It must be really hard to think up an original simulator. It seems that almost every job that involves some form of physical work is now painstakingly reconstructed on PC. From farming to driving trucks and beyond—I've even seen a Food Truck simulator about. But Brewmaster brings the simulation magic to beer brewing, and it's not only fun but it's also educational.
As with many food based simulators, you start in a kitchen. The kitchen I'm in is quite nice actually. Dark wood interiors, a gorgeous sunny atmosphere created by skylights, shelves for the oodles of beers I'm ready to create and a singular tiny, little gas hob which seems hilariously out of place. Of course for gameplay purposes I expect this will upgrade eventually and you don't want to feel overwhelmed by multiple beers on the go, but I still laughed at this semi Grand Design home's cooker inexplicably missing three of the four hobs you'd expect.
And as with many food based simulators you've got a guide. Someone happy to help you on your journey to becoming a brewmaster, as the game name suggests. This dude is Jeff, and he writes his name like a five year old would at the bottom of typed instructions for you. Jeff's nice, a good dude helping you one step at a time, and he also happens to like an IPA which is why he's in the beer world.
One of his letters to you gets rather poetic, stating: "Brewing is an art with endless possibilities, where true mastery can take a lifetime. Yet at its heart it's wonderfully simple: anyone can pick up a brew pot, throw a few ingredients together, and create a tasty, thirst-quenching beer to share with friends and family." Aww, you big softy Jeff. But I think you'll find that I am absolutely capable of fucking things up.
The gameplay loop of Brewmaster is about following instructions pretty clearly laid out for you and managing exact measurements of volume, grams, times, and sometimes money. The beginning of each season gave me two beers to brew to choose from and with unapologetic hubris I chose to do both at the same time. It was going splendidly for quite a while. Extract brewing was a breeze as I didn't have to get my hands dirty. I could just plop some malt, hops, yeast and water in a pot, leave it in a fermentation barrel for a couple of weeks and essentially have beer at the end.
GGs everyone, I'm great at this. A brewing god in fact. Until someone so kindly pointed out that I had misread the instructions and left the beer in metal pots for two weeks instead. That's definitely not food safe but hey someone in the game graded one of the two probably toxic liquids pretty well so at least Brewmaster was a little forgiving of my foolish mistake.
The finesse of Brewmaster is paying very close attention to what you're doing. While other simulators might be about the vibes. Brewmaster is for those that really like being exact with their gaming. Ten minutes of boiling 21 litres of water with 50 grades of this and 20 grams of that before adding 150 ml of delirious hope.
It's pretty satisfying when you do have something good at the end and the game acknowledges it with a little badge, almost saying "yeah that's definitely an IPA Imogen, good work". Gosh all this hard work, I could really use a thirst-quenching beer right about now. Perhaps the worst part of Brewmaster is that you never get to taste the beer you brew. I was dying for a beer by the end of my play session and it didn't help that my viewers were sharing images of craft beers they had picked up recently.
If you're genuinely interested in how small batch beer is brewed and want to play a game while listening to a podcast about food, this is a solid little simulator to give a go. But without a beer in hand it's eventually torture to pour out a virtual pint with no real world reward.