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 ( ) 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 (

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. (

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 ( ) 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 ( ) 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

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! 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

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

Sunday Beer: A choice of dubious taste

In more ways than one but it was on special.

A cheap case of beers to keep the various souls stuck in our pandemic bunker sufficiently lubricated.

The major Australian alcohol retailer I bought them from has a range of restrictions in place:

“Outlined below are SIX category limits. You can buy from up to TWO different categories. Purchase limits are per transaction for each category.”

BEER2 cases (24pk or 30pk or 4 x mixed 6pk)
WINE12 bottles
CASK WINE2 casks (not exceeding 10L)
SPIRITS2 bottles (not exceeding 2L)
PREMIX/RTD2 cases (24pk or 30pk or 4 x mixed 6 pk)
CIDER2 cases (24pk or 30pk or 4 x mixed 6 pk)

The measures are apparently to prevent panic buying of alcohol but maybe it’s a move to discourage parties. The limits are different in Western Australia but either way, you know things are serious when the bottle shops start rationing beer in Australia (even if it is very mild rationing – these limits are per customer per day, so if you’ve drunk your 48 cans of beer and 2 bottles of spirits overnight and are somehow still alive, you can go back the next day and buy some more.)