Beer Syndicate Blog

10 Beer Names You Might Be Saying Wrong

10 Beer Names You Might Be Saying Wrong

The pronunciation of some words is regional like tomato (t’may-toe) and tomato (toe-mah-toe), and basically equally correct.  Other times, the pronunciation of a word is just flat out wrong, like pronouncing the word “supposedly” as “supposably” or “specific” as “pacific”.

But why on Earth would you ever correct somebuddy who pacifically says “supposably”?  Please don’t, because correcting people is one of those Catch-69 situations, like when somebody has ketchup on their face: If you tell them, you embarrass them by pointing it out, but if you don’t say anything, then you embarrass them because you let them walk around with ketchup on their face.  Not to mention, maybe the person is intentionally wearing ketchup on their face.  Like I said, Catch-69.

Likewise, please don’t go around correcting people who say the words on this list incorrectly.

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Pliny the Elder: According to Russian River Brewing Co., the brewery that brews this most famous of hop-centric Double IPAs, “Pliny, the man, lived in the first century- 23 to 79 A.D. According to our brewing references, he and his contemporaries either created the botanical name or at least wrote about Lupus Salictarius, or hops, currently known as Humulus Lupulus.  After much research in beer books, brainstorming, and deliberation, we came up with “Pliny the Elder”.”

After watching a few YouTube videos featuring employees from Russian River including co-owner/brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo talk about the beer, “Pliny” (the beer) is pronounced “Ply–Nee” where the “Ply” is pronounced like in the word plywood.  However the pronunciation of the historical person “Pliny”, who the beer is named after, is actually closer to “Plenny”, like the word “plenty” without the “t”.  Here’s a quick YouTube video-pronunciation of Pliny, the man, and here’s another short video about the life of Pliny where you can get plenty of practice pronouncing “Pliny”.

So even though the brewery probably originally mispronounced “Pliny” when meaning to refer to Pliny the man, it’s too late to turn back now.  Therefore pronounce the beer as “Ply-Nee”, and the historical figure as “Plenny”.

Speaking of the famed brewmaster who invented Pliny (the beer), Vinnie “Cilurzo”, how do you pronounce his last name?  It’s “Chill-Ur-Zoh”, not to be confused with the Double IPA that I brew in honor of Vinnie called “Cilurzo” but pronounced “Sil-Your-Zoh”.

Festina Pêche: This “Neo-Berliner Weissbier” created by epic brewermaster Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery has been a sour summer treat since 2007, but how do you say “Pêche”? You might hear Sam pronounce it “pesch-ay”, but this French word for peach is closer to “pesch” where the “pe” is pronounced like in the word “petal”.

Now you also know how to pronounce the sweet and sour peach Lambic from Lindemans called (you guessed it) Pêche!

But what about Sam’s last name, “Calagione”?  “Kala-Joe-Nee” is pretty close.

So if you find yourself at the Dogfish Head brewery in Milton, Delaware in the summer and happened to run into Sam Calagione, order a “pesch-ay”.  But if you’re in France and are feeling like a peach, ask for a “pesch”.

Check out this YouTube clip from Dogfish Head where you can hear brewermaster Sam Calagione pronounce both “Pêche” and also his last name (Calagione) in the first 16 seconds.

Westvleteren 12: Often proclaimed as the “best beer in the world” (currently rated # 1 on RateBeer, and # 9 on BeerAdvocate), Westvleteren 12 is one of the most coveted beers on the planet.  Brewed in limited quantities by Trappist monks in Belgium and officially sold only at the brewery itself and at the abbey-owned café called In de Vrede (In The Peace), Westvleteren 12 can be tough to come by and tough to pronounce.

No, this dark Belgian quadruple isn’t pronounced “West-Vet-Air-In”, but rather “Vest-Flayter-In”.

For an audio example of the pronunciation, check out the first 10 seconds of this YouTube video about the brewery.

 Still too tricky? Then go with the beer’s nickname: “Vesty”.

Singha: This Thai beer is pronounced “sing”, not “sing-ha” because the “ha” is a silent ha. Ha!

“Singha” is an imported word from Sanskrit and refers to a powerful mythological lion in both ancient Hindu and Thai stories.  The Sanskrit word was “Siṃha” (Pron: sing) or “Singh” (Pron: sing) also meaning lion, so it seems the Thai word is a combination of those transliterations, but in every case, the word is pronounced “sing”.  Coincidentally, did you know that the Swahili word for lion is “simba”?

Smithwick’sSmithwick’s is an Irish beer, not English, so don’t be an eejit; say it right: “Smih-dicks”… Not “Smith-Wicks”.

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König Ludwig Weissbier: The royal heritage of this Bavarian hefeweizen can be traced back to 1260 when the House of Wittelsbach first began the brewery, and even the current proprietor, Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, is the great-grandson of the last King (König) of Bavaria, Ludwig III.  If you’re ever in the presence of His Royal Highness who is actually quite passionate about beer, pronounce the beer “Kur-Nick Lood-Vick Vice-Beer”, not “Koh-Nidge Lood-Wig Whys-Beer”. 

On a side note, the German Purity Law of 1516 (Rheinheitsgebot) that stated that beer could only be made from barely, hops and water is not only one of the world’s most famous food regulations, but was also created by the prince’s ancestors.  In addition, you know that beer festival in Munich called Oktoberfest? That was started by the prince’s Great-Grandfather.

Samichlaus: In the past, you might have noticed this statement on the label of this 14% ABV Austrian-produced beer: “THE STRONGEST BEER IN THE WORLD. GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS”.  But of course that record was from 1982, as there are several other stronger beers on the market today.  What you won’t find on the label though is how to pronounce “Samichlaus”, which by the way is the Swiss-German word for Santa Claus.  The Swiss pronounce it “Sam-Ehk-Laus” where the “Ehk” is pronounced as when hocking a small loogie.

You can hear a Swiss youngster pronouncing “Samichlaus” at about 1:50 in this YouTube clip.

So why is Austria producing a Swiss beer?  Samichlaus was originally brewed by the Hürlimann brewery in Zürich, Switzerland, and closed in 1997, but the beer was revived by the Austrian brewery Schloss Eggenberg in collaboration with the original Hürlimann brewers using the same recipe.

Utopias:  Speaking of strong beers, since 2002 the Guinness Book of Records for strongest beer in the world goes to Sam Adams Utopias which at the time weighed in at 25% ABV, although there have been stronger releases of Utopias since.  It’s not that the name of this rare beer is hard to pronounce, “You-Tope-E-Ahs”, it’s that many people leave off the “s” at the end probably because we’re more familiar with the word “utopia”.  But as sure as this beer is strong, there’s an “s” at the end, and it’s not a silent “s”.

Stella ArtoisBy now, Stella Artois has saturated almost every bar and restaurant in the U.S., replacing Heineken as the go-to import beer for those who think that “imported” means sophisticated.  And the last thing you want to do when trying to appear sophisticated is to fumble your words.  When in doubt, stick with “Stella”.  But if you really want to classy it up, go all-in and order a Stella “Artois”, pronounced “Art-Wa” (not “Our Toys”).

For the ultimate touch of class, order it Streetcar-style and scream “STELLA!!!”, but then don’t look surprised if people confuse you with James Bond, you suave devil you.

Hoegaarden: There’s such a mispronunciation-epidemic of this word that the brewery prints the phonetic spelling of the word right on 12 pack boxes.  No, it’s not pronounced like what Snoop Dogg might call a park in Compton, but more like this: “Who-Gar-Den”.

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Hi, I’m D.J. Pander.  I like beer.  I also blog.

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