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Is it bad so many of the best Top 250 are over 10%?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by StJamesGate, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. StJamesGate

    StJamesGate Advocate (730) New York Oct 8, 2007 Beer Trader

    Perusing the Top 250 list and noticed that 7 of the top 10 (and 18 of the top 25) beers are 10+%.
    Only one of those in the top 10 (and 2 in the top 25) are Belgian; the rest are American.

    I know the list is subjective and I'm not here to argue if it over-represents this country or that style.

    But I just wonder what a noob to craft beer thinks to see that most of the "best" beers are strong enough that you need to sip them like wine.

    Is it bad that the top of the Top 250 is skewed like this? Should superb weaker beers get more cred? Are 10+% beer a fair representation of the best of American craft beer?
    chadb likes this.
  2. tectactoe

    tectactoe Champion (870) Michigan Mar 20, 2012 Verified

    Larger alcohol content can oftentimes mean a wider range of more complex and more robust flavors, as well as a bigger and heavier mouth feel. This is not always the case, and I tend to commend a beer than remains lower ABV and provides a huge flavor profile.

    When I first started my craft endeavor, I was shocked at the number of higher ABV's in many craft brews. There was a time when I thought Two-Hearted was high at 7%. But as the years went on, you adjust and become accustomed to this fact that many brewers need to stretch the ABV in order to provide the robust, complex, and solid flavor profiles that they want to deliver. Nowadays, I don't think of 7% as "high" any more, rather I view 7-8% ABV as "middle of the road" levels.

    EDIT: It's also worth it to note that the idea of a "normal" ABV level may have stemmed from the popularity of AAL's, which are typically around 4% ABV. When you grow up drinking Bud Lights at 4.2%, switching to a 7% IPA can be pretty intimidating at first. But there is no "normal" range of ABV for beer, really. I guess it's more of a personal scale, based on what you're accustomed to drinking.
  3. codysjb

    codysjb Savant (460) Prince Edward Island (Canada) Jun 16, 2010 Beer Trader

    One of the main reasons beers are greater than 10% is that more ingredients are used to push the ABV higher. More ingredients = more flavor. So in one sense, the higher abv beers have a bigger bolder flavor. Now I'm not going to say that more flavor is better, and there a beers like lambics with big flavor and low abv, but its easy to pick out good tasting beers with a lot of flavor rather than beers than have less flavor. There's not necessarily anything wrong or right with high ABV beers, they are just more likely to contain lots of coffee/chocolate/hops over less ABV beers. For instance, regular IPAs can be amazing but the double ones have more hops flavor so they tend to make the list rather than regular ones.
    Thickfreakness and larryi86 like this.
  4. Crusader

    Crusader Savant (440) Sweden Feb 4, 2011

    Personally I'm a fan of low abv beers, 4,5-5%, and I'm also a fan of drier beers which makes me partial to a well-attenuated lower-abv beer. But that's my personal preferences. The top list is the amalgamation of the BA community's preferences, and as such I think it serves its purpose. It's up to each and everyone to make up their mind as to what kind of beer they like to drink, at least nowadays there's something out there for everyone more or less to find that they like, and for the time being at least people such as myself certainly aren't wanting for lower abv options.

    I guess to some extent I can see where you might be coming from though, in that it becomes more difficult to acertain which lower abv beers might be worth checking out if the top lists are filled with high abv options. With an endless stream of new beer brands it can be hard to keep track of them and sort through them. But even if the top 10 is dominated by 10% beers, I'm sure that there are quite a few lower abv gems among the other 240 beers in the top 250 list. You just have to scroll down a bit to find them.
  5. It's pretty dumb, so few of them are saisons.

    Seriosuly, 240 of the top 250 should be saisons from hill Farmstead.

    i have a poster of Shawn over my bed.
  6. herrburgess

    herrburgess Poobah (1,035) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Beer Trader

    Naaahh. Why would you want things like Burton/Pilsen water profiles, Bohemian malt quality, clean cultured Bavarian yeast, and/or 1000s of years of brewing tradition(s) to get in the way of those tropical-/dark-fruit/chocolate/vanilla/ultra sour flavors that -- when coupled with ultra high ABV -- comprise what can only be described as the Best Beers of the Universe?
    rocdoc1, jimcivis and steveh like this.
  7. Kelly88

    Kelly88 Aficionado (240) Kentucky Apr 17, 2010

    While I agree that most higher abv beers have more flavor it is more of a craft to get those same flavors out of a lower abv beer. Drinking a belguan flanders red ale by some belgian brewery I never heard of and it has more complex flavors than most 8% beers and it only comes in at 5.5%
  8. Because I don't care much for those things. Sue me.
  9. I think there is a heavy bias towards "extreme" beers on BA, and the list is simply a manifestation of said bias. It's no secret when you look at certain styles and there's barely anything rated over a 4. Seriously, czech pilsner has TWO beers rated over 4, and nothing over 4.5. The German category is only a hair better... Meanwhile American Double Stout has hundreds of 4+ rated beers - more than I can count.
  10. kvgomps

    kvgomps Savant (495) Massachusetts Feb 10, 2013 Beer Trader

    Well, I could be mistaken here but I think you're the one that brought up the term "true revolution". And even though no one else said it, isn't a revolution a change? The flavor profiles you have described are new to most beer drinkers in most countries around the world.

    You are on the wrong site though if you take issue with people that are partial to these flavors. I'll be the first to admit that it's a loaded ranking system, but suck it up and deal with it. No one is on here saying that Germany and Belgium make bad beers, and even if they were that's their opinion.
  11. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poobah (1,475) California Mar 18, 2010 Verified

    That's what the "Beers of Fame" list is for.
  12. herrburgess

    herrburgess Poobah (1,035) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Beer Trader

    Where 6 of the top 10 are >10% and most comprise said flavors?
  13. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poobah (1,475) California Mar 18, 2010 Verified

    djsmith1174 and beastmammoth like this.
  14. cue the same people who always post in these threads about how great lagers are

    big beer is better sorry guys : (
  15. guess i'm too late
  16. herrburgess

    herrburgess Poobah (1,035) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Beer Trader

    Would you care to explain why? (You know...before the other lager lovers chime in.)
  17. big beer means big flavor. more complex, more flavor, bigger mouthfeel, better in literally every way. you also have to consume less liquid to get drunk when that's your objective : )

    i can recognize and appreciate a well crafted baby beer ( :) ) but to my taste it isn't interesting
  18. herrburgess

    herrburgess Poobah (1,035) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Beer Trader

    So what you're saying is: more is always better? Now that's what I call a truly revolutionary and innovative concept. Why didn't I think of that?
    jmw likes this.
  19. more good flavor is always better than less good flavor, yes
    cjoc83 likes this.
  20. herrburgess

    herrburgess Poobah (1,035) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Beer Trader

    So beers where the flavors of the world's finest malted barley, yeast, and water shine are inferior because they don't also taste like chocolate, vanilla, mango, pine, bourbon, and dark fruit?
  21. yeah maybe you should just tell them to double the recipe or something : )
    franklinn likes this.
  22. herrburgess

    herrburgess Poobah (1,035) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Beer Trader

    Or quadruple it! While I'm at it, I guess I should tell the brewers of the current Top 250 to do the same, no?
    Providence likes this.
  23. It's more of a good thing. This means that drinking beer is actually cheaper. If the alcohol content scares you? split it with a buddy. Many bars have accommodated me when i asked to split the beer with a friend. Its cheaper and you don't end up fearing for your sanity or saftey! I do wish however, that if a place is serving an above 8 percent beer they warn their customers about the percentage of alcohol in the beer. About two months ago i was served a 10.5 beer and could not taste that it was so high in alcohol content. I did not know until later when I felt the super buzz come on.
    Hugonaut13 likes this.
  24. Brad007

    Brad007 Advocate (690) Vermont Mar 28, 2007 Verified

    Why do people always bring this up? Boredom?

    Do you like to drink beer?

    If you answered, "Yes", then go drink whatever pleases you.

    Less nit-picking, MORE BEER!
    leezy, Onenote81, djl9701 and 2 others like this.
  25. davey101

    davey101 Champion (860) Connecticut Apr 14, 2009 Beer Trader

    I'm going to brew a beer in your honor using the worlds crappiest water, very poor quality malted barley, and some chocolate, vanilla, and mango. Douchebag Ale sounds pretty fitting. Here's hoping it cracks the top 250!

    Quit calling people out on their preferences.
  26. mahak213

    mahak213 Savant (370) New York Mar 5, 2012 Beer Trader

    Go away.
  27. Neorebel

    Neorebel Savant (405) New Jersey Jun 29, 2005

    I definitely think more Belgian and German beers should be up there, as it was not very long ago...
    johnnieoz likes this.
  28. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Advocate (745) Oklahoma Oct 22, 2010

    Hey, I'm all for hiding big alcohol with various shades of yum.
    Thickfreakness, fredmugs and davey101 like this.

    ILOVESTOUTS Savant (445) Connecticut Apr 13, 2006 Beer Trader

    More is better? I believe that's how you construe it your mind.
    Check out Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. Beer is evolving, plain and simple. No one wanted to get rid of the wheel once it was invented, they wanted to better it. Sure were there some dunces who rejected change and thought a stone wheel was superior to a wooden wheel.
    However, the MAJORITY of Beer Advocates understand the place lagers have in the evolution of beer, but are not naive enough to truly believe a well crafted lager trumps an imperial stout aged for upwards of 2-5 years to let the flavones develop.
    The game has changed Hervurgess, evolve, appreciate the past, but try not to be a dunce.
    PoopChute69, Hanzo, cjoc83 and 5 others like this.
  30. herrburgess

    herrburgess Poobah (1,035) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Beer Trader

    So the evolution I'm somehow too naive/stupid to understand is that beers that have been stored/aged -- or to use the German term, "lagered" -- to let the flavors develop are superior? Thanks for the insight!
  31. Wait...I think we're all forgetting the Italian Craft Beer scene here...where are they in the top 250?
  32. a beer elitist in here doth protest too much, methinks
  33. 2beerdogs

    2beerdogs Poobah (1,080) California Jan 31, 2005 Beer Trader

    In a word....NO!
  34. 2beerdogs

    2beerdogs Poobah (1,080) California Jan 31, 2005 Beer Trader

    ^^^Just Kidding. But there are so many interesting, exacting styles of beer that are in that range...10% +.
  35. wesbray

    wesbray Advocate (550) Alberta (Canada) Feb 29, 2012 Beer Trader

    Chocolate Vanilla Mango Pine Bourbon Dark Fruit Ale should have its own classification dammit!!
    JohnnyMc and DanE like this.
  36. I'm guessing you should have been done at about 10 or 12 cold, pure lagers earlier in the evening, but I'm wondering what your point is?

    You like 4 ingredient lagers, right? Are you mad that many of the other people on this website don't enjoy them as much as you do?

    If you only drink beers that comply with 500-year-old protectionist legislation, that is cool, man. Nobody is trying to crap on your parade. The people that had been drinking gruits for 1000 years before that bill was passed probably thought that the "revolutionary" beers that the government demanded people drink were pretty square.

    If you hate any beer that has darker than Munich malts in them, then feel free to rate them 1's. If you hate any beer that uses any hop besides maybe 5 varieties, then go ahead and give all those beers 1's as well. And if you hate any beer that uses any ingredient that the german government wasn't trying to promote the use of 500 years ago, I can give you a list of about 2000 beers I've tried that you would hate.

    That's all cool with me dude. Because your tongue has all these little receptors on it that transmits chemical signals to this electrical ball in your dome called your brain, which then interprets those signals based on its own idiosyncrasies. Your brain ain't gonna like the same things mine does, and it sure won't like the same things as the guy you were crapping on's brain does.

    Just chill out and drink what you like, and respect the fact that we are not clones derived from your perfect prototype
    Onenote81, BMitch, JohnnyMc and 8 others like this.
  37. mikeyv35

    mikeyv35 Savant (450) New York Oct 15, 2008 Beer Trader

    I sense anger, hostility towards the opposition!
    tobelerone likes this.
  38. bismarksays

    bismarksays Advocate (510) Iowa Dec 7, 2008

    I think there is something to be said about an overabundance of beers that fit one set of criteria comprising such a large portion of the list, yes. Does this in fact mean that they are the best beers in the world? Debatable. What is not up for debate is that if you have another preference, you can in fact sort by style. The lists are a reflection of this communities over all ratings about particular beers. If that is what this community thinks, so be it.
  39. cjoc83

    cjoc83 Advocate (515) Pennsylvania Jul 31, 2010 Beer Trader

    Here's the problem...you just described a plethora of FLAVORS of big beers...mango, vanilla, pine, bourbon, etc...while the beers you prefer are being describes as having "the worlds finest malted barley (and where are you even getting this from? Did the bottle of Bavarian lager tell you that?), yeast, and water. Big beers have yeast and water too, in case you were unaware. And frankly, being that the top 250 list is overwhelmingly populated by big beers, doesn't that alone constitute a "revolution of brewing" of sorts? Practically every craft brewer in the US is doing big beers, big IPAs, bourbon barrel aged beers, barleywines, etc. And it's what the majority of people on here like, want and buy. If that isn't a revolution of brewing, I don't know what is. And I'm not denigrating lagers or Pilsners or whatever, I like those beers from time to time. But 99% of the time, I want a big beer with big flavor. It's just the way of the world, my man.
    JohnnyMc and repivk like this.
  40. PuFtonLyfe

    PuFtonLyfe Savant (285) North Carolina Jun 2, 2011 Beer Trader

    "World's finest". Hilarious. The beers you speak of are only deemed inferior on this site. Of course BAers prefer beers that stray from the norm. Most people join BA because they are interested in unusual beers with nontraditional ingredients. The fact is, most people in the world do prefer beers that focus on the "world's finest" ingredients. It's called BMC.