not quite pigeon fruit or cantaloupe

drink:  Sobah Beverages [West Burleigh, QLD (postal address) & Tweed Heads, NSW (brewed & canned at Pickled Pig Brewery) lemon aspen pilsner; 330mL can, less than 0.5% ABV

zine: Cuntalope zine, issue 1 ‘Duality’ (Dec 2015; various contributors)

I’ve been saving three Sobah Beverage cans in my fridge for quite some time in the hopes of pairing them up with zines by Australian Indigenous folks, but one can had to be opened and its contents salvaged – it had started to bulge at the bottom (usually in tinned foods, this is a no-go, as it means something’s off and botulism. Thanks, high school science!), so I thought I may as well open it and try to drink it.

My track record with Sobah Beverages hasn’t been great only in that it’s been a very fizzy experience. I’m not exaggerating when I say, predominantly fizz and very little liquid. Shame, as they do actually taste of the beer styles they emulate, and are created with an excellent cause in mind.

The spiel: the creator, Clinton Schultz, a Gamilaroi man and psychologist, who works in culturally appropriate drug and alcohol rehabilitation decided to make tastier alternatives other than ‘soft drink’ for social situations.  A lot of socialising in Australia is focussed on mates going out for (alcoholic) drinks (it only really seems that in professional situations, people meet for ‘coffee’), and it sounds like Schultz wanted something outside of that, given professional field. It’s also worth remembering that while slamming down a pint when you’re super-nervous may seem like an ace idea and seem to calm you down, it’s a central nervous system depressant. I admit that this is something I’ve most definitely struggled with in the past.

Technically, Sobah beverages aren’t 100% non-alcoholic due to the live cultures, similar to kombucha (though to be honest, I don’t find kombucha all that tasty…slightly sour and really fizzy?), hence the listing of > 0.5% ABV.

What’s lemon aspen? It’s apparently the ‘fresh, fruity, citrusy’ taste in this pilsner-style drink. The can says that the natural growing region of lemon aspen, or the pigeon berry fruit is around the Kuku Yalanji language nations. The brew’s ingredients listed are filtered water, hops, barley, lemon aspen, and yeast. I literally had drank a centimetre or two of actual liquid this time around. I really wanted more, can you tell?

Australian Aboriginal women have had a really shit time on social media lately (not to detract from the trauma the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to endure by merely surviving each day when their land has been forcibly taken from them). Some arsehole South African comedian whose name I won’t bother typing here had a stand-up video from a few years ago in which he thought it amusing to make Australian Aboriginal women the butt of his jokes. He’s been asked to apologise. He so far hasn’t.

I mention this only because of the back cover of Cuntalope, echoes the theme of NAIDOC ‘Because Of Her, We Can!’ (making aforementioned arsehole South African comedian’s lack of apology even more upsetting):

Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.

It’s also pretty crap to learn that Cuntalope can’t register their zine’s name as a Facebook page because shock-horror reclaiming an insult and turning on its head doesn’t float with them. But onto the zine’s contents! There’s an intro to the ‘duality’ topic by the founders Sofia Skoboleva and Olivia du Vergier. I loved the photos Sofia has contributed to illustrate the blurring of boy-girl gender definitions and boundaries. There’s visual artwork by Isabel Wassmann, and Gemma Reid, and illustrations by Eva Christoff and Anna Richardson.

The pieces that resonated with me were the photo-essay by Esther Carlin, the poetry about women by Greer Clemens, and some cool creative non-fiction musings by Eva Lazzaro. So far, there hasn’t been newer issues of Cuntalope, which is definitely a shame. It reminds me a little of F*EMS zine, but on a much smaller scale.

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