At some point this year, there will be over 3,000 breweries either operating or in development in the US (the most our nation…or ANY nation has had since the days when households stopped being breweries). It’s bad enough trying to come up with a catchy beer name to make your product stand out…but with THAT many breweries in America, you also have to think long and hard about what to name your ale factory. You could go with the tried and true method and just name your brewery after local geography (Russian River, Fire Mountain, French Broad). Or you could name the brewery after yourself (Bell’s, F.X. Matt). But those names don’t always “pop”.
Now I know what you’re thinking…who gives a shit? Fair point. But just like beer names and beer labels, your brewery’s name IS an important marketing tool. Picture yourself sitting in a bar with a choice of two IPAs on tap. Which are you more likely to order? The “Stellar Brewing Supernova IPA” or the “Bird Poop Brewery’s Cloaca IPA“. The Cloaca might be head and shoulders above the Supernova, but there’s the embarrassment factor to consider. In that vein, I sifted through the thousands of American brewery names and culled out my favorite 50 (and, of course, my least favorite 50). It should go without saying that the name on the bottle has absolutely ZERO impact on the quality of the beer. In fact, my #1 least favorite brewery name is considered one of the great American ale factories. On the flipside, having a killer brewery name does not guarantee that you’re cranking out super suds. It’s just marketing. But since you’ve come to depend on the Aleheads to make superficial judgements AND to create utterly useless lists, I’d hate to let you down.
So with that preamble, let’s jump into the the 50 Best and 50 Least Best American Brewery Names:
50 Best American Brewery Names
Let’s start with some names that inspire images of greatness. You can’t go wrong picking out an adjective brimming with promise and slapping it on every beer you make. The power of positive thinking and all that:
50. Fearless: I want my brewer to be fearless. Take chances. Push the envelope. Be brave.
49. Kinetic: Love the mental image of things in motion. A restless staff, foam bubbling over, canning lines whizzing away.
48. Vintage: Sure, it’s a word borrowed from the wine industry, but the term “vintage” is perfect for a brewery. Creates images of a throwback brewery, doing things the old-fashioned way.
47. Uncommon Brewers: Nothing wrong with being uncommon when you’ve got over 3,000 competitors.
46. Lucid: An odd adjective, but catchy. Granted, I’m rarely lucid after a few high-gravity brews, but it’s nice to think that the people making my beer are.
45. Perennial: It might be a new-ish outfit, but the name Perennial makes you think that the brewery has been around forever and will continue to be. Not a bad connotation.
44. Epic Ales: Whether or not their beers live up to the claim, who wouldn’t want to order an Epic brew?
43. Endless: Is there anything more appealing than ordering an “Endless Ale” in a bar?
42. Gigantic: OK…there is ONE thing that could trump an Endless Ale.
Can’t think of a good adjective for your beer? Don’t worry about it. Just use the word “liquid” in your name. People love to be reminded of which phase of matter their beer is in:
41. Liquid Hero: Just a super-appealing name. Their beer could be terrible and I would still order it all the time.
40. Lawson’s Finest Liquids: Unlike Liquid Hero, I actually have quite a bit of experience with Lawson’s. And I can assure you that it’s not just a clever name. Them’s some damn fine liquids.
You could also remind people that drinking is a social enterprise:
39. Our Mutual Friend: I love the idea of beer being everyone’s “mutual friend”. Because it is.
38. Wingman Brewers: Beer is, of course, the ultimate wingman. Every time you’ve ever talked to someone in a bar, who has always been right by your side? That’s right. Beer.
The next few might sound a bit repetitive, but there are few words better suited to a brewery name than “Gravity”. Beyond the fact that it’s a highly common phrase in brewing (gravity measure the relative density of wort or beer), it also implies that you make “serious” beer for serious beer drinkers:
37. Zero Gravity Craft Brewers: Granted, you don’t actually want a beer with a gravity of zero. But it’s still a cool name.
36. Original Gravity: The term for the relative density of wort before you begin fermenting.
35. Terminal Gravity: The term (also called Final Gravity) for the relative density of beer after fermentation is complete.
34. Gravity Brewing: Or just go with the simplest version.
Then there are those brewery names that evoke the sense of wonder and magic inherent in beer-making:
33. Strange Brewing: Sure, it’s probably just a McKenzie Brothers reference, but I like it.
32. Amnesia: Do the beers cause amnesia? Is that a bad thing? I don’t remember.
31. Wanderlust: What do you call an overwhelming urge to travel to breweries and sample new beers? Wanderyeast? No, that sounds like a social disease.
30. Mystic: There is something rather mystical about creating beer. Sure, science can pretty easily explain how it’s achieved, but then you’d have to, like, read and study. I’d much rather attribute fermentation to bodily humors and various pagan gods.
Some breweries like to remind drinkers that their products are hand-made:
29. Idle Hands: I’m guessing the brewers’ hands aren’t idle very often. Unless Eric Idle owns this brewery. Does he? That would be cool.
28. Tired Hands: Now that’s more like it. I expect my brewers to have hands so tired that shaking hands with them is like grasping an overcooked bundle of spaghetti.
Prohibition may have been just terrible, but there’s no problem in naming your brewery after that hard-drinking era:
27: Speakeasy Ales & Lagers: One of the great American inventions (illicit drinking halls) also happens to have a pretty kick-ass name.
26: 21st Amendment: The 13th, 15th and 19th amendments were “probably” more important. But this is clearly the best one to name a brewery after.
If you’re still having trouble naming your brewery, just give it a classy, one-word name:
25. Victory: Their beers smell like napalm in the morning.
24. Elysian: If you find yourself in green hop fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are imbibing Elysian! And you are already drunk!
23. Revolution: I’ve been to the brewery. Can’t say whether or not they’re actually doing anything revolutionary, but it “feels” like they are. And that’s all that matters.
22. Evolution: Again, you don’t actually have to be on the cutting edge. You just need a name that implies that you’re a step beyond the competition. This one does that and then some.
21. Metropolitan: Sophisticated, slightly old-timey and classic. A great name all around.
20. Element: As simple as it gets. Kind of surprised it took this long for someone to take the name.
Some breweries capture your interest with offbeat names that are just damn fun to say:
19. Gritty McDuff”s: The “something-y Mc-something” meme has only been done better once (hint hint: this post’s author).
18. Captured by Porches: Great back-story. Started by a group of homebrewers who drank on their front porches. If a brew was particularly well-received, the group would feel almost “captured” by the porch. They seem to have run into some red tape issues with their operations this year so if you’re a lawyer who likes to do pro bono work in Portland, get in touch with CbP. They make great beer.
17. Brewer’s Art: Love this name. It automatically makes their beer taste better.
16. Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project: It’s a bit frou-frou, but the name just pisses class.
15. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales: One of the all-time perfect names. It perfectly evinces the combination of pirates, Halloween and eccentricity that define JP and their beers.
You also can’t go wrong if you put the word “good” in your brewery name:
14. Good People: I’ve met them. They are indeed good people. Except for Cask Beerouac. That guy’s a disgrace.
13. GoodLife: Good beer = a good life. Also, love, friendship, health, and some measure of financial security. But mostly good beer.
I’m an absolute sucker for any brewery that ends in the word “works”. For some reason it evokes factories, constant movement and Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse” for me:
12. Funkwerks: Slight demerit for the twee “werks” spelling. Great beer though.
11. Steamworks: Awesome.
10. Pipeworks: Awesomer.
9. Hopworks: Awesomest.
The Elite Eight. Just my personal opinion, but these are my eight favorite brewery names:
8. Dark Horse: The quintessential craft brewery name. Despite the massive growth of craft, the whole industry still feels like something of a Dark Horse.
7. Midnight Sun: No real explanation…I just love the name.
6. Rising Tide: Kind of evokes the whole idea of a craft community growing and rising together. Or maybe that’s just me.
5. Civil Life: Drinking craft beer is the epitome of a civil life. Nothing brings people together for good cheer and good conversation like good beer.
4. Full Pint: What better image for a brewery name to evoke than a full pint of brew? Makes you want to order another before you even have a sip of your first.
3. Sierra Nevada: Some people believe that the two-word phrase “cellar door” is the most beautiful in the English language. I believe that Sierra Nevada is the Spanish version of that phrase.
2. AleSmith: A name utterly perfect in its simplicity. What better term for a beer artisan than an AleSmith? It doesn’t hurt that they’re one of the all-time great American breweries.
1. Sweetwater: I remember when I was young and first heard of the band Soundgarden. I thought, “I don’t care if they’re any good, that is one of the BEST damn band names I’ve ever heard.” I thought the same thing the first time I heard of Sweetwater. It’s simple. It’s catchy. It’s memorable. And it perfectly captures the product that the company makes (OK, fine…Bitterwater makes sense too, but there’s a hell of a lot more malt sugar in beer than hop oil). Personally I think they give their beers some less-than-perfect names. They should just recognize that they have one of the great brewery names out there and keep their beer names simple. Ah well, they’re growing in leaps and bounds. They clearly don’t need my advice.
That’s it for the 50 Best Brewery Names. But I know our readers love the negative stuff too (this is the internet after all). I won’t go too in-depth on each name in the following list. Hopefully my selections will mostly speak for themselves. Again, just because I’m putting the brewery in my 50 Least Best Brewery Names list does NOT mean that I don’t like them. Some of these breweries make absolutely incredible beers. It’s just a name and this is just a stupid list. PLEASE don’t take offense if one of your favorite ale factories shows up here. It’s just my opinion and as has been proven on this site time and again, my opinion is utterly worthless.
50 Least Best Brewery Names
For reasons I can’t begin to fathom, lots of breweries give themselves really unappealing animal-based names. I suppose it’s based on the old British pub-naming conventions, but I find a lot of these fairly off-putting. If nothing else, I’d be embarrassed to order most of these in a bar:
50. Gilded Otter: Again, even if it doesn’t sound so bad, picture yourself grabbing a stool at the local taphouse and ordering a “Gilded Otter”. Not happening.
49. Frog Level: Sometimes it seems like brewers are just playing Mad Libs with their names.
48. Slippery Pig: Just don’t put the word “pig” in your brewery name. No good can come of it.
47. Battered Boar: Or “boar”. Don’t use that either.
46. Wicked Beaver: Not the worst beaver-related brewery name.
45. Belching Beaver: This one is.
44. Turtle Anarchy: Never smoke weed before naming your company.
43. Donkey Punch: Why not call yourself the Rusty Trombone Brewing Company? Or Blumpkin Brewers?
42. Calfkiller: Nothing makes me thirstier than murdering baby cows.
41. Leech Lake: You know what I don’t want to picture when I’m ordering a beer? Bloodsucking worm-parasites.
40. Iron Goat: At least pick a cool animal. No one likes goats.
39. Two Goats: Even worse than one goat is multiple goats. They eat everything and have creepy eyes.
38. Weasel Boy: Just stupid.
37. Horse Heaven Hills: Actually kind of a pretty name if it didn’t evoke dead horses.
Some brewers try to connect with consumers with ridiculous names. They rarely work:
36. Kinky Kabin: C-words starting with K never fail to remind me of the Klan. That’s not a good thing.
35. Fun Hunters: Sounds like a group of lame Dads trying to convince their kids that they’re cool. “Hey gang! Let’s go fun-hunting tonight!” Let’s not.
34. Dad & Dudes Breweria: Speaking of lame Dads…do people still use the word “dude” when not referring to Jeffrey Lebowski? And “Breweria”? Sounds like a GI-problem.
33. Sweet Mullets: The use of mullets as an amusing meme died 15 years ago. Might as well call your brewery the Macarena Brewing Company.
32. Mr. Grumpy Pants: Who the f%ck would order a Mr. Grumpy Pants in a bar? They could make the world’s best beer and I would still avoid it like the plague.
31. Grumpy Troll: OK…let’s just make a pact NEVER to use the word “grumpy” in a brewery name.
30. Pinglehead: Based on their website, Pinglehead seems to be some sort of made-up clown. Clowns should never be used to sell anything ever (despite Ronald McDonald’s obvious claims to the contrary).
29. Clown Shoes: Exhibit B. Terrible name. But admittedly, I REALLY like their beer. Once again, this list is meaningless.
Craft beer drinkers are often not the most energetic lot. No need to remind them of that with your brewery name:
28. Fat Bottom: Their beer labels are actually cheesecake images of attractive ladies, but it’s hard not to think of your own, ever-expanding ass when ordering one of these brews. Not an image most drinkers want.
27. Lazy Boy: It’s bad enough to remind beer drinkers of their own inertia, but they’re also clearly just ripping off the name of a VERY well-known recliner manufacturer.
Then there are those “meh” names that inspire absolutely nothing in the beer-drinking public:
26. Alltech: I kind of like their Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, but Alltech sounds like a fictional company from Office Space. I don’t care if you’re an umbrella company that happens to own a beer factory…give your brewery its own name, dammit!
25. ManRock: Brick, are you just looking at things in the office and naming your brewery after them?
24. Very Nice: I enjoyed Borat as much as the next guy, but you shouldn’t be naming your brewery after one of his catchphrases.
23. The Bruery: Let me be clear here…I love The Bruery and all of their beers. However, despite the insertion of Patrick Rue’s last name into his company’s title, he still named his place of business after the thing that it is. It might read fine in print, but saying it out loud just confuses the hell out of people. “Oh, who made this beer?” “The Bruery.” “Which one?” “No, THE Bruery.” “What?” It’s like an Abbott and Costello routine.
22. THAT Brewery: The only ale factory with an even more confusing name than The Bruery.
21. Thr3e Wise Men: Is that your brewery name? Or your e-mail password?
20. Excel: Almost as exciting as PowerPoint Brewing or the Sharepoint Server Beer Company.
Then there are those brewery names that are just kind of gross:
19. Worm Town: What? Was Maggot Town taken?
18. Onion: Yes, onions are EXACTLY what I want to think of when I’m drinking a beer.
17. Broken Tooth: I’ve already drunkenly smashed a beer bottle against my front teeth like 100 times in my life. I don’t need to be reminded of this.
16. Weeping Radish Farm: Fine, it’s a farm that happens to have a brewery on it. Still…radishes and beer simply don’t mix.
15. Dirty Bucket: I really don’t need the image of a filthy vessel in my head when thinking about a brewery.
14. Swamp Head: Yes, I know it’s a Florida brewery and the state has a lot of swamps. Doesn’t mean it’s a good name.
13. Twisted Snout: Bad enough name without the company logo showing a boar with a mangled nose.
Some breweries inexplicably give themselves self-defeating names:
12. One Trick Pony: This would have been a good name for The Alchemist. Kidding! Kidding!
11. Below Grade: You’re just setting yourselves up for failure, folks.
10. Lone Pint: Why would you want your drinkers thinking about consuming a single beer before they even order? Self-defeating, I say!
9. Prison Brews: Named because the brewery is near a prison. Fine. There must be a more clever name than one that makes you think your beer is being brewed by felons in between license-plate stamping sessions.
The Not-So-Elite Eight. Again, just my personal opinion, but these are my least favorite brewery names:
8. Magic Hat: My relationship with Magic Hat goes back a long away and, admittedly, it’s not really that bad a name. The reason I include it here is that, back when craft beer was just coming into its own, I think a lot of people were turned off by Magic Hat’s rather twee, intentionally quirky name. I know it was founded by hippies, but I always felt that there were some Bud drinkers out there that could have been converted if only Magic Hat had a slightly less silly name. To me, it just seemed to imply all of the negative, “weird” stereotypes of craft beer back when it REALLY didn’t need that stigma. Probably over-thinking it. I tend to do that.
7. Butternuts: Terrible beer. Terrible name. Not over-thinking this one.
6. Mitten: Named after the shape of the lower peninsula. Some of the Aleheads had a friend who was nicknamed Mitten because he had one giant testicle and one tiny one. Therefore I can not take this name seriously.
5. Scars and Stripes: Forgive me for mocking the name of a brewery founded by army veterans. I work with many veterans and they’re the most responsible and thoughtful people I’ve ever met. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service. I can’t wait to sample your beer when your brewery opens. PLEASE consider changing your name. Please?
4. Ass Clown: One thing you can say for the Ass Clown Brewery team…they clearly do NOT give a shit.
3. Spider Bite: Slouch Sixpack once visited me in my hometown and got so drunk that he booted all over my mother’s couch. The next time he visited, he slept on the same couch and was bitten by a Brown Wolf Spider. The bite got infected and he spent the next morning extraordinarily ill. We all accepted this as the couch’s revenge. The point is that Slouch’s infected spider bite was disgusting and therefore it should never be a brewery name.
2. Pig Minds: Actually sounds like a pretty cool brewery. But goddamn if that isn’t the worst brewery name I’ve ever heard.
1. Dogfish Head: You probably knew this was coming. Lord knows we’ve given DFH grief over the years despite the overall love they receive from the craft beer fans of the world. The name actually simply refers to a small jut of land in coastal Maine where dogfish are abundant. So really, no big deal. The reason they’re number one with a bullet on this list is because the brewery has been wildly successful DESPITE what is clearly just an awful name. You can’t say it without thinking of fish-heads…and then you throw dogs in there and really…it’s just a mess. It reminds me of the old SNL parody of the Smuckers commercials (you know, “With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good!”). SNL kept upping the ante (“With a name like Monkey Pus…” “With a name like Painful Rectal Itch…”). That’s what Dogfish Head seems like to me. If you can win over some of the most discriminating Aleheads with a name like Dogfish Head, you MUST be good. No one even thinks about how terrible a name it is anymore…but it IS! I swear! Or am I just taking crazy pills again…
There you have it. The Best and Least Best Brewery names in America. Which ones did we miss, Alehead Nation?