Reviewing Cellared Beers

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by maximum12, Dec 31, 2019.

  1. maximum12

    maximum12 Poo-Bah (4,231) Jan 21, 2008 Minnesota
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    I've come across a few of these in the past few days, where the reviewer has held the beer in their cellar (or elsewhere) then submitted a review. One was a terrible review because the beer had become infected/bad in the past 1 1/2 years.

    Is formally reviewing cellared beers fair? Curious what the masses think.
     
  2. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (4,546) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
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    I think it's perfectly fair - if the beer has been cellared under good conditions, and was a good candidate for aging.

    It's unlikely a beer "became" infected simply due to age - rather, the infection might not have been as noticeable while fresh. That is still on the brewer (assuming it was a cellarable style to begin with), in my opinion.

    Me personally, even with cellarable beers, I prefer to review the beer fresh if possible. If I can also try it with some age on it (in particular beers which significantly develop over time, such as with Brett), I will add those notes to my review (but probably not change any ratings). Orval is a great example of a beer where age plays a significant role in how you experience the beer.

    It's definitely not fair to review an aged beer that has been aged improperly, or is a style that should not be aged (e.g. IPA, Kölsch).

    Anything else though? Should be fair game. For many of these beers, it may be the only opportunity a reviewer has to try the beer, and many of them should not degrade over time - possibly improving, even, depending on the style.
     
  3. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,657) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    I try to remember to note if the beer was out of my cellar, but usually that is moot since I will have reviewed it when fresh most times, and I don't update the review normally.

    However, it is never fair to review an infected beer, but especially so out of the cellar.
     
  4. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Poo-Bah (1,507) Jul 27, 2013 California
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    If the brewer intended for the beer to be cellared, then it’s perfectly fair to review. The age and method of storage should be notated in the review.

    If the brewer intended for the beer to only be drank fresh, then it’s not.

    Generally beers capable of being aged are explicitly stated as such on the box/label, and often include a vintage (2019, 2018). Firestone and The Bruery are great examples of this.
     
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  5. islay

    islay Disciple (315) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota
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    Ratings at sites like this first and foremost are records of the individual tasters' experience, and I think the general rule should be that the taster decides whether he wants to make that record. If the sites choose to aggregate numeric scores, it should be up to the sites, not the raters, to determine which scores are worthy of inclusion in the aggregations. I do think it's best practices to specify the circumstances of the rating both for personal records and external consumption. Many beers are encouraged to be cellared or have not been produced again after an earlier run, in which case a cellared example is the standard or only way to experience the beer going forward. In those cases, the cellared ratings are usually more relevant to others (not that that's the primary purpose of sites like this) than the ratings of fresh examples. I definitely think it's appropriate to rate "infected" or otherwise flawed beers, as, again, those ratings reflect an unsanitized version of the actual consumer experience.

    That said, BeerAdvocate has its own, I would say "excessively restrictive" rules of rating, and that's why I've never rated here.
     
  6. officerbill

    officerbill Devotee (428) Feb 9, 2019 New York
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    There's no problem as long as the reviewer notes the age in the review. In fact, a review of an old bottle can be very helpful to someone else trying to decide whether or not to cellar that beer (or buy an old bottle).

    Recently received some beers from Wisconsin that had a label stating they were “Cellar Certified” for aging by the Wisconsin Brewer's Guild.
     
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  7. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,402) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
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    Well, a beer doesn't just become infected out of nowhere after a certain timeframe while stored in a sealed container. Rather, the beer was already infected at the time of bottling and that infection may not have been noticeable fresh, but developed more and more over time.

    So with styles that are generally understood to be cellarable, I think it's absolutely fair to rate them for what they are within a reasonable timeframe when stored correctly. I've had plenty of 1-2 year old Imperial Stouts that were perfectly fine, almost every single one actually, and even a few 5 year olds that were still excellent.

    So when a cellarable style is noticeably off after as little as one or two years that is 100% on the brewer and it should be reviewed as such. Although the age of the beer and the fact that it was off/infected should also be mentioned in the review.

    I have even reviewed old IPAs badly though, if the brewer has set an excessive best-by date for it with no easily decipherable filling date. In such a case, it's on the brewer that the beer reached me in such a poor state and that I had no means of verifying its age.

    Seriously if a brewery puts a 12 month best-by date on a NEIPA, with just an obscure date code denoting filling date that I have to verify with the brewery after buying it then fuck them, they deserve that review. Any brewery putting a 12 months best-by date on their IPAs should be fucking ashamed of themselves.

    If I review an old IPA that has an obvious filling date on it, I will usually adjust the score upwards and mention the age in the review.
     
  8. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,825) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    There is and always will be people cellaring beer. To omit information on how a particular beer or brewer's work ages simple because it has aged would be a dis-service to other beer consumers, who may find the information of how a particular beer is holding up valuable as they setup trades or decide what to pull out of their cellar for the night.
     
  9. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,657) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    Where is this stated? Do people use it for that? Sure. Where is it stated that is the purpose? Here is what is stated:

    The Goal
    BeerAdvocate is a consumer-based website; as such, subjectivity comes into play. With that in mind, the following aims to bring some objectivity to consumer-based beer evaluations by using BeerAdvocate's rating system and encouraging a more thoughtful approach to rating and reviewing beers.

    -- https://www.beeradvocate.com/community/threads/how-to-review-a-beer.241156/

    Baloney.
     
  10. maximum12

    maximum12 Poo-Bah (4,231) Jan 21, 2008 Minnesota
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    Obviously. That's why I wrote "infected/bad" because I don't always trust a random person on the internet to determine what is an infection & what just doesn't align to their tastes or expectations.

    Other than that, some interesting points brought up that I hadn't thought of.

    This is the one statement I'd disagree with strongly. Reviews of infected beers on BA have saved this beer consumer from buying/trading for crap beer. IMHO, these types of reviews are just as valuable as any other, perhaps even more so.
     
  11. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,657) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    A review is not the most effective way of communicating this, even to BA members. Posting a thread is much more effective, IMO.

    Look-at-me sites like Untapped, fine. No one should seriously pay any attention to those as sources of legitimate reviews anyway.
     
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  12. Sabtos

    Sabtos Poo-Bah (7,533) Dec 15, 2015 Ohio
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    I prefer, both for myself and for any one else reviewing a beer, that any new notes one might have upon cellaring a beer be added after the main content of the original review, which should always be done as fresh as possible.

    While some breweries have expressed approval for cellaring their beers, I think it's pretty widely accepted that most breweries release their beers at the moment that they are intended to be enjoyed. It's not their fault that a 4 year old bottle of Brown Ale someone bought at World Market for you for Christmas tasted like shit.
     
  13. maximum12

    maximum12 Poo-Bah (4,231) Jan 21, 2008 Minnesota
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    Looking up a beer is far, far, far, far easier than wading through a search for a specific beer hoping to find a thread that may or may not exist. We'll have to agree to disagree.
     
  14. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (4,546) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
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    This is my opinion, as well (no offense to @MNAle and his opinion). If my only experience with a beer is infection, then that reflects poorly on the brewer, and in particular that release. I will note it on the review, I will try to be fair - and by all means, if I have the opportunity to try a non-infected variant of the brew, I will re-review it at that time (while noting in the review that I had reviewed an infected batch).

    But I consider it fair game to review the beer the brewer gives you.
     
  15. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,657) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    Yeah, searching the forum is much harder than searching the reviews... :rolling_eyes:

    An infected run of beer (usually BA beer, it seems) is valuable consumer information, I agree. I just do not think posting a poor review is the most effective means of communicating that to other consumers.

    Perhaps if BA provided reviews of BA beer by vintage...?
     
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  16. Sabtos

    Sabtos Poo-Bah (7,533) Dec 15, 2015 Ohio
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    I mean, search the forum for KBS...see how many results you get as opposed to how many results for a beer search of KBS. Via beer search, you find the beer you're looking for right away and read the reviews for that one beer all in one click. Good luck in the maelstrom of the forum. I mean why's that even part of the debate?
     
  17. Sound_Explorer

    Sound_Explorer Poo-Bah (1,794) Dec 29, 2013 Washington
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    I have actually been going through a few dozen cellared beers the last couple months and coming few months. I typically note that it is/was aged with year bottled/release and current date, as well as any previous ratings when I may have had it earlier when it was fresher.

    I don't, however, review them if they have been aged too long (had several drainpours sadly but that was on my inexperience when I started) and went 'bad' (not infected just went too sour or became malt bombs). I don't think much more is needed than that.
     
  18. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,657) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    That wasn't the search under discussion.

    Search the KBS beer reviews for "infected" vs search the forum for "KBS infected".

    Is it even possible to search the reviews of a particular beer?

    Or, are you just reading through the mini-maelstrom of reviews, scanning for "infected" vs those who rate the beer at 2.3 and say things like "Overall this beer isn’t really fit for drinking, but great as an ingredient in beer desserts like beeramisu or chocolate stout cheesecake." (from a recent real review of BCBS).
     
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  19. Sabtos

    Sabtos Poo-Bah (7,533) Dec 15, 2015 Ohio
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    This is going way off the rails now. You wouldn't be looking for every single beer you ever drink for an indication of infection unless you're a crazy person. Most people are looking at review trends, skimming a few reviews for the beer they may want to drink soon. The trends therein, positive or negative, are helpful.

    BCBS had trends of infection notes in 2015. That was helpful.
     
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  20. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,657) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    Likewise no one is going to search the forums using just KBS as a search term unless they are a crazy person.

    The OT was about reviewing cellared beers. Is posting a review now of a cellared 2015 infected BCBS helpful? That was part of my main point initially. No, it is not.
     
  21. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (3,102) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    Single new-to-me beers get reviewed immediately. If I buy multiple with plans to cellar, I'll review it fresh then go back and update if I find different results after cellaring. But - I would never lower my score if it tanked due to cellaring.

    I've run into this with CBS, where I upped my score when it had been aged about 6 months. When cellared FBS tasted like green peppers or cellared BA Fidy got less bold, I commented on it but didn't lower the score.
     
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  22. Sabtos

    Sabtos Poo-Bah (7,533) Dec 15, 2015 Ohio
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    But the person that unknowingly opens an infected 2015 could have looked at the reviews for that beer in and around 2015...if they were completely oblivious to everything that happened that year.
     
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  23. islay

    islay Disciple (315) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota
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    I have no idea when the purpose statement you quoted was written, but I suspect it was long after many ratings had been entered into this site. My point is that the powers that be at this particular site have superceded their users' preferences for how they wish to utilize this platform with their own (at least in terms of official policy, of which few users are aware let alone follow). The vast majority of ratings these days -- by multiple orders of magnitude -- take place at Untappd, which, as far as I know, has much more liberal, and I would say "user-friendly, " ratings policies (in the sense that users are given few if any official directives as to how they should rate).

    I'll add that this site and Untappd seem to produce very similar numeric aggregate ratings for most beers. I think that the idea that BeerAdvocate users are applying some higher standard of discipline or are more sophisticated than Untappd users on average when it comes to ratings is "baloney." I do think the written reviews at any site are far more valuable to both the rater and the reader than are mere numeric ratings, and there's a higher proportion of written reviews here than on Untappd.
     
  24. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,657) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    Dec 23, 2014, I provided the link....
    You contradict yourself here. The fact that a higher proportion of ratings here are in the form of written reviews means both that they are more useful AND that they are applied with more discipline. Sophistication? IDK about that. But I do believe that a higher percentage of the written reviews here are posted by more knowledgeable / experienced consumers than the typical Untapped user. I suspect the ratings without written reviews are more or less equivalent between the two. I have no knowledge to back that up. It is just my opinion based on experience here and occasional visits to Untapped.
     
  25. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,989) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
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    For me, it all depends on the style. Styles that are meant to be cellared or aged are fair game to reviewed as such. Styles that aren't meant to be aged, should be reviewed as fresh as possible.

    As for infections ... if a beer is truly infected, then its fair game to be reviewed as such. But, the reviewer should be careful to be sure that they aren't reviewing a beer as infected for something that might have been caused by the reviewer and not the brewer. For example, 2015 BCBS - got a bad bottle? then its fair game to review as infected. Left a bottle in your car for an extended period of time in July? Maybe don't assume the problem with the beer is the brewers fault.
     
  26. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,825) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    How is a thread a more effective way of describing how a specific beer is drinking than the beer's profile page?

    Users and site visitors visit our beer pages to see how a beer tastes, smells, 'rates', etc.. To omit this data because it was poorly executed by the brewery is a disservice to consumers. With "Thread Talkers" and even Google pointing users to the beer profile pages, this is the best way to disseminate information vs. tucking it into the regional section of the forum.
     
  27. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,825) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    'Ctrl' and 'F' keys pressed together give a search function for users on Microsoft Windows products. A user could pull up a beer's profile page and then search key terms individually with the function.

    Personally, I use this quite a lot in my general operation of the site. Not only does it help find keywords within lists or reviews, but it also helps narrow down search results provided by the site.
     
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  28. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,565) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    Huh! Never knew that Ctrl-F trick. Learn something everyday. Thanks for the tip.
     
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  29. Sabtos

    Sabtos Poo-Bah (7,533) Dec 15, 2015 Ohio
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    Damn man. 75% of my work day every damn day for 2 decades is Ctrl+f-ing
     
  30. mikeinportc

    mikeinportc Meyvn (1,009) Nov 4, 2015 New York
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    Same here. Thanks @Harrison8 :clap::+1::beers:
     
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  31. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,565) Sep 24, 2007 Saint Martin
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    Disagree. The bugs didn't climb into the bottle, it was infected when it left the brewery. Fair game.
     
  32. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,565) Sep 24, 2007 Saint Martin
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    Perhaps if BA provided reviews of BA beer by vintage...?[/QUOTE]

    Which they do, provided there are significant variations in the base beer.

    A brewery brews the same beer, ages it in the same type barrels every year? No, we don't need vintages.

    The same base beer, in rye barrels one year, bourbon the next, gin the next? Sure thing!
     
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  33. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,565) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    I agree with you. I think it was mentioned above but it bears repeating, an infected beer should be reviewed to serve as a warning to anyone reading the review with the purpose of making a decision on the purchase of the beer. A mention should also be made regarding the age of the beer if known because that same beer on the shelf may be an earlier, same or later batch.
     
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  34. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,133) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    For those who don't know, there is a great thread for cellar reviews over in the aging/cellaring forums. Great place to deposit reviews of intentionally and unintentionally aged beers. Also a good resource for opinions about various beers sweet spots from lots of experienced folks
     
  35. bluejacket74

    bluejacket74 Poo-Bah (4,960) Jul 4, 2005 Ohio
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    Yeah, when I review beers I always try and say when it was bottled/canned, provide the vintage year or at least try and guesstimate when I bought it. The more information people have about the beer, the better.