Words as blunt tools

Last night, another conversation about the language we use to discuss beer kicked off when Lovibonds brewer Jeff Rosenmeier said this on Twitter:

Tweet: I don't like the term 'craft keg'. It's craft beer. Am I alone on this one?

Our two penn’orth was in the form of a quick diagram (above, top) which shows how we think it works in the UK, i.e. with ‘craft beer’ as a super-category which includes most real ale, some kegged beer and (not included in the pic) some bottled beer.

The fact is, though, that none of the terms we use are perfect; they’re just blunt tools to enable conversation.

We’re both reminded of meetings we used to endure in previous jobs. Typically, six hours would be set aside to solve a problem, of which five would be spent going round the table arguing about the language: “What exactly does ‘world class’ mean? I don’t like it.”

The last hour would be spent discussing how there was no longer enough time to solve the problem and agreeing dates for another six hour meeting.


13 replies on “Words as blunt tools”

It is a fine Venn diagram and certainly reflects how I think of the phrase “craft beer” as applied to the UK.

Which side of the red line to place certain blue beers is much much harder, but it’s not something I’ve never actually needed to do in conversation.

TBN — yeah, and the yellow and blue blobs aren’t to any kind of scale. (Also, a ‘fun’ (excruciating) argument to be had about which yellow beers are just outside.)

There is some great cask ale in the US but it is very limited and quite hard to find. Generally only served at the brewery or a festival. Even here in California, it requires a travel commitment to enjoy some cask ale and I am guessing same is true throughout the US.

A US version of the above diagram could have a tiny yellow circle floating around squarely in the centre of the ‘craft beer’ bubble.

Leigh — see you in meeting room 101 at 9 o’clock for the all day “Vision and Mission” meeting?

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