Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Everything's Better with a Graph

Another beer blogger put together a pretty detailed comparison between beer rankings on BeerAdvocate and Rate Beer. It's kind of a fun read (yeah, I said fun) and interesting to see just how varied opinions on beer really are. Westvleteren 12, however, does rest confidently at the top spot on both sites. Have you had it? Probably not - you can't get it anywhere outside of the abbey and its cafe across the street. So how on earth does this beer make it to #1?

Certainly, it's good. But personally, I think many beers are a lot like small, obscure bands - they tend to be rated higher than more popular ones simply because people get a kick out of bragging rights - "You haven't had TinyTown Oak-Aged Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Chocolate Plum Smoked Coffee Bacon Porter? Psshh, novice." That doesn't apply to all of them, of course. Clearly, many of those on the list are phenomenal beers. But really - Lost Abbey Yellow Bus? 53 reviews? How would that compare to Rochefort 10 (drool...) if it had 2200+ ratings?

I found it intriguing to look at the opinions on BA vs. Rate Beer. Seems there's a strong preference for the big beers, and Three Floyds is clearly a favorite (and a well-deserved one, although a wee bit overhyped in my opinion - though granted I'm not one to gush over any particular brewery anyway. Except Rogue. But they have personal significance. And, they make great beer. And gin. And rum. I digress...).

Personally, I tend to go to BA simply because there's more going on there and, well, I have it bookmarked on my browser. Honestly, though, I fit more in with the RateBeer crowd. I recommend checking out both to see where you belong. And have a beer while you're at it.

Image ownership 100% belongs to the Top Fermented blog.


  1. Are you serious? I had this post already going :) Tim and I had this discussion yesterday at work and I decided to write a story about it. Oh well I guess you'll just do my work :)

  2. And the KC beer blogosphere suddenly got more crowded. ;-D

  3. Here's where I'm dissapointed in you for being such a Free State fan. :) Free State Owd Macs Imperial Stout is on the top 50 list for ratebeer! How is that even possible? It seems easier for US to get West 12 in a bottle than it is to get a growler from Lawerence Kansas!!!

  4. You can usually get Westy 12 from www.belgianshop.com and/or ebay (from reputable beer sellers, of course.) Sure, price/shipping is comparatively high in the beer market but if you're a geek it is a necessary splurge and the price is NOTHING compared to what you would pay for highly rated and rare wine. And i do think it is the best but have noticed some variance in quality, probably due to conditions during shipping and age.

    Thanks for the link, interesting stuff. BeerAdvocate rules for forum activity/community but when it comes to ratings i always go to ratebeer first- more ratings from a wider perspective (BA is very US-centric) trumps, in my opinion.

  5. Well... the monks specifically request that their beer not be resold, and the packaging is specifically marked with the request. While of course there are no legal ramifications for doing so, I do feel that it's a little disrespectful to be selling their beer on the internet.

    In the interest of full disclosure, however, I have had it - in Canada. We got a bottle at a Belgian B&B in Quebec City over lunch. I won't be getting it again unless I'm at the abbey, since I felt guilty enough for disrespecting the monks' wishes. What is it about religion and guilt?!! ;)

  6. Oh, don't say that! I have justified this by telling myself i'm not reselling, only buying, so it's not me who is disrespecting the monks. Maybe part of the reason they do that is to comply with distribution and labeling laws and they don't really care. Hey, who are those monks to go putting additional legalistic criteria on that which God has provided? [markbe continues trying to convince himself what he has done is ok...]

  7. Thanks for linking to that post, I found it to be quite interesting! Funny I haven't had most of the beers on either list! (yet...)

  8. Sounds like you have some homework ahead of you, Scott. ;-)

    I just noticed that Saison-Brett is BA's #94. Go Boulevard! That's my favorite Boulevard beer by a long shot. YES, even over (an un-aged) BBQ. Love that beer.


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