At this point in the wide world of Minnesota craft beer drinking, it's possible to order a Miraculum at Pryes, a Fashion Mullet at Lupulin, an Enmolada at La Doña, a Yawkey Ale at Cuyuna and an Ewald the Golden at Utepils.
Say what, now?
As hard as it is keeping track of all the mouthwatering craft beers now made in Minnesota, staying on top of the odd and sometimes tongue-tying names behind the companies has become something of an insider's game.
With about 200 Minnesota breweries in business — compared with just 20 a decade ago — we've come a long way from when beer makers such as Schell's or Fitger's simply used their founders' names on the logo, or Summit, Pig's Eye or Lake Superior went with local streets or lakes for theirs.
"We think having a name everyone mangles helps us stand out," said Dan Justesen, president of Utepils Brewing in Minneapolis.
That's "oot-uh-pils," by the way.
Justesen and his team had a heck of a time settling on the mouthful name for their popular brew hub. Their first choice, Bryn Mawr Brewing (in honor of their neighborhood), was deemed a copyright infringement by owners of Bryn Mawr Winery in Oregon. Surly Brewing ran into a similar snafu early on with the makers of Surly Bikes — a product you can't even drink.
Justesen believes it worked out well in the end, though: "No matter how you say it, just trying to say it makes people smile," he said.
There's a similar philosophy over at Pryes Brewing along the Mississippi Riverfront near downtown Minneapolis — which is thankfully named after the Americanized version of founder Jeremy Pryes' last name, and not his German/Polish ancestors' original moniker, Przybytek (Gesundheit!). But the name still often gets twisted.
"We get a lot of 'Pri-us,' 'Pry-us,' and 'Pi-res' in the taproom," noted Pryes Brewing's beer hall manager Tina McCabe, who happily offered this rule for customers: "Eyes on the 'Prize,' y'all."
Modist Brewing actually offers a Webster's-style guide to the name on its website:
1. a person who modifies
2. a modern artistic expression utilizing modification to achieve a self-conscious and intentional break from the conventional
3. a brewery in the North Loop, MPLS, MN
That's not enough to prevent a common mispronunciation, though.
"We find it hilarious when people don't know they're talking to one of us owners and tell us it's pronounced 'Mode-ist,' " mused Keigan Knee, the brewery co-founder who's credited/blamed for Modist's name.
"We wanted a name that genuinely represented our mind-set and the type of people we are," he explained, but he also cited the need to "not clash with an existing brand out there."
Even with all these seemingly archaic approaches, the naming process behind Minnesota breweries actually does follow a few standard categories. Here's a breakdown of those patterns and the stories behind the names.
Tanzenwald (Northfield): German for "dancing forest."
La Doña (Minneapolis): Spanish for "woman of respect."
Tilion (Cannon Falls): Icelandic for "to craft."
Venn (Minneapolis): Norwegian for "friend."
Utepils (Minneapolis): Also eligible in the language category, it's a Norwegian word for "summery/outdoor beers."
Lupulin (Big Lake): The yellow flowers that bud on hops plants.
Wicked Wort (Robbinsdale): "Wort" is the blend of mashed-up grains and water to which yeast is added to make beer. So if it's "wicked" from the get-go …
Luce Line (Plymouth) and Copper Trail (Alexandria): Each are named for state bike trails built on former railroad lines that abut their breweries.
Cuyuna (Crosby): The iron mines the town was built around are now the home of mountain-biking haven Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Its Yawkey Ale, by the way, is named for the wealthy family that owned the mines (and the Boston Red Sox, too).
Castle Danger (Two Harbors): No one knows for sure where the North Shore town of Castle Danger got its name; probably either the cliffs along Lake Superior or a rocky reef near the Gooseberry River. It sounds cool, whatever the story.
Fulton (Minneapolis): The downtown brewery's co-founders took the name from the south Minneapolis neighborhood where they first started home-brewing in a garage.
Lift Bridge (Stillwater): The historic river bridge it's named after is now open only to pedestrians and bicyclists. So you have to take the St. Croix Crossing Bridge (Hwy. 36) to drive to Lift Bridge's new taproom in New Richmond, Wis.
Men with problems
Surly (Minneapolis/Brooklyn Center): Owner Omar Ansari said the name was meant to reflect his mood over trying to find good craft beer around town circa 2005.
Dangerous Man (Minneapolis): Taproom pioneer Rob Miller earned that nickname after scaring a friend's child with his thick beard and long hair. The kid apparently had not been around many other male brewers at that point.
Bald Man (Eagan): Brewmaster Tristan Kusnierek wears his chrome dome proudly.
Badger Hill (Shakopee): Nope, not a landmark; there aren't really any hills big enough to merit naming in Shakopee. It combines the old English translations of its co-founders' first names, brothers Broc ("Badger") and Brent ("Hill") Krekelberg.
Brau Bros. (Marshall and Lucan): No kidding, the three brothers behind this pioneering small-town craft brewery really are named Dustin, Trevor and Brady Brau. Talk about living up to your name.
Giesenbrau (New Prague): Founding brewer Erin Hutton wisely thought his wife and brother-in-law's last name, Giesen, was better for a taproom modeled after classic German beer halls.
Hoops (Duluth): "Canal Park Brewing" was already taken, so the Canal Park brewery's owner Dave Hoops went with his own name.
Schell's (New Ulm): August Schell's family still owns and runs his resilient namesake brewery 161 years later.
Enki (Victoria): Inspired by the god of water in Sumerian/Mesopotamian times.
Sisyphus (Minneapolis): That's the poor Greek dude stuck rolling a boulder uphill every day, which is what the continual grind of brewing can sometimes feel like.
HammerHeart (Lino Lakes): From Viking lore, and more recently from the title of the brewers' favorite album by Swedish black-metal band Bathory. In other words, look for heavy beers here.
Forgotten Star (Fridley): The six stars and "E" on the tall smokestacks above the factory-turned-brewery honor the six times that workers there were awarded stars of "excellence" for mass-producing guns for Navy ships during World War II. Never forget.
BlackStack (St. Paul): Another one related to smokestacks, this brewery's historic building — also home to Can Can Wonderland amusement center and other fun spots — originated as a 1900s-era canning facility for Hormel.
Bauhaus (Minneapolis): Germany's Bauhaus art school/movement of the early 1900s churned out architecture and design that was artful yet functional, thus inspiring an overrated British band and a rightfully top-rated Minnesota beer maker.
Steel Toe (St. Louis Park): In recognition of founder Jason Schoneman working his way up to owning a brewery by his steel-toe-boot straps on industrial jobs, such as building Winnebago campers.
Broken Clock (Minneapolis): Don't look for any clock here. The name encourages you to forget all time constraints.
LTS (Rochester): Stands for "life's too short."
Bad Habit (St. Joseph): How founder Aaron Rieland's family used to refer to his home-brewing hobby.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 @ChrisRstrib