Comic Shots #41 with Josh Christie: Bière Brut and ‘Scenes from an Impending Marriage’

Each week the iFanStaff passes along a tasty drink recipe and an even tastier comic book recommendation. The cocktail (or beer, or wine, or booze) and the comic can both be enjoyed independently, but they have a common theme and when served together they can make for the perfect reading experience.

It’s Friday. It’s nearly quitting time. You need a book to read this weekend, and you need a drink to sip while you’re reading.

Don’t worry. Comic Shots is here to help.

Scenes from an Impending Marriage 

By Andrian Tomine
Published by Drawn and Quarterly

If you bring up the reviews of Adrian Tomine’s Scenes from an Impending Marriage, you’ll see the words “short and sweet” over and over. It’s an apt description for this slim 54-page volume, which Tomine originally designed as a favor for his wedding guests. The book collects a number of short vignettes that cover Adrian and Sarah’s wedding planning, from the proposal to the event itself. Everything that anyone who has planned a modern wedding goes through — guest lists, hiring a DJ, booking the venue, registering, and more — gets a 9-panel grid. Even the decision to create and give out Scenes from an Impending Marriage as a favor gets Inceptioned into the book.

As someone who finished this whole wedding planning thing less than a week ago, I had no problem empathizing with the flustered couple. The wedding industry these days is all kinds of nutty, and Tomine didn’t have to dig too deep to hit the absurdity behind decisions big and small. Sarah and Adrian are perfect foils for each other, and it’s a joy to see the patient fiancee guiding the curmudgeonly groom to the altar. While he is a curmudgeon (as readers of Tomine know) I found myself siding with him more often than Sarah. One line in particular about the guest list — “We’ve gotta break this endless cycle of obligation and reciprocity!” – made me guffaw.

Anyone who has read Tomine’s autobiographical comics knows what a keen observer the cartoonist is of human emotion. Thankfully, he manages to turn his eye to his own relationship without losing any sharpness. If anything, he’s perhaps too tough on himself; if he isn’t the villain in the book, he’s at least often the antagonist. Despite his cynicism, the wedding comes together, and the dénouement of the couple sharing greasy burgers after the reception (they didn’t get any food themselves, of course) is perfect and lovely.

Would this book be as charming to someone that hasn’t gone through a wedding? I can’t say. There’s no denying  Tomine’s serious cartooning chops, and it’s a story that has undeniable humor and heart. That said, I did read the book through nuptial-tinted goggles. Proceed with caution, is all I’m saying.

Bière Brut

It’s totally within character that, while my wife was considering wine and champagne for our wedding, I was thinking about beer. Surely, if there are fancy wines and liquors for special events, there are special beers too. Not the Champagne of Beers, mind you, but a real champagne among beers.

There is a style that fits the bill closer than I would have guessed — Bière Brut, also known as “Bière de Champagne.” It’s a relatively new style that exists in a nebulous space between traditional Champagne and Belgian ale.

Bière Brut starts its life in the same manner as a typical Belgian ale, brewed and primary fermented in a large batch and then fermented again in the bottle. From there, the process is a bit different. Brut is bottle conditioned, matured, remuaged and disgorged in the traditional way that Champagne is, known as “méthode Champenoise.” The process, which can take years, adds the complexity and high carbonation of champagne to the beer. It’s a delicate process, and some Bières de Champagne are actually shipped to the Champagne region of France to receive this special treatment.

The final product is a unique, delightful beer. The fruity, estery, and spicy flavors of a Belgian ale come together with the texture and body of champagne to create a delicious (and very classy-feeling) beverage. Due to the time and cost of the brewing process, there’s only a handful of ales brewed in the Bière Brut style available. Beer Advocate, a site that catalogs nearly every beer in existence, has less than two dozen in their database. Thankfully, a handful of these are widely available. Samuel Adams Infinium and Brouwerij Bosteels Deus are both excellent examples of the style, and shouldn’t be hard to track down at better beer and wine shops.


Josh Christie was shocked by the number of wedding well-wishes from the iFanstaff and iFanbase. Thanks, everyone!

Follow him on Twitter for plenty of talk about beer, books, bookselling, and even comics.

Please obey the law and only drink if you are of age. Drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Buy the comics that make you happy and spread the love.


  1. So wait…this beer is technically called “The Champagne Of Beers”? That’s too hysterical. If only that other beer didn’t steal that tagline and proudly (with a twist of unintentional ironically) display it on their can.

    This article also reminded me that I have to become more of a patron of Beer Advocate and consult Untappd more, since I’m nowhere near the level of been geek that I want to be.

    PS: You wedding literally sounded like one of the most fun things ever!