A reader recently asked me this and others have challenged me on it in the past. I’ve decided to respond on why I think I have some right to say what beers are or are not good. I’ve also begun reading about wine with some books that discuss wine reviewers. One of these books, Swallow This by Mark Phillips, discusses why you shouldn’t worry how many points those fancy wine reviewers give a wine and decide for yourself.
He said most ratings fall in a range between 86 and 92 with a 5 point margin of variation between years and batches. Most beer reviews work with a number system like 1 – 5 or 1- 100. Usually based on their opinion on what they get out of the beer. I gave up on that long ago because a brewer told me they didn’t think those kinds of things were helpful and I realized I completely agree. If you want info like that go to beeradvocate.com or untappd.
Why should you trust in my observations of beers? I’ve spent a significant amount of time studying and learning about beer. I’ve passed the online Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) exam, which was surprisingly difficult, and have hopefully passed the tasting exam, which would make me a certified beer judge. The results on that take 3 to 4 months, so we’ll find out in April how I did. The BJCP has some flaws but remains one of the better systems for objectively quantifying beer. Lastly I spend a lot of my time in the beer community, both on twitter and in breweries around Cincinnati.
Here’s why I really think you should bother with what I say: I try to not tell you what to drink; I try to say what to expect when you drink it.
Because who am I to say what you will like? I get an average of 400 readers a day and can only safely say I know a few of them. Even those I know I don’t know every part of their palate. Some I do, because we’ve discussed it at length. At least 1 person I know doesn’t like bourbon barreling while many others love it, and no matter what I think you may like it’s always a guess. Because people change and palates change. You hate sours now but never say never.
I may know a lot about beer and can identify various flavors in them, but maybe you love raspberries and I hate them.
Confession: I didn’t like MadTree Rubus Cacao, but my friend Jesse Folk did and he gladly enjoyed the rest of my pint!
Should I tell you that Rubus Cacao is a bad beer and should be avoided just because I don’t like it. No! Rubus Cacao was a great beer, just with raspberries which I don’t particularly like. I never reviewed it but I would have said something like “strong raspberry flavor mixed delicately with coco” and not “way too much raspberry to be enjoyable”. Because that is my goal, to describe to you what to expect out of a beer. Not tell you what I like about a beer or if you should like it or not.