Beer Reviews Biased

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by Jbecks64, Jun 23, 2019.

  1. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,029) Sep 24, 2007 Montserrat

    AFAIK, only your first check-in of a given beer on UT counts towards its score, no matter how many times you check it in.
  2. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,029) Sep 24, 2007 Montserrat


    You're saying a perfect beer in a style you dislike, is worse than the shittiest beer in a style you love?

    This attitude is why ratings are worthless. Which is better: a plate of nachos, or a 2 inch ribeye?
    PapaGoose03, rgordon and chipawayboy like this.
  3. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,029) Sep 24, 2007 Montserrat

    Yes. The best beer of any style should be rated as such. The best Malt Liquor and the best Quad both could deserve 5s.
  4. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,029) Sep 24, 2007 Montserrat

    But, a Quad and a Kolsch can both meet your criteria, can both be excellent or terrible, but can not be compared.

    Do you prefer lasagna or rugby? Which is better?
    PapaGoose03 and cavedave like this.
  5. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Aspirant (265) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    Aren't reviews by definition supposed to be biased? Even in the best of circumstances, no two people are going to have the same exact experience, preference, method...
    Roguer likes this.
  6. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,029) Sep 24, 2007 Montserrat

    Or even the style guidelines posted on this very website.

    The Beer101 page has a ton of great info.

    If, ya know, one is inclined to learn......
  7. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,029) Sep 24, 2007 Montserrat


    Reviews are supposed to be neutral, unbiased, views of the various criteria, each independent of the other.
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  8. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Aspirant (265) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    That might be asking a bit much
    PapaGoose03 and beertunes like this.
  9. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,029) Sep 24, 2007 Montserrat

    Perhaps. (By perhaps I mean, yup, sure, that's how folks roll. And, there ain't a damn thing I can do about it.)

    Don't, make it wrong though.
    thesherrybomber likes this.
  10. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (422) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts

    You are wrong. You can edit any aspect of an old rating if u want at any time.
    Todd likes this.
  11. DVMin98

    DVMin98 Poo-Bah (2,936) Nov 1, 2010 North Carolina
    Moderator Society Trader

    That's why everyone can rate they way they want.
    maximum12 and thesherrybomber like this.
  12. rousee

    rousee Meyvn (1,022) Aug 13, 2004 Massachusetts

    Get used to it. its always been this way and is very unlikely to change.
  13. eppCOS

    eppCOS Savant (924) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado

    Descriptive and quantitative reviews are all over the map, admittedly. If I have an issue, it's that I tend to review the beers that I end up liking, whatever the style. So there's that. Am I going to take the trouble to leave a "Goodreads" style 1 star rating (1.0) on a crappy beer with a full description? Nope.

    What does drive me a little batty is that people, members of BA for years, don't really know how to review a beer for aroma, taste, or mouthfeel. I see descriptors like "tastes like nuts" or "too thick" or "medium texture" and it all means nothing. Give us an actual aroma, taste, or at least compare it to another beer so that other readers/BA members have a clue as to what you are talking about in the end... This is where I'd rather just have their "# score" than a description if the text description is gibberish.
    That and the typos, mistakes, and false descriptors are more irritating to someone who is a bit O.C.D. (yeah, me).
  14. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (266) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    I think I understand, and agree, with what he's saying. If I have to choose between a 3.8 Pils and a 4.5 IPA I'm going to choose the pils. Not because I think the IPA is a shitty beer, on the contrary, it's likely to be an excellent choice for an IPA drinker, while a 4.5 Pils is likely to be a lousy choice for an IPA drinker.

    To use your example someone who's lactose intolerant won't enjoy a 5.0 plate of nachos and a vegetarian won't like a 5.0 ribeye
    beertunes and Roguer like this.
  15. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (4,175) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    Terry, I respectfully disagree - but that's dependent on just what, exactly a rating is for. Is it specifically and only a measurement of how well the beer captures a style's essence (which itself is debatable and subjective; if anyone can definite the "perfect saison," that person has far too high an estimation of their own abilities and opinions), or can it also capture a deviation from tasting, subjectively, "good?"

    I refer back to my comparison between tomatoes and cherries, or more extremely, poop. If we had a poop category of beer, and I had never tried such a beer, I would be a little offended if I purchased one simply because it was rated 5.0 as the perfect example of the Poopy Porter style.
    (Yes, I realize that's what words are for in a review - "5.0; best Poopy Porter, period, but still tastes like poop, so .... recommend never ever drinking this." - but I find it hard to justify that a perfect rating should ever accompany a review that literally says, do not drink! At some point, you should be able to trust that a beer in the 4.0-5.0 category doesn't taste like vomit, regardless of the style.)

    I have zero problem with people rating to personal preference, so long as they are also taking style into consideration. If someone cannot rate to style at least somewhat objectively, they should not review that beer, period. (I personally capture the difference between Taste and Overall, but that's me.)

    Last (real) example: I don't like super dank flavors, and it negatively impacts the taste of the beer for me, but it could still be a very solid IPA overall. But ... is it, really? What part of the style guidelines suggest an IPA should, or should not, be dank? Whether a strong presence of dank flavors in an IPA makes it more or less enjoyable to a person is inherently subjective, and not necessarily indicative of the beer being a better example of a perfect IPA.

    There's no perfect way to make beer reviews objective, as it is inherently subjective. I think people who attempt to rate purely to style are often fooling themselves, at least a bit; people who rate purely to taste, conversely, are doing a disservice to any style they do not prefer. I think there has to be some kind of balance, and while I prefer to lean toward rating to style, I will not - nor do I think it is appropriate - completely disregard my own impression of just how "good" a beer tastes. For me, that has to enter into the equation to some extent.
    drtth, beertunes and officerbill like this.
  16. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (266) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Thumbs up emoji (if BA had one).
    I occasionally try different IPA's, but don't rate them because I know I'm biased against their overall profile.
    CTHomer and Roguer like this.
  17. beer_beer

    beer_beer Aspirant (228) Feb 13, 2018 Finland

    I like that balance thing. Anyhow, personal taste is good, the style can be bad too and deserve low points.
    Roguer likes this.
  18. rudzud

    rudzud Poo-Bah (6,164) Apr 28, 2010 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    I do my best to rate a beer more heavily on style than on my personal preference. There are plenty of delicious liquids out there that utterly fall flat style wise.
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  19. AWolfAtTheDoor

    AWolfAtTheDoor Zealot (504) Oct 30, 2005 Washington

    Maybe because some of us use pre-existing ratings (as imperfect as they are) when we're staring at 5 shelves full of beer in Bevmo and trying to decide what to buy? What blind "judgement" would you suggest using? Buying a beer based on its label? You have literally contributed nothing to this discussion.

    I have found that overall and despite people rating beers either to their own preferences or to style, the overall rating of most beers on BA are a pretty accurate indicator of how good a beer is going to be. For example Ratebeer has much worse inflation than BA in my experience. Go there if you really wanna see some skewed and inaccurate ratings.
    MikeWard, Roguer and drtth like this.
  20. Gassygunslinger

    Gassygunslinger Initiate (35) Dec 20, 2012 Maine

    Perhaps there should be multiple ratings. One rating for "fits to style", and another for "I liked/disliked this". If it turned out that adding goat cheese and oregano to IPAs made them universally the best beer anyone has ever had ever, there would be a place to rate it as 0 to style, but 5 to preference. At least until ChèvrePA is a registered style.
    Roguer likes this.
  21. woodychandler

    woodychandler Poo-Bah (9,215) Apr 9, 2004 Pennsylvania

    I'm CANming late to this discussion, but as a long-time reviewer & rater, this was a hot-button issue for MANY years. The CANsensus was rate as much as possible to style & NOT to taste, with the exception of the "Overall" score, which is your ChANce to be as subjective as you like. That said, it does help if you qualify, in your review, why the others scores may have been decent, but the "Overall" score is seemingly out-of-whack.

    I read some others saying this, but this site's updated "Beer Styles" guide is MUCH better than it had been - more user-friendly, more CANcise, more detailed. If it is too much to toggle, then I CAN also reCANmend the BJCP Style guidelines. They will allow you to drill down deeply, perhaps more so than you intended, but more info is always better than less. The nuances between some styles CAN be tricky, but that is why I feel that a full-blown review is better than a simple rating - we/I CAN see the thought processes behind your numbers.

    As to this last - my ocCANsional partner-in-crime, @NeroFiddled , does a great job with his "Stream of CANsciousness" reviews. Thoughtful, humorous & insightful. Worth taking a gander for potential inspiration.

    Gotta go! The CANQuest (tm) awaits!
  22. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,572) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    I would say giving a review based on what you're experiencing as you drink a beer and judging how you feel it stacks up to the expected characteristics for a style is the worst way to make a usable consumer beer recommendation. Except for every other way there is to do it.
    Squire and GuyFawkes like this.
  23. keithmurray

    keithmurray Meyvn (1,307) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    If folks were truly rating to style, every style would have a beer rated 5 or at least in the hugh 4's and that isnt the case with the exception of a few styles, such as stouts, iPAs and sours
    thesherrybomber likes this.
  24. Dandrewjohn

    Dandrewjohn Disciple (377) Apr 13, 2013 Texas

    When I try a style that I really just don't like, I don't rate it because it's not the style, it's me.
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  25. Gassygunslinger

    Gassygunslinger Initiate (35) Dec 20, 2012 Maine

    I haven't reviewed many beers, but years ago I rated Jolly Pumpkin Madrugara Obscura very low, and justified it (at the time) because it claimed to be a dark, roasty stout with no indication anywhere on its label that it was a sour beer. I made it clear in my review that I was giving it a low score mostly on its merits as an imperial stout, and a little bit because I (at the time at least) did not like sours. Since then they've changed the label to call it a "sour stout", which would have altered my review.
    maximum12 likes this.
  26. shelby415

    shelby415 Champion (843) Oct 10, 2011 Oregon

    I don't see why we can't strike a chord between pure like/dislike and style guidelines. Obviously, we should try to avoid reviews where appropriate style characteristics are used to downrate a beer (things like "malt-bomb" for styles that should have those characteristics, etc.) But at the same time, aren't we in most cases liking a beer because it accurately represents the style?

    To the point, would it be possible to have a dropdown menu when rating that didn't just have a number but had some language keyed to the style guidelines about what that number represents? Like a 3 in feel for imperial stout might include "too thin" among other things? I know this could be inferred from the Beer 101 page, but having it drop-down would help. Clearly, just numbers attached to traits is pretty abstract and I doubt many people really know why they chose a 4 instead of a 3.75 when rating said beer.

    As a teacher, this would represent the kind of rubric I give back to students so they understand what traits actually led to the score they got.
    QuakeAttack likes this.
  27. mudbug

    mudbug Zealot (596) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    Well it has been awhile since this old topic was hashed out so I will reiterate some basic things. Yes there is a style bias, but you can mitigate this by going to the style lists and look for top beers in the style. Also consider this, the sheer number of reviews for any one beer are nearly as informative as any score. Take for example, Heady Topper, a small brewery with no real distribution has 14, 500 reviews yet Bud light has 1,500 . What do you think would happen if every Bud Light drinker in the US joined BA and rated their favorite beer? Bud light would easily be the #1 beer. But more importantly, it shows that the vast majority of BA reviewers / raters only bother to review or rate beers they LIKE.
    beertunes and cavedave like this.
  28. papposilenus

    papposilenus Meyvn (1,173) Jun 21, 2014 New Hampshire

    An easy solution - and, when I say 'easy,' I mean 'easy to me,' because I have no intention of doing the programming - would be to to allow the ratings to be filtered by style and then apply a relativity to each beer based on it's rating within that particular style such that, for example, the highest rated beer in any given style, regardless of it's actual rating within the unified database, would display as 5 when filtered by style and the lowest rated would be a 1. When the filter is removed, the display reverts to the actual rating. See? Easy-peasy!... for whoever actually has to do it (@Todd).
  29. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Devotee (491) Mar 19, 2012 California

    While I like having the ratings, I struggle with rating beers as bad 1 and 2 range. I guess a drain pour is a one and something really off would be in the 2 range. Are there other reasons for rating a 1 or 2?
  30. defunksta

    defunksta Devotee (421) Jan 18, 2019 Illinois

    I try my best to rate based on style. If a beer doesn't represent a style I give it lower ratings. However, often I get a complex, mixed-profile beer that purposely deviates from style, and is absolutely delicious. In that case I will give it a good rating. I'm not sure how to balance the difference between accuracy and preference. Some beers are absolutely delicious, but completely inaccurate of the style. How can you not give it a good rating? Is creativity not appreciated? If a brewery claims to represent a style and does not I give it lower ratings, however if it acknowledges the beer is unique and has a special twist then I am more lenient. I don't know if there is a right answer.
  31. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,429) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I use noticeable brewer's errors when rating anything below a 3. Here's a link to common off-flavors from John Palmer's book, How To Brew: These descriptions can clue you in on what to notice.

    Not really included in these descriptions is the over-the-top tart taste characteristic of an infected beer caused by improper sanitation conditions inside the brewery. If it burns your tongue like an over-carbed soft drink, and likely is a gusher when you open it, it's a bad beer. Sometimes sour fits here as a characteristic taste of infection too, and some beers with a sour character from an infection can still taste acceptable (especially if you like sours), but if the beer isn't supposed to be a sour, it's a brewer's error and deserves to be marked down. Infected beers should fall within your term drain pour, because sanitation is inexcusable.
    QuakeAttack and stevepat like this.