Although I haven't read a complete novel since June 2011 (I finished half a Graham Greene), making that the longest period of time since I started reading them at age 7 or 8, I still pine for them. A few years back, looking for speedy, uncomplicated reading, I discovered Inspector John Rebus. He's one of the indelible figures in crime fiction--a crusty man who does exactly one thing well while making a hash of 27 other things. He smokes too much, eats badly, and--relevant to our interests--drinks too much. Ah, but he drinks well. He's forever darkening the door of an Edinburgh pub, sometimes in the middle of the day, sometimes the middle of the night. His favorite beer is Caledonian's Deuchars IPA.*
The author is Ian Rankin, and he visited Portland on Monday night. Rankin is a fixture in his home town, though he readily admits Rebus is more famous there. He loves pubs as much as Rebus, and Deuchars, too. In fact, I was delighted when I visited Caledonian a year back to see that they'd made a beer named for Rebus, which must be the nicest homage a writer can have. I was delighted also to see that Portlanders asked Rankin no fewer than three questions involving beer or pubs. The rain was pouring and I wished he had agreed to come to a pub instead of the Beaverton Powell's (!), but ah well, it was cool either way.
Incidentally, a brewery should come out with a line of beers named for famous fictional characters. Salander Wild Ale, Wallander Bitter, Harry Hole Malt Liquor--and those are just for mining crime fiction. You could go on for years...
*An absolutely lovely beer, but not anything Americans would recognize as IPA. It's all of 3.8%, pilsner-pale, and perhaps 25 IBUs strong. But they're well-placed, lemongrassy hops, and the beer is a delight to drink on cask when you're sitting in Edinburgh. I would love to beam in this very minute and spend several hours nursing a family of them.
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