The Stories of Indiana Brewery Names – Beer With a Hint of Color

The Stories of Indiana Brewery Names – Beer With a Hint of Color

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

A while back we had a series of stories about the names of breweries that include numbers or numerals (here). I had intended on continuing that series last year, but things got very busy and that series fell by the wayside.

A few weeks ago I had a couple of people ask whether I was going to resurrect the series – well that was enough to put me back in that frame of mind. Chelsea and Kyle, this is for you, here’s another set of brewery story names, This time we’ll focus on those breweries that have a color in their name.

Nationally, the colors black and blue are about equally represented in brewery names, but in Indiana black is definitely king. In fact, only two colors are represented in Indiana, black and red (or a form of red). Here they are:

image credit: Black Acre Brewing

Black Acre Brewing in Indianapolis – Every one who opens a brewery eventually has to think about a place to locate it. This means that realtors and lawyers are going to get involved. In 2010-2011, when Justin, Jordan, Holly and Steve were looking for a place to locate their brewpub, they hadn’t come up with a name yet.

That isn’t very unusual, many businesses aren’t named before they try to file early corporation papers or find a location with real estate lawyers. Perhaps they haven’t gotten around to naming themselves, or maybe they are looking to keep a low profile. All of this was second nature to Jordan, Justin, and Steve – they were law students when they started home brewing and the idea of a brewery was born.

So how do lawyers deal with a property for a business that is unnamed? They call it the “black acre,” like that “X” your teachers kept making you find in Algebra.  All the contracts and legal documents kept referring to the brewery as the black acre as the opening date got closer and closer. The partners still hadn’t come up with a name as opening day approached – which isn’t to say they hadn’t thought of many names. They had plenty of possibilities, just none of them were any better than “black acre.” So the “B” and the “A” were capitalized on the contracts, and the rest is history.

image credit: Black Circle Brewing

Black Circle Brewing in Indianapolis– I wrote a piece for Indiana On Tap just after Black Circle opened, claiming they were the brewery not limited by a theme. The same could be said for their name, and that’s exactly how they intended it. Jesse had one name in mind when he started the project, but when that fell through, it took some time to come up with Black Circle.

The logo fit in exactly with the name, and evokes so many different ideas and images. There is a 1915 by Russian painter Kazamir Malevich called Black Circle, black circle is also a slang term for vinyl LPs. Pearl Jam even has a song about it – Spin the Black Circle. This is probably where Jesse got the idea, he being an inveterate Pearl Jam fan. To me, the black ring invokes shades of the movie, The Ring, or the penumbra of the Sun around the Moon during an eclipse – but that’s just me. Most concretely, the logo itself looks like the water stain left by a pint glass. Finally, with Indianapolis being the Circle City, it invokes an idea of being the lesser known or unseen part of the city.

image credit: Black Dog Brewing

Black Dog Brewing in Mooresville– Jeremy Kuntz, owner of Black Dog, told me, “I used to work for Guinness and one of my many jobs was to entertain our wholesalers at the brewery in Dublin.  On one of these visits my wife came with me and we were touring the countryside outside of Dublin.  We visited a small town (I can’t remember the name) and there was a single pub in this town called ‘The Painted Lamb.’  It seems that some of the sheep farmers would paint a blue stripe down the back of a sheep after it had been fleeced.  Once the paint wore off, they knew it was time to fleece them again. Anyway, my wife and I loved the simplicity of the name and we always said that we wanted something very simple as a name for our brewery.”

He added, “Right before we settled on Black Dog, we spent quite a while brainstorming and trying to come up with different names. The family name, Kuntz, was a the name of a brewery in Canada, but the name was owned by LaBatt’s when we were naming this brewery. Luckily, Black Dog has a pretty nice ring to it. Obviously, we’re dog lovers and yes, we do have a Black Lab/Great Dane mix named Shelby.  She is, of course, our mascot and where the name derived from and our flagship IPA is also called ‘Shelby Dog.’”

image credit: The Red Yeti

Red Foot Brewing in Jeffersonville– Few brewery names are more personal than Red Yeti (Now Red Foot) was for Paul Ronau. Paul is a big guy, and he USED TO have a full head of red hair. In the army, his size and coloration earned him the nickname, the red yeti. Years later, Paul opened a brewpub in Jeffersonville and the Red Yeti name seemed to be the perfect combination of personal touch, good visual, and short, memorable name.

Unfortunately, business got in the way a few years back. Great Divide Brewing  decided that the Red Yeti was too close to their Yeti series of beers. Paul agreed to stop using the yeti in the operations of the brewery, but he fought to keep the name and logo of the restaurant. Where else was he going to find a use for the statue of the red abominable snowman outside his front door (notice the old logo has “Magnus et Pilosus” on it – translated from the Latin it means big and hairy)?

Along with the red snowman (granted, there is probably some crossover with Bigfoot, what do army guys know), there is a set of red footprints throughout the restaurant. This was fortuitous, and Paul decided to go with Red Foot as the second brewery name. It allows people to keep the restaurant and brewery linked in their minds, and the color scheme, decorations and some beer/food names got to stay.

image credit: Scarlet Lane Brewing

Scarlet Lane Brewing in McCordsville– When Eilise and Nick Servies were getting ready to move to Oregon, they purchased a dog in Kentucky which they named Scarlet. Scarlet was named after Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind. Eilise said, “As dog lovers, naming the brewery after one of our favorite and most strong-willed dogs was an easy decision.” The second half of the name was easy as well, since Eilise’s maiden name was Lane – Scarlet Lane.

Sadly, Scarlet died young while they were living in in the Pacific Northwest, but the path was laid, “We paid homage to literature and create a darker image that we as a company are all attracted to, both in literature and film along with honoring our one of our dogs.”

Pretty much everyone is aware that Scarlet Lane is the official beer of horror, but Eilise noted that even though they gave the logo and look of the brewery a darker tone, “The name itself is not horror related as that’s more of an underlining theme we take with our beers, logos/labels, etc. The Scarlet Lane ‘crest’ is intended to resemble an Ed Gorey/Tim Burton style look with a classic undertone that one could see Edgar Allan Poe or Oscar Wilde describe in a book. We carry that same idea into our individual beer labels, marketing and customer experience.”

We’ll continue this series soon, maybe with eponymously named breweries or names with animal breeds in them.

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