BeerAdvocate and Untappd Have Joined Forces

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by Todd, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (373) Feb 9, 2019 New York

    My concern isn't so much the length of the review, but with the numeral ratings.
    BA ratings are supposed to be “to style” and the majority of those, at least for the beers I drink, are written that way.
    UT ratings are based on how much you liked the beer.
    Merging UT ratings with BA ratings will severely impact the less mainstream styles, simply because the of the way those beers are rated.

    For instance:
    On BA Rodenbach Grand Cru Flanders Red Ale (which I love) has 4,209 ratings a 96 “World-Class” score and a 4.33 average.
    On UT the same beer has 216,000 ratings with a 3.74 average.

    The sheer number of “how much do I like it” UT ratings would make the BA “how true is it” ratings meaningless.
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  2. algebeeric_topology

    algebeeric_topology Crusader (707) Dec 30, 2014 New York
    Society Trader

    I agree 100% in sentiment, but "to style" matters as little as "to preference." For Flanders Red Ale, there are effectively 11 that have been rated with a significant number of ratings, so "how true is it" means among the 11 or so beers we're defining a style with. And, among those 11, at least 2 are candidates for being out of place.

    Obviously it feels more silly when people who dislike sour beer are down ranking sour beer for being sour, but it all gets washed out among people seeking/discovering those beers!

    Moreover, this is surely all about data. There can't be much money left in producing BA but perhaps Untappd can use the extra years of data and beer reviewing.
  3. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,941) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    I can assure you that this is not all about data.
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  4. algebeeric_topology

    algebeeric_topology Crusader (707) Dec 30, 2014 New York
    Society Trader

    Untappd is now poised to launch their platform into the national beer conversation via promotion at a chain of festivals?

    edit: as well as capitalize on the grumpy old men who think hazy ipa is a fad
    #404 algebeeric_topology, Feb 29, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
  5. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,941) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    You'll also see more BA fests, like Extreme Beer Fest: Brooklyn this September, but it's more than just festivals, too.
  6. algebeeric_topology

    algebeeric_topology Crusader (707) Dec 30, 2014 New York
    Society Trader

    traction, JayWhitson and Todd like this.
  7. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,941) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    ...and the beginning of new one.
  8. algebeeric_topology

    algebeeric_topology Crusader (707) Dec 30, 2014 New York
    Society Trader

    That's not in the article.
  9. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,941) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Should've been. Big things to come.
    meefmoff, GuyFawkes, traction and 5 others like this.
  10. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (373) Feb 9, 2019 New York

    But it isn't an isolated case
    Schlenkerla Märzen (another favorite):
    BA - 3,558 ratings & reviews, 92 score, 4.13 average
    UT - 88,000 ratings, 3.57 average

    UT has 25 times more rankings for this beer than BA has.
    By BA standards this is a World-Class rauchbier, by UT standards it's barely mediocre.

    The reviews serve two different purposes and are aimed at two different audiences.
    sulldaddy, craigdb, meefmoff and 12 others like this.
  11. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Initiate (164) Jun 13, 2017 California

    That's all you need to know, really
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  12. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,693) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Bwah! That's actually pretty stark, so thanks for doing some homework there. Obviously, from a "beer appreciation" standpoint the difference is completely absurd; but that's also a very niche point of view. Popular culture always sees things its own way, which is more reflected in the UT numbers.

    Obviously, there's also a decent amount of overlap; but each dataset really should be read within it's own context to be of any value. As of now, but going forward as well.
  13. Giantspace

    Giantspace Crusader (780) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    With out doing any real looking I would say UT has many more than what BA does. It’s ok to add Beer based on batch number only or to add different years of the same beer. Some of this make no sense, some does. Bigfoot ages and a review of 2012 should have its own listing vs 2019. Although it eould still be nice to rate a 2012 90 minute and also rate a 2020. I love how this beer ages.

    Back to your question. I don’t know but it’s going to be much larger, there are beers there not even listed here.

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  14. distantmantra

    distantmantra Meyvn (1,077) May 23, 2011 Washington

    I love you.
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  15. dukeandduke

    dukeandduke Meyvn (1,318) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois
    Society Trader

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  16. algebeeric_topology

    algebeeric_topology Crusader (707) Dec 30, 2014 New York
    Society Trader

    You avoided the silliness of "rate to style." There are 5 Rauchbiers with significant numbers of ratings on BA. If there are only 5 beers of a given style, what does "rate to style" mean? How do you assign a meaningful rating system to such a narrow range of beers? Is the worst a 1 and the best a 5? I'm not the authority, but fortunately we have @RauchbierFan33 to weigh in
  17. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,167) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    I would hazard a guess that merging the ratings from untappd with the ratings here would likely not skew any beer's overall score all that much if they were merged into the super secret algorithm that already skews heavily in favor of reviews over ratings.
  18. algebeeric_topology

    algebeeric_topology Crusader (707) Dec 30, 2014 New York
    Society Trader

    I'd imagine our conversation about merging reviews is dumb. I can't imagine why they would merge ratings. Rather, they now have a bigger set of data to look for bigger trends, that's all. We'll probably never see any of that on our end. There is literally nothing gained in merging data. Why pay someone to even do that?
  19. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (7,019) Sep 24, 2007 Liechtenstein
    Society Trader

    As I mentioned upthread, it would screw up my personal scores, as I use two different methods: here on BA I give honest, and direct observations. Over on UT, everything gets a 4, unless it's really great or really terrible. Combining a beer that I gave a 2.5 to here and gave a 4 to there, is just gonna screw up my personal numbers.
  20. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (373) Feb 9, 2019 New York

    The beers aren't rated against each other and it doesn't matter of there are 1 or 100. They are rated as to how close they come to an idealized version of that style. You could have 5 beers rated +4 because they each come close to being that ideal.
  21. micada

    micada Disciple (334) Jul 13, 2015 New York

    IDK. Pages 3-10 here. WBAYDN from a few days ago with new names around. Seems like a lot of cranky folks.
  22. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,167) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    Yea, thats a very fair point. I wonder how they'd handle duplicate ratings ... I don't see it happening, but its an interesting idea.
  23. islay

    islay Disciple (333) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    This is a naive notion. I agree that Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen is an interesting case, as I do suspect it gets high ratings here from some people who don't actually enjoy it but feel obligated to pay it respect due to its legendary status (as an honest-to-goodness rauchbier-lover, I'm all too aware of how rare I am among the craft car-buying public). An alternative explanation is that the small percentage of people who do enjoy it have bothered to rate it here, a venue in which actual beer ratings are rare, and the many people who don't enjoy it haven't bothered to assert their opinion (whereas on Untappd, people are encouraged to give a quick rating of any beer they try).

    As an aside, rauchbier is not a style; smoke is a flavor element that can appear in -- and smoking is a process that can be applied to ingredients in -- any style. While both BeerAdvocate and Untappd choose to classify that beer as a rauchbier, they could instead choose to classify it as a marzen, in which case it would be entirely reasonable for someone to say "smokier than typical for a marzen" and subtract points if he's rating with style in mind. Yep, as that example illustrates, rating with style in mind is pretty silly in most settings (basically anything that isn't a brewer skill competition or a knowledge challenge exercise to the rater). I don't think that beer is an amazing marzen. I think it's a solid marzen that, to my palate, in my purely hedonic judgment, smells and tastes delicious because of the beechwood-smoked malt that sets it apart from other marzens in a way that strays from and simultaneously improves upon that often staid style. That said, I'm more of an Urbock man, for the record.

    In general, however, BeerAdvocate raters rate overwhelmingly hedonically. Hence, the Top 250 was dominated by New England IPAs well before BeerAdvocate recognized them as a separate style and instead classified them among American IPAs, of which they were universally terrible examples. And look at the extremely low ratings of many perfectly executed AALs and ALLs. Is there a more quintessential, consistently executed American Light Lager than Miller Lite (2.16 average, 53 score: "Awful")? If people rated to style, beers like Miller Lite should be in the Top 250 and Tree House beers should've been getting 2s until a couple of years ago (and then averaging well into the 4s thereafter upon the introduction of the NEIPA category, one of many examples of the absurdity rating "to style" or even the arguably weaker "with style in mind," if people actually bothered to do it). I do think there is some very mild, style-related adjustment that some raters sometimes apply here, but, for the most part, people both here and at Untappd rate by how much they like the product (which, for the record, is the only thing the vast majority of them are qualified to do).

    I've raised points like this numerous times over the years in these forums and never have seen a cogent defense of the practice of rating with style in mind that directly addresses my criticisms. I think the effort is a fool's errand, and the concept of rating with style in mind outside of very narrow contexts quickly crumbles under scrutiny.
  24. jakecattleco

    jakecattleco Poo-Bah (2,180) Sep 3, 2008 California
    Society Trader

    Sorry, I don't normally follow that thread. I'll make a conscious effort to look for such examples in the forums I frequent.
  25. micada

    micada Disciple (334) Jul 13, 2015 New York

    It might just be how I’m reading things. I mostly only do some light reviews and visit WBAYDN, so maybe I’m accustomed to how the usual visitors there interact. To me, it seemed like there were a lot more unfamiliar names and a lot more “edge” when the news broke. BA obviously has a tremendously larger base than the names I see, and it all just might be coincidence and misinterpreted. BA is the most social medium I use. All just waxing poetic, I suppose.
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  26. rex_4539

    rex_4539 Poo-Bah (2,058) Dec 20, 2014 Greece

    @Todd I understand this was a necessary step so I’m “cautiously optimistic”.

    I’m optimistic about the safety regarding funding and further development. The possibilities are endless.

    I’m cautious regarding any possible integration or future merger with Untapped. While it would seem like a natural step, I would personally hate to lose the very thing this community has. Respect for beer.

    I remain a Beer Advocate and I hope you will take the necessary steps to further this community, while staying true to its spirit.
  27. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,935) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Not sure what your complaint(s) is/are. The system of reviewing with style in mind is flawed? Is inadequate? Is in use despite that there is/are better system(s)s to use? What better system(s) do you recommend?

    Is your complaint that people aren't capable enough/intelligent enough to make the system work?

    Do you feel it's a good system, but your complaint is it's not a perfect system?

    One would assume that your complaints fall under the heading of 'How Reviewing Beers Fails To Accomplish Its Purpose'. Is this true? If not, what is the purpose of your criticism?

    Please explain what you think the purpose of reviews to be?

    Good to see your novels in my feed again. Cheers!
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  28. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,244) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    The "rate with style in mind" provides a useful filter when perusing reviews. It allows a person to look at a style they know they like and see a list of the best rated examples. Asking folks to keep it in mind avoids the pitfall of expecting every user to be a cicerone while still asking that they don't say "terrible beer, way to bitter, ipas suck. 1 star"
    It seems like a good approach since you need some sort of filter mechanisms to make a list of tens of thousands of beers useful in the least and using generally understood beer styles seems a good way since it is a shorthand for grouping beers that have similar flavor/aroma/abv, which are often criteria people consider when choosing new beer.
    Obviously its going to be an imperfect system when you are opening up ratings to anyone who cares to do one but the natural tendency to rate hedonically laid over the request to at least consider the style of beer seems to be a good compromise
  29. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (373) Feb 9, 2019 New York

    Rating to style gives a reader the information he or she needs in order to determine how enjoyable a new beer will be.
    Rating to taste just tells a reader that some random internet stranger does or doesn't like that beer.

    I see a new to me Czech pilsner.
    The BA reviews will tell me we whether or not the L, S, T, & F are those of a good Czech pils and give me the reviewer's Overall impression.
    The UT reviews will tell me that HazeWaze#1 gave it 2 stars.

    Filter out the “ratings only” on BA and you'll almost always find the info you need to make an informed purchase; you can't do that on UT.
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  30. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Poo-Bah (8,721) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Moderator Society Trader

    I agree with much of what you say... I like the ability to keep track of the taplists at multiple local spots and quickly see if there is something I'm interested in trying available. I also really like the Lists - I use them to make shopping lists for different stores as well as keep track of tapped beers I want to try at a couple of favorite regular local spots.
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  31. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (373) Feb 9, 2019 New York

    The Brewer's Association has style guides for four different rauchbier styles including Maerzen Rauchbier (

    As well as a separate Smoke Beer category which can include “Any beer of any style incorporating smoke”

    BJCP has a “Classic Rauchbier” style which specifically cites Märzens ( and a separate “Other Smoked Beer” style with judging guidelines.
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  32. jakecattleco

    jakecattleco Poo-Bah (2,180) Sep 3, 2008 California
    Society Trader

    I think that the apprehension of change can definitely bring folks out of lurker or hibernation status to 'vocalize' their feelings. I haven't noticed a general change in the Pacific and Northwest forums where I spend the majority of my time on the site.

    I remain optimistic that the two entities can coexist and be complementary. I know which I personally perfer, and would be extremely sad to see the community and knowledge of BA diminished.
    TongoRad, officerbill and Todd like this.
  33. Scott17Taylor

    Scott17Taylor Poo-Bah (1,773) Oct 28, 2013 Iowa
    Society Trader

    To be fair people rate tons of styles low here too. How often do you see a helles, dunkel, kolsch etc score above a 4? I agree it’s not as bad on this site, but rating certain styles higher is just naturally going to happen on any platform.
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  34. brother_rebus

    brother_rebus Champion (894) Jul 28, 2014 Maine

    can I keep my karmas?
  35. islay

    islay Disciple (333) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    The bigger "problem"* is people rating up the styles they like, and BeerAdvocate users are even more prone to that phenomenon than are the alleged rubes at Untappd. For instance, Tree House Julius gets a 4.68 here versus a 4.51 on Untappd. As I pointed out earlier, most of those ratings at this site were accrued when the beer was classified as an "American IPA" instead of a "New England IPA" and therefore should've been getting savaged by reviewers for being too murky, too juicy, too sweet, too pillowy, and insufficiently bitter, if people actually rated with style in mind! Julius may be a great New England IPA, but it's an utter failure of an American IPA, from a non-hedonic perspective. So it's not just a matter of people favoring or disfavoring styles but rather favoring or disfavoring aroma, appearance, flavor, and mouthfeel elements that they like or dislike within styles, even if their preferences have nothing to do with or run counter to style guidelines.

    * If you think hedonic rating is a problem, which I don't
  36. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,941) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    I'd love to revamp the entire system, but for now Beer Karma will operate the same.
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  37. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,185) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    If it’s a hard seltzer it is.

    I kid, seltzer’s ok.

    Sick review.

    Was it a Rauchbier?

    Technically “Marzen” and “Bock” aren’t styles in Germany either, they’re strength designations, no?

    Completely agree with this part.

    Except they’re not Czech Pilsners, they’re Czech Pale Lagers. And that is further broken down into styles based on original gravities.

    But they presumably use different algorthims right?

    BAs scores are higher overall, regardless of style. Look at the score of the highest rated beer on each site.
  38. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,185) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Whoops, meant to add winky faces to these two comments. For some reason I have to put a semi-colon and parenthesis manually to add a winky face on my phone.
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  39. letshaveonemore

    letshaveonemore Initiate (42) Nov 13, 2014 Missouri

    I don't post here, just like to read a lot. (I tend to learn more by listening than talking, too.) I find BA so useful for reading forums, and opinions. Yes, we could have entirely different opinions of the same beer (earthshattering observation, I know), but if a beer is especially good, or really sucks, we'll likely agree. I don't have an educated palate, and don't feel I can do an adequate job of describing a beer well enough that I would expect another user to base a purchase decision on my review, so I don't review. I suspect that I speak for many of us in saying that we do wonder if our impressions are similar to others.

    I get BA emails and often click the link to some new topic, wondering what everyone else thinks. Yes, there are some that are full of themselves, but some very thoughtful folks and talented writers, too. I also use UT, but for two specific tasks: if I visit a place with the UT scrolling menu on the wall, but my seating position precludes me from seeing it, it sure is handy to call up in a few seconds. I'm also a collector of some things beer, and have several thousand labels, but only of beers I've drunk. (Damn the cans, my label collection is suffering.) I use UT as just a database of my labels. I love trying beers for the first time, and sometimes I might select one because it has an extraordinary label. (Some are gorgeous art that would be great in poster size.) If I'm several states from home, seeing a bottle that I can't get at home, but can't remember if I've snagged that one once before, I can find out quickly if I've had it.

    The point is I find the sites quite different, and like them for different uses. I hope I never need to pick one over the other.
  40. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (7,019) Sep 24, 2007 Liechtenstein
    Society Trader

    See, here's the thing, at least how I see it: we review beers to reflect our personal opinion of that beer, then, there, under those conditions.

    There is no absolute right or wrong.

    But, adding your voice, honestly given, is never wrong.

    If you choose not to review because you think you're bad at it? Get over yourself! :wink: Start dropping some thoughts!

    I'm a terrible writer, and I expect no one to take my reviews as gospel. But, reviewing helps me capture moments and beers that would otherwise be lost to the mists of time.

    Just try a few, with beers you know and are comfortable with. Worst thing that can happen? You drank some beer!