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Looking over a beer list, it can often feel like the brewers used a foreign language or an online hipster name generator to label their creations. But not all beer names are devoid of meaning. Here are six local brews named for real-life muses.
Long Black Veil from Port City Brewing Company
Port City Brewing Company brews these spooky suds named after the Alexandria legend of the “Female Stranger.” In 1816, according to the tale, a woman who had fallen ill aboard a ship came ashore (concealing her identity with a dark veil), only to die in the arms of her husband in Room 8 at Gadsby’s Tavern. “I tend to like really creepy, macabre stories. It’s a hobby of mine,” brewer Josh Center says. The brewery held a release party for this beer (appropriately) at Gadsby’s Tavern, and they plan to host another blowout there in 2016—the 200th anniversary of the Female Stranger’s death. The black IPA is as dark as they come, but Center says the addition of three types of hops balances the beer out.
Ornette from Right Proper Brewing Company
The world lost a jazz legend in June when saxophonist Ornette Coleman died. He inspired many, including Right Proper Brewing Company’s head brewer, Nathan Zeender. “He seemed artistically fearless and always original. He embraced the idea of change and seemed to operate from intuition,” Zeender says. “He’s a role model for me, and I like to think that some of that influence has made its way into our brewing program.” Ornette isn’t a linguistic leap from grisette, which is the term for the style of this beer named after Coleman. The rustic, farmhouse wheat ale shows tartness and funk.
Ponch’s Porter from Denizens Brewing Co.
Remember CHiPs? Think of it as the Brooklyn Nine-Nine of the ’70s, starring Erik Estrada in the role of Frank “Ponch” Poncherello. Though he doesn’t embrace it, Denizens Brewing Co. Head Brewer Jeff Ramirez looks like Ponch’s doppelgänger. “I deny any resemblance, but was given the nickname while brewing in Philadelphia due to my lack of haircuts and naturally wavy hair,” he says. Fortunately, he’s a good sport: The brewery named their porter “Ponch’s Porter” in honor of their #twinning. The chocolate-colored beer benefits from dark-roasted malt and mild hops. Try it in the fall, when it gets released with other darker, seasonal beers.
Duchamp from Bluejacket
A snow shovel, a dog comb, and a urinal have at least one thing in common: They’re part of early 20th century artist Marcel Duchamp’s collection of found objects he called “readymades.” Bluejacket Beer Director Greg Engert was moved to name a saison after Duchamp because of the modern artist’s ability to put his stamp on something that already exists. “His notion of readymades seemed an appropriate parallel for the act of developing new beer styles in general, and this beer in particular,” he says. “We’ve drawn on a more classic saison recipe and added our own spin.” The spin comes the addition of Brettanomyces claussenii to Farmhouse yeast for a blended fermentation, which Engert says yields an earthy, peppery, slightly wild, and tropical nose.
Ponzi American IPA from Atlas Brew Works
Don’t think twice about investing in a pint or two of Atlas Brew Works’ Ponzi American IPA, even though it’s named after con artist Charles Ponzi, whose 1920s-era hijinks paved the way for others (Lou Pearlman, Scott Rothstein, and Bernie Madoff come to mind) to dupe investors using a similar scheme. “Much like Mr. Ponzi, our Ponzi takes in Cascade, Chinook, and Mandarina hops with the promise of big returns in flavor,” says the brewery’s founder & CEO, Justin Cox. “Unlike Charles though, our Ponzi delivers on the promise with robust fruitiness, bitterness, and dank hop flavors that seem too good to be true.”
Lindy Weiss from Mad Fox Brewing Company
Mad Fox Brewing Company’s Bavarian-style hefeweizen is a hat tip to Lindy Hockenberry, a former Falls Church vice mayor and current member of the Falls Church Planning Commission. Bill Madden, the brewery’s CEO and executive brewer, promised Hockenberry he’d name a beer after her because she was a big supporter of the brewery even before its doors opened. “She embodies the spirit of the Falls Church community and is a true character,” Madden says. The Lindy Weiss is an unfiltered, yeasty and lightly hopped beer that promises flavors of bananas and cloves.
Right Proper photo by Laura Hayes. Other photos courtesy the breweries.
Click here for more from our 2015 Beer Issue.