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The Craft Beer Lexicon
Posted by Chops
on Fri, July 13, 2012
When you introduce yourself to a new area of knowledge, chances are that there is a lexicon to go with it, i.e. an associated set of vocabulary. Craft beer is no different and fans will often use common words and phrases to convey feelings on a particular topic. So in an effort to make beginner transitions a little less painful, I thought it would be beneficial to highlight some of the common words and phrases that are often used in craft beer conversations.
We will certainly cover the technical aspects of craft beer in different posts (home brewing, ingredients, glassware, history, etc.). No need to worry about any of that in this post. We will only be focusing on the conversational side of craft beer. So without further ado, let's build your brew banter vocabulary.
Session Beer: This is a beer that can be enjoyed many times in a single sitting. These are often light-to-mid range beers with low-to-moderate alcohol content, like pale ales and wheat beers. But, the phrase is appropriately used on any beer that comes in multi-packs that you can enjoy (not just tolerate) several back-to-back without getting drunk or bored.
Bridge Beer: This is a beer that can be used to usher novices into the wonderful world of craft beer. It's unrealistic to expect a trash beer drinker to suddenly switch to Russian Imperial Stouts. They need to start with bridge beers, i.e. quality beers that are flavorful and easy to drink with minimal aggression.
Lawnmower Beer: This is a simple, refreshing, lower alcohol beer that you can easily drink and enjoy without thinking too hard about it. They are more common during warmer months where drinkable is favored over complexity.
Big Beer: This is the designation given to the handful of huge beer companies that mass-produce terrible beer (Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Heineken, etc.). They are easy to spot, just look for the multi-million dollar advertising campaigns.
Novice Drinker: Someone who has yet to explore a large variety of craft beer. Typically someone who regularly drinks Big Beer products and maybe a handful of widely available craft beers.
Beer Enthusiast / Fanatic: Someone who has explored a large variety of craft beer and has been able to identify favorite styles and breweries. Someone who actively supports the craft beer movement.
Seasoned Drinker: Someone who has honed their craft beer palate. These are drinkers who have educated themselves and can properly identify flavor nuances in both standard and imperial versions.
Beer Snob: Someone who has perverted the craft beer movement with elitism and misplaced pride. They are typically obsessed with only the best and discount anything under an idealized level of quality. They are the bane of the craft beer movement and are hated by novices, enthusiasts and seasoned drinkers alike.
Bomber: Any beer that comes in the larger 22+ oz. bottles instead of multi-pack 12 oz. bottles/cans. These are sold as individual bottles much like wine.
Growler: These are refillable glass jugs (typically half gallon) that beer fans take to breweries to fill with beer. They are usually capped with corks or screw tops and can last upwards of a week. Growlers are popular options with breweries who do not bottle or can their beer. Beer fans also love them as an affordable access to higher quality beer.
No-Thinker Drinker: A beer that you can drink and enjoy with minimal mental effort. Typically a beer that adheres to only the most basic of stylistic traits. When finished, you might forget that you even had it.
Note: this post will be treated this as a living document and I will add new content as needed. Please feel free to recommend additions in the comments below.
Member Comments (2)
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Strangely enough, I guess a lot of these terms have carelessly become second nature to me. I have first hand experience where I have been talking to someone and had one of these terms just fall out of my mouth, only to have them look at me with a "What the hell did he just say?" look on their face. Something tells me that as this thread continues to grow, there should be a BrewChief.com book created. I already have several names floating around in my head.
But another term I'd like to add is "no-thinker drinker": A beer that you can drink and enjoy with little to no effort as you do so, and when you finish it you might possibly forget that you ever had it.
Posted on 7/18/2012 at 1:39 PM EST
Yup, I have been in the exact same situation many times. It's easy to forget that beer geekdom comes with translation responsibilities, heh. I'm pretty sure there will be a BrewChief.com book down the road. We've been content generating machines since our inception, seems like a natural progression.
Good call on "no-thinker drinker", can't believe I forgot that one. I added it to the "Lexicon Amendments".
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