Tag Archives: Mikkeller Brewery

2016 book and beer chums

I’m sipping a Sparkke apple cider and finally compiling a list of all the books and beer I’ve matched up so far for Froth mag (please subscribe and tell the editor – hey boss! –  I’m worth keeping to continue to natter about these two major loves in my life) in an attempt not to get too sad about how the fifty-something books I’ve read this year are languishing in boxes. You don’t even want to know about the state of 2016 and 2015’s read piles.

It is kind of nice knowing that some of this year’s book-and-beer match-ups were completed in spite of truly appalling Melbourne sharehouse situations…they seem far away in the past to be faintly amusing, and I also seem to have more than just coincidentally bad luck with junkies.

Anyway, the fucking list. It’ll include 2016 as well (most of which I can’t remember anyway because it was unadulterated shit. My psychiatrist and I were joking about that just this week!*).

issue #3 (Jan 2016)

BOOK: Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski

BEER: Doctor’s Orders (Sydney, AUS) ‘Prescription 12’

notes: am especially fond of the fact that this brewery refers to themselves as a cuckoo brewery (rather than using the racially pejorative term ‘gypsy’ to indicate roving/using no fixed premises) <3

issue #4 (Feb 2016)

BOOK: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

BEER: Mikkeller (Denmark) ‘American Dream’

notes: Froth wunderkind designer Clint (o hai!) illustrated this column and I can only think of one other Froth-related thingo that tops this (it’s a good story, honest! but later).

issue #5 (Mar 2016)

BOOK: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

BEER: Prickly Moses (Vic, AUS) chardonnay IPA

notes: Pretty sure I matched these two just so I’d have an excuse to read this novel (it’s taken this long in my lit wanker career?! don’t tell the ghosts of cultural studies/lit undergrads past!), and ‘chardonnay’ attached to the suggestion of any IPA sounded…fan-cee.

issue #6 (Apr 2016)

BOOK: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

BEER: Moon Dog (Melb, AUS) ‘Perverse Sexual Amalgam’

notes: Inventing reasons to drink ace beer by envelope-pushers-to-flavour-orgy and smash through titles on Boxall’s 1001 Books To Read Before You Die with which I have a love-hate relationship. Not even anywhere near 10% through that list, pout.

issue #7 (May 2016)

BOOK: Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

BEER: La Sirène (Melb, AUS) ‘Praline’

notes: Am a staunch believer in not knocking shit till I’ve earned the right to make an opinion on it, which sadly my partner at the time did not share. His ill-informed comments were the catalyst to making a break for greener pastures. ‘Praline’ is such a special beer to me. It was probably the only thing that got me through James’ average prose and the apparent pop cult regurgitation of kink/BDSM culture – a topic that’s pretty hard to render boring, but perhaps that’s where James’ literary finesse lies…?

issue #11 (Oct 2016)

BOOK: Carrying the World by Maxine Beneba Clarke

BEER: Bacchus (Qld, AUS) ‘Kraken’ IPA

notes: hmm…so the gaps in columns occurs for a reason – a stint dancing naked on stage with a hundred other women (!!!), a large stint in hospital straight after while my parents were overseas in Canada, then getting asked to leave the sharehouse of supremely high functioning alcoholics on the basis of what genitals I happened to be born with meaning I apparently was too emotional (unwell, yes, emotional…not quite but I can see how when surrounded by people devoid of ethics, by relative comparison, yes, I possessed emotions). My copy of Maxine’s poetry volume (which had been out of print prior to this release) is SIGNED. You have to cling onto small victories where you can get them. This was my fucking torch through those dark times.

issue #12 (Nov 2016)

BOOK: Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit

BEER: Birra del Borgo (ITALY) ‘KeTo Reporter’

notes: this is a bittersweet update to have to write because while my copy of Solnit’s book is annotated TO ITS DEATH, I don’t remember much about the time I read it, or about the beer I drank to accompany – which I’d chosen because this brewery has a beer called ‘My Antonia’ which invariably is made in tribute to Willa Cather’s novel of the same name (which I’ve yet to read! but want to! I think it’s listed on Boxall’s bastard list!). I spent a lot of 2016 hospitalized for major depressive disorder, and the memory lapses are specifically due to having been prescribed quetiapine (an antipsychotic, used as a mood stabiliser, and for anxiety/PTSD-type symptoms), and voluntary unilateral electroconvulsive therapy. Look, there are perks: general anaesthetic is fucking awesome and actually knocks you out, and you don’t remember feeling woozy – it just happens.

Sorry, that all sounds way more hardcore/srs than it was supposed to, whoops. Anyway, the shining light in all of this was a beautiful long-haired cat who latched onto me while living in the Coburg high-functioning alcoholic house – Ms Fancycat Truffles de Pantaloons. I call her Fance for short. She’s literally saved my life – just by being there. If you’ve met her, or seen the photos I incessantly post on my personal Instagram account, you’ll know how ace she is and how lucky I am to be loved by her. Whenever I feel like crap, a hug from her makes things feel like they’ll be okay.

So far, she’s been right.

I swear I’ll do this year’s (2017) list soonish.


* however, bad mental health isn’t a joke – if you’re distressed, or know someone who is, pleasepleaseplease don’t be afraid to get help or tell someone. There’s Lifeline or Beyond Blue or CATT. If you’re reading this and you know me, or don’t and want to talk – I’m on Twitter a fair bit (really: don’t be shy to slide into my DMs!).


more book and beer pr0n

A snippet from a recent conversation, not quite verbatim, but as much as I can recall:

person: everyone thinks (artists and writers) just go around drinking heaps doing drugs, having wild sex and parties all night long…
me: …
person: they don’t know that there’s actually quite a lot of work involved…
me: (thinks about rage associated with Paul Muldoon Oxford lecture collection) uh, yeah, it really isn’t, but I like the research except when my brain won’t switch off and read for fun.

In no way am I:

  • suggesting I’m a writer
  • admitting to believing or dismissing the particular stereotypes described above
  • (unprofessionally) mad at Paul Muldoon, the famous Irish poet
  • going to wax lyrical about whatever the hell it is that writers do
  • going to avoid the blissful topic of alcohol consumption. Best for last, chums!


It’s actually really hard to read and drink because the ‘aspiring writerly’ brain is always looking to pinch, pilfer and transform better people’s words into their own (not referring to outright plagiarism and/or not citing sources – that shit is clearly not on. Some decent wordsmiths actually put effort into their craft, yo!).

A somewhat awkward slide to introduce Paul Muldoon’s The End of the Poem – a collection of lectures about individual poems for Oxford lectures. Muldoon is supposed to close read each poem, that is, analyse and beat it within an inch of its life for intent and meaning and whatever the hell it is litwank nerds do (disclosure: I do it but badly – they’re mainly just boring rants focussed on the possible reasons for the placement of a comma in one spot, etc.).

With close reading, you look for ways in which the poet has jampacked as much potential meanings and readings into as short a space as possible. So when Muldoon’s lecture about ‘poem X’ turned out to be ‘everything possibly related to the genesis of poem X and not really a reading of said poem, it got me into passionate Collingwood supporter mode (note: I do not follow AFL. Never been to a game but kind knowledgeable folks have offered to take me to my first game ever…next year.

It’ll be a good space to get my argh-Muldoon-why-so-info-overload-cant-drink-beer-while-reading rage. Basically, reading one of these lecture transcripts means (if you haven’t already) you’ll need to read five other poets, maybe a biography or two, and a bajillion other poems by the author of the poem allegedly being close read.

Stubbornly, I refused to let my Muldoon rage transfer to impressions of the beer. Reading non-fun stuff and drinking even funner stuff didn’t work – but just in this instance. Above, the beer is one of last month’s TruBru #bearclub selections – Sixpoint’s Spice of Life Citra IPA. Bring on the hop times. Hop times = fun flavour times. Screw autodidacticism. Link is back to full health – for now.

Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma is, reading-wise, easier to devour though its information…not so much. Throughout the first part, I began to understand why Children of the Corn is a horror flick. It didn’t stop me from testing this new fear by buying a quesadilla a few days later. It also helps to know I’m not reading it blindly. Corn and its (natural) growth process still sounds like science-fiction. If we eat enough of it, will it conquer us the way the Adipose did in that episode of Doctor Who? Shudder.


It seemed like a good time to try out Mikkeller’s ‘Show Me’ Cuvee – a wild/sour beer (another TruBru #bearclub selection). My palate generally is doing funky things and has decided that things I previously thought were nice or okay, are ‘ooh-er, this is really good’ – enjoyed it more than expected.

Finally! I did get fun drinking and reading in! Woo hoo!


Snatching up some sun, my official mascot/overlord (cat) is resting against my back as I take a photo of The Paris Review summer 2014 issue (Northern Hemisphere summer – just imagine my lit journal reading backlog is the size of a slab) and 2 Brothers ‘Kung Foo’ rice lager. Both were very, very moreish. Ideally, enjoy both in a beautiful patch of public park not crawling with people who may follow you home singing Katy Perry or Britney Spears at the top of their lungs, or the equally intimidating crew who illegally light fireworks near a place I fondly call ‘Mill Park-South Morang Carcossa’. It makes trips to the postbox more…interesting than usual.

PS. The Muldoon lectures are amazing, just hard-going as it’s not the type of thing one can skim-read; I’m merely related to a Collingwood AFL supporter so their zeal is, to my mind, the stuff of mere legend; and lastly, po-mo dictates that you can appropriate others’ work but you better cite and acknowledge the shit out of your sources, k?

PPS. The other book supporting Muldoon-rage-o-rama is Mark Strand & Eavan Boland’s (eds.) The Making Of A Poem – highly recommended if you want to impress someone by memorising or learning to write poems in established forms (it has examples!)


waiter, there’s some poo in my beer

A couple of weeks ago, the haven for many a beer nerd in Melbourne, Slowbeer had a tasting to showcase some dark beers from Danish brewery Mikkeller. In reality, the showcase focussed on variations of two of their beers, the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel and the Mikkeller Black.

What’s so special about Mikkeller, you’re thinking? For a start, the head brewer doesn’t have his own premises. He roams the lands far and wide like a gypsy and basically goes to existing breweries, sets up for a bit and does his thing. In fact, the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel was made at Nøgne Ø in Norway. You might recall that this Norwegian brewery picked up a slew of awards at the recent Australian International Beer Awards.

I missed out on trying the Beer Geek Breakfast when it was available – the fuss being that it contained ‘gourmet’ coffee and was supposedly suitable for breakfast drinking. Mentioning ‘beer’ and ‘breakfast’ in the same sentence also gives me an opportunity to flog that post again. So, with the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, they upped the ante and didn’t use any old coffee but the most bloody expensive coffee in the world – kopi luwak. Yes, yes, you’ve probably heard about it but let me tell you again because it’s quite exciting – a civet eats coffee berries and it pops out the other end having been…’treated’ by its digestive acids and thus leaving us humans with something of a delicacy. Also, cutest little baristas ever! Squeeeee! Ahem, sorry.


Thus the tasting begun: we forked over $30 per person and were huddled around the table in the shop. Was this madness? Leaving the warmth and comfort of home to try out civet-shit-coffee-poo beer? Pah, hardly! The BGBW is an imperial stout which also has a fair amount of oats as well as the infamous coffee. I find oats generally give stouts a smoother, silkier drinking experience.

Okay, I admit, I’m sexing up things a little. I blame the British in me: I’ve actually had this first beer before. It’s a luxurious experience. It pours near-black with a dark tan head and whiffs of its 11% ABV are oh so evident. Despite this being a strong beer, the alcohol is well integrated. This time around as compared to my very first taste, I found that with my first sip there was a hint of hops and every so often the civety-coffee aroma and taste would pop up. I think the coffee generally brings out the chocolatey characteristics of this stout.

Mmm. Perhaps in winter, I could possibly have it with brunch. Perhaps.


The second beer for tasting I doubt I would have in the daytime – this was the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Highland. The difference between this and its parent is that it is aged in Highland whisky barrels for three and a half months. This seemed to affect the beer’s carbonation considerably – there was virtually no head, less coffee presence to the palate and more savoury. While the whisky aroma was strong, the taste was but a whisper in the beer itself.

Second variation, third beer in the tasting – Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Islay. This time the beer is aged for two and a half months in Islay whisky barrels. I’d say that this was more of a success as compared to the Highland incarnation – there was more carbonation and thus more head (which is useful for imparting aroma before you even take a sip) and holy shit, it was peaty. The coffee was pretty hard to detect but this could have been because the whisky was more prominent than it was in previous one.

To recap…

Beer Geek Brunch Weasel: ace. Thick, chocolatey coffee goodness in imperial stout form. Great as a dessert beer for those who don’t like dessert! This is probably because I like to imagine imperial stout is choc mud cake in liquid form.

Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Highland: lost the plot a little here, chaps – whisky-soaked barrels don’t add much to this already awesome drop. The low carbonation oddly enough dilutes the enjoyment of this beer.

Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Islay: a more successful venture with the whisky barrel ageing thing. Not as drinkable as the original but far more pleasing than the Highland version.

Rather than fatigue you, dear reader, permit me a pause in what is turning out to be a rather lengthy chronicle of the Mikkeller showcase tasting. Please check back tomorrow for the next instalment of the tasting on the Mikkeller Black variants.