...Or use too loosely when describing beer!
It’s too easy to use – ‘Mmm, this beer is so hoppy!’ – but what does it mean? Is it aroma hoppy, bitter hoppy, all-round hoppy? Is it juicy hoppy, earthy hoppy, floral hoppy, fragrant hoppy? Is it good hoppy or bad hoppy?
See above. ‘Mmm, this beer is very malty’. But is that caramel or chocolate? Bread or coffee? Toast or toffee? Is it full bodied or not? Is it sweet or not?
Citrus?! Oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit count in the citrus bracket. If it’s citrusy then in what way – juicy, bitter, sharp? Does it smell like a grapefruit skin, pith, juice or flesh? Does it smell like lime or taste like it? If it tastes like it then is it a sourness or just a flavour?
What does earthy mean? What does it actually taste like? Like mud? Like stones? Like brick? Like leaves? A herby bitterness? Coffee grounds? Vegetal?
Abundant in American hops but which fruit is it specifically? Pineapple, mango (what variety?!), kiwi fruit, passion fruit, papaya, guava, lychee... each have their own specific flavour so what do you actually taste?
Another generic hoppy term along with citrus, earthy and tropical. What flower does it smell like? Is it elderflower? Roses? Fields of daisies (whatever that smells like)? Spicy floral, orange blossom or even the tack of spruce or pine? This one is harder than the others to nail and get accurate.
‘It’s got a lovely crisp finish.’ What the hell does that mean? I write it all the time but now I’m looking at it properly I don’t get it... It’s a quenching finish, maybe a little dry, definitely vague.
But it is like milk or dark? If it’s dark then how dark? Is it creamy or bitter? Subtle or full-on? Does it taste like actual chocolate you’ve eaten before or is it just kind of roasty and chocolatey?
The reserve of the winter warmer or hidden in a nice stout, but you can dry almost any fruit, so which is it? Are we talking generic raisins or perhaps the tang of a dried apricot, maybe even the candy depth of a dried pear?
Ah, now this is a big one. A catch-all for anything a little different. Struggling to pick out what was in that Belgian blonde, the word spice goes in the note book and I’m almost satisfied, but what spices are they? The ting of metallic clove, the pungent heat of ginger, the tonsil tingling crack of pepper, a festive dusting of cinnamon, fruity green chilli or fiery dried seeds, is the coriander orangey and floral or dry and freshly ground. This is the one I chase around the glass trying to work out what that spice is.
There’s 10 to start with but what else is there? I nearly used the words Awesome, Great and Delicious but pulled them out before posting and replaced them. I'm definitely guilty of all of the above and I'm sure I'll continue to use them, just maybe I'll try a little harder to get the right word from now on!
Picture from here.