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A beer by any other name

A beer by any other name would taste as good. And there are many different names for beer across the world. 

When you're hanging out with friends, how do you refer to beer?

When you're hanging out with friends, how do you refer to beer? (Image: Adam Barhan )

The more common ones are descriptive of the size of the glass or bottle: “pint”, “quart”, “keg”; others, such as “a cold one”, are less so.

Although Homer referred to wine as the “nectar of the gods”, beer lovers might contest this, often referring to their favourite tipple as “amber nectar”.

If you found yourself in Russia, you’d be ordering “peeva”; if the barman was Spanish, it would be “cerveza” you’d be looking for, rather than a “brewski”.

A “draught”, “ale”, “lager”, “stout” or “Pilsner” would delineate your personal choice of brew, referring to the type of beer you prefer. A draught is beer served on tap; ale is any beer other than lager, stout, or porter; stout is strong, dark beer brewed with roasted malt or barley; and Pilsner is a pale form of lager. If you added the term “half” or “full” to your order, in South Africa this would indicate that you were after a 250ml or 500ml glass of beer.

In Hawaii, beer is called “pia”, while Croatians refer to their brew as “pivo”. Hungarians call it “sör”, the Finnish say “olut” and Koreans use the term “megju”.

A tourist enjoys a <em>pivo</em> in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

A tourist enjoys a pivo in Dubrovnik, Croatia. (Image: Matt, Marie, Luke and Finn )

In England, beer is incorporated into comments that reflect on life: “cakes and ale” – the good things in life; “beer and skittles” – fun; and “small beer” – something or someone of scant importance.

Whichever way you describe it, there’s no getting away from the universal appeal of the humble beer. Which is why it remains one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in the world

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