What’s In A Beer Name?

label showing two rubber ducks and a redheaded goose on a river

Clever beer puns are all the rage, and bonus points if you can get the word “hop” sandwiched in there – Hops of Wrath, Hopsecutioner, Hoptimus Prime, Hoppy Ending, Tricerahops, Hopocalypse, Smooth Hoperator, etc etc etc.  Beer names tend to be  playful and punny:

What kind of beer they are –  Lost Abbey’s Duck Duck Gooze,  Oskar Blue’s Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Mash Brewing’s Rye the Hop Not?

round metal beer stien with pouring spout and hinged top
Early German beer stein

What they’ll make you feel like (I could argue Raging Bitch fits this category) – Mad Fox’s Crazy Ivan,  Three Sheets Barleywine,  Lagunitas’ Lumpy Gravy

Something about where they’re from or what season they represent: Brouwerij Huyghe’s Delirium Noel, The Bruery’s Five Golden Rings, Sixpoint’s Autumnation

Valley Brewing’s Effinguud, Piece’s  Baron von Awesome , and Wasatch Polygamy Porter (“Why have just one?”) are a splendid examples of cheerful, successful self-promotion.

But don’t think this is a hip new part of the rise of craft beer or anything.  For one thing, homebrewers have been at it mercilessly for years.  For another…well, let me give you some beer names from sixteenth century Germany.  That’s right, I said the sixteenth century:

Body Blow

Double Delusion


Glug-Glug Tap

Bite-the-man (and Blow-the-Man-Down, Knock-the-Man-Down,and Stomp-in-the-Ashes)


Farter (there were a number on this theme, like Squeaker, Stretch-Butt, and Croaker)

Croaker Beer

line drawing of men with giant barrels and big tub: 16th c brewery
A 16th Century Brewery

Rip Head

and the ever-puzzling Mosquito Mustard.

These are all beers mentioned by Heinrich Knaust (1522-1577) in his Fünff Bucher Von Der Göttlichen Und Edlenn Gabe Der Philosophischen Hochthewren und Wunderbaren Kunst Bier Zu Brawen  or Heliu

s Eobanus Hessus (1488-1540) De Natura Cerevisiarum et de Mulso.  Knaust was actually trying to write a scholarly work on beer and brewing, but he plagiarized Helius Hessus with impunity, and was himself copied by a whole series of later authors – those were the days of no copyright laws whatsoever. Knaust also kept a travelogue with beer notes.  He said Mainz beer was “a light and small drink”; Brandenburg Old Claus was “strong and easily a

scends to the head, so then maketh people sleepy and heavy”.  He quotes a proverb: “The Frieberg beer is a tasty one.”  I have to find a way to sandwich that into a conversation.  Stendel beer had “good substance, sweet to drink, makes the company ‘amusing’.”  Let’s have some of that.

Thanks to Misha Suggs of mishabrews.com for his highly entertaining class and handout on A Pub Crawl Through Period Germany.


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