Easter 2016 in the Welz household was a momentous occasion. My brother Dave and I had been able to convince our mom, Kelly, that her fried chicken should be the main dish, instead of the traditional ham (though she can make a mean ham gravy). We both had been dreaming about her chicken for a very long time, Dave not having it since he first went to basic training, and myself for at least 10 years. I know everyone says their mom can cook the best this or that, but I have yet to see someone beat her meatloaf, potato salad, or, most importantly, her fried chicken. The restaurant Ma’ono in west Seattle is a close second for the chicken though, I will admit. This Easter was also the first time my husband was able to have the legendary chicken (though we had been together for almost 10 years), and the first time my niece was around to enjoy those deep fried delights.
Because I take such things seriously, and because she was doing the real heavy lifting, mom asked if I could bring the drinks. To satisfy all palates, I chose Mint Juleps (fried chicken and this drink go together like humidity and the georgia peach), champagne (delicate flavors and a cleansing carbonation to keep you going back for more), and the Sierra Nevada Otra Ves (same reasoning as with champagne, however the tartness of the beer with the prickly pear cactus then contrasts and enhances the sweetness of the chicken and the melanoidins from the skin).
While we were all well versed in sparkling wines, we took a mid-morning break to sample the juleps and the beer, getting our collective selves ready for the races. Two sips into the Otra Ves, and my dad began to chuckle. “This beer is just what I imagine Ernest Hemingway to have been drinking during writing his book, Island in the Stream.” He went on to describe the flavors that struck him just like it must have to Hemingway, the feel of the sun beating down as your jetting along in your boat, the cool breeze coming off the ocean. It’s amazing how just like that, a flavor can make you think of shared experiences, characters that stick with you like family, and provide an insight to just how someone may have been thinking.
This made me think, where else can I find strong links in characters and their authors with beers/drinks? Well, here’s a few to get you started. Please comment on characters and authors and beers that you think are a good match, I love having insight!
Hermione Granger– Being a kickass woman, who logical, smart, and willing to punch a Malfoy in the face, I would say Hermione Granger would really enjoy the Biere de Garde style of beer, particularly the amber family of Biere de Gardes. No, not butterbeer, she has a refined palate open to muggle choices, she even knew what bouillabaisse was, remember? This beer is a traditional ale from the Northern France farming area, where the name roughly translates to “beer which has been kept or lagered.” Biere de Garde is known for its crisp dry finish, and a malt complexity that doesn’t overpower the senses, yet doesn’t have to rely on excessive hopping to impress the drinker. It is reliability in a glass, with the spark of panache we all desire without becoming flamboyant about its skill.
William S Burroughs– If he drank beer, my guess it would be in the form of a Boilermaker; a shot of alcohol (probably grain) with a beer back (most likely a domestic), enough to numb what ails you quickly.
Wylis, the stableboy. AKA. Hodor– I’ll avoid any more direct spoilers for those of you who aren’t caught up on Game of Thrones (Shame on you for being behind though). But. let’s just say he keeps things out. Or in. By holding things… sorry, I had to. This big lug of a man kept the cold and/or bad guys out, requiring a beer like a Belgian Quadruple (also referred to as Belgian Dark Strong Ale) to keep him strong and warm. These beers are dark, malty rich, high in alcohol (BJCP allows for 8-12% ABV), and gentle enough in its alcohol and esters to not overpower you with one sniff or snip. Much like our beloved gentle giant, carrying Bran around like a true heir to a throne. All jokes aside however, I am team Arya for Life!
Holden Caulfield– Something served out of a Highball glass, I’d wager.
Puddleglum– This brave Marshwiggle reminds me of Old Ales and Barleywines. Honestly I am unsure why exactly, but something about his mannerisms and calm heroics makes me think of a beer that is an unlikely gold. The whole concept of an old beer or aging beers can send people running, but when paired with the right ingredients and the right hands, it can knock you out of the park, in a very unusual way.
And finally, Jon Ronson– This guy, he’s the man. I wouldn’t dismiss him with an ordinary pint of bitters (though that may be his drink of choice being as how he is British and I am stereotyping here), but I could guarantee he would learn everything he could about his beer and the story and people behind it to fill a book in his witty manner. Hopefully his next book will be about beer, or Ken Grossman, or Paul Gatza’s hair.