Why “Nice” and “Good” Are Bad
I literally cringe, my face scrunches up a bit, whenever I hear someone say, “A nice bottle of wine” or some such variant such as “a good Pinot.” Of course you like that. Who’d ever want a bad little glass of vino?? Not to mention, that truly says nothing about the wine. Yet you hear it all the time, even by sommeliers and other experts. So imagine how much it triggers the ol’ gag reflex whenever I hear the same non-descriptive adjectives applied to beer. “I’m bringing a nice bottle of beer.” Or “I love a good IPA.” Well, duh! Who’d cop to bringing some cheap, bland beer? Who the hell would prefer a lousy IPA?
This isn’t to say you should get all fanciful or downright pretentious with your descriptors. There are still plenty of pockets in this country where merely talking about a beer’s herbaciousness or stone fruit notes would garner sharply raised eyebrows (at best).
I’m a coffee guy and possibly love the smell even more than the taste, but when a barista recently described the blend I was drinking as “comforting and deeply-fruited,” it was all I could do to keep from doing a spit-take.
In some ways beer has already bested its wine counterpart in terms of marketing or sommelier/Cicerone speak. I believe “craft beer” says more and has a better ring than “fine wine.” But I’m on record as being over the term craft beer. Yes, it describes only 5 percent of the beer brewed in the US, but it accounts for like 99.5 percent of the actual breweries! Among them, most offer the classic styles like pale ales, IPAs, stouts and wheat beers. You don’t have to like them all, but saying you like the “good” ones doesn’t actually say much.
When talking about preferred styles or specific beers, is using the brand name enough? Do you drop characteristics of your favored beers in conversation? And with authentic beer becoming a larger part of the national discussion, what pet peeves have you developed surrounding beer-speak?