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Crafting a name

October 11th, 2016

Finding right flavor is half the battle for brewmasters

By Kimberly Dupps Truesdell | The Journal Gazette 

The beer – a farmhouse-style wheat with citrus and apricot notes – brewed as a collaboration between Trubble Brewing and Flat 12 Bierworks didn’t have a name when work began on a hot day this August.

Chad Hankee, co-owner and brewer of Trubble Brewing, says that he and the guys from Flat 12 exchanged text messages about a potential name but hadn’t settled on anything when brew day came.

However, the beer makers had decided on what to wear.

“The two brewers that came up, Mike and EZ, always wear jean shorts when they brew and they call them jorts,” Hankee says. “I’m like, well, I’ll make some and I’ll wear them for brew day.”

As they were brewing, sweating in the summer heat, the word “schweaty” came up. Sch-wheat-y. And so the wheat beer was named Schweaty Jorts. 

The rising craft beer industry is not only introducing Americans to different styles of beers but also offering varieties that sound more like punch lines than beer names.

Tail Dragger, Hopsquatch, OA Big Bad Billy Goat, Visually Impaired Mice, Dog Slobber, Mudderpucker – all are names of craft beers made by breweries in Fort Wayne. 

Making it unique

Ben Thompson began brewing his own beer in 2008 as a college student at the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. While it was a hobby for Thompson’s friends, he found an affinity with the process.

“For some reason, I liked it, and I kept doing it,” he says. “I just wanted to learn about it.”

When it came time for the pilot and airplane mechanic to get more serious about brewing and begin selling his creations, he turned to Fort Wayne’s aviation history for inspiration.

The name of the brewery – Birdboy Brewing Company – pays homage to one of the area’s first pilots and namesake of Smith Field, Art Smith. 

Beers such as Taildragger, a Belgian pale ale, and Staggerwing, an American wheat, reference planes, both of which are flying models from the early 1900s. But then there are beers such as Mudderpucker, a sour brown ale. The sour taste of the ale made drinkers, well, pucker.

Thompson says that some people might order a pint at his 210 E. Collins Road tasting room, which opened in August 2015, but others might gloss over it.

Novelty isn’t a motivating factor when naming beers, but he does want something unique – which proves more difficult than anything. 

“The hardest part for me is trying to come up with a creative name that’s not already taken,” Thompson says. “I’ll come up with a good one and Google it and find that some brewery in Mississippi already used that name.”

Indeed, the growing number of breweries makes it difficult to create not just unique beers but also original names. As of June 30, a record 4,656 breweries were operating in the U.S., an increase of 917 from the previous year, according to the Brewers Association. Additionally, there were about 2,200 breweries in planning.

Paying homage

Mad Anthony Brewing Co. got its start in 1998 with Gabby Blonde, an American-style golden lager.

Since then, it’s come out with ales, lagers and seasonal creations that pay homage to the northeast Indiana area. Auburn Lager is rich and malty with crispness from hopiness. Gabby Blonde was recently renamed Olde Fort.

And then there’s Harry Baals, an Irish stout that is poured from a special nitrogen tap. Baals, of course, was the Republican mayor in the 1950s whose name has inspired T-shirts, a street name, a music festival and countless jokes.

But when it comes to naming Mad Anthony brews, Joshua Volz says the brewery tries to toe the line between traditional and over-the-top original.

“We, of course, we want to make sure that we have our market in mind that when we name something that we don’t make it too crazy,” says Volz, Mad Anthony marketing and design director. “We want to make sure everyone feels inclusive with what we do.”

Brewers at Mad Anthony have had more creative freedom when developing and naming beers for its seasonal menu and the Outside the Box series. 

A seasonal beer, Blood and Bullets is an IPA made with blood oranges and bullet hops and it is usually released in May.

The brewery is currently gearing up for the debut of Hopsquatch (“it’s a fun name,” Volz says), which is a single-hop beer with big flavor.

Not only do the beers help refresh the tap lineup at Mad Anthony’s four locations, but it helps them stand out among the other craft beers, and the unique branding.

Make it fun

You have to have fun with beer names, says Hankee of Trubble Brewing.

Whether it’s a word that pops out of a book or a feeling, he finds inspiration everywhere and rarely sits down to name a beer. 

“The names, for me – beer names come automatically,” he says, adding that he doesn’t find the process to be competitive with other breweries.

Mind Trap is Trubble’s flagship brew and one of Hankee’s first presentations to the public, making its debut at a craft beer festival. It’s a big IPA made with Falconers Flight Hops. 

“When I came up with Mind Trap, it was like three or four years ago,” Hankee says. “I think it’s just something that happens to the mind sometimes.”