Once upon a time (so I am told), beer names were simple. You had a local brewery which made two or three kinds of beer. They would have dull, descriptive names like Bloggs' XX and Bloggs' Bitter. You might also have another local brewery which made the same beers, Ocklethorpe's Mild and Ocklethorpe's Bitter. You might have occasion to go to another town and drink Foxton's Mild or Foxton's Bitter there.
As you had so little choice, you drank them all and learned that XX meant the same as Mild and that Bloggs' Bitter was better than Ocklethorpe's Bitter, but Ocklethorpe's Mild was nicer than Blogg's XX. You had to learn a few basic terms like Mild, Bitter and Stout, but after that it was easy to know what you were looking at.
How different things are today. Plenty of people have complained about the predeliction of small breweries to give their beers lewd seaside-postcard type names, often with an embarrassingly vulgar pump clip. But that's not what I'm complaining about here.
One of the things that annoy me is that so many small breweries insist on giving their beers undescriptive names. When I say undescriptive names, I don't mean to insist that every brewery should have a line up of Brewery X's Mild, Bitter, Porter and Stout. I mean they shouldn't choose names that have no relevance to the beer whatsoever.
It doesn't have to be called Dark Mild or Best Bitter. Some sort of bloody clue is all I ask for. If I go to a pub or a festival, and I see a beer called Beyond the Pale or Golden Sunrise, I can assume it's going to be pale. If it's called Station Porter, Gail Porter or The Water In Majorca Don't Taste Like Porter Orter, I know, once I've finished cringing, that it's porter. Beers called Black Cat, Dark Side, Dark Island and Dark Matter are also fairly unambiguous.
But what am I to make when I approach the bar and I see beers named:
... to name just a few out of hundreds or thousands?
This is not so much of a problem at beer festivals, because there is always a programme with further information on the beer, which is just as well, because all you get on the cask is a piece of paper baldly stating the brewery, the name of the beer and its alcohol content.
It's also fine if the pump clip elaborates on what the beer actually is (although you have to get atypically slow service to actually have a chance to read them all).
But some don't even do that!