Brilliant Deduction beer tour, part 1

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Apr 12, 2013

A while ago I had the idea of proposing a suggested “soundtrack” for Brilliant Deduction. I may yet come up with one, too, but it’s hard, at least when one has little detailed knowledge of music history. (Suggestions are welcome.) Meanwhile, however, I’ve had another idea inspired by a recent visit to Winking Lizard Tavern: a beer tour. I’m not quite an expert on beer, but I do feel (ironically perhaps) on steadier ground with this subject. Therefore, I offer up the following suggested beer pairings for the first four chapters of Brilliant Deduction.

Disclaimer: the author does not condone underage or unsafe drinking, please do not attempt this or any “beer tour” in part or in whole or even visit the following links unless you have obtained the age necessary for responsible judgments about alcohol as defined by your local laws and statutes; please enjoy alcoholic beverages and alcohol-related writing only in moderation.


This was a tough one. Vidocq was from Arras, and spent most of his career in and closely associated with Paris. And while France does engage in more brewing than one might first assume, searching around the internet doesn’t turn up much of a brewing scene in either of these cities. What breweries Paris does host, meanwhile, seem to trade on decidedly non-French character: the (admittedly charming) Frog et Rosbif, and Brasserie O’Neil.

Honestly, it’s tempting to just recommend “any French beer,” as this will be novel enough for most of my readership, but I’ll pick one as an official selection. Jenlain Ambrée is the first item on a much-linked Top Ten French beers list, and that seems reasonable. As an alternative, the second item, Kronenbourg 1664 is relatively accessible these days; I’ve had it here and en France, and find it quite satisfactory.

Jonathan Whicher

In contrast with Vidocq, Jack Whicher‘s career in London offers a wealth of choices. A number of Victorian-era brewers are still operating today, moreover. Personally, I like Fuller’s London Pride; it’s a good, hearty beer, and the modern-day Griffin Brewery can be traced back at least as far as 1845, just three years after Whicher joined the first Scotland Yard detective squad. This seems a fine choice for the one-time pride of London’s detective society.

Alternatives are legion, of course. For accessibility, though, I’ll point to Bass Pale Ale; this good English ale was well established by Whicher’s day and would presumably have been familiar to him (though how far back its historic triangle emblem dates, I’m unsure).

Allan Pinkerton

The choice for chapter three proved relatively simple and easy. I recommend 3 Floyds’ Robert the Bruce, “a bold Scottish ale” brewed up in Scottish-emigrant Pinkerton’s adopted home of Chicago. Or, technically, just across the border in Indiana, but Allan got around quite enough that I’ll let this stand, as Kent Palmer declares Robert the Bruce “the real deal” among Chicago-brewed Scottish ales.

Alternative: Any other Scottish ale from Chicago. I see a rather strong Last Kiss Scotch Ale from Pipeworks Brewing Company; as a one-time tradesman himself, Pinkerton might approve of that as your choice.

“Paddington” Pollaky

Pollaky being as elusive a figure as he is, item four is going to be fairly conceptual. I like the idea of Meantime Brewing Company’s Union Beer: a Vienna lager brewed in London. Pollaky was not from Vienna and his exact nationality is anyone’s guess, but Vienna was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from which he emigrated, as a young man, prior to his storied career in London. He also returned to Vienna multiple times during that career, so I like this as a concept… but the brewery’s own web site does not currently list this beer, so it may be even more elusive than Pollaky himself.

Therefore, an even more conceptual alternative: buy a variety of different beers in any European style—which conveniently covers the majority of beers you’ll find anywhere—then randomly select one. For extra extra credit, try to choose, pour and drink without seeing which beer you have. This may be tricky, so exercise caution, but I think it would give you a truly fitting beer experience for musing on European detection’s ultimate man of mystery.

Chapters five through eight coming up, in part two.

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