I’m not a statistician, so this is a bit of a stretch for me. But I’m posting this information because the internet is smarter than I am.

Last week, in the discussion of my post about what certain numbers (Specific Gravity, IBU, etc.) mean about your beer, the idea came up to make what amounts to a simplified statistic about beer – a way to represent, more simply, what people really want to know about their beer. It goes along with the pipe dream of having breweries print statistics about their beer on the labels.

The theory, in my mind, is that nobody wants to pick up a beer and think, “1.056 and 1.010 with 60 IBUs.. hrm… that’s pretty bitter.” Some beer geeks can do that in their heads, but a lot of people can’t, or don’t want to. On the other hand, if you could pick a beer and say, “A hoppiness rating of 92? Good heavens! That’s big!” it would be pretty cool.

So, I’ve been playing with numbers a wee bit. Mostly collecting them. I started with the BJCP Style Guidelines. I recorded the maximum and minimum stats for OG, FG, and IBUs and calculated what the average beer would look like in each style category.

For example, for English IPA the style range shows:

OG: 1.050 – 1.075
FG: 1.010 – 1.018
IBU: 40 – 60

Thus, the average English IPA would be:

OG: 1.063
FG: 1.014
IBU: 50

This is just to give a basic sample range of beers to work with that should be fairly representative of all the styles involved, though I’ve considered removing sour styles from this exercise, since Lactic Acid kind of fouls everything up on the whole, “This is what flavor you should expect” front.

I also calculated apparent attenuation for each style – finding out how much sugar has been fermented out from each on average.

(GU – FU)/GU

The Average English IPA listed above has an Apparent Attenuation of 77.60%. In other words, 77.6% of the sugar in the solution has been converted to alcohol. In reality, that’s not quite right, since alcohol is lighter than water and this is being calculated by the density of the liquid. You can ferment down to a final gravity lower than 1.000. However, for this purpose, this calculation should be good enough.

Then, I made what I’m (currently) referring to as a “hoppiness score.” It’s on the same line as a GU:BU ratio, but instead what I did is divide IBU by GU, then multiply it by 100 to give us a nice round number that we can related to instead of a decimal. The theory is that the more hops there are in comparison to original gravity, the higher this number would be. It should correspond with how hoppy the beer is. It works fairly well.

The English IPA up there would have a hoppiness score of 80. Is it an arbitrary number? Sure. Work in progress. Bear with me.

Then I applied apparent attenuation. It was noted in the discussion that the more dry a beer is, the more bitterness would be apparent to the drinker. I agree. To account for this, I multiplied the hoppiness score by the apparent attenuation. I called this “Apparent Bitterness.” I figured that the drier a beer was, the higher the apparent attenuation would be and so the closer the “Apparent Bitterness” would be to the Hoppiness Score. In the full list of styles, it does what I was hoping for and tends to give styles in which you would expect more bitterness a higher score.

Here’s the list I was working from sorted by Hoppiness Score:

Style # Style Name Hoppiness Apparent Bitterness
14C Imperial IPA 113 91
13E American Stout 88 65
13A Dry Stout 87 69
07C Dusseldorf Alt 85 64
14B American IPA 84 66
08A Ordinary Bitter 83 63
19C American Barleywine 81 63
14A English IPA 80 62
02B Bohemian Pilsner 80 56
13D Foreign Extra Stout 76 60
02A German Pilsner 74 58
08C Extra Special Bitter 74 56
08B Special Bitter 74 57
13F Russian Imperial Stout 74 55
07B California Common 74 56
10A American Pale Ale 71 54
12B Robust Porter 66 50
07A North German Alt 65 49
02C Classic American Pilsner 63 47
10B American Amber Ale 62 47
19A Old Ale 60 45
13B Sweet Stout 58 38
12A Brown Porter 58 44
13C Oatmeal Stout 58 43
10C American Brown Ale 57 43
04C Schwarzbier 55 40
11C Northern English Brown 54 42
06C Kolsch 53 43
19B English Barleywine 53 40
11A Mild 51 36
01E Dortmunder Export 51 39
16B Belgian Pale Ale 49 37
03A Vienna Lager 49 37
16C Saison 49 43
09C Scottish Export 90/- 48 35
06D American Wheat 47 37
06B Blond Ale 47 36
09B Scottish Heavy 70/- 47 31
09A Scottish Light 60/- 46 30
03B Oktoberfest 45 33
04B Munich Dunkel 44 33
09D Irish Red 43 33
11B Southern English Brown 43 28
05A Maibock/Helles Bock 43 34
12C Baltic Porter 40 29
01D Munich Helles 40 31
17C Flanders Brown 39 33
01C Premium American Lager 39 32
18C Belgian Trippel 38 32
06A Cream Ale 36 29
05B Traditional Bock 35 26
18D Belgian Golden Strong Ale 35 30
17B Flanders Red 33 29
16D Biere de Garde 33 27
18A Belgian Blond Ale 33 27
16A Witbier 31 25
05D Eisbock 30 22
18E Belgian Dark Strong Ale 30 24
01A Lite Lager 29 27
15D Roggenbier 29 22
15C Weizenbock 29 22
18B Belgian Dubbel 29 24
04A Dark American Lager 28 22
15B Dunkelweizen 28 21
09E Strong Scotch Ale 26 16
01B Standard American Lager 26 22
15A Weissbier 24 18
05C Doppelbock 23 18
17A Berliner Weisse 18 16
17D Lambic 11 9
17E Guezue 10 9

And the same chart sorted by Apparent Bitterness:

Style # Style Name Hoppiness Apparent Bitterness
14C Imperial IPA 113 91
13A Dry Stout 87 69
14B American IPA 84 66
13E American Stout 88 65
07C Dusseldorf Alt 85 64
19C American Barleywine 81 63
08A Ordinary Bitter 83 63
14A English IPA 80 62
13D Foreign Extra Stout 76 60
02A German Pilsner 74 58
08B Special Bitter 74 57
08C Extra Special Bitter 74 56
02B Bohemian Pilsner 80 56
07B California Common 74 56
13F Russian Imperial Stout 74 55
10A American Pale Ale 71 54
12B Robust Porter 66 50
07A North German Alt 65 49
02C Classic American Pilsner 63 47
10B American Amber Ale 62 47
19A Old Ale 60 45
12A Brown Porter 58 44
13C Oatmeal Stout 58 43
06C Kolsch 53 43
10C American Brown Ale 57 43
16C Saison 49 43
11C Northern English Brown 54 42
04C Schwarzbier 55 40
19B English Barleywine 53 40
01E Dortmunder Export 51 39
13B Sweet Stout 58 38
16B Belgian Pale Ale 49 37
03A Vienna Lager 49 37
06D American Wheat 47 37
06B Blond Ale 47 36
11A Mild 51 36
09C Scottish Export 90/- 48 35
05A Maibock/Helles Bock 43 34
09D Irish Red 43 33
04B Munich Dunkel 44 33
03B Oktoberfest 45 33
17C Flanders Brown 39 33
18C Belgian Trippel 38 32
01C Premium American Lager 39 32
01D Munich Helles 40 31
09B Scottish Heavy 70/- 47 31
18D Belgian Golden Strong Ale 35 30
09A Scottish Light 60/- 46 30
06A Cream Ale 36 29
12C Baltic Porter 40 29
17B Flanders Red 33 29
11B Southern English Brown 43 28
16D Biere de Garde 33 27
01A Lite Lager 29 27
18A Belgian Blond Ale 33 27
05B Traditional Bock 35 26
16A Witbier 31 25
18E Belgian Dark Strong Ale 30 24
18B Belgian Dubbel 29 24
15D Roggenbier 29 22
04A Dark American Lager 28 22
15C Weizenbock 29 22
05D Eisbock 30 22
01B Standard American Lager 26 22
15B Dunkelweizen 28 21
15A Weissbier 24 18
05C Doppelbock 23 18
09E Strong Scotch Ale 26 16
17A Berliner Weisse 18 16
17E Guezue 10 9
17D Lambic 11 9

It’s not quite right, but it’s definitely headed in the right direction. I would love to hear from anybody who has different ideas on how to represent these numbers, and you can damn well bet that I’ll be posting more as I fiddle around with math.

Maltiness coming soon, it’s a lot more challenging.

[Head on over to Part 2]

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Categories: appreciation, industry, marketing, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 08 Oct 2009 @ 07 32 AM

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 24 Jul 2009 @ 3:29 PM 

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.

Beer Advocate vs. Rate Beer

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):

Bourbon: 10
Barrel: 16
Aged: 15
Imperial: 19
Stout: 31
Ale: 10
IPA/India Pale Ale: 7
Black: 7
Hop/Hoppy/Hoppiness, etc: 6
The suffix “-ation”: 8
Lager: 0

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
18 25 22 Surly Darkness
25 20 23 Bells Hopslam
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 Péché 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
43 30 37 Struise Pannepot
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
37 61 49 AleSmith IPA
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 Blåbær 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
80 92 86 Ølfabrikken Porter
86 90 88 North Coast Anniversary Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin
97 91 94 Struise Black Albert
95 95 95 Pizza Port Cuvee de Tomme
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Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 24 Jul 2009 @ 03 35 PM

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