Skip to main content

A better way to rate beer?

I’ve explained in the past my views on beer rating and why there is not “rating system” on this site, but I do want to find a better way to review beers and understand them. Why are all IPAs not created equal and what makes one better then another even if they use the same recipe? Some of these questions can be answered through homebrew knowledge but it does lead to an interesting set of research. For the most part most beer reviews follow the path below:

  • Appearance
  • Aroma
  • Taste
  • Mouthfeel
  • Overall

I generally follow this as well with the addition of some background on the brewery and/or beer. I’ve been reading Moneyball recently and it has me thinking about beer.  The general preface behind Moneyball is that the “typical” ballplayer may not be the best person for the position and that the scouting system is out of wack. Regardless if you buy into the idea (it’s had mixed results) it takes on an interesting flavor when you look at it through a beer lens.

Out of all of the beer rating sites out there, not one of them can match a beer with another beer that you would also like reliably. There are a number of apps out there at that attempt to do this, but they have mixed results at best. It shouldn’t be terribly hard to come up with some hard stats on beers and find other similar beers that match, but for some reason, no one has done it yet. In Moneyball the author talks about batting average and errors being overrated statistics and that the only thing that really matters in on base percentage. The book argues that you can look at batting average, but you need to get on base in order to score. Some players might not have a great batting average but they get a ton of walks, which raises their on base percentage and therefore value.

What stats do we look at in beer that tell us about the beers we love? And what stats are overrated? We have the basics of ABV (measure of alcohol), IBUs (measure of bitterness), SRM (measure of colors), and others, but which ones really matter? Which ones haven’t we discovered yet?

We need to take a look at how beers are rated and what we are actually rating in order to get a better understanding of what makes a great beer. I can taste a beer and tell you if it is good or not, but I would like to put a bit more “science” into it. If we understood the stats to make a beer great, then we could more easily find similar beers that we like. We could also find deeper connections between beers and find the different pathways through which we discover craft beer. For instance, why do most people dig IPAs right out of the gate? I don’t have any answers to the questions I pose, but I think we should be considering them. Do you have any thoughts on ways to better view beers?

More thoughts on beer ratings

BeerTap TV has recently changed their “rating policy.” If you refer to my previous post on rating beer you will get a better idea of where this post is coming from and also why there are no ratings on this site. Anyway, BeerTap TV made a change where they are not rating the beers in the traditional manor, bur rather giving them a 1-5 scale in terms on your own walk in knowing and understanding craft beer. A one for example your be your basic Bud Light or dozens of other clones of that beer. Where a five might be Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA. Basically as you taste more and more craft beer your taste buds evolve and beers that might of blown you away when you first started getting into the hobby, might not anymore.

For me personally, if I had half of the beers I am drinking now a few years ago, I would not of enjoyed them or appreciated them as I do today. The scale they are using a based on white water rafting and the different classes of rapids that you would experience. A newcomer to rafting should not be in rapids that have lots of rocks and other hazards because they will be eaten up by them. I think the crossover to craft beer is a good one.

In my previous post on beer ratings, Scott from The Brew Club talked about the ratings they make on their website. Essentially he pointed out that the ratings on their site are not meant to be the end all of a beer, but rather their own personal rating, more or less for them. Fair enough and I can totally understand that. In fact, when I first started this site I put a lot of thought into a ratings scale, but I never ended up using it for reasons I have already mentioned. I still don’t think that a ratings scale will ever be coming to Brewery Reviewery, but it is nice to see that some usable scales out there exist. Below is the ratings scale of what I originally come up with for this site, it is based on how much of this beer I would drink (goes from bad to great)

  • Single bottle
  • Six pack
  • Case
  • Keg
  • Taking seat at the brewery

I thought it was clever at the time and I am sure it has been used all over the place well before I thought of it. Well, I mainly just wanted to point out a few other thoughts on beer reviews and such. Again, nothing like this is coming to this site, but I am glad to see that there are ratings scales out there that don’t really judge the beer.

Beer rating

I was recently watching an episode of Beer Buzz on Beer Tap TV where they made mention of beer ratings. The base argument of what they had to say was that they do not give beers scores or ratings. There is a place for every beer and there can be something positive found in any beer, just like people I suppose. They also read an e-mail they received from a fellow beer blogger whose name/blog escapes me at the current time. He decided to go ahead and remove all the ratings on this site because if people only come for the rating, they miss the point of hi writing.

In general I agree with these thoughts. Brewery Reviewery has never had a rating system in place and there is a good reason for that. I am in no way an expert in beer tasting or writing for that matter. My tastes vary and my appreciation for different styles varies. For instance there has never been a review of a Lambic on this site because that is a style of beer that I just don’t get. They are also pretty tough to find around here. I also refuse to give a beer points or a grade because what I find in the beer might be completely different than what someone else sees in it.

I like the idea that there can be good found in every beer. Those who know me personally would consider me an eternal optimist, much to my wife’s displeasure. It makes sense that I should try to find the good in beer. My most negative review was of Hamm’s Beer. At the end of the article I said “I would not recommend this beer to anyone.” That was really harsh and perhaps out of place. There are people out there who love that stuff, so why should I bash it?

Sometimes I get my lines blurred on the audience that I am talking to. In general I would conisder the people who read this blog craft beer drinkers. However, there are those out there new to the “scene” or those just looking up info on there favorite beer. Who am I to say their beer stinks. I would agree with the stance that each beer fills a void. Every drinker can find something that is pleasing to their palette even if their palette does not agree with mind. On future reviews I will be looking to find the good in every beer and also keep in mind that my tastes will vary greatly from some of those of our readers.

Let me know if you have any notes for me or any thoughts on reviewing beers.