Which Poet, Which Beer (2)


Tastes change. In my younger years I preferred sweeter brown ales, eschewed hoppier, bitter beverages, and seldom branched out. Nowadays, I lean heavily towards the bitter, and when the opportunity presents itself, feel compelled to sample the unknown. Thus when I spied Alaskan Brewing Company’s Alaskan Jalapeño Imperial IPA on tap, I had no choice but to order a pint. We may not normally place the words Alaska and jalapeño alongside each other, but if this Imperial IPA is any indication, perhaps we should. With an odor of hops and capsicum, it felt smooth on the tongue, a little malty, even earthy. Not  complex at the outset, but subtle, defying definition and developing over time, in the way a good poem develops. My only complaint would be the lack of heat. But hey, I’m from Texas, and we do jalapeños. This is a beer of multiple cultures, a blend of distinct identities. I think of Joan Naviyuk Kane, and her first book, The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife, in which she writes in “Antistrophic”

Instead of out, I am in,
Trying at the old habit of imperfect definition
As well as the less familiar,
Between falling gold

Kane’s narrative, her mythology and landscape, are not mine, yet they invite me in and envelop my senses, allowing synthesis, acceptance, to occur.

But sometimes I crave the unadorned. The Lone Pint Brewery’s Yellowrose IPA, a single malt, single hop concoction, startled me. Surprisingly mellow in the mouth, it imparts grapefruit and perhaps pineapple with a hint of something I can’t readily identify. Strong yet delicate, infinitely interesting, Yellowrose is most definitely a celebration of simplicity and craft – a few ingredients combined to create magic. Which may also describe Christina Davis’s book An Ethic. Spare in nature, her work transcends the limits of language, the borders of the page. Her poems blossom anew with each reading, and the farther away I move from them, the more I long to return:

”All Those That Wander,” in its entirety:

After the ark survived the Flood,
it was taken apart
to be made into cages.

This is the nature of religion.

Of course my curiosity leads me down other paths, too. Infamous Brewing Company’s Sweep the Leg peanut butter stout pours with a small head, and tastes of rich malts and coffee, with a little cocoa and, of course, subtle peanut tones. An opaque, dark brown or black, with minimal carbonation, exuding stillness, it isn’t quite what I anticipated, with the peanut butter flavor a tad muted. But the mouthfeel is spot on, and the aftertaste lingers, leaving me requesting more of this unlikely combination, and reminding me of Charles Simic’s  Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell, in which he imparts, through prose poems, the experience of viewing Cornell’s enigmatic art. Nothing is quite as you expect it should or could be, yet you go on, somehow understanding. He writes in “Secret Toy”:

In a secret room in a secret house his secret toy sits
listening to its own stillness.

Simic offers openings into Cornell’s art, explains the unexplainable without explanation. I stare into the pint of Sweep the Leg, and find my own stillness. I read Simic and find another. This is what I seek in poetry, what I want in good beer. I have found it.


73 thoughts on “Which Poet, Which Beer (2)

  1. I enjoyed all the excerpts, but this–
    “After the ark survived the Flood,
    it was taken apart
    to be made into cages.” That’s brilliant! She didn’t even need the next line, in my humble opinion.
    I’d never have thought to pair a poem with a beer, craft or otherwise (hey, wordcraft and beercraft!) but then my tastes are less sophisticated than international beers. If there’s a craft brewery poetry tour, Bob, you’re the obvious choice for tour guide/docent.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m a beer drinker from way back, and what’s being produced today by craft brewers is amazing. It’s a good thing that I have a little self-control. Hmm. Have you and James Bond ever been seen in the same place, at the same time? Just wondering, John.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This has seriously inspired me, Robert. There are no fewer than 6 craft breweries within 3 miles of me in Madison WI — and lord knows how many poets — and yet there is no tradition anywhere of beer-poetry pairing nights… Yet!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. OMG! I love it when I am introduced to a new poet by a poet I love. Just ordered “An Ethic.” Thank you.

    Sent from my iPhone; I’ll say it now: Damn auto-fill!!


    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love how passionate you describe these “beers”. I am a big fan of exploring the wide array of beverages available these days but I stay true to the triples, in particular “Gouden Carolus Triple” (Translates to Golden Carolus Triple.) A decently known Belgian triple. I recommend you try it when you get the chance.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Well done! Incorporating libation and literature! In general, I do not enjoy beer much…but your notes regarding Infamous Brewing Company’s Sweep the Leg peanut butter stout have me intrigued…it could well be my match! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Love the opening poem, and the post. If I drank beer these days it would be Moose Drool Brown Ale, from Montana’s Big Sky Brewery. “What are you drinking, George?” “Moose drool.” Has a certain . . . ah . . . cache about it. 🙂 (Sorry Robert, just couldn’t resist adding this to the conversation.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like synesthesia. Words have tastes to me, and it makes sense that different sensuous stimuli should point to the same place . . . I’m not expressing it right.

    Music can suggest flavors to me too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love it! I smiled at this half-sentence — “Nowadays, I lean heavily towards the bitter…” — quietly thinking, “Me, too.” I have not yet matured into a taste for hops, but “All Those That Wander” made me want more of Davis, if not the Yellowstone IPA. Thanks for once again entertaining and edifying, Bob!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 20 years ago I would have turned up my nose had someone offered me arugula. Now, I crave it! I must admit to having the biggest poetry crush when it comes to Christina Davis. Her writing entices me, as does the Yellowstone IPA (but in a different way).


  9. Pingback: Awards! | Hummingbird Redemption

  10. Out here in NorCal, the land of milk and honey, artisanal cheese, wine and lots of craft beer, I happened upon a very limited release by Anchor Steam, Argonaut double IPA. As these doubles go, some overbearing or unbalanced, this is beautifully made, a pleasure to drink and enjoy. If you come across some, buy all they have!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Beer is my idol of worship. Started as a baby sitting on the bar in my seat sucking down a cold one in my bottle with my Dad. Mom beat hell out of him; but we were both too drunk to feel blows.

    Also, I wanna thank you for stopping by my blog and “liking” my newest post “Don’t Pass it on.” I really appreciate it. Hope to hear from you again. Until then, I’ll pop a cold one in your honor.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I wine and whine- wouldn’t it figure ag zig?- moon in june sublime :X – title that one cusses and cheers! 🙂 paradox brewing company divide colorado- you should sour it some if you’ve a branch olvie … olive or otherwise to extend. it doesn’t quite lend itself to “croutons on a cowpie.” but just as theodore roosevelt was. a city slicker as am I, but not a historic crusader and child’s keepsake, at least you’ll have beer. and words. sometimes noise is jice drowning out the voices. 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.