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  1. #1
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    Beer Advocate (BA) and Rate Beer (RB) Thoughts? Beef? Hate?

    Topic was started in another thread (http://forums.mtbr.com/beer-forum/ra...ml#post8800640), seems worthy of its own discussion.

    Here is my rant:

    Both websites are over biased to the beer nerd. Word of warning, I am a beer nerd, but I guess I am a pretentious a-hole beer nerd who thinks other beer nerds are usually idiots, so my opinion might not mean anything.

    I think there are two contributing factors to a beer getting a high rating:

    1. Limited Supply / Rarity. If its super hard to get, and a decent beer from a well known brewery, instant uber high rating. Ex (Pliny The Younger, Dark Lord, KBS, etc..)

    2. High alcohol / Heavy. 99% of the beers at the top are high ABV, and strong. For example, Triple IPA's, Quads, Imperial Stouts, Barley Wines, etc...

    Thus, you can have a commonly available, ridiculously good Lager that will only get a C on the websites simply because its not epic, not rare, and not unique. It may be the perfect example of its style of beer, and have 0 flaws, but because its a light and fizzy beer, it will get a low rating.

    I will say that the beers at the top usually are outstanding, and well worth their rating. My problem resides with the beers that are tossed to the wayside simply because they don't appease the beer Nerd. Yes, yes, if a honda were faster than a ferrari, the ferrari would still be cooler simply because of the mystique, price, and availability.

    I use both websites, but take the ratings with a heavy grain of salt, and usually will only avoid a beer if its below a C- (below average).

    Feel free to call me wrong, simply my opinion.

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    you do raise interesting points. all things being equal, you might invasion a scenario where the 'best pilsner in the world' would be up there with a westvleteren, but frankly i don't derive the same depth of experience from the 'smaller' beer styles. not unlike wine i suppose, where some varietals just don't stack up with the big guns regardless of how good examples they are. i think it's just the nature of the progression of taste; you tend to look for greater complexities & intricacies, and the smaller beers (though there are of course many great ones) tend to be less so.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by xy9ine View Post
    you do raise interesting points. all things being equal, you might invasion a scenario where the 'best pilsner in the world' would be up there with a westvleteren, but frankly i don't derive the same depth of experience from the 'smaller' beer styles. not unlike wine i suppose, where some varietals just don't stack up with the big guns regardless of how good examples they are. i think it's just the nature of the progression of taste; you tend to look for greater complexities & intricacies, and the smaller beers (though there are of course many great ones) tend to be less so.
    Well stated. I guess my beef with the "big guns" regularly getting higher ratings is they are easier to produce . Hold on beer nerds, hear me out before you freak out. Light pilsners, lagers, , blonds, etc... have a very simple flavor profile. Thus off-flavors are very difficult to hide. I judge a brewery based upon how well they do their pilser / light lager, as its the easiest for me to detect what is wrong. The big bold strong beers are so complex and powerfull normally your tongue is fighting for survival more than trying to pick up nuances.

    Yes big beers can suck, possibly suck even more than a crappy small beer could suck. But normally the big beers suck because its a bad combination of flavors, or something off with the body of the beer. The lighter beers usually suck because of contaminants, bad brewing practices, poor fermentation practices, etc... which all can be masked by heavy flavors.

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    Couldn't agree more. I've noticed this whole trend over the last year or so where "rare" automatically equals "good". This emphasis on coveting rare beers really turns me off honestly. Reminds me of the rich kid who had every rare baseball card when I was 10 years old.

    Don't get me wrong, I love seeking out the unique and different and I like to challenge myself as a beer drinker to try different styles and such. However, there is a certain amount of snobbery that has entered the beer world that didn't seem to be there even 5 years ago. I kind of long for the days when you could get a good solid pint of beer for $4 and not have to recite the recipe (Can I have the Citra/Simcoe hopped, aged in Tequila barrels for 37 days with a mixture of raccoon feces and quince nectar then filtered through Humpback whale baleen beer please? Yes, that's $42 for a 4 oz. pour.)

    I actually find this little forum more useful than BA half the time because there is a smaller number of people on here from a wider spectrum of the beer drinking world.

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    I don't rate beers on those sites, nor do I pay too much attention to the ratings.

    You could be right about the minor complexities of a Pils, but I really just don't like Pils in general.

    The hardest part about rating a beer is that rating only applies to you and your tongue, the next person will taste it differently, so on, etc....

    I guess overall you can say the majority of people agree that this beer is a B+, so that becomes the average rating, and as long as you recognize that, you can make personal decisions as to what you prefer.

    I hosted a Blind Tasting Porter Party a few months ago.
    Here is the forum post: http://forums.mtbr.com/beer-forum/bl...te-693103.html

    What I found when searching Beer Advocate is that one of the highest rated porters is served on Tap at one location in the US, down at a brew pub in Florida, It only had a few people rate it, and they all gave it high marks. That is like me posting up a home brew that my buddy made, giving it an A+ and so do the other 5 people who had an opportunity to try it before it was gone.



    So, the moral of the story is, take the ratings with a grain of salt.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    (Can I have the Citra/Simcoe hopped, aged in Tequila barrels for 37 days with a mixture of raccoon feces and quince nectar then filtered through Humpback whale baleen beer please? Yes, that's $42 for a 4 oz. pour.)
    Where did you find this? I have to have it!!!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    (Can I have the Citra/Simcoe hopped, aged in Tequila barrels for 37 days with a mixture of raccoon feces and quince nectar then filtered through Humpback whale baleen beer please? Yes, that's $42 for a 4 oz. pour.)
    Priceless!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guerdonian View Post
    Where did you find this? I have to have it!!!!!!!!
    I could tell you, but then you'd probably go buy it all up and sell it on EBAY for $500 a bottle.

  9. #9
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    My thoughts on the subject:

    I like beer. In fact, I hella like beer.



    The end.

    -By Plim
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by xy9ine View Post
    I think it's just the nature of the progression of taste; you tend to look for greater complexities & intricacies
    Excellent point! Maybe it's harder to critique a pilsner or lager due to the less complexity of the beer, therefore making them more difficult to differentiate.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plim View Post
    My thoughts on the subject:

    I like beer. In fact, I hella like beer.



    The end.

    -By Plim
    Word son.

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    Interesting. I recently started visiting BA an a recommendation. I seriously doubt that I will remain an active member. The grade inflation makes it nearly impossible to judge by grade. The grading system is poorly executed, unfortunately it is the best system that exists in public domain. It is unfortunate, because I am intriqued by the possibility of trading with others that have access to things I do not.

    Mostly, I HATE the pretense. It is time to educate rather than alienate.

    I'm getting on a rant now... About BA and to a lesser extent RB. The pomposity and snobbishness on the sites are a total turn off.

    Anyway, the idea that a person gets more-better at tasting after "learning" about beer is foolish. Progression of taste.... perhaps, but I am skeptical of this concept too. It has the air of pompousness. A pilsner can be as good, and enjoyed as much, as a weasel-poo infused porter. A person only learns more about beer - they are getting exposure to more styles. They aren't getting "better" at tasting.

    Anyway, beer is not wine, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, leave the snobbery for the wine-geeks. Beer was not born of pretense, nor should pretense be a part of the greater beer culture. Feel free to geek-out and have knowledge. Feel free to share, but stop making non-geek beer drinkers feel alienated. It will be what causes a back-lash against craft brew.

    Do you really think it convinces someone to try your favorite small batch organic vegan bacon infused maple nut stout when you call their favorite mass produced pilsner "cat pee"? Do you really believe it makes you seem smart when you say/imply that anyone drinking something mass produced is less or stupid?

    It makes you sound like a pompous arrogant A$$ and a kill-joy.

    Educate - don't alienate.

    Rant off.

    Bracing for the on-slaught....
    Last edited by debaucherous; 12-06-2011 at 04:18 PM. Reason: poor spelling.
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  13. #13
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    I am a pretentious a-hole
    This.



    ...the Citra/Simcoe hopped, aged in Tequila barrels for 37 days with a mixture of raccoon feces and quince nectar then filtered through Humpback whale baleen...
    Oh dear God...I want that!

    I'll start with my own "take heed" introduction, by saying that I frequent both sites, and benefit from a large majority of information gathered from them. Would my ablility to develop a better craft beer portfolio dwindle if they weren't around...no.

    I agree that the ratings systems are flawed, but the way the sites are set-up, it's all you can really do. It's not as if they have a certified panel of BJCP judges writing these reviews...it's opinionated, moody, narcissistic Joe Public. We all have different tastes, and set different qualitative priorities.

    Using sites like RateBeer and BA to blanket a certain beer with a "end all, be all" alpha-numeric distinction is silly. That A+/100 RIS may be far too sweet or bitter for my liking, merely a C in my book. Go back and drink a second bottle of that super limited beer you waited 18hrs in line to get, during a snow storm, once the hype has died down. Might not find it as enjoyable

    Using them as a resource, or knowledge base in order to broaden your exposure to beer in general, whether stylistically or regionally is a more realistic option. A way to connect to other like minded people, in and out of your region, is always nice. Much like here...except all of you are on the West Coast on here!

    My real gripe with those site, is the forum based discussions...not that they exist, but the content. It's very off-putting, and if my kids whined as much as those folks do, I'd go ape-***** bonkers. To argue over who has the best IIPA, why they didn't get a bottle at the release they showed up late to, and to have such an elitist attitude about the whole thing...yikes! I know it's the few that carry that demeanor, and their are in fact a lot of solid (well rounded) folks on, but the reality is that on a internet-based public forum. These people are making the most noise, and have become the forward facing depiction of a BA/RateBeer member.

    Think Pinkbike is to MTBR, what BA is to...common sense.

    It's unfortunate, and won't change...but that is why I come here.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous View Post

    Anyway, beer is not wine, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, leave the snobbery for the wine-geeks. Beer was not born of pretense, nor should pretense be a part of the greater beer culture. Feel free to geek-out and have knowledge. Feel free to share, but stop making non-geek beer drinkers feel alienated. It will be what causes a back-lash against craft brew.

    Do you really think it convinces someone to try your favorite small batch organic vegan bacon infused maple nut stout when you call their mass produced pilsner "cat pee"? Do you really believe it makes you seem smart when you say/imply that anyone drinking something mass produced is less or stupid?

    It makes you sound like a pompous arrogant A$$ and a kill-joy.

    Educate - don't alienate.

    Rant off.

    Bracing for the on-slaught....
    Love it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Plim View Post
    My thoughts on the subject:

    I like beer. In fact, I hella like beer.



    The end.

    -By Plim
    Yes...it is just beer.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous View Post
    It will be what causes a back-lash against craft brew.
    What will, and is.

    The craft beer industry is becoming more and more of the younger, rambunctious brother of the wine industry. All of the snobbery, and inter-industry strife, with more frat *****ery.

    It's another topic though
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous View Post
    Anyway, beer is not wine, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, leave the snobbery for the wine-geeks.
    YES! Luckily IMO 99% of beer drinkers still enjoy regular-ol beer, and get stoked when someone hands them a fat tire / Sierra Pale Ale / Sam Adams. Its that 1% that are making the most hubub, and also who contribute to the majority of magazines, online forums, ratings, etc.. Once again, the 1% causing trouble and taking the spotlight hehe

    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous View Post
    It makes you sound like a pompous arrogant A$$
    Luckily i already said i was one

    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous View Post
    Bracing for the on-slaught....
    No need for an on-slaught when i agree with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    Couldn't agree more. I've noticed this whole trend over the last year or so where "rare" automatically equals "good". This emphasis on coveting rare beers really turns me off honestly. Reminds me of the rich kid who had every rare baseball card when I was 10 years old.

    Don't get me wrong, I love seeking out the unique and different and I like to challenge myself as a beer drinker to try different styles and such. However, there is a certain amount of snobbery that has entered the beer world that didn't seem to be there even 5 years ago. I kind of long for the days when you could get a good solid pint of beer for $4 and not have to recite the recipe (Can I have the Citra/Simcoe hopped, aged in Tequila barrels for 37 days with a mixture of raccoon feces and quince nectar then filtered through Humpback whale baleen beer please? Yes, that's $42 for a 4 oz. pour.)

    I actually find this little forum more useful than BA half the time because there is a smaller number of people on here from a wider spectrum of the beer drinking world.
    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous
    Anyway, beer is not wine, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, leave the snobbery for the wine-geeks. Beer was not born of pretense, nor should pretense be a part of the greater beer culture. Feel free to geek-out and have knowledge. Feel free to share, but stop making non-geek beer drinkers feel alienated. It will be what causes a back-lash against craft brew.
    Well said. I visit this forum pretty much every day to see what people are drinking. BA, meh, once in a while. The taste descriptions on BA are too complicated and wordy for me to take the time to delve into, I'm rather follow the trends of frequent posters in this forum. I'm also not looking to purchase rare, $40 single bottle collectibles. $15 four pk/six pk, $50 case, $15 big bottle is more or less my ceiling

  19. #19
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    Agreed gents. I use BA and RB for info purposes only, I don't leave reviews there. Mostly because I think a large portion of the BA and RB users are pompous tools. On the other hand, good, detailed reviews like the ones some of you guys have been leaving here help me to pick out flavors in my tastings. I guess I take it with a grain of salt - info and tasting notes only.

    But have no fear, I see a BeerReview in the works for next year. At least, that's the message I sent to Francis .

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    I am thankful for the wealth of knowledge I find on this forum, plus I trust you guys more because you also are MTBers.
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    I always laugh when these guys advise others that Pliney is only good for 3-4 weeks after being bottled.

    There are a few breweries on those sites that can do no wrong and but make mediocre beer (IMHO).
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  22. #22
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    Depends on who is doing the reviewing. Most people rate with very inflated scores, C needs to be the real average for every style, but people refuse to think of this as a 1-10 scale and realize that C is in the middle. You need to find a few people who you understand how they review and what their tastes are and use them for information. Arbitrator, Myself(Chadquest), and a few others all rate to a C average, i generally ignore the overall score and see what a few select people think about a beer, or just grab a bottle myself and review it.


    As for the Rarity, some people can get past it and some can not. I have drank some extremely rare beers that people freak out over and found them below average. For instance, the Virgin Oak Hunuhpu is actually worse then the normal Hunuhpu, the Dark Lord El Muerte was also worse then regular Darklord(though the Pappy Van Winkle Dark Lord was phenomenal) , and when we drank the Pappy Van Winkle Eclispe it was just average, not worth the mega Whale status it has.

    I think the people who freak out over rarity are the newer kids who just got their first rare beer and hype it up internally, and people who have not had a large cross section of the style to compare it to. Also in this same group are the "Homers", the people who love every beer from the brewery down the street, when really it is not good and they only love it for is proximal distance. Two examples of this were Dark Intrigue & Splinter Black, when Splinter Black was released at the brewery it's rating was a solid A as only locals had reviewed it. Then after people outside PA got it everyone realized how bad this beer was, how much the oak tannins had seeped into every aspect of this beer, and made it over done and terrible, and it's score dropped greatly.

    Those of us who have been around the block for a bunch of years get past it, i have done trades hunting down Hefeweisens, another seasoned vet in our group STILL says Rochefort 10 is the best beer on earth, sometimes a friends Homebrew is the highlight of the hour, and sometimes our group opens a rare bottle someone traded $200+ of beer for and then say it's only decent.

    I love our local tasting group, just a bunch of cool guys that like to hang out, and insane beer just happens to be there with us while we do it,
    Last edited by Hand/of/Midas; 12-08-2011 at 12:26 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous View Post
    Anyway, the idea that a person gets more-better at tasting after "learning" about beer is foolish. Progression of taste.... perhaps, but I am skeptical of this concept too. It has the air of pompousness. A pilsner can be as good, and enjoyed as much, as a weasel-poo infused porter. A person only learns more about beer - they are getting exposure to more styles. They aren't getting "better" at tasting.
    I disagree.

    If i compare how well i pick apart beers nuances when i started, compared to now having 700+ reviews online and on paper, plus thousands of different beers tasted, i have learned a lot and can dig deeper into what i am drinking. have you never come back to a beer after a few years and found something new in it?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hand/of/Midas View Post
    Depends on who is doing the reviewing.
    Well said! Some reviewers are great - others just follow the trends. I would be a terrible reviewer - I like most of the beers I try .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hand/of/Midas View Post
    I disagree.

    If i compare how well i pick apart beers nuances when i started, compared to now having 700+ reviews online and on paper, plus thousands of different beers tasted, i have learned a lot and can dig deeper into what i am drinking. have you never come back to a beer after a few years and found something new in it?
    You actually illustrated my point - you have been exposed more - you are no better at tasting. The nuance was always there. Your knowledge changed - not your ability to taste. I may be slicing a thin distinction, but science is my buisness.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous View Post
    You actually illustrated my point - you have been exposed more - you are no better at tasting. The nuance was always there. Your knowledge changed - not your ability to taste. I may be slicing a thin distinction, but science is my buisness.
    Ok, so you are speaking on the physical basis of getting information from the palate, not ones ability to interpret that information?

    Tasting beer for me was like reading a book. I can always see the letters, but after time the letters went from Latin to English.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtmartino View Post
    I would be a terrible reviewer - I like most of the beers I try .
    Haha! Exactly. I like some beers less than others but I don't think I could give a poor grade to any beer, at least not in the "craft" world.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hand/of/Midas View Post
    If i compare how well i pick apart beers nuances when i started, compared to now having 700+ reviews online and on paper, plus thousands of different beers tasted, i have learned a lot and can dig deeper into what i am drinking.
    Quote Originally Posted by jtmartino View Post
    Well said! Some reviewers are great - others just follow the trends. I would be a terrible reviewer - I like most of the beers I try .
    Alright lets combine these two statements into a question.

    Prior to my deeper knowledge of beer most/all craft beers were Tasty. I had a well honed tongue and found myself saying "oh this one has a nice butterscotch flavor" or "i can taste green apples in this one" etc... Fast forward a year with more education and a deeper understanding, suddenly that butterscotch flavor is diacetyl, and the green apple was acetaldehyde. All of a sudden what i thought were "nice flavors" were "off flavors" that shouldn't be there.

    Though my tasting didn't change, my knowledge did, and therefore my perception of the beer. What was good, suddenly was horrible because I knew it was wrong.

    So what is better:
    Simply what an individual finds as good? or establishing known off flavors for a more standardized Rankings?

    Forces me to coin the phrase "nievity is bliss"

    **edited, forgot to put the question in there

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guerdonian View Post
    Alright lets combine these two statements into a question.

    Prior to my deeper knowledge of beer most/all craft beers were Tasty. I had a well honed tongue and found myself saying "oh this one has a nice butterscotch flavor" or "i can taste green apples in this one" etc... Fast forward a year with more education and a deeper understanding, suddenly that butterscotch flavor is diacetyl, and the green apple was acetaldehyde. All of a sudden what i thought were "nice flavors" were "off flavors" that shouldn't be there.

    Though my tasting didn't change, my knowledge did, and therefore my perception of the beer. What was good, suddenly was horrible because I knew it was wrong

    Forces me to coin the phrase "nievity is bliss"

    Butterscotch isn't always bad, in some of the good Barrel Barleywines i get butterscotch, but in those instances it is a cross flavors of Toffee and Caramel. For Instance, Alpine Great and King Henry both have really good non--diacetyl butterscotch flavors.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hand/of/Midas View Post
    Butterscotch isn't always bad, in some of the good Barrel Barleywines i get butterscotch, but in those instances it is a cross flavors of Toffee and Caramel. For Instance, Alpine Great and King Henry both have really good non--diacetyl butterscotch flavors.
    Yes Yes, I was simply making generalizations. This unfortunately does muddle my point though, and you are correct that some off flavors in one style are wanted or prefferable in others. Brett being the most obvious example.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guerdonian View Post
    Alright lets combine these two statements into a question.

    Prior to my deeper knowledge of beer most/all craft beers were Tasty. I had a well honed tongue and found myself saying "oh this one has a nice butterscotch flavor" or "i can taste green apples in this one" etc... Fast forward a year with more education and a deeper understanding, suddenly that butterscotch flavor is diacetyl, and the green apple was acetaldehyde. All of a sudden what i thought were "nice flavors" were "off flavors" that shouldn't be there.

    Though my tasting didn't change, my knowledge did, and therefore my perception of the beer. What was good, suddenly was horrible because I knew it was wrong.

    So what is better:
    Simply what an individual finds as good? or establishing known off flavors for a more standardized Rankings?

    Forces me to coin the phrase "nievity is bliss"

    **edited, forgot to put the question in there
    I can respect your and Hand/of/Midas(es) opinion. I mean beer is essentially chemistry after all so having a better understanding of the science of what makes a beer work or not work, isolating flavors and components, etc. is important.

    However, for me personally, the more I analyze something the more I tend to strip the enjoyment out of it. In bike terms, I would equate it with the whole Strava phenomenon going on (Strava is a web app that can record all your ride data so you can compare with others). Some people are into it, but for me I just want to enjoy my ride or in this case, enjoy my beer and not over think it. That doesn't mean I don't seek out new beers (or rides) or don't want to challenge myself but their comes a point where the fun starts to fade away when I think about this stuff too much.

    Now if you want to talk film/video/photography I can annoy the hell out of you with a bunch of bs.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    However, for me personally, the more I analyze something the more I tend to strip the enjoyment out of it.
    Exactly, i tend to do this with all my hobbies. Bikes, Beer, even my Fish Tank for pete sake.

    $300 Hard tail to $6000 FS.
    PBR to Roadenbach.
    A beta fish to a retarded 40gallon chemistry experiment with life.

    Then i realize that with my increase in knowledge i had a hunger for "better", My engineer brain just went crazy, and it wasn't as much fun as it was striving for perfection. With all three of these i went to some ridiculous extreme, and then backed off a notch to something reasonable. I had to reach the point of diminishing returns to realize how crazy i was being.

  33. #33
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    Essentially yes. To carry your book/reading analogy: knowing the common language helps convey the message.

    A while back I read an article - I think it was by Dr. Bamforth. He made the point far more elegantly that I will be able to. But here is my attempt to breifly convey the point. Beer tasting/grading consistently is extremely difficult, even with trained tasters, because there is not a fully developed common language that is precise. Beer folks all know what I mean when I say "a big" beer, or one with good "mouthfeel". But they are not really defined. It is like porn or art - people know it when they see it. When describing tastes beer is described as it taste like something else (banana, butterscotch, apples, nuts, chlorophyll, etc.) No one ever says a banana has notes of.... or this apple has a hint of.... Everyone knows what bananas and apples taste like. That has been defined. Beer does not have that language. He finally got around to the opinion that beer chemistry is really very complex and that it would be a long while before any truely adequate rating system could be developed. But, he did say we should work to, adn enjoy the fruits of our labors...
    I was gonna stop by and see you, but the Jehovas witnesses came by. When they left I started drinking. Voicemail from Paul

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