Beer Terminology and Media Coverage

Thomas comments on coverage of the Yakima hop fire.

Bear Droppings :: Crying Over Spilled Beer

Beer and ale, funny I always thought ale was a kind of beer, just goes to show you what happens with you send a unknowledgable reporter to write a story.

Distinguishing “beer” from “ale” is not the most accurate measure of cluelessness in terms of beer. Some terminologies (say, in legal documents) have very specific definitions for those terms, distinguishing them from one another (say, alcohol percentage). Inaccurate for brewers but accurate for many newspaper readers.

Actually, most of the articles on the Yakima hop fire were relatively appropriate in terms of beer knowledge. Not “worthy of beergeek praise” appropriate, but “better than your average wine journalist” appropriate. Be thankful that those articles actually mentions hops as contributing bitterness, flavour, and aroma to beer. Some people seem to think that hops are the main ingredient in beer fermentation.

What I still don’t understand is why some people maintain that the warehouse belonged to Hop Union while most people seem to say it was one of S. S. Steiner Inc.’s warehouse (and those people are quoting a Hop Union warehouse manager who might know whether or not his hops burnt). Of course, it’s still possible that it was in fact a Hop Union warehouse but, if so, it’s rather strange that the Hop Union corporate website makes no mention of this, even to reassure clients.

There definitely should be better media coverage for beer in general. It could potentially help people understand what beer really is. Thankfully, some people, like Joseph Hallinan of the Wall Street Journal and Jennifer Iannolo of Food Philosophy are doing their homeworks and are getting people to learn more about beer.

About enkerli

French-speaking ethnographer, homeroaster, anthropologist, musician, coffee enthusiast. View all posts by enkerli

4 responses to “Beer Terminology and Media Coverage

  • enkerli


    Thanks a lot for this info. Makes a lot more sense now.
    Still, hop prices seem to be on the upward trend.

  • Leslie

    Ok I know this is like a year late however to clarify the building was owned by Hop Union which was being Leased to SS Steiners who owned the actual hops. I only know this because my husband works for Steiners doing fire watch. The fire did not happen on my husbands shift but he did have to clean up the mess.

  • enkerli

    Thanks for the clarification.
    As for Jim Koch’s influence on people’s perception of hops, it might have had some impact but these ads aren’t shown in Quebec and people often think that hops are the main ingredient in beer.
    We should make a list of misunderstandings about beer. These “technical” details are rather unimportant in the grand scheme of things but what really gets me is the notion that beer is inherently unsophisticated. As beer lovers, we may tend to over-emphasize how complex beer really is, but there really needs to be a shift in media coverage toward beer as more than a refreshing beverage to drink after mowing the lawn.

  • Thomas

    The manager at Hop Union was a witness as their plant is right next door. In fact on an interview with him on 10/6/06 episode of Lunch Meat, a Brewing Network program, he mention he was careful to shut off his electric power because of the proximity of the two companies facilities.

    The Hop Union manager did say that Steiner was able to save 25% of their crop is what he had found out from conversations. He seems to be more in the media so he gets the quotes. The Sterner manager is probably too busy dealing with the aftermath to deal with the press.

    In regards to why some people think Hops is a main ingredent in beer fermentation it may have something to do with the Sam Adams commercials which, wrongly, state hops is to beer as grapes are to wine. Of course Malt is the more accurate analogy.

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