A huge can of Australian beer

That most significant international day of celebration has rolled around again — happy Pynchon in Public Day all. This drinking is happening on PIP Day Eve on my relatively unpublic roof, but I assure you all tomorrow I will be brandishing Mason & Dixon more publicly than any of my colleagues or fellow commuters are prepared for.

In celebration of Pynchon’s imminent 82nd birthday, I’ve selected a somewhat paradoxical can of ‘Australian’ beer. It comes to us from Inherent Vice and the memory of one “St. Flip of Lawndale, for whom Jesus Christ was not only personal saviour but surfing consultant as well.” St. Flip once met an Aussie who sold him a pretty beaut fair dinkum relic:

What was “walking on water” if it wasn’t Bible talk for surfing? In Australia once, a local surfer, holding the biggest can of beer Flip had ever seen, had even sold him a fragment of the True Board.

Inherent Vice, p. 99

I’d always assumed that this giant antipodean can was a 750 mL Foster’s ‘oilcan’, and judged Pynchon for a failure of authentic local flavour — those giant cans exist only in the US, and Aussies never drink Foster’s anyway. But! My father informs me that one did in fact encounter overgrown Foster’s cans around these parts back in the ’70s. Brief googling confirms. As usual, Pynchon’s little historical details are uncannily on the nose. I’m sorry for doubting you on your birthday, Tom.

Nowadays though, as I was saying, despite being ‘Australian for beer’ Foster’s is all but non-existent down here. What might have sounded in theory like one of the easiest drinks for me to check off this list instead demanded smuggling back from America in a suitcase. This can took up a precious 750 mL of my 2.25 L alcohol import allowance on a recent trip.

Flavour-wise, it of course was not worth the trouble. There’s some minimal white bread grain sweetness, a touch of spicy hop flavour, but no one will be surprised to hear Foster’s is a very dull bland thing. Why St. Flip’s swindling surfer friend would want so much of it I’m not sure. Really, the oversized can seems especially unsuited to a hot Aussie beach — the beer will be thoroughly warm before you’re halfway through. But I guess St. Flip has shown a lack of judgement in other respects also.

Happy Pynchon in Public day all, and happy birthday Mr Pynchon! Celebrate with something better than this.

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