Highly Rated Beers: Truth or Fiction?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Roser, Jun 2, 2014.

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  1. BeerDunson

    BeerDunson Crusader (480) Jul 20, 2012 Ohio

    I agree. It's amazing what "rarity" does to "hype" a beer. I have found that the beer I can get right off the shelf is just as good if not better than some of the hard to find/limited/rare/first born child/brewery release only/golden ticket beers. JMO
    GRG1313 likes this.
  2. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    You should not assume the bell curve is centered around 3. That requires constraints on ratings that do not exist here or requires numerical manipulations that are not applied on this site.
    GRG1313 and Providence like this.
  3. Pahn

    Pahn Initiate (0) Dec 2, 2009 New York

    Thoughts: either you didn't like the beers in question as the other reviewers did, or you interpret the rating system differently than they do. I wouldn't question their actual enjoyment.
  4. bubseymour

    bubseymour Grand Pooh-Bah (4,374) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I'd say most beers I like at least start at 3.75 or higher and that is probably 80% or more of the beers I sample. I like most beers and styles. On rare occasions a beer just tastes bad and then I'm hard on them. Those are few and far between.
  5. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Initiate (0) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    Ya think?
    One definite reason for the high ratings is probably the homer effect. I've often noticed people raving about their hometown beers that are the greatest ever, especially a new release or newly opened brewery, when a more objective taster from another location wouldn't quite go that far.
  6. Boca-X

    Boca-X Initiate (0) Jan 21, 2014 Missouri

    Very seldom do I rate a beer below 3. Even your basic BMCs are 2.5 to 3 in my head. I don't compare them to the craft beers that I drink on a regular basis but rate them for what they are. If I'm mowing the grass I have no problem hammering a few Bud Selects, it does what it is meant to do, crisp, clean, carbonation with a hint of malt that goes down extremely easy.

    My higher rated beers tend to float around 3.75/4...and beers that I find extremely good 4.25/4.5.

    I think most beer is good (3), some are very good (4) and a few knock me out (4.5)...I have reviewed about 40 beers and have only one or two over 4.5.

    I'm not going to bang away on any beer and give it a super low rating (2), I read others post on drain pouring, I've done that one time in my life...beer is good...all beer is good...some is just better than others.
    supernatural_skeptic likes this.
  7. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    To continue your own personal development as a reviewer of beers you'll want to see what your rDevs are like when you've done 10-15 of the less popular styles. I suspect you'll find that many here are way way too generous with their hating on such beer, as euro pale lagers and American adjunct lagers, some "anti-hype" going on.
    Providence likes this.
  8. jlux21

    jlux21 Initiate (0) Mar 25, 2014 New Jersey

    We I'm not an IPA fan have not found one I like so I stopped rating IPA's because it's not an accurate, so I try and limit my reviews to styles I normally like.
  9. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Initiate (0) Jun 24, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I actually live 20 minutes from the brewery, just not my cup of tea at all. I've always liked Victory's German and English-style beers and thought their IPAs (every one of them) were 'off' somehow. To each their own.
  10. Mikexw

    Mikexw Pooh-Bah (2,018) Mar 3, 2014 New York
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I think that most people are gonna drink beers that are thought to be good, by definition the "better tasting" beers should be consumed by more people and most people will probably have a bell curve, but it will be skewed to the right (not centered around 3) because of that. However, I also think that if people drink only highly rated beers, they will have a negative deviation because you can't rate everything ridiculously high.

    Just for the heck of it, I checked my ratings -- I have 303 beers rated, and it definitely looks like a bell curve centered somewhere between 3.5 and 3.75. And that makes sense to me, because I sort of use 3.5 as my "I would drink this again" point. But the BA average for those beers (because when in doubt I drink something highly rated) is 3.86.

    Or to use an exaggerated example -- I've had 7 beers that are at least 4.5 on BA (average = 4.59) and my average for those is 4.36. If those were the only things I tried, in a vacuum it would look like I rate low because of my negative deviation, but like I rate high based on my distribution. I think the two of those sort of cancel each other out.

    And sorry for getting over-analytical.
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  11. ipamonster

    ipamonster Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2013 Rhode Island

    There is inherent bias in the data. I am going to assume I am not abnormal. Considering that assumption there are styles of beers that I like to drink (IPAs, stouts, porters etc.) and there are styles that I don't like to drink (Saison, wheat, malt bombs). As a result, I will not rate the beers I don't like as it is the style not the brew that I am negative on. Consequently, I rate the beers of styles that I do like. SO while Harpoon IPA may not be my favorite, I'd say it is still pretty good. Kind of like Ellio's pizza or Bagel Bites, not the best pizza in the world but I'm not saying no!
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  12. OldPenguinHunter

    OldPenguinHunter Initiate (0) Oct 13, 2010 California

  13. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,477) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Everyone has their own calibration of the rating scale that makes sense to them. I tend to rate beers high because, as I've mentioned in previous threads similar to this one, I try to only buy good beer and I make informed decisions to ensure this. Also, I can usually find some redeeming qualities in even the more lackluster beers I try. I posted a breakdown of my rating scale in a thread a long time ago and I can't find it anymore but it was too detailed anyway since I applied a word description for every single point increment. I came up with this one the other day that's less detailed but I think is better:

    4.5 - 5: Will actively seek out again
    4 - 4.5: Would buy again
    3.5 - 4: Won't buy again
    3 - 3.5: Not recommended/Average
    2.5 - 3: Mediocre/Subpar
    2 - 2.5: Bad
    1.5 - 2: Offensive
    1 - 1.5: Undrinkable
  14. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Initiate (0) Jun 24, 2012 Pennsylvania

    This is an important consideration for anyone trying to look at scores statistically. Even if the median or mean score should theoretically fall on 3, it only would if people selected beers at random. They don't.
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  15. Jeffries55

    Jeffries55 Initiate (0) Sep 5, 2013 New York

    I thought this was going to be a debate about Rhinegeist beers "Truth" and "Fiction." If that was the case, Truth all day long, as it's a regular of mine.
    bsu4beer, Gouldsby and meanmutt like this.
  16. EveningCordial

    EveningCordial Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2014 New Jersey

    As others mentioned, its a subjective hobby and we all have different palates. I've noticed some of my reviews are higher than the norm, while others are far less rated than rDev. That just proves my point. Although I enjoy reading reviews of others, I never base my review on them. Its what the drink did for me.
  17. Roser

    Roser Zealot (540) Aug 4, 2012 Virginia

    Well said. I, too, have done a drain pour once. It was a Green Flash/St Feuillien Friendship Brew. Holy crap was that thing nasty!!!
    Green Flash / St Feuillien Friendship Brew
  18. Roser

    Roser Zealot (540) Aug 4, 2012 Virginia

    Yup. I suspect they love the ones they're supposed to love and hate the ones they think they're supposed to hate.
  19. Tsar_Riga

    Tsar_Riga Pooh-Bah (2,593) Sep 9, 2013 Indiana

    To elaborate on a couple of the most recent posts, I spend some considerable amount of effort to find beers I'll like before I spend money on them. As such, often before I buy, I've done my homework, read reviews, and then set out to find brews. Impulse sometimes comes into play, with various results, but usually I don't just buy blind. And I am unlikely to spend $10 on a 22 oz. bottle I don't think I'll like, even if I've never had it before.

    Having bought, sometimes my expectations are confounded - I don't like it, or I think it's only so-so. I review accordingly. But more often, my work pays off, and I rate the beer highly because I love it. I review accordingly. I have a few more green rDevs than red rDevs, but I've got outliers in both directions.

    So the slide comes because I am actively trying to buy and drink beers I'll like. Not a real mystery. Now, I'll grant that I've gone off and searched in part because I've read raves here, so that is where the herd comes in. I am following the herd to beers I think I'll like because of what I've read. And since there are hundreds or thousands doing the same thing, it can create an echo chamber. Certainly others' ratings impact what I review because they impact what I buy. But I'm pretty comfortable that I'm reviewing based on my own experience with the beer. For me, the reviews are mostly a record for myself, anyway, so I can refine my understanding of what I like and why; YMMV.
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  20. Roser

    Roser Zealot (540) Aug 4, 2012 Virginia

    Excellent post! You seem to get where I'm coming from. I've enjoyed all the feedback.
  21. Roser

    Roser Zealot (540) Aug 4, 2012 Virginia

    3.5 to 4.0 = "won't buy again." Bet you're a tough critic/reviewer. Gonna have to look at your reviews.
  22. Roser

    Roser Zealot (540) Aug 4, 2012 Virginia

    Well put. Thanks for weighing in!
  23. jj139

    jj139 Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2013 California

    A very interesting conversation going on here. I have enjoyed reading how everyone approaches their review. A few things I try to keep in mind when reviewing are; don't read what anyone else wrote before writing, try to be descriptive even if I don't like it, and don't over think it. Why get too stressed about a beer review.
  24. rgordon

    rgordon Pooh-Bah (2,605) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I'm completely obsessed with numbers and this digital age has only made it better. In my humble opinion, beer rating is very over-rated. I know a damned good beer when I first taste it and feel 0 compunction to alert the world.
    rozzom likes this.
  25. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    Exactly why I really don't bother to review myself and use the existing reviews as a guide only.
  26. Roser

    Roser Zealot (540) Aug 4, 2012 Virginia

    Right! I suspect my observation (and reason for starting this thread) wouldn't be an issue if the reviews were done without checking prior ratings.
  27. Leebo

    Leebo Initiate (0) Feb 7, 2013 Massachusetts

    My palate is the only one that matters. I don't think I have ever looked at a review before purchasing. I will sometimes go to the beer talk or release page though. Just go with what you like.
    Ozzylizard likes this.
  28. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    While some may be susceptible to "bias" from knowing what others think, there are a great many more who take steps to ensure that doesn't "contaminate" their ratings. Its been my experience that the majority of those who write reviews do so with integrity and honesty and are not just following the crowd. Also, the effects of a larger number of ratings/reviews above say about 25-30 per beer are to cancel out the extremes and give the central tendency of the beers a pretty reasonable picture of how good it is and what to expect.
    djsmith1174 and LambicPentameter like this.
  29. Andrew041180

    Andrew041180 Initiate (0) Mar 15, 2013 Massachusetts

    The first page of your recent reviews is a sea of red ink. I'm not saying that you're wrong, but your reviewing style clearly deviates significantly from the norm.

    I'm sure that I succumb somewhat to hype when reviewing beers, but most of the beers that I drink are really enjoyable. The apex of my personal bell curve probably lands somewhere around a "4" rating. I like to think that's because I choose to buy really good beer, rather than simply choosing beer at random and finding that most of them are of average quality.
    SierraJosh likes this.
  30. SierraJosh

    SierraJosh Initiate (0) Aug 13, 2013 California

    I agree on some styles but BA stouts and sours?
  31. SierraJosh

    SierraJosh Initiate (0) Aug 13, 2013 California

    I rate almost everything higher than the rDev, if it is tasty and makes me happy i start the "scale" at 3.75.
    Immortale25 likes this.
  32. Treyliff

    Treyliff Grand Pooh-Bah (4,654) Aug 10, 2010 West Virginia
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    The majority of my reviews that are far above the average, are of the less popular, not as exciting styles. I grade to style, many grade by personal taste or preference, which isn't how the ratings were intended to be used.
  33. meanmutt

    meanmutt Grand Pooh-Bah (3,327) Feb 6, 2012 Ohio
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I "liked" your post because I agree with your interpretation of the scoring system, and I'll agree that Enjoy By is a bit overrated...but DirtWolf is definitely NOT overrated at all...it's fantastic :stuck_out_tongue:
  34. RockAZ

    RockAZ Pundit (983) Jan 6, 2009 Arizona

    I don't rate a beer on this forum if the score is going to come out less than 3.0 overall; it means I barely enjoyed it, would not buy it again and would not recommend it. Come on, there are thousands of beer options available, why go back to something that did not impress me? And with the exception of Stones "Crime and Punishment", I don't feel the urge to warn people away from experiencing it themselves.

    IPA's and Stouts are my favorites, but I do drink a lot of Sours and Belgians, not to mention about every weird herb/fruit/nut concoction someone comes out with that I can get my hands on.

    Mikkeller, for instance, I rarely review their beers unless I am really stoked about it, but for at least a year I have had at least three new ones of theirs every MONTH - I don't know where they keep coming from! But I don't review them, because, well, I really don't like most of them very much and they all cost too much. So, my scores are biased toward the higher numbers.
  35. Roser

    Roser Zealot (540) Aug 4, 2012 Virginia

    Agreed! Love the Wolf!!!
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  36. snarygare

    snarygare Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2012 Kansas

    What the heck is a beef on bread on bun ? LOL i live down the street from Gates and have never heard of this
  37. SeanBond

    SeanBond Pooh-Bah (2,578) Jul 30, 2013 Illinois
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I appreciate this, as you saved me a lot of typing. I too try only to buy stuff that I'm relatively certain is pretty solid (the exceptions being NG Thumbprints, which I buy pretty much indiscriminately, one-offs at Goose Island, and IPAs at Half Acre), so I tend to rate things highly as well. I also like to think that I have an appreciation for craft beer at its most basic, so if I give something under a 3.5, it was a pretty big disappointment for me.
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  38. kingston2

    kingston2 Initiate (0) Sep 14, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Another One is better than both IMO.. Really like that beer.. Dinner I haven't had but will review if I ever get a shot at it.. I like Mo as well..
    Shroud0fdoom likes this.
  39. Roser

    Roser Zealot (540) Aug 4, 2012 Virginia

    In a past life (early to mid 90's) I had many opportunities to visit K.C. and always made it a point to get to Gates. A popular offering was the Beef on Bread, which could also be had on a bun (how I liked it). If you ordered Beef on Bread they'd yell out "Beef on Bread!!!" If, like me, you ordered it on a bun, they'd yell out "Beef on Bread on Bun!!!" Loved that place.
    SeanBond likes this.
  40. kingston2

    kingston2 Initiate (0) Sep 14, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I usually buy what I know and when I don't know the beer I often do use reviews to help guide my purchases. Often I am getting beers that are highly rated.. I am usually therefore in line with the masses on most of my reviews. If I do get a drain pour, I review it fairly but this doesn't often happen.. I think what I am saying is my reviews are almost always starting off with a good beer in the first place...
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