Distilled: What’s in a beer name?

By Columbus Alive
From the May 2, 2013 edition

Do you care about the name of beer you drink? Some brewers feel it’s of the utmost importance — Great Lakes Brewing Co. recently announced its Alchemy Hour Double IPA would undergo a name change in 2014 “due to an unforeseen trademark matter” with Widmer Brothers Alchemy Ale. Others may not take it so seriously.

Local outfit Hoof Hearted Brewing has one of the funniest names in the craft beer industry. (I hope you don’t have to think about it.) And while some of the beer names reference heavy metal bands or bad ‘80s movies, they also serve a purpose. The concept behind Musk of the Minotaur IPA is two-fold — mischievously silly, but also a signifier of the beer’s flavor.

“Every ingredient-related name or pun on hops has been done to death,” said Hoof Hearted brewmaster Trevor Williams, “so we wanted some fun, fresh names that give you an idea of what you’re getting into when you order the beer.”

Example: Musk of the Minotaur.

“The kind of IPA we wanted was extremely pungent and aromatic,” Williams said. “Try to imagine that mystic half-man, half-bull beast — the pheromones it gives off would be ripe.”

Columbus Brewing Co. moved away from the style-specific names with Summer Teeth, a seasonal kellerbier, when brewmaster Eric Bean became the brewery’s owner in 2011 and wanted to incorporate branding. CBC is even currently in a situation similar to the Alchemy dispute, but Bean seemed pretty casual about it, saying both sides are working to end it “amicably.”

Bean plans to continue branding CBC’s beers and Williams takes pride in having amusing, referential names for Hoof Hearted, but I’ve never cared too much about a name. There are good ones and awful ones — I whole-heartedly agree with Williams about “hop” puns — but really I just want a great beer.

“For us, number one is the quality of the beer. Then, does the name help sell more of it? If Bodhi was just Columbus Brewing Co. Double IPA, people would acknowledge it’s a great beer. Bodhi attaches some, I don’t know about meaning behind it, but it rolls off the tongue and is easy to order,” Bean said.

Fair enough, but now all I want is a pint — preferably an IPA.