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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New Ratings!

I have decided to abandon my old rating system. Although I maintain the philosophical underpinning was sound, as a method of communication, it is perhaps inadequate. While I know what I mean when I say "average" or "excellent," apparently it's not a universal nomanclature. So instead I'm moving to the classic school-based, letter-grading system.
  • A ___ World class; a superlative example of the style or an exceptionally original beer.
  • B+ to A- __Technically flawless, just short of the kind of character that distinguishes it as as the best in its style or as a truly original beer.
  • C+ to B __A well-made beer that is a fairly common example of its style or a near miss on originality.
  • D+ to C __Nothing stands out; beer doesn't have off-flavors but fails to impress.
  • D- to D __Off-flavors mar the recipe.
  • F ___ Off-flavors so profound the beer is undrinkable
This gives me a little more leeway to distinguish within broad categories, and to distinguish the transcendentally sublime (A) from the merely extraordinary (A-).

[Note: This post has been updated to correct numerous embarrassing errors. See comments for further analysis and documentation of my crimes and misdemeanors.]


  1. I mention this because I've got a couple reviews coming down the pike and I'll be unveiling the new system then.

  2. Are you basing "Beer Style" on the BJCP outline? That's can be a double edge sword when rating something extreme. Extreme doesn't always fit into a STYLE guideline; i.e., Arrogant Bastard. Is it an old ale, a strong ale, hoppy Brown?? It doesn't fit into any catagory well, so it's considered flawed according to "STYLE" guidlines, but possibly exceptional as a beer... I picked Arrogant BAstard at random, it could be Fred or Adam from HOTD too..

    Look forward to your reviews!

  3. Dr. Wort, you make an excellent point. I have revised it to reflect originality, which we (all good, true-hearted beer lovers) prize as much as execution of style.

  4. My goal will be to find a beer that you can grade as a plain ol' "B" since you currently leave it out of the grading system. Perhaps the B can go to something that doesn't benefit from a description, but which is plainly enjoyable to drink. For instance, every once in a while I find a beer waaay back in the fridge that I kind of forgot about. It's invariably an old standby like Mirror Pond or something. I won't remember buying it, but I'm sure glad it's there, and I sure enjoy drinking it upon discovery.

  5. Tommy, your analysis is generous, but it results from boneheadedness on my part. I have gone through and done a better job of cleaning up the categories and imposing a slightly statistical spin to them. Now, categories in the middle (D+ through B) are in that great bell-curve center of around average, give or take. It is rarer to get a B+/A- or D/D-, and rarer still to get an outright A or F.

    Numerically, it breaks out like this: there are twelve possible scores, but they're grouped so that the tails are more rare. Scored another way, it looks like this:

    A (exceptional) 8.3%
    B+ to A- (excellent) 16.7%
    C+ to B (ave to above ave) 25%
    D+ to C (ave to below ave) 25%
    D- to D (poor) 16.7%
    F (awful) 8.3%

  6. A number of years ago, during much bickering in the newsgroup, there was a lot of whining about how beer snobs overanalyzed their beer (this whining from college kids, mostly). Lew Bryson suggested, in jest, that there were really only two ratings: Good and Shite. We subsequently modified it with the addition of F. So, a beer could range from FS to FG. Some of us still use this standard and occasionally (as in my recent trip to the UK) find beers that are FFG!! or even, if posting while drunk, FFFG!!! (exclamation points are critical). Feel free to adopt this approach and toss out your academically-oriented scale.