When you finally realize you are going to open a brewery, it is an exciting time. However, the brewery just doesn’t seem real until you give it a name. When you talk about it with others, the conversation is very generic, more like discussing brewing theory than actually brewing. But once you find the right name, the brewery feels more real and comes to life. It is like finding out you are going to have your first child. It is exciting, wonderful news and you don’t think you could ever be happier, but once you’ve decided on a name there is a different, deeper feeling of reality and purpose that takes over.
OK, so my new brewery needed a name. It may seem silly, but you’d be surprised how difficult it is to name a brewery. Sure, you can name it after yourself or your location, but with a name like Zainasheff and located in a city that most people mistake for being on the east coast (Pittsburg is in California, while Pittsburgh is in Pennsylvania) I had to take a different approach. Perhaps you think I’m making a big deal of nothing, but give it a try. You have your heart set on ‘Weed Whacker Brewing,’ with visions of artwork already dancing in your head, when a quick Google shows it is already taken. Really? I wouldn’t have thought so. OK, move on to your second, third, fourth, and fifth choices. Now you’re getting down to names that sound more like auto spam emails that string random words together. ‘Enlarge Money Free Brewery’ sound good? No? Well at least it isn’t already taken.
I spent many a night running through various names. A couple of times I dreamt that I had found the perfect name and had failed to write it down. My best source of ideas was an online synonym dictionary. You start with a word that describes what you want your brewery to represent. (Of course, there is already a brewery with that name.) Then you look at alternative words that mean something along the same lines. When Google reveals that all of those are already taken, you start clicking and straying farther and farther from the first word. I’m not sure what word it was I clicked on that finally took me to ‘Heretic,’ but when I found out that it wasn’t already taken, I was amazed. Perhaps it is too edgy or steeped in religious reference for some folks, but for me it was perfect. I tried it out on a few close friends and the first thing most said was, “It is perfect. It fits you.”
A heretic is a person who practices heresy, and heresy is when you hold an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted. Galileo was considered a heretic for supporting the theory that the earth revolves around the sun. In a world where over 90% of beer drinkers believe mass market light lagers constitute the universe of beer, craft beer lovers are all heretics. Some folks may think a heretic has to have some sort of traditional religious meaning, but that is not true even though great beer is a religion for many craft beer lovers.
And that is what I really wanted. A brewery name that was both memorable and edgy. A name that showed my commitment and passion about great craft beer. A name that required Heretic Brewing Company to push the boundaries, to be different, to fly in the face of standard beliefs. Ah, at last it felt real.