10 Beer Names You Might Be Saying Wrong

Konig Ludwig WeissbierKönig Ludwig Weissbier: The royal heritage of this Bavarian hefeweizen can be traced back to 1260 when the House of Wittelsbach first began the brewery, and even the current proprietor, Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, is the great-grandson of the last King (König) of Bavaria, Ludwig III.  If you’re ever in the presence of His Royal Highness who is actually quite passionate about beer, pronounce the beer “Kur-Nick Lood-Vick Vice-Beer”, not “Koh-Nidge Lood-Wig Whys-Beer”. 

On a side note, the German Purity Law of 1516 (Rheinheitsgebot) that stated that beer could only be made from barely, hops and water is not only one of the world’s most famous food regulations, but was also created by the prince’s ancestors.  In addition, you know that beer festival in Munich called Oktoberfest? That was started by the prince’s Great-Grandfather.

SamichlausSamichlaus: In the past, you might have noticed this statement on the label of this 14% ABV Austrian-produced beer: “THE STRONGEST BEER IN THE WORLD. GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS”.  But of course that record was from 1982, as there are several other stronger beers on the market today.  What you won’t find on the label though is how to pronounce “Samichlaus”, which by the way is the Swiss-German word for Santa Claus.  The Swiss pronounce it “Sam-Ehk-Laus” where the “Ehk” is pronounced as when hocking a small loogie.

You can hear a Swiss youngster pronouncing “Samichlaus” at about 1:50 in this YouTube clip.

So why is Austria producing a Swiss beer?  Samichlaus was originally brewed by the Hürlimann brewery in Zürich, Switzerland, and closed in 1997, but the beer was revived by the Austrian brewery Schloss Eggenberg in collaboration with the original Hürlimann brewers using the same recipe.

Samuel Adams UtopiasUtopias:  Speaking of strong beers, since 2002 the Guinness Book of Records for strongest beer in the world goes to Sam Adams Utopias which at the time weighed in at 25% ABV, although there have been stronger releases of Utopias since.  It’s not that the name of this rare beer is hard to pronounce, “You-Tope-E-Ahs”, it’s that many people leave off the “s” at the end probably because we’re more familiar with the word “utopia”.  But as sure as this beer is strong, there’s an “s” at the end, and it’s not a silent “s”.

Stella ArtoisStella ArtoisBy now, Stella Artois has saturated almost every bar and restaurant in the U.S., replacing Heineken as the go-to import beer for those who think that “imported” means sophisticated.  And the last thing you want to do when trying to appear sophisticated is to fumble your words.  When in doubt, stick with “Stella”.  But if you really want to classy it up, go all-in and order a Stella “Artois”, pronounced “Art-Wa” (not “Our Toys”).

For the ultimate touch of class, order it Streetcar-style and scream “STELLA!!!”, but then don’t look surprised if people confuse you with James Bond, you suave devil you.

Hoegaarden: Who-Gar-DenHoegaarden: There’s such a mispronunciation-epidemic of this word that the brewery prints the phonetic spelling of the word right on 12 pack boxes.  No, it’s not pronounced like what Snoop Dogg might call a park in Compton, but more like this: “Who-Gar-Den”.


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Hi, I’m D.J. Pander.  I like beer.  I also blog.

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7 Comments

  1. Bryan

    What about Duchesse de Bourgogne?

    • A great beer and a great question!

      Duchesse de Bourgogne is pronounced “Do-Shess D’Bur-Gohn-Yah”. “Bourgogne” is pronounced kind of like the flower begonia, just replace the “beg” with “bur” like “burgonia”. Also, the “de” in “Duchesse de Bourgogne” is spoken so quickly that it almost becomes part of the word “Bourgogne” like “D’Bourgogne”.

      The beer is named after Mary of Burgundy (sometimes known as “Mary the Rich”) who was born in Brussels in 1457. She was the daughter of Charles the Bold (Duke of Brussels), and sole heiress of many of the territories of the Duchy of Burgundy. Mary was married to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and she was succeeded by her son Phillip the Handsome after she died from a horse riding accident.

      Here’s a bonus: Duchesse de Bourgogne is brewed by Brouwerij (Brow-Er-Eye) Verhaeghe (Ver-Ah-Ga) Vichte (Vish-Teh). “Brouwerij” means brewery, “Verhaeghe” is last name of the original founder (1885) and also the current owner, and “Vichte” is the village in Belgium (West Flanders) where the small brewery is located.

  2. Tyler

    How about Duvel?

    • The pronunciation of “Duvel” is pretty straight forward: “Doo-Vill”.

      Duvel is brewed by the Duvel Moortgat Brewery (formerly Brouwerij Moortgat) located in Antwerp, Belgium, and the word “Duvel” means “devil” in the Antwerp dialect.

      Legend has it that the beer “Duvel” was originally called “Victory Ale”, and in 1923, a fan of Victory Ale referred to the beer as a “rare devil” or “a devil of a beer” (or something similar), presumably alluding to the well-masked alcoholic strength of the brew. Not long after, the name stuck.

      Today, the Moortgat Brewery refers to Duvel as “the most angelic devil of a beer.”

      “Duvel” is not the only beer with devilish connotations: There is also “Lucifer” from Brouwerij Het Anker and “Satan Gold” from Brouwerij De Block, both of which are Belgian Strong Pale ales, the same beer style as Duvel.

      Bonus: The Duvel Moortgat Brewery owns the popular American brewery Ommegang. The American brewery pronounces “Ommegang” as “Oh-Ma-Gang” which is close to the French pronunciation, the language predominately spoken in Brussels where the Ommegang parade takes place each year around the beginning of July. However “Ommagang” is a Dutch word pronounced “Oh Ma Hong”.

  3. KarPon

    plenty of practice pronouncing “Pliny”. FUNNY ~ I couldn’t even read it in my head right the first time

  4. Tom Stevenson

    I promise I won’t correct people who have ketchup on their face or those who say Ar-toys,

    But what about those who say “Catch-69” when they mean “Catch -22”?

    • That is a tricky situation, indeed. It’s rare, but there are those among us who intentionally put ketchup on their faces while ordering a Stella “Ar-Toys” even though they know they’re pronouncing it incorrectly. Those are the folks you have to watch out for…

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