Why do you review?

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by Beer_Economicus, Nov 15, 2021.

  1. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (786) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio

    It's late, and I'm drinking and writing reviews, reading fun posts, and having a good time. Perhaps not the best time to start a new thread, but the times have me.

    Why do YOU review on BA?

    For me, it's taken me many years to get here. At first, I mostly said, 'Why review when so many others already have?' Well, what a naïve approach. Over time I realized that reviewing is really for (1) me first, (2) to get to know the beer better, and to appreciate it more, (3) to share the experience 'live' through NBW, (4) to perhaps offer a new or unique perspective, especially if vintage/posting in the cellar threads, (5) to see what has changed, and finally (6) provide reviews when few exist.

    If I'm being honest, it's way more about me first and foremost. My life has changed and become infinitely busier. I don't have the time that I used to. Now, I try very hard to take out some 'me time,' which really means I'm losing sleep. That 'me time' right now looks like either (1) exercising, or (2) having a beer and/or reviewing/reading on BA. I will say that if I did not get personal satisfaction, I'd probably never contribute. But, absence everything else I'd also likely never do it even if personal satisfaction was the only driving force. Getting to know and really appreciate a beer - especially and particularly one I enjoy - is really important for me as well. Much like a fine meal, a good beer has so much to offer that can be missed by simply being consumed.

    Anyone that has gotten to know me pretty well (either through my posts or directly through correspondence) will recognize that I really appreciate several aspects about the human existence. These all boil down one way or another to camaraderie. To me, NBW isn't just a place to share or compare, it's a place to commiserate, bond, and be part of a group much like you are when you're at a live concert and the entire audience seems to become one.

    Please, have a beer with me, and tell me your thoughts.
  2. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (9,282) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    I started because I wanted to keep a list of the beers I'd had, and reviews were the only way to do it. Now, one can just give scores, and count it as a had. If that had been option when I started, that is certainly what I would have done.
  3. Resistance88

    Resistance88 Aspirant (227) Apr 9, 2015 California

    This is my approach. Number score. If somethings good its good and if its bad its bad.
    I have tried time and time again to sit and type one of those " aroma of vanilla and charred wood from the bourbon barrel, flavor of molasses up front followed by dark fruit and finishes off yadda yadda." , but i honestly am just lazy and don't care enough. I will give a score although i do it more on untappd cuz of ease
  4. hbbeeremptor

    hbbeeremptor Disciple (301) Aug 12, 2018 California

    I don't review beer on BA so I know already the question isn't primed toward someone like me; I'll lend an answer anyhow because I like the question. I used to post notes on Instagram but when that became too unwieldy, I started posting them on Untappd.

    I started "reviewing" beers when I started working at a liquor store because like the OP, I wanted to learn about what I was drinking and also just to test myself. I was pretty awful at that time because I basically knew nothing. Then, the emphasis became training my senses. I got a little better just by paying attention, reading about ingredients, reading others' notes, etc.

    When I became the beer buyer at my store, it became a hyper-focus of learning not just about beer as a whole but also how styles are subtly different from one another and being able to describe beer to customers. It went further later on by being asked by regulars what's new/interesting/what I like and simply showing them my notes and talking to them about the beer.

    Now my regulars don't really ask me for notes, they just take my recommendation at face value because I know what they like and my input is trusted. It's very flattering but also a bit of a negative since they don't really ask me anymore to go in-depth. I just say "This is good and here's w--" 'I'LL TAKE IT!' That and a sizable amount of my customers are about seltzers and I couldn't give a shit less about them. Thankfully they're finally dying. The seltzers, not the people...

    Now, I really just write notes because I enjoy doing it, it's a bit of a habit, I get to continually refine my skills and test those on styles I'm less familiar with.
  5. Beertsipper

    Beertsipper Zealot (571) Nov 18, 2008 New York

    I review half of the beers I drink, so I review when I feel like doing one, and be as honest and objective as I can.
    GuyFawkes likes this.
  6. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,051) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    I came to this site to use the reviews of others. It only makes sense to add for others to use what I hope they add for me to use. The more reviews, the better the site functions as help to consumers.

    Along the way I discovered that reviewing beers helps me to figure out what I like best in a beer, so I can make and buy ones I like as best as I'm capable to brew/choose.

    I appreciate there are folks who use the rating system as an easy way to know what they have consumed in the past. I don't mind ignoring those numbers completely while using/providing reviews.
    dcotom, GuyFawkes, rocdoc1 and 15 others like this.
  7. slander

    slander Poo-Bah (2,324) Nov 5, 2001 New York
    Moderator Society

    I reviewed about 120 beers in my early early days here, but I honestly never felt like I had the palate for it. Every stout I wrote was 'chewy, chocolatey, coffee, mocha' and every IPA was 'floral, bitter, hoppy'. Mind you, this was in the early oughts before IPA's became the abomination they are now (settle down!). I went through them one day and deleted the reviews that weren't any good and then did another pass and another pass and soon had none left.

    I think in (like) early '02, they added 'beerfly' ('places') and I felt like I could do that. And my early reviews mostly weren't any good (12 taps, I had the Brown Ale & the Porter), but over time, I think they've evolved to give a better picture of the place (12 taps on a piping piece on the barback, all American craft, with a split of 1/3 local and 2/3 regional. Went with the Smutty Old Brown Dog and Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. Beers were in excellent shape, they have an empty cask engine on the corner that I'm told they use for first friday firkin...).

    Anyway, I've also felt that Beerfly/Places evolved into something of a beer travel guide. You went somewhere for travel, you could utilize it for finding the beer bars & brewpubs. Not everything you read in reviews of places are gospel, but if you dial in on other users who seem to have like beertitudes, it'll get you to where good beer be.

    Oh, and it's never been about the number score given but rather the content of the review.
    rocdoc1, ChicagoJ, Bitterbill and 6 others like this.
  8. beergoot

    beergoot Poo-Bah (7,846) Oct 11, 2010 Colorado
    Society Trader

    Writing helps exercise the brain muscle!

    I feel I become more aware of any particular beer, exploring its attributes and overall impression it makes on me, when I commit myself to writing about it. I love the challenge of putting into words, as clearly and succinctly as possible, what I like and dislike about it, in a fair manner. I'm not always successful with what I write, but it is a stimulating exercse.

    It's combining several passions of mine: beer drinking plus developing and maintaining good analytical and writing skills.
    dcotom, GuyFawkes, champ103 and 17 others like this.
  9. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,866) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    One of the reasons I got into reviewing was to create a record of what I've consumed and thought about it, and to work on my writing skills. I actually enjoy hand writing, so early on I would hand write my reviews, then publish to Beer Advocate.

    Currently, reviewing is still about having a record of what I've consumed and thought about it, with the added benefit that it's a mental destressor. It's probably the only activity in my life that gets me close to my yoga practice, in terms of intention and mental focus. When I run distance, hike, or play drums, my mind wanders. When I'm reviewing, my mind stays focused on the task. I've continued to handwrite some reviews, but now it's more of a shorthand note pad that turns into a review when I'm at the computer.

    I've also found reviewing beer to be an easier way to feel comfortable when traveling for work. Sometimes running in new areas is exhausting, trying to find quality roads to run, but unsure how to navigate a new city. Then multiply that difficulty by running early enough that it's still dark outside. Meanwhile, I could open up a beer and jot down notes on it in my hotel room after work, reflecting on the beer and my day. It provides a period where I can mentally relax on my duties or other tasks for the day.
    dcotom, ChicagoJ, snaotheus and 14 others like this.
  10. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (786) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio

    For work, all I do is practice brevity. I'm a bit verbose at times. It takes effort for me to be more succinct. Generally, for my reviews, I tend to not be. I let it flow a bit like stream of consciousness in spoken word presentations. Sometimes I try to pair it down, and I should probably work more towards doing so.

    Really enjoy your reviews.
  11. RozzieBoy

    RozzieBoy Disciple (385) Apr 4, 2013 Rhode Island

    I write reviews to add more than just a score. Justification of my score, perhaps. I usually will give a score, write my review and see how it compares to other reviews. I’m always trying to learn, so this seems to help me out.
  12. maximum12

    maximum12 Poo-Bah (5,142) Jan 21, 2008 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    I review for a few reasons.

    First & foremost it's as a record of what I had & how well I liked/disliked it. Second is that I've always been a writer & when kids came along my published writing really dried up, so I started using reviews as a means to at least keep the juices flowing. Third, my own reviews amuse me, sometimes, & probably not anyone else (inside jokes with myself; i enjoy those). Last, as someone mentioned above, I sometimes read reviews before I'll buy a beer & it seems fair to add to the pile of impressions.
  13. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (421) Aug 24, 2020 California

    I read reviews, especially the NBW thread, to learn how to appreciate beers more and improve my own reviewing. I write reviews on BA mainly as a repository for my own experiences that I can reference later. It makes the statistics easy, (although I am more and more convinced that I could serve my purposes equally well or better with ExceI since posting pics here on BA is harder than it needs to be and harder than it is to embed pictures in Excel.) I also like to see where my ratings fall relative to the standard deviation of other peoples' ratings, but that is a low priority for me.
    I can't pretend to write the same nuanced descriptions and dissections of complex flavors as many other reviewers, but what I write works for my records. To me, simple numeric ratings are not sufficient to remind me WHY I gave that score. In the future as my priorities change with regard to what I value in a beer, those wordy descriptions will be more valuable.
    On occasion, I am the among the first couple people to review a beer. In that case I can pretend that maybe I am helping others make a decision about whether a beer is worth trying.
    #13 BillAfromSoCal, Nov 15, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2021
  14. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Poo-Bah (3,053) Aug 17, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Great question. The main reason I review is for ME. Spending time with a beer and translating the smells and tastes into words forces me to think about it. I could easily just drink beer and enjoy it, but I like to see what I find in a beer. What is it that I like? What is it that I don't like? How do my tastes and impressions evolve? These are things that I can't really figure out without a review. I didn't start reviewing until I had been on here for a while. Similar to scotch, it takes a bit to feel confident in what you are tasting and smelling. Realizing that you might smell something totally different from someone else is part of the fun. The other reason is to keep a record of what I have consumed and what I thought about it. It also forces me to find a quiet spot and relax for a few minutes!
  15. IPAExpert69

    IPAExpert69 Aspirant (225) Aug 2, 2017 Pennsylvania

    I don't review much, I am more inclined to keep my criticisms internalized or include them amongst the conversation on the forums, as I have grown to enjoy this community quite a bit. I have added a place though, because I loved their beer and brewery, and thought it deserved recognition here. Hidden Sands Brewery in Egg Harbor Township, NJ is awesome! Anyone who ever finds themselves at the Jersey Shore should pay them a visit. (bonus points for being the only place that showed the world cup on multiple tv's that had great beer when I used to live down there)
    ChicagoJ, jonphisher, DIM and 4 others like this.
  16. keithmurray

    keithmurray Meyvn (1,475) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    To keep a log of beers I like, I want to revisit as well as avoid.
  17. 40ontarget

    40ontarget Zealot (553) Feb 7, 2012 Colorado

    I truly enjoy nosing and tasting beer. Finding different smells and tastes in a beer (or whiskey) brings me pleasure. Comparing what I think I've found to what others have found is very interesting. I always read other people's reviews for both comparison and that it gives me a feeling of comradeship. So, I guess you could say I genuinely like doing reviews and I genuinely like the other people on here.
  18. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Poo-Bah (3,053) Aug 17, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I'm with you! My work requires me to write concisely ever day. It's almost difficult sometimes to NOT be brief, but I'm working on it. It's fun to read reviews that are longer and a bit more personal.
  19. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,951) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming

    Because I can. I don't want to keep "it" bottled inside me and keep on keeping on because a draught, error, drought is not acceptable. :wink:
    dcotom, ChicagoJ, jonphisher and 5 others like this.
  20. SLeffler27

    SLeffler27 Poo-Bah (2,718) Feb 24, 2008 New York
    Society Trader

    Originally, for myself. 1 - As a mindfulness experience 2 - To better appreciate the sensory experience 3 - As an external memory reference 4 - As an outlet for creative writing.

    The creative writing aspect never really took root, because I never respected the discipline enough to set aside time and convert my notes. This year, I have detailed notes for over a hundred beers just waiting for me to turn them into simple reviews, much less “creatively”.

    Later, it seemed important to leave a record for the community, and especially for small brewers. So much of history is lost because it is ephemeral, and the value of the mundane is underrated.
    ChicagoJ, Rug, 40ontarget and 5 others like this.
  21. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (13,530) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Society Trader

    I review beers on BA;
    • To mark which I've had since I mostly buy new-to-me beers and generally avoid repeats
    • So my score can remind me which I liked enough to buy more
    • To help ensure that beer ratings and reviews are available for others
    • To achieve personal goals of all styles and all states
    When shopping for a new-to-me beer to review, the BA score weighs heavily in my decision. I use the untappd score too, but only if there is no or not enough reviews on BA.
    #21 bbtkd, Nov 16, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
    dcotom, GuyFawkes, ChicagoJ and 3 others like this.
  22. zeff80

    zeff80 Poo-Bah (14,220) Feb 6, 2006 Missouri


    Not really. I'm just fairly OCD and I need something to obsess about. So let's make it beer and beer reviews.
  23. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (4,139) Dec 11, 2006 California
    Society Trader

    To bring the thunder.
  24. sulldaddy

    sulldaddy Poo-Bah (4,243) Apr 6, 2003 Connecticut
    Society Trader

    I started writing reviews a long time ago. And the first one was kinda stressful. But Ive done a couple thousand more since then and still enjoy it.
    Why do I review beers?
    It really helps me think about the beer I am drinking at that moment and the qualities that it possesses and presents to me. The review process has been and still is a learning experience to me and has definitely helped me find qualities that I might have missed if not really paying attention. Especially if tasting multiple beers of the same style (online tasting events have really helped this).
    Reviewing also does help me keep track of beers that I have tasted before. I used to carry a little notebook with me on trips to breweries. Now most of my consumption happens at home at the table with my laptop open!
    I also do think that it is especially helpful to BA and the folks that use this site to make beer selections at a brewery or store or event. Im hopeful that my words help detail what the beer is like to someone that hasnt had it yet. And really what is this site if it doesnt have user content to provide information about the craft beer world?
    there was some time where I would obsess a little about not drinking a beer that I hadnt reviewed if I wasnt in a review setting (location/crowd/event) but Ive gotten past that and just enjoy the moment. i still think more about the beer as I drink it than before I was reviewing.

    In the end its to help me and to help this community be more aware and appreciative about craft beer.
  25. Treyliff

    Treyliff Poo-Bah (5,127) Aug 10, 2010 West Virginia
    Society Trader

    I started reviewing 11 years ago when I first got into craft beer. Looking back at my first reviews, they were a bit rough. But they got better over time as I learned more about the brewing process and ingredients, as well as descriptors of each style. Beer Advocate was and still is the best source for information, and I feel that this community is probably more experienced than any other online beer community/forum.

    The primary reason I review is because it is enjoyable, but also helps the community. I also LOVE all of the broken down statistics that BA offers. It's nice knowing that I've reviewed 170 pumpkin beers, or that I've reviewed 50 beers from Founders, or that I've had more beer from CA than any other state. I also like to be able to tell someone in casual conversation what my top 10 imperial stouts of all time are. I'm hoping that BA offers a backup option at some point, because there's a lot of time and effort put into these!
  26. Rug

    Rug Meyvn (1,460) Aug 20, 2018 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    I love reviewing beer! It really helps me feel connected to it and pay attention to what I'm drinking. I've liked the learning aspect of it since the beginning and I still learn about the beer I consume almost daily. I'm also huge on variety so I like to constantly try new beers and share my thoughts about them. It's an oddly calming thing to do
  27. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,866) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    Agreed on both of these points.

    There are many styles I wouldn't have learned about, or maybe even known about, had I not gotten into reviewing. Faro, Kvass, and Sahti all come to mind. I enjoy finding these odd styles and reviewing them, at least for memories sake.

    Sadly, I missed out on both, a Faro and a Kvass this year. Those Faro ticks don't come by very often.
  28. Rug

    Rug Meyvn (1,460) Aug 20, 2018 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    Go figure, those are 3 styles I've never actually had. I have found some stuff that I wouldn't have otherwise, but I wanna get more exposure to these other styles. There's only a few styles left that I don't have any ticks for
    Bitterbill, ChicagoJ and Harrison8 like this.
  29. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,866) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    They're difficult to find. The only Faro I've had is by Lindeman's. It was fairly common on the shelves with Lindeman's other options, at least it was a few years ago when I had it.

    The other styles I've almost always traded to acquire.
    Bitterbill, ChicagoJ and Rug like this.
  30. CobraChicken

    CobraChicken Initiate (46) Oct 13, 2021

    I just recently got into beer and started trying different kinds to see what I liked. There was a lot of hit or miss choices and I didn’t really know what I liked or why I liked it, or why I didn’t for that matter. So I started reading reviews to see what others thought. I then ran out and purchased whatever had extremely high reviews- which was not always a good thing for me. So instead of focusing on what everyone else likes, I look at what they like or don’t like about certain beers and I compare use that as a comparison. I guess it’s just fun to write down my own thoughts and then read what others think.
  31. Troy-Hawaii

    Troy-Hawaii Meyvn (1,418) Jun 15, 2015 Hawaii

    I've always liked trying different beers, but had found myself in the store knowing I had tried a certain beer and not sure if I had actually liked it. Now I can read my reviews to see what I thought. This comes in handy when I see a mix pack with an exclusive to the mix pack beer that I haven't had and wouldn't mine buying it to try if I had liked the rest of the mix pack. Sometimes I found that I didn't like the other beers in the pack so I end up not buying it.

    Reviewing also helps me to understand what I am tasting and smelling. I'll know that it smells like something, but don't know what that is. When I look at other reviews on what they thought then I make the connection and realize what it is that I am smelling. Same thing with flavors. It helps me to appreciate the nuances of the beer more when I can relate to the smells and tastes better.
    mactrail, sulldaddy, ChicagoJ and 3 others like this.
  32. papposilenus

    papposilenus Poo-Bah (1,899) Jun 21, 2014 New Hampshire

    I've come to an age where, unless I write down my impressions of a beer, half an hour later I cannot remember it at all.
  33. champ103

    champ103 Poo-Bah (5,230) Sep 3, 2007 Texas

    For me its simple. I find it fun, and can actually articulate and figure, why I do or don't like something,. Don't care at all how many I have reviewed, so being a list is not important, and I don't tick, but review when I actually get a chance to think contemplatively about something. Thats all I got :slight_smile:
    40ontarget, sulldaddy and beer_beer like this.
  34. MrOH

    MrOH Poo-Bah (1,835) Jul 5, 2010 Malta

    Pretty much just to keep track of beers that I've had and what I've thought of them. I don't really reference them all that much, but the act of writing reviews helps cement an impression in my mind. I actually started doing it on my MySpace page several years before I joined BA.

    It also helped me to develop a bit more of a sensory vocabulary, although I tend to get more to the point now than I did when I first started.

    Another plus is it helps me to think about why I enjoy certain aspects of different beers in relation to others, time and place, just understand the moment of drinking the beer. There are some beers that were perfect in a moment when I drank them outside of a review, but fall flat when I'm at my desk. If you can honestly say that you haven't experienced a moment when an AAL was the perfect beer, I don't think I would like hanging out with you.
  35. MacMalt

    MacMalt Poo-Bah (5,257) Jan 28, 2015 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    You can't swill a beer while reviewing it. Writing a review gives me the discipline to think about the beer I'm drinking. I've found that I enjoy a beer more when I have to describe the appearance, smell, taste, and feel. In addition, after I review a beer, the next time I drink it I really enjoy it. I've always thought the best wedding you ever attend is the first one after your own.
  36. mactrail

    mactrail Poo-Bah (11,159) Mar 24, 2009 Washington
    Society Trader

    For me is sort of like bird watching. What IS that thing with the white wing bars? And keeping a life list, as they call it. But I started years ago with little notebooks when I'd travel to write notes to remember that persimmon beer in South Carolina or that dark lager in Estonia. So many good comments, thanks for asking the question @Beer_Economicus.
    Harrison8, champ103, dcotom and 3 others like this.
  37. GuyFawkes

    GuyFawkes Poo-Bah (5,567) Apr 7, 2011 Illinois
    Society Trader

    So many great points in this thread, and a wonderful topic @Beer_Economicus -- and doing it for your own growth / edification hits home for me on a lot of posts here.

    Sadly, this post is the most important for me. I'm practically a goldfish at this point!! :grin:
    Harrison8, Rug, champ103 and 2 others like this.
  38. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,866) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    I love traveling with my notebook. Even during hectic work trips, I try to fit in a couple reviews during the week. Pour a beer, either in my hotel room or at a brewery, and jot down some notes. Gives me a chance to work on my hand writing, maybe test out a new pen ink, and put my mind at ease focusing on a simple task.

    Plus, it's fun to flip back through the notebook. I can 'revisit' Seattle or Boston or wherever else I've been by revisiting that notebook. Sadly, I did not use the notebook when I visited Belgium.
    mactrail and maximum12 like this.