I spend entirely too much time playing MSN Games online. This is not something I’m proud of. In fact, it’s a little embarrassing.

This goes back probably a couple years. First it started with Spades. I call that one the gateway drug. I’d get home from work, maybe crack a brew, and fire up the old laptop for a few solid games trumping the shit out of some moron who didn’t know how to bid his hand. Seemed like a fun and cheap way to relax after a long day. MSN Games gives you a “ranking” of sorts, which from what I can tell is just a sliding scale (like a bell curve, perhaps) that compares you at any given moment on that curve to every other player around the world. Similar to my previously described Baggo prowess, I got pretty damn good at the game, achieving astronomical ratings that were hard to sustain for very long. Then the whole thing got boring. I guess a guy has a limit for time-wasting games such as this. So of course, I moved on to Hearts, an equally addictive and childish game.

Unlike Spades, where the object is to take tricks (like most trump games), the primary goal in Hearts is to avoid taking the queen of spades. The black lady. The widowmaker. And when that conniving little bitch gets tossed your way, you want nothing more than to choke the shit out of the player who gave it to you. That is, of course, unless you’re trying to Shoot the Moon, in which case you want every point on the table. As you might guess, your Hearts strategy could shift midway through each hand depending on how things play out. This is what is so frustrating…you look like your home free, no hearts have come your way, and suddenly the flood gates open up. You’re fucked.         

But I got tired of that one too. So I decided to move on to a real game. A game fit for, well…kings I guess. Texas Hold ‘Em. Good old fashioned poker. A true equalizer. Just you, two cards, and a whole lot of attitude. Is he bluffing? Does he have it? Who can say? Of course, on MSN Games you’re playing for mythical money, which some could argue isn’t that realistic. But some of these guys at the higher rankings take it way too seriously. Including me.

So as I partook in some heated Hold ‘Em hands this evening, I tippled an Ommegang Hennepin bomber. What a great saison this is. Living in Minneapolis, most folks around here would assume this was a local beer, since everything from streets, two-year colleges, hospitals, theatre districts, and state parks are named after Father Louis Hennepin, the first European to set foot at St. Anthony Falls – aka present-day downtown Minneapolis – and Niagara Falls in New York, the home base of Ommegang.

It’s a very even keel beer…not too much malt, not too many hops. Just very balanced and refreshing, especially for a stronger ale (7.7% ABV). The coloring is a nice golden straw, poured with a good two finger head in a snifter. Very spicy aroma, like pepper. I love it. As is typical, a distinctive Belgian yeast character is present as well. When you eventually pull yourself away from the nose, you’re greeted with a nice and fruity sweet malt flavor. The whole thing from start to finish is just about perfect. Hats off again, Ommegang.

Rating: A