Thursday, July 16, 2009

Things to Read, Drinks to Drink: J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace, and Hacker-Pschorr's Sternweisse


J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace and Hacker-Pschorr's Sternweisse



Of 2003 Nobel Prize-winning author J.M. Coetzee's novels, one of the most devastating and moving is undoubtedly 1999's Disgrace, a book for which Coetzee was awarded that year's Booker Prize (the second of his career). The novel tells the story of an aging and disaffected professor in Capetown who effectively ruins his career by having an affair with a student. At once a portrait of shifting power dynamics and racial hierarchies in post-apartheid South Africa, the novel also grapples with notions of redemption. David Lurie, the novel's protagonist, is venomously pig-headed and arrogant, but when his near-redemption is ripped from him, it's oddly heartbreaking. Worse is his unwillingness to stand back up and brush himself off. The final pages of the novel are some of the most difficult I've ever read... As far as last lines of a novel go, these are some of the saddest and best.


While we could have gone with a more exotic pairing for this novel, we're suggesting that you pick up a couple of 500ml bottles of Hacker-Pschorr's Sternweisse and find a deep porch where you can sip and read. The Munich-based brewery has been operating since 1417 and (here's where the South Africa connection comes in) was founded as the Hacker Brewery. In the late 18th century, Joseph Pschorr bought the Hacker Brewery from his father-in-law and then went on to found a brewery in his own name. The two companies produced beers separately until the 1970s, when they merged to form the Hacker-Pschorr company. That's a story of a happy reunification if I've ever heard one. Their Sternweisse is an incredibly smooth, unfiltered amber wheat beer. The nose is both toasty and sweet, and the creamy head lasts for a long while after the pour. As a bonus, the swing top bottles are reusable for home brewers (which, admittedly, is why I initially bought a case of the Sternweisse. Instead of buying a case of expensive, empty swing top bottles, why not buy a case of beer in swing top bottles and then reuse them?).

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