Literary Libations; Beers Named After Books & Authors


Apparently, I’m not the first one to think that beer and books are a match made in heaven.

Yesterday, I settled on making a beer book display at the store after brainstorming about good summer reads for guys.  Along with the books – brewing how-to books, travel guides and memoirs – I needed some other ancillary stuff to make the display really pop.  Maine pint glasses, some colorful cards, maybe a bottle or two.  Still, something was missing.

Musing over the missing pieces (and a pint) last night, Rogue’s Shakespeare Stout popped into mind.  Surely, that wasn’t the only brewery that took inspiration from the literary world.  I’m a smart guy, but I certainly am not the first lover of brews and books.

Wouldn’t you know it, there are tons of beers that draw inspiration from the world’s great literature.  Some of the names are pretty obvious, some a bit more subtle.  Either way, I now have to resolve to try them all.  What kind of booklover would I be otherwise?

So here it is; the most comprehensive list of book-related beer names ever compiled.  For most of the brews, I’ve simply named the book or author that inspired the name.  If they take a bit more explaining, I try to offer a bit of background.

De La Senne Taras Boulba – Gogol’s Taras Bulba.

Avery MephistophelesMephostophiles, by Faust.

Rogue Shakespeare Stout – The bard himself, William Shakespeare.

Mighty Oak Brewery’s Oscar Wilde Mild – Pretty obvious, right? Named for famously witty Irishman Oscar Wilde.

Samuel Adams Old FezziwigA Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  The Fezziwigs are the owners of the warehouse business Scrooge worked at as a lad.

Baltimore-Washington Beer Works’ The RavenThe Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe.  The Raven is brewed in Poe’s native Baltimore, and a nod to the author’s most famous work.

Sweetwater The Grapes of CaskThe Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

Bad Habits’ The Hops of WrathThe Grapes of Wrath again, natch.

Mattingly 1984 Golden Ale1984, by George Orwell.

Lost Abbey Inferno – Dante’s Inferno.

Grand Rapids A Clockwork Orange and Watch City Clockwork Orange – Both (a cream ale and an orange-flavored wit) are named after Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange.

Philadelphia Brewing Company Walt Wit – Walt Whitman, transcendentalist and (unfortunately) prohibitionist.

Shipyard Longfellow Winter Ale – Henry W. Longfellow.  Fun fact – HWL was born at the current site of the Shipyard Brewery!

Rock Bottom Catcher in the RyeCatcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger.

Bell’s OberonA Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare.  Oberon (or Auberon) is the King of faeries in Shakespeare’s play.

New Holland’s The Poet – While it isn’t entirely clear from the description, the label for The Poet suggests it is another brew named for Poe’s The Raven.

New Holland’s Mad HatterAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.

O’Hanlon’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale – English author and naturalist Thomas Hardy.

East End Ugly American – Eugene Burdick and William Lederer’s The Ugly American.

Cisco Whale’s Tale Pale AleMoby-Dick, by Herman Melville.  Though it isn’t obvious (other than the spelling of the word “tale” in the name), the brewery higher-ups have confirmed that the beer is named for Melville’s eponymous whale.

Russian River Brewing Company Pliny the Elder – Pliny the Elder was a Roman naturalist, scholar, historian, traveler, officer, and (most importantly for this list) author.  For good measure we can also include the brewery’s Pliny the Younger, named after Pliny’s nephew, who was also an author.

Bridgeport Brewing Ebenezer AleA Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  Named after that Scrooge I mentioned above.

New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin AleThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.

Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale – Heavy-drinking Hemingway finally gets on the list with this beer named after his two-parted, Big Two-Hearted River.


There are also a few breweries with whole stables of beer that seem to be inspired by great literature.  Church-Key Brewing Co. in Ontario taps the Grains of Wrath IPA (Grapes of Wrath), Brave New Wheat (Huxley’s Brave New World) and Lactese Falcon (The Maltese Falcon), among others.  Twain’s of Decatur, GA draws all their inspiration from one author, the father of American literature.  Brews include Tidy Soul Smoked Dunkelweiss, Wit and Humor Bavarian Wheat Ale, Mad Happy Pale Ale, Stubborn River Bitter, and Three Lies Cocoa Stout. Flying Dog takes inspiration from Hunter S. Thompson – not only are their beers named things like Snake Bite IPA and Gonzo Porter, but their label and swag artwork is done by Thompson’s pal Ralph Steadman.  Finally, Baron Brewing recently announced the Grimm Brothers Series – six special beers (Seven Swabians Eisbock, Rumpelstiltskin Rauch Doppelbock, Bremen Town Musicians Big Doppelbock, Rapunzel WeizenStarkBier, Juniper Tree Klosterbock and Frog King Winter Bock) named for the Grimm Brothers stories.

A big thanks to the folks on the Beer Advocate forums, who helped me come up with this list of brews.  Thank you again to the folks who have let me know about ones I missed.  Of course, I’m sure there are TONS that we’ve missed.  Please chime in with some comments to let me know more brews named after books and authors.


31 responses to “Literary Libations; Beers Named After Books & Authors

  1. There is also the Gonzo Porter from Flying Dog Brewery. Steadman does their labels and Gonzo is reference to Hunter S. Thompson.

  2. And, of course, Shipyard Longfellow Winter Ale!

    This is a great blog post, Josh. Would you like a Shipyard Summer Ale pint glass (lobster theme…) for your display? Let me know and I’ll get it to you next week.


  3. This is great! I want a beer name after my books!

  4. Brett; I can’t believe that Flying Dog skipped my mind – especially the Gonzo, since the barrel-aged version is one of my all time favorite beers. Thanks for the reminder.

    Tami; I THOUGHT that there was a Shipyard beer I was missing, but all I kept thinking of was the Chamberlain (although he was an author as well). Thanks for the pint glass offer, but while it would look great we’re going to try to use the display to sell the ones we already have in stock!

    HtPwaI; Thanks! Glad you liked it.

    Denise; Take up homebrewing – you can have a beer named after every past, present and future book!

  5. Thanks for the tip!

  6. Thomas Hardy is my favorite author, and the ale that bears his name was my introduction to barleywine style ales. I hated it at the time, but I love the style now– and my boyfriend and I are aging some together. :-)

  7. Lovely, lovely list. As a craft beer and book lover, this made my day!

  8. What a great list! Nice work. I just discovered your blog and think it is brilliant. I’m looking forward to reading more. :)

  9. brewing and beer have nothing to do with “good summer reads for guys.” as a homebrewing shop owner (and sole employee), an anarchist, and a beer lover, i wish people could get past the bullshit sexist attitude that beer and brewing are for men. many women homebrew and even more simply enjoy good beer. in fact, in pre-industrial western Europe (where modern beer developed) beer brewing was almost universally carried out by women. men co-opted brewing from women along with the rise of capitalism and industry. another words, men usurped brewing only when its profit potential was realized. assholes. they are also responsible for modern american piss water and global beer homogenization. not something to be proud of imo. other than this irksome detail which i confront almost daily i did enjoy this blog. oh yeah, and for the record, i’m a man.

  10. @jstn: You make an excellent point, and certainly I don’t think of beer as a sole domain of guys. Although I was trying to think of a display of “guy” books, I decided on a beer display because it came to my mind as something I enjoy (and I’m a guy) but as a display that would be interesting regardless of gender. Sorry if that wasn’t clear; I probably could have phrased it much better.

    Just to go on the record (if there was any question of my attitude), I think that beer and brewing rely on a good palate and open mind more than being male or female.

  11. Roy in Virginia

    I know you spotted Bell’s Oberon, but what about their Two-Hearted Ale? “Big, Two-Hearted River” by Ernest Hemingway

    “Ichabod Pumpkin Ale” from New Holland Brewery – great image of headless figure holding pumpkin

    It may be a stretch but what about “Pliney the Elder” from Russian River?

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  13. Add to the list Bridgeport Brewing’s winter offering, Ebenezer Ale, and an entire series of (pending) specialty beers from Baron Brewing based on the Brothers Grimm: Seven Swabians Eisbock, Rumpelstiltskin Rauch Doppelbock; Bremen Town Musicians Big Doppelbock; Rapunzel WeizenStarkBier; Juniper Tree Klosterbock; Frog King Winter Bock

  14. @roy and @mel; Thanks! I’ve updated the list to include those brews. Thanks for helping me keep it complete.

  15. De La Senne, Taras Boulba – It’s a very refreshing and pleasant little Belgian ale. The name is a reference to Gogol’s Taras Bulba. Just to add one on to that list.

  16. There is a shipyard brew here in Port Townsend, Washington – it is: “Boatyard Bitter”, brewed by Port Townsend Brewing Co.

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  18. Thanks to you folks for adding a few more to the list! I don’t think this list will be challenged as the most complete anytime soon.

  19. I’m new to your blog and loving it. Books and beer. Sigh. You’d love a place here in NYC called The Dead Poet, a Irish pub with dead poets as the theme. Here’s the link to my post:

    And here’s their website:

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  22. How did I just discover this post? Brilliant list. Worthy effort.

  23. This list is awesome! I’m glad you introduced yourself and your wonderful blog to me. I’ve already told all my book-ish friends about it. This appeals to the beer- and lit-snob in me.

    Meanwhile, check out my post on wines for writers and book lovers: A Case of Writer’s Block

  24. Jack Russell’s Jack London Porter. Yum!

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  27. Splendid list, dude! There’s (apparently) a “My Antonia” brew from Dogfish Head Brewery, too. Learning of that is what made me do the fateful google search that brought me here!

  28. Pingback: Josh Christie » Brews FROM Books

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