1.14.2007

Beer by the Numbers

As you may know, I rate a lot of the new beers I try at BeerAdvocate. The system there relies on numerical ranking on Appearance, Smell, Taste, Mouthfeel and Drinkability accompanied by a generous space to comment on your numbers. Its a good system that allows rankings by style and other options, both as a user and across the site.

The thing that gets me, and I must insist this is a personal hang-up, is that I don't really trust my numbers. I think I'm too subjective to rank by the numbers. For example, this afternoon I had a barleywine from Red Star Brewery. A week or so ago, I had a 2005 vintage of Brooklyn's Monster Ale. My BeerAdvocate reviews are here and here. The ratings differ by .3 points but I got different impressions of the beers themselves.

Maybe I'm more right-brained, but I find qualitative ratings to be more useful to me, as a consumer and beer lover. I value the rankings and general trending I can get from numbers but to really get into the beer itself, you have to go past the numbers. This is by no means criticism of BA, its more a personal reflection.

I'm thinking, while I continue to rank beers for myself on BA, I'd like to add a more descriptive reflection, both for myself and site readers. The guys at The Brew Lounge do a great job at this, and it helps that the two of them taste the same beer together, you get a good balance of Adam and Bryan's personal tastes. They don't rank by the numbers, instead just giving impressions of the beer's characteristics and a 'verdict'.

To that end, expect some highlights of beers that I have on hand from time to time. I'll continue to rate on BA, of course, but if I have a special beer, or one that I find especially striking, I'll make sure to post my thoughts here.