Tag Archives: zine reviews

drink’s everywhere but in me

note: I’m sorry it took me so long to make this post live…it’s something of a relic given what the world went through in 2020, and it was written in April 2020! Enjoy!

zine: Paper and Ink #13: Tales From The Bar Side by various contributors
drink: Gimme Da Loot! (7%, 16 fl oz, can) brewed by Revision Brewing Company (Nevada, USA)
music: Jan Jelinek avec Les Exposures, La nouvelle pauvrété (2003)

This afternoon, after making what can only be called the world’s worst bastardisation of a quesadilla, I had somehow managed to make the perfect cup of tea. I use my Red Hill Brewery stein, used THREE teabags of Madame Flavour’s Melbourne Morning blend, put in the perfect dash of milk, took my sad brunch and fabbo brew upstairs…

…then spilt the whole blasted thing because I put down the stein for a minute. Heart: broken.

As I write this, I’m currently waiting for the review beer to thaw out. It was right at the back of the fridge on my shelf (been hiding it deliberately for matching it up to a zine), so more on that later.

a beer can sits upside down inside a glass, draining very slowly

I chose this particular not necessarily for this specific beer, but because at the moment, no one has ‘tales from the bar’. At least, they shouldn’t in my state (Victoria – the isolation restrictions have been stricter than the national ones). Despite this, there was an outbreak at a healthcare location I frequent during a certain time period, so guess who consented to getting their nose…violated. The COVID test isn’t fun but they did give me my (confirmed negative) result in less than 24 hours.

an empty beer can with an illustration of Lenny from The Simpsons, and to its left, the front cover of a zine with an illustration of people playing pool in a pub

The intro by editor Martin Appleby, given this pandemic-stricken world we’re now living in, sounds like utopia to any alcohol wanker:

As you can probably tell from the title of this issue, the theme is bars and pubs. Specifically dive bars, shitty pubs and back alley boozers. Intended as a celebration of these places and the characters you find in them…

Realistically, it’s only been a month and a half that social isolation has been in place, but it feels like five, honestly. Christ, I miss my pub trivia crew. I didn’t even think I’d get to a place of ‘normal’ socialisation to even have one (I’m awkward and unwell, okay? why do you think I drink…? Don’t answer that!)

back cover of a zine on a blonde wood table - photograph of the front of a bar, with a bartender in white's back visible

The beer is fucking amazing. It’s the colour that hazy NEIPAs (New England India Pale Ales) are supposed to be, and I guess in it freezing, the citrus hops retained their flavour, so so juicy. It smells like a mix of orange – specifically blood orange? – grapefruit* rind and the of the fruit just under the surface. Half of the beer is still frozen in the can, by the way.

handwritten beer tasting notes in purple ink in a pocket-sized notebook on top of a zine

Passed the halfway mark of the zine, and pretty impressed with the entries – there’s a lot of poetry, and some really good short fiction pieces which go in places you weren’t quite expecting. For some reason, I thought this theme would attract a lot of try-hards playing up how drunk they can get, but so far, the seediness in many of the pieces feels authentic. My favourite piece is about a woman who lures attractive young men to her local, same time, same place, every week. The selections do celebrate rather than (pun intended) take the piss out of the dodgy familiars at bars or pubs that perpetually smell of urine and cigarette smoke. The contributors are generally from the US or the UK, and it makes me happy that the gender balance seems to be about 50/50. It’s also great to see some names that aren’t typically Caucasian!

The beer still isn’t melting all that fast, and given that it’s autumn proper, I’m not really surprised.

a beer placed at a tilt, filling the glass it's partially in with beer, next to a kitchen stovetop

Bloody hell, this is like waiting for Godot…I’ve finished reading the zine and my recommendation is check the website and see if there are still copies…or perhaps I just did that and sadly, looks like stock is all gone.

a beer can on an oil heater/radiator in front of a chest of drawers where books and other alcoholic paraphernalia can be seen

I guess the best endorsement I can give the zine is it really makes me miss reading at my local/s (I’ve got two in walking distance!) with a damn good book, and sneaking in a pint…or three. It also reminded me a lot of Patrick deWitt’s novella Ablutions which is a pretty 80s bloky bartender with various addiction issues and dysfunctions.

The remaining bit of the beer eventually melted…into beer-coloured water. It took forever to melt because in this part of the world we’re hitting autumn proper. (please don’t judge me on my thawing method or the messiness of my room.)

I love that the ‘loot’ on the cans are sacks, labelled with the hops used in this beer (Mosaic, Amarillo, Galaxy, and Citra). I’m trying not to go all beer wanker talking about this beer because I’ve been more about the spirits and cheap red, and christ, there are squillions of hop varieties that do all sorts of things to make the beer taste the way it does (self-promo! I found out when researching for the Australian and New Zealand chapter of this book; internationals are super keen for the hops in this region).

Omg, did I totally miss an opportunity to make a Corona beer-Coronavirus joke?! Yes, yes I did. My dopey humour is out-of-practice: must be all that work trying to finish Hilary Mantel’s 900-page finale to her Thomas Cromwell trilogy (she is one of the few authors to win the Man Booker Prize for her previous two) before May starts. I FKN DID IT.

*if you’re on medication that you take regularly, make sure you can have grapefruit and/or its juice if you’re lucky enough to be drinking swanky cocktails in isolation – it can be listed as a contraindication. This beer doesn’t have grapefruit juice in it but worth mentioning because I totally forget and am supposed to avoid it

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