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Iron Horse Punnery – Naming Hand Cannon IPA

From The Iron Horse Brewery Blog

Iron Horse Punnery – Naming Hand Cannon IPA


The process of naming a beer has become a serious point of contention in the current craft beer landscape. With over 4000 breweries in America, pumping out new brand after new brand to satiate our ever changing market pulls, you have to be on the top of your game. Because of this, employees at IHB are constantly thinking of puns, alliterations, plays on words, and just plain ol’ strong names for upcoming brands. It’s also important to consider legal availability of names, naming responsibly (and not like an asshole), and your target market of consumers when spitballing brands.

One of the things I love about IHB is the internal drive for making each other laugh. For example, most pilots in our Brewer’s Choice series have a working title that we use internally that can be lowbrow, insults on a coworker, or a play on words that may be semi related. Sometimes these names and ideas leak their way out, because it just can’t be topped. I am about 90% sure we made the Gary IPA because the image of Gary in the Skull for his 70th birthday party made all the cousins swell with glee. Koytus was the perfect play on words for the Dutch Koyt we brewed in 2015 and 2016 (and scientifically correct terms are a big hit in this Bristol Stool scale loving company). I called the Mullet Milk internally “Greg”, because if Gary was the imperial ipa, then Greg certainly could be personified as a malt liquor. Hop Lube was called such because, well, have you ever handled Hop extract?

With the naming of beer taken so seriously (and yet not seriously), it’s hardly surprising that I generally have at least a couple names of beers in my brain that I can pitch out if asked. Combine that with my love for puns and popular culture, I generally have some really cheesy jokes loaded for the right opportunity. Elvira said it right, “luck is just opportunity meeting preparation.” **Yes I know other people have said it. Cassandra Peterson just says it and exemplifies it best for me, because she’s the freaking Mistress of the Dark, people.

Cut to summer 2017, when we decided the Finger Gun IPA just wasn’t quite hitting the right spot for our consumers. We have plenty of the hops that are all the right flavors, but the recipe just needed to be “bigger.” Combining the idea of the “handy series”  that we had a few years ago with puns and a certain gun from a movie that my husband and I enjoy a hell of a lot, and a play on the concept of a finger operated gun… Well. It was quite easy for my eavesdropping self to rush into Tyson’s office while he and Dane were discussing the concept of a bigger Finger Gun and declare “you can only brew such a beer if they were to call it… HAND CANNON!”  *cue trumpets and my signature pun dance*. Cut to chuckles and high fiving for my cunning prowess from probably the only two dudes at the brewery besides my husband who will laugh at my jokes sheerly out of politeness. I was then delighted to learn that other people chuckled at the joke, and that even others thought it was a name that actually could work as a true brand. Score one point for Rikki!

ABV: 6.8%

IBU: 68

Available: Year Round in 12 oz. cans, 22 oz. bottles & draught

Best Paired With: Excessive enthusiasm, neon & picnics


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