Tag Archives: Yakima

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.

Burning Hops

CNN.com – Beer drinkers beware: 4 percent of U.S. hops crop burns – Oct 3, 2006

No mention of which hop varieties were present but it sounds as if these hops were meant for macro-breweries like Anheuser-Busch. Which means that the price of hops might increase a bit. Because consistency is extremely important for those macro-breweries, they can’t simply start brewing less hoppy beers. Those huge breweries are already having a relatively tough time so even though they will easily overcome this problem, it is sad (though not devastating) news for them.
One advantage craft brewers have is that they can easily adapt to changing conditions. In fact, that’s how many beer styles have sprung up and it’s part of what makes craft beer so interesting.