Craft beer naming conventions can go a few ways. The brewery will often go with a theme for their beer names, sometimes giving a story behind each beer. Sometimes breweries just stay “boring” and stick with conventional names like “pale ale,” or “amber ale.” Sometimes the naming convention is all in all random.
The thing that really gets me with craft beer naming conventions though is the names that push the hoppiness of a beer. These names can be great and entertaining: things like Hop Czar (from Bridgeport Brewery); Hop Bomb (from Boatrocker), or just Bling or Bling Bling (from Bridge Road) are a lot of fun.
These names come down to marketing, especially these days when it’s all about the IPA. Craft beer drinkers’ taste is that it’s the hoppier the better!
What bugs me though about beer naming conventions is when the beer is called, for example, The Extreme Nuclear Hop Explosion (with extra radioactive hops!), and the beer is no bigger, badder, or bolder, than every other IPA or Double IPA on the market.
If a brewery is going to be calling their beer some extra hopped up name, I’m expecting an extra hopped up beer. Unfortunately I’ve found that beers with these names rarely live up to the expectation.
Yes, craft beers with hop related names are generally hoppy, but if you’re going to be calling your beer something like “Hop Bomb,” the drinker is expecting a giant hop explosion. In my experience, the Hop Bomb doesn’t taste any more hoppy or bitter than other IPA’s by similar breweries.
As mentioned, craft beer names come down to marketing. Drinkers like the story behind the beer or like to know what they’re about to have, but if the name is misleading, it’s a little disappointing.
Personally, I think it’s important to rate a beer on what it’s supposed to be doing. If the name, or overall attitude of a beer suggests a certain characteristic for that beer, the beer better live up to it! This especially goes for beers that claim to have the most hops ever.
Craft beer naming conventions are important, and it’s part of the fun of drinking great craft beer. The big thing is though, get it right. Don’t mislead the drinker just for marketing or for some unnamed competition to come up with the best name.
This goes beyond names having to do with hops, but they’re the most common.
Anyway, feel free to comment on any misnamed beers in the comments.