Behind the new book and the brew
BY KRISTINA ROSEN
Any book with its own exclusive beer must be a book worth reading.
Sitting in Country Boy while they brewed the beer to pair with Wesley Browne’s debut novel, Hillbilly Hustle, the author explains, “Believe it or not, we put a lot of thought and energy into coming up with a beer that went well with the book.”
Browne and Country Boy manager Nate Coppage explains, “With collaborations, we don’t like to do the first obvious thing you think of, but really dig in and try to embody the spirit of Country Boy by way of our collaborative partner.”
“In this case it’s a book about pizza and weed. A pizza-ingredient based-beer wouldn’t be very palatable and a weed-forward beer would be polarizing to our audience. So we were working more with the Appalachian setting of the novel.”
Coppage explains, “That’s where Wes came up with the Blackberry Lemon combination. The Hillbilly Hustle Lager is a fruity and refreshing beer with a burst of dark sweet blackberries balanced with a lemon note.”
Among his many roles, Browne is a full-time lawyer, co-owner of Apollo Pizza, and now an author.
“Hillbilly Hustle is 264 pages of fast-paced thrills and humor. It’s an accurate depiction of Kentucky and Appalachian subcultures that people who don’t live here get all wrong,” says Browne. “You might get offended, but you won’t get bored.”
Apollo Pizza is not in the book, but the pizza shop in the book is inspired by the early days of the iconic Apollo in Richmond, Kentucky.
“The book isn’t true, but it’s genuine,” explains Browne. The opening scene and first chapter of the book was inspired by a poker game in Jackson County that Browne almost attended.
“I was at a card game in Big Hill one night when someone recommended I go to a game in Jackson County. The guy who ran the game at Big Hill pulled me aside and told me not to go. He said even if I won, I’d be robbed on my way out.” Browne continues, “That ended up being the opening scene of the book.”
Hillbilly Hustle and Hillbilly Hustle Lager will premiere at Country Boy Brewing Lexington on Thursday, February 27 during Browne’s premier reading.
Hillbilly Hustle Lager will be available on draft at Country Boy, Apollo and Steam Engine locations, and all book reading events as long as supplies last.
“Right now, we are only planning the one batch of Hillbilly Hustle Lager, but if it’s popular enough, who knows?” Coppage adds, “You may see it again in the future.”
This article also appears on page 15 of the February 2020 print edition of Ace Weekly.
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