A question I commonly get asked is the origin of the name Blind Enthusiasm. Choosing a name is something every business needs to do, and one can take a variety of different approaches in how to select the ideal name to reflect what you’re hoping to create. Naming a brewery is no different, but brewery names often fall into a few common categories: a reference to geography, a landmark, or person (e.g. South Edmonton Brewery Company, Whyte Ave Brewery, or Joe’s Brewery), a comment on process or purpose (Hop Crazy Brewery or Good Times Brewery), or a more esoteric loose association of words that may reflect their origin story (Blind Enthusiasm Brewery).
The name you choose can sometime suggest your aspiration as a brewery, though if there’s one thing that’s become quite evident in the craft brewing business, it is that there are no hard and fast rules. I chose the more esoteric/loose association path for our name as I didn’t want us to be limited by geography, and I didn’t want to dictate process as we aspire to explore a wide range of methods in making beer and running our business. By a process of elimination I ended up in the loose association category which has the unique challenge of no specific starting point to reference when coming up for names.
I considered the motivation, intention, and feeling I had in creating a brand new brewery from scratch without professional brewery experience (and no partners or team members in the initial stages). I did have some experience adjacent to the professional brewing space operating The Beer Diaries (a YouTube channel where I interviewed professional brewers at their breweries), as a beer writer at AskMen.Com, and later as the Executive Director of the Alberta Small Brewers Association. All of these roles helped me learn about the industry, but none were actually working within a brewery making or selling beer. And, rather than starting on the safer, more sensible path of starting small and building up based on prior success I jumped right into building at showpiece brewery at the Ritchie Market in Edmonton, and shortly afterward (even before opening our first brewery) started the construction of a brewery dedicated to spontaneous, mixed and natural fermentation all in wood. Most people in the industry would likely declare it a foolish path, and perhaps say I was blindly enthusiastic and lacking common sense. And that’s where the name came from.
It was pretty clear to me that if I was defined by blind enthusiasm, I needed to counteract that by finding strong partners and a great team to keep things balanced as we created the breweries. I set out to find the best people possible to take care the essential roles in the business, so when I was off the rails doing blindly enthusiastic stuff I had good advice and counsel from people that could keep the business within the realm of reality. I feel like we’ve been quite successful in this regard, and at this point I feel strongly that even though we exhibit plenty of blind enthusiasm we’re quite practical and systematic about how we operate. Based on our principles we still do things a little differently than other breweries (see future blogs on this), but there’s always a good reason behind our decisions.
One last comment on the name Blind Enthusiasm is that it also happens to be an homage to a moderately obscure set of characters created by the late Sci Fi author Ian M. Banks. Mr. Banks wrote a series of books in a setting called the Culture, a futuristic Earth-based environment where AIs transcended humanity and acted as protectors and managers of humanity’s expansion. These AIs also had a sense of humor, and in selecting their names tended to choose clever and ironic personal titles like “Lucid Nonsense”, “Flexible Demeanour”, “No More Mr Nice Guy”, and my personal favorite “Zero Gravitas.” The name Blind Enthusiasm is right in line with the ironic names of the great AIs of the Culture, though we’ve got a long way to go to match their cold, calculating methods.
At this point we’ve largely had positive feedback on the name Blind Enthusiasm, and we’ll do our best to be true to our name by staying excited about what we do. The only drawbacks so far have been that it is a fairly hard to spell, makes a very lengthy email or web address, and that it can sometimes be hard to say after a few beers. Other than that, it suits us just fine.