Patriot Games

Patriot Games

I celebrated the Fourth of July with dozens of kegs, oversized burgers, stock car racing, a salute to a soldier and a friendly lawn game. But I wasn’t at some epic barbecue. I was at Barcade, a vintage arcade and beer bar whose tap list changes virtually every day.

The first thing my companion and I did was scour that list for some red, white and blue. For the red, we went with the SingleCut Kim (4.1% ABV, $8), a ruby red Berliner weisse brewed with hibiscus flowers and black currants. Like a mild sour, it was sweet and tangy and had me puckering. The fruit notes reminded me of ripe plums and tart cherries, and a surviving floral note tied it all together.

For the white, the choice was clear: the Allagash White (5.5%, $8), a fixture at local bars with a nose of creamy vanilla spiked with lemon and herbs. As for the palate, Barcade’s menu notes were spot-on and, even if you’ve had this popular choice many times, connected a surprising dot: “flavors of citrus, wheat, and”—here’s the revelation—“coriander.”

For the blue, it had to be the Harpoon U.F.O. Maine Blueberry (4.8%, $8), which smelled exactly (and I mean exactly) like a blueberry muffin. For better or worse, the palate was more muted, and, especially on the finish, the fruitiness tacked toward a berry we don’t often identify as one: grape. The more I drank, the more it tasted like an unsweetened grape soda, which, in my opinion, defeats the purpose of a grape soda.

My companion, on the other hand, decided the blue was her favorite, while I went with the red. But something tells me we would’ve both crowned the white had it not been so familiar to us. The Allagash is ubiquitous, yes, but it’s also something special.

About halfway through our pints, it was time to play some games (while drinking the other half). We started with BurgerTime, a 1982 platformer that’s sort of like working the grill for a Fourth of July cookout except the burgers are scaled to the size of a Datsun and you have to compose them by dislodging their buns, patties and lettuce from four stories of scaffolding while a bunch of wobbly human-sized hot dogs (also fried eggs and pickles) try to stop you.

The next logical choice was Daytona USA, a pioneering 1994 racing simulator that puts you behind the wheel of a stock car and lets you compete against your friends (or perfect strangers) in real time. Stock car racing was invented in America, and so was the spectacle of a stock car crash—the kind that prevented me from a thrilling, last-second, come-from-behind win.

We then moseyed over to Cactus Canyon, a fun pinball machine from 1998 that puts a humorous spin on a formative period of American history: the Old West. Here we dueled gunslingers, collected bounties, trespassed on a mining claim and failed to save a damsel some scoundrel had tied to the tracks.

Abandoning both her and the frontier, we stopped at Super Street Fighter II Turbo, where we tried to punch, kick and body slam our way to victory as Guile, an American Air Force officer whose taut and bulging physique says he still puts in plenty of ground time. Instead, we felt like Apollo Creed in Rocky IV as the game’s first opponent, a Soviet behemoth named Zangief, repeatedly clobbered us.

Ready for a slower, Fourth of July-style pace, we took turns at Shuuz, a charmingly cartoonish horseshoe-throwing game whose odd spelling allowed the designers to incorporate a pair of ’shoes into the logo. Using a trackball to calibrate the arc and strength of our throws, we were just getting the hang of it by the time my companion landed a ringer as part of a six-point swing to win the game.

On a day where we ought to feel some national pride, I was proud of her, too.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims. Image features the “red,” “white” and “blue” beers, in that order.

More Stories