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How to rate beer

Have you rated beer under any circumstances? For aspect of its affection, for instance, is to your ability to remain objective? Rating beer, or in my case, “researching” beer is an additional activity attached to the actual act of examining and consuming the product. It should be an enjoyable part of the beer-drinking process, but it should be taken seriously as well. There are many different reasons to rate beer. Some, like me for instance, like to keep track of all the different beers we have sampled. After over twenty-five-hundred beers, (not all at one sitting) it’s not always easy to recollect with any degree of accuracy exactly how each beer looked, smelled, and tasted. Another good reason to rate is to track year-to-year quality consistencies of breweries. Certain beers are well suited for cellaring. As these vintage-type beers age, they evolve in flavor, aroma, and appearance. So rating beers of this nature can get very interesting. Of course it’s of vital importance to maintain these vintage brews in a light and temperature-controlled (around 55F) environment. But I digress. Vintage and cellaring is a topic worthy of a separate article.

Anyone who takes rating beer seriously understands that ratings can be somewhat subjective, with personal preferences coming into play. Raters who prefer rich stouts and porters may, for instance, need to raise their objectivity level to fully appreciate and describe a delicate pilsner or crisp clean lager. The flavors and aromas of the lighter beers are naturally subtler and require an increased amount of concentration to identify specific brew characteristics.

Which brings me to the point. As we rate beers we have a responsibility to the reader to remain objective in spite of personal preferences. A less obvious factor that may create bias in our writings- is what Co-founder, Todd Alstrm refers to as, “The Moment”, or the current circumstances we find ourselves in while we are rating. For instance, I was laboring with heavy video gear in the sweltering 105 F humid heat of smoggy Bangkok, Thailand. I had no idea my hotel could be so well hidden and frustratingly distant. As I was about to ask for directions … again, or worse, hail a tuk-tuk (little rear-seated, open-air, death-trap scooters with awnings), I spotted my hotel.

Dripping with sweat, I entered the lobby. The staff, astutely sensing my extreme discomfort, relieved


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