11 Oct 2011 @ 4:16 PM 
 

Why beer rating is crap.

 

One of the most-hit columns I’ve ever written on Top Fermented was a “Beer Advocate vs. Rate Beer” column. It raises ire. Some people like the fact that I attempted to (poorly) apply statistics to compare the ratings on each site. Other people have bitched and moaned about how it’s a steaming pile of turd, which I won’t necessarily argue with – it has flaws. I’m pretty sure I even say that in the article itself.

Anyway, I see all of these links point here and I read them all and contemplate them and never really say anything because.. hey.. it’s like a two and a half year old column at this point, and it’s kind of meaningless now. Ratings systems are continually updated and people continue to use the site in new and different ways. However, the rating sites still over-appreciate dark, high alcohol, and hard-to-find ales and well-made low alcohol lagers consistently under-perform.

I’ve thought about it a lot and I am now of the opinion that wholesale beer rating is really to a point that it is no longer useful and, in fact, might even be detrimental to the market as a whole – and I don’t just mean Beer Advocate or Rate Beer, but beer review blogs, etc., and anon. The noise-to-signal ratio is just out of whack and the results are being given gravity that they don’t deserve.

Before the flames and trolls show up, let me state my case:

People rate beer by measures that are too subjective

Plain and simple. By and large, people rate beer based on whether or not they liked it, not whether or not it’s a good beer. Believe it or not those are two different things. I can’t stand Bud Light, but I won’t tell you that it’s a poorly made beer. It’s excellently made beer if you want a lite (yeah, I spelled it) lager. But it gets a 0 on Rate Beer (a 1 within the style) and a D- at Beer Advocate even though it is essentially the definition of the “light lager” style. Why? Because it lacks technical brewing skill and is rife with off-flavors? No. Because the bulk of the people who are rating it, like me, hate it. Rather than disconnecting themselves subjectively to actually answer whether or not it’s technically well-made and matches the style, they rate their own taste in graduated values of suck.

I do think that there is value in being able to have a list of ratings of beers that you have enjoyed for your own reference. It’s one of the reasons that I like Untappd – because it gives me a list of my own ratings for me to reference later. I don’t always remember a beer three months later. Have I tried this? Did I like it? 5 stars says, “Yes!” But just because I like it doesn’t mean that somebody else will. Taste is subjective. I like a really wide range of beers, but give me something with a load of Nugget hops and I will always, always hate it. 1 star-only and man did that suck. But! That doesn’t mean you won’t like it, so why should my personal rating mean anything to you?

If it’s a useless measure, we shouldn’t be using it to judge beers with.

There’s no way to tell that people are tasting good beer

And by good I mean “like the brewer intended”. Not old or oxidized or through infected taplines or in dirty, frosted glassware or drunk by a smoker or someone with an asshole for a mouth. Certainly, some people will note in the comments of their review about how it was served or what it looked like, etc., etc., but one look at the top comment under Bud Light really says it all:

…serving type was shot gunning at the football game.

Indeed, byteme94. I will now take your D+ more seriously because I know you put a lot of thought into it for those 4 seconds while it was passing through your esophagus. Was the fact that you didn’t immediately throw up what saved it from a D- or an F?

If someone is tasting a beer out of a dirty tapline and (and this is important) they don’t know what a dirty tapline tastes like, they think they just have a shitty beer and there’s no way for me, as a reader, to tell if this is in perfect serving conditions or if this is someone drinking beer out of their cat’s old food dishes before they give a beer a score (“drunk from a straight-sided shallow goblet”, indeed). I’m not going to look through 3,000 reviews. I’m going to look at the aggregate score. If the aggregate score is a composite of unreliable measures, then the aggregate score is unreliable.

There’s no way to tell if the people are good at tasting

Let’s take, for instance, Geary’s IPA in which the first review – which gives it a B (which is decent, if you consider C to be average) – mentions the word “buttery” twice. Once in the aroma and once in the flavor. He didn’t really care for the butteriness of the malt. Of course, he mentioned that he wouldn’t really expect bitterness or alcohol in an IPA, either. Now, I happen to know that Geary’s is brewed at Shipyard, and that Shipyard’s house yeast is Ringwood which has a VERY high flocculation rate. It tends to drop out of the solution really early and doesn’t really remove diacetyl (which tastes like butter) from the beer like it should unless you do some awesome tricks to keep that yeast in suspension – which Shipyard is generally pretty good at.

IPA shouldn’t be buttery. Malt does not taste buttery. This is an off-flavor. But the reviewer doesn’t know this (or that an IPA should be bitter, sadly). He just thinks (correctly) that it tastes like butter, and while he doesn’t really like it he also doesn’t know that it’s not supposed to be there at all so he doesn’t judge it as harshly as he could and maybe should. Or to look at it backwards, he is judging it as though the butteriness is supposed to be there, because he doesn’t know that it isn’t.

Is this a good, honest review of this beer? It certainly reflects whether or not the drinker likes it, but does it reflect the quality of the beer? ie – Why should this B count with the same weight as someone’s C who does know that their beer is diacetyl heavy? How do I know if the person who is reviewing the beer knows enough about the beer to give a good review? Just because you drink a lot doesn’t make you an expert. It just makes you drunk.

(I am positive that at this point in the article, at least one thread will start on a forum somewhere to discuss whether or not it matters if a beer is well-made if you like drinking it, anyway. Related: Who cares who makes your beer if you like drinking it? Answer: I do.)

The internet is untrustworthy in general

Sorry kids, but I just don’t have any reason to trust you. Just because a lot of people rate something doesn’t mean that there’s any sort of reasonable quality involved. You know that saying that’s something like, “50,000 people can’t all be wrong”? Well – actually, they can. It happens all the time.

A significant portion of this country believes that science and math are just these things that the educated elite make up to try to perpetuate grant funding because paying yourself off of grants is sooooo awesome. They believe things like vaccines are bad but polio is kinda okay. They believe that man and dinosaurs used to co-exist. Why on earth should I trust you, the internet, to know enough about beer to give me a decent recommendation if you can’t get broad “society has moved on” issues correct?

In Summary

Fact: You can’t measure something with an unreliable tool. If I’m allowed to make my own ruler that just has however many inches I want on it at whatever random intervals, I can use it to build the same thing every time. But as soon as I give you my plans you are up a creek without.. well.. a ruler. Have fun defining that cubit, bucko, because I measured it using MY forearm, not yours.

There’s no good way to cut through the noise of beer reviews to find out which ones are worth paying attention to and which ones aren’t. Since there’s no way to calibrate the tasters to make sure that they’re all tasting with the same objectivity, then there’s no way to say that any given set of ratings is even reasonably reliable and I won’t waste my time with them. Until we have some sort of Cicerone-weighted rating system or something like that, I’m calling shenanigans on beer rating, especially wholesale ratings sites like BA and RB. Their data is no longer worthy of consideration, by my estimation.

Make your own ratings and decide what you like for yourself. It’s far more valuable in the long run.

These ratings are being put forth as guides for consumers

Let me quote something to you from the comments of a blog that I ran across that I’m pretty sure sums up common sentiment. I know that I should quote who it’s from, but I don’t know them personally and I don’t want to get into any sort of pissing contest. This quote is in reference to a post recommending shelf tags from Rate Beer and Beer Advocate in retail establishments, much like you would see shelf tags from, say, Wine Spectator.

I do appreciate that the rankings are from a consortium of dedicated drinkers compared to wine, which historically was dominated by one individual or several publications.

Indeed. You know what I hate? Being able to make informed decisions based on reliable, consistent data. What I prefer is to make random guesses based on completely unreliable anonymous data. I mean – who needs Consumer Reports and a trained panel of experts when I can get a product rating from BoobLvr67?

That is the equivalent of trusting anonymous online ratings for beer (or anything, really, but let’s stick on topic).

What I’d Like To See…

…is some sort of rating system from people who are actually known trained tasters – Cicerones and/or BJCP judges – with ratings ranked in importance based on how skilled they’ve shown themselves to be. That would be better information. There’s still individual taster differences, but at least those tasters have been moderately calibrated. At least there’s a starting point beyond, “I signed up for the website.”

That’s a rating site I’ll trust, and those are shelf tags I want to see in retail establishments. Until we can get there, I’m dispensing with wholesale beer ratings in general.

Tags Tags: , , , ,
Categories: appreciation, blog, industry, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 11 Oct 2011 @ 05 00 PM

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Responses to this post » (49 Total)

 
  1. Andy Crouch says:

    Interesting article but ultimately I’m not sure I agree. In brief, applying BA/RB to larger brewery products is largely an exercise in futility as products such as Bud Light are outliers from the standard consumer fare on these sites. Now where that outlier line is drawn is hard to say but this is an easy example. I think perhaps the sites are best appreciated for their ability to amalgamate consumer opinion (however biased in its own unique ways) into a quantifiable figure. These penultimate review scores are useful in making a quick decision about a brand. Over the long term, the consumer will ultimately have to judge for themselves so in that sense, the reviews are subjective. But once you hit a certain critical mass number, say 50 or 100 reviews, individual subjective preferences start to fall out a bit and we are left with a more solid and reliable score.

    And I would say that I’ve met a great number of trained in beer whose palates are surprisingly suspect, either due to perceived expertise, lack of actual time spent tasting, failure to travel and sample widely, or other reasons. So I’m not sure you’re ever going to find that perfect ratings system.

    In the end, taste is simply subjective. So find a source whose palate you trust and keep testing his or her selections/reviews against your own.

    Best,

    Andy Crouch

    P.S. To my knowledge, Gearys IPA is actually made at the Gearys brewery and not at Shipyard. Ringwood yeast is common to the two breweries but with very different results.

    • erik says:

      Geary’s bottled stuff isn’t made at Shipyard? I thought they made most of New England. Still – Ringwood is Ringwood. Thank you for the correction.

      You make excellent points – I guess I just feel like their ability to create an accurate mass opinion (and especially one that’s valuable to others) is lost in each site’s proclivity for rarity rather than quality.

      Finally – I’m not really looking for a perfect ratings system, so much as one that is relatively reliable. Ultimately, though, you’ve got it here:

      “find a source whose palate you trust and keep testing his or her selections/reviews against your own.”

      Hear, hear.

      • erik says:

        Ah, my mistake – just did a little more digging.

        I was thinking Gritty McDuff’s bottled offerings, not Geary’s. I’ll let this stand as a correction to the above so that it’s not weirdly confusing to read.

    • skrambled says:

      Andy Crouch, BeerAdvocate writer (or at least frequent contributor), disagrees?! I’m shocked! Just shocked…

      Just saying a little disclosure might be in order here. Saying that the scores balance out in the end after enough reviews accumulate is the company line in defense of the rating system.

      But in the end, as this post states perfectly, ” If the aggregate score is a composite of unreliable measures, then the aggregate score is unreliable.”

      That said, I’ve enjoyed many of your articles, Andy, and I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment that erik quotes above.

      • Andy Crouch says:

        Hey Skrambled-

        My association with BA is pretty well known (and is definitely disclosed all over my site, which I linked to). With that said…I write for the magazine, not the web site and I’m just as happy to critique both BA/RB on particular points (note I didn’t bash RB as might be expected of some pro-BA militant). In general though, when the reviews of either site hit a certain number for most products (just as Bud Lite is an outlier, frankly I think any RIS is likely to be an outlier in the opposite direction on both sites), I think we get a decent understanding of what educated (or at least engaged) beer drinkers think of a particular product.

        In the end, as we all agree, it really doesn’t matter what others think. Follow your own palate.

        Best,

        Andy

  2. Kevin says:

    This pretty much sums up all online review sites. Great article.

  3. Paul Young says:

    Great article, I like your idea of having trained people make the ratings. I think a website could do both have a panel of tasters rating and a public rating much like you see on fandango.com the movie ticket site. They have a critics rating and a public one too.

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  4. A.J. says:

    Great article! I wrote about a similiar topic a month or so ago, but focused more on individual bloggers reviewing beer-the same is true there for the big beer rating sites, though. Overall, I think that the most important thing to understand about sites like BA & RB is the context of the reviews. They are written by beer geeks/aficionados/self-proclaimed experts for their peers. I’ve almost completely stopped using both sites (except as an occasional reference for breweries who have less-than-informative websites). I wasn’t crazy about your idea of “experts” rating beers until I thought about the one type of review I will give some attention: panel reviews in beer magazines. I still don’t give these much weight, but they are written by people with (in most cases) some credentials and for the purpose of informing others, so personal opinions are often set aside for the purpose of providing as much information and proper recommendation as possible.

  5. Donna says:

    Ratings by amateurs will always show how well-liked a beer is, not how well-made it is. If you use the ratings as anything more than a measure of how much craft beer drinkers like a beer, you will likely be disappointed.

  6. OldStyleCubFan says:

    RB/BA rates are really a gauge of the pulse of the beer geek community which may or may not be a true reflection on the ‘quality’ of beer. Sites like RB intentionally discourage rating to style so by design they are trying to measure beer differently than say BJCP or event how the brewer intends. RB/BA are great tools if you use it in the proper context. If you are analyzing RB/BA scores from a BJCP/Cicerone/’to style’ type gauge, it can be challenging to understand what the data is actually telling you. Its simply a score from people who care enough about beer to track in on a website. ..nothing more…nothing less.

    We already have a system where bjcp judges/cicerones/’qualified drinkers’ rate beer. I would think things like GABF, World Beer Cup & hundreds of local awards at local fests already meet this for the commercial brewer. These are not panaceas.

    As a new brewer, how are you going to deal with good and bad reviews on RB/BA? You will have both. Will you disregard the bad and agree with the good? Are you prepared to handle the bad in a constructive manner or will you dismiss it as a non-BJCP/non-cicerone/flawed reviewer under poor conditions? This is a serious question.

    I lot of brewers and bars read the negative reviews and it sort of turns them against RB/BA communities. I’ve heard of bars that have refused to serve RB/BA folks when they find them rating due to the negative reviews they’ve gotten on the sites. Some brewers have a legitimate hatred for these sites due to poor score for beers they think are perfect.

    I can think of a recent example of a Triangle brewer complaining about rates on RB/BA because they happened at a beerfest w/ a 2oz pour. I would be shocked if 1% of those tasting at a fest are actually rating on RB/BA but EVERYONE is rating the beer. The non-RB/BA public are trying the same 2oz sample in horrible environment and making a decision on how the beer rates just like the RB/BA rater. They just aren’t putting it on the web. They are not cicerones or bjcp judges but they are ‘rating’ the beer.

    Brewers can brew to style to win medals, or go ‘extreme’ to score high in the beer geek community, or brew to please the ‘non rating’ public. RB/BA scores are just 1 facet of the beer world but I think have value and provide a very specific insight into how the beer is received by a tiny but vocal segment of the beer drinking community.

  7. sinkas says:

    If brewers winge about the rating thier beers get on these site they should either act on the info, or not read them. While the background and the incididence of the ratings and raters is higly varied, this just gives good and unusual insights that woudl probably not usually be heard
    How anyone can complain about what is essentially quite detailed , free consumer feedback, is fucking beyond me.

  8. Sam Tierney says:

    Interesting article. I agree with much of your assertions, but not exactly with the conclusions that you draw. Taste is a funny thing, and everyone is different. On the Matter of diacetyl in an IPA, who are you to say that it is wrong? Consumers on the whole will decide by either purchasing enough of a beer to keep it in production or not. Brewers recognize “off-flavors” and in many cases avoid them, but there are many instances of the same characteristics being what make certain beers popular. Old Rolling Rock and Carling in the UK are good examples of DMS being key to a popular beer’s flavor profile.

    I don’t think objectivity is really possible at all in rating. Even the GABF gold medal winning beers reflect the personal tastes of the judges for one reason or another. I think that Beer Advocate makes the mistake of mentioning style in their reviewing guidelines (which hardly any reviewers then follow), but RateBeer at least doesn’t pretend that the ratings are anything other than unfiltered consumer opinion and preferences. Nothing more, and nothing less. Useful as a tool for brewers in some respects.

    The rating sites have their place, though you might not care for them. To completely write them off is a mistake though. In the end it’s all down to your personal tastes when it comes to beer. I’ve disagreed with other professionals that I have a lot of respect for when it comes to tasting beers. Sure, I could rate on some “expert only” site, but I really hope no one would take my opinions for more than just that. Reviews that try to be as objective as possible often miss conveying that magical element about a beer that makes us love it. I’d rather know if you like the beer or not and why. If you are an informed palate and can write a good review, all the better.

    Cheers,

    Sam

    • erik says:

      On the Matter of diacetyl in an IPA, who are you to say that it is wrong?

      This is a REALLY complicated question that really gets to the heart of my problem with ratings. I am a brewer that knows that when I’m doing something wrong, my yeast isn’t uptaking enough diacetyl. I am a drinker that finds buttery beer vaguely disgusting.

      But look, I’m not making that decision, the people who take the time to write style guidelines that we all abide by are.

      If we don’t have standards upon which we judge, and standards upon which we can communicate to customers what they should expect out of their beer, then what’s the point of the rating exercise?

      • Jason Alstrom says:

        The consumers wallet? There is more to beer than just beer styles … perhaps a culture behind it? It is not all black and white especially when new styles are being formed and some brewers that don’t brew to style at all. Not every beer drinker wants to geek out either.

        If someone wants to give an F to Bud Light so be it, perhaps they think there could possibly be a light beer that is better?

        • erik says:

          Yeah – I mean. I see your point.

          I guess I’m just inclined to believe that the larger the pool of votes is, the more noise there is along with legitimate results, primarily because people are approaching rating from different angles.

          As you say – not every drinker wants to geek out. But their ratings fall into the same pool as the ones who DO want to geek out and there’s no good way to delineate them.

          • Jason Alstrom says:

            We actually do have some “professionals” on our site … I am sure ratebeer has many as well. You won’t be seeing us putting them on a pedestal though, all of our users are equal as they are all consumers which is pretty much the point of the site since day one. Are we to start judging our users and weigh their opinion more or less than others? What we have works, we know that not everyone agrees with us and that is ok.

          • erik says:

            Actually – thank you. That’s something I should have mentioned in my post that I really didn’t – that some of the reviews are actually REALLY good. They’re just hard to pick out.

            I guess it goes to Andy’s point that we all agree on, which is to find someone you trust and keep an eye on that.

    • Marty Nachel says:

      Sam,
      I have to take issue to your comment about the GABF Gold Medal winning beers reflecting the personal tastes of the judges. This is hardly possible. It’s not like beers are being evaluated by single judges. This year there were 167 judges. The panels consisted of no fewer than 3 judges each -and usually 4. The panels also changed with each judging session. Over the course of three days, I judged beer with dozens of different (highly qualified) people. I can say without reservation that in each instance, we, as a group, chose THE best beer in the flight. It had nothing to do with personal tastes.

      • Sam Tierney says:

        I don’t doubt that you chose the best beer, in your opinion. The style guidelines exist as such that there is no objectively best beer in the competition. Personal opinion is inevitable and you are subject to your own specific interpretation of the style you are judging. It’s very possible that if another judge were in your seat on any given flight, a different outcome could have occurred.

        I’ve had enough experience tasting to know that everyone has a different palate and we often don’t agree about beers. The same aromatic nuance that makes me love a specific beer may make you hate it. The style guidelines can’t settle the issue for us in many cases. We as tasters have to make personal calls. Looking at the winners of the GABF, I have no doubt that every one is a good beer. The brewery that I work for did very well this year, but I don’t get lulled into the false conclusion that our beers that won were objectively better than any other in their category. On that day, to the judges that sat on that specific panel, dealing with their own palate issues and mental state, felt that the beer was the best. No more, and no less.

        I have a lot of respect for all of you guys that judge and would probably like to do it myself some day. I’m not discounting your skill and experience as a collective group of tasters. I just feel that “best” is impossible to objectively identify.

        • Marty says:

          Because you continue to assert that personal opinion weighs heavily in judging beer, this assumes that all judges participating are of a single opinion, which is silly. Not even the most persuasive judge can sway a panel of 2 or 3 other competent judges based solely on opinion. This is about evaluating beer based on accepted style guidelines -some beers match the parameters well, some don’t. There’s no place for an opinion in that forum.
          Now, to address your comment about a “best” beer being impossible to objectively identify, let me offer this observation. When judges get down to the final three beers in a flight of a dozen or so beers, it’s safe to say that any one of those three beers are worthy of a gold medal (thereby being “best” in flight), however, it’s the judges’ task to assign placement to these beers. This is where nits are picked and hairs are split. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

  9. Kenny says:

    I agree with this article. That is why at The Brew Bros (http://thebrewbros.com), we write about what we percieve while drinking, while trying to be objective. We do not rate, just review.

  10. Jason Alstrom says:

    We’ve already started cloning an army of super elite BJCP judges to invade all rating sites by the end of the year … nough said.

  11. Al says:

    Interesting point….but I disagree. Remember we are dealing with human senses here. We don’t all taste, smell, see, etc…the same things. Music that might be pleasing to my ears might drive you crazy. Beer that I think tastes like piss might be someone else’s “desert island” beer. I don’t know anyone who listens to or doesn’t listen to certain music based on what a music critic said. So why would I drink/not drink a beer based on what some nationally ranked BJCP judge says? No one can tell you what a “good beer” is or what you “should” drink.

    • erik says:

      You know, you are actually arguing my point. Everybody’s different, that’s why it’s untrustworthy.

      You shouldn’t drink a beer based on what nationally ranked BJCP judge says any more than you should not drink a beer based on what byteme94 says.

  12. jdanoff says:

    In response to the “There’s no way to tell if the people are good at tasting” paragraph, on beeradvocate you can choose to read the reviews fromt he top rated reviewers. Meaning, you can eliminate reading the “jackass” review from someone who does not know what they are fully talking about

  13. scbrewer says:

    Bud Light drinkers don’t go to beer rating sites. They want Bud Light and they don’t look around for something else. If they had any desire to taste a beer they wouldn’t be drinking Bud Light. Otherwise I agree that most folks are rating beer by what they like and not by style requirements.

  14. ETJ says:

    “By and large, people rate beer based on whether or not they liked it, not whether or not it’s a good beer.”

    Holy crap, really???

    Thats. The. Point. And that’s the value of RB and BA.

    BJCP serves its purpose. RB/BA are serving another. One rating style is not better or worse than the other.

  15. LStaff says:

    Unfortunately, quality doesn’t seem to be a necessary requirement for many modern beer geeks to rate a beer highly. I would bet the majority that have entered the craft beer market in the last 5 years don’t know the difference between a well made, fault-free, balanced, un-muddled themed beer and one with big flavor. This is encouraging brewers to make more and more beers that have big flavor in a small cold sample to market at beerfests/tastings (but yet is hard to finish more than 10 ozs. at home) which tend to be underdeveloped recipes or one-offs.

    And you can’t discount the trading and other secondary markets effect on ratings these days. Kind of interesting to see those that give the most glorious scores to beer that make me shake my head are also trying to trade said beer or other beers from the same brewery in their “gots” list. hmmm…..

    Manipulation of batch sizes by brewers of “limited” releases in order to keep demand ahead of supply has also had an effect on beer ratings as people never want to be seen giving a low score to a beer they spent good money and hours of their life trying to acquire.

    “However, the rating sites still over-appreciate dark, high alcohol, and hard-to-find ales and well-made low alcohol lagers consistently under-perform.”

    And very recent example of this is Sierra Nevada’s decision to replace Glissade – a well made, drinkable, balanced, interesting helles bock (albiet not low alcohol) – yet not selling well enough to keep it going. A majority of the older beer geeks I associate with think this is a great beer that is worth drinking cases of, yet doesn’t get any play from the craft beer samplers who had a small taste and just assume its just another fizzy yellow lager. Blew my mind to read comments in the last few days of how many beer geeks never even tried this beer due to the ratings/reviews it got from people that don’t really like lager to begin with unless its hopped to the gills (ubiquitous love for prima pils) or has a big flavor profile like dopplebock.

    Frustrating times for many long time beer geeks out there that have been with craft beer since there has been craft beer available on beer store shelves – and those who grew up drinking mass produced and import lagers and can tell the difference between adjunct lager and lager with class and distinction.

  16. Josh says:

    You are like a monkey slinging crap at the window in the zoo. You are making a mess and you are not accomplishing anything. You are correct, taste is subjective and will in fact differ from person to person. That is a very intuitive observation and probably one that most common folk wouldn’t understand. You should call the new fangled scientists no one believes exist and let them in on your discovery. Your paragraph “The internet is untrustworthy in general” just shows how pretentious and self-important you think you are. People leaving comments have discredited almost all of the points you made and you still act like you were somehow right. Everyone’s interpretation of how a beer tastes and/or quality will always be subjective, which makes this the most irrelevant post I’ve ever read. You are not introducing any new information and instead are insulting others based your perceived superiority.

    You want a professional panel of arbitrary professional tasters? How about you take a look at the Great American Beer Festival or the World Beer Cup? End of story! I’ve got a better idea, how about you write an article displaying your brilliance and superiority over others in the beer drinking community instead. Let’s criticize others for sharing common interests and participating in sites like BeerAdvocate and Rate Beer. Because you know, you shouldn’t base a $10.00 purchasing decision on the likes of the idiots on the internet. You should base that decision solely on professional bias. Frankly, I’d rather know what an everyday beer drinker thinks as opposed to a professional. I’m not looking for a beer that fits the style the absolute best, I’m looking for a beer I will enjoy drinking the most. Professional opinion with something as subjective as taste has as limited usability as does the scores on BA/RB. Just because a professional likes something doesn’t mean I will like it. Case in point those super fancy restaurants with food rated highly by professional tasters. The portions are tiny and the tastes/textures are complex but I generally would prefer a cheeseburger.

    The craft beer community is awesome because it embraces everyone. You don’t have to have a cellar of wine and a country club membership to be able to participate. Someone with $10.00 can buy some stellar craft brew and voice their opinion on the internet. There is so much excitement and passion in the craft brew community that you won’t find in hardly any other industry, alcohol or otherwise. This passion translates into BA, RB, and countless beer blogs of which you are trying to denounce completely. Again, this shows your level of self-importance and arrogance to be able to discredit other’s work as irrelevant. Your solution is to corporatize the rating system and cut out all of the everyday people that make the craft beer community what it is. That is asinine..

    The sad thing is, your post is most likely just for shock value to generate traffic. I was going to post this on my blog but then you win.

    • erik says:

      Indeed. I am a totally shock value whore with absolutely no ideas or opinions worth any sort of consideration.. You got me dead to rights.

      I appreciate the effort you went through to be outraged, indignant, and offended. I especially appreciate the fact that you took the time to come up with as many fanciful situations as I did in the course of my op-ed. Aren’t opinions wonderful? They’re like assholes. We all have one.

      If, indeed, I was completely discredited by the comments on the post, then I’m sorry felt like you had to take the time to write such a long response to merely sling more crap out of the window.

      For what it’s worth, I appreciate that you take the time to discuss your experience with beers on your blog rather than merely rating it with drunken gnomes. It shows consideration for the product to talk about what you’re tasting rather than reducing it to a number… or a gnome, as it were.

  17. Jim says:

    Spot on… Too many people who have too many thoughts on what is a good beer. You almost have to find someone who has similar tastes as you to find value in a rating system.

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