Are beers getting better or am I over-rating?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by NeroFiddled, Jan 28, 2022.


Are beers getting better or am I over-rating?

Poll closed Feb 4, 2022.
  1. Overall beers are improving.

  2. In some countries beers are improving.

  3. No, it's you, you're over-rating lately.

  4. You've always over-rated.

  5. The histogram is a great tool to have.

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (13,978) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Thanks to the histogram on my beer page I've noticed that I've been rating more and more beers as a 4 whereas in the past I used to be scoring most beers as a 3.85 or so. There's been no signicifcant change to anything above or below that - and I do understand that I'm generally 3 or 4% above everyone else.

    So is it me? Or are beers really getting better?

    I should also point out that the focus of my question should really be on American beers, although I have definitely noticed a vast improvement in German beers over the last decade. I mainly drink American (73.16%), German (7.23%), and Belgian beers (4.08%), followed by the UK and Canada.

    I imagine that just based on the amount of information that's available now brewers are getting better. When I went to brewing school in '95 there wasn't nearly the amount of information available, and it was much harder to access. There have also been great improvements in raw materials. On top of that there has been a great deal of experimentation, and the creation of quite a few new styles.
    mikeinportc, arizcards, Rug and 17 others like this.
  2. ATL6245

    ATL6245 Meyvn (1,149) Aug 16, 2018 Georgia

    I think beers are definitely getting better. There is a ton more variety available and the quality is pretty darn good overall. The overwhelming majority of breweries in Georgia are very young, but many were started by experienced brewers. What they are producing is very solid. I may not like all the styles they are making, but I rarely find super noticeable flaws.

    Don't take offense to my next question because I'm just curious. German's brew some of the best and most consistently great beers in the world. I'm wondering if you're noticing the handling of the imported beers has gotten a lot better vs the actual quality of the brewing. Would that be a fair assessment?
    arizcards, Rug, BrewsOverHoes and 4 others like this.
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,824) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Jim (@NeroFiddled), in my opinion I think there is a strong geographic component to US craft brewed beers and "beers getting better".

    You and I are fortunate to live in the Philly area where there has been high quality craft brewed beers since the 1980's (e.g., Stoudts) and then into the 1990's (e.g., Victory, Sly Fox, Troegs,...) and in the past few years the number of local craft breweries that opened up locally has 'exploded' and in my experience they are brewing very good - excellent beer. Just two weeks ago I visited the Stickman for the first time (taproom in Chester Springs) and every beer I had was very good.

    As a contrasting story I went to a beer festival in the middle of the state a few years ago and I dumped more than a few beers that were brewed in that area.

    I am very willing to state that the beers in our area meet the criteria of "beers are getting better" as in there is a wider choice of high quality beers. I am not prepared to state that across the board.

    I did not specifically participate in the poll since none of the items presented match my thoughts on this topic.


    P.S. I had a wonderful visit to Locust Lane last weekend drinking a new Kellerbier they brewed and a couple of pints of a re-brew of Farmhouse Pils.
    Rug, CBlack85, Bouleboubier and 5 others like this.
  4. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (13,978) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    I'm not refering to the mass-produced and exported German beers which are world renowned, but rather the smaller breweries. There are plenty of tiny breweries dotting the entire country that don't exactly make the best product, and on top of that (just like here) there have been hundreds if not thousands of new breweries opened over the last decade. Many of those new breweries are trying out new styles, while others are just keeping up the standards so there are two things to look at.

    Regarding the new styles it seemed to me that at first Germans just didn't know how to brew American-style IPAs. On my recent trips in 2019 (?) and 2021, however, I've found that that's changed. There are some clunkers, but for the most part they're getting it right now. And keep in mind, they don't have as much access to our beers as we do so doing a NEIPA can be a challenge, especially when there are (in my mind) at least 3 versions of the style.

    For the other small breweries I think it mainly comes down to the fact that they've been producing the 1, 2, or 3 beers that they have for decades and they don't want to alter them because that's what their customers have come to expect. There are a few that have flaws, which probably goes to equipment issues, but other than that I think it's just recipe and procedure.

    In the end I've seen great improvement, and much greater variation available.
    Rug, cavedave, ATL6245 and 1 other person like this.
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,824) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Any 'trend' here? For example, did you pick up diacetyl at a few of those small German breweries?

    Singlefinpin likes this.
  6. Singlefinpin

    Singlefinpin Poo-Bah (1,814) Jul 17, 2018 North Carolina
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    In my somewhat limited assessment, based mostly on repeat visits to breweries here in NC, beer is getting better.
    The customers are more discerning.
    The Brewers are getting better.
    The beer is getting better.
    I think overall beer is better than it ever has been.
  7. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,824) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Just curious, is this the Asheville area?

    Singlefinpin likes this.
  8. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (13,978) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Ahhh, my good friend Jack, it's good to hear from you. I only have one problem with what you've said - "Just two weeks ago I visited the Stickman for the first time". WTF? Stickman rocks!

    My only other note is that although I entirely agree with you on areas of the country where they're a little bit behind, shall we say, I've been across the country, and besides that most of what I'm drinking is packaged product that's been shipped in. And even in our own little nook of the woods we've seen some breweries that used to make great beer falter, or even shut their doors completely. Overall, however, I 100% believe that the quality of American beer has improved - at least since the 1990's.
    mikeinportc, Rug, sulldaddy and 3 others like this.
  9. Singlefinpin

    Singlefinpin Poo-Bah (1,814) Jul 17, 2018 North Carolina
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    I'm in The Asheville NC area more frequently than anywhere else these days.
    But, still frequently on the road.
    CBlack85 and JackHorzempa like this.
  10. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,824) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Been busy drinking beer more local to me. :flushed:
    Me too on multiple roadtrips. And there is good beer to be found even in places like Arkansas, Louisiana, etc. but that requires a fair bit of research (thank goodness for BA and the internet). But when visiting those sorts of areas and returning home I almost do what Pope John Paul II did and kiss the ground to be back in the Philly area.
    Most of what I drink is my homebrewed beers (I will be drinking bottles of Sticke Altbier tonight) so what commerical beer drinking I do is likely on draft a very local craft brewery taprooms (e.g., like last weekend at Locust Lane) plus I did purchase a four-pack of Locust Lane Farmhouse Pils to drink this weekend when I watch playoff football.
    There is zero doubt what your position is here. I suppose the best I can respond is that I agree with you in the context of Philly area craft brewing. And maybe the beers in the middle of the state are "improved" from where they were a decade+ ago but all I can say to that is this means those beers were absolutely awful back then.¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    DIM likes this.
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,824) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I have only visited Asheville (and surrounding area) once but I was very impressed with the craft beer there. FWIW my favorite beers/places were Burial and Sierra Nevada Mills River. The Sierra Nevada facility is like the Disney World of beer!!

    Bouleboubier and bubseymour like this.
  12. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (13,978) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    No, despite the smaller size of the breweries they tend to lager their beers for a more than adequate time. I've also never found any DMS that goes beyond the standard underlying Pilsner malt note. What I have found are out of balance beers. Helles and Weizen that are too sweet, even if lighter bodied, or too bitter even if a little fuller. There are also plenty of beers that could use more hops in the flavor and aroma, and there are plenty of inexpensive packaged beers like that which are well-brewed but cheaply made with a limited amount of hops as they're the most expensive ingredient. Those economy beers are always going to exist.
    Teddbeer, Rug, ATL6245 and 1 other person like this.
  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,824) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    In a past thread in the Germany forum a BA who is a German brewer (trained at Technichal University of Munich at the Weihenstephan campus) posted about the long-standing German business practice of using less hops and less malt in brewing German beer; something that is needed to provide beer at the economical prices that the German beer consumers demand.

    A snippet from just one of his posts (with emphasis in bold by me):

    “…Professor Doktor Narziss is to brewing. Even Michael Jackson had a lot of fear and anxiety before meeting him, a sentiment which he confided to me. Fortunately, the Professor is a kind man and actually treated Mr. Jackson as a colleague, not just a journalist. The criticism of the state of German brewing is well founded and needs to be addressed. The beers have indeed been dumbed down and are being produced as cheaply as possible within the constraints of the Reinheitsgebot. It is similar to what happened in the US after Prohibition and World War II. What the Professor was trying to say is that we (his students) know how to make the highest quality beer and that by intentionally not doing so, we are doing a disservice to our craft and to his legacy.

    The above was posted in 2015.

    I was just wondering if in addition to cutting corners as regards ingredient amounts if they are in addition cutting corners as regards brewing processes. As you well know from your profession, time = money.

    NeroFiddled and meefmoff like this.
  14. ATL6245

    ATL6245 Meyvn (1,149) Aug 16, 2018 Georgia

    Ah makes sense. I've heard some people say the same about England and American style IPAs made there. Have been spotty quality, but getting much better. Thanks for clarifying!
  15. NiceTaps

    NiceTaps Poo-Bah (1,983) Nov 21, 2011 New Jersey
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    Complimentary, perhaps you are getting better.
    Rug likes this.
  16. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (3,735) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania
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    Nice thread and I love your reviews @NeroFiddled

    My aaveragescore is on the rise as well. It started off high during my first couple years of rating, then steadily dropped for years.

    There are three reasons for my recent increase I think. One, between covid, kids, and working strange hours for the last 8 years (no longer true!) I just don't go out much. I'm buying beer I fully expect to enjoy and drinking it in a controlled atmosphere, not just buying whatever the local brew pub has on tap.

    Two, I lost my sense of taste for a month a little over a year ago. When it came back, it came back with a vengeance. Everything was a revelation.

    Three, I am in a bit of a styles rut. I mostly seek out styles I love. Need to work on that one.

    Final thought, with the explosion of breweries opening these last years I think there are probably both more good and bad beer out there. And BA doesn't steer me wrong too often, thanks for the reviews folks!
    #16 DIM, Jan 28, 2022
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2022
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  17. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (8,354) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming

    New beers in my own market seem to be close to a 50-50 split. Just when I get super excited aboot some beers, there comes along beers that I regret getting just because they're new to me.
    beergoot likes this.
  18. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (14,963) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    Three things contribute to my generally high ratings; better beers on the market, my tendency to overrate, but I'm picky in selecting them. I mostly buy singles to review, and I select them either based on brewers I like, styles/flavors I like, or high ratings on this site. If I go out for a beer, I research it and decide where to go and what to get. I rarely get a dud, and my average is 4.07.
    Rug, lucius10, NeroFiddled and 3 others like this.
  19. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (5,514) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    I wouldn't necessarily say all beer is getting better, but perhaps your access to good beer has improved...?

    I've been rating a lot more highly rated beers. I think part of that is I don't really visit the store anymore and only buy beers from breweries that have consistently produced a quality product. Before I would take a gamble on different brewers, now most of my money goes towards the ones who have a proven record.
    Rug, Sheppard, cjgiant and 4 others like this.
  20. DavetotheB

    DavetotheB Poo-Bah (1,626) Sep 30, 2017 Pennsylvania

    I can relate to what you're saying. I'm newer to the craft game but in the past 5 years I've seen my "average" beer go from about a 3.6 to a 3.9 or higher. You hit the nail on the head-information. The brewers have more information and are making better beers. But the drinkers also have more information and can choose better beers. That's certainly my case. Four years ago, I didn't know anything about canning dates or styles that I liked and a whole bunch of other things. These are things I've grown into because of the info. Anyway, just some thoughts. Normal acronyms apply, FWIW, YWWM, IMHO etc.
    bubseymour and NeroFiddled like this.
  21. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (2,402) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
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    I’m curious about the comment regarding German beers improving substantially over the past decade. Are you exploring new German breweries? At least where I shop most of the imports have remained relatively consistent over the years. It’s not like we’re getting an influx in newly established German breweries, at least around these parts. Answer to that may point to the answer to the question you asked, if it’s the same beers but you think they are notably improved there’s perhaps your answer to your overrating question.

    That being said I think palates change and if you are enjoying something more now than you used to I’m not sure I’d even consider that “overrrating”; ratings are subjective after all.
    NeroFiddled likes this.
  22. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (8,354) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming

    I reviewed 3 new DIPAs from Goose Island recently, all of which I had to add to the BA database. One was good, the other 2 were a bit of a waste of skin. (Catch that phrase, anyone?)

    They reaffirm my previous post that all is not good on this western front.
    ZebulonXZogg, beergoot and champ103 like this.
  23. defunksta

    defunksta Poo-Bah (2,150) Jan 18, 2019 North Dakota
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    I agree that beers are improving, at least certainly in the IPA category. You can't afford to make a subpar IPA today.
    I'm not sure about the other styles. The classic American lager is simple and older, traditional breweries still make the best German and Belgian beers. The best darker ales still seem to be the classic ones that define the style.
    Aside from IPAs, the best ones I have had have been around a while.
    beergoot likes this.
  24. beergoot

    beergoot Poo-Bah (9,208) Oct 11, 2010 Colorado
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    I don't know if beers are getting better; perhaps more consistent in quality.

    That being said, I find fewer beers that really reach the mark of being truly outstanding. I find that my average beer rating has dropped down a bit over the years (currently averaging 3.89 overall where it used to be a tad over 4.0 overall). Still a "better than average" rating in my view, but then, that is the category of beer I'm still seeking (regardless of overall style or brewer intent).
  25. Fadefury

    Fadefury Initiate (135) Sep 29, 2011 Delaware

    I've continually noticed more people doing this on various rating platforms and I've found it puzzling for some time. As someone who is in the industry on the distribution side, I've been fairly vocal about my thoughts - there is a lot of really bad beer out there right now. There seems to be a section of the drinking market, a rather loud but small section, that inflates the "rating" of every single beer they drink. Is a lot of it simply the power of suggestion and bias? I definitely think that to be the case for certain categories of the industry.
    BrewsOverHoes, Rug, Sheppard and 5 others like this.
  26. beer_beer

    beer_beer Defender (692) Feb 13, 2018 Finland

    We are enthusiasts. I have some difficulty to see that someone with a 3 as an average would stay around. Mine average is 4.06, think it has been around that since the start. And that's NA. In the beginning think I was a full point ahead of the average, now that is evening out.
    BrewsOverHoes and Bitterbill like this.
  27. beershrine

    beershrine Aspirant (259) May 29, 2004 Idaho

    When breweries jump on a band wagon... flavors, dipa, they all start tasting less like beer and more like a marketing experiment. Sure ratings are way to high.
  28. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (10,026) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
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    On the BA scale, 1-5, 3 is exactly average. Think of your average beer, that beer should be rated a 3, it is average.

    The argument of "well I look at the ratings, and I only buy highly rated beers, so I know that they're going to be good, and that's why I scored it so high" is just a self fulfilling prophesy. You scored it high because the scores you looked at high. Peer pressure doesn't end after highschool: "All those other folks can't possibly be wrong, and I don't want to be different" is an attitude some folks have, even if they won't admit it.

    There's lots of other things come into play as well, people are gonna do people-y things.
  29. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (4,248) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
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    Beers are getting better; many of us are becoming more selective about the beers we choose; and we’re overrating.

    Even if you you go out of the way to only drink “good beer,” half of what you drink has to be below the median. So what do you rate that median IPA? I started a thread with that questions few years back, but it was deleted by the mods, because apparently the number is supposed to be 3.0. Yeah, right.
  30. Mindcrime1000

    Mindcrime1000 Poo-Bah (1,638) Apr 30, 2016 South Dakota
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    Guilty as charged (speaking for myself, anyway). What I really need to do is go back and rate all of the shitty brews I've consumed over the years. My rating distribution would probably look much different.
  31. Greywulfken

    Greywulfken Poo-Bah (5,462) Aug 25, 2010 New York
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    Yes - or at least I think so - beers are great - all brewers can figure out what to make to satisfy the masses' ever-changing palates, or to brew their vision of beers, and it's great...
  32. johnInLA

    johnInLA Savant (984) Jun 12, 2005 California
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    Responding to OP: My general impression, is that beer generally, in recent years has not getting better, In fact, I feel the consecrated focus on specific styles like hazy IPA and deserts stout has diminished interested in other styles. Which makes me think beer generally, beer may be starting to decline. For example, when was the last time you discussed an English Mild or how about a Belgian Triple? So, I guess this may come back to what we define as beer. Is it the broad category of all styles or limited to just the currently popular styles?

    That's not to say that there are still great beers out there There are. And those on this site enjoy them.

    As for ratings, the people here tend to skew toward 4.0, Why ? Because people here tend to be knowledgeable about what they buy, so they buy what they would perceive as very good beer ( 4.0)

    Having said that, I think all of us were more critical in the 1990s and early 2000's more toward a 3,0 average.
    Bitterbill and Shanex like this.
  33. superspak

    superspak Poo-Bah (25,484) May 5, 2010 North Carolina
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    I think as a general state of the market, a lot of the pop up operations that may have been putting out sub par quality beer have been axed out from bankruptcy etc, due to the economy and pandemic; and the more successful ones making the better beer increase distribution and survive. But also can come down to your general local area distribution as well, so it may not be the case everywhere.
    Rug, Bitterbill and Harrison8 like this.
  34. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (5,514) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    Interesting thought and it makes me wonder: should a reviewer provide '3's for an average based on: the complete craft beer market, their overall experiences, or their latest experiences?

    In theory, someone who stops buying from breweries with inconsistent or market average (or below) products, and starts buying from consistent breweries with QC, their average score would creep up. But are they supposed to relate that in ratings?
  35. woodchipper

    woodchipper Poo-Bah (1,594) Oct 25, 2005 Connecticut
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    I checked "Beers are improving" just to see the graph. But I actually think with the quantity of breweries out there beers are both improving and that there are still average and poor beers. There are both good and bad out there and you can get either in a random purchase.
    I know my ratings are high, and I constantly think about that. The answer for me is that I think purchase wisely and don't buy poorly rated beers or beers from breweries with average to poor reputations. That is I think I am smart consumer, but I also buy on impulse, sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.
    I also wonder, how many of us actually rate or review a poor beer let alone a drain pour. You have to admit that there is less motivation to review a bad beer, but maybe there is some revenge motivation to at least rate a really bad beer.
  36. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,728) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I think beers have gotten better over time because I rarely run into a 'stinker' anymore for all of the brewery visits that I make, many of which are newish breweries.

    But if you're like me as far as rating, over time and after drinking many tasty beers in comparison to each other you begin to realize it's unfair to give an 'average' 3.0 so you begin to adjust your scoring upwards. 'Average' for me nowadays is 3.75 and I mark up or down from there, usually upward.
  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,824) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    There is a "View Results" button you can click to result the graph.
    From my perspective there are improved breweries and there are mediocre breweries. And depending on where you live there may be more of one type vs. the other.
    I would think this would be the situation for many (most?) BAs. One of the values of this site (and other information on the internet) that a motivated person could learn about the 'better' breweries and skew their purchases that way. I know this is the situation with me.
    I wonder the same and I am inclined to think that "bad beer" is not reviewed/discussed at the same rate/amount as "good beer".

    PapaGoose03 and woodchipper like this.
  38. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (4,248) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
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    All interesting questions that relate to what, I think, was once a widely-held belief among frequenters of this site: reviews are more useful than ratings.
  39. BalancingBrooms

    BalancingBrooms Poo-Bah (1,816) Aug 22, 2013 California
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    Beers are getting better overall. Though I can say for myself that early on I probably overrated and played more into hype. Now I like to think I don’t.
    Bitterbill, PapaGoose03 and Harrison8 like this.
  40. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,566) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    I think overall across all craft beer being made in the US there is better beer being made today. Where I mostly see the improvements is in the smaller local brewers that perhaps opened maybe 3-7 years ago (during the big boom in new breweries), have improved their craft. Probably through learning and info sharing from colleagues in the industry. However some world class small brewers who couldn’t make enough beer for the line standers 5-7 years ago, that expanded production recently have had a hard time making beers at the same quality as when they were smaller scale.