Android/Google Play & Apple Store. Free. Non- intrusive ads. Optional ads for in-game bonuses. (pictured above at left)
A glorified stacking game, Beer Sort uses the idea of different colored beer poured in glasses to add a new spin on the familiar format. Game play is somewhat basic—you can only pour beer on top of a beer of the same color, or into an empty glass—but the deeper you get, the harder it is to accomplish without watching an ad to add an empty glass to the board. The small size of the glasses in higher levels can make discerning color a chore for those like us with aging eyes. But figuring out the logic and order is oddly fulfilling, and the absurd names that the game applies to the blends (that feel randomly generated from a list of beer styles and terms) are entertaining in a hilariously frustrating way.
Dude, Where’s My Beer?
First, the good. Developer and illustrator Arik Zurabian has engaged in a bit of world-building, creating a pedestrian yet dystopian world in which a thirsty beer drinker searches endlessly for a beer he enjoys—a pilsner. The protagonist encounters all sorts of characters along the way, from metalheads to curbside hipsters discussing flavor notes, and has a variety of actions in which to engage. Gameplay is somewhat intuitive—point and click to go where you want to go and choose from a variety of actions or objects to use. Now the bad. This game is a $15 exercise in beer retro-grouchiness, focused on an absurd premise (searching for a pilsner, the single most ubiquitous beer style worldwide), and wading through caricatures and tropes that feel cold and distant rather than campy and understanding. Something is clearly lost in the English translation—empathy, cheeky humor, and... fun.
Android/Google Play & Apple Store. Free.
This was billed as a “relaxed game about running a brewery and selling craft beer.” Unfortunately, the Android version wouldn’t start at all for us—just a “failed to load your game progress” error. Re-installing produced the same error.
Drink Beer, Neglect Family
Android/Google Play. Free. Non-intrusive ads.
A simple, pixelated, arcade-style game where you climb ladders and jump over things, a bit like Mario in the original Donkey Kong—except, instead of dodging barrels, you’re avoiding photos of the family you’re neglecting while out on the lash. What you’re chasing are beers, (naturally) and each one you drink has a different effect on the game—one might make you wobbly, so that you fall off bridges, while another makes you confused, so that the controls are reversed. It’s all very dumb, but it’s also amusing. If the plot feels a little on the nose, then it’s also an opportunity to review life choices. Hasn’t been updated since 2016, so your mileage may vary, but it worked fine for us.
FIZ: The Brewery Management Game
Android/Google Play & Apple Store. $2.99.
You name your brewery, you choose your character (probably some homebrewer whose friends think your beer tastes good), and you build from there. You even get to try making your own beer recipes by arranging the ingredients into different patterns. You need to buy ingredients and assign your employees to different jobs in the brewery, from cleaning to packaging. Each employee has three attributes that you can increase with experience: Intelligence, Dexterity, and Patience (the last is best for cleaning). With experience, you can increase their attributes. From cleaning to packaging, it takes only about 10 seconds to brew a batch, so you got that going for you. Ready for your beer to go to market? You’d better do some market research. This is easily one of the most engrossing games we tested—but watch out for those mice, they’re tiny and hard to see.
Strategy with a Beer
Android/Google Play. Free. Pop-up ads between turns.
This game is a lot of boxes and sliders and numbers, as you set things like your marketing budget and product price. It’s probably not the worst way to learn basic business concepts, perhaps as a class assignment, but it doesn’t really have much to do with beer—in fact, it could be called Strategy with Sprockets and be equally boring. The pop-up ads between turns don’t help. Pass.
Tap Tap Beer
Android/Google Play. Free. Optional ads for in-game bonuses.
This is essentially an updated, snazzed-up version of the classic 1980s Tapper arcade game, originally sponsored by Anheuser-Busch but later recast as Root Beer Tapper. This version has a medieval fantasy theme, sliding wooden tankards down wooden tables; suspension of disbelief comes easy there, since there are elves and orcs. There are new twists, such as the ability to call out a minstrel who can temporarily distract the patrons. As you progress to serving larger crowds with more speed, you unlock new locations and types of customers—but ultimately, it’s the same frustrating and oddly addictive game it always was. Watching interminably long but purely optional ads can unlock bonuses. The game can be a little buggy, but we kept going back to play more.
Android/Google Play & Apple Store. Free. (pictured above, right)
A retro side scroller with dialogue, quests, and built-in minigames, Other Half’s Broccoli World is a campy spin on the 8-bit genre. Complete with in-jokes like the Frogger-style “avoid the strollers” minigame, requisite hard seltzer shade, and wrestling characters, it’s a silly but on-brand foray into story building that is mildly playable (but not re-playable). As a brewery-funded freebie, it’s ambitious but self-aware, with that wink that lets you know that they know that you know.