San Francisco, CA
No one knows! Well, two people know, but they're extremely dead at this point, since the original German brewer and his son-in-law were the ones who bought an SF brewery in 1896 and renamed it Anchor. The brewery says, "no one knows why [the founders] chose the name Anchor, except, perhaps, for its indirect but powerful allusion to the booming Port of San Francisco." If we were lawyers, we'd object with something like, "Pure speculation!" to those claims and just leave it at "boats."
The explanation for the Maryland-based brewery's name is about as loopy as you'd expect from a beermaker associated with Hunter S. Thompson's deranged cohort, Ralph Steadman. As the brewery tells it, one of Flying Dog's founders, George Stranahan, just finished a dangerous hike in Pakistan when they were having a celebratory drink back at the hotel. It was there that they say was a "full-on oil painting of a dog. A beautiful oil painting, big, nice. And the dog was like... well, he had left the ground." Stranahan says the two words fit together for him. Good enough for us, George.
Fun fact: Colorado's nitro-obsessed brewery's co-founders met in the '80s as cadets in the US Air Force Academy. According to BYO.com, a decade later, they lived in Niwot, a tiny CO town named after Chief Niwot. Niwot translates to "left hand," and there you have it. Confusingly, Left Hand Brewing is based in Longmont, a town name we like to think translates to "Home of Left Hand Brewing."
Oh boy, another of those, "its origins have been lost to time" explanations. No one's sure why Smuttynose Island, which the brewery was named after, has such a weirdly sexy name. We do know that it's "the third largest of the nine islands that form the Isle of Shoals" an archipelago off the NH coast. And, oh yeah, a notorious double axe murder happened there in the 1870s. Half Acre and Smuttynose are now tied for creepiest brewery name in America.
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Lee Breslouer is a senior writer for Thrillist, and his name does not have a creepy origin story. Follow him to the name game: @LeeBreslouer.