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Just words

Yea, I know, it was irrelevant to my beer ecosystem, though quite fun to follow, I must admit. However, in some way all this CAMRA v Bloggers thing (which can also be followed here and here, among many other places) reminded me of the importance words can have and a couple of conversations on the topic that I had some time ago with Evan Rail.

Evan argued that it was important for the local micro-brewers to find a Czech equivalent to "Craft Beer". I wasn't all that sure then, but I had to admit that my friend's argument was pretty solid from the marketing discourse point of view. In theory that should have been very easy, find a translation for "Craft Beer" and Bob's your uncle.

Nope, and I agree with Evan here, "Řemeselné Pivo", even though Pivovar Matuška and a couple more people are using it already, doesn't carry the same cultural, semantic or semiotic (?) meaning than "Craft Beer".

"Řemeselné" comes from "Řemeslo", which, according to dictionaries, has as first translation "trade". Carpenters, butchers, masons, plumbers and also brewers are all people who practice a "Řemeslo", regardless of where and how they do it. In other words, it doesn't matter if someone is taking care of every aspect of a micro-brewery in their garage or pressing a button at Pivovar Staropramen, what they do is a "Řemeslo".

One of the advantages of living far from the centre is that during the commute I have time to think about all sorts of bollocks, and during one of those trips I thought I had found a solution to this problem of little importance.

"Pravé Pivo". It doesn't translate to "Craft Beer", but to "Real Beer". I thought it was fantastic, it sounded good, it could be read and pronounced in pretty much every language and it could even be a base to establish conditions for proper "Pravé Pivo". It didn't take me too long to realise that this phrase was already being used by the Czech subsidiary of Heineken. Bugger.

A few commutes later, having nothing to read and watching the countryside go by, in an almost epiphanic way another phrase popped into my mind: "Poctivé Pivo".

"Poctivé" is a beautiful word. In dictionaries it appears translated as "honest", "sincere", "fair", etc. But it is also used to describe things that have been done with care, attention to detail and, in the case of foodstuff, with quality ingredients.

Wonderful! Who wouldn't like to drink "Poctivé Pivo"? Who wouldn't like to drink an honest beer, brewed with care and good quality ingredients that has received the necessary time to ferment and mature? That's it, it's been decided...

Until that evening when a commercial break on the telly reminded me that Vitana (something like the Czech version of Knorr) has a line of dehydrated soups called "Poctivé". So, as it turned out, the word "poctivé" had already been usurped to describe a product that was made who know how and with ingredients of who knows what quality and provenance to be sold to people who really don't care all that much about what they eat. Great.

Oh! Sod it! In the end, I don't want "craft", "artisan", "real", "řemeselné", "pravé", "poctivé" or any other label beer, what I want is "good beer", i.e. beer that I'll like and let others take care of the words.

Na Zdraví!


  1. You're better off without a name if it's anything like the trouble we have in trying to find a definition that anyone can agree on!!


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