10 Beer Names You Might Be Saying Wrong

Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing CompanyPliny 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

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 Beer LabelSingha: 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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7 Comments

  1. Bryan

    What about Duchesse de Bourgogne?

    • A great beer and a great question!

      Duchesse de Bourgogne is pronounced “Do-Shess D’Bur-Gohn-Yah”. “Bourgogne” is pronounced kind of like the flower begonia, just replace the “beg” with “bur” like “burgonia”. Also, the “de” in “Duchesse de Bourgogne” is spoken so quickly that it almost becomes part of the word “Bourgogne” like “D’Bourgogne”.

      The beer is named after Mary of Burgundy (sometimes known as “Mary the Rich”) who was born in Brussels in 1457. She was the daughter of Charles the Bold (Duke of Brussels), and sole heiress of many of the territories of the Duchy of Burgundy. Mary was married to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and she was succeeded by her son Phillip the Handsome after she died from a horse riding accident.

      Here’s a bonus: Duchesse de Bourgogne is brewed by Brouwerij (Brow-Er-Eye) Verhaeghe (Ver-Ah-Ga) Vichte (Vish-Teh). “Brouwerij” means brewery, “Verhaeghe” is last name of the original founder (1885) and also the current owner, and “Vichte” is the village in Belgium (West Flanders) where the small brewery is located.

  2. Tyler

    How about Duvel?

    • The pronunciation of “Duvel” is pretty straight forward: “Doo-Vill”.

      Duvel is brewed by the Duvel Moortgat Brewery (formerly Brouwerij Moortgat) located in Antwerp, Belgium, and the word “Duvel” means “devil” in the Antwerp dialect.

      Legend has it that the beer “Duvel” was originally called “Victory Ale”, and in 1923, a fan of Victory Ale referred to the beer as a “rare devil” or “a devil of a beer” (or something similar), presumably alluding to the well-masked alcoholic strength of the brew. Not long after, the name stuck.

      Today, the Moortgat Brewery refers to Duvel as “the most angelic devil of a beer.”

      “Duvel” is not the only beer with devilish connotations: There is also “Lucifer” from Brouwerij Het Anker and “Satan Gold” from Brouwerij De Block, both of which are Belgian Strong Pale ales, the same beer style as Duvel.

      Bonus: The Duvel Moortgat Brewery owns the popular American brewery Ommegang. The American brewery pronounces “Ommegang” as “Oh-Ma-Gang” which is close to the French pronunciation, the language predominately spoken in Brussels where the Ommegang parade takes place each year around the beginning of July. However “Ommagang” is a Dutch word pronounced “Oh Ma Hong”.

  3. KarPon

    plenty of practice pronouncing “Pliny”. FUNNY ~ I couldn’t even read it in my head right the first time

  4. Tom Stevenson

    I promise I won’t correct people who have ketchup on their face or those who say Ar-toys,

    But what about those who say “Catch-69” when they mean “Catch -22”?

    • That is a tricky situation, indeed. It’s rare, but there are those among us who intentionally put ketchup on their faces while ordering a Stella “Ar-Toys” even though they know they’re pronouncing it incorrectly. Those are the folks you have to watch out for…

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