Brilliant Deduction beer tour, part 2

Posted by Matt Kuhns on May 17, 2013

The conclusion to my suggested beer pairings for the chapters of Brilliant Deduction. As in part one, there aren’t any firm rules operating; I’m just going with what seems like a fitting option. I am trying to stick with bottled beers, though, so that possibility at least exists that one person could acquire all of the main suggestions without having to personally visit breweries from California to central Europe. (Of course, if you have the means and inclination, more power to you.) Even this is probably a tall order, though, so I also include at least one alternative selection for each chapter. Now, onward.

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.

Isaiah lees

Part two kicks off with another easy choice: Anchor Steam beer. Anchor Brewing alleges that its roots can be traced as far back as Lees’s own arrival in San Francisco with the 1849 Gold Rush; that’s probably more wishful thinking than history, but this is otherwise a perfect pairing. Though born in England and raised in the northeastern US, Lees became a thorough San Franciscan over the course of 50+ years in the city. Meanwhile, the Anchor name nods to Lees’s various maritime adventures; steam beer, in addition to being a historic local style, is a fitting acknowledgement of Lees’s origins as a steam-age mechanic.

A decent alternative is almost more difficult, here, given that Anchor Steam is both a perfect choice and relatively widely available. Brew Free! Or Die IPA, from 21st Amendment, might not be bad. Like Lees, the IPA style is English in origin. The cartoon of a pugnacious Abe Lincoln, meanwhile, is not inappropriate for a detective whose career included both the Civil War years and multiple episodes of two-fisted action, as well.

William and Robert Pinkerton

I should note that I have little idea what, if any, drinking habits any of these men actually had in person. The accounts of Jack Whicher taking a drink all involve brandy, actually, in spite of what his simple working man persona might suggest to us. Allan Pinkerton’s tycoon sons might also have gone in for brandy and a cigar, or perhaps bourbon, or maybe they stuck to black coffee; I confess that this was not a particular focus while I was doing my research. That said, I feel confident in Two Brothers Long Haul Session Ale as a nice pairing for my chapter on the greatest fraternal detective partnership in history. The second generation Pinkertons mostly grew up in the Chicago area, where Two Brothers brews, while “a beer you can enjoy for the long haul” seems an ideal accompaniment for the story of these incessant international travelers.

Alternative: Goose Island is arguably as much a colossus among Chicago brewers as Pinkerton’s was among detective agencies in its day; on that basis, why not pick their flagship Honker’s Ale. Probably not distributed quite as far or wide as Pinkerton’s was, at the agency’s peak, but you should be able to find this without even trying hard.

William Burns

The choice for this is easy. Conway’s Irish Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Company. Burns was an Irish-American redhead who grew up in Ohio and took an interest in policing as a youth (leading indirectly to his later detective career). What better, then, than an Irish red style ale from Ohio, featuring a hardworking beat cop on the label?

Alternative: This one is so perfect (and/or I’m getting lazy) that I’m reluctant even to propose an alternative. But I should, particularly given that Conway’s is a seasonal-only offering. Guinness, by contrast, is these days available pretty much everywhere, at all times. Slainté.

Ellis Parker

A good beer pairing for Parker poses some challenge, given the dearth of local brewing anywhere near his Mount Holly, NJ base of operations. I’m not entirely wedded to geographic proximity, of course, but I’ve struggled for any other brilliant concepts here… in the end, I arrived at two very different approaches, and you may decide which is the primary selection and which the alternative. Flying Fish Brewing Company offers some measure of local flavor, with its New Jersey Exit Series. Pick any one you like.

For my own part, though, I lean toward Yuengling lager as perhaps a more appropriate pour for musing on Burlington County’s legendary detective. Though based in Pennsylvania, in my own experience Yuengling (now expanding westward) is a familiar option nearly everywhere in the northeast. I don’t know if such was the case in Parker’s day (which, after all, included the entire Prohibition era). But it seems like a beer for the kind of simple, honest working man that Parker was at heart, in many ways. The kind of beer that might have been available at Parker’s beloved Elk’s Club, for example. And as America’s oldest operating brewer, I know at least that it was available in Parker’s day (Prohibition excepted).

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