The brewing industry within Australia is full of passionate people following dreams and taking crazy risks to produce beers and experiences they hope drinkers will enjoy. For those living and working in the industry, there's often a sense of camaradery formed out of shared experiences, whether it's challenges they've faced trying to craft the perfect pale ale, or late nights putting the world to rights while sampling their way through a brewpub's taps.
It's this spectrum of experiences that inspired Matt King – the beer writer behind SA-focused beer account The Craft Beer King and this site's SA correspondent for years – to write and self-publish a new novel. The Chronicles of Nelson Smart: Beer Connoisseur/Geek is Matt’s first attempt at writing fiction after years cutting his teeth within the brewing world, one intended as a book for beer geeks, by a beer geek.
The idea first came to Matt as a way to force himself out of his comfort zone.
“I was writing a lot of feature articles and news based articles so I wanted to do something different,” he says. “That was what pushed me towards wanting to write some fiction.”
A primary school teacher by day, Matt only started writing about beer in 2013 after he moved to Adelaide from Mackay in Queensland. Already finding himself falling down the craft beer rabbit hole, he began writing for The Crafty Pint to learn more about the industry while also sharpening his English skills in order to be able to teach it better.
“I already had some interest in the industry, so I got in touch with James [Smith, founder of The Crafty Pint] and wrote my first story about Pirate Life’s launch, and from there I just got deeper and deeper.”
As he started writing the novel, Matt found himself quickly drawing upon his own experience with beer for inspiration. A self-professed beer geek, he says this book is a love letter to the similarly-afflicted.
“I think largely the target audience is the beer geeks out there,” Matt says.
“We all have these shared experiences so I think people will really appreciate and enjoy reading a lighthearted take on things that we’ve all run into."
With so many of Nelson’s adventures in the story coming from Matt’s real life experiences, he says people may need to prepare to read about some very familiar characters when they pick up the book.
“Almost everything in the book comes from things I have experienced in the beer industry... I may have exaggerated some things a little bit in some cases.
“I’ve met a lot of colourful characters within my time in the industry... I’ve actually put in a preamble that basically says, if a character sounds like you, it’s probably based on you,” he adds, laughing.
As the release date approached, Matt admitted to mixed emotions about finally putting the beer out in public.
“It’s really exciting but at the same time pretty nerve-wracking,” he says. “You never know exactly what the response is going to be like... This is something I’ve spent years writing. It’s a real wait and see scenario.”
Despite this, Matt already has his eyes on what could be next for Nelson and his friends in terms of a potential sequel.
“It’s going to be strange to have it finally finished, it’s already making me think about what the follow up may be.
“Maybe I’ll focus in Xxxxavier or Stella’s adventures? Who knows really.”
You can order a copy of Matt's book here.
Nelson Smart: The Synopsis
Meet Nelson Smart. Beer is his life. He thinks about beer, talks about beer, dreams about beer and obviously drinks beer, a lot actually. Nelson doesn’t drink any standard run of the mill type of beer, he will only drink craft beer and nothing else.
Join Nelson and his two friends, Xxxxavier Geld and Stella Erfleur, on their fun adventures navigating the craft beer world in their hometown of Ladideea. Over ten short stories, Nelson and his friends attend beer events, chase down rare tipples and educate others about good beer. However, it is not all fun and games, as the trio manage to find their fair share of mischief along the way. So grab a beer, find a comfy seat and meet Nelson Smart, beer connoisseur/geek.