August 12, 2020

D&D Beer Pairings: The Ranger

You find yourself well off the beaten path in the heart of The Dismal Woods. Darkness encroaches and the trail of the brigands you’re tracking becomes even fainter. You wipe the sweat from your brow when you’re hit with the chilling realization: you’re thirsty…

Excuse the flowery intro, but if you couldn’t guess, we’re pairing a beer with the ranger this week. We’re going to find out which brew is best suited to a life of hunting quarry, exploring the wilds, and dabbling in nature magic. As per usual, I’ve got licensed cicerone Jessica Clare with me to give me the expert’s perspective.

Me: Alright, what are your initial thoughts? What beer has some tenuous connection to rangers we’re going to tease out?

Jess: Let’s be honest: playing a ranger isn’t your number one choice. It’s the class you end up picking because your party already has a rogue and a druid. Therefore, the ranger is the import lager of D&D classes. 

This category includes everything from Stella Artois to Dos Equis to Heineken to Fosters to Labatt… If it’s a lager that comes from another country, it’s an import lager. You get it. These beers are everywhere, and you’ll find some import at the seediest of bars, the corner store, or the pizza joint down the street. And, uh, they all taste pretty similar. Seriously, line a bunch of these suckers up and do a blind tasting and I’ll bet money that you could only pick Heineken out of the lineup.

Me: Maybe the ranger’s keen senses and tracking ability could figure it out? Have we got a dud category this time?

Jess: Tasting super similar isn’t a negative. No, it basically means that you’ll always be able to get a beer that you’re content with. And since it’s an import, you can still feel like you have better taste than everyone drinking Bud Light. Since they’re readily available and easy to drink, these beers let you blend in. Just as rangers can be at home as beast handlers, occasional spell casters, or damage dealers within a party, you’ll find import lagers in the fridges of beer nerds, at BBQs, on airplanes (remember those? Remember GOING PLACES?), and at dive bars. Who among us hasn’t said “I guess I’ll take a Stella” or rolled up a Ranger because our go-to classes are already spoken for? 

Me: Traditionally, Rangers either specialize in two-weapon fighting or archery. Would drinking two Stellas at once make them better? Maybe some kind of ranged drinking- perhaps in a super-soaker or funnel delivery method?

Jess: I definitely think drinking two Stellas at once would improve the entire experience. Maybe there’s a dos Dos Equis joke in here somewhere, you get it. 

Me: It seems like you’re not particularly high on imported lagers or rangers. So I’m surprised you didn’t come right out and say rangers are the Trumer Pils of D&D. Is there a reason you didn’t label them as such?

Jess: I actually do like imported lagers! I’m a fan of the universal beers. They may not be the number one choice in ordering, but there is something to be said for a beer that you know you can consistently get. Plus there’s some fun weird ones out there. Cusquena was my go-to at taquerias for a long time, but mostly because it’s fun to say. And I actually unironically love Trumer Pils. That beer slaps. I may not ever seek out an imported lager, but I will look for Trumer Pils. #DrinkTrumer

Me: Rangers are known for their ability to travel great distances with ease. Can you talk a little bit about how ubiquitous European lagers (specifically Heineken) are around the world?

Jess: European lagers (German lagers, originally) are EVERYWHERE and have really influenced the way beer is brewed around the world. Lagers are the number one selling beer style globally and have been since the early 20th century. The mass produced lagers we see today are inspired by pilsners, the first of which was brewed by Pilsner Urquell in the 1840. Larger breweries started brewing lagers that fermented faster and were cheaper to produce en masse, and started shipping them around the world. Lager popularity spread quickly and other brewing cultures scrambled to create their own versions to compete. Heineken has been one of the top ten selling beers in the world for some years running, AND they own like 40% of the number one selling beer in the world (Snow–a lager only available in China). 

Me: Rangers have the option of acquiring an animal companion. Are there any fun lager mascots? Something like the Jagermeister stag?

Jess: I have a story that leads to an animal companion suggestion. 

In beer, “skunky” is an off flavor. There’s a compound in hops that degrades into the same compounds that skunks produce, so “skunk” is very literal. Light causes this breakdown, which is why so many beers come in brown bottles (they block 98% of light) versus green glass (20%) or clear glass (0%). Beers in green or clear glass bottles are inevitably skunky. 

However! The negative association with the skunky smell is very much a US thing. Heineken is famously bottled in green glass, and Americans will complain about the skunk character while European drinkers don’t notice or make the connection because (drumroll) there are no skunks in Europe. So, that “skunky is gross” perception just doesn’t exist in Europe. 

Anyway, what I’m saying is that skunks should be the imported lager mascot. 

Me: You heard it here everyone. Pick up your Heineken (because you can get it anywhere), and make your next character a ranger named Cusquena with a dire skunk as an animal companion.

If you wanna catch up on the rest of the series:

Barbarian

Bard

Cleric

Druid

Fighter

Monk

Paladin

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