Anyone who’s done it will tell you that opening a brewery isn’t easy. Choosing the name? Even harder. Despite all the time and effort involved, and having so much riding on choosing the right one, some of B.C.’s breweries have still managed to saddle themselves with confusingly similar names.
Maybe this is only a big deal to beer geeks like me, who try to keep track of all the breweries and maniacally check off every beer on Untappd. I find I can’t keep track of who’s who any more because many of the names sound alike. My own discomfort aside, I worry that confusing consumers will turn them off craft beer.
Regardless of how good a brewery’s beer is, or in how many venues it’s available, it is still down to the customer to choose to drink it. With 150ish breweries all brewing multiple year-round beers, plus seasonals, there’s a dizzying amount to keep track of. Confusing potential customers won’t help them to choose your beer over all the others. Best case scenario: they drink the other brewery’s beer thinking it’s yours. Scary case scenario: they throw up their hands and make the easy choice—the macro-brewed beer they already know.
For the breweries already in existence whose names are confusing, I don’t have any solutions for ya. That’s above my pay-grade. I just point fingers at the imperfections in beer world and carry on my merry craft beer loving way. It’s good to be me.
Like having two teams in the CFL named the Roughriders, it matters less how it came about and more that it is unnecessarily confusing (not that “Ottawa Redblacks” is much of an improvement). There are millions of words in the English language, plus all the ones you can borrow from other languages or just invent. If that makes it too overwhelming to choose, there are professionals who can help come up with something other than the same name as the brewery down the road.
When a large portion of business names adhere to the Adjective Noun Brewing naming model, there’s an increased chance of name overlap. Following the model is easy: choose a favourite number, colour, or attribute and team it with a noun. I’m sure we can all name dozens of the B.C. breweries in this category. A third of 2017’s new breweries are there too, resulting in some name overlaps.
Incidentally, red seems to be the most popular colour choice. There’s Red Truck, Red Arrow, Red Collar and now Red Bird. Dogs are also a popular theme, with Yellow Dog, Twa Dogs, 3 Dogs and Bad Dog.
Older breweries are not immune, either: Bridge, Ridge, Big Ridge—I see a Venn diagram there.
Some confusion is unavoidable—I’m not sure how you could protect yourself against non-similar sounding names evoking similar responses in people. When Morningstar and Night Owl both joined Callister last year I had trouble recalling which was which. And if I had a dollar from everyone who’d told me how great Strange Fellows’ whiskey is when they mean Odd Society’s, I still wouldn’t be able to retire, but I’d be able to buy a really nice breakfast.
So if you have the starry-eyed dream of taking over the province, I’d suggest that a good first step is to read down the list of existing B.C. brewery names and make sure the name you’re leaning toward doesn’t sound like anyone else’s. Don’t settle for simply avoiding a trademark infringement.
Better yet, try out The Growler’s handy Brewery Name Generator!
Brewery name generator
First Letter of First Name
First Letter of Last Name
P- Pick-up Truck
Month of Birth
January- Brewing Co.
February- Beer Co.
May- Brewing Inc. (A Division of AB InBev)
June- Ale House
July- Brewing and Distilling
August- Brewery and Cidery and Winery and Distillery