Here’s one of my favourite Dad Gags.
“What is a specimen?”
“An Italian astronaut.” Ba-doom-TISH!!
Classic. I open with this quick tee-hee for two reasons. One; because I recently received some swift back-handed compliments over some very sharp and craftily constructed puns and one-liners* I delivered via Twatter and, two, because a beer got me thinking about the topic of today’s post.
Now let’s leave the first – some people just wouldn’t know funny if it grew teeth and bit them on their arse – and move straight to the second. As a Volunteer Steward at this year’s AIBA’s I was fortunate enough to be able to select a few beers from those left over after the judging was complete and the gongs awarded. I chose a wide and varied handful of brews, including a few in foreign alphabets that were chosen on little more than a guess and a prayer.
Working my way through these beers got me thinking; what was it that led my eye to these unfamiliar brews in the first place, given that, in some cases, I wasn’t even sure of the style or country of origin? Sure, with some I had an inkling as to the beers charms and with others I trusted the brewer’s previous offerings enough to take a punt, but some were little more than a blind guess.
One such beer was an offering from Italian outfit Brewfist, the IPA named The Spaceman. Hence the opening gag. Italian? Spaceman? Follow? Try to keep up, now. The Spaceman was chosen purely on name alone and the memory of a joke I probably first heard in Grade three. The Spaceman was, I am happy to report, an absolute cracker and a delight, the only downside being the inability to source it again anytime soon.
It did get me to thinking. What’s in a name? How much effect on the purchasing decision does the name of a beer have? Of course it takes a good beer to keep them coming back for more, but what initial value does the name suggest? If we were all to look deep into our beery past there would surely be beers drunk on the strength of a humorous, punny or otherwise catchy moniker.
Fat Yak. This hospitality veteran has lost count of the cases of this beer sold over the last three years to people who could barely suppress a giggle as they placed their order. “Do you like American-style Pale Ales?” “Dunno – just like the name!” they would freely admit. Black Lung, Henry’s Girthsome Fjord, Melon Gibson and Billy Ray Citrus. Moondog knows the promotional value of a catchy handle. These beers at least give some hint as to their zymrgilogical DNA. But what of some others?
Hoptimus Prime suggests that the oily resin of the Humulus Lupus may be prominent just as a Skull Splitter or Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale hint at these beer’s alcohol levels while My Wife’s Bitter relies on the drinker having met Mrs Peta Fielding to know that the name is seriously misleading.
Conversely a beer named Yellow Snow or Moose Drool might say more about the humour of the brewer than of any secret non-traditional ingredient. The ‘I’ll have what the Gentleman on the floor is having’ Barley Wine, Panty Peeler Belgian Trippel and Old Leg Humper would never get past the wowser-led PC police in this country while Dr Morton’s Clown Poison would be sued for false labelling when users found it did not do as promised. Polygamy Porter (‘Why have just one?’) provides a chuckle but still hints as to the formulation of the finished product.
Arrogant Bastard presumably contains no real attitude. Druid Fluid is surely not what some of you just thought and as for Vergina, well…
Now it’s over to you, readers. I’m sure there are plenty of personal favourites I have missed here. Let’s see if we can’t come up with some consensus on the all-time best named beer in the whole wide world ever.
*For those who missed it and need a jolly good chuckle, here’s the classic I delivered in response to a Twatter follower confessing to some nerves before an interstate flight. (My response) Don’t worry, I once asked a pilot; “How often do these things crash?” and he replied; “Oh, just the once.” Classic.