Monday, November 21, 2011

Explaining my beer review system

Before I started posting my beer reviews, I thought it wise to lay out the "how" behind I review beers. Keep in mind, I am not a true beer connoisseur, even if I periodically seem to hold myself out as one. I am merely an amateur lover of beer who is trying to enhance his appreciation of various brews by breaking down them down and evaluating my experiences with each. My palate is not that of an incredibly refined "beer sommelier." If you are seeking incredibly detailed, nuanced reviews, then this site and my reviews are probably not for you. My goal in writing these reviews, and in breaking down these beers, is to refine my palate over time, however.

Beer reviews shall be divided into the following four categories: Appearance, Smell, Taste, Mouthfeel. These four categories shall be evaluated on a scale of one through five, in quarter step increments (reviews before 04/12/12 will be in half step increments), in accordance with the general rules and principals as laid out in Beer Advocate's "How To Review Beer" Guide. The categories are explained as follows:

Appearance - Note the beer's color, carbonation, head and its retention. Is it clear or cloudy? Does it look lackluster and dull or alive and inviting?

Smell - Bring the beer to your nose. Note the beer's aromatic qualities. Malts: sweet, roasty, smoky, toasty, chocolaty, nutty, caramelly, biscuity? Hops: dank / resiny, herbal, perfumy, spicy, leafy, grassy, floral, piney, citrusy? Yeast will also create aromas. You might get fruity or flowery aromas (esters) from ales and very clean aromas from lagers, which will allow the malt and hop subtleties to pull through.

Taste - Take a deep sip of the beer. Note any flavors, or interpretations of flavors, that you might discover. The descriptions will be similar to what you smell. Is the beer built-well? Is there a balance between the ingredients? Was the beer brewed with a specific dominance of character in mind? How does it fit the style?

Mouthfeel - Take another sip and let it wander. Note how the beer feels on the palate and its body. Light, heavy, chewy, thin / watery, smooth or coarse? Was the beer flat, over-carbonated?
Each review (via tags) will also identify the beer type (in the labels), include of picture of the bottle or beer (unless it gets lost), and include a link to the beer's Beer Advocate profile

Scoring: Scale of 0-100. I grade on a law school-like curve meaning a B rating (a score between 82 and 86) is about "average" in terms of the quality of beer. Most beers will score between 60 and 100. Beers that rate above 90 are generally recommended, while scores of/above 95 represent absolutely excellent beers. A brew score of or above 86 is probably a beer worth trying. Anything lower than 80 and higher than 70 is average or below average at best. Below 70, and you're probably an American Adjunct Lager (Budweiser territory). Below 60, and you're probably a malt liquor (Steel Reserve land), and likely a drain pour. Anything lower than 60 should absolutely be avoided.

As a general principle, scoring is weighted 5% appearance, 25% smell, 50% taste and 20% mouthfeel.

Recommendation: Who, if anyone, I would recommend the beer to.

Pairing: Foods that I think would pair well with the beer. [DISCONTINUED]

Cost: How much the beer cost me. Helps keep track of how big a dent a specific beer will put in your wallet. I try to track beer costs based on retail price points whenever possible.

Any questions about my reviews or this system? Post them in the comments and I will answer them.

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