BeerBods Plus. Season 6.
The USA box
Join us as we take you on a journey through literature via the next three US craft beers. Watch the video to find out more about this season of BeerBods Plus, how it's going to work etc.
I had a lot of fun researching this content. Mostly because involved revisiting one of my favourite books, the Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac. Lesser known than On the Road, this book sees our protagonists (Ray Smith and Japhy Ryder) go on a journey in search of some greater spiritual understanding. In this case, it was Kerouac’s introduction to Zen Buddhism, something that would influence him throughout the latter part of his short life. This book had a profound impact on me when, as a twenty-something sofa-surfing, climbing vagrant with a full-on case of wanderlust. You can get this book from any good, tax-paying bookstore, online or otherwise. For those of you who like audiobooks, I can recommend the version over on Soundcloud. It's read by Allen Ginsberg.
This gave me the opportunity to look further into the history of the hobo. This great 30-minute episode of Thinking Aloud sees Laurie Taylor and guests take a cross-cultural look a life of the hobo in both America and the UK.
This is also a great short read about the vagrant in American literature.
I also found a couple of really nice contemporary pieces on people who still ride the US rail network and the dangers involved in this illicit form of transportation. This one on the BBC is good but this one on Vice is way better. Albeit probably not suitable for those of you reading this at work.
For the second stop on our US inspired beer road trip, we make a stop in Connecticut and sample Bergamonster by Two Roads Brewing Company. It's a 6.5% ABV wheat beer (Imperial Wit?) armed with the most citrus of oranges, Bergamot.
If the last beer made me want to hop freight trains or relive my climbing bum days, this beer made me want to settle down, at least for a while, in New England. But before I go any further, here's the entire poem that inspires the brewery name and ethos.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference
This poem is generally thought to be a celebration of individualism and has provided inspiration for everything from episodes of the Twilight Zone (& Battlestar Galactica for you SF nerds) and appeared advertising campaigns for job search websites (and broadcast during the Superbowl). It was also the inspiration to M. Scott Peck’s self-help book The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth. Which, let’s be clear, I am not suggesting that we read whilst drinking this beer. Despite its apparent popularity.
For the contrarians amongst you (me included) there is a theory that this celebration of individualism might not be all it appears to be, in fact, it could be a lament or regret for having not been a bit more of a, well, sheep. Maybe, maybe not. If it didn’t inspire some of us to do things differently we wouldn’t live in this remarkably good time for beer. Here’s to both interpretations and misinterpretations.
Why did I settle on these two books? Well, the first one I actually saw first as a movie. It is really quite good, even IMDB thinks so. It certainly made me want to read the book which is just as compelling if a little more, err, vivid. Growing up in the 70s, the hangover from the summer of love and the changing attitudes to sex, drugs and politics. There's a lot to reflect on and see through the four main character's eyes. Set during Thanksgiving it seems like an appropriate read for this time of year. Plus, with a chilled beer you get a bit of that The Ice Storm.
If stories of wife swapping and drug use gone wrong don't appeal (the book is better than that sounds, trust me) then I've also suggested one by Mark Twain.
We couldn't really have a few beers linked to American literature without referencing something by Twain and, seeing that he was a Connecticut resident I thought I'd go for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Published more than one hundred years prior to The Ice Storm this is not your standard Twain by any stretch of the imagination. And what a stretch it is, it is also likely to be the first published novel about time travel.
I don't think I really appreciated Mark Twain when I was growing up. He was just the bloke who wrote those Huckleberry Finn books that were on the TV. It wasn't until adulthood that I realised just how broad his influence really was. Now, everything I read or hear about the man makes me even more intrigued. Like this great piece on, of course, Radio 4.
That should keep y'all busy for the next two weeks. Chill that beer good but wrap up well.
For my third (and final) beer in this USA road-trip inspired season of BeerBods Plus, I really wanted to get something about the Wild West in there. Thankfully, this beer is from Wyoming and delivers quite nicely.
In trying to find suitable books I read a LOT of first chapters of different novels (thanks to the sample function on iBooks!). These two really appealed because not only do they have a Wyoming connection, they're decidedly different takes of life in the frontiers.
But I have to say, the Wild West was not the first thing that sprang to mind when I think of Wyoming. Nope, I think of Devil's Tower. You know, the one from the climactic scene of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Or Catherine Destivelle's 1992 ascent of this iconic piece of rock.
Then there's the beer. I am a big fan of Mexican style lagers. Probably, but not entirely, because I've Mexican family but also because I remember just how trendy Sol was back in the early 90s! I am also a big fan of the Michelada.
If you're a fan of hot sauces, tacos and know your bona fide Mexican cuisine from its Tex Mex counterpart then I really can recommend Death By Burrito or Tacopedia to add to your cookbook collections.
As for music. Forgive me for not recommending Melvin Brewing's choice of mariachi style Led Zep covers and instead suggest that you check out Rodrigo Y Gabriela. The word I keep using is "mesmerising".
In two weeks our Joseph will be taking you to the West Coast and making some great film recommendations with his three beers.
It's been a great three beers but I am going to enjoy being the passenger for the next nine!
Peace and pilsners,
Beer 4. Passionfruit Kicker by Green Flash Brewing Co
I found a wealth of information when researching the film and culture that may have inspired this beer.
Here’s some further reading/listening/watching around the Skate Culture of the west coast that I had to leave out.
Yep, that’s right I’m suggesting further drinking. How excellent of me. If you’re ever in the area (Oceanside, California that is!) Check out Black Plague Brewing. Owned by Tony Hawk and a number of other Pro skaters. Even the Tap house was designed with skating in mind. Check it out here
I wasn’t lying when I said the soundtrack to Dogtown and the Z Boys was epic. Check out the full track list here:
From the Ground up (2002)
It felt an injustice to talk about the rise of Skateboarding and skate culture without being able to talk more about Rodney Mullen. Known as the godfather of skateboarding to many, including Tony Hawk (high praise indeed), Mullen invented pretty much every street skate trick there has ever been.
Coming from a troubled background, this documentary follows Mullen’s life and career. As expected the film focuses for the most part, on Mullen’s skating ability, but the dedication the teenager shows towards following his dream is most inspiring.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak a picture and story book, precursor to the film adaptation written and directed by Spike Jonze in 2012.
The story of Max, a boy transported to the enchanted land of the “Wild Things” when he falls asleep one night. Ultimately discovering a land of wild creatures and learning that being in charge isn’t as easy as it looks.
Keep an eye out for it in your local library or book shop. The film is definitely worth a watch too.
Enjoy this beer, It’s totally gnarly dude!
BEER 5. CHARLEY HUSTLE BY MASON ALEWORKS.
For the fifth stop on our beery road trip, and before we venture north on our tour of the state, I wanted to hone in on San Diego and films that are associated with the city.
Below are some extra suggestions for listening/watching I discovered while researching this week’s beer.
An emerging pattern within my film pairings seems to be their iconic soundtracks. Top Gun is no different, Check out the full listing here
One of San Diego’s most well known actresses is Cameron Diaz, with a number of box office hits to her name I was tempted to include a film in which she starred.
Notable mentions include: Being John Malkovich (our last BeerBods Plus pairing), There’s something about Mary, Shrek, Vanilla Sky and Gangs of New York.
All worth a watch if you get the time.
In two weeks we travel to the north of the state, for my final stop on leg 2 of the BeerBods Plus road trip.