San Diego’s Modern Times has some of the best beer names around, and they don’t include puns, corny beer jokes or racy innuendos. Instead, these highbrow names reference utopian societies, and they inspire some very interesting reading. Take the brewery’s name, for example, which is a nod to a 19th-century utopian community once settled on Long Island. Then there’s the brewery’s flagship saison Lomaland, which gets its name from a theosophical community in San Diego that operated in the first half of the 20th century.
My favorite, though, is Fortunate Islands, a seemingly perfect name to go alongside the vibrant wheat beer’s island-friendly grapefruit, tangerine and orange hop notes. Here’s the backstory as Modern Times founder Jacob McKean told me:
“Fortunate Islands is named after a 16th-century French myth about a series of surreal islands featuring a bevy of bizarre animals. On one, the men make coats out of the soft, giant ears of goats. On another, they use the wings of enormous butterflies to make sails and windmills. In all the islands, rivers of wine flow and cups grow on trees. In addition to that hilariously weird backstory, the name Fortunate Islands just evokes the feel I get from drinking this tropical, sessionable, delicious beer.” tweet
John Lennon couldn’t have topped that imagery.
The story gets even weirder with a quick Google search, which sends you down a rabbit hole of Fortunate Island (or Isle) references and associations that encompass Greek mythology, Pliny the Elder (the real guy, not the beer), the Azores and Arthurian legend. I recommend taking that trip while sipping on a can of the beer.
What’s the weirdest backstory to a beer name you’ve ever heard?