Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Words make the (wo)man

I've been really trying lately to think about the words that I use in conversation and attempting to stop using all the useless cliches and 'likes' and 'you knows'. It's not easy to do, but when you hear yourself speak on a recording and you sound like a moron, you can do nothing but try.

Two words, when used in a brewing context, derive a similar 'nails on a blackboard' reaction in me. They are 'drugs' and 'infection'. The first one bothers a lot of folks in our industry. Equating casual beer enjoyment with drug use is just plain stupid. Although I hate when people make this analogy, it is a rather easy one for me to ignore.

But the second word is a bit more caustic to my ears. Wikipedia defines infection as:
"An infection is the detrimental colonization of a host organism by a foreign species. An infection is, in effect, a war in which the infecting organism seeks to utilize the host's resources in order to multiply at the expense of the host. The infecting organism, or pathogen, interferes with the normal functioning and perhaps the survival of the host."

It's been well documented that human pathogens cannot grow in beer. People know and understand that, yet they still insist upon saying "that beer was infected, and not in a good way". Of course they're referring to the 'good infection', as in lambic. Using the word 'infection' when speaking about beer is somewhat similar to using the word 'drug'. It conveys something negative and erroneous. Of course, what people mean to say is 'contaminated'. Beer does get contaminated. I've packaged beer that was contaminated and for that I'm sorry and ashamed. Maybe beside being linguistically correct, for me, 'contamination' just sounds better. Contaminated beer will never harm you and perhaps it will never even get beyond your nose. So the next time you try a beer that smells like a horse blanket, ask whoever brought it, 'is this beer suppose to smell like ass or is this contaminated?'.


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