Tag Archives: Sparkke Brewery

2017 book and beer chums

While I continue to finish up filling in gaps as hinted at over here, and partially filled here, 2017 book-and-beer matches! I embarrassingly keep a spreadsheet of this sort of thing, because it seems like a good idea when you read, drink and then have to remember or retrace your steps a lot.


issue #15 (Feb 2017)

BOOK: Books vs. cigarettes by George Orwell

BEER: Mountain Goat (Melb, AUS) Rare Breed ‘Pulped Fiction’ blood orange IPA

notes: the ‘Romance’ issue, so pairing good lit with good booze seemed pretty romantic to me. Learnt way more than I wanted to about the hygiene in French hospitals during early twentieth-century warfare, as well as a cool (or not, ha, ha, ha…anyway) unit to measure temperature that wasn’t the Kelvin (think it was this one), and Orwell did not have a happy childhood. His experiences at boarding school, and of being a partial scholarship recipient sounded awful – though, perhaps that’s testament to his skill in describing and conveying human behaviour.

issue #16 (Mar 2017)

BOOK: Ablutions by Patrick deWitt

BEER: TWO, gasp! Doctor’s Orders (Sydney, AUS) ‘Fleshwound’ & Brasserie Fantôme (Wallonia, BELG) India red ale.

notes: As of late last year, I just read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and feel like this novella is the dive bartender companion in that it describes some of the clientele and professionals in the industry in the late 80s-maybe early 90s. Both books are hilarious, and reading deWitt’s barman narrative makes it hard to ignore speculation on just how intimate he is with their way of life…it’s also a quick read. I’m not sure how on earth I managed to stretch out two good bottles of beer (not exactly small ones either…500mL and 750mL respectively!) to cover my reading period. I gobbled up this book.

issue #17 (Apr 2017)

BOOK: The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham

BEER: Sierra Nevada (USA) ‘Narwhal’ barrel-aged imperial stout

notes: I’d somehow managed to find myself a new sharehouse to live, and completed this B&B way before things started to get awful. Froth ed gave me a bottle of the ‘Narwhal’ and trying to ignore that various beer sirens were singing, I read Wyndham’s classic with it. The book is scarily not as dated as it should feel. One of my favourite memories of growing up in England was watching Chocky, which is based on Wyndham’s book of the same name. Most of his famous titles are on booklists as examples of excellent speculative fiction – which I’m hoping to read more of this year (2018).

issue #18 (May 2017)

BOOK: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

BEER: SPARKKE (Adelaide, AUS) ginger beer, pilsener, hard lemonade, cider

notes: Had started reading this late for a WMN book club meeting, and due to deadlines and a performance I was rehearsing for, didn’t actually get to read and drink at the same time. At the time, no one knew that I was going into hospital for depression (I went straight after the performance wrapped up, and given you can’t drink booze in hospital, there was no B&B for June).

It wasn’t a good month, but Emily and Clint getting a copy of Froth and the piece about Difficult Women signed by THE AUTHOR got me so excited, I had to get sleepers to properly knock me out that night in hospital (they didn’t know I was in, that’s why it’s so funny. Also first time in my life I’ve nearly puked in excitement!).

I wrote a funny bit of dialogue about how my mother, in unintentional Asian tiger mum mode, completely doused my excitement with a metaphysical wet blanket when I told her about what Em and Clint had done. She is, however, being a Magpies supporter, very proud of my brother driving the hearse for a former footballer who was granted a state funeral around the same time. But seriously, it wasn’t a good time of the year and photos of Roxane even holding Froth…it felt like an amazingly surreal and wonderful thing to happen and cling onto. We all have our s/hero/i/n/e/s! <3

(NB. 1. I don’t want to drive anyone’s hearse, famous or not. It does actually sound quite nerve-wracking & 2. Sparkke have since added TWO beverages to their core range, f*ck yeah! 3. I clearly need to up my game as an Asian daughter)

issue #20 (Jul 2017)

BOOK: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

BEER: 4 Pines (Syd, AUS) cherry coconut brown ale

notes: Another WNM book club selection, which I’d read way after the meeting. It’s been on my to-read list for years, and still haven’t seen its TV adaptation, which is apparently really good as well as quite different from the book. I knew it’d be full-on, so chose a beer to get me through its darkness (it did). Also loved what Clint did with the colour scheme of the woman’s garments.

issue #21 (Aug 2017)

BOOK: The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins

BEER: Bright Brewery (Bright, VIC) ‘Stubborn Russian’ imperial stout

notes: It was so much fun writing this, and getting to hang out in Bright despite the fact that it was actually freezing (one morning the hot water system froze over so it took a while to get it going!). Met some faithful Froth readers, who I again bumped into on New Year’s Eve last year, and keep trying to invent reasons to go back up to Bright. and they do kickarse things like raise awareness of important issues, whilst having fun! James & Jenn were fab hosts, as were their two kittehs!

issue #22 (Sep 2017)

BOOK: Wasted: a story of alcohol, grief, and a death in Brisbane by Elspeth Muir

BEER: Shenanigans Brewing (AUS) ‘Flower Power’ grisette

notes: um, risky choice of book when you write for an alcohol mag, BUT both the beer and the book evoked all those pre-summer feels when the flowers are starting to show, and scents of life become more intense. So, a memoir that deals with the death of a family member, and drinking culture in Australia had to go with a beer that is intensely low ABV-wise. It was also the beginning of a three-month stint in Northcote living with two magical creatives, and a cranky-as-fuck tabby. It was the most happy and productive period of my life I’ve had in a reeeeeeeeeeally long time. I love you Danni & Lolly (and Maddy-cat).

issue #23 (Oct 2017)

BOOK: A Horse Walks Into A Bar by David Grossman (translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen)

BEER: Coconspirators Brewing (Melb, AUS) ‘The Bookie’ pale ale

notes: second month of the Northcote sublet, and I found myself starting to go on dates. I met one gorgeous person a while back who didn’t at all like me, and he was mega into film. I’m hopeless with films, but I recall his pretending to sound like a gangster (no, not like an African one that supposedly terrorises Melbourne, whatevs, stupid fucking out-of-touch-with-the-twenty-first-century federal government), and what a hoot this book and beer were! Clint also designs for this Melb-based brewery, who are doing some delish fabbo things. Fond memories!

issue #24 (Nov 2017)

BOOK: A Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

BEER: Two Birds’ Brewing (Melb, AUS) ‘Passion Victim’ summer ale

notes: my last month in Northcote, and my housie Danni was such a sweetie, helping me take profesh photo where the month’s book and empty beer cans are popping out of a showbag!* I cackled out loud reading the book, and chose the beer because summer was coming, and it had Galaxy hops! It also reminded me of how much I miss the sciences. Adams clearly revels in knowledge, in a not-talk-down-to-others kind of way, but in a way that can’t help but infect you with a passion (har har) for the intersections of several disciplines.

*from a Froth launch

issue #25 (Dec 2017-Jan 2018)

BOOK: It’s Raining in Mango by Thea Astley

BEER: Sailors’ Grave (Orbost, AUS) peach melba pavlova cream sour

notes: having found myself in a somewhat oppressive living sitch, I had to lock myself in my room for a day to even read this book, which I totally chose on a whim but is wonderful – why isn’t it better known?! The reviewing beer bit was much easier, though also tricky given I was rehearsing like crazy for a performance. I got asked to leave that sharehouse whilst on a date, sigh. That sucked pretty hardcore. I’m thankfully still friends with the other housemate who is a wonderful human (them and their partner very nearly had to deal with my embarrassed tearful arse after going home from said date).

It was…a character-building year. Got my heart broken a few times, and made some really good, close friends. Hopefully 2018 will mean not having to be hospitalised, and not missing contributing to a single issue of Froth! I might go back and edit these later to reflect the respective themes of each issue (was lax with that, whoops) – this post is already longer than I would’ve preferred.

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!).