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 Mephistopheles – Mephostophiles, 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 Fezziwig – A 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 Raven – The 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 Cask – The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
Bad Habits’ The Hops of Wrath – The Grapes of Wrath again, natch.
Mattingly 1984 Golden Ale – 1984, by George Orwell.
Lost Abbey Inferno – Dante’s Inferno.
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 Rye – Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger.
Bell’s Oberon – A 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 Hatter – Alice’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 Ale – Moby-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 Ale – A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Named after that Scrooge I mentioned above.
New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale – The 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.