This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Craft Beer Brouhaha Reaches a Head

Lara walked along the tracks following a path worn by pilgrims and then turned into the fields. Here she stopped and, closing her eyes, took a deep breath of the flower-scented air of the broad expanse around her. It was dearer to her than her kin, better than a lover, wiser than a book. For a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life. She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment and to call each thing by its right name, or, if this were not within her power, to give birth out of love for life to successors who would do it in her place.

-- Boris Pasternak, from Dr. Zhivago

PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- Admittedly, the community of small brewers, brewpubs, bottle shops, taprooms, beer festivals and publications that throws itself under the umbrella of "craft" can seem fairly pedantic at times.

If you ask for a pint of stout, they'll give it to you in a bulbous 20-ounce glass larger than the shaker tumbler you're accustomed to -- with 16 ounces for the pint and 4 to accommodate the head. Ask for a wheat beer that tastes like Blue Moon, and you might be told it's a witbier and get Pierre Celis' life story in return. Ask a brewer for one of their resealable gallon jugs and you'll learn what a growler is, if not a grenade (its 32-ounce sibling).

They're not trying to be difficult. It's just that among this community, specific words and terms matter.

It's a similar case in just about every other corner of life. Once you've heard it referred to as a lintel, you'll never call the top portion of your door anything else. Once that wall around a stage curtain is a proscenium, no other word will do. Break bones in your fingers and you'll never forget the word phalanges.

The folks in the small brewing community are just trying to make sure you get what you want, and that the word you're using will get you to it without confusion. It's not as easy as it sounds. Bars throughout the U.S. have no qualms serving you a beer in a straight-sided 16-ounce shaker pint that not only diminishes odor and flavor (a minor quibble), but will get you less than 16 ounces every time unless the bartender sweeps the beer's head clean off. At some shops and breweries, the 32-ounce size, or even a two-liter version, is also a "growler." Ask for a wheat beer, meanwhile, and you run the risk of being handed a Kona Wailua Ale, Boulevard Unfiltered or Goose Island 312: All fine beers, but none remotely resembling that Blue Moon you tasted.

In an attempt to eliminate confusion, blogger and Northwest beer writer Bill Night suggested during the hop harvest earlier this month that brewers stop using both "fresh hop" and "wet hop" to describe beers brewed with hops picked just 24 hours before brewing. By using both terms, Night says some breweries reserve the "wet hop" term for when they use fresh-picked stock and will use "fresh hop" to describe bundles of the freshest hops they have hanging around at the time.

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,279.74 +13.75 0.08%
S&P 500 2,010.40 -0.96 -0.05%
NASDAQ 4,579.7890 -13.6380 -0.30%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs