Beer is a relatively simple concoction - water, malted barley, hops, and yeast - but its legacy dates back to some of our earliest ancestors. Although ancient beers used ingredients other than those listed and were sometimes flavored without hops, the German "Reinheitsgebot" or "Beer Purity Law" declared that beer could only contain barley, water, and hops. Though the regulation was eventually repealed, the standard set by German brewers remains highly touted today, and many brewers still follow its rule.
Aside from the most basic or common elements found in most beers, it is not uncommon for beer to be brewed with other ingredients and spices such as raspberries, chocolate, pumpkin, clove, coriander, or nutmeg, just to name a few. Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages made by man.
Beer is found in a significant number of games - especially RPGs and MMORPGs - and usually serves as a health item or to intoxicate your character, either for fun or in order to achieve an in-game goal. It should be noted that mead, another common alcoholic beverage found in RPGs, is not the same thing as beer. Mead is derived from honey. Braggot, another alcoholic staple of fantasy RPGs, can be something of a mead/beer hybrid.
Examples of Beer in Video Games
Fable featured drinking quite prominently when it was released, going so far as to add a statistic in the menu for the number of beers consumed. Each additional one downed would exaggerate the blur over the screen and widen the area your character would stumble. Drinking too many in a row would keel your character over and he'd vomit on his shoes. As a playful nudge, certain numbers of drinks consumed would change your drinking title, which started at teetotaller for those content to let the wagon pass them by.
Expanding on the drunkenness possible in the original game, Fable 2 also allows you to purchase beer and gift it to villagers, which they will consume immediately. The game even includes an achievement based on getting a number of people drunk within a period of time.
Guild Wars has a title or achievement based on the number of minutes spent drunk, although to be fair not all of the drinks available are beer. Most are, however, and the game's expansion, Eye of the North, has a special quest for drunkards and a handful of drinks that boost a character's stats for a brief time. The quest challenges you to complete an obstacle course and herd pigs while taking additional pulls from a massive barrel of ale between each task. By the end your entire screen is swimming and your character is stumbling in every direction, making the simple task of running in a straight line far less simple.
At the end of your quest in Dark Castle you're pitted against the Black Knight, who is quite content to sit in the middle of the level and hurl beer steins at you as you attempt to defeat him. While he does not use beer directly as a weapon in the sequel, there is still a brewery level and one of his henchmen lobs barrels of mead at you in a Donkey Kong-esque manner.
World of Warcraft
Though it serves no actual purpose, there are plenty of alcoholic beverages in World of Warcraft, and the game does the typical screen blur as well as inserting hiccups and changing certain letters in chat to give your character that playful alcoholic edge. In certain areas in the Outland, introduced in the Burning Crusade expansion pack, getting drunk will reveal imaginary pink elekks, a reference to the "pink elephants" sequence in Dumbo. Since 2007, WoW has featured an annual holiday called "Brewfest" in late September/early October that celebrates the art of making beer, and features many events and prizes with an alchoholic theme. It's a rough analog to the real-world holiday Oktoberfest.
Games of a Contemporary Setting
Beer isn't just found in fantasy-themed RPGs. In the Dead Rising series beer can be used as a health item, but will cause the player character to vomit spontaneously if too much is consumed within a short time. In Grand Theft Auto 4, the player character can become intoxicated to the point of hardly being capable of walking and very incapable of properly driving a car. Malt liquor, a type of beer often sold in 40 ounce servings and served ice cold, can be found in games like Saints Row 2. Beer bottles are also a popular object used to help populate an environment in games of just about any setting.
As in films, beer in video games is typically referred to simply as "beer" with no regard to brewer or style. One notable exception is the "Clitz" brand beer found in Borderlands. Clitz taglines include "If you like beer, you'll love Clitz" and "It's what's under the hood".