WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - The Latin name for hops is Humulus lupulus, lupulus meaning wolf. So when the New York City area sales manager of Victory Brewing Co. suggested a name for the brewery's double India pale ale that debuted last fall, he mistakenly thought "humulus" meant earth and proposed Dirtwolf.
"I was like, 'You know what, you're a little bit off on your Latin,'" said Bill Covaleski, co-owner of Victory, as "humus" is the Latin term for earth, not "humulus."
For those breweries in the business of craft beer, it's not only important for them to create beers full of flavor and aromatics but also to create a suitable and distinctive name. "Naming beers is a little bit like naming children," said Brian O'Reilly, brew master at Sly Fox Brewhouse in Schuylkill. "You certainly want it to be interesting, but not so much that it's distracting."
Brewers said that the beer names have come in a variety of ways - employee suggestions, patron suggestions, a collaborative effort or an outside agency. Sly Fox's Route 113 IPA was named after a dare.
"One of our customers dared us to make a beer as hoppy as the route that we are on," said O'Reilly.
Hops are measured in international bittering units, and Sly Fox is located on Route 113. So the IPA has 113 IBUs, which is a very hoppy beer. And that's not the only unconventional way Sly Fox, has named a beer - it names its seasonal maibock beer after the winning goat at the annual Sly Fox Bock Festival & Goat Race. Now it's named after Simon.
"We just did a big event and we had some farmers show up with goats, and it developed into a really, really big event now," said O'Reilly.
At Victory, some beer names exist before the beer is ever brewed, as Covaleski has a list of beer name ideas that he is waiting to use for the right beer. Victory's Golden Monkey was originally an idea for a Hellerbock beer with a lot of hops added. But when Covaleski and his business partner, Ron Barchet, decided not to brew that beer style, Covaleski saved the name for later. The Golden Monkey sold today is a Belgian-style tripel, and the name is perfect for the beer.
"It's a very strong beer, very seductive in character; most people don't realize its strength. And so we like to joke that golden denotes something premier, premium and it's got all European ingredients. And monkey is always something playful," he said. "It's really after your second Golden Monkey that you really understand the monkey part a little bit better."
Covaleski constantly has a backlog of name ideas, but Free Will Brewing Co. in Perkasie names its beers after they have been tasted.
"We just call it a sputnik and put a number on it and put it in our tasting room," said co-owner Dominic Capese. "Once one of these beers gets some traction, that's when the creative juices get moving."
Free Will Brewing Co. doesn't have a restaurant like Victory and Sly Fox, rather patrons can try the brews in the tasting room. The company has packaged and sold about 20 different beers since its founding in 2010. Capese said that all employees are encouraged to help name the beers, and the best name wins because a good name is important for several reasons. Some of the popular ones are Techno IPA, Hop Geek and Ralphius RIS.
"I think that when it comes to someone's recollection of a particular product ... I think by adding a name it gives a little bit of personality to that product," he said.
"As great as our beers are - we pride ourselves on the quality and the flavors of them - we don't kid ourselves. If Golden Monkey had been named Victory Belgium-Style Tripel it would have not nearly achieved the success it has," said Covaleski.
But since craft beer has experienced a resurgence, there are a lot more breweries that often come up with similar names.
"It's getting harder to be creative because a lot of good names are being taken up," said Covaleski.
However, there is a lot of respect and camaraderie in the business, he said.
"In the end everyone's searching for creativity. And if two people find themselves trying to occupy the same creative space, it doesn't make sense," he said. "Someone should yield."