It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
I was just in my local beer shop and saw that they are now posting the Rate Beer and Beer
Advocate ratings of each beer they are selling. They might be valuable as a general guideline
but shouldn't be taken as the Gospel truth and that goes double for ratings on Untapped. At
least on Rate Beer and BA people often write a description of the beer which usually requires
some thought and maybe even a little perception. Far too many people on Untapped simply
click a number and begin checking in their next one. For them it's all about the total consumed
not in providing any sort of real review. And that gets me on the subject of reviews
themselves. I like to think I'm able to take a smell or taste and describe it, but it doesn't really
work for me in reverse. I find it hard to accept that your interpretation would be the same as
Bill, let's say we were enjoying an evening together out drinking good craft beer and you took
a whiff of your beer and said "it smells like apples, melon, wet leaves, and corn". Being a
gentleman you would then most likely hand the beer to me, I could smell it myself, think about
your description, and either confirm that I smell the same things or say that I disagree. In that
situation, Those descriptors are fun and useful. But what if I'm curious about a beer I've never
had and simply read a review online that says it smells like apples, melon, wet leaves, and
corn, I can't take that and accurately reconstruct the real aroma of the beer in my head. So in
that sense its pretty useless to me.
When it comes to reviews I would much rather read more subjective ones such as "I think this
is a great pilsner, its not too sweet but it has a nice fruitiness from the new world hops they
used",,or "this stout doesn't explode with flavor but that ends up making it very drinkable in
larger quantities". One reason I like the reviews here on BeerNexus.is that they don't indulge
in meaningless terms or use descriptors that are plain silly telling me something smells/tastes
like a new car's leather interior, a horse blanket let out in the snow on a haystack, a felt hat
with bird droppings and so much more baloney.
Oh, and of course the only review I'd ever put 100% faith in is one from you Bill.
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next time!
Hello Gina -
Thanks, I think, for that vote of confidence in my beer recommendations. I agree with you that a
long list of descriptors doesn't usually help me understand what a beer is like.
Now, some people (never you, Gina) might say I'm a verbose fellow who can ramble on in
describing beers but as someone who has had a fair amount of beer tasting experience I have
found many descriptions to be dead wrong. I sometimes read a review and stop to wonder if the
person is describing the same beer I've had. I'm sure the author was trying their best to
describe their impressions but that doesn't mean the review had any value.
To put it simply, things do taste different to different people. But that's great; in fact it really is a
big part of the fun in discussing beer. The key is to never take anything about beer too
seriously. Sadly too many people do just that. I know of two friendships that were severely
damaged by disagreements over beer. Crazy. It's one thing to love describing what you drank
yesterday or have in your hand but its something entirely different when you insist your opinion
is the only correct one.
I've sometimes wondered how brewers who have invested significant time, energy and money
into making a beer feel when they scroll through reviews that dismiss it all their work as
mediocre or over hyped or overrated. It must be exasperating especially considering the fact
that many potential customers will not even taste the beer because of a review that has no real
information. I'd be willing to bet that some of the ratings were given by people who never
actually tasted the beer.
Having spoken to many brewers about their opinion of online reviewing sites and it seems they
are of two basic mindsets- some care and some do not. . As for me I think a brewer should
have a critical eye to sift through reviews and blogs to pick out what is valuable or influential to
Online beer communities and reviewing sites sometimes strike me like a detached little bubble
compared to the rest of the beer world. You'll see the same people with the same sort of
reviews, using the same terms, touting their same preferences. And unfortunately a few of
these folks will call anything not in their tasting wheelhouse a bad beer.
To be a bit more philosophical, consumer beer rating websites have democratized beer
reviewing and given license to hundreds of thousands of drinkers to log on, share their opinion
and assign a beer a rating. That power has shifted the relationship between brewery and
consumer and changed beer culture which is not a bad thing.. And it just might be a part of why
we are now in the golden age of craft beer.
Here's looking at you Gina