Hemingway & Key West: Boozing, Fighting & Writing image

Adventure, Travel, Pioneer

Hemingway & Key West: Boozing, Fighting & Writing

1st May 2019 at 7:00AM
Written by Jimmy
Inspired by Florida

“Don't bother with churches, government buildings or city squares, if you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars”. Ernest Hemingway was almost as famous for his drinking as he was for his writing. During his time in Key West he did a lot of both. When Hemingway first found himself stranded in Key West it was a different town to what it is today. A lot smaller and isolated during the Great Depression, Key West was still vibrant with its strong Spanish influence, and Hemingway was enthralled. His years in this bohemian island city have become stuff of legend and helped bring Key West to the world’s attention as his favourite hangouts and drinking buddies were immortalised in his writing.

In 1928, Hemingway planned to write a novel about a road trip he was to undertake from Key West to Chicago. Once he arrived, Hemingway was informed the car’s delivery was delayed. With no other option, he stayed for three weeks awaiting the vehicle’s arrival. It did not take him that long to fall in love with the place. The people he met in the bars and down at the fisheries had him captivated by their easy-going yet straightforward nature. He decided to settle in Key West.


Ernest Hemingway. Photo via James Stoneking on Flickr.


Having lived in Paris with gentle intellectuals for many years, Hemingway quickly acclimatised with the hardy fishermen he befriended. He went on to win every fishing competition on the Atlantic. A lover of fighting, he hosted boxing matches in the backyard of his house. When the locals didn’t take kindly to his fishing successes, he challenged them to fight for the trophy, in which he won every time.

It’s no secret that Hemingway loved a drink. You don’t have a famous cocktail named after you (the Hemingway Daiquiri) by being a teetotaller. It was said Hemingway’s house was located near the lighthouse as to help him navigate his way home after his late-night boozing sessions. Despite his affection for the drink, Hemingway was faithful to his true love, writing. He would rise at five every morning and would write with no interruptions until noon. From there he clocked on to his other side of life as a hard living, hard drinking man of action.


Hemingway House. Photo via Roger W on Flickr.


With Ernest Hemingway’s help, Key West is now a hugely popular tourist destination with his home top of the list of things to see. It has become a haven for writers, inspired by the laid-back lifestyle, bars that don’t believe in the term ‘last call’, and of course the legend of Hemingway. We were inspired to make a beer that encapsulated the personality that flows through Key West. We wanted to create something perfect for sunglasses, flip flops and a Hemingway novel. What we got was a Key Lime Pie Sour; a creamy, sweet, yet refreshingly tart sour ale. Named after the great city Hemingway made famous, Key West will be launched at our Tap Room and will be available from May 3rd.

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