Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Pairing Your Books With Beer

Lets face it, regardless of what some hoity toity blogger says, beer pairs about the same with any food. IPA, stout, lager, wheat....they all go equally well with a burger and steak. They're not fooling anyone. But how does one go about pairing their fine collection of heavenly suds with a book, you might ask? Well, as with anything, tastes will vary, so this is only my personal preferences, and only pertain to horror fiction. The list would be much longer if I included sci-fi, which may be another post in the future. This was a difficult task, seeing as my taste in beers is always maturing, and is far from the mainstream, as is most of my reading materials. You may have your own preferences, and if so, I'd greatly appreciate hearing what they are.

 Imperial Stout
This dark, rich, full bodied beer pairs well with straight up horror. It's warm and cozy and comforting when you're sitting in your favorite chair and enjoying some truly horrific tale. There are many great imperial stouts available today, such as Narwhal by Sierra Nevada Brewing.

 Chocolate Porter
Chocolate porters and chocolate stouts tend to pair well with classic subtle horror such as the many brilliant works of Bradbury. I don't know if the smooth, creamy texture somehow compliments the work, or vise versa, but it seems to work really well together.

 Blond & Pale Ale
A crisp, clean American style ale is what I turn to when reading a good mystery. There's something that links that satisfying freshness with intrigue and suspense. A heavier beer will bog you down with this kind of book. 

For intense horror, one needs an intense beer. A beer that delivers a mega punch to the gut, much like the type of horror it pairs best with. If blood and guts is your thing in fiction, then you need a drink that delivers the purest essence of what makes a beer a beer, and I can think of no other style that meets that standard than an IPA.

The classic wheat beer is one of those beers that, realistically, will pair nicely with just about any type of book. Well, maybe not romance novels, but everything else. A nice wheat with a bit of fruit brewed into it, I think pairs best with more whimsical fiction, or even dark fantasy.

Yes, I put Guinness in it's own class, I like it that much. And frankly, there isn't anything I can't read with a Guinness by my side. But, if I had to choose, I'd say it pairs best with speculative fiction. It's dark and mysterious, which lends well to a segment of fiction that has the same qualities. In fact, I'm enjoying one even as I type this.


The Short Story Junky Early Summer Edition

It's been a while since I last posted anything from the Short Story Junky. In fact, since the last time, I've probably read well over 5,000 short stories, as I tend to read a dozen or more daily. So, this is by no means a comprehensive listing, but rather what I have read over the last month that I thought was noteworthy. Honestly, this collection of five books of shorts is perhaps the finest gathering of shorts I have read in quite a while. There's not a bad one in the bunch and I highly, highly recommend any, or better yet, ALL of these books to you. I'll keep the reviews to a bare bones minimum, because I'd rather you form your own opinions on them.

Everything You Need by Michael Marshall Smith.
Maybe the best collection of single author short fiction I have read aside from Bradbury. I wouldn't say it's horror fiction, but perhaps bizarre fiction. Subtle hints of the strange. If you like Ramsey Campbell, you'll like this. Every story has a way of slowly inserting the reader deeply into the story, and then twisting it to the hilt. If you don't have it in you to read any of the other books on this list, I say you owe it to yourself to at least read this one. You won't regret it.

Madhouse edited by Brad C. Hodson & Benjamin Kane Ethridge.
Madhouse is a shared world anthology, meaning it's full of short stories that all center around a central theme and setting. That setting being, of course, a madhouse. I love this book. Not only are there dozens of great authors contributing their little pieces of madness, but the illustrations that accompany each one by artist Aeron Alfrey are amazingly creepy. This is a true horror collection and is brilliantly done.

North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud.
Another single author anthology that will not disappoint. It always amazes me how often I'll find a collection of stories by an author I've never heard of before and think to myself, why haven't I been reading this person's stuff until now? I very much enjoyed every story in this collection and will be looking for more of his work in the future, as I hope you will as well.

Robbed of Sleep, Vol 4 edited by Troy Blackford.
Anybody that reads this blog, all three of you, knows I'm a fan of this series by author and editor Troy Blackford. But I have to say, in my opinion, volume 4 is the best collection in this ongoing series so far. There are some really strange, weird, and fun stories within these pages. I never know what I'm going to read with these books, and to me, that's part of their appeal.

Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories edited by Doug Murano & D. Alexander Ward.
This is one of those anthologies that I know will become a classic. I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to proof read the original manuscript for Crystal Lake Publishing, to have read the words of some truly great authors whose work makes up this book. I can't wait for this collection to come to print. There is no link associated with this yet, as it's still in the process of being published. I'll be sure to add it when available, because this is a book all fans of horror fiction need on their shelf.
**Gutted is now available for pre-order at Amazon! Click the title above**