More Geo-BREWities

On August 7, 2014 · 2 Comments

My geography and brewery interests collided a few months ago. The happy result produced Geo-Brewities. Google says I own that term now, a pseudo-portmanteau of geography + brewery + oddities. I don’t expect it to become part of the popular lexicon. It’s not that catchy.

I took a different approach on the second and possibly final round of this series. The renewed effort began as I noticed a lot of breweries and brewpubs with numbers incorporated into their names. Once again I started with the Brewers Association directory of breweries. It included 5,309 listings for the United States alone. That’s why this might be the last time. If I check again will be more — a lot more — and I’m not sure I can withstand that level of tedium one more time.

From that nearly overwhelming universe, I distilled a couple of hundred breweries that matched my numerical criteria. I’ve documented them in a spreadsheet and shared it with the 12MC audience. The usual caveats applied: omissions and spelling errors were unintentional; the file is only as good as the source and it only applies now (August 2014). It will be out of date if you happen to read this article in the distant future.

16 Mile Brewing Company Bottle
This episode brought to you by the number 16; from 12MC’s private collection

That left me with a big list of breweries that incorporated numbers in their names. What should I do with it? Examine it and look for patterns that might align with 12MC’s geography themes, of course. It encompassed every cardinal number from 1 through 16. A prospective brewer wishing to be original would have to start with 17. The smallest number was fractional (several breweries with half of this-or-that) and the largest was 5050 (FiftyFifty Brewing of Truckee, California). I ignored zero and infinity although they both existed in Vermont for some odd reason.

Patterns revealed themselves.

Area Codes

312 Urban Wheat
312 Urban Wheat by david mcchesney, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

The first time I recall a telephone area code associated with brewing was Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat. I’m not sure when it first hit store shelves although Beer Advocate reviews extended back as far as 2004. Since then, 312 Urban Wheat won a slew of awards at the Great American Beer Festival and became one of Goose Island’s flagship brews. Those three simple digits associated strongly with a specific geography, downtown Chicago, and resonated with a customer demographic that the brewery hoped to reach. It worked. A similar premise served as inspiration for an episode of Seinfeld that aired in 1998, focusing on the 212 area code of New York City. Clearly an area code could serve as a strong brand identifier and a marketing mechanism.

Regardless of the original inspiration, a solid association between area codes and the craft brewing industry spread nationwide.

  • 303 Brewing; Denver, CO (planned)
  • (405) Brewing Co; Norman, OK (planned)
  • 406 Brewing; Bozeman, MT
  • (512) Brewing; Austin, TX
  • 515 Brewing; Clive, IA
  • 603 Brewery; Londonderry, NH
  • 612Brew; Minneapolis, MN
  • 903 Brewers; Sherman, TX

Area code 903 covered Sherman, Texas and yet the telephone phone number for 903 Brewers listed a 214 area code (Dallas and its eastern metropolitan area). I’ve yet to figure out that paradox.

Admission to the Union

US Naval Jack.svg
US Naval Jack“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Twelve Mile Circle discusses individual US states all the time so it was nice to see a set of brewers who paid attention and took lots of notes during their mandatory state history classes back in junior high school. They incorporated the correct order that their respective states joined the Union.

  • 12th State Brewing; Greensboro, NC (planned)
  • 14th Star Brewing; St. Albans, VT
  • 38 State Brewing; Littleton, CO
  • 49th State Brewery; Healy, AK
  • 1912 Brewing; Tucson, AZ (planned)

Arizona joined the Union in 1912 in case anyone wondered about that last one. Extra credit went to 1st Republic Brewing. It was named for a government that existed briefly (1777-1791) prior to Vermont becoming a US state. Before anyone mentions Bear Republic Brewing in California, let’s recognize that it didn’t have a number in its name so it fell outside of the rules for this article.

Let’s also recognize breweries that referenced the United States Constitution since we’re already on an historical theme: 21st Amendment Brewery (ended prohibition on alcohol); 1933 Brewing (year that prohibition ended); and my favorite, 8th Amendment Brewing (prohibits cruel and unusual punishment).


Highway 101

There were numerous instances of breweries named for minor streets, plus others named for street addresses, mile markers and highway exits. I wanted those associated with larger highways, a frequent 12MC topic. Like area codes, highway identifiers correlated strongly to geography and thus could target specific customers.

  • A1A Ale Works; St. Augustine, FL
  • Highway 1 Brewing; Pescadero, CA
  • Pike 51 Brewing; Hudsonville, MI
  • 101 North; Petaluma, CA
  • 101 Brewery; Quilcene, WA

Two breweries named for US Highway 101? That warranted further discussion.

Highway 101 was one of the original highways designated in 1926, running from San Ysidro, California to Olympia, Washington, nearly the entire length of the west coast of the United States from México to Canada. It invokes feelings of identity and nostalgia for many people, maybe not as great as the legendary Route 66 although certainly at a respectable level. Its endpoints changed over time in a rather confusing fashion in recent years, as noted in detail at However, that wouldn’t change its usefulness as a marketing tool.

Somewhat Related

I have beer on my mind because I’ll be at my favorite beer festival on Saturday (Aug. 9, 2014), the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin. Send me a note if you plan to be there and I’ll try to find you. I might even do some live tweeting. That should be amusing.


What the?

On June 29, 2014 · 7 Comments

It couldn’t possibly be true, a place named for Dwayne Johnson a.k.a "The Rock", the professional wrestler and actor?


This guy had more than 7 million Twitter followers and he followed only one person, Muhammad Ali. That would indicate someone of immense popularity, and yet, could that be enough to get an entire town named for him?

The Rock, Georgia, USA

No, of course not. The Rock in Georgia was not named for Dwayne Johnson and I never figured that was a realistic possibility. I was simply amused by the weird juxtaposition of a professional wrestler and a populated place with the same name. Johnson didn’t have any association with the state or for the town as far as I could determine. Nonetheless I never considered that The Rock — the town — had anything to do with the Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant chain either. However it did, as improbable as that sounded.

The Rock in Georgia was named for The Rock Ranch, and:

The Rock Ranch is a beautiful 1,500 acre cattle ranch located about an hour south of Atlanta in Upson County. It’s a place where families, school groups and even businesses can come to enjoy what we call "agritourism." The Rock Ranch is owned by Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy and dedicated to "Growing Healthy Families"!

S. Truett Cathy and kin are no strangers to controversy. There’s no doubt that The Rock Ranch would have a strong opinion on those Healthy Families that it was dedicated to Growing, regardless of where one’s own personal feelings fell on that spectrum.

The Others

Bequia by Globalgrasshopr, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

My tangential thought process led me to consider other placenames beginning with the definite article. It had to be unusual, I considered, and then I realized it may not have been all that rare even if it wasn’t the norm. A simple visit to the US Department of State’s A-Z List of Country and Other Areas demonstrated that quickly at a national level.

  • THE Bahamas
  • THE Congo (Republic of, and Democratic Republic of)
  • THE Gambia
  • Saint Vincent and THE Grenadines

The rule of thumb seemed to center upon entities named for something like a river or a group of islands. Those increased the likelihood of having the definite article tacked onto them. The Grenadines portion of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines fascinated me, I guess because Saint Vincent and the Grenadines included only a portion of the Grenadines. The largest island of the Grenadines, Carriacou, was actually a dependency of Grenada. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had to settle for the second largest island, Bequia. Perhaps the name should be changed to Saint Vincent and Some of the Grenadines? It seemed like false advertising.

While not explicitly stated in the US Department of State list in this form, one often encounters THE Netherlands and THE Philippines too. I suppose while I’m at it I could add THE United States and THE United Kingdom. There used to be THE Ukraine although that began to shift to Ukraine by iteself after becoming an independent state in 1991.

Nonetheless I think the only two nations where the definite article would always be capitalized would be The Bahamas and The Gambia (vs. the United States and the United Kingdom, where lowercase would be acceptable in many circumstances). It all gets so confusing.

In the United Kingdom

I looked for instances of THE attached to placenames in many areas and found no nation with a greater prevalence than the United Kingdom. There must be hundreds of them. Some where quite remarkable such as The Burf, The Folly, The Glack, The Mumbles, and The Shoe. The best of course were the several places named The Butts because 12MC couldn’t resist another opportunity for lowbrow humor. This would be an appropriate time to turn on the video of Da Butt for some inspiration.

Many British placenames that sounded odd to the rest of us were rooted in things that made complete sense in their original context. English Heritage provided a logical explanation for The Butts:

An archery butts is an area of land given over to archery practise in which one or more artificially constructed mounds of earth and stone were used as a target area. The name originally applied to the dead marks or targets themselves but the earthen platforms on which the targets were placed also became known as butts… Archery butts can be recognised as field monuments through their earthwork mounds but documentary sources allow the best identification of archery butts, usually through place-names eg. Butt Hills… Archery butts are associated with the use and practise of the longbow which was in part responsible for England’s military power throughout the medieval period.

Thus, many of The Butts derived from archery fields although some did not: "The Middle English word ‘butt’ referred to an abutting strip of land, and is often associated with medieval field systems." In Britain, The Butts could have been associated with archery or with an odd leftover land remnant.

The Gazetteer of British Place listed two specific location of The Butts, one in Glamorgan, South Wales (map) and the other in Hampshire, England (map), although other sources listed more.

I noticed something interesting next to The Butts in Hampshire, Jane Austen’s House Museum. Jane Austen (1775–1817) resided here during the latter part of her life, where she wrote the novels Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion. She may have also revised drafts of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey here as well. Thus it could be said that the famous author gazed upon The Butts regularly.


On June 1, 2014 · 0 Comments

What does one call it when a bunch of fabric gets cut-up when making an item of clothing, and then there are a bunch of leftovers? What are those residual scraps? Remnants? That’s what I was left to work with today, a bunch of little snippets that didn’t quite make it into previous articles. They’ve been hording valuable real estate on my list of potential topics for quite awhile, cluttering up the place. I think I have enough of them to cobble together into a single article and dispense with them.

Shooting for H’s

4-H Stamp
4-H Stamp by Hacktweeters, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

I grew up in farm country. I’m quite familiar with 4-H. The 4-H of my childhood focused on making better farmers through agricultural fairs, educational efforts, overnight camps, and the like. I vaguely remember my sister grooming a horse or something like that for some "Old School" 4-H contest. The present-day 4-H, from what I gleaned from their website, shifted rather more broadly into the suburbs, urban areas and even internationally. The four H’s referenced head, heart, hands, and health. What I didn’t know until just now was that 4-H was part of the US Department of Agriculture, through its National Institute of Food and Agriculture, specifically. I guess I never thought about it in that amount of detail before.

How should I interpret this odd lake in Carthage, Texas?

H and H Lake / 3-H Lake, Carthage, Texas, USA

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names provided two names for this lake. One was "H and H Lake" with a Geographic Names Information System entry date of 30-Nov-1979. The alternate name was 3-H Lake, entered 06-Apr-2000. It’s like the lake was trying to work its way up to 4-H status.

Actually, I think the H’s may have been associated with families that lived in the area, Heaton, Hill and Hull. Notice the small roads named for them, all leading up to the lake. I’m related to the Hull family which is how I discovered this odd little lake. That wasn’t the only minor, inconsequential road named for my distant relatives. I’ve also discovered a Howder Street in Hillsdale, Michigan, named for the brother of my 3rd-great-grandfather (and featured in the third article every published on 12MC!)

Rappers Delight

Sandfly (actual size)
Sandfly (actual size) by Seth Mazow, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license

No-see-um is another term for a sandfly. They made a very brief appearance in The Article That Nobody Will Ever See. Well the bug wasn’t featured. Rather I posted a map of No-see-um Lake, Shoshone Co., Idaho. I almost chose another location, a lake in Wisconsin.

Old School Road, Phelps, Wisconsin, USA

I found it amusing that Old School Road led to the lake. I reserved it because I thought I might want to create a pun with Old School Rap. Then I discovered that there were lots of Old School roads because apparently there were a lot of old schools, and the potential joke lost its allure (although I still think that the Sugarhill Gang should live here).

Caribbean Paradox

Basseterre - City from Ship
Basseterre – City from Ship by Roger Wollstadt, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license

I found a nice photograph of Basseterre, St. Kitts, the capital city of the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis. It looked so typically Caribbean, and dare I say perhaps even a bit Old School Caribbean.

Caribbean There, Ft. Collins, Colorado, USA

Does Fort Collins, Colorado look anything like the Caribbean? No, I feel fairly certain that Fort Collins might be considered pretty much the equal and opposite of anything Caribbean. That’s not intended to disparage Fort Collins. I wouldn’t expect to see Rocky Mountain High in Basseterre, either.

Why would a developer consider Caribbean-themed streets appropriate along the Front Range: Basseterre Place; Saint John Place; Barbuda Drive; Aruba Drive, and so on. Really? How hard up for names would someone have to be before having to resort to something this far out of alignment with the prevailing geography?

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