Stories Behind The Label: As Good As What’s In The Bottle
Discover craft breweries with names as interesting as their beers
Have a cold one at Jester King Brewery in Austin, Texas. Photo Credit: Tyler Malone / The Second Shooter
Let’s face it: A lot of brewery names aren’t terribly interesting. Coors is named for Adolph Coors, Guinness is named for Arthur Guinness, Heineken is named for Gerard Heineken—well, you get the idea.
But as interesting craft breweries open all across the country, brewers are getting as creative with their names as they are with the beer. Read on for the stories behind the unusual brewery names of some of America’s best breweries.
Jester King Brewery (Austin, Texas)
“Jester King is symbolic of a ‘wise fool’ who is able to speak truth to power and challenge conformity and order in the beer world,” explains Jeff Stuffings, founder/owner of the celebrated Austin brewery. Like Shakespeare’s fools, Jester King may look unusual—but it doesn’t take long to realize they’re the cleverest one on stage. Using spontaneous fermentation and local ingredients, Stuffings and his team create funky farmhouse ales that are far from the IPAs that dominate American craft brewing. The next time you stay in Austin, try the Atrial Rubicite, a barrel-aged raspberry sour that’s juicy yet surprisingly dry.
Ghost Monkey Brewery (Mount Pleasant, South Carolina)
Sometimes inspiration comes in the most unlikely of places. In 2016, John Kosky, Jim Leonard and Josh Parker (owners of Ghost Monkey) were struggling to come up with a name for their new brewery. “In the midst of compiling lists of suitable names, Josh took a business trip to Spain and visited Gibraltar,” says Kosky. “While gazing over the scene, a monkey appeared out of nowhere, like a ghost, and snatched Josh’s newly acquired souvenirs. After determining there was no food in the bag, the monkey distributed them all over the rocks.” The mischief gave Parker the name they needed. Plan your accommodations in Charleston or find a hotel in Mount Pleasant and stop by the nanobrewery to try a pint of Farmer Brown, a toasty American brown ale.
Bearded Iris Brewing (Nashville, Tennessee)
You might find yourself chasing rainbows at Bearded Iris Brewing in Nashville. Photo Credit: Anna Togrye
Though there are plenty of beards in craft beer, Bearded Iris actually takes its name from the state flower of Tennessee. But people who travel to Nashville to visit the brewery find there’s more to the story. “The name also pays homage to the melding of art and science represented by botanists’ pursuit and execution of new cultivars of this elegant yet fierce flower,” explains Chanda Grubbs, who handles marketing. “Each bearded iris cultivar embodies a spirit of playful ingenuity and careful attention to scientific process that we hope to mimic in our own brewing practices.” The approach seems to be working: Bearded Iris’s hop-forward offerings are sought out by beer geeks all over the country. Try the Chief of Chiefs, a double IPA dry-hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Mosaic hops.
Ecliptic Brewing (Portland, Oregon)
Well before Ecliptic Brewing existed, John Harris was already a titan of the Oregon brewing scene, developing popular beers for Deschutes and Full Sail. When he decided to open his own place in 2013, Harris chose a name that would unite beer with his other great passion: astronomy. The ecliptic is Earth’s yearly path around the sun, and the name reflects the brewpub’s seasonal approach to beer and food. Harris’ love of astronomy carries into the beer names as well, with brews like Orbiter IPA and Phobos Red Ale. Try the Callisto Tripel on your next Portland visit, a Belgian-style beer with black currants that’s named for a moon of Jupiter.
Dancing Gnome Beer (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
You’ll find extra hoppy beers at Dancing Gnome Brewery. Photo Credit: Dancing Gnome Beer
From The Happy Gnome near many St. Paul, Minnesota hotels, to Hopping Gnome Brewing as the pivotal beer palace to visit in Wichita, Kansas, gnomes pop up a lot in craft beer. Perhaps that’s why Andrew Witchey was drawn to the fairy tale figures when searching for a name. “It was one that I came up with early, and [it] really kind of stuck,” he explains. “It was the best fit for what I wanted the personality of the brewery to be, which was hardworking and serious about quality beer, but ultimately carefree and fun.” That duality has attracted plenty of fans, who visit Pittsburgh’s Dancing Gnome for its hazy, juicy IPAs. Try whatever version they’re pouring—whether it’s hopped with Citra, Galaxy or Mosaic, it’s always good.
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