Phillips Brewing is helping a six-year-old boy’s dream come true by hopefully forever changing the English language with the release of its latest beer.
Let me explain.
Victoria author and musician Lucky Budd says his son Levi discovered there was no official term to describe a word that creates a different word when spelled backwards, like stop and pots.
In fact, it was a stop sign that provided the inspiration for the second grader. Levi was driving with his mom when he noticed that stop spells pots backwards.
“He said ‘that’s not a palindrome, what’s that called when a word spells another word backwards’,” recalls Budd. “We looked it up, but we couldn’t find a word for it.”
So Levi decided to coin the term “levidrome” to describe this little linguistic twist. However, you can’t just make up a word and expect to get it in the dictionary. After consulting with the people at Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries, Budd was told the word would have to gain public acceptance through common use, so last November, he and Levi made a YouTube video explaining what a levidrome is and encouraging people to use it in order to get in the dictionary.
The video now has close to 40,000 views and gained high-profile supporters like legendary Canadian actor/lounge singer William Shatner and Olympic gold-medalist triathlete Simon Whitfield, who both tweeted their support.
So what does this have to do with beer?
As it turns out, craft brewers—being the awesome people that they are, and always in desperate need of a novel name for their new brew—were among the first to start using the word. After breweries in Sweden and the US brewed their levidrome-themed beers, Budd contacted Phillips to see if his hometown brewery would help out as well.
Since lager is a levidrome for regal, Phillips’ Levidrome Imperial Regal Lager was born.
“It’s amazing a six-year-old came up with this, we were happy to help,” says owner Matt Phillips. “It was too perfect, we couldn’t not do it!”
The beer’s label explains the meaning of levidrome, asking drinkers to “help levidrome get added to the dictionary and toast Levi with a big beer for big ideas.”
The beer itself is a strong pilsner featuring Phillips’ own house-malted pale malt and Hallertau hops.
“The name really dictated the style,” says Phillips. “You think ‘regal’ and your brain goes to the imperial style, so we decided to make a drinkable imperial lager with enough hops to balance it and enough body to make it a real imperial.
“It’s bold but it’s balanced.”
Budd says he and Levi have been blown away by the support they’ve received.
“This was his idea, and it’s gone right around the world,” says Budd. “We’re just in awe, it’s very humbling.”
So far, the word has been added to Wiktionary, Merriam-Webster’s open-source dictionary and Urban Dictionary, and even garnered a response from Oxford Dictionaries editor John Kelly, who said he was keeping an eye on the word. Currently, a Google search for “levidrome” brings up close to 20,000 results.
Budd says the attention has helped with Levi’s self-esteem, and has been a valuable lesson for him.
“Our kids learn so much more by what we do than what we say, so we wanted to model some initiative, to show him how to follow through with a big idea,” he says. “This whole thing has been pretty inspiring.”
Phillips Levidrome Imperial Regal Lager is currently available at private liquor and beer stores across B.C. and Alberta.