Books & Beers – Volume 1

Book and craft beer pairings.

Today I’m starting a new weekly installment that pairs some of my favorite books with some of my favorite craft beers.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m pretty obsessed with craft beer. I did use to work at a brewery after all and even though I don’t work in the industry anymore, I still love curling up with a good book and a tasty glass of beer.

Now I’ll be sharing my latest discoveries in my beer-tasting adventures alongside some of my favorite reads.

This week I’m bringing you F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise with a bottle of New Glarus’ Serendipity.

The Book: This Side of Paradise

My favorite work of F. Scott Fitzgerald is undoubtedly This Side of Paradise. It’s remarkable to me that not only was this his first novel but that he was only 23 when it was published. The story chronicles the life of main character Amory as he struggles in his ambitious pursuit of self-knowledge. 

The storyline of a rich, young man on a quest for self-discovery might be a bit overdone when it comes to jazz-age literature (and literature in general, I suppose), but I must admit, I find myself drawn to this interpretation of the age-old story the most. 

What sets apart This Side of Paradise from other stories of its kind is Fitzgerald’s captivating and descriptive narrative. Amory is a particularly flawed character to reckon with as well. But the reader might find it easy to identify with some of his more relatable shortcomings: vanity, egocentrism, a desire to achieve greatness – yet lacking the motivation required.

Amory is a deeply flawed protagonist – perhaps too flawed to be liked by most readers. Yet the realism that his imperfections provide the storyline is what makes this novel come to life for me.

From an introduction by Sharon G. Carson:

“Alternately self-confident and self-effacing, torn between ambition and idleness, immature Amory years to run with Princeton’s rich, fast crowd and become one of the “gods” of the campus. Hopelessly romantic, he learns about love and sex from a series of beautiful young “flappers” – women who leave him both exhilarated and devastated. Fitzgerald describes it all in intensely lyrical prose that fills the novel with a heartbreaking sense of longing, as Amory comes to understand that the sweet-scented springtime of his life is fragile and fleeting, disappearing into memory even as he reaches for it.”

The Beer: Serendipity

New Glarus, a Wisconsin brewery owned by Dan and Deborah Carey, prides itself in creating unique, handcrafted brews. 

Serendipity is a sour fruit ale with an interesting beginning. It was a severe Wisconsin drought that brought about the interesting concoction of apples, cranberries, and cherries. What resulted was a deliciously complex wild fermentation. Aged in oak, this tart beer has a subtle hint of sweetness and lends a refreshing finish.

It comes in at only 4% ABV, making it a good choice for drinking the bottle all by yourself, although sharing is always nice too. Pair it with the likes of pork, camembert, vanilla ice cream, and of course – a good book.

Let me know your thoughts on either (or both) of my recommendations. Have you read This Side of Paradise, and if so, what are your thoughts? Likewise, for those of you that enjoy imbibing, have you tried Serendipity or any other New Glarus beers?

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