Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

“Bold, Brash” Brews: Sensory Description among Craft Beer Consumers

“Bold, Brash” Brews: Sensory Description among Craft Beer Consumers

Kaitlyn Ahlers

The craft beer industry has seen incredible growth since the 1980s, indicating a shift in the values that consumers look for in beer selections. While there is a large body of literature regarding sensory description and expertise in wine, coffee, and other food products, there is little literature on beer despite this recent revitalization. The state of Michigan has a unique sense of pride surrounding its craft beer products; there are 122 breweries currently in “The Great Beer State” and a large community of beer enthusiasts. In this paper, the sensory descriptors used to depict 11 Michigan craft beers are analyzed. Descriptors were analyzed from reviews that were posted by non-expert consumers on two popular websites, Rate Beer and Beer Advocate. The author demonstrates how the reviews adhere or depart from the standardized terminology established by certified beer experts. While non-experts use the same categories of description as experts, non-experts have devised alternative description strategies that are more easily understood by other non-expert consumers. This contributes to a better understanding of the perceived value of craft beer, but also refines a larger body of literature concerning food, taste, and expertise.

Keywords: beer, wine, taste, sensory description, expertise

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April 9, 2014 - Posted by | abstract

1 Comment »

  1. Can you tell whether the non-expert discourse is in defiance of, ignorance of, or indifference to the “beer snob” discourse?

    Comment by Dan Harrison | April 9, 2014 | Reply


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