Beers and Hugos: what to pair with your novel finalists

What to drink as you sit in your favourite reading spot with a good book is a vexing question of no import whatsoever. Wine has its advocates but I think drinking beer or slowly sipping spirits is a better a match for novels.

But what to match with this year’s Hugo Finalists for Best Novel? I have put some thought into this difficult question at 1 am this morning when I was woken by the cat howling at an empty space in the garden (why was it being so defiantly empty, he asked me as I sent him back to bed).

A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine: I want a beer that suits a traveller to an ancient empire. Given some of the Aztec trappings of Teixcalaanli, a Mexican beer might suit but unfortunately I’m really not familiar with Mexican beers although I have enjoyed Negra Modelo (https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/75/667/ ) While it’s not the right empire, I also did enjoy the ubiquitous Cusqueña beers in Peru. Brewed in Cuzco, I particulalry enjoyed the Cusqueña Negra (https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/1425/13635/).

Negra Modelo

Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire. I need a pair of near-identical twins who run the risk of controlling the universe. I won’t pick a specific beer but rather two styles: New England IPA and Pacific/West Coast IPA. American but also a bit Anglophile and too smart for their own good. A half-pint glass of each. (https://www.beercartel.com.au/blog/what-are-new-england-ipas-neipas/)

A couple of IPAs

However, while browsing through my many beer photos I did find an IPA with a label perfectly suited for Dodger (if I remember correctly the character herself doesn’t drink) Golden Spiral Fibonacci Hopped IPA (https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/sunday-beer-golden-spiral-fibonacci-hopped-ale/ ) The copy on the label could have been written by Roger…

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow. This is a tricky one. Is there a distinctively turn-of-the-century American beer? Or should I be thinking of a beer from a parallel universe? The dark corridors of Locke House makes me think of maybe a barley wine. Alternatively, a saison bottled with a cork and a little wire cage (https://www.ratebeer.com/beer/napoleone-saison-duval/301883/ ) has the air of something that has travelled a long way under mysterious circumstances.

The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders. Yes, I will confess that I have not yet completed my Hugo novel reading. However the blurb alone points to an obvious answer: a planet “divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other”. That clearly calls for a nitrogen fuelled can of draught Guinness. Midnight black and a creamy white with a narrative of paradoxical bubbles swirling between.

Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir. Tricky, tricky. I need a beer that is a bit morbid, wild, cheeky and doesn’t give a shit. I can’t imagine Gideon would be picky about what she drinks and a cheap, strong mass-produced lager would probably fit the character. However, I’m trying to match the book and not just a character in it. This beer from New Zealand is more demonic than necromantic but I think it works https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/01/27/sunday-beer-hellbender/

The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley. Do we need a high-strength beer here to match the mind-twisting plot or something with more flavour and less alcohol so we can concentrate and try to work out what is going on? I’ve drunk Chocolate Fish Milk Stout before which is a suitably disorientating car-crash of nouns but I don’t think that is the right tone for this novel. I want something that is sharp but very much not what it seems to be — a drink that makes you want to know what is going on and why? Perhaps something with a hint of a terrible experiment gone wrong… Aha! https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/its-not-sunday-this-isnt-beer/ The title of that post alone matches the novel. For this one I’ll go for a shot of Jameson Irish Whisky that has been aged in stout beer barrels.

Lastly, we won’t know who the runners up are until August but they deserve a quick drink as well and something to toast the valiant volunteers making the Hugo Awards happen. Here’s a favourite from 2017 https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/tuesday-beer-galactopus-littlebangbrew/

Be responsible and don’t try all of these in one go! Also, don’t try all these drinks in one go!

15 thoughts on “Beers and Hugos: what to pair with your novel finalists

  1. “while browsing through my many beer photos….” could indeed be this year’s lighter, hoppier version of “…and then the murders began”

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    1. Ha! I don’t like hops (1. I don’t like bitter 2. I may be slightly allergic) and of course I don’t like murder, so this is a good comparison for me.

      Off to feed the credentials and then stream “Frankenstein” with dueling Sherlocks.

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      1. I’m not a fan of hops-heavy beers myself. And North German beers tend to go for hoppy and bitter. Living in Bremen, you can’t avoid Becks, but I do avoid Jever, Flensburger (though they have the coolest bottles) and my old nemesis Hemelinger.

        My parents were fairly liberal about letting me try alcohol, but while I liked wine, port and various cream liqueur type things, I really didn’t like beer. It tasted as if someone had thrown up to me, plus it upsets my stomach, which is an allergy. Then, when I was eighteen or so, we took a trip through Belgium and I had my first real beer, Stella Artois (which was better in those days than it is now – screw InBev). I kind of liked it and then I had Rochefort Trappiste, which is much better, though it does pack a punch. So I thought, “Hey, beer tastes good after all.”

        A bit later I was at a barbecue/garden party at my aunt and uncle’s and there was beer. And since I was all grown-up now and also had discovered that I liked beer, I of course grabbed a beer and even coolly drank it straight from the bottle. It was Hemelinger, because that was what they had. And I almost gagged, because it tasted as if someone had thrown up again. It took me several year to figure out what the problem was and which beers work and which don’t.

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  2. What is that rhyme that ends “spied a hop.” It sounds like it’s about beer, but might have been a mnemonic for something. I can’t make my memory cough it up right now. Nor Google’s either.

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    1. Sounds like you’re thinking of the mnemonic for the twelve cranial nerves? “On old Olympus’s towering top, a Finn and German viewed a hop”? (Olfactory, Optic, Oculomotor, Tracheal, Trigeminal, Abducens, Facial, Auditory, Glossopharyngeal, Vagus, Accessory, Hypoglossal, yes, I had to look them up, stupid mnemonic doesn’t work, the dirty version doesn’t work either.)

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