How To Name Your Brewery

Naming a brewery can be surprisingly difficult. There are a multitude of things to consider, and it seems like all the good names are taken. In the early days of the start-up phase founders have high expectations of the brand they’re trying to create and nothing other than a name (and maybe a few test batches of beer) to tie all their expectations to. At the beginning it can feel like getting the name just right can determine the success of your entire brewery. Or getting it wrong could result in your brewery failing.

Fortunately, while a poor or mediocre name can cause setbacks, it almost certainly won’t be the reason behind your brewery’s demise. Brands start to take on their own life once they launch and begin to evolve. In the craft beer industry this evolution can happen quite quickly. Sometimes breweries even evolve to a point where their name becomes almost irrelevant to their brand and its success. For example, Twin Sails and Bowen Island are both nautical names. Twin Sails’ overall brand doesn’t have much to do with anything nautical these days, whereas Bowen Island has leaned into the nautical/coastal theme heavily.


Skip the preamble, jump right to the
BIG LIST OF BC BREWERY NAMES


All that being said, a good name can provide a key foundation stone for a truly exceptional brand and give customers a great first impression of your brewery. It can capture the imagination and connect with the customers you want to reach. You definitely want to try and get it right the first time rather than having to go through a costly renaming process down the road.

So how do you distill all of the messages that you want to communicate down into just a couple of catchy, memorable words for your brewery name? As previously mentioned, there are a lot of considerations. What kind of story are you trying to tell? How do you want your brewery to be perceived? How will your naming decision affect your marketing down the road? How will you be able to spin it? What kind of audience are you going after and how will your name resonate with that demographic? Satisfying all of these considerations can take a lot of work and time.

 
Naming our brewery was an excruciatingly painful process. We took a year and and still hadn’t found a name that stuck. So the 5 owners went to our hop farm for the weekend with the sole purpose of coming back with a name. We returned with name we all agreed on, but soon realized it was also no good. A few months later I had an epiphany and the name “Backcountry” came to me and I knew it would work. It was even on a list that we rejected earlier! So I quickly snagged the website address, and social media handles. Then I brought it to the team… and they rejected it!!! Hah! Finally, after some additional consideration they agreed that it was much better than our previous working title. My tip is to start right away as it may take a year or more to find your name!
— Ben Reeder, Co-Founder of Backcountry Brewing
 

With branding challenges as difficult as naming it’s important to be clear about what you’re trying to achieve. What’s the most you can hope for out of a truly exceptional name?

Eight Qualities of a Great Brewery Name:

  • Meaningful: communicates the essence of your brand, supports the image you want to convey
  • Distinctive: unique; easy to remember, spell, pronounce; differentiated from your competitors
  • Scalable: accommodates change in the structure or focus of the brewery; facilitates easy building of brand extensions
  • Protectable: can be owned and trademarked; the domain name and social media handles are available
  • Visual: well-suited to graphic presentation (logo, packaging design, etc.)
  • Persuasive: encourages customers to emotionally engage with your brand
  • Emotional:  evokes an emotional response from your customers
  • Findable: should be easily search-able

Keep these in mind as you read through the categories of names in this article. It’s rare that any single name has all eight essential qualities.

Categories of Names

One of the common ways to make a brand stand out from its competitors is to aim for the “white space.” Wether it’s naming, branding, packaging design, or any other aspect of your brewery’s marketing you should always strive to be aware of what the competitive landscape looks like so if you decide to “zig” when everyone else “zags” then it will be an educated decision. As we look at the names of BC’s 200+ breweries we see some categories of names that are heavily used and others that are relatively un-touched. In completely un-scientific fashion, here are the categories of brewery names we’ve observed and how frequently they’ve been used:

*Of 210 breweries in British Columbia as of June, 2019

*Of 210 breweries in British Columbia as of June, 2019

Many of the brewery names have been put into multiple categories here. Yellow Dog falls into Colours, Animals, and Dogs. (Dogs exists as its own category separate from Animals because there are 7 “Dog” breweries in BC, which seems high. We love dogs as much as anyone, but it’s going to be difficult for a new BC brewery to stand out if they use “Dog” in their name.)

Some names might belong more in one category than another, but we think they still deserve to be listed in each of those categories. Names with “Island” in them have been included in the Coastal category. Names with “Mountain” in them have automatically been included in The Great Outdoors. And the name Vancouver Island Brewing Co. has been placed in Geographic Reference, Place Names, Region Names, and Coastal References because it makes sense in all four of those categories.

And there are more categories of names that we could have added. What about a category for Water? How about Sound? Fire? Time? What about Goofy vs. Serious? or Literal vs. Figurative? It becomes a bit of a black hole. At some point you just have to put down the laptop and call it a day.


The Big List of BC Brewery Names

The best way we could come up with to display this data is using an interactive filterable list. Each brewery name is tagged with the categories that it fits into. Click any of the header buttons to filter the list.

Distinctive Element:

Descriptive Element:

The 101

Brewhouse

3 Dogs

Brewing

33 Acres

Brewing Co.

A-Frame

Brewing Co.

Arrowhead

Brewing

Ace

Brewing Co.

Alchemy

Brewing Co.

Andina

Brewing Co.

Angry Hen

Brewing Co.

Another

Beer Co.

Axe & Barrel

Brewing Co.

Backcountry

Brewing

Backroads

Brewing Co.

Bad Dog

Brewing Co.

Bad Tattoo

Brewing Co.

The Bakery

Brewing Co.

Barkerville

Brewing Co.

Barley Mill

Brewpub

Barley Station

Brewpub

Barnside

Brewing

Beach Fire

Brewing

Beard's

Brewing Co.

The Beer Farmers

 

Beere

Brewing

Big Ridge

Brewing Co.

Big Rock

Brewing

Big Surf

Beer

Black Kettle

Brewing Co.

BNA

Brewing

Bomber

Brewing

Boombox

Brewing Co.

Boundary

Brewing Co.

Bowen Island

Brewing

Brassneck

Brewery

Brewhall

Beer Co.

Bridge

Brewing Co.

Britannia

Brewing Co.

Bulkley Valley

Brewery

Callister

Brewing Co.

Camp

Beer Co.

Cannery

Brewing

Canoe

Brewpub

Canuck Empire

Brewing

Cariboo

Brewing

Category 12

Brewing

Central City

Brewers & Distillers

Cloverdale

Brewing

Coal Harbour

Brewing Co.

Coast Mountain

Brewing

Container

Brewing

Craig Street

Brewing Co.

Craft Collective

Beerworks

Crannóg

Ales

CrossRoads

Brewing

Cumberland

Brewing Co.

Dageraad

Brewery

Dead Frog

Brewery

Detonate

Brewing

Doan's

Brewing Co.

Dog Mountain

Brewing

Deep Cove

Brewers

Dogwood

Brewing

Dockside

Brewing Co.

Driftwood

Brewery

East Vancouver

Brewing Co.

Electric Bicycle

Brewing

Elevation 57

Brewing Co.

Empty Keg

Brew House

Faculty

Brewing Co.

Farm Country

Brewing

Fernie

Brewing Co.

Fieldhouse

Brewing Co.

Firehall

Brewery

Fisher Peak

Brewing Co.

Five Roads

Brewing Co.

Flashback

Brewing

Flying Beaver

Bar & Grill

Foamers' Folly

Brewing Co.

Forbidden

Brewing Co.

Four Mile

Brewing Co.

Four Winds

Brewing Co.

Fraser Mills

Fermentation Co.

Freddy's

Brewpub

Fuggles & Warlock

Craftworks

Gibsons Tapworks

Brewing Co.

Gladstone

Brewing Co.

Granville Island

Brewing

Green Leaf

Brewing

Hearthstone

Brewing

Hell's Gate

Brewing Co.

The Herald Street

Brew Works

High Mountain

Brewing Co.

Highway 97

Brewery

Hornby Island

Brewing Co.

House of Funk

Brewing

Howe Sound

Inn & Brewery

Howl

Brewing

Hoyne

Brewing Co.

Île Sauvage

Brewing

Ironhorse

 

Iron Road

Brewing

Jackknife

Brewing

Kettle River

Brewing Co.

Land & Sea

Brewing Co.

Lighthouse

Brewing

Longwood

Brewing

Loudmouth

Brewing

Love Shack

Libations

Luppolo

Brewing Co.

Main Street

Brewing Co.

Maple Meadows

Brewing Co.

Mariner

Brewing Co.

Marten

Brewing Co.

Mayne Island

Brewing Co.

Mighty Peace

Brewing Co.

Mission Springs

Brewing Co.

Monkey 9

Brewing Co.

Moody

Ales

Moon Under Water

Brewery & Distillery

Mount Arrowsmith

Brewing Co.

Mountainview

Brewing

Mt. Begbie

Brewing

Neighbourhood

Brewing

Nelson

Brewing Co.

New Tradition

Brewing Co.

Noble Pig

Brewhouse

Northpaw

Brewing Co.

Off The Rail

Brewing Co.

Old Abbey

Ales

Old Yale

Brewing Co.

Okanagan Springs

Brewery

Over Time

Beer Works

Pacific

 

Parkside

Brewery

Parallel 49

Brewing Co.

Pat's

Pub

Pemberton

Brewing Co.

Persephone

Brewing Co.

Phantom

Beer Co.

Phillips

Brewing Co.

Postmark

Brewing Co.

Powell

Brewery

Prohibition

Brewing

R&B

Brewing Co.

Ravens

Brewing Co.

Red Arrow

Brewing Co.

Red Bird

Brewing

Red Collar

Brewing Co.

Red Truck

Beer Co.

Ridge

Brewing Co.

Riot

Brewing

Rodeo

Brewing

Royston

Nano Brewery

Rumpus

Beer Co.

Russell

Brewing Co.

Rustic Reel

Brewing Co.

Saltspring Island

Ales

Scandal

Brewing

Shaftebury

Brewing Co.

Sherwood Mtn.

Brewhouse

Silver Valley

Brewing Co.

Slackwater

Brewing

Small Block

Brewery

Smithers

Brewing Co.

Spinnakers

Gastro Brewpub

Sooke

Brewing Co.

Sooke Oceanside

Brewery

Spectrum

Beer Co.

Spencer Hill

Cottage Brewery

Stanley Park

Brewing

Steamworks

Brewing Co.

Steel & Oak

Brewing

Storm

Brewing

Strange Fellows

Brewing Co.

Strathcona

Brewing Co.

Streetcar

Brewing

Superflux

Beer Co.

Swans

Brewery

Tapworks

Brewing Co.

Taylight

Brewing

Temporal

Artisan Ales

Three Ranges

Brewing

Tin House

Brewing

Tin Whistle

Brewing Co.

Tofino

Brewing Co.

Torchlight

Brewing Co.

Townsite

Brewing

Trading Post

Brewery

Trail

Beer Refinery

Trench

Brewing & Distilling

Tree

Brewing

Turning Point

Brewery

Twa Dogs

Brewery

Twin City

Brewing Co.

Twin Sails

Brewing Co.

Ucluelet

Brewing Co.

Vancouver Island

Brewing Co.

Vice & Virture

Brewing Co.

Wheelhouse

Brewing Co.

Whistler

Brewing Co.

Whistle Buoy

Brewing Co.

White Rock Beach

Beer Co.

White Rock

Brewing

White Sails

Brewing Co.

Whitetooth

Brewing

Wild Ambition

Brewing

Wildeye

Brewing

Wolf

Brewing Co.

Yaletown

Brewing Co.

Yellow Dog

Brewing Co.

With the filter buttons on this BIG LIST it’s fairly easy to see where the white space is when it comes to the names of BC Breweries. 

(It’s entirely possible that we’ve missed a few breweries or included some that are no longer operational. Please let us know if you spot any errors or omissions.)


Descriptive Elements

You’ll note that the filterable list has a second set of filters for Descriptive Elements. That’s the second part of each brewery’s name, the one that describes the nature of the business.

Unlike in the categorization of Distinctive Elements, breweries can only fall into one category of Descriptive Elements, which makes a good old pie chart the best way to display this data.

 
naming-pie-chart.jpg
 

You can see that Brewing (or Brewing Company) is the overwhelming favourite in the BC market. That might indicate some possibility for space in the other categories. For example, some of the lesser-used Distinctive Elements such as “Ales” could be used to help (savvy) customers know what kind of beers to expect just from the name. But I’d be leery of using any of the less popular Distinctive Elements because they will hinder your “findability.” When looking for you online your customers are going to search for:

“[ DISTINCTIVE ELEMENT ] + BREWERY”

You might as well be there to be found.

The addition of “Company” to the Descriptive Elements is interesting as it’s not something that’s used in many other industries these days. It has a bit of a retro feel to it, and we believe it’s used in as effort to accentuate the idea of craftsmanship. Some customers may consider it to be a bit “hipster."

Overall, we don’t recommend spending too much time or effort on the Descriptive Element portion of your brewery’s name. It’s not the part of your name that most of your customers will remember anyway.

Analysis of Name Categories

A discussion and examination of some of the more popular and interesting naming categories.

(If you’re reading this on a phone, you’ll want to flip it sideways for this next bit.)

Category

Advantages

Drawbacks

Geographic References:

In an industry that places a lot of emphasis on LOCAL it’s not surprising that so many breweries use their surrounding geography to anchor themselves.

Great lasting power: geographic elements seldom change.

A name in this category wouldn’t impede the sale of the brewery.

Many geographic elements have romantic connotations that can carry over to the perception of the brewery.

Every brewery’s location has some geography: if you’re stuck it’s easy to turn to your local surroundings for inspiration.

With this being the longest category of brewery names in BC it might be easy to get lost in the mix.

If you choose a name that makes you one of the trees in the forest you may well spend the rest of your marketing budget trying to stand out.

If you ever decide to move your brewery to a different place, with different geography your name may no longer make sense.

Place Names:

Very similar to geographic references, but even more defined. 

Naming your brewery after an amazing place (Tofino, Whistler, Saltspring) allows your brand to piggyback on the reputation and recognition of that place.

Places with poor reputations (current or past) might not be the best choice for your name. There’s no Surrey Brewing Co, for example.

Conceptual / Ideas:

Names that tap into concepts or ideas tend to be more figurative or metaphorical. 

This category allows for maximum creativity, edginess, modernity. 

Names in this category can give an instant impression of the personality of a brewery’s brand. (Riot, Storm, Strange Fellows, etc.)

Can provide the fantastic opportunity for an ultra-cohesive brand, where every component can be focused on one idea.

In some ways, choosing a name in this category is putting all of your eggs in one basket. Your concept better be good: it needs to “have legs,” as they say. It better resonate with the beer-buying public. And you better be able to back it up for as long as you want to stay in business.

Coastal References:

A sub-category of Geographical References, these are specifically about the coast.

Nautical names are a sub-category of these that reference sailing or navigation.

Coastlines are diverse: there’s lots of source material to draw from here, much of it iconic, poetic, and powerful.

Customers in landlocked provinces may not find the costal references all that compelling or relatable.

Lots of breweries in this category might make standing out challenging.

Local Lore / Historical References:

A bit of a catch-all, but there are enough names using this approach that it warranted its own category.

Could easily be split into two separate categories.

Can be an interesting way to tie your brewery to a specific place and emphasize your “localness” without being overt/obnoxious about it.

Fairly easy to create a name that references something unique. (Very few of the 35+ breweries in this category have naming concepts that overlap.)

There’s a bit of a danger here of going too obscure with your reference. If no one gets it you’ll end up explaining your name again and again.

The Great Outdoors:

An easy concept to grasp: beer tastes better in the woods.

The premise of this concept resonates with a LOT of beer drinkers.

BC has an abundance of great outdoors to tap into for marketing purposes.

The number of breweries in this category make it difficult to stand out because there are so many with the same focus (plus others that aren’t even named after this category but are still trying to tell the same story.)

Beer: Styles, Equipment, Process, Ingredients:

Often literal, but not always.

Any brewery with Ales in the name gets included here automatically.

Can be used to effectively convey a brewery’s passion or to give a customer a good idea of what kinds of beers to expect from your brewery.

The more obscure you get with this, the less chance you’ll have of potential customers understanding your reference.

Lots of customers who love beer don’t give two shits about how it was made.

The more literal examples in this category can sound like there wasn’t much imagination behind the name.

Founders:

Naming a brewery after its founder(s) is an established tradition in the brewing industry.

Should be easy to protect.

Can be a great ego/confidence having a brewery named after you.

Inextricably tied to a real person; selling your brewery to someone with a different name could be problematic.

Pronunciation or spelling can be challenging with certain names, which can hinder how findable you are.

Mythology / Colours / Flora / Animals

Choosing a name in one of these categories allows you to tap into an existing symbolism.

Lots of lasting power here. Persephone most likely going to refer to the same mythological character 50 years from now.

There’s a risk that people who aren’t familiar with the symbolism of what your name alludes to won’t get it. (Insert rant about the decline of the modern education system here…)

Neologism (Fabricated Word):

There a lot of room in this category, with only 4 breweries in BC using this approach.

Usually distinct, copywritable, and easy to get domain name/social media handles.

Don’t get too weird here. Your newly coined word needs to be easy to spell, rememberer, and pronounce. Pay close attention to how it sounds out loud, its “bar call."



Additional Considerations

As if you didn’t have enough to think about at this point, you can’t forget to consider how your name sounds out loud. For example, Moody Ales sounds a lot better than Moody Brewery. While some names might look good on paper, they can be a mouthful when spoken aloud.

In Conclusion

Choosing a name for a new brewery is an important decision that will affect many aspects of your business for years to come. It’s a decision that should be researched, tested, and, ultimately, guided by a professional who can employ a creative, disciplined, and strategic approach.

If you are involved in starting up a winery you’ve probably started to wrestle with these issues. If you’d like some help with this work, please get in contact with us.

Further Resources

If you’re interested in further reading on the subject of naming your brewery, here are some good articles: