December 3, 2012
Drink your book
by Sal Robinson
Talk about your tie-ins: fantastic indie bookstore Powell’s in Portland, Oregon has created a beer inspired by Moby-Dick to celebrate their 41st anniversary, with Rogue Ales and Spirits, which also sells something called “Brewshoes.” But this is no slap-a-woodcut-on-it type of book merchandise. The beer, called “White Whale Ale,” contains actual pages from a copy of Moby-Dick, added to the brew while it was brewing. According to the Powell’s site:
At an auction in Chicago, Michael Powell landed a first edition of Herman Melville’s The Whale (renamed Moby-Dick in subsequent editions), and the book has occupied a special place in his heart ever since. In part, this special-edition beer is a tribute to Michael and his family, as well as to the legacy of Powell’s.
Which makes me wonder, is there anything you can’t put in beer and not have it taste weird? (And also, if you put first edition pages in there, would you get a woodsier aroma? Top notes of chocolate and blubber?) Or, looking at it more optimistically, what other literature-related artifacts can we put in beer? Samuel Beckett’s socks? Philip Roth’s empty hard drives? Jonathan Ames’ little beanie? (I’ve long wanted to put that beanie somewhere.) The possibilities seem endless. One thing I know you can’t put in beer, though: Kindles. Ruins the beer.
Sal Robinson is a former Melville House editor. She's also the co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.