While picking up a few things at the grocery store, I noticed a beer with a timely name: Fake News.
I grabbed a six pack and read the label. Fake News is made by Gizmo Brew Works, a brewery in Raleigh, North Carolina.
As a journalist, I dislike fake news. It’s disinformation designed to confuse and mislead. It’s a real problem.
As a beer drinker, I like Fake News. It’s a tasty India Pale Ale that gets good reviews. I recommend it.
I was curious about the beer’s name, so I contacted Gizmo Brew Works to learn more about how the brewery picked it and how the company selects names for beers in general. Here’s what Joe Walton, head brewer and co-owner of Gizmo Works, told me via email:
Q. How do you decide what to name a beer?
A. That’s a great question with many answers, some more logical than others. We always start with the beer first. We release 20-plus completely new beers a year, so we have to come up with a lot of names.
Sometimes, the beer names itself. Our Beekeeper Honey Wheat is an example, as well as Hop Chocolate (a chocolate IPA), Hoppy Grounds (a coffee pale), Born 2 Bee Wild (a sour version of Beekeeper with wild yeast). These are the easiest but also the least frequent.
With 4,000-plus breweries in the United States with more opening daily, obvious names are few and far between. With so many new beers, we now tend to name a new beer that’s possibly a one-off, such as Lavender Kolsch or Red IPA until they prove themselves in the market. If the demand is there to bring it back, then we brand it (in the above instances, Reunion and Hop Hydrant respectively).
Then there are beers themed to a series, such as our high gravity monthly Inventors Series releases. These beers are all named after an inventor of something physical or conceptual. So Bright Idea, our Imperial White Chocolate Stout, is named after Thomas Edison and Renaissance Man after Da Vinci and Biplane after the Wright brothers, etc.
The final is the catch-all “WTF do I name this beer” category. These tend to be the most difficult but can lead to some of the strongest branding.
Our summer seasonal Deep Blue Saison is a play on the movie “Deep Blue Sea.” It’s a summer beer so sharks are relevant and the label is a great white jumping up to snatch blueberries out of the sky. Instead of blood smeared over his face, it’s blueberry jam.
We also have a peanut butter brown ale named Arachibutyrophobia, which is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of the mouth.
Q. Why did you decide to call this one Fake News?
A. Fake News was ironically a one-off, our first New England Style IPA. They tend to be more hazy and juicy with less perceived bitterness. They’re arguably the hottest trend in brewing right now outside of sours.
The name idea came to me as a play on words: Fake NewsEngland IPA. Considering that there are few words with more buzz in our country right now than “fake news,” it paired nicely with the style. It also was something we knew would get people at least talking about the beer.
Politics are normally a no-go in branding, at least for us. What’s funny for your side of the political spectrum is normally a gut punch to the other side, so why alienate half of your consumers with one beer and worst case turn them off your brand entirely and have them start trolling you?
Fake news is different. It applies to both sides, so regardless of your political views, it’s relatable and again a phrase we are hammered with daily from news, social media, etc. It’s been amazing watching how people react to the name and description (it’s almost always posted with a picture).
Fake News is now a year-round beer for us that’s a top two seller. It was also a lot of fun to come up with and write.