33 years ago, my mother gave birth to a good looking kid. I mean, a real looker. The type of adorable that belongs on diaper ads. Anyway, after 33 years, he didn’t remain that same level of attractiveness, but that’s not the point of the story. On that day, my mother and father agreed that the squirming, peeing, squint-eyed, ball of baby fat, and curly brown hair should be named Kevin. Kevin Deweber. That first bit, I like. The second bit doesn’t exactly roll trippingly off the tongue. It’s not exactly the type of Surname that hints at historical significance, or of some exotic heritage. Instead, it sounds like a cheese. Like one of those fancy cheeses, the ones that your friend that drives the rented porche puts out at his condo he can’t afford. Limberger, Meunster, Deweber, Glouchester. I always wanted to be a Duchman, or an Armstrong. Something with interesting, or meaningful implications. My point being, there is power in a name.
Those cats in the brewing world pick up what I’m putting down. There’s an understanding that in the craft market of mostly unknowns, it’s vital to find ways to draw attention to your brand, your product, your baby. The average drinker can rattle off the beer roster at your local stadiums, or chain restaurant. It doesn’t take much memory capacity, or intelligence to remember Budweiser, Miller, or Coors, and then their respective, water-downed “light” versions, or “lite” version as those kooky bastards at Miller want to spell it. And so, the craft brewers have to be interesting, unique, ’really out there man!’, when it comes to their branding and marketing. They need eye-catchers. They need Olivia Munn in a bikini. Since they can’t bring us that, (although I will swear my undying allegiance to any brewery that can bring that to me) they have to rely on the power of the name.
Let’s start simply, broadly, with the names of some of the breweries around here. Here’s the deal, you use simple word play or trickery, and you’ve hooked the attention challenged brain of your common bar patron. So Texas Ale Project, with their clever acronym, T.A.P, or Bearded Eel, using an anagram of “Leaded Beer”, make us feel like we’re in on some kind of joke. Which, in turn, makes us feel more intelligent, and seeing as how some of us have continued to pay to see Wayans brothers movies, we need as many of those moments of feeling intelligent as possible. I love the image of the old west gun-slingers conjured with a “Revolver” tap handle. When I have a Martin House brew, there’s a small sampling of nostalgia that reminds me of my Mom’s affinity for her bird houses in our back yard, and how my Dad would inevitably be mercilessly attacked by the swarm of wasps that took up residence in said houses. There’s even a feel of nobility in proper names such as Peticolas, or Rahr, as though you are partaking from the cup of royalty with every sip.
Now, naming your brewery an interesting name is a great way to grab attention, but it’s not a necessity. There’s a familiarity that comes with simplicity. Deep Ellum, Panther Island, Grapevine, 903. All familiar places in the minds of Metroplexians. We’ve had excellent Tex-Mex, and awful Italian in those areas. We’ve lost our car keys, and some of us, our virginity, in those zip codes. We’ve bailed friends out of jail, and we’ve gotten awful tattoos around there. And when we ask for one of those breweries brews, we make sure to emphasize those geographical monikers. Gives us the feel of home, especially when you have the pleasure of taking a six pack of one of our locals to an out of town shindig populated with dirty hippies, or ragged rednecks, or too-trendy hipsters, whichever ilk you associate yourself with. You can tell your friend to put down the didgeridoo, or the NASCAR flag, or the cassette tape of Morissey, and hand you a Lakewood.
Brewery monikers are not where the fun ends in the name game, however. Rather, it is quite the beginning. You can snicker every time you order a “Mother’s Little Fracker”. Want to feel uppity, or a little snooty? Order aloud a “Chosen One”, or perhaps a “High Brass”. If you’re on a Tinder date, you can be suggestive with a “Velvet Hammer”, or a “Dallas Blonde”, or even a “Mustache Rye’d”, and make some terrible joke, or innuendo that’s as funny as feline leukemia. (As a bartender, I’d like to ask you to leave the jokes to the professionals there, Carlin). You can feel adventurous, and dangerous with a “Dreamcrusher”, or you can feel like dancing on the sultry side with a “Temptress”, or a “StrIPA”. Dog lover? We’ve got the dog so ugly, he’s cute, with the “Ugly Pug”. The brewers have even managed to bring in our brothers in vice, by enticing our, ahem, herbally-enhanced friends, with names like “Dawn of the Dank”. Toast to the patron saints of North Texas Rock, the Toadies, with a “Rubberneck Red”. Or, tempt your fate against the totally-not-a-myth, “Sasquatch”.
Now, I would like to touch on some breweries in particular, and their creativity. Franconia, I appreciate, and nod with approval, toward your approach of straight forward beers, and traditional Bavarian style. You guys make some great brews, but with names like “Wheat”, “Koelsch”, and “Lager”, you’re about as exciting as wallpaper paste. I fell asleep twice just typing that last sentence. And Cedar Creek, what are you guys doing down there?! You knock it out of the park with branding like “Elliot’s Phoned Home”, and “The Lawn Ranger”, and my stoner friends give that low, guttural Butthead laugh every time that they order a “Dankosaurus”. But, who in the hell was in charge of the meeting that decided an alcoholic beverage should be named “Gone-A-Rye”?! You understand the slurring tendencies of inebriated adults? Or have a general understanding how the human brain finds jr. high level humor in all things after around .03 BAC? How could you not foresee an entire chorus of drunken idiots screaming out “Gonorrhea!” every time a beer list was read? Also, I take a personal offense in how your stupendous Oatmeal Stout could be laid so deliciously out on a silver platter for a moniker like “Boats N’ O’s” and be completely passed over for “Oats N’ Aboat”. I shake my hop-laden head disapprovingly at this decision, Cedar Creek.
Point is, first impressions are vital. Sure the contents of the book matter the most, but if the cover of that book is made of fiberglass and rat feces, and the title is “The Intricate and Definitive Guide to Beige”, you’re not so likely to pick up that particular tome. So keep up with the creativity, boys and girls of the brew scene. Keep us entertained and enticed. Make us have uncomfortable conversations with our Hispanic friends, asking what an “El Chingon” is, or help us break the ice at a social event that our significant others drug us to by ordering a “Sit Down or I’ll Sit You Down!” And all you beer drinkers can find me behind the bar, spouting my particular brand of nonsense, at LUCK Dallas.