Hang on folks, this is about to get ranty and meta.
When this site was in its infancy as Boards & Brews back in 2011 I kicked the brew side of things off with a review of Left Hand’s Sawtooth Ale. To end that review I used a simple scale-of-ten rating. However, even then I knew that wasn’t going to be enough. As the site, as well as my palate and knowledge, evolved I shifted to a categorized rating of beer. This is the rating system that I’ve been using up until my last review. But, I’ve come to realize something. Who gives a shit?
For the record, I’m still really stoked about this haul.
Now, I don’t mean who gives a shit about the actual reviews, because they are an important part of the craft beer culture. What I mean is why should you care about my ratings? They’re entirely too subjective to rely on for your own use. I became aware of this in just my second review, noting that while I liked Sawtooth much more than Irish Red, I rated them the same. Yet I continued to rate beers and be trapped by ratings when buying beer. I think it’s time to end that.
The most problematic question in my mind is what exactly do I rate on? Do I rate the beer as a vote of whether or not I liked it? Or do I rate it on the style itself? Take Dogfish Head 120 Minute. It’s billed as an imperial IPA, and honestly I think it sucks as an imperial IPA. Move it over to barleywine and my opinion changes of how it rates as a style. Know what doesn’t change? The amount I enjoy the beer, and the rating I’d give it the beer own it’s own merit. Another example is my review of Stoudt’s Smooth Hoperator. If I hadn’t done more research that beer would have unfairly gotten a terrible rating even though I enjoyed the beer. Even styles pose a challenge. I enjoy the aroma of an IPA more than that of a porter. Do I rate the IPA higher even though the porter is hitting exactly the notes it’s supposed to?
This dilemma just goes in circles, debating how to rate, ultimately ending with everything getting a 3.5/5. It’s a pointless mental tangle that takes away from the fun of doing a review and writing about beer in the first place. So, I’m done. I’ll leave the ratings to people with certificates and the crowdsourcing of RateBeer and BeerAdvocate. No more 5/5 – 20/20 system, no more thinking too hard about the beer to write a review. Just enjoying the brew, writing what I feel, and doing both to relax. This has gotten too serious, and it’s time to make beer fun again.