Drinking our way through a selection of canned craft beers, we’ve caught ourselves rolling our eyes at the long, strange, often pun-laden names.
And we’re not the only ones, either.
What we’d never asked ourselves before is… why? We reckon the answer lies with the proliferation of breweries in the past 30 or so years.
A hundred years ago, most beers had exciting, distinctive names like ‘mild’, ‘bitter’ or ‘X’.
Then, in the mid-20th century, national brands emerged with snappy names such as Red Barrel or Double Diamond.
Next, the CAMRA-led real ale revolution kicked off, and brewery numbers began to climb in the 1970s and 1980s. These breweries were, in their own way, also national brands, competing for space at beer festivals and in specialist real ale pubs up and down the country.
Premium bottled ales (PBAs) also came along, filling supermarket and off licence shelves.
In this phase, beers with distinctive names such as Summer Lightning, Old Nick or Spitfire had a clear advantage.
Ale ticking culture must also have had an effect. Breweries with ranges of three, five or maybe seven beers are one thing; when you’re producing a new beer every month, or every week, you’re obliged to get creative. Or resort to crude puns.
Jump forward a couple of decades and instead of a few hundred breweries, we’ve got more than 2,000. And that culture of guest ales has morphed into a need for a constant flow of novel, Instagram-friendly products for keg, bottle or can.
The scramble for unique web addresses during the dot com boom led to companies with names like Accenture, Consignia and Moonpig.com. In much the same way, a crowded beer market inevitably calls for Experiments in Evil, Big Raspberry Dog Chew and Grainsley Harriot.
Plus, of course, it’s fun – another outlet for creativity in a subsector that prizes that over blazer-wearing conformity.