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Friday, December 07, 2012

Your Friday "Hmmmm"

If this is okay, what's so bad about Black IPA?  Just sayin'.


17 comments:

mike said...

I don't get it. What's the connection between this and a "black pale" ale?

Doug Sottoway said...

Who said Black IPA is bad? I have had some very good CDAs (as I prefer to call them). I say we make up as many new styles as we can think of, throw them against the wall and see what sticks over time. Cheers to creativity of the brewer!!!

mike said...

OK, I see the problem: you think it means "white". It doesn't. It means "wheat".

Doug, the point is not that Black IPA is a bad beer, it's that the name is ridiculous.

Jeff Alworth said...

I'm actually talking about the naming convention here, which I recognize might not have been immediately obvious in the slapdash way I threw this post together.

Shawn said...

Because "Black IPA" type beer doesn't have anything to do with India?

mike said...

Jeff, black IPA is a contradiction in terms since black and pale are opposites. Weize (German for "wheat") and Weisse (German for "white") are used interchangeably for the same beer. See, for example, the German Brewers Assocation: http://www.brauer-bund.de/bier-ist-genuss/biersorten-im-portraet/weizenbier.html

They write: "Weizenbier, auch Weißbier genannt, war in Bayern schon in früheren Jahrhunderten beliebt." (Weizenbier, also called Weissbier, was much loved in Bavaria in the earlier centuries.)

As Pattinson wrote, it may have originally been called Weisse because it used a pale malt, however, that was probably 5-600 years ago ("pre-industrial"). In the meantime, the name has come to mean only wheat beer and there is no connection with the color of the beer.

You might also look at Berliner Weisse (also made with wheat) or Belgian Witbieren (Wit means white in Dutch, wheat is tarwe in Dutch). (As Dutch is a derivative of medieval German, it makes sense that they picked up the Weissbier of the time.)

These are all ancient examples of a naming convention that pre-dated literacy (for the vast majority of people) and has been handed down over the centuries.

IOW, I still don't see any connection between the two.

The Beer Nut said...

By the same rationale, Mike, IPA can be anything from pale gold to dark amber. In modern beer I don't think the "pale" in IPA can be taken any more literally than the "weiss" in weissbier.

mike said...

Beer Nut, since the Weissbier term has been around since approximately the Middle Ages, the original use of the term in connection with a pale malt has long since faded into the mists of time. A Weissbier Dunkel does not mean "dark white beer", it means a dark wheat beer. IOW, the "weiss" part of the name no longer has the same connotation that "pale" has in IPA. I would guess that this has been true now for quite a long time, very possibly several hundred years.

The Beer Nut said...

No argument on the weissbier front, Mike, but I don't think the "pale" in IPA still has the connotation you ascribe to it. Like the "India", and the "weiss" in weissbier, it need not be taken literally.

Jeff Alworth said...

I don't think the "pale" in IPA still has the connotation you ascribe to it. Like the "India", and the "weiss" in weissbier, it need not be taken literally.

Exactly. The name IPA is bizarre and obscure now. (Few know what it refers to and those who think they do are almost invariably getting it wrong.) Like the "weiss" that has come to mean wheat, IPA has gone through several meanings since it first acquired that name. So adding "black," like adding "dunkel," isn't oxymoronic, particularly outside the UK.

mike said...

Gentlemen, I don't think that you can isolate a single word and attach significance to it. In both these cases, they are phrases: IPA and Weissbier.

Weiss has not come to mean wheat, as Jeff wrote, but Weissbier does mean wheat beer, and has for several centuries. I would argue the same for IPA - yes, you could take it apart and talk about pale or India, but it is the phrase that is the issue.

When I hear the phrase black IPA, I hear a clash - sort of like a long shortcut or a tall midget. When I hear Weissbier Dunkel, I don't hear a clash because Weissbier is not a color description.

Jonathan Aichele said...

Time to throw this into the fire. I know that Wikipedia shouldn't necessarily be considered authoritative, but I quote it here are the same:

" Etymologisch leitet sich Weizen vom „Weiß“ des Produkts dieses Getreides, des weißen Mehls, und der hellen Farbe der Weizenfrucht ab."

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weizen

Google Translate (with my grammatical tweaks):

"[Weizen is] Etymologically derived from wheat "white", the product of this grain, the white flour, and the bright color of the wheat crop from it."

Anonymous said...

jesus you guys are nerds(:

Ron Pattinson said...

Sorry to arrive at this party so late. Mike: the "Weiss" in Weissbier has nothing to do with wheat. That's a false connection made more recently. Weissbier is beer made with white malt, i.e. air-dried malt.

That's why all-barley Brothan is still a Weissbier.

Ron Pattinson said...

Thatc should be Broyhan, not Borthan.

Jeff Alworth said...

Anon, shouldn't that be a smiley face?

I think therefore.. said...

It is a smiley face, the "mouth" curves "up" (toward the "eyes").

So, I can see where the argument that "weiss", which technically means white though not in the very specific application of "Weissbeir Dunkel", has some relevance to the discussion of the oxymoron of the name "black pale ale". Still, the argument strikes me as "Look, we've done dumb confusing things before. That's justification to do it again!"

Personally I like CDA (strange Canadian legal issues aside) for the historic reference to the regions influence. I'm not tied to it though, India Black Ale seems fine (avoids having black and pale fighting each other). My only real problem with Black India Pale Ale is, "why try and make the world of delicious beer any more confusing and/or off-putting than it already is to new people without experience or knowledge?".

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