Friday, October 9, 2009

Beer and Books

Who was blogging about beer and books just the other day? I was! But, um, not in the same post.

Here's how you manage to work both topics into one post:
As you'll have noticed we here at Omnivoracious (okay, well, moi) are a little beer-book crazy at times. It all started when we asked a metric ton of writers what beer would go best with their book, devolved into a tasting night during which my wife and I pondered the merits of certain books with beer, and, most recently, culminated in asking Omnivoracious readers what books would go best with Stone Brewing Company's 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale.

We took those suggestions into consideration, but after tasting the beer, two books in particular came to mind: The Resurrectionist by Jack O'Connell (now out in trade paperback; see my prior interview with O'Connell) and The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction.

I'm envious.

Also, this is how you describe how a beer tastes:
While that gives you an idea of the ingredients, it doesn't begin to hint at the complexity of the taste. This is a beer that gives you three, four, even five different taste perspectives. At base, I was reminded of Guinness, in that the foundation has that kind of firm, comforting flatness. But over top of that, there's a slow-motion carnival going on. There's a definite disappearing horizon of spice in there--it's just a hint but emphatic--and then as your taste buds encounter the beer fully there's an energy and a uniqueness that's difficult to describe. The taste tends to gather and grow, until you go from something that has a friendly broad flavor to something that would make a Pinback song or Frank Zappa solo look simple--without descending into chaos. There's a definite analogy to tasting a good wine, in that there's such a confluence of different grace notes and things to experience. Again, difficult to describe, but if I had to sum it up, it's like a great orchestra piece, with many different instruments coming into play, that starts out slowly and simply, and then builds to a crescendo that's never overwrought or melodramatic. You know it's a classic because the form of it seems so perfect and so complete. The 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale is now one of my favorites--and one of the terrible, horrible things about my week is I just found out that the Fermentation Lounge here in town now has this ale on tap. This could be very, very dangerous.

Okay, maybe that's tad overboard but clearly I've got a long way to go to develop my palate.

Still, I'm doing this homebrew thing for fun; learning how to tell the difference in the beers' flavors is just a bonus.

And now I have something new to add to the process: pairing up the right book with the right beer. Genius!

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