Alice’s Adventures in Brewing Land – a guest post from Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens are co-authors of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass: A Publishing History.

**

Research towards the book led us to seek reappropriations of Alice in the UK and abroad, especially the US and Japan. We took a particular interest in Carroll’s effect on culinary history. The real-life Charles Dodgson was fastidious about his diet, and his books reflect a similar obsession with consumption.[1] As we discuss in chapter two, Carroll was shocked that the Looking-Glass biscuit tins he had informally licenced were being sold with biscuits inside, and he insisted that his share of the tins be delivered empty.

Modern culinary responses to Alice, some no doubt that would perplex Carroll, are discussed in the fifth chapter of our book.

Dish from the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo

Dish from the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo

Space constraints meant that we could not pursue our food-related research, in writing at least, as fully as we wished, but we did gather material on recipes ranging from Victorian mock-turtle soup to Heston Blumenthal’s Alice banquet. We also encountered a number of Wonderland-themed alcoholic drinks being brewed around the world. Alice in modern times is strongly linked to cultures of intoxication. [2] Guinness, for instance, frequently used Alice in its marketing campaigns, and the British Library currently sells a ‘Drink Me’ sparkling wine.

Beer-makers have also taken up this association through a variety of Alice-inspired brews. Arguably the ‘drink me’ flavours of ‘cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast’ are best found in malt and hops, perhaps in a red Rodenbach or a vintage J. W. Lees Harvest Ale. In the hopes of discovering some of these flavours, we have opened three beers with an Alice connection

Alice beers and books

Alice beers and books

Mad Hatter Down the Rabbit Hole – 8.1%

The cherry tart is certainly present in this sour beer. It’s fizzy and lemony with tropical fruit and elements of pine, biscuit, flowers, and grapefruit. Plenty of hoppy complexity.

Humpty Dumpty Bad Egg – 4.1%

A ruby ale with plums and hints of banana, packed with berries. A light, malty beer that starts out dry and turns creamy (perhaps we’re imagining the custard).

BrewDog Alice Porter – 5.2%

Although not explicitly named after Carroll’s Alice, it’s hard to believe that the canny marketers at BrewDog were unaware of the association. Indeed, the Alice Porter comes closest of our trio to embracing the ‘drink me’ tastes. Cherry, toffee, and burnt toast are strongly in evidence, as is a meaty flavour akin to roasted turkey skin.

This missing element here is pineapple, which we hope to find in other (sadly yet-untasted) Alice beers:

New Holland Brewing’s Mad Hatter Midwest IPA

Rabbit Hole Brewing’s Off with Your Red and Tweedleyum

Wonderland Brewing Company’s Alice Blonde

Weetwood Ale’s Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter

[1] See, most recently, Michael Parrish Lee, ‘Eating Things: Food, Animals, and Other Life Forms in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Books’, Nineteenth-Century Literature 68 (2014), 484-512.

[2] See Thomas Fensch, Alice in Acidland (Woodlands, TX: New Century Books, 1970).

Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s