I don’t rate beer. When I do take tasting notes, it’s usually a homebrew or something rare, and it usually exists only in my notebook forevermore. On the rare occasions that I do publish them, it’s only here on the blog. I especially don’t like assigning numbers to beer. It’s non-intuitive, and I just don’t think it can possibly tell anyone anything about the beer.
So I take beer ratings with a grain of salt, as I imagine most people do. It’s obvious enough that they’re often skewed; just a quick look at the RateBeer Top 50 is enough to notice the bias. At the time of writing, 41 of the 50 have a listed style of “Imperial”-something, 33 of those Imperial Stouts and the rest Imperial/Double IPA.
Imperial Stout is a proper style in which high alcohol content is key, but more recently the term “imperial” has come to be synonymous with “very strong”. If the bias toward strong beers wasn’t obvious enough, 6 of the remaining 9 beers in the top 50 are 10% or more, with only one beer on the list below 7%.
I know that stronger beers pack a lot more flavour. They’re memorable. But I also think that you can’t truly know a beer until you’ve sat down and drank a case of them, which would be difficult to do with many of the beers on this list.
Thanks to Douglas from Baltimore Bistros & Beer, I think I have stumbled on to a solution:
The #1 trait a good kolsch should have is chugability. And man does the one I’m drinking have that.
— BBB (@BmoreBistroBeer) September 27, 2013
The missing link! Traditional beer ratings of appearance, aroma, mouthfeel, flavour, and overall is missing something: chugability, or quaffability, or whatever you want to call it. I’m sure RateBeer’s Top 50 would all have a very low quaffability, so I propose this as a solution to the imperial-skew. From now on this will be an essential part of my tasting notes.