Are We Honest with our Beer Ratings??

Question Mark in BeerBy C-pher   Guns Beer and Other Things

Hello folks, C-pher again and I got to wondering…Why do we care about Beer Ratings??

Honestly, why do we care?  Why do we care what someone else says about a beer?  Do you like it, do you REALLY like it?  Or, is it all in your head?

Why am I asking this question?

Because the other night at our Monthly Beer Club, It was brought up I may be critical in my beer ratings.

Ok, maybe I am…maybe we all are.  Why must we subject ourselves to what others think is good beer?  I don’t like mushrooms, some people do.  I like escargot, some people don’t.  We all have different palates.  SO, why must we feel pressured to like a beer just because our friends like a beer? Or a rating site? Or the rest of the world?

So, I figured I’d try to figure this out.  What goes on when you order that “Hard to get” DIPA? Or that Imperial something or other? or that once in a life time 2008 KBS?

I do what just about all my beer drinking friends do…and that’s fire up Untappd.  What’s Untappd?  It’s basically Facebook for beer drinkers.  I love it, I can check in my beers, I can see what my friends have been drinking, I can covet what my friends have been drinking…I can drool and wish that I decided to go up to meet my buddies.  More so when I see four check ins in a row, at the same place, from friends all drinking something I really wanted to try.  BASTARDS!!

But, unlike Facebook, you don’t just check in your beers, you rate them.  Some people give the same beer a high rating, some give the beer a low rating…and then the app averages the rating and gives it a general rating.  Now, people are seeing these ratings and chasing beer!  Or, as I said above, the comments you hear others ribbing each other about…”YOU gave that <insert beer here> a 3-1/2? That was easily a 4!”  And after every round, that’s what you hear…and then you may wonder, “Should I have given that beer a better rating?  Did I under/over rate that beer? Was it better than I thought, Bobby Beer drinker said that it was good.”

But, why do we subject ourselves to believing in these ratings?

I came across a very good article on that talks a little bit about what’s going on in our heads.  Ryan Langrill writes up a good one called, “How Much Can You Trust Beer Ratings?”  He really gets into the psychology about why people rate the way they do.  And it makes sense, because I’ve fallen into those traps.  I’ve read that the beer is good, no…scratch that, that the beer is AMAZING!  So, when I go to taste it, I like it.  Do I really like it as well as I think?  Or do I really like it because I’m supposed to like it?  Yes, if I like a beer, I’ll rate it what I think that it should be rated.  But was that rating as objective as I think?

Then it hits me, SHIT!  Did I just under rate that beer?  Everyone gave that beer a 5, why did I only give it a 4 or 4-1/2?  It was good, yes…but was it worth of a 5?  Or, maybe I gave a beer a 3-1/2 when everyone is rating it much higher.  OR, maybe I went the other way…I really have it as a high rating and the other people are rating it much lower.

Then you hear the comments from others at a great local beer bar…I don’t have a great response. Well, other than, I just rate it how I, ME, MYSELF tastes that beer.  So, we go back to individual tastes.  Palates being like snowflakes.  We all like something different.  And that was one of the things one of my friends always say…we all don’t have the same tastes, and our perceptions of the beers change as we try other beers.

So, I do a little more reading and find that cognitive ratings are a big problem among the beer community. And it seems that if you look at the top..say…50 on both Beeradvocate or Ratebeer, they are Imperial this or that, or Double IPAs…  So, what about those amazing Sours that I love so much?  Does this mean that because it’s not a DIPA or an Imperial Stout, that they will never be that good?  Or, is it because we’re trained to search out the best of the best, and these are all the Imperials and Doubles that are hot right now?

And that my friends is why I’m so critical of my beer ratings.  I really do try (albeit not always successfully) to rate the beer based on the style of the beer that I’m tasting.  Just because I don’t like Belgians or Wits, I still try to rate them by the style compared to others that I’ve tasted.  Rather than thinking, “I don’t like it, so it gets a 1 or 2.”  But, I’m still not going to give them a 4 or 5 because I just don’t like the yeasty tastes that they have…so, yes…I’m bias.  We all are…to a point.  So, no matter how objective we want to be, I just don’t think that we are…including myself.

I guess that’s why we’ll never see some of these other beers at the top of the lists. Just because people just don’t like them.  And while Sours, Farmhouses, and Lambics are on the rise, until they reach the hypes of Heady Topper, Pliny or KBS, I don’t think that we’ll see them rising to the top anytime soon.

Remember, when you’re drinking your next beer, and you’re thinking about rating you’re about to put up on Untappd, try to rate the beer honestly.  Rate it how YOU wnat to rate it, not because your buddies are ribbing you or because the sites say that it’s the best thing on the planet.

SCREW THEM, they aren’t the boss of you!!

Rate away my friends, Rate Away!!

One Comment:

  1. I just found this article. Thank you for saying this. I have been looking for an honest reviewer out there. I have been to many breweries more than once that produced mediocre to gross beer and yet they have high ratings via the web. What gives? Are people stupid? Am i unlucky? I am not picky about beer either so when i say bad i mean it. Anyways happy to read an honest article.

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