By: Allison White
From wacky to clever to downright funny, learn the story behind some of the best local beer names.
Lexington is home to some amazing breweries which pour high-quality beers and ciders. While the beers are great, some of their names are even better—read on for the stories behind a few brews with names that make you laugh out loud, spur great conversation or just really make you think.
Country Boy derives some name inspiration from country songs, “Country Boy Can Survive” but here it is only a small portion of the inspiration. Founder Daniel “DH” Harrison is a big believer that words have power, positive or negative. “Survive is such a strong word,” DH said. A stand alone, their only single-word beer name, it “Punches down the middle, no matter what loss you’re going through in life, we’re all survivors… You’re giving a character and soul to the beer.” The topographical lines on the can nod to the outdoors explorers.
This brew was originally called Brown Chicken Brown Cow. When a couple of friends were getting married, they asked for a special keg at their wedding. Being so busy with the business, this special batch was forgotten. With a few weeks to spare, quick thinking led to the addition of vanilla beans to their flagship brown ale. Thus, a new and improved flagship brew was made. The “Shotgun” comes from the fact it was rushed, but it led to a perfect marriage of flavors.
Legend of Wooley Swamp & Ghost of Lucious Clay
LOWS is a song by the Charlie Daniels Band, “Arguably the best, worst country song of all time,” DH said. “In the era of 80s, early 90s country with this techno thing going on, it’s terrible but awesome.” The main character Lucious Clay lives in a swamp and after he is robbed and killed, he haunts the swamp. “The beer is a huge stout at 11% heavy, viscous, strong and ominous.” The Ghost of Lucious Clay is a blonde stout, which tastes dark and heavy as well, but fools you by the light color and transparency. Two beers wrapped into one story, in essence the same, just different appearances.
My Beer Haze a First Name, It’s NEIPA
Owner Derek DeFranco shares his method for beer name inspiration, pulls out his phone and scrolls in his Notes app, sharing a few ideas simply revolved around the word Haze. The New England IPA’s are an unfiltered hazy style and very popular right now, a favorite style of those at Mirror Twin. Smiles abound as this title made many laugh out loud upon reading and ordering.
White Girl Wasted
A flagship brew, this name was inspired by Kelsey DeFranco. “Back when I was a home brewer she loved the Red Blooded American, but asked if I could make it more alcoholic,” DeFranco said. “I did, and after she had two beers I said ‘I can’t handle this, you’re too white girl wasted,’ then a few minutes after, I thought that it would be a good beer name!” He said she was the original, but explains everyone can relate, that he’s been white girl wasted, and figures most everyone has been at least once.
Haze Siri, Call Mom
This name is a favorite, because when people would say the beer to order at the bar, iPhones within earshot would actually activate Siri to give their mom a ring. It’s also a delicious brew, one many staff and regulars enjoy at the brewery. It’s funny to imagine those getting inebriated and wanting to talk with their mother, or maybe needing a ride home after too many hazy IPAs. “My mom really liked it, my phone dialed her once and she was pretty happy about it
It all started with a batch of Snake Eyes (at 11% abv a roll of two one’s as a dice reference.) With the addition of aging on oak, Snakes in a Barrel was born, and finally a small experimental run with the addition of vanilla and cocoa nibs led to Snake Cake. On West 6th’s third birthday, they decided to tap Snake Cake with the idea that it would be like their birthday cake. The feedback was tremendous in the taproom, so they decided to send it to International Beer Fest where they received international acclaim. It was a year or two before it was available in bottles. It’s now traded everywhere, found as far as L.A. and Wisconsin.
Pay It Forward Cocoa Porter
This porter was born in 2013 for the first year of hosting a kickoff party. With original name of 50 Cents, the idea was that 50 cents would be donated per pour to a local nonprofit. It was a more guilt-free drink purchase. The staff thought this beer was one of better tasting brews so they decided to put it into packaging. Distributing and scaling up to sell throughout states continued the fundraising on a larger scale—currently around $120,000 have been raised.
This beer was named after a social media turnout when help was requested on Facebook for naming a new triple style brew. Unexpectedly and immediately, ideas started coming and there were over 600 responses within a few hours. The next day, staff read through each and narrowed down to four, putting up for a final vote. “The University student population overran our Facebook page and voted it through,” Matt Fay said. “It was such a huge response we never expected!” Initially a one-off, Transylvania Tripel became so popular over the next few years that it was pitched to be sold in cans. Though initially reserved, the University was asked for their good graces and totally embraced it. Cans were released on Transylvania’s alumni weekend and many staff, alumni and the student body came out to celebrate.
This sour IPA with mangos is an idea stemming from a brainstorming session for the busy Lexington Craft Beer Week during a release event, Chris Bucher shares. The event, “Trials of the Sun Warrior” shared a selection of beers inspired by South Central American Cuisine. A fictional warrior hero was created among the staff who rode a War Llama, and the beer’s taste seemed to fit the name.
This Russian Imperial Stout name is based off of a Russian folktale of a witch who resides in a living house perched atop giant chicken legs. Bold, dark, mysterious and magical, this is easily Ethereal’s most revered beer, with a name and taste to give the chills.
Xanthus & Balius
This is an old ale, and collaboration with friends at Blue Stallion. One of the name themes at Ethereal is inspiration and reference to constellations. Being that Blue Stallion gets their name from a horse, two horses written in the stars are named Xanthus and Balius.
Much of the naming process is an ode to owners Tim and Greta’s love of apples. They want to represent how each apple actually tastes, in its truest (fermented) form. This is achieved through heritage methods which makes a traditional, dry cider versus the modern sweeter version. Thus, single varietals are named after each apple, but blends come from a mixture of apples. Commonwealth Gold is a blend of Evan’s Orchard apples, including Goldrush, and this blend will always come from Kentucky-grown apples.
This was inspired by the Town Branch which runs behind the Distillery District. In the 1900s, part of this branch was buried when developing roadways throughout the city of Lexington. This cider pays homage to this buried waterway seen running behind the Wise Bird patio, a low-lying creek hidden from view. The blend is a mixture of Stayman, Arkansas Black and Ashmeads Kernal apples.
Although the naming process comes mostly from brainstorming through Excel sheets and arguing, Tim gives Greta credit for coming up with the majority of their chosen names. Spending some time overseas in Europe, Greta had the idea of Pomme as it is French for apple. They knew this blend would always be the sweetest of their ciders offered on tap, and upon tasting it she thought “It’s like cheer in your mouth.” So, Pomme Pomme was born. It’s hard to sip this one without being inhibited by a feeling of happiness.