Not all beer names are created equal. We’ll talk best beer names in some future posts, but for now I wanted to touch on the “Biggest Beer Misnomers”. These are the beer names that do a lousy job of describing what’s in the bottle. Here’s an off-the-cuff Top Ten, but I expect my fellow Aleheads and readers to correct this list post-haste:
10. Harviestoun Old Engine Oil – We touched on this one in an earlier post, but the name “Old Engine Oil” conjures up visions of a thicker-than-molasses, black sludge. The color is right, and it’s a wonderful brew, but the name simply doesn’t describe the beer at all. The Old Engine Oil actually has a fairly light body for the style and it drinks much easier than the name implies. ALTERNATIVE NAME: “Harviestoun Old Engine Wiper Fluid”.
9. Port Brewing Old Viscosity – Same issue here…it’s a solid beer, but the name hints at a dark, rich brew that flows like motor oil. It’s actually not even a stout…it’s considered an American strong ale. And while it has a fairly thick mouthfeel, it’s much more carbonated than the name would have you believe. If you really want to try a viscous brew…taste the Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. That stuff pours like Heinz ketchup from a glass bottle. ALTERNATIVE NAME: “Port Brewing Fizzy Lifting Drink”
8. Terrapin Hopsecutioner – I love this beer, but let’s be honest…if you’re going to call your beer the “Hopsecutioner”, it better hit you so hard with a bitter hop profile that your face sucks into itself. This brew is actually very well-balanced, and while it’s hoppier than most, its certainly no Hopsecutioner. To be fair, there are dozens of beers that have the word “Hop” in their title that could go on this list. But the Hopsecutioner sounds the most intimidating, so I thought it deserved the slot. ALTERNATIVE NAME: “Terrapin Hoppy Little Bunny”.
7. Unibroue La Fin Du Monde – I’m in the minority in not liking this beer, but the name might have something to do with it. French for “The End of the World”, you would expect something with a huge ABV percentage or overwhelming flavor. Instead you get a 9% ABV (strong, but not “end of the world” strong) and some fairly subtle, delicate flavors that are to be expected with a Tripel-style brew. Maybe I just don’t like it because it’s Canadian. ALTERNATIVE NAME: “Unibroue Trebek Tripel”.
6. Orkney Skull Splitter – At 8.5%, this is a strong Scotch Ale (it’s considered a Wee Heavy). But really? Skull Splitter? I guess if you hit someone over the head with the bottle or gave them a Glasgow Kiss while they were drinking it, then maybe the name would be apropos. Also, the bottle’s label has one of the least intimidating looking Scottish “warriors” on it that I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t look like he could split a toothpick in half, let alone a skull. ALTERNATIVE NAME: “Orkney Foofy Viking”.
5. Stone Arrogant Bastard – The beer that, for better or worse, made the Stone Brewing Company famous. It always smacked of gimmickry to me…give a beer a “controversial” and amusing name, and see if the masses flock to it. They did. The cool name and label got a lot of people interested in craft brews and for that, I suppose Stone should be lauded. But I always thought the name was just wrong. To me, a beer called Arrogant Bastard should be overwhelming and inaccessible…a beer for only the most well-seasoned Aleheads. A beer that laughs at novices and tells other beers to shut their cap-holes. Instead, this 7.2% ABV is a fairly drinkable Strong Ale with some very assertive, but not overwhelming flavors. It’s a good beer, but I don’t feel any more superior to my fellow man for having drank it. Perhaps that’s because I always feel that way. ALTERNATIVE NAME: They should either call it what it is, “Stone Marketing Gimmick”, or just go all the way and call it “Stone Pretentious Fuck”.
4. Stone Ruination – Not to pick on Stone, but they do have a tendency of giving wildly presumptuous names to their beers. Ruination is named as such because it will “ruin” your palate with its “massive” hop profile. Is it hoppy? Sure. Does it ruin your palate? No more than about 50 other aggressively hopped beers you could have. Try the Dogfish Head 120 Minute, Rogue Old Crustacean, or Founder’s Devil Dancer for much hoppier offerings. ALTERNATIVE NAME: “Stone I’ve Had Hoppier”.
3. Black Sheep Holy Grail Ale – OK, this isn’t really fair. The beer was actually created to commemorate Monty Python’s Flying Circus…the inimitable sketch comedy troupe behind the much-beloved Monty Python & The Holy Grail. Still, if you’re going to call a beer “Holy Grail”…try to make it better than this one. ALTERNATIVE NAME: “Black Sheep Life of Brian”.
2. Coors Banquet Beer – If you host a banquet and serve this beer, I hope your guests riot and murder you. ALTERNATIVE NAME: “Coors Can-Of-Shit”.
1. Miller High Life – My favorite misnomer. The name conjures up scenes of easy living in a sprawling, Manhattan apartment teeming with servants, scantily clad women, and piles of money. Unfortunately, the beer tastes like the very distillation of a life spent in a trailer park, living off food stamps, and working on your Chevy El Camino. ALTERNATIVE NAME: “Miller Sad”.