Game on!

House Rules offers a new take on drinking games.
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The bright yellow lettering on the door to House Rules reads “Play, Stay and Sip Away,” and that’s exactly what co-owners Brian Beaucher and Nathan Murray hope you’ll do when you visit the game bar. Beaucher and Murray opened House Rules in December 2020, located across the street from the Downtown Market at 404 Ionia Ave. SW, and have been collecting more games for all their game-loving customers since.

Evolving from the original Craft Beer Cellar that Beaucher opened in 2016, the idea for House Rules took off after the location became known for its impromptu Magic nights (a card game that involves trading cards and competing in battles against other players to win tournaments) on Wednesday nights.

“I love it. I love games,” Beaucher said. “And we were a de facto game bar beforehand anyway. That’s what people came here to do. Every Wednesday night, there were 30 people here playing Magic, so why not give it a go?”

Beaucher and Murray advertise House Rules as a place to play games and laugh with friends first and foremost, but the bar’s beverage selection is far too good to overlook. With 20 rotating local craft beers on tap and a 12-door cooler, guests can choose a beverage from cider, mead and seltzers on draft to kombucha, wine and coffee. For longer games like Beaucher’s personal favorite, Twilight Imperium, a coffee is sometimes most effective.

Hundreds of games line the walls of the bar, including around 250 games available for play in the library and roughly 400 games for sale to take home — but Beaucher and Murray admit they’ve already lost count of the exact number.

Whether you are looking for a quick game to pass the time or to kill a full afternoon, House Rules has the game for you.

“On a Saturday afternoon, you’re more likely to find people that are bar hopping and want a quick party game while they’re here, and then right next to them there will be another table playing some euro game like Katan or Azul, and they’re here for like two hours just
playing one game. It’s a really good mix,” Beaucher said.

House Rules gives off an all-inclusive vibe from the moment you step into the playful game lounge, and while its coolers and tap list are hard to say no to, guests of all ages are welcome from open to close — there are even some nonalcoholic beverages on tap for younger players.

“Even though we’re a bar, we’re not a party-style bar. We’re pretty chill and relaxed, and our beer selection is top notch,” Beaucher said.

Visit houseruleslounge.com for more info.

This story can be found in the September/October 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here

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