Beer Menagerie

At this time of year, as bock beers begin to hit the
shelves, one can’t help but notice the goats
pictured on the labels of these heartier brews.
There are a couple of theories as to why these
ruminants are featured, from “bock” being the
German word for goat, to the origin of bock beer
in Einbeck, Germany, and  “bock” somehow
evolving from “beck”. But whatever the reason,
the goat remains the animal most closely
associated with a style of beer, although the animal
kingdom has had a strong relationship with the
labeling, marketing and drinking of beer over the
past couple of hundred years.

Everyone is familiar with the Budweiser
Clydesdales, but in years past all breweries made
deliveries by means of horse drawn wagons and
some, like Anheuser-Busch, still keep teams of
draught horses for parades and promotional
events. Horses have figured prominently in beer
names: “Stallion Malt Liquor”, Genesee “Twelve
Horse Ale”. “Black Horse Ale”, and “Atlantic City
Diving Horse Ale”, commemorating the famous act
on the Steel Pier. Even Ed Norton’s and Ralph
Kramden’s verbal faux pas regarding the equine
world is recalled by the Beverwyck Brewery’s 1940’
s advertising which depicted a “string of
polopponies”  on their trays.

Hopefully, unless the prohibitionists have their
way, beer will never go to the dogs, but man’s
best friend in all his breeds, sizes and
idiosyncrasies has contributed to the marketing of
“man’s best drink”. “Red Dog” (Miller), “Old
Brown Dog”(Smuttynose), “Fat Dog Stout”(Stoudt’
s), ‘Big Dog Porter”(Gaslight), ‘Black Dog”
(Spanish Peaks), “Flying Dog” and  Spuds
MacKenzie are a few. In addition, Barley Creek’s
“Rescue IPA” features a St. Bernard with a firkin
of Rescue IPA around his neck, poised to assist a
thirsty, stranded traveler. (Great dog, the St.
Bernard)., and a Scottie dog adorns the label on
MacAndrew’s Scotch Ale.

Even a bad dog makes his appearance on Santa Fe
Brewing’s “Chicken Killer” barleywine. If craft
brews had been available in Red China during the
reign of Chairman Mao (may the dung of a
thousand dogs defile his grave), I’m sure the
peasants would have been offered “Running Dog
Imperialist” IPA.

The dog’s perceived arch enemy, the cat, is not to
be forgotten when associating animals with beer.
“Big Cat” malt liquor (Pabst), Labatt’s “Wildcat”
beer, Catamount and Magic Hat’s “Lucky Kat”
come to mind, as well as the more ferocious Lion
Stout, “Leopard”(Serengeti Brewing), and “Tiger
Head” ale(Schmidt’s of Philadelphia.

As much as dogs like to chase cats, so do cats
enjoy chasing birds, and there is a whole
birdhouse full of beer birds for beer cats to
pursue. A-B and Yuengling feature eagles in their
logos and there were scores of “Eagle” breweries
in the United States whose birds  could  join ranks
with Mendocino Brewing Company’s whole
portfolio of bird themed beers to give a little
payback to the cats. “Black Hawk” stout, “White
Hawk” IPA, ‘Eye of the Hawk”, “Red Tail” ale and
“Talon” barleywine are enough to put the fear of
God into any ordinary housecat! Wild Goose
brewery has a perfect name for one of my favorite
Christmas brews, “Snow Goose”, and filling out
our bird sanctuary are ‘Goldfinch” ale (The Lion),  
“Blue Heron” ale (Mendocino), “Raven” lager
(Baltimore-Washington Beer Works) “Raven’s Eye”
(Eel River), “Yellowtail” pale ale (San Diego),
“Loon” golden ale (Woodstock), “Kingfisher” from
India, and “Swan” lager from Shanghai. Possibly
the only avian species missing is the rare and
extremely elusive “Yellowbellied Alesucker” beer.

Like to take a little fishing trip? We can start off
with Angler’s Pale Ale or Fisherman’s IPA in order
to catch some Flying Fish, Bluefin, Dogfish Head,
Whale’s Tail Pale Ale, Red Seal Ale, Oyster Stout,
Potomac’s Patowmack (featuring a pumpkinseed
panfish) or any of the Sweetwater Brewing
Company’s beers, all portraying a hooked gamefish
on the label.

For those who prefer hunting to fishing the
possibilities for successfully bagging “animal”
beers are almost endless. ‘Golden Pheasant” beer,
“Fox Head 400”, “’Otter Summer”, Stegmaier’s
chipmunks, Wachussets Nut brown Ale’s squirrels,
Smuttynose’s groundhogs, and Beverwyck’s
beavers, are a few that come to mind. Samuel
Smith’s  Winter Welcome has included rabbits and
wild turkeys on the label .If you’re into bagging
bigger game, ‘Elk” beer,” Flying Bison” ,“Buffalo
Lager,” Bruin Pale Ale”,” Kodiak Brown Ale”, “Wild
Boar Winter Spice”, and Long Trail’s bears are on
tap.

As long as we’re going hunting, why not try an
African safari? We can certainly find “Serengeti
Lager” with a leopard on the logo, Carlsberg
Brewery’s(home of the elephant gate)” Elephant  
Malt Liquor”, Victory’s  “Golden Monkey”, River
Horse’s Hippos, Columbus Browerij’s Ostrich, and ,
of course, Rhino Chaser’s beers. If, like Frank
Buck, you want to “bring ‘em back alive”, the
perfect beer is Estes Park’s “Lincoln Park  Zoo
Brew”, depicting no less than a giraffe, zebra,
gorilla, toucan, tiger, polar bear, panda, peacock,
penguin, elephant and snake on the label!  

Closer to home, in the barnyard, are New Glarus
Brewing’s “Spotted Cow”, Lakefront’s cow
jumping over the barn, Young’s ram, New
Amsterdam’s  donkey, Billy Goat Stout from Estes
Park, Lancaster’s “Hop Hog” ,“Hog’s Breath”,
Long Trail’s “Double Bag” (glorifying a two-
headed, two- uddered cow), and “Gold Spur” ale,
illustrated by a strutting rooster.

The old German drinking tradition, ‘The
Salamander”, would be a great venue for drinking
beers associated with reptiles and amphibians.
“Hop’n Gator”(Pittsburgh Brewing), “Hoppin’
Frog” (Akron Brewing), “Snake Beer” (Estes
Park), “King Cobra” malt liquor and Terrapin
Brewing’s labels with banjo-playing and kayaking
turtles are beers to found in the reptile house.

Insects and crustaceans, the “crawly” things of
the animal world, are also represented in beer
advertising: Long Trail  “Pollenator’s” bee, Belfast
Bay ’s “Lobster Ale”, Stone’s “Old Crustacean”,
Estes Park ’s “Stinger Beer” and New Jersey ’s
own “Cricket Hill”. Mercifully, I haven’t come
across any “Cockroach Porter” or “Centipede
Wheat”.

The last cages in our beer menagerie are reserved
for animals that exist only in fantasy, but the
brewing industry’s use of them in naming, labeling
and promotion of beers serve to perpetuate the
myth of their existence. “Midnight Dragon” malt
liquor, Newman’s unicorn, Wychwood Brewing’s
“Hobgoblin”, Rock Art’s “Kokopelli”, Ithaca ’s
“Cascazilla” and Brooklyn ’s “Monster” barleywine,
are all from the animal kingdom, but several more
beers have some human characteristics, as well.
Sierra Nevada ’s “Bigfoot” barleywine is closely
related to Great Divide’s “Yeti” and “Oak Aged
Yeti”, and Dock Street ’s Illuminator doppelbock’s
faun are examples of crosses between man and
beast.
Fuller’s griffin is a cross between a lion and an
eagle.

Thus ends our foray into the zoological aspects of
beer. Now’s a good time to gather up the toddlers
and grandchildren, open a brew and the albums of
collected beer labels and teach them about the
animal kingdom. Is there a better way to do it?





Cheers,


Dan
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