On Sunday*, we’ll release “Geoooooooorge!!!” Saison. A couple of regulars have suggested perhaps I named the beer after them (sorry, after a dead friend); a couple of others have asked how I decide on beer names. The short answer is: we make them up. As with almost everything, there’s a longer answer. Here it comes… 🙃
*New beers release early — on Wednesday — to our 18-inchers. But it will go out to the general public this coming Sunday.
For labeling & other reasons, every beer has to have a name. The legal people don’t care what you name it, but it has to be named something. Preferably, each product has a different name, though I think (maybe?), technically, you could have “Fancy Pants IPA” and “Fancy Pants Porter” and “Fancy Pants Doppelbock”, etc., because the styles uniquify the names. Point being, each beer is supposed to have a name and the names are supposed to be registered with ABC. In addition, to-go bottles/growlers/cans/etc. are supposed to be labeled with the manufacturer name, city&state, the beer name, and few other things (ABV, fl.oz., the word “beer”, gov’t warning, etc.)
Some breweries name their beers “pale ale #1”, #2, etc. Most craft breweries have fun/cute names: “Purple Haze[y IPA]”, “Hugh Hefe[weizen]”, etc. Some are thematic — Santa Clara Valley Brewing used to name after local landmarks, for example — some are puns, some are just cute. Again, ABC doesn’t care about your names, just that you have them, so the naming tends to reflect a bit on the founders/brewers/owners.
Ours all have some sort of story; herewith, the story of what we’ve named so far:
Dirty Blonde Ale
One of the first beers I home brewed — our current recipe is changed little from that time — everybody likes our Blonde Ale, and it’s nearly dead-center on all the BJCP judging categories (a thing we strive for in our “standard style” beers) except: it’s darker than a blonde should be. I originally wanted to call it “Dishwater Blonde” — after the hair color — and my wife said “no, you can not call your beer `dishwater`…” (she’s always been better at marketing stuff than I 😉 ), and so we finally settled on “Dirty“.
Jefferson American Pale Ale
It took me three tries to get the recipe to where I was satisfied with it. The first was Washington, then Adams. The final product became Jefferson American Pale Ale. Hopefully, my thinking on that naming is clear. 🙂
Leftenant Pepper’s English IPA
This recipe has a just a hint of black-pepper taste on the back end, as we designed it. (Aside: We’re very proud at getting exactly the taste we were shooting for on the first try!) As it’s English, we originally thought to call it Sergeant Pepper’s, but decided we didn’t want any …uh… “imperial entanglements”, so we promoted him to officer status.
Pretty Purple Porter
This is just a play on a thing a good friend of ManyFriends says a lot, plus a fun alliteration. There’s no hidden meaning; the beer isn’t really purple (though the mash-foam has a slight “rainbow” tint that contains some purple!) — it’s just a “fun” name.
Fur Of The Cat West Coast IPA
Heh; this one’s a bit involved. First, while I like IPAs, I can’t really tell them apart very well. I believe that my palate is over-sensitive to bitterness so, for me, when I drink pretty-much any [West coast] IPA, it “tastes like a glass of hops”. Not really in A Bad Way — if you put one in front of my I’ll drink it — but it’s rarely my first choice, and I really can’t tell one brand from the other. Exceptions: ours (ManyFriends) and the Plineys, of course. Those still taste like “a glass of hops” to me, but there’s enough going on that I can tell “oh! That’s a Pliney!” Anyway…
So, in designing our WC-IPA, I needed to solicit help from friends. I could get as far as “ok, this tastes like a glass of hops to me, so I know it’s pretty close”, but needed input from “expert” IPA drinkers to guide me through The Last Mile of the process. So I made a small (5 gallon, homebrew) batch and sent it to a bunch of friends. Most of them responded along the lines of “ooo, free beer! Yay! Hey, this is delicious, can we have more?” which, while friendly, isn’t particularly helpful from a quality standpoint. However, one family in particular — a mother, her son and his friend — provided very excellent feedback along the lines of “ok, it’s a decent start, but it needs more <foo>”. So I made another batch, and they replied “good; this covers what we said, but we forgot to tell you to also do <bar>”. So I made a third batch, and they suggested “this is top-notch stuff. This is deserving of the ManyFriends brand”, and so it became our WC-IPA.
These friends have several pet cats and refer to their house as “Catfurhouse”. As in, one might receive an email “party this Saturday at Catfurhouse!” or similar. And, so, both as a play on “hair of the dog” and as an homage to Catfurhouse, our IPA is Fur Of The Cat.
Flanders Candi Belgian Dubbel Ale
Two things: (1) Dubbel is just a Belgian Ale that’s somewhat higher alcohol, and so it’s a “double” (in Belgian, dubbel). (2) “Belgian Candi” is an ingredient in this recipe. That I know, it’s basically rock-candy made from brown sugar. NOTE: I’m not 100% certain on that, but that’s what it looks, feels & tastes like. (3) (I lied 😉 ) This isn’t my recipe, nor my name. My good friend, Daniel — who helped a great deal in getting a lot of brewery equipment off the flatbed truck (forklifts in the rain were involved!), un-crating it, getting it inside, coming back to move it to its final position, getting it hooked up, etc. — is a homebrewer and, as part of my thank-you to him for all he did to make this brewery happen, I offered “why don’t you tell me your favorite beer recipe, I’ll help scale it up, and you can make it on my equipment. I’ll just be your assistant and do whatever you need help with, but it will be your beer, your name, etc.” So that’s what happened. Flanders is a reference to the area in Belgium (and, later back-filled to reference the poem) and Candi serves double (get it?! 😀 ) purpose as both indicating the beer’s sweetness and a pointer to the interestingly-named ingredient.
O’Feigenbaum Fig Stout
This one’s pretty straightforward: As my Christmas beer, it’s a stout, which suggests an “Irish” name (O’something). For Christmas, it’s got figs in it. “Oh Tannenbaum” (“Oh Christmas Tree”) is a traditional (German) Christmas song. “Feigenbaum” is German for fig tree. Put it all together: O’Feigenbaum.
Altbier is German style red ale (ale-not-lager, hence “alt”, meaning “old [style]”; lagering is fairly new-ish in German beer making). It’s pronounced with the “alt” as in “altimeter”, but almost everyone says the “alt” like “alternative”. I was ~45 yrs in software development before opening this brewery, so am a bit of a computer nerd. Hence: CNTL-ALT-beer.
Ooo, I thought I was being so clever with this pun on the beer many people call “Heff”. Turns out, about 30 other breweries did it before me. #sigh!
Before I tell you about the name, I’ll tell you about how I came to make a saison (which, I recently learned, is just French for “seasonal”, which is why there are so many wildly different saisons!)
A while back, I asked around — on Facebook and at the brewery — what folks wanted me to make next. There was enough input calling for hefeweizen — and it seemed a good idea — so I made that. Turns out that only about half the people who said hefeweizen really wanted a hefeweizen; the rest wanted something that they thought was called hefeweizen, but was much fruitier and banana-y. So, many of my customers really love my hefeweizen (Hugh, above), but about a dozen or so were quite displeased. We went back & forth a bit with ideas and finally I decided to make a super-citrusy, somewhat fruity “Summer beer”, a saison. I think folks will be happy with the result.
So, anyway, I made a saison. Now to name it. I had a friend, George Sisson. He was a very playful guy, light, breezy, “Summery”. Also, when he said his name in an exaggerated phony-French accent, it sounded a bit like “Saison”. Also-also, George had a habit of turning pretty much anything anybody said into sexual-innuendo. You could say “I’d like a pint of beer” and George would say <hands on hips, head swaggering> “I’ll give you `a pint of beer`, bay-bee…!” For this reason, any time one was in or around conversation with him, it was common to hear others bemoan “Geoooooooorge…!!!” Geooooooorge!!! Saison — get it?
NOTE: George died young of AML (Leukemia). $1 from every pint of Geoooooooorge!!! sold will go to help fight this horrible disease.
Lez Böhm Pilsner
Pilsner is a Bohemian style beer originating in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. So there’s a pun on La bohème. In addition, my dear friend, Liz Bohm, is one of the kindest, most good-hearted, “ManyFriends-ish” people I know. So the name is really an homage to her; the world would benefit from a bit more Liz Bohm (and Lez Böhm! 😀 )
That’s it! You gotta name your beers, and every name has a story. Now you know.