We here at Brewed, Crude and Bitter have something we want to get off our perfectly sculpted chests. Grab hold of the nearest person and clench your sphincters, this is going to be big.
We don’t particularly like beer reviews.
Wow! Such controversy!
As we see it, the main problem is really that the only way to properly review beer is through a complete blind tasting – one where you have absolutely no idea who has made any of the beers you are about to review. This was perfectly demonstrated recently when The Crafty Pint conducted a blind tasting of porters and incredibly the beer that one would least likely suspect of being the best came up trumps (James Squire Porter). And even then, once you have taken the confounding factor of the brewer out of the equation, there are still so many other factors that will influence you.
Take a look at the top 50 beers on any of the popular beer reviewing websites for example. Without fail they are all going to be big, boozy, black, resinous or any combination of those words. It wouldn’t be unreasonable then, to assume that you would be more likely to give a more favourable review to an imperial stout than an English mild.
You might try to avoid style preferences by reviewing against the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) guidelines. That’s if you have the olfactory ability to do so (I definitely don’t). Realistically, does the average punter on the street care that a beer displays assertive hop bitterness well balanced by a sturdy yet clean and crisp malt character and therefore fits perfectly into style 7C. Düsseldorf Altbier? I’d wager that they care more about how much they actually enjoyed that beer.
And there’s the kicker. Enjoyment. It’s the one thing that so many people who write about beer fail to mention, and yet it’s the one thing that I want to read from a review. How much pleasure did you actually get from drinking that beer? Did Stone & Wood have to commission a new brewery the size of Liechtenstein to keep pumping out Pacific Ale because it’s regarded by beer geeks as one of the best 50 beers in the world? Or because it perfectly conforms to style 10A? Maybe it’s because it is perfectly designed to be eminently drinkable and complimentary to the Australian climate? Don’t ask me man, I just drink stuff.
I’m not trying to say that doing any of the things above is wrong and you should feel bad, but that’s mostly because I’m a coward. But let’s face it, the only people who are reading your reviews have either already had the beer in question and are interested to see what you thought, are going to drink the beer anyway because they want to see for themselves, or don’t particularly care about the beer – they just like reading your stuff (thanks Mum).
I’m pretty sure I’m just rambling now and I’ve forgotten what point I was trying to make so I feel it’s about time to announce that Brewed, Crude and Bitter have started a weekly beer review post and you should probably click here and read the first one.