Brew Biz: Werts and All

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

Written by Ken Carman

The Topic: Beer Names They Should Really Rethink (Stouts)

Warning: by the very nature of the topic, this edition of Brew Biz is a little ribald.

This started as an innocent quest. Now it may be a perpetual one. This edition will be about Stouts. I’m sure I’ll do more: it’s a fun, and a funny, topic. You wouldn’t believe all the names that one might want to consider, or reconsider.

It all started when I was looking at a bottle in The Bottle Collection: I had just bought more Old Engine Oil. While I have seen Old Engine Oil classified in many ways, to my palate it’s more of an Old Ale, or even a Scottish Ale wouldn’t be that far off. (80?)

Well that name has always given me pause. Who would like to drink old engine oil? But given an either/or choice by Murray the Enforcer I might cringe and drink that before I’d drink Black Water Stout from Foothills Brewing & Beverage Co. Of course you have the controversial Blackwater group, but that organization that has simply rebranded itself would be more a partisan issue as to the appropriateness of the name. But while “Black Water” may seem otherwise innocent to you, having toured as an entertainer: living in various “resorts” with motorhomes and my own “tour bus” in them, “black water” has a very specific meaning. It’s what hopefully doesn’t leak out until you get to the dump station that came straight from the toilet.

Do you think maybe those who did try Black Water Stout may have filled the bottles or serving tanks for Famous Railway Tavern Brewery in Brightlingsea (England) when they used to serve Bladderwrack Stout?

Hey, I’m all for creative, fun, names like Voodoo Monkey Chocolate Stout from Heads Brewery & Saloon in North Olmsted, Ohio, or even the very odd Peanut Butter And Chocolate Stout from 
Bandwagon Brew Pub in Ithaca, New York. I’m so intrigued, and gorfed out at the same time, I must try that next time I get back to Bandwagon. My luck? Not on tap at the time.

But Holy Scrotum, Batman, why would I want to drink something named Old Testy Stout from Rogue Brewery in Newport, Oregon? And I like Rogue these days. (Not so much at first, but that’s another story you must… extract… from me sometime.)

Mothers Milk Stout from Paper City Brewery Co in Holyoke, Massachusetts kind of sucks if you think about what they hopefully didn’t put in the beer. But they can be forgiven considering Guinness uses such references for Ireland’s most famous export. But Ring Of Dingle Irish Stout from 
Sun King Brewing Company in Indianapolis, Indiana? One hopes that doesn’t have a certain creamy ingredient that they think makes it qualify as a Cream Stout. Or the other source, from an overly excited virgin, Cherry Cream Stout from 
Tun Tavern in Atlantic City, New Jersey.


Chubby Stout from 
Gruhlke Brewery in Berger, Missouri. Do we really want to make beer gut beer drinkers more self conscious?

A warning for quaffers at Dark Horse Brewing Company in Marshall, Michigan. If you drink one too many and drive it won’t help your case if you Plead The 5th (for all that) Imperial Stout. But your not convicted… yet: as in Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout from 
Independence Brewing Co. in Austin, Texas. But at least it wasn’t Deathrow Oatmeal Stout from 
Prison Brews on Jefferson City, Missouri. But if you wish I’ll bet they’ll keep a seat… warm… for ya.

Death row due to the terrible accident? Was that accident cause by Black Ice Imperial Stout from 
Hollister Brewing Co. in Goleta, California? Someone thought that was actually funny? If you’ve ever hit black ice in some shady spot, on an otherwise warm day, while on two wheels, like I have, you might be laughing all the way to the hospital… not.

But if you happen to be in Pearl River, NY at a certain, very bad, moment in history you can probably drown your sorrows with Four Horsemen #3: Pestilence Stout from 
Defiant Brewing Company before you experience the Back Hand Of God… Stout, from 
Crannóg Ales in Sorrento, British Columbia.

I admit some of these aren’t that bad, but one must wonder what about the name might make craft beer lovers want to drink it. Especially if it’s Graveyard Stout
 from Deschutes Brewery & Public House in Portland, Oregon. Skip the messy Armageddon, the horrible DWI accident where you killed your Ex, let’s skip to the main event!

Why so many names focused on death when it comes to Stout?

Bonecrusher Stout

Schmohz Brewing Company
Grand Rapids, Michigan

The slow irradiated way…

Chernobyl Stout

Tugboat Brewing Company
Portland, Oregon

Murder the Paul Bunyan way…

Ax Pickin’ Stout

San Diego Brewing Co.
San Diego, California

Lung cancer…

Black Mass Stout

Monkey Wizard Brewery
Motueka, New Zealand

Or you while making peace with your future death row death, you can start the whole thing out with…

Buried Hatchet Stout
Southern Star Brewing Co.
Conroe, Texas

I had Buried Hatchet at The Bluebonnet Competition in Dallas last year. Great Stout. Questionable name.

And do me a favor. After you actual are given more than one Cement Shoe… Stout(s): (
Hideout Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.)… or are invited to its namesake after drinking Custer’s Last Stout
 from Squatters Pub Brewery in Salt Lake City, Utah. You go ahead. Say “Hi” to the Black Demon… (A Stout from Bear Brewpub in Orono, Maine.) …on your way.

I’ll catch up with you later. Much, much, much, much, much later.


Brew Biz: Werts and All, is a column dedicated to review, discuss and comment on all things beer including, but not limited to: marketing, homebrewing and homebrew/beer related events, how society perceives all things beer. Also: reviews of beer related businesses, opinions about trends in the beer business, and all the various homebrew, judging and organizations related to beer. Essentially, all things “beer.”

©Copyright 2010
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
All Rights Reserved

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