It’s Saturday, it’s the holidays, the sun’s out…as if excuses were needed to dedicate a while to this well-loved beverage. A beverage is any drink other than water, just to keep things clear.

The origin of the word ‘beer’ can be traced back to the Latin verb bibere meaning ‘to drink’, from which came biber meaning ‘a drink’. It then got the ‘West Germanic monastic’ treatment (you can interpret that as you wish), which set it on its way to the word we now know and love.. Admittedly, that’s not a very precise or reliable etymology but beer itself is known to lead to vague or possibly incorrect versions of events. So that’ll do.*

So here’s a line-up of some beers I got at my local off licence in the U.K. and some things we can say about them. Before we do so, you might be wondering why we call a shop that sells alcoholic drinks an ‘off licence’. Even if you weren’t, I’ll tell you. It’s because the place has a licence to sell alcohol ‘off the premises’, that’s to say not in a pub or bar. You could’ve worked that out yourself, I know.


So let’s start off with an I.P.A. What those letters stand for** is written right there on the can: India Pale Ale. So this was a type of beer created in colonial times to last the long voyage to India (which wasn’t strictly a colony, but was indeed under British rule) where thirsty Brits awaited the beverage of their choice. That’s the story, disputed by some. Nice drink to start an evening at the pub though.


Hazy Jane is another I.P.A. This one’s brought to us by BrewDog, which is not only a sign of a good beer, but also frequently a great name for the same. ‘Hazy’, when used in this context, is another way to talk about cloudy beers. More generally, it means ‘vague’, ‘undefined’ or ‘uncertain’. There’s no doubt in my mind that the name of this particular brew (beer) comes from the utterly sublime ‘Hazey Jane I’ featured on folksinger hero Nick Drake’s second record.

«Do you feel like a remnant
Of something that’s past?
Do you find things are moving
Just a little too fast?
Do you hope to find new ways
Of quenching your thirst?
Do you hope to find new ways
Of doing better than your worst?»

«Do you find things are moving
Just a little too fast?»

That’ll be the effect a second I.P.A. is likely to have on you.

«Do you hope to find new ways
Of quenching your thirst?»

‘Quench’ is the wonderfully sounding verb we use to talk about satisfying thirst. If you feel the need to further quench your thirst with this particular beer, then you could have a second while listening to ‘Hazey Jane II’, another wonderful song of Nick’s from the same record.


‘Woozy’ is a fantastic word for the way you might be feeling after those beers and songs. It means ‘unsteady, dizzy or dazed’ and may well be connected to ‘boozy’, which connects to ‘booze’ – a slang word for alcohol. So what you need is an alcohol free beer to clear your mind. Bring on the ‘Nanny State’!

Another brilliantly named one from BrewDog. A ‘nanny state’ is one in which the government is overprotective or interferes where it shouldn’t in personal choice. The nanny that brings up children and tells them what’s wrong or bad for them. Like your decision to have another pint of ‘Hazey Jane’ maybe.


Elvis Presley wasn’t much of a beer drinker, but neither was he teetotal.*** We’ll never know if he’d have approved of Elvis Juice. What we know for sure is that the people who now run his estate do not as legal action has been taken to stop its sale under that name. Fortunately for beer drinkers and people with a sense of humour the drink can still be sold with that trademark in the U.K. But apparently not in Europe. Sigh..


Goblins are grotesque and somewhat evil creature that appears in the folklore of many European cultures. Troublemakers, wherever you may find them. Apparently, the difference between goblins and hobgoblins is that while the former are known to be malicious the latter **** are just kind of naughty. So maybe they are the bringers of typical beer drinking mischief but nothing worse; just a bit of fun.

The origin of the word ‘naughty’ is pretty interesting. It has its roots in the word ‘naught’ meaning nothing and is connected to ‘nought’, which you may find as a British English alternative to ‘zero’. The journey it took towards is current meaning comes down to***** a belief that those who had nothing, those who were poor and insignificant were consequently bad, evil, corrupt…Some utter nonsense like that. As time passed, the meaning shifted from ‘wicked’ to just ‘mischievous’.

The Hobgoblin is also a supervillain in the Spider-Man comics. However, if he’s a supervillain, I suppose he’s more than just naughty. Interestingly, the word ‘villain’ gives us another example of this view in the past that the poor were somehow immoral. The word was originally used for those who worked on the land so low-born farm workers or similar were believed to be wrong doers, criminals, deliquents, sinners etc.

Now, with a head full of beer, a few language tips.

*If you say ‘that’ll do’, you mean no more is needed or wanted. That’s to say ‘that’s enough’

** ‘stand for’ is a phrasal verb that has the meaning of ‘represent’. It’s particularly common and useful when referring to initialisms and acronyms. For instance, VAT stands for value added tax and NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Additionally, if someone stands for a particular principle or idea, it means they consider it important. For example, ‘I hate that political party and all that they stand for’.

*** ‘teetotal’ indicates abstinance from alcohol. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it means you only drink tea. But it doesn’t mean that or come from there.

****’the former / ‘the latter’ If we look back to the sentence mentioning VAT and NASA, we could say: The former is an initialism as we say the letters one by one while the latter is an acronym because we say it as a new word.

***** Finally, you can use the phrase ‘come down to’ to talk about the most important part or point of something. Sometimes it comes down to knowing when it’s the right time to leave.

One for the road, anyone?

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