Apr 24, 2018

Beer Break

Beer Break Vol. 2, No. 28
The name game

April 18, 2002

A while back at we took a look at beer names, the ones you often remember with a smile (even if you'd rather not remember the beer). We decided it's time to revisit some of those names, and ask you what else you've seen out there.


Simpsons creator Matt Groening once explained that the beer in the animated television series was named Duff with simplicity in mind. "The name was inspired by all the single-syllable beer names in the United States, like Hamms, Bud, Schlitz," he said. "And we thought it was a funny name."

The brands that dominate the American market tend to have simple names, as do many of the top-selling specialty beers. However, there's also plenty of room these days for beers whose names convey a certain, hmmmm, personality. For instance, Arrogant Bastard Ale from California's Stone Brewing Co.

Fun with names predates craft beer. In 1954, Pittsburgh disc jockey Rege Cordic created a series of zany commercials for the fictious beer, Old Frothingslosh, The Pale Ale for the Pale State Male. Pittsburgh Brewing Co. celebrated the gag by putting Old Frothingslosh labels on 500 cases of Iron city Beer bottles for friends of the company for Christmas.

The next year Old Frothingslosh had new labels for Christmas and was sold to the public for the first time. The Christmas issue became a popular tradition and over time distribution ranged well beyond Pittsburgh. The beer was advertised as "so light, the foam's on the bottom" and as "brewed from hippity-hops on the banks for the Upper Crudney in Lower Slobbovia." It debuted in cans in 1968 with the introduction of Fatima Yechburg, a 300-pound go-go dancer who became Miss Frothingslosh.

The beer, unfortunately, was watery with little flavor or body. Today, the names may be whimsical while the beers are all business. For instance, both Rasberry Leghumper and Old Leghumper (a porter) from Thirsty Dog Brewing in Akron, Ohio, have won multiple awards in beer competitions.

Beers based on a theme related to a brewpub's name (such as Thirsty Dog) or physical setting are common. Witness Pipe organ Pale Ale from Church Brew Works (Pittsburgh), Ground Rule Dunkelweizen from Leinenkugel's Ballyard Brewery (Phoenix), all the prison names from Alcatraz Brewing or the train names from brewpubs in former train stations. There are others that pop up at multiple locations -- such as Fancy Lawnmower Beer from both Saint Arnold Brewing in Texas and just plain Lawnmower Beer (great T-shirt) from Broad Ripple Brew Pub in Indiana.

Everybody will have their own favorites. (That's why we invite you to submit yours.) We asked Beer Dave (Dave Gausepohl) about his. Of course, one of his favorites is from when he was in charge of buying beer for the Party Source in Covington, Ky., and he helped name "Cereal Killer" barley wine at the BrewWorks (a brewpub that no longer operates). He also likes the name McGuire's Irish Pub & Brewery in Pensacola, Fla., gave its barley wine: I'll Have What the Gentleman on the Floor is Having.

Beer Dave also reminds us that in the late 1970s, Walter's in Eau Claire, Wis., brewed a beer known as Bean & Bacon Days. This commemorated a festival held in Augusta, Wis. He asks, "How would you like to be at the company picnic held down wind and down river from this 'Beer Blast'?"

Alas, the favorite we picked the last time we did this exercise is no more. The Mineshaft Tavern in Madrid, N.M., no longer features Dead Canary Ale, a house beer that was brewed a few miles up the road at Santa Fe Brewing Co. The tavern backs up to a former mine, hence the name and a tap handle that included a fake canary (turned over on his side) in a birdcage. Santa Fe also brews the award-winning Chicken Killer Barley Wine (something about barley wines seem to inspire great names).

Drop us a line to tell us about your favorites.

Tasting notes

Brewed by Anderson Valley Brewing in California
Michael Jackson writes:
Full gold to bronze color with a dense head. Sexy, fresh-sweet aromas, then lemony notes. The first mouthful is spritzy; then it gets rough, with almost abrasive hop flavors. It seems to finish with a quick surge, but leaves lemon-pith and grapefruit bitterness. American IPAs are ever more dizzying in their hoppy assertiveness. I love them, though they are a style apart. The British never sent anything quite like this to India, but the Hindus did provide us with Kama Sutra.

Brewed by Southampton Publick House in New York
Roger Protz writes:
An ale with the addition of Chardonnay grapes from the Sag Pond Vineyards. I have always adhered to the adage, "Never mix grape with grain," so how does this pilsner-pale beverage stack up? It has intensely dry, grapey aroma with a background kick of spicy hops. It is tart, dry, acidic in the mouth, and the finish starts dry and stays that way with a slightly harsh edge to it. I was left with a sour taste in the mouth but not the lactic sourness of a lambic. I don't think this works. The old saying was right. Grape and grain may work together, but I think the hop and the grape are uncomfortable companions.

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