“A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled.”


In searching for an image to accompany this quote, I discovered an interesting project from 2010, when Just Beer, a brewery in Westport, Massachusetts, released a 12-part hardboiled detective story — on the labels of the company’s India Pale Ale.

According to an article at“The Case of the IPA” is a hardboiled detective farce printed chapter by chapter on 12 bottles of a newly released India Pale Ale. Each 22-ounce bottle not only has 22 ounces of brilliantly deduced IPA [India Pale Ale], but also 1 of the 12 chapters of the story. Each case has 12 bottles, which makes for the entire tale told in a case. And so, “The Case of the IPA” is indeed a case of the IPA. Brewer Harry Smith proposed the idea to author Paul Goodchild and they quickly agreed on a format: a noir-ish detective serial. Smith brewed up a batch of hoppy craft brew whilst Goodchild penned the story. It’s a mystery of zany brewers and their intrigues; sure to tickle the ribs and please the belly of any fan of craft beer. As this is a bottle by bottle mystery, Just Beer reminds all to “please read responsibly.”


I admire the cleverness of this project — and, for laughs, am posting the first chapter of this curiosity.

Chapter 1 from The Case of the IPA

I do not boast. My credentials are those of an intrepid adventurer. They are both obvious as the scar on my cheek and subtle as the squint in my eye. For several years now, I’ve been a two-bit shamus in a dirty, gritty, bluesy, and cool city of some renown. I stepped when the boil got too hot on The Case of the India Pale Ale. It started with a summons from a wealthy brewer named Cornelius Fuggle(no relation). He lived in a swank starter mansion in the ‘burbs. The casual staff showed me to his office, knocked once then gestured. I opened the door, pushing against a stack of papers and books. ‘Mind your step,’ came a distracted disembodied voice. I weaved through the OCD towers of yellowed tomes into a clearing dominated by a giant repro of an ersatz antique chart. Fuggle was plotting a route from Blackwall to the sub-continent, getting data from a mildewed log, fiddling with dividers and a straight edge, drawing with a quill dipped in a well of his own blood. ‘Authenticity!’ he exclaimed then passed out.

Photo: Just Beer’s India Pale Ale with labels that feature “The Case of the  IPA”