White and red beers

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Thu Sep 1 07:28:41 UTC 2011

At this point, I think a lot of this is personal experience. For example, I never order a weizen or weissbier unless it's part of the name, but I will order hefeweizens and whites. I often ask for a hef, and hear bartenders sometimes say heffie (spelling unknown).

(Wit has the odd problem that pronouncing it as "vit" makes it sound like "wheat," though I doubt this will ever be a confounding issue.)

My comment about beer and ale being interchangeable with reds and browns is just that I think that's how people refer to them. For example, I don't consider a red beer an "ale" so much as a red regardless of whether I call it beer or ale.


On Sep 1, 2011, at 12:14 AM, victor steinbok wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       victor steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: White and red beers
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> comments interspersed:
> On Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 2:34 AM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at ix.netcom.com>wrote:
>> Although I guess whites are a form of wheat, nobody wanting a white would
>> ask for a wheat.
> What?? Nobody? That just doesn't sound right. People certainly ask for
> "Weizen" more frequently than they ask for "Weissbier". In my experience,
> I've never heard anyone ask for "white" in this context--but maybe I hang
> out in the wrong company...
>> Also, I think it's fair to say that coriander is a common ingredient in
>> white beers, though not necessarily present.
> In witbier, this is true. Coriander was a common /original/ bittering agent
> in beer, before hops became dominant. So traditional witbiers often have
> coriander, although other herbals as well as orange bitters are often also
> present. I've seen mutts that combine all sorts of spices AND hops (often
> labeled as "holiday ale"). Weissbier almost never has herbal bittering
> agents other than hops. Some have no bittering agents at all--and are cut
> with sweet lemon sodas, lemonade, lemon syrup for summer drinks. And people
> think Corona is the only "beer" one drinks with a slice of citrus! (Whatever
> Corona and Tecate are, they are not beer.)
>> AFAIK, Weissbier or just weiss is marketed as that; I had never identified
>> weisses as being whites, though I'm well aware that wits are whites.
> Weissbier is quite often is marketed and sold as "weizen"--hefeweizen,
> dunkelweizen, etc. Most people have absolutely no idea what's in their beer
> (barley in most; rice in mass-produced American brands; wheat in a few,
> including all whites), so marketing "wheats" as such would be
> counterproductive. But most people who prefer weissbier do know that it's
> wheat beer. Most people who drink witbier have no idea whether it's wheat or
> wheat and barley or that there is a distinction--this is not a knock against
> these drinkers, as this information is very hard to find in most cases. So
> going by "white" may be the only alternative.
>> The problem with beer/ale applies also to brown. I think it's reasonably
>> common to interchange the two.
> Really? No, seriously, I am not a brown drinker, so I am not aware how they
> are marketed. I know nut-browns and they always seem to be ales (properly
> so). Other "browns" may be identified by color, so if it's a dark brown
> lager, usually it's marketed as "dark beer" (e.g., Heineken, Becks). Perhaps
> some are "browns"--I wouldn't know. But once you get past dark lagers and
> browns, it's all stouts and porters--and there is a lot more confusion
> between those than between ales and beers. Generally, top-fermenting yeast
> and warm fermentation corresponds to ales. Bottom-fermenting yeast and cold
> fermentation is a sign of lagers and other "beers". Weizen are in between,
> plus "wild yeast" lambics can be either--but these are known in the
> Netherlands and Belgium as "woman's beer".

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list