A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Alan -

See, there is the brewer, the drinker and the beer itself. What is the name each gives the beer?

Craig -

I don't think it's going to help that the label for Cascazilla has pictured on it, an irradiated and mutated lizard that shall remain nameless.

Alan -

But that's what you see, you know, around town, right? Lizards blocking up the line at Collegetown bagels. Dragons filling the pool at Buttermilk Falls.

Jeff Alworth -


I believe I'm well enough on record so that I can skip the dissertation, but I will put in a vote of dissent. Words have meaning and they matter at a deep level.

Alan -

I think you are not well enough known that you might want to tie your position into this conversation. After all, rose by any other name is a well understood concept.

Jeff Alworth -

Well, you and I have wrangled on this enough that I thought it had become tedious. But maybe not. Language is a way we construct meaning. Words have associations and are one of the interpreters we use to order reality. Profanity has power because we imbue those words with transgression. Fights usually get started with words, and sometimes words have the power to quell them. Words use metaphors and point to meaning indirectly, too. We think in part the way we talk.

Even in a more mundane way, words are a collection of agreements. We use words as a set of markers to describe things we all agree about. The story of Babel is useful because it shows what happens when those agreements collapse. In the scrum of life, people are perpetually trying to shape the meaning of words for their own purposes. Companies trademark words to restrict their use and--more importantly--to fix their meaning.

The lambic thing was important to me because the word describes an extremely specific beer that includes origin and method. If we agree that it's all whatever, call beer good old ol and let it be, lambic becomes a generic. It's whatever you want it to be. It's babel. For the most part, I don't care about commercial interests. Companies can try to restrict language for commercial use, and god bless them. But I am not obliged to let their money do my talking.

This discussion here is a classic debate about meaning. If words really did have no value, I don't think we'd be having it.

Alan -

Great opening line, Jeff. More useful were that the discussion.

The discussion here is about the mutability of a brand. Surely you are not suggesting with that high levle stuff that the broad brush of potential meaning in style equally applies with brand. I mean I acknowledge (ie "...it is one thing...") that there is a core of reality in any fetish - in the sense that a shoe is a shoe - but when we can apply the additional adjectives "new and improved" to,something we know we are walking in shallow waters, right?

Jeff Alworth -

Right there at the end you widen the funnel to capture all beers and their related names--and thus my commentary. But this?

but when we can apply the additional adjectives "new and improved" to,something we know we are walking in shallow waters, right?


Alan -

OK - you are keen to miss the point, got it.

Jeff Alworth -

Actually, I'm working with the text. I think you are unwilling to cop to your own digression there in black and white.

Alan -

Ok then, let's use math:

A. "wort" = X
B. "lambic" ≅ X
C. "Cascazilla" < X

X being a final fixed objective single meaning within beer world.

B allows for fetishism. A cannot. C is pointlessly fetishized being devoid of actual meaning.