Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Heady Topper's My Porn Name: How Important is a Beer's Title?


There are more craft beers out now than ever. We as consumers aka beer geeks have options. Like back-up-of-a-back-up-to-a-back-up plan kind of options. Beer shops, heck, even some grocery stores now, have beer sections that put kids cereal isles to shame.  So how do we choose? What is making some beers sell and others go flat on the shelves? Is it taste? Well you have to buy it  at least once before you can taste it. Is it reputation? Definitely but that doesn't build over night. Is it ratings and reviews? Sure but not all of us do a beer ratings search before every purchase. definitely all of these factors come into play but when you strip all of them away. For all the times you're buying beer and just browsing the cans and bottles for something new; how important is the name on the bottle?  


A good beer name is apparently important enough that The Great American Beer Festival created a category in their highly regarded beer awards for it. 2015's gold medal beer names included: Champion Brewing's Shower Beer and Bottle Logic's Lagerithm. 

It's definitely become a "thing" to name beers funny names, punny names, or dark and powerful names. Some of my favorites include: Citra Ass Down, Cherry Busey, Mustache Rye'd, Even More Jesus, and Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right BA Select. Don't get me wrong I'm not mocking the trend, I definitely get a kick out of the quirky names. Currently I'm home-brewing a Chestnut ale and we decided to call it Suck-a-Nut Brown. 


So, let's market research the shit out of this question. How important is a beer's name? Perhaps the answer is in the competing influences?  Here are a few relate-able stats from Mintel: 

  • Discovery of new beers is popular with 84% of craft beer consumers.
  • 1/3 of craft beer consumers ask sales associates for advice/info when buying beer.
  • 73% of craft beer consumers say they usually know which brand of beer they are buying before they arrive at the store.
  • 84% of craft beer consumers like to choose their beer depending on the season. 
We'll assume these statistics have a lot of cross over, if 73% of us know what we are getting before we get to the store but 84% are interested in discovering new beers to try, I'll take an educated guess that we're coming home with something old, something new, something barrel aged, and something triple hops brewed. Translation most beer enthusiasts can't leave the store with only one beer. 

If 1/3 of us are asking for advice, that leaves over 66% that are free ballin' it, and although I have been guilty of in-store phone research, I haven't noticed a ton of others staring at their screens. Most often I see my beer-compadres staring at the cans and bottles. 


When we come face to face with a bottle-time decision, and we choose not to use our phones or customer service as a crutch, what are the main factors that come into play? Art, name, style, ingredients; typically in that order. So if you're a beer maker, you may want to consider hiring a creative writing specialist to help name your beers. If you're a craft beer drinking enthusiast like myself, you may want to consider heading to the store with more of a game plan, so you don't end up suckered into bringing home some trash water with a hilarious name on the bottle. No matter who you are, I think its safe to say that if someone tries to tell you a beer's name doesn't matter, just use a beer title from Black Lotus and reply, "I'm Rick James Beach", and put them in their place. 


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