Fantastical Fictive Beers


“Cecily Parsley lived in a pen / And brewed good ale for gentlemen” (Beatrix Potter)


Hemingway Shilling for Ballantine Ale

Ernest Hemingway - Advertisement From P. Ballantine & Sons, Newark (1951)


A Good Glass of Beer — Edouard Manet


“Ye Legend of Sir Stupid and the Purple Knight” — Thomas Pynchon (Juvenilia)

“Ye Legend of Sir Stupid and the Purple Knight” was published in Thomas Pynchon’s high school newspaper; he was 16 at the time. (Via).

“Ye  Legend of Sir Stupid and the Purple Knight”


“Ridiculous!” roared King Arthur, slamming his beer mug on the Round Table. “Purple, you say?”

“All purple, my liege,” said Sir Launcelot, nervously wiping the foam from his face, “head to toes. Completely.”

“I say! Most irregular. Well, what does he want?”

“He wants audience with you, my liege. It seems he’s done ole Cholmondesley in.”


“With an axe, your grace. A purple axe. He says he’ll do the same to us all if we don’t send a challenger to fight him in fair battle.”“Well?”

“Well, he— he’s— twenty feet tall.”

“Twenty! Oh, I say! Ghastly business! Who’ve we got crazy enough to fight him? How about you, Launcelot?”

“Oh, no, my liege. Cut my finger last night peeling potatoes. The pain is beastly.”

“Rotten luck, old chap. Well,” he addressed the knights of the round table, “there’s a big purple idiot outside who’s looking for a fight. Who’s game?”

Then up spake Sir Bushwack, a sturdy youth with a broad beam and a low center of gravity: “Where is the bloke? I’m not afraid, even if he is twenty feet taII!” Sir Bushwack had been drinking.

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Launcelot, telling him to bid the knight enter. And Launcelot did this, and the horns sounded, and in staggered a tremendous giant, perhaps four feet in height, dragging behind him a ten-foot purple axe. He had a vast quantity of purple hair which fell down over his eyes, and was clad in purple armor, and his feet in purple sneakers. He led a noble steed, also purple, which resembled a cross between a Shetland pony and an armadillo.

King Arthur whispered to Launcelot, “I thought you said he was twenty feet tall.”“That’s what he told me, your majesty.”

“That’s what he what? Why you …”

The rest of King Arthur’s tirade was drowned out by the purple giant, who was bellowing in a mighty voice:

“Okay, I can beat any man in the house! I ain’t scared of nobody ‘cause you’re all … “ he hiccoughed “ … chicken to fight me! Come on, who’s first?”

Up spake Sir Bushwack, shouting, “I challenge thee, Sir Knight!” The purple knight laughed. “Look what’sh challenging me! You slob, I can,—hic—can lick you with, — hic— one hand tied behind my back! Come ahead!” Then did the purple knight pick up the purple axe and begin to whirl it about his head, faster and faster. Sir Bushwack waddled up dubiously with sword in hand, feebly attempted to parry, then quickly retreated. The purple knight stood and laughed.

“Chicken, all of you! Scared to fight me! Har! Har!”

Suddenly, the horns sounded and into the hall rushed a very brave and manly knight, Sir Stupid.

“I say!” he shouted to all and sundry, “Old Fotheringay’s run amok! He and his horse fell into that newly-pressed grape juice up at the distillery, and …”.

Then he caught sight of the purple knight and stopped short. King Arthur started to laugh hysterically, spilling beer hither and yon.

“I say, old Fotheringay’s gone and fallen into the wine vat! Old Fotheringayl Haw, Haw, Haw! Old Fotheringay’s got high on grape juice! Haw! In the still of the knight!”

Old Fotheringay stood digesting this in silence. Then slowly he began to chuckle and whirl that axe.

“Oh, oh,” Sir Stupid whispered to Arthur, “here he goes!” With a savage yell, Old Fotheringay charged the Round Table, swinging his axe. In an instant, the hall became the scene of a free-for-all. The purple knight was in the thick of the whole mess, smashing furniture, beer kegs, and anything else that happened to be in his way. The hall resounded with the clanging of swords, the splintering of wood, and the demonaical chuckling of the purple knight. In the midst of the noise and confusion, Sir Stupid buttonholed Bushwack.

“Noble knight,” he said, “art thou truly dedicated to thy leige?”


“And wouldst thou suffer discomfort to rid thy liege of this menace?”

“Surely,” Sir Bushwack said absently, as he ducked a flying beer mug.

“That’s all I wanted to know! Fotheringay! You feeble-minded halfwit cretin! Over here!”

Infuriated, the purple knight whirled toward Sir Stupid and raised his axe. Sir Stupid lifted the protesting Bushwack and hurled him bodily at Fotheringay. There was a loud, splintering smash as the purple knight went down, and then all was silent, except for the gurgling of beer from a shattered keg. Sir Stupid stood over the horizontal Fotheringay.

“Now, thou proud knight,” roared Sir Stupid triumphantly, “now what hast thou to say?”

Slowly, the purple knight looked up and sneered. “CHICKEN,” he said.

William Gaddis Cold Kickin’ It on the Beach with a Can of PBR


Hipster. (Via The Dalkey Archive’s FB page, via Tiffany Gibert’s Twitter).


Read “A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud,” a Short Story by Carson McCullers

“A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud” by Carson McCullers

It was raining that morning, and still very dark. When the boy reached the streetcar café he had almost finished his route and he went in for a cup of coffee. The place was an all-night café owned by a bitter and stingy man called Leo. After the raw, empty street, the café seemed friendly and bright: along the counter there were a couple of soldiers, three spinners from the cotton mill, and in a corner a man who sat hunched over with his nose and half his face down in a beer mug. The boy wore a helmet such as aviators wear. When he went into the café he unbuckled the chin strap and raised the right flap up over his pink little ear; often as he drank his coffee someone would speak to him in a friendly way. But this morning Leo did not look into his face and none of the men were talking. He paid and was leaving the café when a voice called out to him:

“Son! Hey Son!”

He turned back and the man in the corner was crooking his finger and nodding to him. He had brought his face out of the beer mug and he seemed suddenly very happy. The man was long and pale, with a big nose and faded orange hair.

“Hey Son!”

The boy went toward him. He was an undersized boy of about twelve, with one shoulder drawn higher than the other because of the weight of the paper sack. His face was shallow, freckled, and his eyes were round child eyes.

“Yeah Mister?”

The man laid one hand on the paper boy’s shoulders, then grasped the boy’s chin and turned his face slowly from one side to the other. The boy shrank back uneasily.

“Say! What’s the big idea?”

The boy’s voice was shrill; inside the café it was suddenly very quiet.

The man said slowly. “I love you.”

All along the counter the men laughed. The boy, who had scowled and sidled away, did not know what to do. He looked over the counter at Leo, and Leo watched him with a weary, brittle jeer. The boy tried to laugh also. But the man was serious and sad.

“I did not mean to tease you, Son,” he said. “Sit down and have a beer with me. There is something I have to explain.”

Cautiously, out of the corner of his eye, the paper boy questioned the men along the counter to see what he should do. But they had gone back to their beer or their breakfast and did not notice him. Leo put a cup of coffee on the counter and a little jug of cream.

“He is a minor,” Leo said. Continue reading “Read “A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud,” a Short Story by Carson McCullers”

Mostly Redneck (Book Acquired, 2.25.2012)


Mostly Redneck is a collection of stories by Rusty Barnes. It’s newish from indie press Sunnyoutside. Back of book:

In Mostly Redneck, Rusty Barnes expounds on his upbringing in disadvantaged rural northern Appalachia to deliver a mastery of country idiom and setting. In one minimalist story after another, he gives perspective and breadth to the widely misunderstood world of a people who still hunt for food, occasionally join their neighbors for church, and sometimes enjoy it when their city kin step in cow shit.

There’s a story about Saddam Hussein! It’s kind of surreal.

I’m pretty sure Sunnyoutside actually printed this book in-house; I know they own a printing press (two, if the website ain’t lying). Did they make this coaster?—


I tested the coaster, in any case. It works. Here it is, protecting my midcentury coffee table from condensation that might seep from the interaction between a homebrewed black ale and yon glass:


“Going for a Beer” — Robert Coover

The New Yorker publishes “Going for a Beer,” a very short story by Robert Coover. From the story–

He finds himself sitting in the neighborhood bar drinking a beer at about the same time that he began to think about going there for one. In fact, he has finished it. Perhaps he’ll have a second one, he thinks, as he downs it and asks for a third. There is a young woman sitting not far from him who is not exactly good-looking but good-looking enough, and probably good in bed, as indeed she is. Did he finish his beer? Can’t remember. What really matters is: Did he enjoy his orgasm? Or even have one?


“I Wanna Know Why We Didn’t Get the Two Kegs of Beer You Promised Us” — Hunter S. Thompson vs. The Hell’s Angels

Beer and Book Pairing: Shandies + García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold

While the special pleasures of drinking a beer have undergone something of a renaissance in the past ten years in America, what with all the awesome microbreweries popping up left and right, there remains among many a staunch and unjustified prejudice against the world’s oldest liquor. In short, wine is still the go-to beverage for fine dining, and for many, the mark of sophistication and refinement. And while we certainly don’t begrudge a glass of pinot or chardonnay, why all the prejudice? Beer goes great with food–especially fine food–and also with books. In order to make headway against overcoming beer’s unjust vulgar reputation with some folks, we proudly present a new ongoing series of beer-book pairings, hopefully lending a little weight to our favorite beverage’s literary caché. It’s Spring Break Week at Biblioklept International Headquarters, and what better way to celebrate the season than with our crisp homemade shandies paired with Gabriel García Márquez’ s Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

Shandies are made simply by mixing beer with ginger ale, ginger beer, or, preferably, lemonade. Our recipe for shandies is pretty basic. We recommend starting with a lager–Tecate, Red Stripe, or even Corona will do fine (we’re featuring Red Stripe at the BIH this week). You can certainly use an ale, but ales tend to have richer, sharper, and more complex flavors, and they tend to be not as smooth as lagers. (We suppose you could make shandies with a porter or stout or a lambic ale, but this seems kinda sorta reprehensible). Next, you’ll need either an imperial pint glass (20 oz.) or an American pint glass (16 oz.). Pour your lager into the glass, then add your lemonade in desired ratio (we prefer to fill an imperial pint glass, creating roughly a 3 to 2 ratio of beer to lemonade. Oh yeah, we’re lazy and use store bought lemonade (Minute Maid sugar free), but we’ve made our own in the past. Making your own lemonade is easy, and if you don’t know how to do it you probably are too dimwitted to be reading these words right now). Final step: stir, drink, enjoy.


We’ve chosen shandies for their crisp lightness. They’re the perfect early afternoon drink, cool and refreshing, preferably enjoyed on porches or hammocks (we don’t really recommend them for indoors or at night). We’ve paired them with a fresh little jewel of a book, Gabriel García Márquez’ s Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Chronicle is a murder/love story with about a million little twists, the biggest twist being that there is no twist: we know from the first sentences exactly what will happen. Still, García Márquez’ s kaleidescopic reconstruction of the day of the murder is thoroughly engrossing, bewildering, and un-put-downable. The book’s rhetoric is hardly as morbid as its subject matter–it’s great hammock/beach reading, and its crisp lightness belies its complex flavors. Like a shandy, it slowly, subtly intoxicates you. It’s also pretty short, about 130 pages, and despite its infinite digressions, its the sort of book that you read in just one or two sittings.

Of course, maybe you’ve read Chronicle but you’re still dying to drink some shandies on your porch with a good book, and you want Biblioklept to give you a literary excuse. Well, here’s another option: take a shot at another book of infinite digressions, Laurence Sterne’s 1759 (anti-)novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. The fun of pairing a shandy with Shandy will be doubled in Sterne’s love of wordplay in the text. And sure, there’s no way you’ll finish it, but it’s not that sort of book anyway–it doesn’t finish its self! Pick it up at random, flip around, marvel at its weirdness, at the very idea that the first post-modern novel could somehow come before the modern novel. Then get up, make another shandy, and pick up again elsewhere. Fun stuff.

Shandy charts the course of his narrative thus far