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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Categories: industry, marketing, media
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 24 Jul 2009 @ 03 35 PM

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