Does it really matter what we call our beers? Once we had a bar full of ‘Bitters’ or ‘Best Bitters’ -even when a brewery didn’t have a second best Bitter! Now however we are faced with a a bar full of pseudo IPAs simply because brewers don’t want to be seen to be old school. At least the term bitter was generally a description of the product, even when the the style may have varied from pale to chestnut in colour, whereas now the designation ‘IPA’ includes beers such as Green King IPA. So it would seem we are possibly no better off, or perhaps worse off, by dropping the term ‘Bitter’ from the bar fonts in favour of ‘IPA’.
We actually have a greater variety of terms we can use to describe the beers on the bar, terms such as Pale (e.g. Leeds Pale, Windermere Pale) or Gold (Wold Gold, Hawkshead Gold or Barnsley Gold) or Blond (with or without the ‘e’) are used to describe session beers. Some simply miss out the designation of the beer altogether and just go with the name, such as Coniston Bluebird or York Guzzler. Historically the term ‘Ale’ or ‘Pale Ale’ was always synonymous with bitter and not simply because these beers didn’t have such a high hopping rate as other bitters and were often used to designate standard bitters in bottle, rather than draught versions.
So let’s not get hung up on a name and concentrate on the quality of the beer on the bar by whatever name it happens to go.