We at Riot Nerd often talk about the difficulty we find in writing about things objectively. Having “Nerd” right in the title of our fine establishment, it encourages an environment of strong, long held opinions, and even daresay emotional attachment to certain pop culture ephemera. So, when dealing with an event at what is probably our favorite place in the city (Eastern State Penitentiary), themed around one of our favorite TV shows (Game of Thrones) and last but not least, beer (Ommegang Brewery’s fancily bottled line of Game of Thrones branded libations in particular), well, objectivism goes out the window. This was definitely one of the coolest things that we’ve yet been fortunate enough to be a part of, to the point where I still kind of can’t believe that it was a real thing and that we were actually there.
Eastern State’s endlessly engrossing turn of the century gothic decay made the perfect stand in for George R.R. Martin’s Westeros, aided by Ommegang’s epic staging and theming, utilizing lights, sounds, smoke, props and costumed actors to transport beer-o-philes into HBO’s pitch black medieval fantasy. The prison was mapped out to represent an individual area of Westeros at the end of its foreboding hallways, including Winterfell (complete with snowfall) and the Iron Throne in King’s Landing, and each location boasted a unique beer from Ommegang’s roster to sample, in addition to the new “Bend The Knee Golden Ale”, delicious on their own or when accompanied by the generous spread of Boar’s Head supplied hors d’oeuvres, all while stand ins for Daario, Varys, The Night King, Wildlings and Warriors from Dorne interacted and posed for pictures with the guests.
Needless to say, this was a lot of goddamned fun, and is starting to become a yearly tradition for Ommegang and Eastern State. This was our first time, but we overheard other patrons commenting about how much bigger and more elaborate this year’s event was compared to the first one in 2016, yet the organizers were wise to not oversell the event so as to diminish the feeling of exploring the misty castle grounds to discover the various GoT-centric props, decorations, characters and, of course, the beer and food stations. Your options may only be to win or die in the Game of Thrones, but with Eastern State’s atmosphere, Boar’s Head’s food and Ommegang’s drinks, even the losers can die happy.
Photos by Megan Hawkey, Words by Kevin Hawkey