Naming beers is tricky. First, breweries have to make sure that there isn't already another beer or product with the same or a similar name (something they don't always do). Then there are other considerations, like marketability. And finally, there is the common-sense test: Is the name offensive, inappropriate or just plain stupid?
Current events often make it into beer names, as do memes and pop-culture references. So it's not surprise that breweries have been using the coronavirus pandemic as source material. In fact, a whole new category of words and concepts are at the tip of everyone's tongue these days — many of which weren't very common or even in existence before March: social distancing, self-quarantine, face masks, testing positive, Zoom.
But there have been some real stinkers out there. And COVID-19 isn't very fun. In fact, most people would prefer not to be reminded about about the current state of the world while drinking. Georgia's Wild Heaven Beer Company, for instance, has a Vienna lager called Don't Stand So Close to Me, which is just melancholy, while Ale Asylum, in Wisconsin, dubbed one of its beers the somewhat over-the-top FVCK COVID. So coming up with pandemic-themed names is a delicate balancing act.
Colorado's breweries — for the most part — tend to me more thoughtful than those in some other states, and the kinds of pandemic-themed names run the gamut. Here are some examples:
Outer Range Brewing in Frisco has named at least two beers, both hazy IPAs, for the pandemic, and both are decidedly poignant. The inspiration for the first, I Miss Loud Tap Rooms, came when co-owner Lee Cleghorn was brewing late one night during the shutdown and was struck by the quiet. "He said that he was so used to the sound of the buzzing taproom while he brewed that he was struck by the silence," explains Emily Cleghorn, Lee's wife and co-owner. "He said as he was walking home that night, he thought, 'Damn, I miss loud taprooms.'"
"A few weeks later, we were at home and Lee was coming up with a new IPA recipe," she continues. "He wanted to throw his best hop game at a beer to just keep the good vibes going and put our best out there during this crazy time. We wanted the corresponding beer name to be positive and hopeful, and we thought about this craft beer-loving Colorado community and how they always find a way to have fun and they know how to party. And we knew that the future was full of parties." And that was the story for a beer of the same name.
Online conference calls and collaborations have also become a part of daily life for many people who are now working from home, so Zoom, Google Chat and other video-conferencing tools have come to the forefront.
That was the inspiration for several beers, including Zoom Casual, an IPA from Denver Beer Co. that riffs off of the dress-shirt-on-the-top, jammies-on-the-bottom style that is pervasive now. Then there is Zoom to the Moon IPA, which came about after a virtual collaboration between Baere Brewing and Cerebral Brewing. And finally, Casey, You're On Mute, while a mouthful to say, is a funny take on the never-ending irritation that is the person who always forgets to take themselves off of mute during a Zoom call. It's a hazy IPA from 4 Noses Brewing.
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The pandemic has even stolen the hug and handshake from us. The preferred in-person greeting of choice, these days, the elbow bump, has close-contact greetings for now. Westbound & Down Brewing and Crooked Stave seized on this idea for their collaborative IPA, Elbow Fives. So did Westfax Brewing, which brewed a new beer called Elbow Tap.
At New Image Brewing in Arvada, some of the employees began experimenting with mixology while spending time at home — a hobby that was the source of Quarantiki, a beer designed to taste like the popular rum-based tropical cocktail the Bahama Mama. The beer/mead hybrid is a collaboration with Four Fires Meadery. "After perfecting our homemade Bahama Mama recipes, we figured that’s where we wanted to take this collab. So we added pineapple, pomegranate, coconut, orange zest, coffee and, of course, tons of honey to create this 12 percent ABV mix of a mead and a beer," the brewery explained on Facebook.
A few other examples: Novel Strand Brewing's Less Than 10, which is based on the rules for how many people can gather indoors; and Strange Craft Beer Company's Strange Times, which speaks for itself. And Oskar Blues Brewing had filed for a trademark for the term Social Distance way back on March 14.