Earlier this week, I had my first try of Westvleteren 12, the so-called best beer in the world. No doubt, it was awesome; indescribably wonderful. When I checked later on, though, I noticed that while it was listed #1 at Beer Advocate, it was listed #2 at Rate Beer. Interesting.
It got me to thinking about the differences between the two sites and how much they agreed with one another. I started to take a closer look at what was listed at both sites.
As Andy Crouch noted earlier this week, there is a distinct lack of lagers on each of these lists, and an abundance of barrel-aged and/or hop heavy and/or alcohol heavy offerings. They’re also both heavy in rare, small-run, and hard-to-find beers. I suppose it’s all very American. Bigger is better and if it’s hard to get it must be awesome. Sounds like a recipe for eBay, if you ask me. But that’s not my focus today. That’s for my “please make more session beer” column later.
What I found fascinating was the agreement between the two lists. First of all, I found it interesting that more than half of the beers appearing on one list do not appear on the other (52). In Rate Beer’s case, 6 of the Top 10 beers they have listed do not appear in Beer Advocate’s Top 100 whatsoever. Only 1 of Beer Advocate’s Top 10 does not appear in Rate Beer’s Top 100.
So I cut myself down to looking at only the 48 beers that appear in both lists. Of those 48 beers, there is very little close agreement. Only one matches right on. Pizza Port Cuvee de Tomme ranks at #95 on both lists. The next closest agreement is the aforementioned Westvleteren 12. Only 27% of the list (13 out of 48) were in what I would consider close agreement (within 5 places, plus or minus, of the other list), whereas 38% of the list (18 out of 48) were more than 20 places apart.
I also threw a couple of scatter plots together.
They’re both the same scatter plot, sorted two different ways. Scatter 1 is sorted by BA rank (thus stripe of blue up the middle) and Scatter 2 is sorted by RB rank (thus the strip of red up the middle). You can see from these that, of the beers that both sites ranked in the Top 100, Beer Advocate tended to rank the beers higher (lower in number: Rank 1 = The Best).
The number of times that the following words appear in both lists combined (if a beer appears on both lists, the word was counted once):
IPA/India Pale Ale: 7
Hop/Hoppy/Hoppiness, etc: 6
The suffix “-ation”: 8
You’d almost think that stouts, and especially bourbon barrel aged ones were the most popular craft beers on the market, and not IPAs.
What final conclusion can we draw from all of this? It’s hard to say. Since they have two different ranking systems (5 point scale vs. 100 point scale) it’s difficult to draw any specific comparisons. Mostly, it’s an interesting look at the tastes of the user base at both sites. I wonder how many people rate at both sites and how their ratings compare given the different point systems.
I also put both lists together (where the beers match) and came up with a mean average of scores to give the overall Top 48 beers. Here’s the list:
|BA Rank||RB Rank||Mean Rank||Beer|
|1||2||2||Westvleteren Abt 12|
|5||3||4||Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout|
|2||16||9||Russian River Pliny the Younger|
|7||13||10||Russian River Pliny the Elder|
|12||8||10||AleSmith Speedway Stout|
|15||7||11||Three Floyds Oak Aged Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout|
|11||15||13||Rochefort Trappistes 10|
|4||24||14||Three Floyds Vanilla Bean Barrel Aged Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout|
|10||22||16||Westvleteren Extra 8|
|16||19||18||Lost Abbey The Angels Share (Bourbon Barrel)|
|3||34||19||Deschutes The Abyss|
|24||14||19||Three Floyds Dreadnaught Imperial IPA|
|8||40||24||Founders Kentucky Breakfast Bourbon Aged Stout|
|21||28||25||Stone Imperial Russian Stout|
|26||23||25||Port Brewing Older Viscosity|
|23||27||25||Russian River Consecration|
|33||18||26||AleSmith Barrel Aged Speedway Stout|
|17||39||28||Dieu du Ciel PÃ©chÃ© Mortel|
|20||37||29||Russian River Supplication|
|36||31||34||New Glarus Belgian Red|
|19||50||35||Founders Breakfast Stout|
|6||65||36||Portsmouth Kate The Great Russian Imperial Stout|
|22||52||37||St. Bernardus Abt 12|
|30||49||40||Russian River Temptation|
|69||12||41||Lost Abbey Isabelle Proximus|
|27||69||48||Firestone Walker 12|
|39||60||50||Kuhnhenn Raspberry Eisbock|
|49||54||52||Lost Abbey Cable Car|
|78||29||54||Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout|
|53||64||59||Stone Brandy Barrel Double Bastard|
|44||88||66||Cantillon BlÃ¥bÃ¦r Lambik|
|54||83||69||New Glarus Raspberry Tart|
|46||94||70||Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock|
|62||78||70||New Belgium La Folie|
|52||98||75||Surly 16 Grit|
|75||77||76||Stone Ruination IPA|
|60||93||77||Tyranena Devil Over A Barrel|
|83||71||77||Southern Tier Choklat|
|58||97||78||Russian River Beatification|
|81||89||85||Oskar Blues Ten FIDY|
|86||90||88||North Coast Anniversary Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin|
|97||91||94||Struise Black Albert|
|95||95||95||Pizza Port Cuvee de Tomme|