Beer Break

Beer Break Vol. 2, No. 32
Great names for excellent beers

May 23, 2002

First, thanks to all of you who submitted favorite beers names. Even though we may not post your nomination here we appreciate your input. We'll keep all the names on file, because we may do this again in six months or a year.


Second, here's a valid argument made by Paul Jasper, who wrote us:

"Well, my favorites are ones that project a sense of quality and tradition (like Fullers London Pride, Anchor Steam, Greene King XX Mild or Salopian Golden Thread) or are an amusing way to attract attention to a well-made and delicious beer (such as Titanic Brewery's Lifeboat Ale or Marin Brewing's Bluebeery).

"What I'm not too fond of is beers that sell just because they have a gimmicky name. If I entered a bar where everyone was drinking huge quantities of Arrogant Bastard Ale or Old Leghumper, I think I'd leave as quickly as possible. These are names that are designed to appeal to an easily influenced and immature audience. There's no future for craft beer if consumers are swayed by novelty names in the same way they are by novelty commercials for Bud, Miller and the current fashion of alcohol-laced soda."

A fair point, except that Arrogant Bastard and Old Leghumper are actually quite tasty beers. The name submitted by more readers than any other was Moose Drool from Big Sky Brewing in Missoula, Mont., pretty surprising given that it doesn't exactly enjoy national distribution. We doubt so many of you would have taken the time to write if the beer actually tasted like moose saliva. One reader wrote: "The name got me started, but the delightfully consistent brown ale inside keeps me there!"

Paul is correct, the future of flavorful beer depends on flavor. So here - and we admit our choices are arbitrary - are 10 really good beers with really good names that our readers submitted:

- Skull Splitter from the Orkney Islands of Scotland
- (Theakston) Old Peculier from Northern England (that's a revival of the medieval spelling, which is part of the appeal)
- Immort Ale from Dogfish Head in Delaware
- Yellow Snow Ale from Rogue Ales in Oregon
- Burning River Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewing in Ohio
- Monkey Knife Fight from Nodding Head Brewing in Philadelphia
- DUIPA from Hoptown Brewery in California
- Back Hand of God Stout, an organic ale from Crannog Ales in British Columbia
- Blithering Idiot Barley Wine from Weyerbacher Brewing in Pennsylvania
- Old Horizontal Barley Wine from Victory Brewing in Pennsylvania (yes, because we love the idea of doing a vertical tasting of Horizontal)

Two we'd like to try, mostly because of the names but also because we've heard good things about the beer: Erin Go Braless from Kettlehouse Brewery (like Big Sky, located in Missoula, Mont.) and Dogs Bollocks, a British cask ale that Paul Pearson wrote us about.

Then there is the flip side of the coin. Alan Tobey writes: "Don't ignore 'the Duff Beer of China' -- Shanghai's immortal Reeb Beer. Yes, indeed, 'beer' spelled backwards, a new high in marketing laziness. Tastes just like Duff, too, alas...."

Finally, a lovely story from reader Sam Alison:

"Another great one which has taken on a life of it's own due to some language confusion is the Slovak made Smadný Mních, or Thirsty Monk. The reason this has become even more entertaining for us is that when I first drank it my girlfriend was trying to translate it for me and was explaining that it meant 'thirsty, what's the opposite of a nun?' I preferred the answer of 'prostitute,' so from that time on we now head down to the bar for a 'Thirsty Prostitute' or two :-)"

Pairing of the week

In keeping with our beer names theme, here's a pairing we look forward to trying in the near future: Avery Brewing's Salvation and Stone Brewing's Ruination IPA. Based on the names, the idea would be to drink the latter and then the former, but you'll see that might not be the best approach.

Salvation was recently released to complete Avery's "Holy Trinity" along with Reverend (a Belgian quad) and Hog Heaven (a barley wine). It is a Belgian-style golden ale (9% alcohol by volume), lavishly dry hopped with Styrian Goldings.

Stone Ruination IPA will be released June 10, and is Stone's first new year-round beer since Arrogant Bastard Ale more than four years ago. It is patterned after the Stone Anniversary IPAs, weighing in at 100+ IBUs (International Bitterness Units) and 7.7% abv. The bottle's label states the name was chosen, "because of the immediate ruinous effect on your palate."

So while it is an appealing thought that you could start down the road to ruin, then turn toward salvation - the fact is that the better way to do the pairing is probably to start with sweeter Salvation and save the hop monster for second.

Tasting notes

Brewed by Zlatopramen in the Czech Republic
Stephen Beaumont writes:
"... hints of green apple and caramel in the rounded aroma and a dry body holding notes of fresh-mowed grass and hay. There is a hint of alcohol on the dry, earthy finish."

Brewed in Northern England
Micheal Jackson writes: "... has a soft and oily body; flavors reminiscent of milk chocolate; and a raisiny, blackcurrant dryness in the finish. It is a soothing and sustaining brew."