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On the etiquette of my favourite beer you can read:

Affligem abbey ale is being brewed in Belgium according to an old method since 1074.

I would like to ask a native speaker whether the used tense is all right. Wouln´t it be better Present Perfect Continious: Beer has been being brewed in Belgium since…?

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4 Answers 4

I think that the label should probably read:

Affligem Abbey Ale has been brewed in Belgium according to the same method since 1074.

Corrections:

  • étiquette in French = label in English

  • Affligem Abbey Ale is a proper noun, and should all be capitalized.

  • has been brewed is the verb to use, in present perfect tense. The brewing action started in the past, and is still going on. The current expression, is being brewed, does not adequately convey the fact that the action started in the past.

    Some Western European languages which would use the present tense to denote a current activity, coupled with an adverbial phrase like "since 1074" to clarify that the action started in the past. English is picker about verb tenses — instead of clarifying, it clashes.

  • an old method since 1074 is redundant. I assume that the point they are trying to make is that the method has not changed over the years.

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Not only is the tense not the most appropriate one, but 'according to' is awkward. This formulation sounds better:

Affligem Abbey Ale has been brewed in Belgium using the same method since 1074.

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+1 for "using." –  Elian May 22 at 20:57
    
+1: but "using a traditional method" probably better conveys what they intended "old" to mean. –  Peter Shor Nov 14 at 13:50
    
@PeterShor - Good point. I'd have included that if I'd thought of it when I originally posted my answer. –  Erik Kowal Nov 14 at 20:01

If you want to emphasize the fact that Affligem Abbey Ale has been brewed in Belgium since 1074, you indeed should use the present perfect.

However, if you want to accentuate the fact that the brewing method ydates back to 1074, use the present simple instead.

Affligem Abbey Ale is traditionally brewed in Belgium according to an original method dating back to 1074.

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I sometimes hear claims that the present perfect passive form does not exist in English. There are only five citations in the Corpus of Contemporary English and 36 in the Corpus of Global Web-Based English, but it does exist, and it is used. However, it is very uncommon, perhaps because of the three auxiliary verbs before the past participle and/or the awkwardness of the similar-sounding been and being next to each other.

Beer has been being brewed in Belgium since... . is therefore possible, but we would be more likely to use the non-progressive form Beer has been brewed in Belgium since... .

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