How 15 Breweries Got Their Names


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As these brewers have learned, a great name can make marketing a great beer that much easier. Crack open your favorite ale or lager and learn about how some of the American brewing scene’s heavyweights got their names.

1. Founders 

One of Michigan’s most beloved breweries, Founders was originally called "Canal Street Brewing Company" when it opened in 1996. The brewery was named after an area in Grand Rapids where many breweries were located in the 19th century, and since Canal Street’s labels featured images of these breweries’ founders, the upstart was soon nicknamed "Founders."

2. New Belgium 

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The brewery, located in Fort Collins, Colorado is well known for its flagship beer, Fat Tire. The story behind that beer’s name is intertwined with the naming of the brewery itself. In 1989, co-founder Jeff Lebesch was biking around Belgium, sampling the local brews. He returned home with an idea to open a brewery, and to pay homage to the European nation that inspired him, he named it New Belgium

3. Sierra Nevada 

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Founded in 1979, Sierra Nevada is the second best-selling craft brewery in the U.S., behind only the Boston Beer Company. Its name came from founder Ken Grossman’s favorite outdoor playground: the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

4. Dogfish Head 

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Founded in 1995 by brewer Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head is famous for their inventive beers and wide range of IPAs. Calagione's dad suggested the name—which comes from a street in Southport, Maine called Dogfish Head Road—as they jogged past the street sign near the family's summer home.

5. Lagunitas

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Founded in 1993 by Tony Magee, Lagunitas is famous for its hop-centric, west coast IPAs. Although it is located in Petaluma, Calif., the brewery is named after its original home base of Lagunitas, Calif. Since the company already had a following when it moved, it stuck with the original geographic moniker.

6. Goose Island 

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Based in Chicago, Goose Island started by brewing out of the Clybourn Brewpub back in 1988. The brewery is named for nearby Goose Island, an artificial island in the middle of the Chicago River.

7. Avery 

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The well-respected brewery in Boulder, Colo. has been crafting high-quality libations since 1993. The brewery was named after founder and avid home brewer Adam Avery

8. Deschutes 

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Founded in 1988 in Bend, Oreg., Deschutes is widely known for its inventive offerings such as Black Butte Porter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Inversion IPA. When Gary Fish founded the brewpub that would eventually become the brewery, he named it in honor of the nearby Deschutes River.

9. Flying Dog 

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The Frederick, Md. brewery was originally located in the beer mecca of Colorado and was named after a 1983 mountain climbing expedition in which founder George Stranahan and friends climbed K2 (the second-highest summit in the world). After the climb, the pals were enjoying a drink at a bar in Pakistan when they noticed a painting of a pack of dogs that appeared to be flying. Stranahan named the brewery to pay tribute to that expedition and to his relationship with his fellow climbers.

10. Abita 

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Famous for their Purple Haze that is brewed with real raspberries, Abita is a brewery that sits 30 miles north of New Orleans. The brewery gets its name from the town of Abita Springs, which was originally a Choctaw Indian village. The etymology of the word "Abita," however, is unclear.

11. Ommegang 

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The brewery has been crafting authentic Belgian-style beer since beer importers Wendy Littlefield and Don Feinberg opened its doors in 1997. This brewery, located a few miles south of Cooperstown, N.Y. gets its name from the Dutch. "Ommegang" means "walk around" or "to walk." An annual festival of the same name in Brussels has been commemorating the first visit of Emperor Charles V to the city since 1549. 

12. Boulevard 

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Located in Kansas City, Mo., Boulevard was founded in 1988 by John McDonald, who invested his entire savings and inheritance into starting the brand. The name comes from the area where the brewery is located, along Kansas City’s Southwest Boulevard.

13. Shiner 

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Shiner is the brand name for the beer produced at the Spoetzl Brewery. Famous for their Shiner Bock, the brewery is owned by the Gambrinus family and is the oldest independent brewery in Texas (founded in 1909). It got its name simply because the brewery is located in Shiner, Texas. 

14. Smuttynose 

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This Portsmouth, N.H. brewery was founded in 1994 and takes its name from Smuttynose Island, one of the Isle of Shoals that sit between coastal New Hampshire and Maine.  

15. 21st Amendment 

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Shaun O’Sullivan and Nico Freccia named their San Francisco-based brewery 21st Amendment in a nod to the constitutional amendment that repealed prohibition and kick-started the local bars' slow climb back to being the neighborhood gathering place.