Thursday, February 17, 2011

What's In A Name?

...that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Juliet was on to something here for sure. As humans, we have a need to name everything. Sometimes we get away with just assigning numbers (Ford F-150, for example), but even theose become a recognizable name in and of themselves. We like our names to express an image. With cars it tends to be something predatory or fast or strong. Mustang. Challenger. Avalanche. Or something important sounding... Escalade. Grand Marquis. Avalon. Or something rugged. Outlander. Navajo. Mountaineer. You will very likely never see a Nissan Sloth or a Chevy Cuddle. Granted, there is the VW Rabbit, but rabbits are quick, so there you go. Motorcyles do it, too, evoking ideas of power, danger, and mystery. Nighthawk. Hurricane. And of course the legendary Ninja.

In the world of craft beer (and, to be fair, the big macros, as well) names are part of the equation too. From the obscure references to historical figures (honestly, did anyone know who Pliny the Elder was before Russian River made the name famous) to groan-inducing puns related to the ingredients (there is not enough time to list all of the Hop-something names here).  There is even, in fact, a Ninja Beer!

Some of my favorite beers, however, have faily simple names.  Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale.  Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale.  Stone IPA.  Excellent beers, simple names.  And some of the beers with crazy, bizarre, funny, etc. names are just... meh.  Then you have the amazing beers with the great names.
  • Wilco Tango Foxtrot - A delicious American strong ale from Laguintas in California.
  • Arrogant Bastard - One of my favorite all time beers.  From Stone Brewing in San Diego, CA.
  • Jack the Quaffer Porter - I love this beer from Tampa Bay Brewing Company, and the recipe was the base for my own Three Halos Rum Porter.
  • Loose Cannon - A fantastic IPA from Heavy Seas Brewing in Baltimore, MD.
A great beer does not have to have a great name, and a great name does not make a beer great.  But it is always fun to look at the creativity that abounds in the craft beer world.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Yes, I know who Pliny the Elder is.
    WTF! Isn't this a family blog?
    Wines can also have great names. Cardinal Zin is one of my favorites.

  3. Brilliant literary work! Did you think it up by yourself or were you influenced!!!!!!

  4. Dad,
    Cardinal Zin is one of my faves, too. I also love Bonny Doon's Heart of Darkness Red.

    All my beer-related articles are the product of my own mind, in some form or fashion, but I am certainly influenced by all sources...