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Rule of Thumb. Using BA reviews to make purchasing decisions.

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by fx20736, Mar 17, 2013.

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  1. fx20736

    fx20736 Meyvn (1,010) Mar 7, 2009 New York

    Browsing shelves in a large bottle shop a lot of unknown beers stand out begging to be bought. The packaging, beer name, brewery name all can make for a tempting buy.

    rather than succumb to a promise that is not fulfilled I have been using this rule of thumb:

    look up the beer on BA. Click on Top Reviewers and take the average of the top 3 reviewers. if that average is 3.5 or higher then I would say it is at least worth trying if the beer seems appealing for all the reasons mentioned above.

    I have been using this method for awhile now and it has kept me from buying very many bad beers.

    anyone else do something similar?
  2. booyahachieved3

    booyahachieved3 Initiate (112) Sep 5, 2012 Kansas
    Beer Trader

    How do you know they were bad if you didn't try them?

    I do something similar, but usually, if it's a brewery I trust and the price is right, I'll give it a shot. For instance, new Boulevard smokestack beer or Schlafly seasonal IPA? Purchase. On the flip side I decided not to purchase Widmer Brrrrbon due to never trying anything from them, price and THEN BA reviews.
  3. aasher

    aasher Poo-Bah (2,558) Jan 27, 2010 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    Why a 3.5? That's a horrible rating on BA. I always tell people that a 4.0 or above is worth a shot.
  4. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Initiate (0) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    I usually base my purchases off of style, brewery reputation and previous experience. I kinda think this is common sense, but this model is all I generally need to avoid buying bad beers. With all the information we have gained from past experiences it is just silly not to put it to use when purchasing new beers.

    If I do resort to BA reviews I will read the reviews of friends and those I have drank with before and know their palates. Scores are meaningless, I want the words. I don't drink with any random BAs palate so I generally do not put much stock in their reviews when it comes to buying beers.
    c64person, Sarlacc83, rab53 and 13 others like this.
  5. BMitch

    BMitch Initiate (170) Jul 10, 2012 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    Amen...especially that last part.
    dianimal and nchophead like this.
  6. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poo-Bah (3,774) Nov 16, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Outside of the big breweries that I know and trust (e.g. Founders, Bells, FFF, NG, etc.): the mix-a-six is where I start trying different things. I never like to buy a six pack of something I've never tried before from a brewery I know little about.
    Smoky54, JamesMN, Raime and 6 others like this.
  7. victory4me

    victory4me Zealot (547) Oct 16, 2004 Pennsylvania

    This is pretty much on point. Although I always keep my eyes open for well rated beers from otherwise not-so-well-rated breweries. Tells me that they were able to get something right.
    Cvescalante likes this.
  8. fx20736

    fx20736 Meyvn (1,010) Mar 7, 2009 New York

    right, he seems to rarely like a beer.

    3.0 is average, 4.0 is good, so 3.5 is kinda good. everyone's taste buds are different so a 3.5 to some people might be a 4.0 to you. In reviewing my beers I will say there aren't alot of beers I rated under 4 that I would buy again but there are some.
    brewery and style will often lead me to buy, if I am familiar with the brewery but use Sam Adams as an example. Some of their beers I like very much and some do absolutely nothing for me.

    I have never (knowingly) drank with another BA. I do most of my drinking alone and at home.
  9. fox227

    fox227 Initiate (0) Nov 19, 2010 California

    I try to remember beers with high ratings, but if the brewery has a good track record, I'll try it blindly. When I go completely blind with no information it's a real crap shoot.
  10. HomeBrewed

    HomeBrewed Initiate (186) Dec 10, 2006 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I don't necesarily go by score, more by the description, or tasting notes, people provide.
    dennis3951 and BrownAleMale like this.
  11. fredmugs

    fredmugs Poo-Bah (1,530) Aug 11, 2012 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    Agreed. I just came home from a road trip where I stopped at a Total Wine. Clown Shoes Supa Hero sounded good but at 3.65 that's a pass. Hoppy Feet at 3.93 would have been worth a shot for a 12 oz but not a bomber. Hoppy Feet 1.5 at 4.07 made it in the basket.
    aasher likes this.
  12. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    I'm not afraid of buying an occasional bad beer so I've never used BA reviews to aid in purchasing beer. I also know that individual tastes vary tremendously-even yours will be different in a year or two. And then there's the issues of homerism and hype. I've had a lot of beers that get a lot of praise on this site that I would never buy again. My method is to go into a store and look for something I've never tried and buy it. If I like it I'll buy it again, if not I move on.
  13. DarkDragon999

    DarkDragon999 Aspirant (271) Feb 13, 2013 Rhode Island

    Ive never seen people pull out their phones and punch up BA while their staring at the shelves. Im sure its done but I havent seen it.
  14. LMT

    LMT Initiate (0) Oct 15, 2009 Virginia

    I only have so much money to spend on beer, and I only go through about 6-8 beers per week. So I let the BA reviews assist me in my purchases.

    There seem to be new offerings available almost every time I go to the beer store, so I don't want to waste time or money buying something I probably won't like.

    I'm not embarrassed to admit I look at averages first before I consider buying anything I'm interested in. If a beer gets close to a 4.0 and I'm interested in trying it, I'll buy. However, since pilseners tend to get much lower averages than DIPAa & imperial stouts, I account for this.

    I may read a few reviews, but really, that's just an invidual experience with the beer. Who knows, their spouse may have just bitched at them for spending too much money on that brew & they may have given it a poor review! That's the beauty of looking at averages...they "mellow out" extreme reviews in either direction.
    semaj and Lognar like this.
  15. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Defender (642) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I do it every time I go. I look up reviews, freshness dates, and abv. (Occasionally a beer doesn't have the abv on the label, even today)
  16. BB1313

    BB1313 Poo-Bah (2,483) Jul 16, 2009 Ohio

    I personally think people are either too generous or not tough enough with their ratings. To me, a 3.5 is pretty good. To others, a 3.5 means it's not worth trying, which is crazy to me. If a beer has a ton of reviews and it has a score around 3.5, it's obvious that it's not mind blowing by BA standards. I usually have to be mind blown just to give a 4. When people give everything a 4 or higher, it's hard to tell what beers they think stand out.

    Overall, just take ratings with a grain of salt, especially since anyone can add to the beer's score without even trying it (who does that? hopefully nobody, but I've seen some troll ratings since "hads" were added to overall score).. but definitely use them as a guideline. I never let them decide for me whether I'll try a beer or not..
  17. MDDMD

    MDDMD Poo-Bah (1,764) Jun 4, 2011 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I generally agree, however I don't think I would go so far as to say scores are meaningless. A BA rating of 4.6 with 2000+ reviews and I think you can probably trust that is a good and worthy example of the style.
    cavedave and lonewolfcry like this.
  18. lonewolfcry

    lonewolfcry Zealot (561) Dec 7, 2007 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I've seen it quite a few times, which has lead to opinions & recommendations.
    Often I've walked out with beer I would've never tried, if not for the BA bump in.

    Personally I won't sit in the store on my phone, because it takes too long & I have no patience for that.
    I usually bring a small notepad & write down things to look up later.
    And I will usually only buy single 12 oz when I'm really going in blind.

    However, when in the middle of a trade, I will load up seek a brew
    http://www.seekabrew.com/distro/index.html and bring that in with me to make sure I'm not buying beer he can get - which is a huge pet peeve of mine.
    3 of my last 4 traders sent me beer I can easily buy here :confused:
    Come on dude do some homework! (I do admit of making this mistake on my first trade - sent him Unibroue...oops!)
    BrownAleMale likes this.
  19. Ri0

    Ri0 Poo-Bah (2,454) Jul 1, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    I do it all the time because so many times I have no clue as to the beer type. Never understood not putting what type of beer it is on the label. :rolling_eyes:
    xanok likes this.
  20. GodlessWatermelon

    GodlessWatermelon Initiate (0) Apr 12, 2012 Maryland

    I don't look at reviews. People on here bitch about scores in the 80's being "low"
    grandmachine, MaxOhle and jasonmason like this.
  21. MammaGoose

    MammaGoose Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2013 Wyoming

    Our distribution is so limited in Northern Wyoming, that I generally know every single beer in the store, and I promise that's not an impressive accomplishment. We get some seasonals and occasionally we'll get a new Lips of Faith bomber. And at that point, I buy them to try something to new whether I think I'll like it or not.

    But, when we went to Denver for a weekend and made our liquor store run, I was so overwhelmed with all the options that I SHOULD have used some BA direction. We got several that we were familiar with but had never tried, but we made some "meh" choices also. We had room for one more 6-pack of something or other, so we grabbed Mass Transit Ale just because it sounded sessionable. We didn't even know what style it was (I hate lack of information on packaging). Well after reading the reviews, it sounds like sessionable is all it has going for it. Had I read the reviews when I was in the store, I would have realized that it's a boring amber. I could have gotten a six pack of Yeti!
  22. BrownAleMale

    BrownAleMale Initiate (0) Dec 14, 2011 Wisconsin
    ¡Bad Trader! Beer Trader

    I can't go by review scores because I am generally a really tough grader, so a 3.5 is still a pretty good beer in my scale where as others would consider a 3.5 as a "low" grade and not very good.
  23. BrownAleMale

    BrownAleMale Initiate (0) Dec 14, 2011 Wisconsin
    ¡Bad Trader! Beer Trader

    Yeah I hear you about trading something that the other guy can already get. I also hate when people are proud of sending extras and send you real shit beer that are drain pours.
  24. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Zealot (515) Jun 24, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Keep in mind adding the "hads" inflated the ratings by ~0.15 or so.

    I check if it's a brewery I'm not familiar with and/or it's above ~$0.30/oz.
  25. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Michigan

    Troll ratings??? Not everyone will have the same opinion as you and even if 99% of the people love it and they hate it that doesn't make them a troll. Look for reviewers that give similar ratings to you for beers you've both had
  26. BB1313

    BB1313 Poo-Bah (2,483) Jul 16, 2009 Ohio

    Ever since "hads" have been added to the overall score, I've seen a ton of people giving a 1 to any beer that's loved or hyped. And these people don't have a overall track record that lets me know they're being serious. There are recently people that give low ratings for the fuck of it, FACT. I know taste is subjective, but there are people that are trying to bring down the scores..
  27. BB1313

    BB1313 Poo-Bah (2,483) Jul 16, 2009 Ohio

    And I just checked your ratings and you gave a 1 to Heady Topper. Heady Topper has almost 3,000 ratings and you're the ONLY one to give it a 1.
    barleywinefiend and DrewCapzz like this.
  28. RangnaR

    RangnaR Initiate (0) Dec 17, 2012 California

    For the same reason you gave, it might be worth giving Brrrbon a shot, as all my friends tried and enjoyed it, myself included. As "brentk56" noted in his review, i believe it's changed from year to year. The 2011 seemed a little more bourbon barrel forward & a tad harsh as a result, but the 2012 seemed very well-balanced & enjoyable to me... Of course you wouldn't know unless you tried, right?
    spinedocschabel likes this.
  29. LampertLand

    LampertLand Poo-Bah (1,660) Nov 2, 2011 British Columbia (Canada)

    I've bought a beer on a whim before , lately when I see a beer I haven't seen/heard of before
    I'll try to look it up here on Ba , visit their website , make a decision to purchase or not ,
    and then there's another new beer beside it when I'm back to purchase or not ,
    resist the urge to buy new beer on a whim , continue ...
  30. biercycle

    biercycle Initiate (0) Apr 8, 2012 Pennsylvania

    These types of threads seems to pop up every couple months...

    I will say what I have said before, a perspective that few seem to maintain: drinking a bad, inferior, or lesser beer is a valuable tasting experience that keeps things in perspective. If you only ever drink the best of the best then your palate, expectations, etc will be drastically skewed in one direction.

    I am not advocating that you keep a sixer of bud in the beer cellar to remind you what a low quality beer tastes like. However, drinking so-called average beers will help you appreciate those stellar beers all the more. FAnother way of putting it, think of beer quality consumption a something of a bell curve. Only a few really good beers are at the top end and you shouldnt only drink those.
  31. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Michigan

    yes I did IMO it has nothing going for it and to be fair I haven't given a single IPA/DIPA a high rating Hopslam was actually drinkable for me this year (lots of people complained it changed well I agree only I think for the better) if I reviewed it based on last year it would be a 1.5. Heady got a 1 because it comes in a can is cloudy and tastes terrible. I haven't really liked any IPAs but at least most aren't cloudy or canned (and those that are don't try to hide their cloudiness by demanding you drink from the can). I try to find at least something to like about a beer but I failed with Heady it was a drain pour for me (although I just let my friend who was sharing some with me drink the rest) I stand by my rating of 1.
  32. booyahachieved3

    booyahachieved3 Initiate (112) Sep 5, 2012 Kansas
    Beer Trader

    To be fair, I never said I "dodged a bullet" or missed a bad beer, I just never bought it.
  33. BB1313

    BB1313 Poo-Bah (2,483) Jul 16, 2009 Ohio

    To each their own.. but I dunno...
  34. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Crusader (763) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    That's what I do. Often you may like a beer for the same reason a reviewer dislikes it.
  35. HumphreyLee

    HumphreyLee Initiate (0) Jan 15, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I look for the reviews that are in the high 3's or low 4's (if there are any) and use those as a barometer depending on how well they describe their experiences with the brew. It's always seemed to if it's any lower than that either someone is hating just to hate or their palate doesn't go for that style and that if it's any higher I usually get the vibe it's someone maybe too in love with the style/brewer/whatever. That 3.7-4.2 range is where I think people are being their objective best and really breaking it down and if the critique breakdown fits the description of something I think I'd like to try, then I go for it, for better or for worse.
  36. lonewolfcry

    lonewolfcry Zealot (561) Dec 7, 2007 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I'm leaning towards BB1313 on this one.
    You also gave Zombie Dust a 2 with your had.
    Only one person out over 2700 reviews gave it a lower mark - but at least had gave his reasoning with a full review.

    I admit that I'm guilty of giving 5 marks for some of my hads.
    I'm thinking now that 5 or 1 scores should need a mandatory full review to count.
    But then again, where would you draw the line...
    barleywinefiend and SammyJaxxxx like this.
  37. dar482

    dar482 Poo-Bah (3,476) Mar 9, 2007 New York
    Beer Trader

    I go on BeerMenus before I go to the store and write down what I want to pick out so I'm not on BA too long while I'm at the store.

    I'm working on the Best 250 Beers and Beers of Fame lists so I almost only go for beers with 90-95+ ratings.

    I generally stick with sixer mixers because the value is so good there compared to bombers. For example, I can try six 90+ rating beers instead of paying $24 for Bruery Sour in the Rye. Then again, I might diverge from that if the bomber is a bit cheaper, only comes in bomber, or I really want to try the beer.
  38. Blanco

    Blanco Devotee (458) Oct 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I usually go off my own experiences with a brewery, choosing those I've had good experiences with (within styles I like, of course). If I have no experience with a brewery or am between a few beers, I usually refer to BA, first looking at the score and secondly looking at the flavor profile from a variety of the reviews.

    I don't understand those who say that scores have no value though. Obviously higher rated beers have a higher likelihood of being enjoyable than lower rated beers. There are always exceptions, but I've enjoyed more beers in the 90s than those in the 70s. I would think that's obvious.
  39. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,188) Mar 18, 2010 California

    I don't look at reviews. If I really want to try it, I will. Sometimes I even buy poorly rated beers on purpose just for the experience.
    beertunes and ThisWangsChung like this.
  40. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (255) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    I tend to look on my phone when I'm shopping. I don't completely go with what ever gets the highest reviews, but it is a factor that goes into my final decision. For how much money this hobby costs I like to do everything I can to make my purchases count
    DaveHack likes this.
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