8 Beer Words And Phrases That Need To Disappear

Every now and then you’ll see a Samuel Adams ad during a sporting event, and Lagunitas sponsors This American Life, but other than that, high-class breweries tend not to do much mainstream advertising. This isn’t an attractive development if your livelihood depends on corporations having the pride—nay, the decency—to pay media companies to tout their wares, but I can see where it would be regarded as a welcome or at least harmless trend for folks with real jobs. Beer ads are fine, as such things go, but unless you can’t make rent without them, you have no real reason to miss them when they’re gone.

I will now pause briefly to allow you monsters to go disable your ad-blockers.

As I was saying, please don’t be complicit in the starvation of my cat. As I was also saying, something about beer? Oh, right. One nice thing about the new wave of American brewing’s disdain for traditional advertising is that if frees us from being bombarded with promises of “refreshment.” If there’s been one constant in beer advertising through the ages, it’s been the persistent claims of a given brew’s magical ability to make one fresh again. This never made any sense to me. What if you were never very fresh to begin with? Some people aren’t. And even if you were formerly fresh—if you were Will Smith, say, or a bunch of celery bought the week before last with the best of intentions—what attribute of a mere beer, no matter how tasty, could restore you to freshness? It doesn’t make any sense.

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“Refreshing” is currently at the top of my list of beer words and phrases that are due for nice, long naps, and it’s got plenty of company. Such as:


Might as well start at the top. As companies like Boston Beer, Goose Island, Founders, Ballast Point, and dozens more like them grow, diversify, merge, get acquired, and otherwise offend our delicate indie sensibilities, it gets harder and harder for us to reach a consensus on just how to define “craft beer.” So let’s stop trying. We don’t need to redefine or even replace the term. How about instead we simply cease attempting to sort beer companies into rigid categories?

Fizzy Yellow:

Even back when it was easier to keep track of what “craft beer” meant, I was still uneasy with the term, because it was too often employed to describe what a given beer wasn’t rather than what it was. You knew your beer was certified, authentic craft because it wasn’t made by Anheuseur-Busch, Miller, or Coors. Those outfits were the enemy, and they made “fizzy, yellow beer.” In addition to just being plain gross and elitist, this line of illogic would also seem biased against sparkly, straw-colored Boulevard Tank 7.


Let’s retire this aggro rendition of “sessionable.” It’s silly at best, and I suspect it’s a bit more nefarious than that, as it’s often used to reinforce the absurd genderizing of beer: Drinking low-ABV beer could be a total chick move, but it’s totally bro-ceptable as long as you CRUSH those weak little baby brews!

Shelf turd:

I’m not even certain what this one means. I’ve seen it used to refer to wholly mediocre beer and also to high-born beer that has sat in the store so long that it’s not good anymore. Either way, “shelf turd” pulls the neat trick of simultaneously conjuring both elitism and feces, which is reason enough to be done with it.


This has become the favored descriptor for super-fruity IPAs, and it’s fine insofar as it conveys a fairly specific bit of information, but I don’t understand why we’re not just calling these beers “fruity.” We’re not referring to spinach juice, you know?

Blonde ale:

My only fear in requesting that we start calling these “golden ales” is that it could lead to the extinction of a style I enjoy, because I suspect that a good two-thirds of the blonde ales in America are reverse engineered from the moment the brewer stumbles upon the idea for the perfect sexist pun name. I’m not sure there’d be the same market for “I Almost Saw a Naked Lady Once Tee-Hee-Hee Easy Golden Ale” featuring a lusty-looking hunk of yellow metal on the label.

Malt backbone:

This is the expression beer-blabbers use to indicate that a given beer—commonly an IPA—is noticeably derived from barley. To be fair, I get what they’re after, but I’m just tired of this particular manner of expressing that the beer in question is not, in fact, composed entirely of fermented and liquefied hops.

OK, I’ll stop. There are dozens of other exhausted beer-world terms out there, but I probably use most of them daily, and I want to keep the hypocrisy to a minimum. What words and phrases are you sick of, fellow beer drinkers, readers, and conversationalists?