Friday, February 20, 2009

Hey Barkeep! What Celebrity Would You Use For Your Beer?

This Hey Barkeep! is a bit of a departure from what we normally do. Typically, we take a question that seems silly or basic on its face and show how its answer can actually be quite nuanced and technical. It’s quite fun and hopefully everyone learns a little in the process. Today is not that. Today is that drunken conversation at 1:30 am when you’ve been drinking at Monroe Street Bistro since 9pm, you’re on your seventh beer, ended up spending about 5 beers too long there, and Joseph is prattling on about his kittens or somesuch nonsense. Your buddy is next to you telling you about his girlfriend who dumped him for another chick, for the eighteenth time that evening.

And you suddenly remember: “Some brewery in Michigan named their beer after Kid Rock this week. How much fuckin’ bullshit is that!?” Then you remember that a few months back Jessica Simpson got into the beer game with a brewery in Texas. So, you yell out in a voice probably much too loudly: “HEY! If yooooo were a broooory and you wahnted to use a Wisconsin selllebrity, who would you choooose?”

Of course, the most immediate choice might be Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth. But that might be too specific if you weren’t necessarily targeting the NASCAR crowd. Sticking with sports, there’s Burlington’s favorite son Tony Romo or basketball god Bo Ryan. Or, dare I say it, Brett Favre? Huh? How great would it be if Titletown Brewery had a Brett Beer? But sports stars are tricky beasts, their celebrity is specific and very few professional organizations (NASCAR excepted) want their athletes and coaches so directly associated with alcohol; it’s just unseemly, you know?

Maybe music’s your thing. Viroqua native Bryan David Vigorson is a good place to start (“Vig Wit”?). Or, maybe you want something a little closer to, say, Kid Rock but, well, not quite as much white trash; if so, Juiceboxxx is your man (Stonefly Juiceboxxx Kriek?).

There’s Oregon pilot Jeff Skiles, who helped to land Chesley Sullenberger, III’s Airbus A-320 in the Hudson River. In a few years’ time the name might be obscure, but the legend will live on and it will always make for a great story. The story might be better if your brewery were actually in Oregon. Which it’s not.

Then there’s the historical figures. John Nolen here in Madison, Frank Lloyd Wright in Spring Green, or Solomon Juneau, Byron Kilbourn or George Walker over in Milwaukee. There’s political folks like Robert La Follette and Joe McCarthy.

There’s authors like Stephen Ambrose, who wrote Eisenhower’s and Nixon’s biographies. UW academic and Pulitzer Prize winner Merle Curti. And, if that’s not obscure enough for you, there’s Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and Portage native Zona Gale.

Or, you could just name your beer after one of the most influential people in Wisconsin’s brewing history: Captain Frederick Pabst.


  1. I think someone already named a beer after Pabst.
    How about the Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater Prairie Ale? Or a McCarthy Red Ale? Or Houdini's Escape From A Cask of Ale?

  2. I just got an email from The Grumpy Troll that I thought was relevant: "Captain Fred has been on tap here for a long time!"

  3. Also, just saw that Stone Cellar Brewpub in Appleton has Houdini Honey Wheat -

  4. Jim Gaffigan Pale Ale from Point Brewery came out this winter, but he is from Iowa, I think.

  5. Dells Brewing Company has always had Kilbourn Hop Ale. Named after Byron Kilbourn and the former name of Lake Delton.

  6. I wouldn't mind an anti-McCarthy beer (a red of course). I've always thought that beer names (and styles!) should reflect the local region. How about an Outsourced! IPA


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