You don’t realise how difficult it is to name a beer. All breweries have mental lists of stuff that you’d think is a great name but doesn’t quite work. An inside joke, the humour is too obsure, it’s just too long, just another pun on hops, it’s a rude word in Venezuela. And now try renaming a core beer, in this case our Irish Red.
With the traditional Red Hand of Ulster iconography looking like it was drawn by a child in crayon, and after a few days of head meeting wall, it was time to look at the beer’s history with us.
You’d get the odd customer who call it Redheaded, but you know they’d just been to that fast-food chain. And despite redheads being erronously synonymous with Ireland – it’s more of a Norwegian thing, google it – we reluctantly ignored Redheaded. Although the beer shampoo tie-in looked very promising financially – maybe we should go back to that.
So we looked through Irish Paul’s extensive archives, not that extensive since the great laptop failure of 2020 it must be said, but still a visual history of the brewery.
Back in 2015 when we first made it, we had a bottle label with a Red Setter dog, Everyone loves a dog, even cat people. So still looking at needing something recogniseably Irish, we went to his Irish History sources and asked around.
Here it was, the perfect image, a dog from the 9th century penannular Irish brooch from Killamery, Co. Kilkenny, currently in the National Museum of Ireland. Discovered in 1854, this silver annular brooch is decorated with gold, glass and amber. Even better, Killamery Hill was known in Old Irish as Dromm Derg (modern Irish: Drom Dearg) meaning “red ridge”, and is mentioned in a number of Fenian Cycle poems by this name. So a perfect icon for an Irish Red.
The image is popularly known from its reimagining by German designer Heinrich Gerl in the 1960s for the series of Irish definitive stamps based on Irish imagery of animals. Gerl changed up the profile of the dog adding more detail and changing the forelegs. The stamps were used from pre-decimalisation in 1968 until 1982 and came in a myriad selections of colours and denominations.
So our interpretation of the dog is midway between the brooch and the postage stamp.
So a name, an image, and an evolution of our base can design.
Same recipe, same flavour, new name, new can. Red Setter.