23 May 2017

Rating and Reviewing - My take on the Numbers

Reviewing like a Boss. Pinky's out baby!
  I often get asked about the ratings I give beer at the end of my Instagram reviews. It comes, of course, from the old days when we used Untappd and scored beers to try and help us remember whether we liked them or not. It has morphed into something different as my palate and education in beer have grown and that is what drives me when I put it to the test in my glass day after day.
 Taste is subjective, people differ on what style and flavours they like and this can be a cause for some difficulty when assigning a numerical value to that latest review. What used to be a "like this beer or not" number has become a test on how closely it matches my understanding of the style as well as how I feel about the beer. An IPA that is super malty or lacks bitter citrus will obviously receive a lower score than one that is well balanced. But what separates a 3.75 from a 4? That is where it gets tricky for me and can have me waffling over the send button on some reviews for a lot longer than you'd think. Here is a brief description of how I feel when assigning the specific numbers to any beer from under 1 to over 4.5.

  • Below 1.00 - Not sure what I did to the universe to deserve this punishment. Way off the mark and almost offensive to humanity. A never buy for me and one I actively discourage their production or consumption to all. 
  • 1.25 to 2.00 - Any beer below this number is lacking several distinct characteristics stylistically and will not make another appearance in my fridge unless someone buys it for me, even that is pushing it. Not worth your time or money.
  • 2.25 to 3.00 - Something about these beers is just a little off. They are not horrible, but they are missing or have too much of something or reached too far and didn't achieve it. Would give another chance, with caution
  • 3.25 - Better than average and eminently closer to the mark of what they are. Generally falls because the balance of flavours did not come together quite as well as the style suggests. To be tried again.
  • 3.50 - Solid beer, sharable, will buy again. Not outstanding but hitting all the proper marks with decent balance.
  • 3.75 - Stepping up with a little better flavour profile. More memorable and the palate is pleased but not blown away. Good beer that will be tried again to explore it further.
  • 4.00 - The top end begins here. Balanced and on point for the style. Checks all the boxes for texture, flavour and finish. A candidate for regular pours and recommendations to friends. Buy this beer.
  • 4.25 - Now we are talking. This is when beer gets exciting. Standout balance between flavours, above the norm and sought after for repeat purchases. Something special in these beers that makes them stand out from the crowd.
  • 4.50 - Simply the best. Everything screams amazing from the pour, sniff and sip. Hitting and exceeding the mark on proper style notes, outstanding flavour and texture with memorable moments all the way through
  • 4.75/5.00 - I've never been this lucky or able to appreciate a beer to either of these levels. Perhaps with time I can learn enough to take some of the 4.50 to these heights. Call them Unicorn beers, one day I shall ride the lightning.
  Anyone who reviews beer and gives it a number is always open to criticism and some of that is deserved. Passing judgement on someone else's work is difficult and even more so when you get to know the good people that populate your local craft beer scene. But the honest and open exchange of information and feedback can be helpful to the brewers and I rarely post scathing reviews because it doesn't help anyone to attack or belittle a beer. Ask me privately and I will always tell you the truth, but for beers that don't hit the mark, I generally log them into Untappd and move on, not wanting to waste creativity or my words on a longer review. If I have serious concerns I will and have contacted the brewery directly to seek answers because I always want to know more. If we really are fans of what Craft beer has brought to us, making it a better and more open for discussing things is only going to create a positive place for all.
  I know some people take the reviews I do to heart and will seek out beers I trumpet and avoid ones I pan, so I am conscious of trying to be as honest as I can with everything I write. I know many folks disagree with giving a score at all and I can respect that too. I do what I do because it is part of who I am and how I translate my experience to the world. The rating I give a beer combined with the mood I try to create with the words I use should help to paint a picture that is easy to understand. I take what I create seriously, but never myself. I don't get all caught up in followers, likes or anything of the sort. Writing about beer should always take a backseat to enjoying it and the people who've come into my life are proof of that. My reviews have brought me so many opportunities to meet new people and create friendships with a really diverse group of pretty awesome people. That is what it should always be about, fun and friends with better beer.
  So review your beer any way you want, give it a score or don't, but always be honest about what you taste. Take other people's reviews with a grain of salt and look to those you trust or who you seem to have a similar palate with for suggestions. Remember that what you taste is what it is, so be patient if you're just learning to experience what can found in all the different styles of beer. It took me a long time to get here and I still feel like I have so much more to learn. Take a class, get your Prudhomme or Ciccerone certification to get into what really goes on in your glass. Or just enjoy the fact that we are living in a golden age of beer right now and explore everything your local scene has to offer. Tell a story, take a picture, sing a song or make a video if that's what you want, have fun and create something that shows who you are. I'm going to keep doing it my way because that's what makes me happy. Hope you can stick around because this ride is just getting fired up.

Raise your glass and your standards,
One beer at a time.



No comments:

Post a Comment