More Name Stuff – What’s “Belgian” After All?

In a typically entertaining and faintly OC post published this morning, Ron “Barclay Perkins” Pattinson makes an aside comment that caught my eye immediately. You can read the entire post here, but here’s the excerpt that I noted:

You’ll notice that some examples are from that famous Scottish town of Tadcaster. Maybe the Belgians didn’t know or didn’t care if their Scotch Ale came from England. After all, nowadays Scotch Ale for the Belgian market is usually brewed in . . . . Belgium. Funny how Belgian brewers got all upset when Americans called their beers “Belgian Ales” yet seem happy to brew beers called Scotch Ales themselves.

Now, I’ve always been an advocate of the term “Belgian” being reserved for beers actually brewed in that country, but Ron makes me wonder about the possibly hypocrisy inherent in holding that position while simultaneously tossing around the style term “Scotch ale” with woeful abandon. It is any different because the latter refers to a specific and definable style, rather than a vague set of characteristics? Is there a degree of homage in both terms, or just the one, or the other? And if not referring to beers from Belgium, what would we take “Belgian ale” to mean, anyway?

All worthy questions for consideration. Thanks for opening yet another can, Ron.

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