In the world of craft beer people are always talking about IBUs, specific gravity, nose, color, taste, alcohol content, and other descriptors.
Does beer have intangibles? I'm glad you asked; of course it does. Here's some intangibles of beer being discussed as if it was a potential draft pick by a scouting staff and a general manager.
AdvertisingScout 1: This beer really presents itself well in commercials. There's music, good looking people having fun, and direct inference that if you're a dorky guy this beer will land you the hot ladies.
GM: I'm not sure I'm seeing how party commercial beer is a better buy than tug at your heartstrings commercial beer, but I've always been a fan of Clydesdales; they really go well with my thoroughbred metaphors.
Scout 2: Of course they do, which is why it's the King.
Scout 3: You are such a suck up. Besides we all know who the King really is.
Scout 1: Elvis? Always dug that hip swing of his. Really underrated gyration there.
Scout 2: Agreed, he totally changed the way the game was played back in the day.
GM: Of course not, it's Henrik Lundqvist! He's a real winner. He's a winner like a commercial with Clydesdales, dalmatians, and firemen barbecuing. He's as American as Fourth of July and apple pie!
Scout 2: Umm, he's Swedish.
Scout 3: Speaking of winners, do you remember won the Cup Final the New York Rangers were playing in?
GM: You're fired.
*Scout 3 hangs his head in shame and slowly walks out. Another scout nervously walks in*
LabelsScout 1: A label gets someone to open the beer fridge and pick up a bottle. It's why I really think this one is about as sure of a thing that there is.
GM: That bottle has a bunch of nearly naked women on it with boobs the size of medium-sized blimps.
Scout 2: Exactly! Nearly naked women are awesome. Everyone loves boobs!
Scout 1: Blimps come in different sizes?
Scout 4: How do you think the female half of the world's population feels about this?
Scout 2: Different sized blimps? Not sure. Oh, the bottle. Well, there are gay women, so we're probably only alienating under half the population.
GM: *looking at the bottle* There's no useful information here.
Scout 1: Besides bikini girls what information could you want on your label?
Scout 2: Find a bottle with one of the girls facing the other way so we don't alienate the "ass-men" of the world.
Scout 4: Good call!
GM: That's not going to help. You guys can call me old fashioned, but knowing what type of beer it is would be nice.
Scout 2: You're asking a lot. Look at the potential of this other bottle: it's got a locomotive on it!
Scout 1: I like trains!
GM: Notice those little markings next to the locomotive?
Scouts 1, 2, and 4: Yeah?
GM: Those are words and numbers that tell me about the beer. You could replace the train with a gargoyle, a lawnmower, a pun, a dog, or one or more buxom women but I can at least tell what I'm going to drink.
*Scout 3 sadly shuffles by carrying a battered cardboard box with a little plant in it*
Container ShapeScout 4: Okay, so here's a label, full of those words you think are so important.
GM: It's mostly buzz words, but we're on the right track.
Scout 1: Notice anything about this bottle that says 'win'?
Scout 2: It's thinner, it's sleeker. It's like a sexy bottle. It's one of the standouts!
Scout 4: Umm, it's easier to hold.
GM: You're trying to sell me on something that's easy to hold. Do you know what has two thumbs and is really good at holding beer? *Points at his chest with both hands* This guy.
Scout 1: What about this can? It's a sure thing. It's clutch, it wants to be in your hand when the pressure is on at the end of the night. *cough* And it's easy to hold. *cough*
GM: It's shaped like a little bowtie...
Scout 4: Just like one of their bazillion logos. We call that synergy. It's a thing. And anyway, this one has an absolute ton of words. Good stuff. This is just what you're looking for in a beer.
GM: Most of those words don't mean anything. I don't think anyone has actually read those in about a century unless it was plastered on a bathing suit.
Scout 2: *Sigh* Those were good times...
GM: But I'm noticing something disturbing about this beer.
Scout 1: You think it's got attitude? Like it's going to talk to brick of money like its a phone and favorite a tweet about a trade?
GM: No. But if that player is available, see if their team will take a couple cases of this swill for him, it'd be a steal. This sexy, bowtie shaped can has less beer in it than a regular one. Why should I overpay for less?
Scout 2: You're a GM. It's a tradition at the trade deadline and July 1st.
Scout 2: *sweating*
GM: When I buy beer it's because I want beer. I want tangibles!
Strange IngredientsScout 2: So, if you care what's on the inside, this beer is for you!
GM: What's in it besides barley, hops, water, and yeast?
Scout 1: Rice! Or maybe potato. Not exactly sure.
Scout 4: Well according to the Food Babe...
GM: Whooaaa there. Stop! We're being serious here. There's no anti-freeze in beer. It's used in the processing. Read this *sends link to all the scouts including Scout 3 who's ring tone is Nickelback's Far Away* *GM leans out of the room and yells, "I'd fire you again just for having Nickelback as your ring tone!"*
Scout 1: That article would've been a lot better with more bikini girls and less words.
Scout 2: Seriously. And why do most brewers have beards?
GM: You guys don't get it. Beer is about the flavor. It's about the aroma. It's about the color. It's about how it feels in your mouth. It's about a ton of things that aren't advertising, labels, and containers. Craft brewers might have funny, sexy, or even offensive labels and advertising but the beer itself is what's important to them. Do you think we should sign a hockey player who's sole job it is to fight every few games and keep the end of the bench warm for 58 minutes a night instead of a guy that can actually play hockey?
Scout 2: Yes?
GM: I hear Toronto is hiring. What brings you back to a beer? It's what's on the inside, it's heart of the beer. There might be an emotional connection of "I enjoyed this on my honeymoon" or "I love going to that brewery" but it's the beer itself that makes it worthwhile. The intangibles in beer are from the drinker and your emotional connection to it. If you think that scantily clad young people and loud generic music is what makes a good product, I just don't know what to say to you. *drops mic and walks out*
Scout 3: Where'd he get a mic?
And there we go. Beer has intangibles (or not). And much like hockey, the intangibles become less important the more you can pay attention to tangible details like statistics. If you like some IPAs but not others, limiting your search to beers with IBU's in a certain range is probably more effective than just buying containers with a label of specific color. Even if green means go and is all about being clutch when it counts.