Dear Beer Writers,
Please stop saying “mouthfeel.”
Look, I know “mouthfeel” is a real thing, but let’s just all agree to…stop saying it.
Let’s let it die.
For the uninitiated, “mouthfeel” is an actual concept used to convey the sensation that food or drinks leave in your mouth and it’s something that’s noted by food, wine, and beer connoisseurs.
It’s not actually a made up douchey, pseudo-concept, as much as it sounds like one, but an honest-to-goodness thing, as is evidenced by it’s inclusion in the dictionary.
the tactile sensation a food gives to the mouth: a creamy mouthfeel.
But let’s be honest, it’s just a fucking awful word.
[Sidenote: really, dictionary.com, there was no better way for you to provide an example of this word’s use than by penning arguably the most abhorrent word-pairing in the history of the English language with the grotesque “creamy mouthfeel?” Creamy mouthfeel? Really? Yecch.]
But “mouthfeel” isn’t the only culprit that’s helping people who taste things then write about it launch an assault on the English language. There are myriad cringe-worthy words that seem to pop up in food and beer reviews; it’s almost as if it’s a necessary and unfortunate byproduct of the industry. In fact, as a fairly new beer writer, I find that the part of my brain that I use to talk about beer is quite often at odds with the English Language and Literature Major part of my brain. That is, even with my considerable and largely useless education, I too find myself tending toward nausea inducing turns of phrase when I’m trying to say something interesting about a pint of beer.
As exhibit A, I present my own tendency toward over-simplifying a beer by noting only that it’s “tasty.” How helpful!
I also seem to be in a constant struggle not to type the means-nothing word “drinkable.”
By way of an argument against that particular adjective’s futility, I’d offer that indeed wine, Sunny Delite, and toilet water might all just as easily be accurately described as “drinkable”–though one assumes they might tend toward very different mouthfeels.
There seems to a tendency among beer writers to indulge the wordiness of our own reviews—look no further than the above paragraphs for some evidence of our people’s self-serving verbosity—, a sort of wordy desire to flex one’s beer vocabulary as if we’re writing exclusively for people who already know a lot about beer (which, arguably, given the incestuous nature of beer writing, is very often the case).
For the most part, however, shouldn’t it be our purpose to talk about beer for those that might benefit from learning about, trying, and/or avoiding new products? I write for a blog whose readership is for the most part there to read about things other than beer and you’d assume those that pursue a wide audience might also be writing for a more general audience. Yet the effect of our over-complicated writing on those who aren’t up on beer lingo might very well be that, at the end of a review extolling the virtues of a beer’s “low diacetyl levels” and its “effervescence,” that the hapless general reader is left wondering, “Yeah, but what the fuck does it taste like?”
Much of the difficulty, obviously, stems from beer-writers having to come up with new ways of saying the same things over and over; thus we see words like “quaffable,” “zest,” and “tang” appear far more frequently in beer writing that they would elsewhere, to say nothing of the myriad names of colours that all essentially equate to a shade of yellow—amber, ochre, pale straw, aureolin, corn, gold et. al.
But I’d suggest there’s a way to write about beer that will probably serve everyone well: keep it simple.
It’s fantastic to acquire beer knowledge and that knowledge surely will only serve to better inform our writing, but at the end of the day all people are really looking for from a beer review is an answer to the simple question: Should I pour this in my food hole?
So let’s answer that question (without saying “drinkable”) and work backward to fill in the details and then, and only then if you must, I suppose you can mention the beer’s…[shudder] mouthfeel.
The desire to get too wordy with a beer review can lead to weird and disturbing places. Take, for example, these gems–all of which I stumbled upon just this week in actual beer reviews. If your turn of phrase is here, I apologize. But you deserve this.
“fills your mouth with a cool pillow of froth”
Who doesn’t love having a pillow fill their mouth?
“black as the night up North”
Lord Stark, winter beer is coming.
“very mild and tempting like girls on bikes in the Copenhagen springtime”
Well that’s exactly the kind of beer I like!
“sweaty pear aromas”