#debooze: Read and Drink Local

Article by debut-author

Let’s set the scene:


You’re a debut author. It’s the magic hour—that time in the afternoon when the sun has set but light still dusts the sky. After years of struggle, your first book is forthcoming, about to enter the world. Tomorrow, there will be time for more stress—for interviews, for readings, for sleeping on couches as you tour the country and share your work with the world…but for now, take a deep breath, put on some music, and grab yourself a drink. It’s time to relax. It’s time to reflect. It’s time for #debooze.


In #debooze, we ask a debut author to reflect on his/her road to publication, and to also recommend some booze.



My first weekend after moving to Houston some fifteen years ago, a friend introduced me to a friend of his. That friend invited me to meet him and another friend of theirs at The Ginger Man. We managed to find a shaded table on the back patio. It was August—Houston’s most beer-friendly month. I was not even two months removed from my last day as a Children’s Attendant (unarmed guard) at Chicago’s 500-cell juvenile jail, and already, I was aspiring to write about that experience. I hate to admit it, but I probably mentioned these aspirations to my companions. I hope I didn’t say “book,” but, alas, I may have. The more bookless years that passed, the more embarrassed I became for mentioning it.


While I regret what I might have said that afternoon about my aspiring “book” on The Ginger Man’s back patio, what I don’t regret saying was, “Sure, sounds good,” when one of the guys recommended a local beer. Saint Arnold was the brewery. “The Amber Ale,” he said, “is probably their most popular one.” It’s been my most popular one ever since. I’ve yet to taste one just like it. I could pass its blind taste test just like I could tear the cover off some yet unread Faulkner or Cormac McCarthy or Grace Paley or Flannery O’Connor and then identify said author within a few paragraphs because those writers do something no one else does or even can. And Saint Arnold Amber does something no other beer does. It’s my “deserted island beer.” By no means am I its only fan. Saint Arnold Amber has medaled twice at the Great American Beer Fest in Denver. How fitting that the year my book is finally published, Saint Arnold is offering three variations of its iconic (and original) brew by altering the hops—one of beer’s four basic ingredients. In one year, my writing life changes, and so does my beer life.   


The Booze: Houston’s own Saint Arnold Amber Ale

The original uses several hops from the Pacific Northwest. The only way I can explain or quantify this ale as a non-beer biochemist is to say that it’s more hoppy than malty and comes off with a hint of apple cider tartness. Sounds simple, but I know it isn’t, like writing a book isn’t simple.   


Saint Arnold Amber Redux:  Dry Hopping

Three limited release variations of the Amber are out this summer and fall. A different hops is added later in the brewing process, that is “dry hopped,” to ramp up the bitterness and floral aroma. These hop strains are: Liberty, Cascade, and Mosaic. And yes, I am ramping up my literary ambitions once again, not out of hope or an optimistic sense of accomplishment over a first book, but rather the same foolish dream that dared me to write a book in the first place. I’m keeping these ambitions much more secret. For now, I simply aspire to figure out which of the four Saint Arnold Amber Ale incarnations I like best.


Mark Dostert will be in-store on Friday, September 5 to sign and discuss UP IN HERE. Reserve your copy today!

Up in Here: Jailing Kids on Chicago's Other Side By Mark Dostert Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609382704
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: University Of Iowa Press - September 1st, 2014

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