Scrabble, card games, and other tabletop pursuits are a regular sight in brewpubs and taprooms, but one new game is quite literally designed with breweries in mind. Hops ‘n’ Robbers is a card game in which the aim is to start your own brewery, make some beer and – even though the craft industry might champion collaboration over competition – come out on top.
The creative minds behind the game are Brisbane-based illustrator Jase Harper, his partner Kylie Fisher, and the founder of Byron Bay Games, Tom Boundy. Jase says they hope to see Hops 'n' Robbers find a home in myriad taprooms and beer venues around the country.
“Definitely here in Brisbane,” he says, “a lot of brewpubs have card or board games on the corner of the table so we’re hoping it will be a great match to venues.”
The game is designed to be played by anywhere between two and six people; to win, you need to start brewing before everyone else.
“You get a venue at the start of the game,” Jase explains, “with six venues all up, and each venue has two beers that it specialises in. And you have to get all the ingredients to one of those brews at least to open up your brewpub. But, along the way, you can steal, and there are things that happen that stop you.”
Fans of Fixation Brewing might already recognise Jase’s work: the craft beer-loving illustrator has designed beer cans, merch and posters for the brewery since their earliest days.
“I was doing work for Stone & Wood when they were just a shed in Byron Bay,” he says. “Then when Fixation kicked off, Ross [Jurisich, Stone & Wood cofounder] brought me in for a meeting with Tom [Delmont] and lined me up to do some work with the merch.”
The trio started working on Hop’n’Robbers in earnest when travel was off the cards and they found themselves leaning on old habits to pass the time.
“It’s been in the works for just over a year and is a bit of a COVID baby,” Tom says. “We were playing a lot of card games at the time and I’d previously illustrated a game for Tom at Byron Bay Games.
“We had the idea and I had the artwork in my head all mapped, but getting the game to actually work was a lot of trial and error and experimenting.”
Jase adds: “We made up packs we’d send between us. Tom in Byron with his friends and then Kylie and I would be playing it with our friends. We’d be playing it and coming up with where the bottlenecks were and where there were too many cards and saying things like, 'This game is going to take too long because there aren’t enough of certain cards.’”
The game's artwork and unique gameplay weren’t the only aspects of Hops ‘n’ Robbers that Jase, Kylie and Tom developed themselves. For the most part, your favourite hops' names are trademarked so, to avoid any issues, they've created their own, such as Half Nelson and Cosmos.
“We also thought we could have a bit of fun by making up some and we’ve made up a few cheeky blurbs about them too,” Jase says.
As for who they’re hoping will embrace the game other than those in the country's taprooms and bars, Jase says that, while it’s a game designed by beer geeks for beer geeks, they think it has wider appeal too.
“It’s definitely aimed at beer nerds," he says. "We’ve played it with friends who aren’t as into beer as us, though, so we hope people will be able to follow on easily enough.”
Hops 'n' Robbers is launching on September 17 at Netherworld in Brisbane – details here. And if you're a member of The Crafty Pint's beer club, The Crafty Cabal, there's four packs up for grabs in another giveaway. Just log in or sign up here to enter.