It seems like I can't get away from the subject of beer these days. The explosion of craft beer labels, destination brewpubs, and specialty beers has made it a hobby among some of my friends at the level that Sherlock Holmes reaches for Sherlockian. And it's not without benefits for us fans of the great detective, as even Peoria has at least one British pub where we can pick up something akin to English cuisine.
And though we tend to think of Sherlock Holmes as a wine guy, he did have at least two beer moments. The first, in "A Scandal in Bohemia," featured a beer brought by a Mrs. Turner, whom I have my own theories about. The other is a holiday beer in "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle," which Holmes plainly ordered just to start a conversation with the landlord at the Alpha Inn.
Watson doesn't describe Sherlock drinking the beer, doesn't talk about his own beverage enjoyment in that later tale. If fact all we get, other than Holmes's preliminary compliment to a beer he hasn't even tasted yet, is this toast:
"Well, here's your good health, landlord, and prosperity to your house. Good-night!"
Consider that toast carefully. A toast usually is made prior to the first drink, and since Holmes is talking non-stop before he makes it, that would see to be the case here. He also ends his toast with "Good-night!" which indicates he's on his way out the door. And after all his other friendly conversation with the landlord, he surely didn't just leave the beer untouched.
No, Sherlock Holmes plainly made his toast, shotgunned that beer, just like Gary King and the boys from the movie The World's End, and was off to his next destination.
Lucky for him, things were simpler then, and Holmes could chug that one quick beer and be on his way. Were he in the same situation today, he would have been expected to sample a flight of seasonal brews or at least discuss the comparative merits of the Alpha Inn's beer to other craft beers. Who knows if the Blue Carbuncle mystery would have ever got solved?
So sip on that, modern connoisseurs of the yeasty grainy liquid. And let's get back to that Imperial Tokay.