Saturday, 7 April 2012

What's In a Name?

After some hospital visiting yesterday, a restorative beer was in order. We nipped into the Baum and settled without much hesitation for Windermere Pale from Hawkshead, one of my favourite beers. At the bar, also drinking the Pale were a couple of my CAMRA members and we chatted away about this and that and the range of beers on offer.

One caught our eye, but not in a good way. Now we hadn't tasted this beer, but we all felt suspicious about it. Why? We didn't like the name, Ole Slewfoot. Or the look of the pumpclip.  Alan was made of sterner stuff. He ordered a half and passed it round. It was decent, if unremarkable, but you know I bet we aren't alone and that this beer will sell slowly. Oh sure, if it was a world beater, word would get round, but it wasn't. Just decent.  I predict a slow mover.

Is this a common thing? You look at the name and the pumpclip and say subconsciously "Not for me".

Apparently this beer is named after a bear.. God knows why. It doesn't look like a bear to me, nor to the others. Nor did we didn't realise it was meant to be a US style IPA. It didn't taste like one. At all. Details here.


Brewbie said...

There are so many beers around now it must be tricky to think of decent, unusual names. It doesn't put me off at all, it's just a shame it didn't taste better.

Kristy said...

I'm with you, wouldn't even have tried it. Brewers need to put as much thought and attention into the name and look as they do the beer, it's a shame so many times that seems to be an afterthought.

beerfortheweekend said...

I have to say I wouldn't go with this one first - its the dull line drawing and purple that don't draw me - as for the name, not that bothered. I don't think I have ever been put off by a name, however I have been enticed by one -the name pulls in my case rarely pushes

Pete Drinks said...

Names sometimes put me off, but Ole Slewfoot is fairly inoffensive. The graphics on the clip, however, don't have me very excited by the beer - if it was one of a couple of taps I might try it, but with any competition it would probably lose out.

It's not actively offputting, just unattractive. There are far worse examples of offputting names / clip graphics (I'm looking at you, Skinners...)

Tyson said...

I know what you mean. You see a JW Lees pumpclip and think "Dear God, no".

Paul Bailey said...

Never mind, when the coalition start applying the same muddle-headed logic to alcohol that they're already applying to tobacco, and breweries have to start selling their wares under plain wrapper, it won't matter what the beer's called, or what the pump clip is supposed to look like, as no-one will actually be allowed to see it!!

Neville Grundy said...

I have been put off trying a beer because of its name or unattractive pump clip. That's not silly; it's human nature. Big companies wouldn't bother with marketing and advertising departments if they didn't think they could influence customers who hadn't tried the product. Small brewers can't afford such luxuries, but they should still try to apply the principles involved. "Make it attractive" isn't a difficult concept.

Stono said...

Ive definately been put off by names like "Pig Swill" and for similar reasons as it was written mistakenly on the board "Eat An Swill Old" which didnt sound very appealing at all :)

thats perhaps an example of sometimes where an inadvertent mistake and what the brewery might have thought seemed a jolly good name can either confuse or might not even connect at all with the drinker just through the name.

"Eatanswill", as Im sure we all know, or at least I do now :) is actually the name Dickens gave to Sudbury in the Pickwick Papers, and this was a beer brewed by the Sudbury based Mauldons to celebrate that connection, and conceptually its a great idea sounds perfect.

but if you dont know the connection, even if you knew your Dickens, would you get the link to Mauldons (half the time even locally people confuse it with Maldon), so even if you saw the pump clip would you get it straight away in that time you make your choice, and then if someone mishears or misreads the barrel and labels it up wrong, suddenly the name conjures up a wholly different beer.

FWIW Id probably not be totally put off completely by the name Ole Slewfoot but it would probably be well down the list of beers Id try, and again its one of those you need to make a connection the brewers are well familiar with but which the average drinker really has no chance of making in the 10 seconds or so they decide from a list or row of pumpclips on the bar.

Anonymous said...

I Guess it caught your eye at all means something?

wee beefy said...

About 10 years ago "a brewery" whose output I have a very low opinion of anyway, did a beer called Breast Bitter.

The poor humour of the pun didn't put me off, neither did the rather simple minded clip, but it added, along with the embarrassment clearly felt by some of the barstaff, to my decision to not bother buying some.

When I used to sell bottled beers, a vertiable breeding ground for idiotic marketing and pun fests, many customers would look at our range and ask me to recommend a good pale hoppy beer without a stupid name. Which discounted the rather good Wonkey Donkey.

Its more worrying perhaps that there seems to be a market for lame sounding beers, beer festivals especially.

Ben Viveur said...

I don't care what a beer is called or what the pumpclip looks like if it tastes good.

But I can see the value in giving beers unusual/unique names because tickers are thus more likely to know instantly if they've had the beer before or not.

This is a good case in point - I'm 99.99% certain I've never had a beer called Ole Slewfoot, so I'd definitely choose it on that basis alone. If the pumpclip said 'Windmill Best' or 'Golden Pale' or something, I'd be far less certain one way or t'other without having to spend time looking stuff up.

Bailey said...

Funny. We've got a bottle of one of theirs in the stash and commented on Twitter that we thought the branding was quite nice -- a Victorian/Circus/Wild West thing going on.

But, yes, the pumpclip suddenly becomes very important, when you're choosing between three beers you don't know from Adam. It's a chance for the brewery to convey their attitude, their attention to detail and (obviously) key information about the beer.

RedNev said...

Anon: it means nothing if people don't actually buy the product.

FrFintonStack said...

"I don't care what a beer is called or what the pumpclip looks like if it tastes good."

That's a common response, and one that's fair enough in its own way. However, stupid names and horrible seaside postcard and/or clipart artwork puts me off trying beers I'm not already familiar with, unless someone I trust has already recommended them. If I walk into a pub intending to have three pints, and there are five beers on, the two stupid-looking ones are likely to be the two I'm not going to bother with.