Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How To Rate Wrongly

Several things I've read recently have spurred this post. One a Facebook group rant (h/t Jason Sykes) and one a post by fellow blogger, Jonas Schaffer at arkansasbeerblog.

What is a bad beer? (Pandora's box, standby) I am of the notion/subset/feeling that unless a beer is infected, light-struck, over-aged, or just generally giving 'Off-Flavors' that it isn't BAD.
Now, before we get too far into this, let me give you my explanation, my go to story:

Budweiser (amirite?) Evil Empire that they are, surely employs a team of quality control agents, tasters, and neophytes. Sorry, where'd that last one come from? Anyhow. They clearly are making the beer they are choosing to make, i.e. they know what is leaving the factory, how it tastes, how it is received, and so on. They, on whatever scale you employ, are making 'good' beer. It is beer that is not infected, and while mostly a shadow of lie of a deceitful concept; it still qualifies as beer.
Now here is where I have to eat crow that has eaten humble pie, I have to admit something GOOD about them.
They make the most consistent beer. EVER. Brewed at multiple locations in numbers we can't even fathom--it all tastes (not really, but you get the picture) the SAME.
The pale yellow color, the watery look, the lack of lacing, the distinct ability to have zero aroma, the palate cleansing properties that make it a great Dark Lord to Cantillon transition: ALWAYS THE SAME.
To me, that is good, dare I say great. Do I drink that swill? Of course not, I prefer flavor, but their model, their profitability, their consistency, must be respected.
I know many craft brewers who would love to have the the lack of conscience, I mean, ability to put out beer to hit the same numbers, the same attenuation, the same efficiency EVERY TIME.

As Sam Galgione (Dogfish Head) once famously said, "They (Anhueser Busch) spill more beer every year than I could possibly make."

So that brings me back to this: What is bad beer? Or a better question: What is GOOD beer?
For me:

  • I want a well crafted beer. Period. I am less concerned with scale, as long as it is done well.
  •  I like certain styles above others, and certain groupings within styles above the style as a whole sometimes.
  • I like to try all types of beer, if for no other reason than to keep my palate guessing, to keep it fresh.
  • I enjoy hard to get beers, and special releases, but I'll admit, cost does play a factor as well. Especially for everyday type beers.
  • I like when I get surprised by just how good a beer is.
  • I enjoy finding a beer I know I make a 'Gateway Beer' for non-craft drinkers.
  • I like beers for a season.
  • I get tired of drinking beers just for a season.
  • I like the hunt, the travel for a beer.
  • I like the 'share-ability' that comes with beers. 

And last but most important,
  • I like the passion that all people have for beer. 
And that brings me to back to the beginning. I hate all things pumpkin, always have. Pie, candles, teas, coffees, decorating, Charlie Brown (not really, I love you CB!), and definitely pumpkin beer. 
So what?
I am completely happy for you degenerates who love that stuff. It leaves more beer on the shelves for me this time of year. And when it comes to rating these types of beers, I try to rate based on style, not my palate. It would not be fair to a world class rated beer to have an outlier like myself voting on something I already knew I didn't like.
I mean, it'd be like rating Dark Lord a 1 star. Right, Matt? Love ya buddy.
If I drink a 90 rated pumpkin...or a pilsner (is there a 90 rated pilsner?) I am going to shift my focus from what I personally prefer, to what that beer should taste like, what it should be, how it should measure up. If they fit that first criteria (not infected, et al) then I try to just be fair. Or just not even rate it. 
Raters, this part is for you. Stop picking fights with people who have rated your favorite beer below the level you deem acceptable. It's their mouth, fer cryin' out loud. Its a bad look for us geeks/nerd/enthusiasts who just want to bring more people over from the dark side. Healthy debate always encouraged though. Of course.

So, there's my say. If you're rating a beer, please, at some level, keep those of us in mind who have not had a chance to have it. Don't skew it completely. 

You never know, your crazy, off base rating may be the only one I'll see and then when I miss out on a great beer, I'll blame you for the rest of my life. FOR-EV-ER.

As always, 



1 comment:

mbutler said...

As always, very nicely done, Son. Specially for us neophytes.