How Famous Breweries Got Their Names

Dogfish Head
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We all have our favorite breweries.  You may know where they’re located, their most famous brews, and maybe even their founder’s names.  But as it turns out, a lot of brewery names have super strange backstories. 

Here’s just a few examples.

Dogfish Head Brewery

Dogfish Head Brewery is located in Delaware, but it’s named after Dogfish Head, Maine, a place founder Sam Calagione spent summers as a child. 

Okay, but who in their right mind would name a town Dogfish Head? As it turns out, the town got its name because while fisherman would fish for lobsters there, mostly they just caught dogfish, a disappointing small shark. 

Well, disappointing if you were trying to catch a lobster.  We’re sure the shark itself is perfectly adequate.

Anyway, although his wife convinced him to move to Delaware, Calagione decided to bring a little piece of Maine with him and named his now globally famous brewery after the disappointment of fishermen. Or after his beloved childhood summer home.

How you interpret the story is up to you.

Clown Shoes Beer

Gregg Berman, founder of Clown Shoes Beer, once entered a Beer Advocate contest to name a new brew by Dogfish Head. 

His idea was to name the beer Clown Shoes, which was the nickname of an employee at Berman’s family’s store.  His submission did not win. It wasn’t even close. 

But Gregg was not the type of person to be dissuaded by the results of some dumb contest, so he opened his own (super successful) brewery, used the name, and the rest is history.

Half Acre Brewing Company

Half Acre Brewing Company is another “founder’s hometown” story, but this one is significantly… weirder. 

Although Half Acre is Chicago-based, founder Gabriel Magliaro grew up in a small town in New Jersey. Not far from his small town was another small town called Devil’s Half Acre, PA.

That town was literally only a half-acre of land and a bar. As it turns out, this bar/town was created while the canals along the Delaware River were being dug so the workers would have a place to drink and unwind after work.

So Devil’s Half Acre was a “town” built solely for the purpose of drinking. How could that possibly go wrong? 

In an interview with The Brewery Tourist, Magliaro said, “It was dubbed Devil’s Half Acre because some men would stay too long, drink too much, and fights would break out.  Inevitably some men would be killed and buried on that same half-acre of land. […] We brought the Half Acre here, as for the Devil, well I suppose he’s here, too.”

Uh, yikes.