Beer and book pairings should totally be a thing. I’m working through the A Song of Ice and Fire series (CALM DOWN, AIN’T NO SPOILERS IN HERE) and find it much more of an experience with a robust, dark ale in hand. My current preference is our homebrewed Imperial pumpkin stout in a Chimay goblet but when that runs out, (sob) any good stout will do. A stout just feels like a medieval beer for some reason. It’s the beer I see in my head served at a filthy, broken-down tavern on some slummy street by an Igor-esque man who looks like he’s never showered in his life.
A Trappist beer will pair nicely with these kinds of novels too, I’d imagine. Brewed by monks in European monasteries according to strict conditions, the humble history of these beers is reminiscent of the ASOIAF world, especially considering many religious orders have been brewing since the Middle Ages. All kneel before Saint Arnold of Soissons!
Stouts, porters, and abbey-styled Belgians are also often considered winter seasonal styles. WAIT FOR IT….
You just can’t drink a crisp, refreshing Hefeweizen or Pale Ale while reading about knights and dragons and sacking cities and explicit sex and violence. I mean, you can, but you’d just be drinking a beer while reading a book. Pardon me getting all art studenty here, but it wouldn’t be an aesthetically paired experience. You’re drinking to Tyrion’s schemes and quips. You’re swallowing the sorrows of the Starks. You’re tasting the hard bite of cold on the Wall while the rest of the country doesn’t give a shit about you. Although no matter what I drink, Theon Greyjoy’s little bitch ass always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. God, I love to hate that guy.
Light, session beers are more “feel good” beers in my mind. I find myself drinking these while watching TV or doing my nails, although that’s going beyond the scope of book and beer pairings into slightly ridiculous pairings. If I was a cheesy romance reader, I could pair said book with a Hefeweizen, lemon slice and all. I tend to enjoy more cerebral reading though, so for fiction set in a more modern time than ASOIAF, say Kurt Vonnegut or Margaret Atwood, I’d go for something complex. Perhaps a dry-hopped pale ale or IPA, a saison, or a black IPA. Something with aroma and multiple levels of flavor. A good mindfuck warrants a good palatefuck, am I right?
Evidently, I like beers and books to reflect on each other. I like to taste what I read, in other words. Of course, this isn’t the only way to do pairings. Perhaps you prefer your literature of choice to contrast with your preferred beer. This too can create an aesthetic balance.
Recommend me some of your favorite books and suggest me beers to pair with them!