The Fates conspire to get me writing once again. My card shelf is once again getting too full for me to add more decks (I may need to invest in more shelving, or a Rubbermaid box, or something), and at least half of the ones I have are decks I put on the back-burner to write about at a later date. I had plans for at least one of them, the Bicycle Craft Beer deck, but an impromptu trip to a Goodwill on West Burnside Street in Portland netted me three more, along with my remembering that I owned a Black Velvet Canadian Whisky deck…this is, of course, not to mention the Drink Recipes deck from many articles ago. (It’s just peeking in for a look, so don’t worry about me repeating myself too much.)
The consumption of alcohol makes up so many of humanity’s great social pastimes, from getting together for a beer after work, to having a fancy dinner paired with a fine wine, to mixing up some cocktails at a house party. It’s no surprise to see a poker game paired up with shots of Jack Daniel’s, so it is equally unsurprising to find decks themed after popular alcoholic beverages. (Sadly, while I’m certain a Jack Daniel’s deck exists, it disappeared from my local liquor store before I could purchase it. Oh well, there’s plenty enough to cover here as it stands.)
I suppose I’d better get the least interesting of the decks out of the way first: this deck, branded for Black Velvet brand Canadian Whisky, is a pretty basic deck. It’s not the best-feeling deck in the world, but it’s at least not as much of a train wreck as some licensed decks I’ve seen. I’m unable to identify the Black Velvet Lady on this deck, but there’s really nothing outwardly wrong with these cards. Classic face designs, as readable as usual, with reasonable print quality. Probably best paired with cola, and this deck is probably the closest I’ll get (for now) to owning a deck with decidedly less-dressed women on it. (The Black Velvet Lady, however, looks like a very classy lady indeed. And very much out of my league. But that’s neither here nor there.)
For those who prefer their booze to be of the hops-and-or-grains variety, here is Bicycle’s Craft Beer playing cards, a deck copyrighted 2015 that claims to represent “fifty-three breweries […] from all around the United States.” Given that the Portland, Oregon area is well known for having a metric ton of local craft breweries, I was interested in seeing if any of them made it into this deck. And the answer is….no. Oregon is not represented in this deck at all. Not even the famous Deschutes appears in here. The states most represented in here are Wisconsin, Colorado, and California, with exactly one from Washington state, and many examples from the Atlantic coast. I originally planned to profile this deck in its own article, with obnoxiously placed bottles of Oregonian craft beers in all the photos…but because I don’t actually like beer, I’d have been buying beer just for the photo ops, and that seemed wasteful to me for an article that’d wind up being less than 500 words long.
But I guess the Craft Beer cards are at least stylish to look at, and play as well as any Bicycle deck would. Just seems a shame to not go to the effort to include all 50 states.
The very last item on the list is this trio of wine trivia decks, purchased for all of $1.99 in a plastic bag. They were manufactured by a group called Finders Forum Inc, whose website looks like it hails from 1999. These gimmicky decks are meant to educate, but are printed on low-quality card stock reminiscent of those postcard cards from a couple weeks back. Frankly, I’m surprised none of the boxes tried to come unglued in my hands when I unwrapped them. To their credit, every single card contains a unique nugget of information about wine – helpfully divided among Wine Facts, Wine History, and Wine Food Pairings – but every face has the same design, and the presence of trivia doesn’t help differentiate common cards from royals and aces.
It’s “function over function,” I suppose. Finders Forum sells the decks in two-packs; the Trivia and History decks were meant to be paired together, while the Food Pairings deck was supposed to go with another about cheese. Given that I’m not a particular fan of wine either (my drink of choice is the White Russian), I suspect the cheese deck would have appealed more to me, if not for the fact that these just don’t seem to be very well put together. They follow the same template for every deck on their website: pick a background image, print the suits and ranks in the corners, write some trivia in 10 pt Helvetica, print, cut, that’s a wrap.
I’ll have to admit at this point that since I’m not much of a social drinker, most of these don’t really appeal to me for subject matter. If I do drink, it’s maybe one glass. There’s not much reason to, really. I don’t have anything to prove, and I’m not the kind of person who loses inhibition while drunk. Mostly, being drunk just makes me get really quiet and tired. So…basically the same as I usually am. Maybe there’s some truth to the really old Bill Cosby bit where he said that alcohol doesn’t make you happy, it just enhances your existing mood. If you’re already sad, it makes you get all weepy. If you’re already a loud and proud sort, you just get louder and prouder. And people like me, well…I don’t talk much or get out and socialize to begin with, and I can’t imagine going to a bar and ordering my cocktail of choice is going to make me any more willing to do that. So, no chance of me winding up in that classic poker room with The Guys, downing shots of Black Velvet while playing five-card-draw with these appropriately branded cards.
Ah well. It made for a good mental image, at least.