I'm not arguing one against the other, but for some reason I always notice firefighter-branded products and companies. Hot Sauces are popular, and ripe fodder for all sorts of puns and fire references. There's a chain of sandwich shops called Firehouse Subs that, curiously, steams its subs rather than flame toasting them (I do love their brisket sandwich, though). Usually these are side projects for professional or volunteer firemen, or companies run by retired firemen. And there's usually some sort of charity connected to the operation as well.
So let's take a look at this beer, the Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown, $8/6 pack, 4.5% abv.
1) Founded by a volunteer fireman
2) Firefighting terms used for the company name and the specific beer name
3) Donations to local burn wards ("Penny in Every Pint", "Quarter in Every Case", and the money goes to the city or region where you bought the beer)
4) Photographed with a fire extinguisher by your friendly neighborhood blogger just for fun (but note that this is a properly charged dry chemical fire extinguisher, safety first)
So how does it taste? It's a pretty basic English-style brown ale. Not very bitter, but the flavor focuses more on the malts, where you'll get toffee and chocolate elements. I found myself wanting more hops, but it's a good introductory beer for folks who might be afraid of any beer that's darker than
There's another curious side to this beer. It's produced under a system called contract brewing by The Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, even though the company is based in Maryland, but started in California. It's a form of outsourcing: if you don't want to operate an entire brewery, you provide the recipe and specifications to an existing facility. They produce the beer, you handle all the marketing and everything else. There are mixed feelings about this in the beer community. In some cases, it's a great way for a small producer to create a consistent product without a huge financial risk. In other cases, it can be viewed as removing the specific regional qualities of a beer. Order a Guinness in Australia, and it's produced locally by Fosters. Order one in the US, and it's made in Ireland, but if you want a stronger beer and order a Guinness Extra Stout, it comes from Canada. (There are also much stronger versions of Guinness made locally in Africa and Asia, but that's another story.)
I don't really have strong feelings on the issue, but I tend to be generally curious about where things come from, and I wanted to point this out to scare and shock wine lovers. Imagine buying "Barolo" that had been mixed and formulated in a factory in Kansas. OK, wine and beer production are a lot different, and it's easier to emulate a certain style with beer, but who knows what the future will hold?
Coincidentally as I was finishing up this post, I happened to take a closer look at my bottle of "Georgia's Natural Juice Pomegranate Juice". I picked it up because it was cheaper than POM, and I hadn't tried it yet. Pure juice, no sugar or other stuff, sounds good. I found out that it wasn't from the Peachtree State, but rather the former Soviet Republic of საქართველო. The juice tastes fine, and there's nothing wrong with it, but I found it a curious bit of slightly deceptive marketing. Like if the ancient capital of the Egyptian empire in the other Memphis decided to start selling BBQ sauce and Elvis records.