM ain’t gonna have WoW out any time soon), I browsed the fuck out of DeviantArt so I could find some sweet dragon pictures. Instead I ended up with some pretty cool pictures of the Targaryen family. Targaryen is the last name of “Khaleesi”, which I am sorry to tell you, is NOT Danaerys’ name; it is a title.
A Game of Thrones. A book, a show, and to some… a religion. A religion whose deity (George R. R. Martin) rarely grants you new passages in your holy book. But when he does, festivals are thrown. Virgins are sacrificed. And then more is demanded.
My goal is to summarize the Game of Throne characters with a couple of memes. Spoilers ahead, herp derp.
So this time let’s talk about Daenarys Targaryen, because 1) She is hot 2) She has dragons 3) If one and two didn’t do it for you then I don’t know what will. Her house is a bit more interesting than the others, especially since most people around her die pretty rapidly, but also because she is surrounded by megalomaniacs and weirdos even more than the rest of the cast.
Ser Jorah Mormont is one of those characters where one meme sums it up quite nicely.
Now to her badass husband… Khal Drogo. Who starts off as the ultimate bro.
Andddddddd then he dies like a fool.
He’s also kind of a dick.
And he makes annoying faces all the time.
How’d all that turn out for him?
There are a couple honorable mentions that go out to this guy.
And Doreah… simply cause she is really, really hot. Or was…. =(
Well that’s all for this time. I hope you are enjoying the show and the books. I think next time I will just cover interesting, minor characters.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s really hard to review something you love so much, considering that Saturday night’s airing of episode 7 of Game of Thrones, “A Man Without Honor”, was released almost a week ago. On the plus side, that means in less than 24 hours, I will get my next weekly helping!
First things first, though. Listen to this. Keep in mind that this video is NSFW – but if you’re at work, you shouldn’t be watching YouTube videos anyway. Carry on.Please enter the url to a YouTube video.
Congratulations! You will now sing this song every time you watch the opening credits. You’re welcome.
Following suit with my inability to review Game of Thrones properly, as made clear by my last review of episode 5, “The Ghost of Harrenhal” (which, let’s be honest, I watched at least three times and still took four days before I could push my jaw shut and sit down long enough to discuss the magic), Episode 7 had me so enthralled that when I went back to my notes for this review, there were literally 4 sentences. And not full sentences, mind you. Broken phrases were scribbled in a 12 year old’s illegible attempt at cursive so as not to miss anything on screen. Not sure if that means my reviews are getting worse, or the episodes are getting so much better as they go on that I’m left speechless. We’ll just go with the latter.
Whereas last week’s Episode 6 gave us beating, beheading, and bloodlust, HBO’s writers have toned it down a bit and given their actors a chance to flex their emotional range rather than their sword arm.
The episode starts on Winterfell’s self-proclaimed Lord By Conquest, Theon Greyjoy, who is taking a lesson from the Direwolves as he unsuccessfully tries to use pack mentality to his advantage and pull rank in his never ending quest to become a respected Alpha. Who let the She-Bitch Osha run off with the rest of the pack while he napped on fur. Theon, how are you an Alpha if you have no pack? Though he only shows up to open and close the episode, Theon’s line, “It’s only a game,” shows that the central theme of this episode is about growth.
Over in Harrenhal, where nightmares are forged by Hitler, Arya Stark is channeling her inner Trent Reznor and becoming a little too cocky in her lies. Tywin, of course, sees right through them. Who could miss that Arya is educated, quick of wit, and well spoken? Coupled with being found posing as a boy makes Tywin all the more intrigued, and he totally calls her out on all these things and more. Arya doesn’t bat an eye as Tywin recounts the history of Harrenhal, feeling out her boundaries as she corrects him on his lack of knowledge on the Targaryen lineage, pointing out that Aegon the First didn’t conqueror Westeros all by his lonesome. Arya mimics Tywin by giving him a lesson in the might of warrior women, specifically the two sister-wives Rhaenys and Visenya. Tywin takes this as a bit of an insult and is quick to fire back Arya’s way, mentioning that if she is going to pose as a lowborn or anyone else, she should play the part more convincingly, which is definitely a bit of epic foreshadowing for future events. The characters clearly have a mutual respect for each other and their scenes are headed into a father/daughter dynamic, with Tywin even going so far as to say Arya reminds him of his own offspring, Cersei. It’s very intriguing, as this is new territory that wasn’t included in the original story and makes me wonder how the two will eventually part ways.
Now, lot of book purists will disagree with my claim that changing minute details is not all that bad. Yes, in the books Arya is actually Roose Bolton’s cupbearer rather than Tywin’s. Yes, Sansa had nameless handmaids, Shae never brushed Sansa’s hair, Lady Talisa is not supposed to be a battlefield medic but in actuality Jeyne Westerling, Syrio Forel was actually bald and HARRY POTTER’S EYES ARE GREEN! Honestly though – who cares? Maisie Williams is nowhere near as “horsefaced” as Arya is described in the text. Does it make her performance any less brilliant when she does not have every single attribute her written character possesses? Take a deep breath, because the simple fact of the matter is that these details are interchangeable, and fans, we will never have a direct adaption because sometimes things that play out beautifully in text just don’t translate well to screen. And I say, the less Roose Bolton we see, the better!
He may be a Sworn Brother of the Night’s Watch, but Jon Snow certainly did consent to being Ygritte’s big spoon awfully fast. Jon and his Wilding have a verbal sparring match about seeing the world from a different point of view, with both being too stubborn to make an attempt. And a lot of emphasis is placed on Jon’s virginity, which Ygritte seems to find as hilarious as I do. Though Jon is adamant about “knowing how to do it,” he was unable to hide his blush and bone at every remark Ygritte threw his way, not only drawing his attention away from tracking his Brothers, but also making it all too easy for the Wildlings to spot him and hand him over to their King-Beyond-The-Wall, Mance Rayder, who we finally get to meet next episode. And I may or may not have done a little flail spasm and spilled my drink when Ygritte finally uttered her famous line, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Seriously, chills.
Poor Sansa. A lot of emphasis has been placed on her flowering since season one, and as she awakens from one nightmare, she is thrust into the reality of another, as she is now deemed fit to bear children for her beloved King Joffrey. Life in King’s Landing does not quite have quite the romanticism that Sansa was expecting, what with being a prisoner and branded a traitor to the realm, and the sudden arrival of Sansa’s Fertility Song definitely hits a sour note for her. I am filled with a mixture of pity, revulsion and understanding at Sansa’s reaction to the blood soaked sheets. As Shae comes in to check on the situation, understanding passes between them with a look. Though never mentioned in the books, I absolutely love the dynamic between Sansa and Shae, most especially because though there is a large social gap between the two, they can each recognize how similar their situations are. And all of the Sandor and Sansa (or San/San) shippers out there will squee in delight at their screentime together, though I can’t decide who looked the most uncomfortable upon Shae’s return from threatening the other prissy handmaiden with A DAMN BUTTERKNIFE. Shae, you are one hardcore lady.
Sandor does his sworn duty and hastens off to tell the Queen Regent all the messy details of Sansa’s reproductive activities, resulting in Cersei’s version of The Talk with Sansa, which immediately devolves into more of an awkward, “Your future husband beats brothel wenches, but he’s still my son, so let’s have a heart-to-heart!” type situation. Cersei’s lesson to Sansa in hardening her heart is a bit ironic considering most of Cersei’s power play tactics in the Game have been based on whims of emotion that happen to suit her at the time. But for all of Lena Heady’s bad acting during the riot in King’s Landing, she really shines in these touching moments with Sansa and also later in the episode with Tyrion. Lena gives Cersei a believably hard exterior, yet glimpses at her inner vulnerability when admitting she cannot control the madness of Joffrey. It’s a side of Cersei we’ve never seen before, and kudos to Heady for giving the viewer something to empathize with, because damned if we’ve had much thus far.
North of the Red Waste, HBO continues to fall short on their promise of a dragon-filled season 2, as Daenerys’ babies are still missing. Jorah Mormont continues his tactic of beating a dead Dothraki horse and once again tries to use his position as advisor to give Daenerys unwanted advice. Though Dany doesn’t need a lesson from Queen Cersei to convince her that trust will get you nowhere, Mormont insists that he is the sole person Daenerys can count on, which backfires as Dany starts to see him in a new light. Mormont begs to know how he can best serve her, swearing his allegiance with an underlying hint of desire, and Daenerys dismisses him to the tune of finding her dragons.
During Mormont’s search, he runs into the lovechild of Lady Gaga and Labyrinth’s David Bowie, the mysterious Asshai woman Quaithe, and she proclaims that though she did not steal the dragons, she will reveal the culprit and their whereabouts if Mormont swears never to betray Dany again. AGAIN. Keep that in mind, kids, it will come in handy next season. Meanwhile, Dany interrupts the Qarth Coup as she witnesses The Thirteen become The One via the warlock Pyat Pree’s magical assassin trick, which will ultimately force her into the House of The Undying if she ever wishes to see her dragons again. Frightened though she may be, leaving the little ones to the mysterious madman is not an option, and the viewers can rest assured that next episode we will see our beloved Mother of Dragons Dracarys that city to the ground, rage quit Qarth, and continue on her path to securing the Iron Throne.
All of these things, however, fall short in comparison to the climax of the episode. Jaime Lannister. I was under the impression the writers finally decided to show us a few more dimensions to Jaime’s character, given the events that are about to unfold, but NAY! Jaime has been desperately seeking an escape route out of the Stark’s camp, and a soultion arrives in the form of his cousin, Ser Alton Lannister, who holds Jaime on a pedestal and wets himself whenever Jaime looks at him in that special way.
Alton’s admiration is clear on his face, though Jaime’s brutality was unexpected and left me a bit shocked. I suppose you always have to have a clear cut villian when dealing with visual storylines, but the thing I love most about George R. R. Martin’s world is that it is entirely constructed in this moral grey area, where you can identify with almost everyone given the right incentive. Still, Jaime is a prisoner in an enemy camp with war going on, a sister who misses him up her skirts, and a nephew-son thing left to terrorize the Capitol. Also, his captor’s bannermen want to kill him for murdering a Karstark. He’s really running out of options at this point.
Catelyn’s lines were delived with such venom that you almost want to recoil away from the TV in fear, but their conversation about semantics proves to be my favorite of the episode. And by all accounts, Jaime does have points. How is it fair to be branded a Kingslayer when the king he slayed was roasting her Father-in-law alive in his armor? As Jaime throws Ned’s supposed infedility back in Catelyn’s face and she reaches for a Brienne’s sword, the viewer can see that Catelyn has a plan that extends further than getting revenge for Jaime’s harsh words. Though it is a bit of a transparent attempt at a cliffhanger, considering Catelyn wouldn’t go to so much trouble to save Jaime from the Karstarks just to have the satisfaction of ending his life herself.
Even more heart wrenching than dragon filled cries of the episode 6 finale, “A Man Without Honor” jumps back to where it began and shows the depths a Greyjoy will sink to in order to get the respect they feel they deserve. While Theon may believe that cruelty will frighten his foes into swearing him fealty, he does not consider the actions of burning those two little boys and what will rain down on him when word spreads from Winterfell. Though knowing where the story is ultimately headed, I’m sure we will see much worse than brunt children in all the closing credits from here on out.
Beautifully crafted dialogue that was smartly delivered by each actor.
The history of the Targaryen women!
Cersei’s maternal instincts show a little bit of the human side under the veneer. Also, candlelight is Lena Heady’s best light.
NO GLIMPSE OF JOFFREY!
“…I went to Willem Frey’s wedding?!”
I’m not a fan of any deviation that makes Jaime less likable.
Less Tyrion means less one liners from Bronn. And while we’re on it, no Gendry or Jaqen this episode. :[
Still no dragons!
Four out of five Arya smirks!