By the start of this season I was a confirmed Throne Head with an evening blocked out each week for Craft Beer, Pizza and Game of Thrones Night. 
Like all right thinking people, my favourite character is Tyrion Lannister, the noble-born yet frequently debauched dwarf played so brilliantly by Peter Dinklage. Tyrion was best known in the early series for his sharp intellect, scheming mind, unquenchable thirst for alcohol and equally strong penchant for prostitutes. By Season 3 however he had found love but, in true Game of Thrones fashion, ended up being forced to marry the noblewoman that his true love serves as a handmaiden. Now, that must be an awkward household.
Sadly, Season 3 has not been kind to Tyrion. This fact was so obvious that even the New Zealand Herald noticed and put him in the Losers columns when they outlined the Winners and Losers of Season 3. I think that is a fair assessment. After the excesses and successes of Seasons 1 and 2, Tyrion was relatively quiet and basically emasculated this season though there were flashes of brilliance. Obviously he was not literally emasculated like poor old Theon who spent the entire series getting horribly tortured. Objectively, Theon probably had a worse time than the numerous major and minor characters who met a violent but quick demise. 
It his prime, Tyrion took pleasure in outraging his family and friends with tales of his sexual prowess and wild gluttony. One of my favourite scenes is a clearly hung over Tyrion  joining his family for breakfast and, when a servant approaches, he orders “bread and two of those little fish, and a mug of that good dark beer to wash them down. Oh, and some bacon. Burn it until it turns black.”
There is a website called Inn at the Crossroads: The Official Food Blog of Game of Thrones. The authors wrote the Official Game of Thrones Cookbook and they have attempted to replicate later dishes, including Tyrion’s Breakfast at Winterfell as outlined above. They were ambivalent about the results, noting that it was the favoured breakfast of their cat. Partly they got overly hung up about the lack of eggs in the dish but they also used flaky white deep fried fish whereas Tyrion’s meal almost certainly would involved a smoked oily fish like a sardine or herring. 
Personally, I love the sound of the meal and intend to make it myself in the near future. I think a combination of brown or black bread, smoked fish, burned bacon and black beer would just pull together wonderfully. There is also a wonderful symmetry between the dark bread and dark beer which share a common creator – yeast. It also has bacon in it.
This television fantasy show food writing brings me to today’s beer theme: dark beers. Leading up to The Darkest Day celebration at Malthouse (21 June 2013), Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor has been steadily expanding the range of darker beers in order to match the darker weather and considerably lower temperatures.
One of the highlights in the fridge is the 750ml bottles of Meantime London Porter (6.5%). Alastair Hook, the 2008 Brewer of Year from the British Guild of Beer Writers, opened Meantime in 2000 and they continue to proudly brew in London. This beer is based on a 1750 recipe and uses a blend of beers to capture the original character of porter. It pours dark with a coffee head followed by notes of coffee, bitter chocolate, cocoa and smoke. It finishes dry perhaps with a faint hint of porter’s original sourness.
Across the Atlantic, Brian Dunn founded Great Divide which was one of Denver’s first craft breweries back in 1993. Malthouse has secured some of his Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout (9.5%) which the brewer – with some justification – calls an “onslaught of the senses.” As you may expect, it is pitch black to the eye and thick in the mouth. It is a massive beer with notes of dark chocolate, leather, coffee, dates, vanilla even cigar smoke. There is also a surprisingly bitter finish – 75 International Bitterness Units (IBUs) thank to an enormous amount of American hops.  Drink it carefully.
On RateBeer, Meantime London Porter scored 95 while Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout was ranked a rare 100. Those are impressive numbers indeed.
Joining them are local favourites including the chocolatey Emerson’s London Porter (4.9%), the New World hopped Three Boys Porter (5%) and the silky smooth and delicious Three Boys Oyster Stout (6.2%). Now, I’m not a huge fan of dark beers but Dr Ralph’s Oyster Stout has consistently made my Top Ten Beers of the Year List. It has done so solely on merit.
As noted here and in many previous blogs, 21 June 2013 is The Darkest Day – a celebration of dark beers at the Malthouse. The next beer to be confirmed is Epic Epicurean Coffee and Fig Stout 2012 vintage (8%). I’m not really a fan of coffee beers and my thoughts on the use of fruit in beer are well documented,  but people who like this style rave about this beer and it scores a phenomenal 96 over at RateBeer.
Next time, we drink with Andrea Vance because, hey, what could possibly go wrong?
1] Thrones is by no means unique in this regard. Other things it took me ages to realise were cool include (but are not limited to): oysters, Facebook, NYPD Blue, craft beer, Mark Richardson, anchovies, broadband, the National Party, jeans, shooting guns, Spooks, Twitter, plants (but not flowers) and cerviche.
 I grew tired of pizza but never craft beer or Game of Thrones.
 At least one New Zealand brewer is planning a beer called Red Wedding. It should be bloody awesome.
 He wakes up in an animal pen but his day immediately improves when he gets to slap Joffrey in the face three times – something I think 99.7% of viewers desperately want to do.
 The Game of Thrones world is nominally fictional but it is pretty obvious that the North is Scotland, the South is England and the place with the sun and the dragons is somewhere on the Mediterranean. Smoked fish was commonplace in Britain before the invention of refrigeration.
 That may be close to the theoretical threshold where even Epic’s Luke Nicholas would say “hold on, that looks like too many hops.”
 I’m generally opposed.
Beer and Brewer Magazine
NZ Herald article: Winner and Losers in Game of Thrones Season 3 – http://tinyurl.com/ldndt9k
Inn at the Crossroads (Tyrion’s Breakfast) – http://tinyurl.com/k89au8b
Meantime Brewery – http://www.meantimebrewing.com/
Great Divide Brewing – http://greatdivide.com/
Emerson’s Brewing Company – www.emersons.co.nz
Three Boys Brewery – www.threeboysbrewery.co.nz
Epic Beer – www.epicbeer.com
Malthouse Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Malthouse/7084276173
Malthouse Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/malthouse
Malthouse Taps on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/MalthouseTaps
Neil Miller on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/#!/beerlytweeting
Beer and Brewer Magazine – www.beerandbrewer.com/