Like all consumer groupings and their accompanying system of social exchange, the brewing world possesses its own form of language. The lexicon extends from highly technical terms in regards to microbiology to idioms and expressions of social behaviors exhibited by devotees to particular breweries. Possessing knowledge of this language imbues the beer drinker with greater clarity as to the importance ascribed to the admittedly small percentage of brewers that constitute the craft-brewing world. The word craft itself is a nebulous term, as the nature of this sub-industry has emphatically changed since the first years in the mid-1960s. While many enthusiasts can agree generally on what craft is, a particular, quantifiable definition is not entirely agreed upon by all consumers. Despite this, the legitimizing effect of an internal form of language has pushed the counter-industry of the brewing world toward a point of wider acceptance. Nevertheless, to engage in this world one must be privy to a sort of education; having the ability to comprehend not only the verbal language, but to see, taste, and smell the language. The gastronomic lexicon is dependent on acute sensory experience to justify the creation of the internal vocabulary. One cannot say a beer is hoppy without an understanding that hoppiness refers to bitter flavors, and within this subgroup, there exist numerous sub-flavors, including citrus, pine, grassy, earthy, floral, etc. Moreover, these subgroups split further, where citrus hoppiness can be grapefruit, or lemon/lime, or blended with other flavors. Understanding the nuances to taste and scent allows the beer consumer to experience an arguably higher form of culinary expression.
Eric Ortega, “The Golden State of Brewing; California’s Economic and Cultural Influence in the American Brewing Industry” (Master’s thesis, California State University, Fullerton, 2015), 2-3.