What's In A Name: Red Duck

September 12, 2012, by Crafty Pint

What's In A Name: Red Duck

Queen Bee, Ragnarok, The Ox, Ugly Duckling, Smells Like A Pony, Bear, Hop Bach, Canute the Gruit… When it comes to beer names, Red Duck tends to be as off the wall as it with the beers it brews. Yet its core range usually takes a more standard does-what-it-says-on-the-tin approach: Porter, Hoppy Amber and so on.

So, in the second of our mini-series looking at what thinking – if any – goes into a beer name, here’s what Red Duck founder and head brewer Scott Wilson-Browne had to say.

How important is the name of a beer?

From those of us naming the beer, totally important. As we are very close to our babies, they have to be named right, reflect the personality, what they can promise, excite, and make us namers feel good that we have done the right thing.

For those out there that choose the beer, how important the name is, I don’t know. For example, Golden Dragon… Did we sell extra of this in the year of the dragon? Do we sell a significant proportion to dragons? Do Asians form a significant part of our sales for a beer named Red Duck Golden Dragon.. Nope, so in this case the name doesn’t mean anything… I reckon most buyers are attracted to the “Strong Celtic Ale 7.8%” tag…

Personally, I may be attracted to a funny name, but I still ask straight away: “What is it?” So I need to know the style, or vaguely what style it may be like.

Why are some of your beers named by style and others not?

We started seven years ago in a conservative market. Back then not everyone knew what a pale ale was… "Is it like draught? Which one is like lager? Have you got a normal beer?" So we didn’t think making it any harder was a good idea.

We were constantly asked: “What style is porter?” “What colour is the amber ale? Ooh, so it’s a dark beer then…" but as the micro-beer market has grown and people are switching, then it’s easier and more challenging to give your new beers names that follow the trends. We went through a phase of giving our beers cool names, and then recently reverted, by calling our hoppy amber Hoppy Amber as I was getting tired of being asked what style is that beer. But that satisfied that whim and we went back to fun names again… Such as Smells Like A Pony.

All the beers have a style tag under the name anyway.

How do you come up with names for your beers?

How do you stop coming up with names? For me it’s like breathing, it just happens, and sometimes a name comes up before the beer… Like, I thought of a name It Started With A Kiss and that had to be a Hot Chocolate beer of course… So we have just made a chocolate chilli porter…

Sometimes the name takes longer. And the beer changes names five or six times until it's born.

Do you have a favourite among your own beer names? If so, why do you like that particular one?

No, I like them all… But I think at the moment my favourite is Gnaume. Why? Because once you work out where the name comes from it just fits.. This is an Orval-inspired beer see…* Although I am doing a collab brew in San Fran in a few weeks and that beer will be called Marin/Red Duck Duck Goose Gose…

What’s your pick of beer names from others?


*We asked if it was something to do with Gaume and gnomes and got the response from Scott: “You are a clever fellow.” I’m note sure we fully understand the name, but still, we must be on the right track…

To find out why we started this series, head here. Or to read about the Moon Dog approach to naming their beers, head here. We’re really keen to hear your thoughts on beer names – do they matter and which are your favourites, so feel free to comment below.

Next up: a rather contrary take on things from Feral.


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