Today was brewing day. I plan to have a five gallon keg of beer ready for my guests when I host a party next month celebrating the publication of my novel, “Reunion.” So as I type this the kitchen smells terrific. I brewed inside today for two reasons: one it is raining; two the propane tank for the grill is empty and I’ve been too lazy to replace it.
A friend of mine grows hops. The vines run up the side of his house, providing shade, visual appeal, and – most importantly – wonderfully fragrant hop cones. Today’s brew, therefore, is an India Pale Ale.
I suppose I should craft some brewing-as-writing metaphor, or brewing-as-life. But those sorts of comparisons mostly strike me as specious, they don’t hold up well to scrutiny. I mean, “Cleaning the equipment is like research, it is the necessary first step and without it the final product will suffer.” Well, the beer would be a foamy, green bucket of bacteria, undrinkable, not actually beer at all. The book might be laughable, but it would still be a book. So, I will spare you the tortured metaphors. Brewing is brewing, writing is writing. Why conflate them? The processes are not similar. The end products are completely different (though may be enjoyed in tandem.)
Perhaps I should write a story about a brewer, or set a story in a brewery. Speculative fiction deals frequently with beer, with inns, pubs, taverns: The Green Dragon, Callahan’s, Gavagan’s Bar, to name a few. Innkeepers and drink-slingers are commonly used characters. But what about the brewer? Do any examples spring to mind? I can think of one, the owner of a brewery in Glen Cook’s “Garrett” novels. Any others?