I HAVE A MINOR COMPLAINT: Stop Using the Word "Innovative"

Jargon infects all human enterprise. It's probably a habit of mind that allowed speech to develop--which is a good thing. It also leads to the development of jargon when a group of people in a related field talk to each other long enough. And eventually, it leads to meaningless jargon where words are mere name checks that signal, apparently, in-group solidarity. And so it has come to pass that the word "innovative" (and it's variant "innovation") are now used to describe every brewery in America. From actual press releases:

  • "a widely acclaimed brewery and restaurant, now serves fans of fully flavored beers in 30 states with innovative beers melding European ingredients and technology with American creativity."
  • "The pioneering spirit that launched [Brewery X] spans more than three decades, with innovation emerging from both the brewhouse and sustainability initiatives."
  • "[Brewery Y] also recently introduced its new series, which features a selection of small, limited releases from mostly craft brewers that rotate frequently keeping the selection both innovative and fresh." 



be a few innovations left to discover out there, but we've made a lot of beer in the 8,000 years of human history. If you put your beer in a barrel of some kind or add fruit to it or brew a beer with another brewery or, God help me, are introducing new label designs,

you are not innovating.

Truly innovative techniques and beers are exceedingly rare. The mere act of starting a new brewery is not innovative. Quit saying it.

Look at all the innovation!


Innovation has become so meaningless that, particularly when used by larger breweries, it often signals the opposite. I get things like this all the time "Our continued efforts at innovation have led our brewers to create a new grapefruit-infused IPA" (not an actual quote, but typical). In fact, this sentence should read, "Having seen how much money other breweries are making on this type of beer, we have decided to follow the trend and make an imitative knock-off."

Now, don't get me started on the word, "passion" ...