One thing that arises with an enterprise like a beer blog is how to rate beers. On the one hand, I think it's a kind of fake endeavor--is a 9.0 hefeweizen really better than an 8.5 IPA? I mean, a lot of it is subjective and it's style-limited. On the other hand, having a rating does tell you something. Yesterday, when I was reviewing the Supris, what rating do you think I would have given it (on a ten-point scale)? I'd probably have gone something like a seven, with extra points for creativity and rarity. I'd probably buy a sixer rarely, but I'd recommend it strongly for people who haven't tried it. Would it have been more helpful to add that, or just go with the description.

There are a few different models. RateBeer uses this system (the link takes you to ratings of Supris):
Aroma 1-10
Appearance 1-5
Flavor 1-10
Palate 1-5
Overall 1-20
Scores work out to .5-5.0. The problem when you have a large sample set, though, is that ratings tend to flatten out. Westvleteren 12 gets the highest user rating 4.51, whereas 2,500 beers in, and the ratings are still around 3.4--which seems not very useful. But I digress.

The Beer Advocate has a similar system for its members (again, link is to Supris). A ten point scale for appearance, smell, taste, mouthfeel, drinkability. The site operators then convert users scores into a score similar to wine ratings, ranging from the 70s to 100, which seems more useful.

Homebrewers, for what it's worth, have a similar system.

Somehow I'm not so high on the aggregate based on component elements of the beer. You get averaging that way: a beer that smells awful but is actually kind of unexpectedly delightful might get a 3.5, along with a completely forgettable beer you wouldn't pay a plug nickel for. Finally, big beers always get better ratings because there's so much more to push the envelope higher (every beer in the RateBeer top ten is a big beer).

I'm at a loss. Any suggestions?
Jeff Alworth2 Comments