Suds and stories: New campaign gives beer drinkers a literary buzz

Jason Lee Norman has brewed up a new way for Alberta writers to get published, by pairing micro-fiction with micro-brew. 

Norman, an Edmonton publisher and author, is behind a new campaign that prints short stories on beer cans. 

His collaboration with Lacombe-based Blindman Brewing was born this spring. Custom cans for the brewery's limited edition summer ale featured short stories from 14 local writers.

"I've been known for publishing stories in interesting places, and I just had this idea to have stories on beer cans and beer bottles," Norman said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

Beer and literary samplings make the perfect pairing, Norman said. Customers were thirsty for a patio beer with added reading material. 

'People loved them' 

"I think people loved them," he said.  "Local writers definitely loved seeing it because it's just another way to get your writing out into the world. 

"I think it went really well. They were hard to find for a while." 

Edmonton's former writer-in-residence, Norman has been working to bring the printed word to unlikely locations for years. 

He was behind the coffee-sleeve story project and helped create a vending machine at the Edmonton International Airport that spews out short stories on demand.  

The first round of literary beer cans came out early in the summer. Norman and Blindman are about to brew up another batch for winter and need some fresh prose.

Anyone in Alberta can submit their stories for consideration. Short stories of 250 or less are best, Norman said. Even on a tall can, there is limited real estate.

"It definitely helps when the beer can is this tall. It gave us more room to work with. 

"It's really about painting a picture in a short amount of time.You want the story to stay with you after you've finished reading it." 

The selected stories will be printed on another limited edition brew. They're hoping Alberta's winter can serve as the muse for the story and the suds. 

"I'm really happy that we can do it again for the winter time," Norman said. "I would love to get more submissions than last time. You know, 24 is a nice round beer number."