Drinking Adventurously – Writer’s Edition

Week 47 in the Year of Drinking Adventurously. Sweet potato beer. (FAIL)

I didn’t find this locally –although truth be told, I didn’t look too hard. I saw sweet potato beer and thought: pumpkin beer, which falls under the category of ‘enough with the pumpkin already’ in my world. The chapter of our guide started with ‘Japan’ and meandered to ‘gluten free’ and my eyes crossed and I gave up. (No offense Jeff, this is still an awesome book. Buy it y’all.)51fffcpqPZL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

And besides, I’ve been stressed enough this month trying to pen a novel in 30 days. So instead, because I’m consumed with writing, I thought we’d explore that age old bit of wisdom wrongly attributed to Ernest Hemingway: Write drunk, edit sober. (That’s right, Fictional Kevin, Ernie never said that.) I’ve also tried this approach: write sober, get drunk, edit with a hangover. Or write with a hangover, edit whilst drunk again. Of course, I’m kidding… Sort of. It actually works brilliantly with poetry. My poetry anyway.

Apparently (according to Google -that infallible source of all things everything) the quote is more likely from novelist, Peter De Vries. In his book, “Reuben, Reuben” published in 1964, the main character is based on a famous drunkard -the poet, Dylan Thomas. On page 242 the character says this: “Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.”

Well, whoever said it, its the second bit that’s brilliant -the part about having both elements of creation in your writing – emotion and discipline…  The trick is finding the balance. Lowering the inhibitions or finding that altered state, may prompt you to put down on paper (or screen) words that you may have have thought twice about in a more restrained condition. Some of my most inspired writing comes to me at 3:00 am when my eyes slam open with an idea fully formed during the fog of sleep. I have to creep from bed, find my notebook and scribble it all down before it’s lost to the next round of sleep, or daylight whichever comes first. 

There is a fine line between intoxication and inspiration. What I mean is, a little liquid prime to the creative pump is a good idea, but flooding the engine just stalls it out. So don’t write drunk and  edit sober. Write inspired and edit minimally.

Sorry for the fail Lula



Drinking Adventurously – In Meg’s Kitchen

Week 46 In the Year Of Drinking Adventurously. Pickleback – not so much a fail as, ‘eww, who drinks that?’

Briefly, pickleback –just so you know what it is and why I skipped it– is a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice as a chaser. Not appealing.

Anyway, remember the week we were supposed to drink Spanish Cidre and I ended up with the horrible, pathetic domestic alternative? Well, a fellow blogger kindly offered to help me out. My friend Javier offered to locate and ship a Spanish Cidre to me, and he totally came through. Not just with cidre but with some bonus swag as well:

And yes, my kitchen has a TV facing the bar. The giant inflatable bottle of beer will go out to the pool next summer. And, uh, ignore the mess…

The large bottle in the center is the star of the show, Gurutzeta Cidre from the Basque region of Spain. 

And oh, what a difference from the sickly sweet American imposter. This wasn’t sweet, was slightly tart, but still had a nice apple flavor and it had a ‘tiny bubble’ kind of carbonation, if that makes sense. Lovely, indeed. And in the weeks since cider was the adventure, I’ve done some research and discovered that making hard cider isn’t that much different from home brewing beer which brings me to chapter two of this post.

Last Friday, my girlfriend Cathy acquired six gallons of freshly pressed cider from a local orchard for each of us to convert to an alcoholic version.

I decided to make a traditional hard cider with hints of ginger, cinnamon, and allspice. I added 3 pounds of brown sugar to up the alcohol content. I realize that sounds like the cider will be sweet but that’s not the case. All that sugar will be converted to alcohol by the yeast as it ferments. When it’s finished, the cider should be rather dry and have an ABV of about 9% which is more than twice that of a standard beer. The fresh cider is warmed to about 80-90° F, the sugar and spices stirred in to dissolve, then transferred to the fermenting bucket before adding the yeast.

Cathy added honey and sour cherry concentrate to her batch, for a completely different flavor profile. Sounds amazing, right?  We’ll trade samples when it’s ready. Here’s the bad news – it probably won’t be finished for six months!

I’m going off the map again next week, too. But I haven’t a clue where I will end up! I wonder if Lula tried the pickle back…

The sketch in the header image is my own.

About that wall…

Week 45 in The Year of Drinking Adventurously. Berliner Weisse.

The Berlin Wall, that is… November 9, 1989 – marks 27 years since that wall fell. And that is the reason Berliner Weisse, a German wheat beer style is on tap (or in bottles) for this week’s drinking adventure.  Although sometimes released as a summer seasonal because of its light, refreshing quality, there’s no reason not to drink it any time of the year.

Berliner Weisse is technically a sour beer, a favorite style of mine. The guide made several suggestions for finding American products in the style but I came across a great bottle shop that had a nice selection of German imports, so I chose two to sample. And even though the bottles are large, the alcohol content is low so there was no risk of getting pickled.

Freigeist Kopenickiade. 3.5% ABV. A beer brewed with vineyard peaches. It’s very light with just a hint of the peach flavor. Freigiest is the experimental offshoot of Cologne’s revolutionary small brewery, Braustelle. According to the bottle: they… “strive to break the chains of industrial brewing by reviving and updating Germany’s unique historical beer styles. Brewed with spelt, barley malt and fresh fruit, kopenickade is a clean and fresh twist on Berlin’s feisty and unique specialty weisse beer.” Feisty — I love it.  

1809. 5% ABV. A weisse beer brewed by Dr. Fritz Briem of the Doeman’s Institute. And a little history thanks to the bottle: “Already in the 1600s the Berliner Weisse style beer was mentioned in documents by the French reformers Huguenots as they crossed Berlin on theier way to Flanders. in 1809 Napolean and his troops celebrated their Prussian victory with it. This Berliner Weisse style beer is brewed with traditional mash hopping and without wort boiling. This along with a traditional strain of lactic acid bacteria provide a fruity and dry but palateful character. A character that Napolean and his troops described as lively and elegant.” This was excellent, too. Without a distinct fruit flavor, it feels clean and sparkly on the tongue. 

A win for the week’s adventure? Yes. And a tribute to the tearing down of walls. 

I wonder how Lula toasted this week’s adventure?