The autumnal equinox visits us yet again this week, bringing in the season of less light in the evenings and crisp, chilly mornings. It is also a time to compile a stack of books to pass the hours of darkness away as winter approaches. And it is also the time of year when we move away from drinking those light summer ales and ease our palates into the girth of stouts, porters and barleywines. Books and beer go together like a hay wagon ride and a full moon sky. Here’s a list of books with accompanying beers for your reading, err, drinking pleasure:
Book: Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac.
Beer: Weyerbacher Heresy Stout
The whisky barrel-aged, black thickness will warm you as much as pages and pages of talk about mountain trails, Boddhisattvas seeking the Buddha, poetry, adventure in the high Sierras…Japhy and Ray will have you feeling light again. Or is that the Heresy?
Book: The Gift, Hafiz.
Beer: Troeg’s Mad Elf
Get lost in the poems of the great Sufi master while sipping on this fine holiday ale of high alcohol content. Drinks like a barleywine, and feels like one too. Is that the Elf spinning your head around, or is it the words of Hafiz? Or is Hafiz the Mad Elf?
Book: anything by Wendell Berry
Beer: Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Whether it’s Berry’s poems, novels, essays, or treatises on agrarianism, you cannot go wrong pairing him up with a spiced ale that goes down like a slice of pumpkin pie at a harvest jamboree. Take Berry and the ale in modest amounts; they are both able to sneak up on you and hit you on the side of the head—one the way good beer can, and the other way truth can.
Book: Coal Miner’s Daughter, Loretta Lynn
Beer: Yuengling Porter Not the lager, but the porter.
America’s oldest brewery and the story of one of America’s truest voices are perfect for an autumn evening get-together. Maybe even put some of her music in the stereo for the occasion.
Book: The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
Beer: Victory HopDevil IPA
IPA means India Pale Ale, and basically means lots of hops. Why India? The Brits threw extra hops in the ale for the voyage to their colony. The hops were added so the beer would taste halfway good to the colonists when it arrived in India. Today, American craft brewers are all about big hoppy beers. And one of the best is HopDevil. Oh yeah, the book. Roy exhibits her mastery of the written word set in her native India that will elude to the Devils of colonization and imperialism as told through this tragic yet beautiful story about love.
Five beers. Five books. Five more days until the first day of fall. Enjoy the beers. Enjoy the books. This fall, take a hike with Japhy and Ray on a mountain trail to find your Dharma Bum and see if you don’t run into your cousin Hafiz out there too. Or go for a walk on a country road with Berry, and be sure to wave hello to the Coal Miner’s Daughter when she passes by. Rest assured that if you do either of these, you will certainly find The God of Small Things.
(written Fall 2006)