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Posted on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8:30 a.m.

Ann Arborite's beer-themed card game nears funding goal

By David Bardallis


Nick Helmholdt (left) demonstrates Pint Craft last week at Ann Arbor's Vault of Midnight.

David Bardallis | Contributor

Beer and card games have a long history together, but Ann Arborite Nick Helmholdt recently had the great idea to combine the two things into one. Thus was born Pint Craft, a card game where players compete to create the biggest and best brewery by accumulating the most “victory pints.”

Now with design and playtesting complete, Helmholdt has his sights set on raising enough money to fund production and distribution of the game, a goal he’s nearly reached thanks to, a “crowdfunding” website.

“A friend of mine used Kickstarter to fund a musical project of his back in the spring, and when he explained to me how it worked, it seemed like something achievable for what I wanted,” says Helmholdt. “I launched the project in early October, with the dollar amount based on the cost of an initial print run of 500 copies of the game, half of which will be distributed to backers of the project.”

As of now, Helmholdt has nearly 350 backers who have contributed just shy of the $12,000 goal. Interested users from anywhere can contribute any amount from $1 up, with different levels receiving different thank-you packages, such as a T-shirt, a copy of the game, recipe cards, coasters and more.

Though he lives and works in Ann Arbor, Helmholdt, 28, graduated in 2005 from Michigan State University with a degree in urban planning and explains how the idea for the game grew out of a trip to… Columbus.

“I was driving back from Ohio on New Year’s Day after a visit with friends in Columbus where I took down a growler of Arbor Brewing’s Sacred Cow IPA,” he says. “We play a lot of silly party games when I go down there, and when I got back, I began to wonder why there wasn’t a game about brewing beer.”

Helmholdt got together with another friend, avid gamer and homebrewer Eric Frederick, and within two months they created the prototype for Pint Craft, which is now in its sixth iteration. The game can be played with up to seven players, though four or five is optimal for ensuring enough game pieces to go around.

These include cards representing actions players can take — such as making improvements to their breweries, gathering ingredients, or even sabotaging other players — and tokens representing base malts, specialty malts, hops, and adjuncts, collected for the purpose of building beer recipes. When enough ingredient tokens are gathered, a player can put a particular beer on tap, thus accumulating points toward the total needed to win. Bonuses are even awarded for beers deployed in their proper season — e.g., wheat ales in the summer, stouts in the winter, and so on.

Helmholdt hopes the game will generate wide enough interest to support the initial print run and perhaps another, with the next goal being development of an electronic version for mobile devices of the Android and Apple iOS flavors. But for now, he has a good idea of who will be most interested in playing Pint Craft.

“I think there’s often overlap between gamers and brewers — for instance, at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti, they have a big pile of board and card games for people to play,” he says. “I think people who are into gaming will enjoy this, because it has a nice depth of strategy, whereas it’s straightforward enough that it can serve as a good intro to gaming for people primarily interested in its subject, craft beer.”

A game to bridge the gap between two different tribes of geeks? Why not? The world could always use more peace, love, and understanding. Not to mention good beer and something fun to play with friends.

To learn more about Pint Craft and to contribute, visit the Pint Craft Kickstarter page. The deadline to contribute is Sunday, Nov. 25, at 11:59 p.m. Also follow Pint Craft on Facebook.

David Bardallis is a freelance writer and editor, blogger, bon vivant, and man about town. Visit “All the Brews Fit to Pint” at, follow @allthebrews on Twitter, or join the "All the Brews Fit to Pint" Facebook page. Email your beer-related thoughts to


pieter scot

Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 7:51 a.m.

I agree as far as concern of the depth of the strategy. Players gonna enjoy that. like as

Ron Granger

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

The most important question when it comes to any drinking game: Do chicks dig it?

Mary Sell

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 8 p.m.

Great work, Nick! Excited to see where you go with this game. Kudos on all your hard work!

David Bardallis

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Well, my preferred beer-drinking card game is and always will be euchre.

Sarah Rigg

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

Actually, there is already a game about brewing beer, called Brew Master. It's even received awards: Still, good luck to our local guy!