That !?$%^*@><~ Beer

Michael Donato, October 15, 2013

Beer names are just another area where a brewer can exercise some creativity. While some breweries stick to more classic names, like Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale, others utilize an expanded keyboard to create beer names like Singlecut Beersmiths' 1933 Lagrrr!. Does the extra effort to craft an interesting beer name reflect extra effort in crafting the beer itself?

Perhaps not. Our rated sample of all beers has a combined 3.65 rating with a 1.06 BAR and a 0.14 wOBAR while the combined set of beers containing every odd character I could think of has a 3.6 rating, a 0.81 BAR and a 0.08 wOBAR. If anything this suggests that the names trend more towards gimmicky than well-crafted. 

If we take it a little further we can look at each individual punctuation marks. I didn't check for # because it's too commonly used to mark batch numbers or special releases and not really part of the name. After that it really only boils down to two, ! and %.




































As you can see, an exclaimation point offers a slight bump, whereas the percent is not a very good sign. There's very little to glean from the other marks, but we can talk about them anyway.  

The lone tilde is from Ritual Brewing Company's Little Oat ~ Small Beer. This appears to be a very small brewery outside of Los Angeles and the ~ is unfortunately not really part of the name. Small Beer is actually the style of the beer, despite it being in the database as 'Other'. Small beers are a style of beer made from the second runnings of a stronger beer. The initial mashing process takes out a lot of the fermentable sugars from the grain, and subsequent runnings produce a smaller percentage of fermentable sugar into the wort creating a much weaker beer though retaining a lot of similar flavors. Ritual makes a 12.2% Imperial Stout called Big Deluxe which does sound delicious (3.98 rating, 1.37 BAR and 0.19 wOBAR across 58 check-ins), and it's with these leftovers that they craft the Little Oat.  So the ~ isn't part of the name, but it's still an interesting beer.

The at symbol was a little more truthful. There is one beer named with an @, and that's Milwaukee Brewing Company's Weekend @ Louie's. Who's Louie? Apparently he's some guy that's been dead for 160 years but the founder of the company used to toast him when he first started homebrewing so he lives on in beer names. It's an odd, but strangely compeling, story. The flagship beer, Louie's Demise, is a medium bodied amber, but Weekend @ Louie's is suitably creative for the only beer with the at symbol. They took their Demise and cold-brewed Blueberry and Hibiscus tea in it. Strange, but the ratings suggest it isn't bad.  In fact, it does better than the flagship. 

BrewDog has a lot of beers in these totals, but BrewDog has some very creative names overall so that shouldn't surprise. While there doesn't seem to be any real quality relationship to using weird characters, there are some interesting beers hidden among them. 

I'm sure I've missed a few interesting beer names that use punctuation I haven't thought of. Feel free to mention them to me in the comments, or on Twitter, and maybe I'll do a followup post.